Episode #4 Ectopic Pregnancy, Dexter’s Story and Parenting a Dead Child with Ruth Hopkins

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This week’s interview is with Ruth Hopkins who describes herself as an eternal optimist, despite having been through a complex baby loss journey including a traumatic ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and the stillbirth of her son, Dexter Bear.

This episode may be particularly helpful if you’re wondering how you can parent a child who isn’t there for others to see, or if you’re wanting to support someone whose child is about to be stillborn. As a word of warning, there’s also a bit of dark humour!

In the interview, we talk about:

  • Ruth’s first pregnancy, which was ectopic and led to her experiencing a traumatic rupture of her fallopian tube. (7:34)
  • Falling pregnant with Dexter, having her waters break at work at nearly 24 weeks, finding out Dexter had died and giving birth to him. (17:24)
  • How Ruth and her husband made memories with Dexter after his birth and what she wishes she’d known. (34:48)
  • Going on to have a further miscarriage and the challenges of waiting for their rainbow baby. (42:59)
  • Keeping smiling through grief and loss, honouring Dexter’s memory and finding joy with him alongside them – including Dexter’s travels, cremation jewellery and Dexter’s bench. (47:36)
  • The challenges of parenting a dead child and other people’s expectations. (1:05:07)

You can connect with Ruth on Instagram @ruth_and_her_bear and read her blog.

In the introduction, I mention the Northumberland Endurancelife event my husband and I are running this weekend to raise money for Tommy’s in Skye’s memory. You can support us here.

If you have any suggestions for guests for the podcast or you’d like to come on to talk about your experience of baby loss and legacy, I’d love to hear from you. As well as talking to parents, I’d love to talk to grandparents, other relatives or friends who’ve been affected by the loss of a child about their experiences. You can email email alison@footprintsonourhearts.com or get in touch on me on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/footprintsonourhearts/) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/skyesfootprints).

For a transcript of the podcast, please visit our website https://footprintsonourhearts.com/.


Please note, timings below are referenced from the start of the interview segment of the postcast, not the start of the podcast itself.

Alison Ingleby 0:00
Today I’m delighted to be joined on the podcast by Ruth. One thing that I really wanted to do with this podcast was to talk to people who’ve experienced different types of baby loss. And Ruth, well, I’m calling you my three in one guest. Welcome to the podcast.

Ruth Hopkins 0:17
To be fair, we describe ourselves as something like that as well. So that’s good.

Alison Ingleby 0:23
Well, I’m glad you took it good spirit. It is a bit of a frivolous way to introduce you but I think one of the things that really stuck with me when I’ve heard you speak and on your Instagram posts is your positive approach to what you call wading through sh*t. And you and your husband Dave have been through a lot of that. But before we get into the details, let’s go back to the beginning. When did the two of you first think that you might want to start a family?

Ruth Hopkins 0:53
So for me personally, and Hi, everyone, that’s listening. This is exciting – first time I’ve done a podcast. I always believed that my kind of role in life is to be a mother. From, you know, as far as I can remember. I was very similar with my job, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I had a teacher when I was in year three, and she was one that inspires me to be a teacher. And I went on did that. And I just assumed that in life, you got married, had children. And there were and that was it. And I naively just assumed that we would be able to do that. And I was 18 when I met Dave, and we were engaged 11 weeks later, moved in within months of being together, and I was still at university trained to be a teacher. So we decided that we’d wait until I’d finished university to get married. So luckily, everything went well my teaching degree went well, I got a job. And then it was so it was probably 2014 that we decided to start trying. So it’s five years after we got married. We’d bought what I call our forever home. And it was just the right time.

Alison Ingleby 2:09
Wow, that sounds like love at first sight, whirlwind romance.

Ruth Hopkins 2:13
Yeah, it was okay. I took a bit of persuaded but now we’re 15 years down the line. Yeah, he’s all right.

Alison Ingleby 2:22
So did it take you long to get pregnant the first time?

Ruth Hopkins 2:26
It was about six months? We were sort of never… I’d say we were never actively trying but we weren’t ever not trying. Does that make sense?

Alison Ingleby 2:36
Yeah, I think so. Seeing what happens.

Ruth Hopkins 2:41
And I can remember the moment I found out we were pregnant. And and now when I think about that, it just seems like another different life, a completely different life.

Alison Ingleby 2:52
And your first pregnancy was ectopic. I think most people know what that means, but just in case we’ve got anyone listening who doesn’t, could you maybe tell us what an ectopic pregnancy is, and when you discovered that this, your first pregnancy, wasn’t going to be a normal pregnancy?

