I know I’m not the only one who’s been through something terrible and I know, sadly, it could happen to many an Adelady in the future. But, if you’re ever faced with a truly heartbreaking situation at the same time as having a baby, I hope my words help you in some small way.
Seven days after my baby boy was born, my brother passed away from alcohol addiction.
This is a letter to the person who saved me: my real-life superhero; my six-year-old birthday boy.
Dear Austin Bobaroo,
Today, you turned the big six. I say this all the time and I know you can’t possibly understand the meaning behind my words, but you seriously are my superhero.
The day you were born, was the best day of my life. Despite spewing my guts up for the first 12 hours, after taking a cocktail of drugs to numb the pain from my emergency C-section, I was filled with complete happiness. And not just because my vagina didn’t rip in two. But because I had just met my favourite new person. You.
I have one big regret about that day though. As I was horizontal and projectile vomiting, my phone rang. Mum answered and it was my bro, your Uncle Ryan. He’d just heard that he had finally become an uncle and was crying with joy. He wanted to speak to me, but I was so ill that I shooed the phone away and said I’d speak to him later. But, I never did.
For the next seven days, I was wrapped up in my brand-new-baby world and every little bit of attention was on you — my superhero. Although at that time, I didn’t know you actually were a superhero.
At the time, I was annoyed at Ryan for not getting himself sober, so he could come to the hospital and meet you. I’d told him months before he died, he wasn’t allowed to hold my baby if he wasn’t sober. I assumed that was enough to help his addiction. Now, I know it wasn’t his fault.
Seven days after you were born, we were sitting in your room and completely overcome from a lack of sleep. As I was trying to absorb everything about you — every little noise and every tiny movement — I felt a sudden urge to call Uncle Ryan. He didn’t answer, so I tried a couple more times. Three hours later, your dad was in the shower and I saw his phone ring. I could see it was my mum (your Ganny) calling. As soon as I saw her name pop up, I knew something bad had happened.
At 10:35pm, your dad sat beside me and looked at me. I can’t even write what happened next, as it hurts too much. But an hour and a half after hearing the news, you woke up and needed to be fed. In my head, all I could hear were the very loud words, “HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO THIS?”
Looking back, I actually don’t know how I did it. I couldn’t cry myself to sleep; I couldn’t collapse on the floor and numb myself with sleeping pills. I had to get up, I had to be your mum and feed you. I remember being blurry-eyed and looking down at your little face. You had no idea that your mum was in so much pain. You just looked up at me with sheer innocence and suckled your milk.
Austin, from that moment on, I knew you were a superhero. You arrived at both the best and the worst time in my life. But because of you, I’ve laughed every single day since your uncle passed away. You’ve distracted me in the best way possible, when my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest.
Austin, I hope you never understand the feeling of having a baby and losing someone at the same time. But for people reading this letter, you would know the rollercoaster I speak of. It’s indescribable sadness, anger and enormous love and happiness all mixed into the one feeling. And of course, the multitude of hormones that come with just having a baby. I didn’t have time to revel in depths of despair. Everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to process it. For me, I allowed myself to get engulfed by the love I had for you, because you were the only thing that made me forget what had just happened.
I remember feeling guilty when my mother’s group would be complaining about their kids and how stressful it is. Because for me, looking after you was piss-easy compared to losing my brother.
But Austin, you didn’t just save your mumma. You saved three people: your Mum, your Ganny and your Pa. And that makes you their superhero too! Pa often tears up while talking about you, but not because he’s a silly, old man. Well, he is a silly, old man; but it’s mainly because you just light up their world! They lost their son and YOU helped them heal.
To you and all other superhero babies, thank you! You saved us and I’ll try to remind of you of that every birthday. Thank you for being our superhero.
Happy birthday Austin Bob