The funeral was approaching and set for Friday, 28 July 2017.
On a Monday morning I received a call from Leonie who worked at the funeral home we were using for Mason’s service. Leonie called to say that Mason has been finally taken into her care from being released at the Coroners and had arrived to her late last night.
I was relieved. I knew where Mason was. I knew what would be done to him now instead of him being taken straight away from the hospital to the Coroners for investigations and reports. I didn’t know what they were doing with my beautiful baby boy. I didn’t know where he was. I didn’t want him to be alone with strangers. But now finally he is in the safe hands of Leonie who is going to give him a bath, wash him, put his little nappy on and put him into his warm fresh new clothes I had bought for him at Seed. There was no more poking and prodding anymore. My baby can finally rest and be prepared for family and friends to meet him and say goodbye on Friday.
Then Leonie said, “I have seen Mason and he is perfect. He is so beautiful. That nose and lips. You have to come see him. He is perfect.”. I cried hearing this. My heavy dead heart moved a little. I felt pride, I felt sad, I felt happy, I felt confused. My beautiful baby boy is ok. Mason is ok. And he is perfect. I knew that when I first laid my eyes on him but I was worried about what the Coroner had done to him. I knew Leonie had the right baby as she said he was perfect. That he is beautiful and that nose. Everyone commented on that nose. I knew she had seen my Mason. MY Mason. But I didn’t know if I wanted to see him again.
Saunders also felt the same. We were torn. We had beautiful memories of Mason warm and chubby, with beautiful tanned skin, with fat hands and toes. We had beautiful memories of him breathing and alive, his body soft and smelling of the heavenly scent of love and happiness, of a newborn. Mason passed away in my arms, he was still warm. I didn’t want to see my baby in a coffin and not a crib where he should be sleeping. I didn’t want to see my beautiful baby boy cold and hard. I didn’t want to see him if his face had changed. If he didn’t look the same. If it wasn’t the same beautiful baby boy I met for 6 days, who I grew to know more of. Who I loved more and more and more each second.
I told Leonie we would arrange a viewing the night before the funeral for family to see Mason one last time, to hold Mason one last time, to kiss Mason one last time and to say whatever they wanted to Mason one last time. This was also a chance for Saunders sister to finally meet Mason as she was stuck in Europe. I knew she would love this opportunity to see her nephew and it meant a lot to her. Leonie also said that we could put whatever we wanted in Mason’s coffin, letters, cards, toys, blankets. I told family that Thursday was an opportunity for them to see Mason one last time but they didn’t have to if they were uncomfortable. We didn’t want our family to think they had to, we respected their wishes.
My mum cried at hearing this, her face also torn like mine. She didn’t know if she could see him again. She was heartbroken. She had the same warm memories I had and she didn’t want them tampered. I told her it was ok if she didn’t come and I would totally understand. I know she would feel terrible either way. I hated seeing my own mother so upset and heartbroken. It killed me. This was supposed to be her time with her first grandson. My mum had saved up all her leave from work so she could take a month off to help with Mason. More like kidnap him and play with him all day. She told everyone she came across that she was going to be a grandma. Now she had to return to work and tell all her friends what happened. It broke my broken heart.
Saunders and I decide we would see on the day what we were feeling like if we wanted to see Mason or not. Regardless we would be there Thursday night for family who wanted to see Mason again. We were both shocked we were getting a second and last chance to see Mason again and we didn’t know what he would look like. Would he look the same? Better? Worse? How would seeing Mason again effect our grieving and mental state?