Ruth Hopkins 3:10
Yeah. So, for me, I probably I’m one of these people that probably didn’t really know what ectopic was either. I’ve heard about it, I think I sort of knew what it was. And but again, you just naively assume, oh, you get pregnant and then you bring your baby home, and we fell pregnant, and just assumed… We had no reason to go to the early pregnancy unit or have any sort of early scans or anything. It was our first pregnancy. So I was about eight weeks pregnant, and we were away on holiday. And I just was crippled with what I can only describe as the most excruciating pain, and it was horrendous, and I knew instantly the pregnancy was up because I knew straight away, there’s no way that this pain can be anything good to do with the pregnancy. We now know that what that pain was was that the fertilised egg was growing in my fallopian tube. We weren’t aware of this. I’d had the symptoms of pregnancy, you know, the sore breasts, the feeling nauseous, all of the kind of things that you would have in the early stages of pregnancy. Um, and that pain was my fallopian tube actually rupturing. But we didn’t know, for 10 days that it was actually my tube had ruptured at that time. So we spent 10 days thinking, Oh, it might be an ectopic pregnancy, it might flush itself out, we’ll keep monitoring you. And it’s not until 10 days later, that I actually collapsed because I was effectively bleeding internally to death, and the tube had ruptured 10 days beforehand and they haven’t picked it up. It’s really hard thing to detect an ectopic pregnancy because your body’s telling you and your blood hormone is telling you that you’re pregnant. But it wasn’t until I had a scan following the following the pain I didn’t know my tube had ruptured atthat time but we had a scan and they said oh yeah, you’re pregnant but we can’t find the baby so we’re going to call it a pregnancy in an unknown location. And I’m still very naive at that point. This is my first pregnancy. I’ve got no understanding of loss or trauma or anything like that. So I’m there going, Oh, Okay. Well, you know, it might turn up hopefully, you know.

Alison Ingleby 5:30
Just lost the baby!

Ruth Hopkins 5:37
So we were away at the time in the latest, some friends, and we came home and I went to York, and I was in and out every 48 hours having my HCG levels monitored. So the blood hormone. When you have a miscarriage, your HCG levels drop quite significantly. When you have an ectopic pregnancy, they don’t drop this quickly and that’s what they were monitoring every 48 hours. So they were looking at has it dropped significantly and it hadn’t. But this went on for 10 days, back and forth back and forth. And it wasn’t until I collapsed … Dave said my husband said all the blood is drained out your face, you’re not right, we need to go to hospital and I felt really faint. And then I collapsed in hospital, they took my blood pressure, it was 70 over 40 and my veins were collapsing. So at that moment then said, Okay, this is an ectopic pregnancy. We need to get this lady into theatre. And they struggled to find a vein because my veins were collapsing, so I have two anaethetists, one in either arm. And all I can remember them saying is we need to get her into theatre really quickly and I just kept going in and out of consciousness. And it wasn’t until I came around inintensive care that they told me that they’d had to remove my right fallopian tube. It had ruptured, so it was covered in, I don’t know, if it’s too much information, but it was covered in dry blood, they knew that that pain that I’d had 10 days previously was actually rupturing. And I, yeah, effectively, been bleeding internally to death.

Alison Ingleby 7:16
And had you been in a lot of pain through those 10 days then.

Ruth Hopkins 7:20
Um, I was bleeding. But after the initial rupture, and the initial extruciating… I mean I can’t even describe pain like it, you know, and I’ve delivered a stillborn child. It was very, very different. It was like you couldn’t even sit on the toilet. It was a very odd pain, but it was excruciating. And then after that, I’d kind of gone which I assume was after the rupture had settled itself, and then I just had a bleed to what I think they were thinking is, oh maybe the ectopic will flush itself out, or maybe it’s a miscarriage, but obviously there was concern because they hadn’t located the pregnancy as it were.

Alison Ingleby 7:58
Gosh, so you woke up in intensive care having nearly died and lost your baby. How were you and your husband in those kind of first weeks after that.

Ruth Hopkins 8:09
I remember the doctor saying to me, you’ll be back in six months and you’ll be having your scans and you’ll be pregnant again and all you know… And actually, I am – on my Instagram handle it says kind of an internal optimist – and I believe I am an optimist and I believe that’s what’s helped me over the past four or five years, that I refuse to give into the grief and I know everybody’s different and I’m always really aware and I’m always trying to be quite cautious of what I say because I don’t … You don’t want to put the way you grieve or the way you deal with things on other people. I think mine is just, this is how I deal with it. And if it helps anybody deal with it themselves, and that, you know, that’s only a good thing for me. And so we came home from hospital. I was off work for about 12 weeks, I’m a teacher. So it was over the summer holidays when it happened and I didn’t go back to the half term afterwards. Because physically I had to recover. I’d had a laparoscopy, but they’d gone in to check my other tube, they’d had to remove my tube and I was black and blue. And, and obviously, then it takes a lot of kind of time to recover from the trauma of it. And I think because it was so traumatic, it was almost like we were dealing with the trauma that I had gone through as opposed to losing the child, if that makes sense.

Alison Ingleby 9:34
And did did you get much support in terms of kind of dealing with that trauma?

