How gorgeous was it to see Prince Harry’s joyous ,yet shellshocked little face yesterday. Telling the world about his new son and his amazing wife ,pride shining right out of him.
I wondered immediately , as I did about his brother before him , as I do about anyone who brings a baby into the world without their own parents. I wonder if they felt it too?
20 years ago my mum died.
19 years ago….almost to the day my eldest was born. Airy fairy me thinks maybe he was a little gift to me , realistic me is grateful that I had such an amazing distraction from the hideous first anniversary of her death.
The thing is , having a baby without your mum (or dad – or in my case neither parent) is a really strange feeling .
The loss of course ,you feel that. Here’s the next generation . The next hope for your family. In laws beam with pride and fuss and pour love into this tiny little human you’ve grown….you are grateful for that love and affection bestowed upon your baby you really are.
You’re already feeling the but aren’t you? Well here it comes …BUT there is such a huge hole , a huge gap where your parents should be . It’s massive and it feels massive and never before or after have I felt a grief as raw as that.
The other side of the family taking family pictures , telling stories about previous family births and babies . Maybe passing down shawls or other heirlooms. All I can contribute is me . This is where the family ends. There is noone above me . That’s gone. It feels as hard as it sounds. Add post birth hormones into the mix and really , you’re screwed.
It’s not just the loss though , huge as that is.
When I had my son ,I can’t tell you that as soon as our eyes met I fell completely in love . Wasn’t like that for me . When our eyes met I was exhausted , full of gas and air ,sore and traumatised. No room for sentiment.
That gush of love you read about in the books. The one you see in the movies ? Well it took us a couple of days. It came though , hard and strong one night at 3am during a night feed with the 2000 Olympics playing in the background. That sudden realisation….oh wow I would die for you …I would kill for you . Overwhelming in its brutal purity.
The very next thought after this little bombshell for me was ….f**k ….that’s how my parents felt about me ! I mean I knew I was loved …but not like that! I didn’t even know THAT existed.
So there I sat as Linford was being disqualified….weeping over my baby-literally dribbling tears over him (sure I’m not the only one to ever do that!!) Not only about how much I loved him but how much I missed being loved that fiercely.
Another tricky part of not having parents when you have children of your own is advice ? I was the first of my friends to have babies so no one to ask there . Not particularly close to extended family in that way. Was just me ….and him…..and that 3rd person I always turn to in any time of great need .
That book became my everything,its all I had. I have to say I also had the paternal grandparents of my son. Who were spectacular. Grandma did an amazing job of not sticking her nose in and only really giving advice when asked for . Which as a mum now I am aware must have been so hard and I’m not sure I could do it as well.
I’m not going to sell it as an upside as I’d rather have had living parents and a loving family to help out. However bringing up babies without parents did allow me a bit of freedom. There was noone advising me to do things a certain way because that’s how everyone had always done it . Or we did it like that and you turned out okay.
I found my own way through those early days . Me and my book and my textbook baby (he really was !) My sister was still living at home too so her auntie skills whilst I napped were invaluable!!
We worked it out between us he and I ? How to be a mum , how to be a family .There were times during a horrid bout of colic where I just thought I’d gotten it all wrong . He hated me !
After that though , we worked it out . Teething , weaning , potty training.
I still miss not having grandparents for my children. All the time . School plays and assemblies I feel it hardest. My mum in particular would have loved that . She’d have sobbed along right next to me .
Bringing up baby without your mum is a rollercoaster of grief and emotion .
As the babies grow though, and get older and you can tell them stories about the grandparents they’ll never meet , as you’ve carved your way , as you settle into dynamics it eases slightly. In the tricky way grief does , not completely,not everyday but most of the time.
I’m sure Prince Harry and his lovely new family will manage just fine and well but I’m sure there’ll always be a little thought of the special person missing .