During the week after Mason went to the stars we received such amazing love and support from family, friends, neighbours and people we had never even met before. Flowers arrived by the bucket loads every day. Florists Australia wide sales went up by the thousands that’s for sure. Our house was filled with so many flowers and plants that we had to move them all outside on our deck. We arrived to find lunches, dinners and even groceries on our doorstep. We needed a bigger fridge for all the frozen meals made. (Btw totes sick of lasagna now). More stars were ordered. I swear Mason owns a lot of real estate up there in the sky. Vouchers to Gold Class movie tickets, Spa packages, hotel packages, all little gifts received just to know that people just didn’t know what to say but were still thinking of Saunders and I. We will never forget the love and generosity we received and are forever grateful. Thank you to everyone that reached out and supported us. There are not enough words that could thank each and every one of you. Mason you were so so so loved and no one had really even met you or known you, yet my son brought out the best in people. Showed us what love means. I truly knew what real love actually meant when I saw Mason for the very first time. Mason didn’t have to do a single thing, he didn’t move, didn’t cry and was only here for a short time yet I loved him like I had known him for years. To not know a single thing about someone and to love them unconditionally is true love.
When I was pregnant I had joined a Facebook group page called “July Babies 2017”. A bunch of amazing women from all over Australia, all strangers who were expecting in the month of July. I had the first due date in the group being 1 July but it seemed to be the joke now seeing that most of the women had gone early. I was seriously thinking I would be the last to deliver. Everyday I would wake up to Facebook messages and posts asking if i had the baby. Everyone was on edge waiting for Mason to arrive. When the women were down or finding it tough I would try my hardest to make them laugh with videos of me dancing with a huge belly (mostly naked), bouncing up and down on a fitball or running sprints up hills at 41 weeks pregnant trying to get Mason out.
These women were amazing. The love and support I received daily was incredible. They made pregnancy easy and fun for me. I felt well supported. When I was awake at 3am they also were awake supporting each other through the doom and gloom parts of pregnancy. I had such an easy pregnancy though, it broke my heart so I felt since I had it easy I would be the clown that I am and offer laughs and jokes. People who know me know I have a sick sense of humour! When I lost Mason, the girls (without me knowing) created a Gofundme page to donate towards whatever Saunders and I wanted, be it towards the funeral costs, a holiday for us, anything. I was simply blown away. These strangers, whom I had never met before all gave up some of their own money that they could have used on their new babies to help support a baby they had never even met. How amazing is that? Who even does that? Mothers do.
I decided that I would contribute the funds from the Gofundme page to the Miracle Babies Foundation like I had asked everyone to donate to instead of giving us flowers at Mason’s service. I didn’t need the money and wanted to use the money appropriately, something that would do good. The women raised over $1300. I said they are amazing right?
I also needed something to wear to my beautiful boy’s day. I had no clothes, all the clothes I owned were maternity clothes. I didn’t want to wear black. I wanted to wear something fun and happy. So I jumped on the internet and did some online shopping seeing as I didn’t want to leave the house. I finally found the most perfect outfit with nails to match! A blue galaxy glittering with stars.
I remember how sick I felt going out to get my nails done. I shouldn’t be doing this? This doesn’t feel right? The last time I was here I was getting my nails done before the birth of Mason, so the doctors could see nice manicured feet and because I thought with a new baby I wouldn’t have time to get my nails done! (Here I am worrying about my toes yet they see in and out of your vagootz and parts where the sun doesn’t shine). I didn’t get the same pleasure of getting my nails done. It was a full shop, was everyone judging me? Did they know I had just lost a son? And here I am getting my nails done but I wanted Mason to see Mummy was doing ok. Not a mess. Even though I was inside. I didn’t want my Mason to feel bad that he wasn’t here and that my heart was shattered. But everything had to be perfect to every fine detail.
It was Wednesday and Saunders and I still hadn’t written our speeches for Mason’s service. We decided that since the next day is the viewing, we wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind to sit down and write a speech if we were to see Mason again. So we had to bite the bullet and write what we were going to say in front of everyone. Where do you even start? How do you tell everyone about your beautiful baby boy? I mean I could go on for years and years, there wasn’t enough time to fit everything in a 3-5 minute speech? Saunders sat on one side of the couch, myself on the other. We didn’t speak. I could tell it was so hard for him, the pain on his face. He wasn’t a public speaker. I was in the debating group back in high school. I started to write, it poured and poured out of me. I couldn’t stop. But when I did, that was it. I didn’t read over it, I didn’t practice it. I didn’t check for mistakes. Those are the words and feelings that poured out of me at the time and I was going to leave it at that.