Ruth Hopkins 9:42
At the time, well, looking back at it, no, I don’t think we’ve got any support. I think the support was, go home, get over it, we’ll see you in six months time kind of thing. And I think that comes down to actually there’s very little known about ectopic pregnancies. I don’t know if it’s that because we don’t know that much about it, we then also don’t offer that much support for it. Or whether it was just, Oh, it’s one of those things, similarly to how sometimes I think miscarriages are treated. And so it was more, we just had to support each other and just sort of navigate our way through. And I would say by Christmas of that year, I’d sort of turned a corner. I’d gone back to work, work was a good distraction for me. And I’d kind of dealt with the fact that this has happened, but we’ve got to keep going. And then by the summer after that, so a year after I felt like, You know what I’ve dealt with that. I can compartmentalise that, and let’s you know, get back on the waggon as it were.

Alison Ingleby 10:46
And was there anything, are there any kind of, I guess, complications, or were you told anything after… because obviously you’ve had, you know, one of your fallopian tubes removed and you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy. Was there any danger of that happening again?

Ruth Hopkins 11:01
So with an ectopic pregnancy, having your tube removed is almost a better thing because sometimes they can remove the egg from the tube but you’re then left with your effectively you’re damaged tube which then if you got pregnant with a fertilised egg down the same tube, the chances of that happening again are very high. So in that sense, they’ve removed the faulty tube and for all intents andpurposes, my other tube had looked and seemed fine. But from what I read about on the ectopic pregnancy website, which is really, really good, it could take us a little bit longer. Um, because I only have one tube, but I have both ovaries. But sometimes they said that even if it came from the ovary that even if an egg came from the ovary without the connecting tube, it could still migrate itself to the right place. I don’t know. It’s amazing how It works.

Alison Ingleby 12:01
I think this is where my biological knowledge comes to a halt.

Ruth Hopkins 12:06
They said it might take a little bit longer, but within 18 months, most women go on and have a second pregnancy and it’s absolutely fine. And so I hadn’t lost hope. I just was kind of, I think I was more terrified of it happening again, because now I knew about it and it was so traumatic, I was worried that will happen again, because actually, it could have happened again, in my other tube, you know, we didn’t know and, and we would only have known once I got pregnant. That was a scary prospect.

Alison Ingleby 12:40
And how did you feel then when you did find out you were pregnant again?

Ruth Hopkins 12:45
So I think once you’ve suffered a loss, you lose that joy, you lose that sheer, unadulterated joy straight away. So we were elated, like really elated and I remember it was January the 31st 2017 I can remember it happening. And and we were elated, but it was coupled with being absolutely terrified, but terrified of having another ectopic, nothing else. Well, I say nothing else, I suppose for me, the niggle was always there of, well you’ve experienced this horrible trauma, you know, but people are like, oh, lightning never strikes twice, blah de blah. And so we because of what happened, we got an early pregnancy scan. And they very quickly could tell us that the baby was in the right place. So that was sort of one brilliant tick. Your other tube’s working or for this pregnancy it’s worked and the baby’s in the right place. So that was amazing to know that and I suppose that was a step forward, but we’ll never get that unadulterated joy back ever.

Alison Ingleby 13:56
And how was your pregnancy with Dexter in terms of, I guess, obviously you’ve got that first pregnancy excitement taken away from you, but otherwise, was it a smooth pregnancy? Did you suffer much?

Ruth Hopkins 14:12
So I again, really struggled to believe that it was happening, um, which I think is linked, well, it is linked to what happened with my ectopic. But the early pregnancy unit were absolutely incredible. And so we had a scan of eight weeks, 10 weeks, we had a scan at 12 weeks, and we got to the 12-week scan. You know, brilliant, everything’s going to be fine now, tell everybody. And we got to the 12 weeks scan and I think because you then feel like you’re part of normal society of pregnant women. And you do sort of start to believe it a little bit. And I think all our friends and family believed it because I think everybody hears 12 weeks, oh brilliant. Whereas I think for me. I was always like, Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But my pregnancy was really you know, everything went really, really well. All my appointments brilliant. I was really well looked after until the last few days. And then I got to my 20 week scan and I would say that my 20 week scan was the moment that I believed this was going to happen. I thought we’re halfway. We’re halfway now. We found out it was a boy. Dexter’s 20 week scan is one of the most fondest memories I have of him because it was just incredible. Like they could show me the roof of his mouth. And they told me he didn’t have a cleft palate. They measured his hip to his knee and his knee to his feet and, and I can remember all these things about … Oh he’s got long legs and I said, Oh, that’s just like Dave, and it was just pure joy. And we did like a gender reveal. And so they’re just really lovely memories. And I think for me, that was the turning point. That was the point I was like, Yeah, okay, I’m gonna let myself believe now that this is happening. I can’t believe that four weeks later, he died.

Alison Ingleby 16:04
And I was very much the same. I was kind of a little bit paranoid for the first three months. And then I was thinking, well, the 20 week scan, that’s when they tell you if there’s something wrong. So once you get through that, and you get the thumbs up, and they say it’s okay then, like, and again, my naivety, because it was my first pregnancy, I was like, well, then you’re playing sailing to the end.

