To my darling daughter Nieve,
Sometimes it feels strange calling you that. When I was pregnant with you we called you Shrimpy. There was even a silly song that your dad and I found on YouTube. We’d play it to you and laugh to ourselves in our silly little beautiful world.
We deliberated for ages on your name, we wanted it to be perfect just like you were. We kept it our little secret- I was always worried that once we’d decided on the name that someone would spoil it by telling us it was their dog’s name or the name of their evil aunt. So we named you Nieve but we called you Shrimpy.
It’s almost as though Nieve became this persona for you after you’d died. The first person we ever spoke your name to was the midwife who visited me at home after the birth. It felt so strange to share it, to speak it aloud to another, to use it to refer to you, our little Shrimpy. Matthew and I joked that that nickname would follow you well into adulthood. It had come about on your first scan at 8 weeks, where you did indeed look like a little shrimp. Your dad even made you an email with Shrimpy in the title.
Sometimes, when I’m in the new house I still catch myself referring to the spare room as ‘Shrimpy’s room’, even though you never actually got to live here. I wonder how you feel about a new baby occupying that space?
This new baby has given your dad and I hope and a reason to keep on walking, but that doesn’t mean we think of you any less. You will always be our first born daughter and have a huge place in our lives and in our hearts. I imagine a home in which your name is spoken regularly, for you are something to be celebrated and cherished. Your younger brothers or sisters will learn of you and your place in our lives and in our family and I imagine that they will miss you as their playmate, their sister, their friend. I suspect you could be put on a grand pedestal and difficult to live up to! I imagine we’ll pull out your photographs and compare your features to that of your siblings. You were a beautiful baby. All the midwives on the ward commented on what a pretty baby you were and I was so proud.
When we first saw you after the birth, it felt strange as you were so full of life when I was pregnant, and yet here you were, so silent and still. On your first scan the sonographer had me jumping round the room to wake you up, but once you started moving, my word, you did not stop! I even had to return to the hospital to redo tests as you just would not cooperate and keep still long enough for them to be completed.
I felt your movements early, with the first flutters at 13 weeks after a cold drink. As the weeks went by I loved to prod my abdomen and have you respond by kicking back. It provided your dad and I with endless amounts of entertainment. On one day he knelt down to talk to you and you kicked back in response to his voice. It was magical.
You were very responsive to noise. At the cinema, you made such a fuss about the surround sound that I covered my stomach in our coats in order to try to mute it for you! In your uncle Chris’s show, when the audience gave the cast a standing, clapping, stomping ovation, you joined in kicking and wriggling wildly and I imagined it was your way of sending your commendations!
I imagine you would’ve been a very animated child with lots of energy, inquisitive, loving.
Your dad and I still talk about you all the time. At first, the memories were like daggers to my heart but now I am beginning to relish fondly in your memory and celebrate you for the huge blessing you really were.
I tried my best for you throughout my pregnancy but it doesn’t feel enough. I wanted to give you life, to show you the world and share the awe and wonder of life’s pleasures through your eyes. I wanted to teach you to read, to tie your shoe laces, to ride a bike. I wanted to share Disney movie nights, fairytale sing alongs and princess birthday parties with with powder pink ice cream. I wanted to make the world magical and beautiful for you. Father Christmas and sugar plum fairies. I also wanted to teach you to be strong, compassionate and independent. I wanted to teach you to get your hands dirty, to jump into the gigantic puddles of life. Most of all, I wanted you to be happy, to feel loved, safe and secure.
I think of you every time I see a beautiful rainbow spread across the sky, everytime I pull a white feather from my clothes or find one laying softly on the carpet, I think of you every time I see an inquisitive robin redbreast hopping along a tree branch or a beautiful stray bushy-tailed fox. This is the beauty of life and you exist among it.
I hope that you’ll walk with me on the journey with your brother or sister. That you’ll share in the delights the world has to offer; that you’ll jump in the puddles with us, leapfrog over toadstools, come bug hunting, make mud pies and build dens and climb trees. I hope that you’ll splash by our side in the waves at the seaside, build sand castles with us and take enormous gulps of sticky chocolate ice cream. I hope you’ll journey with us on holidays, singing loudly in the car to annoy daddy, sleeping under the stars and listening out for nocturnal creatures. I hope I remain part of your world as you will always remain a gigantic part of mine.
I want you to know that however big our family grows, that you will always be a part of that family and it will never be truly complete without you in it. I want you to know that wherever we go in the world, wherever we travel to, move to or end up we will always carry you in our hearts you will never be far from our thoughts. I want you to know that I don’t regret a single moment of your existence, even though the ending was so painful it took my breath away and left a part of my heart paralysed forever. I want you to know that I would do it all again, just to have one more moment of life with you in it. Most of all I want you to know how loved you are, how much we cherished our short time with you and how you will always be our darling beautiful little girl.
Sleep tight Angel,
Love Mummy xxx