Thursday. It was Thursday. The day we were to see Mason again for the last time if we wanted to. Saunders still didn’t know but I had been thinking about it non-stop since the idea had been thrown at us. I told Saunders that I will see my son. I have to. I told him that I didn’t want Mason to know that mummy and daddy had an opportunity to see their beautiful baby boy, to hug him, to kiss him, to tell him everything will be ok yet we didn’t. I would regret it for the rest of my life. I promised my boy I will be there to the very end. No matter if he was breathing or not. No matter if he didn’t look the same. I am his mother and mothers do not care what their children look like. They will always love them regardless. I wanted to be the one that tucked my beautiful baby boy into his coffin and lay him to rest. I told Saunders it was ok if he didn’t want to and I would respect his decision.
We went to the funeral home that night at 5pm. Leonie was there. I was so happy to see her knowing that she had taken great care of my Mason over the last few days. Leonie had told me that she had bathed Mason, put his nappy on and placed him in his little outfit. Even though we all know Mason wouldn’t use his nappy Leonie still treated him like he would. That Mason was and is still a baby. Family started rocking up and I was pleased to see that everyone had turned up even my own mum who I thought wouldn’t have come because it was too heartbreaking for her.
Everyone had written letters to Mason to put inside his coffin. The envelopes were covered in glitter, stars, some had sequins, all pretty little letters of love to send with Mason on his final journey. We followed Leonie into the room she had sat all of us down in at the start of the week to organise the funeral. Again no one spoke. Leonie had told us that Mason is in a small room out the back in a little crib and not the coffin. Bless her. Since the room was small it was decided that family were to go in groups to see Mason. Leonie told us we can hold Mason and that we could take as long as we wanted with him. Saunders decided he would see Mason and that made me so happy. Mum and Dad united as one. Mummy and daddy are coming to see you Mase!
I decided that Saunders sister should go in first since she hadn’t seen Mason yet and Saunders and I would go in with her for support. Leonie lead us to the room and I remember Saunders saying he felt sick. I felt the same and also nervous. What was Mason going to look like? We finally came to the door. Leonie explained that Mason was at the back, tucked into a crib. I grabbed Saunders hand tight and followed Saunders sister into the room.
We approached the crib. There was Mason. Was it Mason? Who’s baby is this? Is this my baby? This baby in front of me was an angel, he was perfect. He was beautiful. Healthy. But this isn’t the hospital Mason I had grown to know and love over the 6 days. This baby looked like he was just sleeping. This baby looked healthy and alive. This baby didn’t have anything obstructing his luscious lips, there was no breathing tube. There were no tubes. There was no bruising or swelling. And then it hit me and I recognised the beautiful baby boy in front of me.
THIS IS THE MASON I NEEDED TO SEE.
THIS IS THE MASON THAT SHOULD OF BEEN PLACED ON MY CHEST AFTER BIRTH. THIS IS THE MASON THAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BRING HOME. THIS IS THE MASON THAT WAS UNTOUCHED, NO POKING OR PRODDING, NO TESTS, NO HOSPITAL. THIS IS MY MASON. THIS WAS THE MASON I WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE.
I mean look at him. MASON IS PERFECT. Look at that face. LOOK AT THAT FACE!!! This is the Mason we were meant to see. A healthy cheeky baby. Look at that cheeky little grin! This is what Mason would have looked like if the unexpected traumatic delivery didn’t happen. This is what my son looks like. At first I couldn’t recognise Mason. I couldn’t accept this baby in front of me. I had hospital Mason and now in front of me I had an at peace Mason. I couldn’t register it. It was like meeting a different baby. Maybe the Coroners’s got it mixed up. But reality sunk in. It was heartbreaking. Why did he have to look so good. Why did he have to look normal. Like I could just take him home with us and put him to bed. It was breaking my heart. Life is so unfair. This is so fucking unfair. Look at his little outfit from Seed that I picked for him. It was perfect. Everything was perfect except I couldn’t take him home.