Ruth Hopkins 16:26
And I think there’s almost, not a danger, but you almost it becomes a human then as well. We knew we were having a son. We knew we were having a boy. We knew we were going to call him Dexter. It becomes very much more real, doesn’t it? I think knowing the gender for us and I’d always said … I am too much of a control freak to not find out, I had to find out. And it was definitely a boy on a scan. But yeah, I feel like that made it even more kind of believable because it was a human you know, you could humanise it, if that makes sense.

Alison Ingleby 17:02
Yeah, we didn’t find out. And I actually then really struggled with that when I found out that she died and not knowing then whether it was a boy or a girl. So you’ve had the 20 week scan, everything’s fine. When did things start to go wrong?

Ruth Hopkins 17:19
So I then … I was 23 weeks plus three or four days. So it was on the weekend and it was Saturday morning and I woke up and went to the toilet and had had no other symptoms of anything was absolutely fine. Went to the toilet, wiped and had what can I can only describe like a teaspoon of clear jelly, which we now know was part of the plug. That’s not normal, and I knew it wasn’t normal. And you’re there again, going oh god, okay, no, it’s fine, it’s fine. And so I phoned the maternity unit and told them and they said, Okay, well, is it bloody? And I said no. I mean, it was clear, transparent. And they said, Okay, well, if you have any more that’s bloody or watery, then phone is back. And I said, Okay. And I didn’t, so I didn’t phone them back. And so then on the Sunday, we were still quite anxious, I think because because something had happened that we knew wasn’t write. But a friend of mine had messaged me and she was like, oh I lost a lot of mine throughout my pregnancy and it can regenerate itself. And, you know, you do and you try and find the positives, don’t you? And you just think, Oh, it’s one of those things. And we were seeing my midwife on the Tuesday for my 24 week appointment. So I just thought I’d speak to her on Tuesday and see what she thinks. So then on the Sunday, I had like really awful tummy ache in the afternoon that kept kind of coming and going. And I know it wasn’t labour pains, it just was cramping. But it was enough to make me call the hospital again and I phoned the hospital and they said, Okay, so rate it out of 10, like how bad’s the pain. And I said, well, about s seven. And they said, Oh, that’s quite bad then isn’t it? And I said, Yeah. And they said, Okay, well, if it gets any worse call us back, and it didn’t get any worse, it went off. And through a conversation with the hospital and … I don’t want to say that we complained, because nothing’s gonna change our outcome. But it was more about, Is there something you can do or is there something that should have happened as a result of what’s happened to us? And they did say that they’ve spoken to the midwife that took the phone call and said at what point do you not take a woman in that’s phoning you that’s 23 and a bit weeks pregnant with abdominal cramps, like it’s not normal. And they did admit to that. But there’s nothing that can change our situation and I also believe that nothing would have changed had we have gone in any way because I think that they’d have done a quick scan, seen that Dexter was okay and sent us home. So that was the Sunday, then on the Monday I went to work again, safe the knowledge of, I’m seeing my midwife on Tuesday, we’ll talk to her then. And then I was having my lunch at my desk, there were children in my classroom doing like a couple of jobs, I can remember, and I stood up to go get something and I was like, oh my god I’m weeing myself. And you know, when you try to stop a wee and you’re like gripping, and I was like, Okay, well the wee’s not stopping and it’s wet and it’s warm and it’s definitely not wee. And there’s children in my classroom, oh my goodness. And I just managed to say to them. I can remember saying. Can you just go next door girls and just send through for my partner teacher. They didn’t see or know anything about it because it was quite quiet. You know, it wasn’t like gushing blood or you know, waterfall sound. And then, that was it, and then school phoned ambulance and ecause I work in Leeds I was sent to Leeds general infirmary and they phoned York on the way and York said they wouldn’t have been able to take me anywhere because I wasn’t 28 weeks. And they only cater for babies that are born at 28 weeks or more. And so I went to Leeds General Infirmary and actually, I’m thrilled that I did because they were incredible. And I can’t fault the support we were given then. And so then on the Monday, they came and did a scan and they said yeah, you waters have gone, Dexter’s okay. Hopefully your waters will regenerate themselves, but we need to keep you in, just to check things are going okay. And we’ll kind of come up with a plan, because I think it was, well you’re 23 weeks and five days at this point, and I was like, we need to get to 24 weeks before we make any sort of major decisions if that makes sense.

Alison Ingleby 22:07
Yeah. And did they did you get a reason? Did you find out why your waters had broken?

Ruth Hopkins 22:13
We didn’t get a specific reason, we got possible reasons if that makes sense. Like, it could be this, it could be that, it could be the other. They did offer to put me under general anaesthetic and do some investigations. But after the trauma of my ectopic and the trauma of losing Dexter at that time I was not ready for that. I’d been through too much invasive stuff. And I mean, they pretty much narrowed it down to that my cervix will … I’ll need a stitch next time. It had weakened or whatever. Because there’s nothing wrong with Dexter. And they did all the tests on him and all the tests on me and everything come back as it should have done and so they put it down to that. And then on the Tuesday, so it’s 23 weeks plus six days. They did another scan that evening. I can remember. They were like, he looks great. He’s looking like he’s measuring 25 weeks, he looks really healthy, lovely, strong heartbeat, he seems okay. So I stayed in and the consultant came to see me and she said, so you’re 24 weeks tomorrow. Let’s think about making a decision tomorrow about what we want to do. Like whether we deliver him or whether we send you home or you know, any of those sorts of things.

