The best day of your life would also be the worst
Looking back on where you are right now, the evening of the day of Henry's birth, I am in awe of you. If you ever again doubt your ability to do something just remember yourself at this moment and know if you can survive today you can do anything.
When you woke this morning you didn't know today was the day you would meet your son. You never imagined how wonderful and empowering the experience of birthing him would be or just how completely you would love him, you already loved this little person so much and yet somehow at the moment of his birth all this extra love appeared. Never in a million years did you imagine that today, the best day of your life would also be the worst. The very idea that your child's life would end so soon after it had begun is so ludicrous it never crossed your mind. Like any other new parent you expected a lifetime with him and that really wasn't an unreasonable expectation. When you woke this morning you couldn't have known that within hours of bringing new life into the world you would watch an attempt to save that very same precious life, that you would see the truth in the doctor's eyes that told you before his words that you newborn son was gone. Death does not belong at birth, it just doesn't make sense. You are going to spend a lot of time wondering what you could have done differently, how you could have saved him but you had no way of knowing this would happen, nobody did. It is not your fault.
In these early days you will eat when you are given food. You will sleep because childbirth and grief are both exhausting. You will shower and dress because these are the minimum requirements you have set yourself to achieve each day, and that's okay. People will say how strong and brave you are. They will tell you they can't even imagine what it is like, that they don't know how you do it and they surely wouldn't be able to if it was them. You will do it because you have no choice. At the moment your son drew his last breath and his heart stopped beating yours continued and so you continue. Each moment will happen as it happens. You will take each day, hour and minute as it comes and do what you need to survive. You will do what anyone in this situation would do because there is literally no other option. Right now it seems like this pain isn't survivable but you are surviving it and you will continue to do so.
Over the coming weeks and months you will do difficult things without understanding how. It will be you who places Henry's body into a small white coffin lined with blue. Relinquishing your hold on him you will kiss his beautiful face for what you know will be the very last time. You will insist it is you who places the lid on that small white box, knowing it will be the last time you will ever see your first born. A few days later it will be you and Martin together who will lower that same tiny casket holding your son's body into the ground, surrounded by so much beauty and birdsong, watched by friends and family. His will be the saddest funeral you've ever been too, a day you want to run away from but I promise, like you have survived today you will survive that day too.
Mama, I wish I could say something positive but that isn't what you need right now and the truth is there are no positives when a child dies, I won't diminish what you have lost by pretending there are. Time is not the great healer some claim. The pain you are feeling right now on this very first day of your new parenting journey will continue, it won't ever lessen but in time it will become less raw and you will get better at managing it. This is not a positive spin but a fact. Grief will occupy exactly the same space it does now but life will grow around it, imperceptibly so you'll barely notice it happening but little by little a new life, one with Henry at the very centre, will form around the pain. Right now the future looks scary. You worry Henry will be forgotten. You worry that once his funeral is over and his physical body is beyond your reach there will be nothing left for you to do, that your role as his mother will end. You need not worry about these things. He will not be forgotten, you could never forget and you'll ensure he is remembered by others too. Don't fret about how you will do this, it will come naturally. You will find opportunities to tell his story, write his name, share his photos and you will continue to mother him through these acts of remembrance. It won't always be easy but you will develop a toughness that enables you to carve out a little bit of space for Henry in this world.
You are still a mother. Yours is a different motherhood than expected but it's still motherhood and is just as real and valid as the one enjoyed by mothers with babies in arms. You are Henry's mother and you always will be.