(Saunders sister meeting and holding Mason for the first and last time).
Like Mason’s last day on earth at the hospital, family took their turns to hug and hold Mason. As they entered in groups I was full of pride. “LOOK AT MASON!!!! HOW BEAUTIFUL IS MY BABY BOY!!!”. It was so bittersweet. Family were shocked to see this new version of Mason. They all instantly fell in love with him but at the same time were so crushed that this poor beautiful baby boy didn’t get a chance to show off his good looks to the world. They all met Mason again for the first time. A perfectly beautiful and normal baby boy.
Again I made sure everyone had time with Mason before us, Saunders and I would be the last to hold him and to spend time with him alone. Saunders held Mason first. This is what I had envisioned. Father and son. Bonding. I was looking forward to seeing Saunders with our first baby. It was a beautiful sight to see. I just wish it didn’t have to be this way.
Then it was my turn.
Saunders passed Mason to me. He wasn’t cold, he wasn’t hard, he wasn’t stiff but my god he was heavy!!! Mason you little chubbawabba!!!! Mason fitted into my arms so perfectly. Finally I have Mason up close and tight. I could stand up with him, move around freely instead of at the hospital chained to all the machines. I inspected Mason again, his little hands and feet, his hair, the scars from the forceps still with his blood, his chubby cheeks, his luscious lips had gotten smaller. There was no more swelling. In my head I was shouting “Just wake up Mason. You’re ok. Just wake up and prove everyone wrong!”. God he was perfect. And boy was he long! How the hell did you fit inside me. If he was standing he would be up to my knee!! Ugh I breed them big and strong!
(My first photo with Mase on that Thursday night. Even though I am smiling you can see pain, heartbroken and tired eyes).
God I wanted time to stop. I wanted this day to go on forever. I wanted to hold my son for eternity. I loved and craved the feeling of him in my arms. Again I kissed him every inch of his body just like I did in hospital. Mummy and daddy are here Mase!! We love you soooo much!!!! We are so proud of you!! Oh Mase you are perfect. My beautiful baby boy!!
I stood up and held him tight, patting his little bum. I envisioned doing this at late night feeds, holding my baby and telling him in the middle of the night how much I loved him so.
(In the video above you may notice how cheeky Mason is despite his cheeky grin. Look at his fingers. He is giving everyone the rude finger! That’s my boy!).
I looked at Mason and started laughing. “He has the same gnocchi chin I do!!! Look at his chin, he has the same chin as me!!”. God I was so proud!!
Leonie came in and asked us if we wanted to wrap Mason and place him in his coffin to rest for the final time. We placed Mason on the table and wrapped him in a blanket printed with stars.
I looked at Mason on the table with his little bear. My little bubba man. Such an angel. I asked Leonie if it was possible to measure Mason as I didn’t know what length he was. The hospital never recorded it down. Leonie searched for some measuring tape with no luck, however she brought back some blue ribbon that we could cut the length of Mason and I could measure him when I got home. (I measured it and the ribbons length was 59cm!!!).
Once we wrapped Mason tight, nice and snug, Leonie asked us if we wanted to place him finally in his coffin. I remember taking those few steps to the other side of the room feeling like eternity. This was it. The last time I would see my son for good.
I placed him in the small tiny coffin making sure he was comfortable. I tucked him in tight. Saunders and I started to pack his coffin with the letters of love from the family on either side of Mason. We looked at Mason for the last time and told him again that we loved him so much, that he was loved by so many, that we are so proud of him, that we will never ever forget him or replace him, that he was going to be ok, that there will never ever be a day where we don’t think of him and thank you for giving us the privilege to be his parents.
I kissed him that one last time and whispered in his ear “Thank you for letting my be your mummy. For making me a mummy and that the day your heart stopped beating so did mine forever. I love you my beautiful baby boy. I always will. Mummy will see you soon”.
And then we closed the lid and left our beautiful baby boy.
Tomorrow is going to be the hardest day of my life.