Alison Ingleby 23:37
And just because this is something that I didn’t know before, before you go through all this thing, so other people listening might not know but in the UK, 24 weeks is the arbitrary date they use as a cutoff between what they class as a late miscarriage and what is classed as a stillbirth. I’m not actually sure what the exact reason is, I think it’s sort of to do with viability I guess, the baby. But I do know that it is different in different countries. Did you know that? And did you have that kind of at the back of your head while all of this was going on?

Ruth Hopkins 24:14
So, interestingly, that year, the beginning of that year was the story of Michelle in Coronation Street, who had lost and had her little boy really early. And so I knew about the 24 week thing, because I think she’d had him in the story about 22 weeks. So I knew I had some awareness of it, I can remember watching it and being very upset by it and all the rest of it. And I think somewhere in my head, I knew about the 24 week thing. So to me, it was like, let’s get 24 weeks, let’s get to 24 weeks, because I knew that it was also that if I’d have delivered Dexter, they wouldn’t have resuscitated him unless he’d have been at 24 weeks, which is what you’re saying like a viability thing. And also, again, about the stillbirth think we wouldn’t have received a certificate of his death or a stillbirth as it were, unless he was 24 weeks.

Alison Ingleby 25:08
Yeah, and I think, I mean, having gone through it, I just I can’t imagine how that that sort of added weight and how hard it must be for parents who lose a child, you know, just before that, because it’s like, you know, it could be a day couldn’t it and, nothing’s different other than what what you get and how you’re treated.

Ruth Hopkins 25:27
I mean, literally 24 hours would have made the difference between … And I, through Instagram, have met friends who I now call friends that did lose their children at 23 weeks and don’t have the same sort of things that we have for Dexter, you know, they’ve managed to create their own things, but it’s not the official things as it were.

Alison Ingleby 25:50
Okay, so you’ve been told that Dexter’s is doing well. He’s kicking away in your belly and I guess you’re playing a bit of a waiting game.

Ruth Hopkins 25:59
It was, yeah, I mean, they just said right, we’ll see where we are tomorrow at 24 weeks. And then … So we woke up Wednesday morning. And I will always remember the Wednesday because it was the same date as the Grenfell tower fire. So whenever I hear that, on the television, the radio, if I read it anywhere, to me, it takes me to the day my baby died. So I’ve got quite, of course, I’m terribly upset about what happened, but for me, I just want to scream well my son should be on the news, because that’s the day that he died. So that’s the really stark hash reminder all the time.

Alison Ingleby 26:40
And it’s not something that goes away. It keeps popping up in the news as well. So when you’re not expecting it.

Ruth Hopkins 26:45
Yeah, exactly. And so I remember waking up that morning and seeing it on the TV and you know, we were devastated, and you know, I’m naively still pregnant with Dexter and he’s alive or was alive at that time, we believe. And then it was just a day of just waiting. There’d been an emergency on the labour ward and they couldn’t get a doctor, and to be fair, we weren’t really waiting for a doctor to come and do anything necessarily. We’d got to 24 weeks, they would come. We weren’t so desperately waiting for anybody. And then I remember they came about nine o’clock, and I’d been busy texting a friend. I remember everything so vividly, like who I was texting, what we were talking about, and all of those things. And the doctor came and she did a bedside scan. And by this point, I knew where Dexter’s heart was. We’d had so many scans and all the rest of it that I knew where it was, and she turned on the screen and I could see that his heart wasn’t beating. And she said … I think she was shocked. I would say she was probably quite a young doctor and wasn’t prepared for it and kind of was like, I’m going to get somebody just to, you know, no need to worry at the moment, I’m just going to get somebody to give me a second opinion. And in that instant, I knew, and I think Dave knew. And I was still kind of going, it’s okay, it’ll be okay. And the consultant came, and again, I could describe, I could draw her for you in vivid detail with her blonde spiky hair, and she was wearing a blue outfit. And she sat on the bed and she put her hand on my knee and turned and said, I’m really sorry, his heart stopped beating, and he’s died. And that was it. And that’s when your world comes crashing down. Yeah, that was the moment and that’s, I think that’s where your life changes irreparably forever.

Alison Ingleby 28:45
Yeah, it’s just those words, isn’t it? And yeah, we were told the same words and you know, I’m sure a lot of parents listening to this have also had those words. Like six words or something, isn’t it … five, six words and and that just changes your life.

Ruth Hopkins 29:00
And I’m like my heart’s racing, and I can feel the tears start to prick. Because how do you ever fluff up those memories? How do you ever make that any better? You don’t. It is just the worst possible thing that anybody could ever be told ever.

