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Afterbirth poems

It was a few days after I lost my baby at 24 weeks. I needed an hour to be alone in my room . Instead of sleeping I wrote 3 poems. These are exactly as I wrote them in the moment. I've not changed how the lines were written on paper or edited them in any way. I felt it was important to simply share them.



The naive complacency,

Coasting, empty mindlessness

That A will lead to B.

That clocks tell the right time.

Power lines feed your home

To make things work.

The happy ignorance of 

not having to understand,

fix, decide, design.

It just is.

They just do.


Until they don’t. Until they aren’t.

Suddenly we reopen the

libraries, ask the skillkeepers,



Plug me back in. I am

the perfect android. I won’t

deviate, I’ll function as I’m

meant to.

Clutter, Pitter, Patter.


Walls are still white.

Furniture placed there ‘for now’.

Clean folded clothes in a 

Pile is leaning.

Gift bags full of items,

Drawers half open, spilling old


A carrier bag,

Leaflets on grief.

But the curtains match the

Bed clothes. The outside spills

Inside. There is much light

From big windows, but no wall to hang my 


To line up coats and

Dresses that wear me.

I’m a hairdryer cable, tangled.

Old make-up, smeared on a

Light carpet.

Bulbs hang from the ceiling.

A Clinical box with fragments of

Love and flowers.

I can taste the scent. I just 

Need time. But breath is limited,

Divided unfairly.

I give the colour and the

Music to another while

I steal a moment every

Few days. Pieces of a pie.

I add them up.


Thank god.

Another day.

Another possibility. 



I’d have made you out

of glass.

So they’d see the care I


To not bang into things,

put the seatbelt under, not

across you.

I’d polish you and

buy twinkly lights to

decorate you for Christmas.

Turn you into a snowglobe.

And I’d know that we were

having fun.

While all the time I could

see her move, dance, I’m sure

she’s dancing. Trying to steal

pieces of white. Can she

hear the music?


And everyone else could see you too

and clear the walkways,

Smile with wonder,

cushion me and make a nest of


Yes, I’d have made you out of glass. Thick glass.

Full of water like a fish bowl,

A washing machine drum.

We never shatter them.


Standing in front of a mirror screen

I’d hold his hand

as the physicians drilled

and watch the water

drain from the sphere.

The opposite of drowning.

And you’d flop, soft and 

nimble like that feather,

The tiny bird    lifeless.

But I’d know you.

I’d have seen you become.

Your redness and your

half open eyes & mouth would

have been what I knew of you.

Those under-formed fingers would

have seemed so formed.

Your feet practically ready to be

walked upon.


I’d save the piece of 

broken glass and make a 

mosaic picture to hang on

the wall, to remember the

care I took, which still was

not enough.

I’d mop the floor, shovel

the mirror that was before


Put my skin back on.

Moisturise it. Firm everything

out, perfect it. Get ready

to begin again.

The gazes will stop, no one

cares who I am anymore.

I walk on uneven ground.

Pebble stones, the air is polluted.

I cough but no one even


I see the goddesses move about,

gliding, flowers, smiles,

until they’re not anymore.

Shaved head, lost teeth, bruised,

abused, disccarded. Worthless.

I look through the window

and see the snowglobes at

Christmas. The baby Jesus, the

white deer, the

beautiful lights.

My reflection doesn’t belong.

On my own.

I once had a belly made

of glass, with a transparent

womb that held a 

perfect being.

That is all. 


Lockdown Bump

I wrote this poem shortly after our baby was born. Possibly a few months, I can't be sure. The pregnancy and birth experience, whether it's a first baby or not, can be daunting, scary and a lot to take. My first experience of pregnancy and birth was during lockdown and so everything I expected to happen in terms of antenatal and postnatal support appeared to be very different. She was a special gift in uncertain times, that's for sure.

I watched the needle, watched you cry.

Masked face, only my eyes

Could mouth the words it’s ok.

I hope you knew

I was always all there for you.


I lay in bed with useless hands,

Full of drugs and pain and trauma and plans.

Is this right? Did I forget?

Am I a mother yet?


A busy ward and the nurses ‘do their best,’

But you were not right on my breast.

And the guilt of ignorance

Stabs and makes me sick.

I’m built to know better.

I’m built for this.


Eyebrows, sharp, big hands, tiny you.

They never got to see or hold this new


Compare the days old to five months.

Seeing as your dad and me, 

We got you all.

From bumpy head, less bumpy head,

That weft of hair, sticking up, 

Left, (still up) curled under, getting long.

Nails - cut nails - cut.

Rash. Rash gone.


Forget the balloons,

The posed pictures,

The stuffed toy you could not grasp.

All I wanted were moments now past.

And….Have you checked?

Shall I help?

Let me just…..


Sounds. Words? Roll, fall, reach, hit.

Rocking motion.

The only witnesses to your evolution.

A bespoke treasure,

Consumed, digested.

No rewind, no replay.

I saw you alive.

The summersaults.

Tried to describe

But daddy hurts

From second hand accounts.

He mattered too

When years had led to this. To you.


I needed a shared account.

A hand. 

To hold.

When fingers and probes (don’t

Quite understand

What this actually means.

If placenta bleeds?

Mum comes first?

If the time came?

Not growing much?

I’d like to see more this? 




Waiting rooms.


Spaces between old chairs,

Plastic wrapped.

I don’t need the magic.

Just someone, more than an app.

(The highlight of my week

Being told you’re some sort of fruit)

It’s cute (I suppose)

It’s all I have.

And charts and lines and dips and dots.

A file I carry like state secrets


Should know ‘other mums.’

Swim, relax, don’t be scared.

A class, be prepared 

And talk, learn.

Can’t browse the shops for cute

Ungendered clothes

Can’t meet for cake, hear how I ‘glow.’

Those floaty dresses, ‘mum-to-be’

Thick hair, clear skin,

I’ve never been so free.


But locked. Circling the same 

2-mile route as back aches,

Heavy legs.

Teary mornings and cravings

For things too scared to shop for.


If I get sick, my baby.

If he gets sick, our baby.

If mum gets sick, grandma. Grandchild.


And as things go,

It worked out. I’m ok I think. 

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