Stillbirth through the eyes of a child.
I’m Cora, and my sister is Maisie. We are twins and we were born on the 19th of January 2012. I’m the older twin by a whole 30 seconds and boy, do I know it! Mummy and daddy aren’t together, but they are friends and they get on really well, especially for me and Maisie.
Mummy tells us all the time that we are her life. That we are her strength. That we are her reason for laughing when she doesn’t even feel like smiling anymore. I don’t think mummy would be getting through this without the cuddles and kisses from me and Maisie.
It was hard, learning that my baby brother wasn’t coming home from the hospitals with my mummy. I don’t like hospitals anymore. I’m only four years old. Mummy tells me that losing our little brother is something we shouldn’t have to endure – whatever that word means. She also tells us that she is super duper proud because we are very strong. Me and Maisie have cried a lot since Otis was born because we wanted him to come home. We didn’t want to leave him in the hospital because we didn’t know where he would be going next. But granddad and aunty Zoe kept telling us that everything was going to be okay, that our little brother would be looked after by Grandma Sue, Grandma Lilian and his Granny and Granddad Cullen.
Mummy can’t talk about Otis to me and Maisie yet without crying, but that’s okay because we can! Me and Maisie talk to each other about him all the time, especially when we think mummy can’t hear us. We tell each other how much we miss him, but we say it with a smile on our face because mummy has told us that we will see him again one day, so we don’t have to miss him forever and ever.
I remember Granddad first telling us when our little baby brother was poorly. It was a sad day. Mummy was crying and I heard her mutter something about it being ‘inevitable that Otis will pass away.’ I’m only four, I didn’t know what that meant but I knew it was sad. But I didn’t cry, because I still thought my baby brother would be coming home from the hospital with mummy.
I also remember the day Otis was born. I remember grandma Ann telling us that mummy had let her know he was here. I remember her saying it expecting her to be happy, but Grandma Ann was very sad. I still didn’t understand why everyone was sad about my baby brother being born. It was going to be the best! Maisie and me had even picked out his nursery theme. We wanted it to be a jungle, because Otis was going to be a little monkey.
Granddad picked us up from Grandma’s house after we had our dinner. We had omelette that day, our favourite. I remember because it was after having my omelette that Granddad and aunty weewee (zoe) told us our baby brother was sleeping. ‘Sleeping? Well, that’s okay’ I thought, ‘me and Maisie go to sleep every single night.’ But then Granddad told us he was an angel. I’d heard that before, that someone I loved had become an angel. It was my Grandma Lilian, she became an angel not that long ago. I remember now what that means. Becoming an angel means you never come home. Becoming an angel means you only get to see your family and friends when they’re sleeping, because you have a special job. Mummy told me that when Grandma got the job of becoming an angel.
I know mummy was terrified when she saw me and Maisie walk through the door to meet our little baby brother. I could tell by the way she looked at me. She had ‘that look’, the same one she gave me when Maisie was poorly, when Milo our doggy went to doggy Heaven, and when Grandma became an angel. But this time it was worse. Mummy cried, a lot. I didn’t want to leave mummy in the hospital that day. I’m only four. I didn’t want to never see my baby brother again.
Mummy told me that her already broken heart broke in to a million more pieces the second she saw our happy faces that day.
When we met Otis all we saw was our little brother. We didn’t pay attention to the fact he wasn’t breathing, we didn’t ask mummy why he was cold and why he didn’t open his eyes – we just wanted to cuddle him, kiss him, touch his fingers and play with his little toes because he was so, so very cute! Mummy and her friends call Maisie the ‘baby snatcher’. She loves babies. As soon as she walks in to a room with a baby, she HAS to hold that baby, she has to love on that baby and be that baby’s mummy for the day. She wanted to do that with Otis too. The second Maisie saw him she NEEDED him in her arms. Maisie held our little brother lots and lots, she didn’t want to let go. We stroked his little cheeks and told him how cute he is. I don’t like babies that much. I prefer big girls and boys who I can talk to and play with, but I did ask to see his feet, I stroked his little toes and played with his tiny hands too. He has the cutest little hands. They were all wrinkly, like Granddads!
I remember when Otis went to Heaven. We went to the church first. Mummy told us that it would be a sad day and lots of people would cry, but that it would be okay. Granddad told us that it was okay for us to cry that day. Maisie cried, but I didn’t cry. I’m only four, I didn’t really know what was happening. My mummy cried lots and lots and Granddad cuddled her lots and lots. Chris did too. I remember seeing Otis’ angel box being put in to the floor – mummy told us that this is how he gets to Heaven, and that when it was dark that night he would fly up to the sky. Otis isn’t in that box anymore, but it stays in the ground so when he comes down to give us kisses when we are asleep he knows where to fly to. We have put lights on his grave now so he knows where he is going and doesn’t get lost.
Mummy says we have been very brave since Otis was born, even though we have struggled. Me and Maisie both like to hold pictures of Otis and cuddle him while we watch TV but sometimes we miss him a lot, and this makes us cry. Mummy tries to stay strong when we cry but sometimes she struggles too, and that’s okay. We know that it’s okay to cry because mummy has told us. I remember going to visit Otis’ grave and asking mummy and aunty weewee if I could sleep there the night. Aunty weewee told me I couldn’t because I would get cold, and I cried, because then I thought Otis would get cold too. But mummy told me he has lots and lots of blankets, lots of teddies and a woolly hat to keep him warm. I cried all night and cuddled his blanky to sleep. I’m only four. I thought my little brother would be coming home.
We also have good days. Me, Maisie and mummy talk about Otis and we smile. We talk about his big elf ears and his massive toes. We don’t talk about him every day though, we don’t need to. We know we always think about him and that’s all that matters – mummy told us that.
I know me and Maisie will always remember Otis. We will speak about him when we want to, and we say goodnight to him every single night. Otis is an angel now. He comes down at night to kiss us when we are sleeping but we aren’t allowed to see him because he has special jobs to do. We are lucky to have Otis as our baby brother, even though he isn’t here on Earth, and mummy tells us all the time that he is the luckiest boy who ever graced the Earth to have me and Maisie as his big sisters. This makes me happy, because I always wanted to be a good big sister to him.
We love you Otis, lots and lots.
Love Cora Scarlett
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; We miss you, we love you, we will do both eternally.