Alison Ingleby
And did you have any idea what was going to happen next?

Ruth Hopkins
So I can remember the consultant told us what was going to happen, you know that they were going to give me these tablets to bring forward labour, with a view to having him tomorrow. Or, no, it was Friday. This is the Wednesday and she was like with a view to having him Friday, and I was like, Friday? Like, I’ve got to live with this for you know, 36 hours or whatever? But I think Dexter knew … well, I don’t think Dexter knew, I think my body knew because they gave me this tablet pretty much as soon as they moved us into the bereavement suite, the Rosemary suite at the hospital. And I remember this lovely nurse saying to me, take pictures, take pictures, take them in black and white, takee them in sepia, they look really nice. Make sure you take pictures. Which as I like, what? But okay, you know…

Alison Ingleby 30:21
I’m so glad someone said that to you because one of the things I really regret is that we didn’t. And you have some beautiful pictures. You know, you and your husband and Dexter.

Ruth Hopkins 30:33
Thank you. And we weren’t offered Remember my Baby and I desperately wish we’d been … I so desperately wish I knew about it, but why would I know about it? Why would you know about it before your child’s died? And that’s one of my things that I wish you know, but I’ve got… I know I’ve got a couple of photos that for me will be my most treasured possession til the day I die without a shadow of a doubt.

Alison Ingleby 31:00
Yeah, and I think I only heard about it’s Remember my Baby, I think, isn’t it? I only heard about them, I think it was last week? Because I don’t think they are in all hospitals or they’re not in all the time. Like we, you know, it wasn’t even mentioned where where I was but I spoke to another lady and they had come in. I think they’re volunteer photographers who come in and take photos of your children. Okay, so then you had to go through being induced and giving birth, which, yeah, how did you prepare yourself for that?

Ruth Hopkins 31:36
I think hey, I don’t know if it’s my personality, my character, I don’t know, I just think I’m quite Matter of fact. Okay so this is what we’ve got to do now. You know, and I’ve still got to go through this, I’ve still got to go through the contractions. I’ve still got to go through pushing a baby out. And actually, you know, let’s think about the black humour the dark humour behind it. You’re pushing a dead baby out aren’t you, on top of everything else that you going through. So they gave me the tablet as I went to bed, well I say went to bed, I don’t think I got much sleep that night. And then they gave me another one in the morning about seven o’clock in the morning. And, I can remember the contractions starting and I remember the pain that I was in with them, but I just remember thinking, I really want this to be calm. It was everything that I wanted it to be for Dexter, and I wanted it to be calm and still because I just thought, we’re going through so much pain, I don’t want it to be panicky. I’m going to get upset now. Um, I don’t want it to be panicky. And so I remember having the gas and air, and I just remember it, like being for like two hours completely zoned out. I was absolutely off my face on gas and air. And it just felt really calm and still, and I felt in a really… not a good place but I felt in a really good place to be able to allow myself to be able to do this incredibly difficult thing that I was going to have to do. And then it all happened very quickly. I knew that he was coming. And the midwife sort of left the room to get something and I was like, come in and, and that last little bit was panicky, because I think even if I was given birth to her live, baby, that last bit would be panicky, because it’s the fear of the unknown. And then yeah, and then he was born at 3:58 on the 15th of June 2017. And he was one pound and 10 ounces.

Alison Ingleby 33:39
And there is there’s a beautiful photo, which I think you’ve shared a few times on Instagram of you and Dave in the hospital, and you’re holding Dexter and he’s wrapped in this little blanket and you have this most amazing smile on your face. How did it feel holding him and spending time with him after his birth.

Ruth Hopkins 34:03
I would say again, being with Dexter at that time, again, I’ve got millions and millions of regrets because I just, it wasn’t enough. And there’s things that we didn’t do that I wish we’d done. But there’s nobody there saying to you, other than that lady, that nurse that said to me take photos. Nobody said to me, do you want to read him a bedtime story? Do you want to give him a bath? Do you want to do this? Do you want to do that? And I just wish… It’s awful, isn’t it? Because why would you want to give parents a guide that says, do all of these things with your dead baby? I understand that, I really do, but for me, I’m so thankful that the things that we did do. So we have been blessed. And Dave’s got some of the words from his blessing tattooed on his arm and I know that means a lot to him and you know, I held him and spent a lot of time with him, and I did more so than other people. I mean Dave didn’t even want to hold him. And I remember saying to him, please hold him because you will regret it for the rest of your days. And he did, and I’m so glad that he did and he’s happy that you did. But I’ve got a photo of Dave in that moment and it breaks my heart looking at that photo because he is just a broken man trying to raise a small smile. And then by that time on that night, I was absolutely exhausted, like tired that I have never known and I just wanted to have a bath and go to sleep. And we’d made a decision and I really regret this decision now. But also, I don’t regret it because I know that at that time, it was the right decision for us. So I wish we’d slept with him that night. I wish he slept in with those that night in his little crib thing that he was in. But Dave couldn’t, it was too much for him. But I knew that we had to make this decision for him not to. And so he didn’t that night. But I remember, I said, I need to see him again before I go to sleep. And so they brought him back. We spent some time with him, just Dave and I, and then we spent the following day with him. That’s the day that we got him blessed. And that’s the day that we took that photo of the three of us. I just remember thinking, he’s my son, yes, he’s dead, but nothing’s going to change that. I’ve got to get a photo. Because he makes me happy as much as he’s dead and that doesn’t make me happy. But he’s my son and he makes me happy. And I think that’s the drive behind that photo for me. I’ve got a photo with me and my mum and she’s absolutely broken and she really regrets not having a photo where she’s smiling but at that time, she was overwhelmed with grief for me and for her grandson. But I’m so thankful for that photo and that’s the one … That one and the one where there’s me and him rubbing noses are the ones I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Alison Ingleby 37:14
And I think it’s, I think it’s easy to look back and I’m, I mean, I do this as well a lot and think, Oh, I wish I’d done this or I should have done this. But I mean, at the time, like you’ve in shock. I mean, for one thing, you’ve just given birth, you’re exhausted, you’re emotionally exhausted, you’re in shock. And, I had no idea what to do or what I was supposed to do. It’s just, it’s not something that as you say, you don’t even think about it, do you until it happens to you?

Ruth Hopkins 37:43
But yeah, why would their be a manual? Nobody wants to think about a dead baby. And I totally understand that. But when you think about it, there’s manuals to get married or manuals to drive a car or there’s manuals to have a baby that you bring home or how to wean and how to do this and how to do that. And there to be somebody or something there saying, do these things and even if you never look at them because it’s too traumatic for you, you’ve got them.

Alison Ingleby 38:14
Yeah, I agree. So you had to go home without Dexter. And come to terms with his death which I’ll come back to in a bit. But I just wanted to touch on the fact that I think then you went on … your third loss … you went on to have an early miscarriage the year after, is that right?

Ruth Hopkins 38:35
So we like to say that we are trying out all the different types of pregnancy loss, and hopefully fourth time, because we like to believe that we tried them all, we’ve had an ectopic, stillbirth and miscarriage. Hopefully the next time will be when we actually get to bring a baby home, that doesn’t result in any kind of horrendous traumatic loss. But yeah, we fell pregnant nine months after Dexter had died in the March, and a week later, I had a miscarriage ,from when we found out. And I would say that week was the most terrifying week of my life. And so actually, I don’t know whether that played any kind of part in the miscarriage, the stress and the anxiety that I put myself under, I don’t know whether it did. I don’t know. I don’t like to believe in what’s meant to be because I think that’s a load of rubbish. You know, and everything happens for a reason. Tell me what reason my son died. There isn’t one. Tell me what reason I deserved to lose my son. So I find that kind of phrasing really difficult. But I think, you know, possibly the stress and anxiety has something to do with it. Or maybe it was unfortunately just one of those things. And, but that week was terrifying. I think about myself now and look at that person and I honestly genuinely don’t know how I will manage to ever get through nine months of a pregnancy. I mean, they will literally have to put me out for nine months. Like put me to sleep for nine months so that I get through it because the the prospect of being pregnant for me is frightening. And I think that comes down to the fact that all we have ever known is trauma.

Alison Ingleby 40:20
I can understand that. I can’t obviously feel it because I haven’t been through what you feel but I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. And I think just to bring us completely up to date because we’re recording this in December 2019. And I think you’re still waiting for your your rainbow baby?

Ruth Hopkins 40:38
And it’s not happening at the moment. So you know, the wait continues. But we’ve now decided that we’re going to get some fertility tests and I’ve had a couple of mine, Dave’s got to do his. My GP believes that they’ll all come back normal. I believe that they’ll all come back normal. But Dave and I for the past, maybe six months, have sort of found the living in limbo really difficult. Because for me, I should have been a mum four and a half years ago. And I’ve spent four and a half years, not looking like a mum, not being treated like a mum, by the outside world. You know, Dave and I walk down the street, we just look like a couple, you know, we don’t look like the parents of Dexter, or people that have gone through three traumatic losses. And it’s really, really hard to think, but how long do we carry on going? How long do we carry on waiting? Do you know what I mean? Do we give ourself a time? Do we say, do you know what, we’ve been doing this for five years, six years, seven years. Are we going to stop now, are we going to consider something different?

Alison Ingleby 41:49
And even planning your life, because you must always have at the back of your mind, you’re like, well, I don’t want to book this holiday in 10 months’ time because what if?

Ruth Hopkins 41:57
So with holidays, that’s a really good example. We have to buy, we have to book package holidays because if I booked direct flights somewhere… If I fell pregnant with a package holiday, you’d only lose like a bit of you deposit. You pay for flights or whatever, you lose all of that money. And I mean, I know that sounds really silly, but that’s like a little thing. And that’s a thing that’s there and it lives there and you think … And also, I think living with that. So Elle, at Feathering the Empty Nest. She did a post the other day on Instagram about how this time last year, her and her husband were saying, Oh, it’ll be different this time next year. And I know we’ve done exactly the same and here we are a year later still in the same sh*t position. You know, still having to get up every day and deal with this grief that never ever leaves you.

Alison Ingleby 42:52
And if you don’t mind me asking, how do you do it? Because and I know, you must have some really low moments, but you come across as smiling a lot of the time and you do smile a lot of the time. And I mean, you said yourself, you’re an eternal optimist and for someone who has been through so much trauma and as much grief as you have, how do you keep doing that? And how do you keep putting that smile on?

Ruth Hopkins 43:19
Thank you. That’s really kind I think, for me, I’ve made an unconscious decision maybe subconsious, I don’t really know. I can’t give into it. I can’t give into that horrendous, heart wrenching pain in your chest, pain in your head, pain in your throat feeling all the time. Because to be fair, we’re all living with it all the time. I know it’s there, and it could quite easily surface. You know, I could get caught off guard. So the day that we’re recording this podcast, so yesterday was the general election. The last time we had a general election was the eighth June 2017. And it was the last Thursday that Dexter was alive before he died. And yesterday I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I was like, I don’t feel right and I couldn’t say why. And then it dawned on me and the last Instagram post I’d done before the one where we’d announced that he died was one about votes for women. And I’d done like a Mary Poppins picture of the Jane and Michael’s mom and the suffragette movement. And I look back and I just thought, God, he was alive then, I can remember doing that post, I was sat on the bed, and I was having my pink grapefruit, which apparently was my craving when I was pregnant with Dexter. I sat having a pink grapefruit, and I can remember writing that post and he was alive then. So then that that was the thing that caught me off guard yesterday. And that’s something… seemingly absolutely ridiculous, but I managed to find that memory somewhere in my brain and that sort of caught me off guard a little bit. And now I think I will always associate any general election with that moment and thinking about me and my, what I describe as my former life. But I think going back to that sort of optimism, I just can’t give into that pain. I can’t live with it all the time. And I kind of think I’m really, really lucky that I’ve got I’ve got an amazing family around me, I’ve got … We have got a really wonderful group of friends. It’s got significantly reduced since Dexter died… significantly. I mean, we’ve lost a huge amount of friends and family, for various reasons, and I’m sure there are many people out there listening to this that are probably thinking, yeah, we have as well. But we’ve also gained some amazing people through what we’ve gone through, which is horrible. But gaining people that get it, that really get it. So I’m lucky in the sense that Dave’s amazin, our marraige to me is, you know, solid, and I deserve to carry on making memories and laughing and having fun and finding joy. Because I can’t give into this grief because it will just destroy me. And it will destroy him and it will destroy the people around us. And I know if Dexter had any belief it would be that he would want us to find some joy. So it’s finding a way of finding joy with him living alongside us, if that makes.

Alison Ingleby 46:28
That really does. And I know that you and Dave involve Dexter a lot in all aspects of your life. Could you maybe tell us about some of the ways you do that?

Ruth Hopkins 46:41
So as we’re at the moment, we’re in the run up to Christmas. So we take part in … Jess at The legacy of Leo who runs all the baby loss hour things, she created this sort of initiative of Advent to Remember. And I remember when she launched it because I’ve been thinking what can I do for Dexter’s first Christmas and it was the same year that she launched it. I thought that’s perfect. And we decided, you know what, we’re going to do random acts of kindness. We’re gonna do a random act of kindness every single day through Advent and call it Dexter’s 24 Days of Christmas. And it just stuck. And so every day we do some random acts of kindness. Sometimes you can’t always do it every day with being busy at work or whatever but there’s always somebody that’s done one for us. And it always seems to time itself perfect so my mum or our friends or family, um and it might be we leave candy canes on cars, or we buy some flowers and leave them in a trolley or one of our favourite ones is we go to Costa Coffee the drive thru, and we wait and wait until somebody comes up behind us and then we’ll pay for their order and things like that. And we just leave like a little card explaining why we’re doing it. And so I’ve got some Christmas ones that we do for every day but then I also because we really enjoy doing that, and I feel like for me, doing the random acts of kindness for us is a way that we can parent Dexter, because I think trying to find a way to parent your child that’s not here is really difficult. So I’m constantly searching for ways that I can do that. So I can have those sort of proud parent moments. So when we do things where, you know, if we get a message saying, thanks for buying our coffees or loved getting the candy canes or whatever it is., for me, that’s a proud parent moment. And that’s really important. So then we’ve done that and then we continue doing the random acts of kindness throughout the year. So I’ve got some little cards made up that we just use all the time. We’ve got them in the car, some friends have got them and we just leave bags of sweets or leave change at the car park, anything really. And I suppose that’s one way that we do things throughout the year. As a way of sort of honouring his memory.

Alison Ingleby 48:57
The other thing that I wanted to ask you about Again, I’ve seen on your Instagram about Dexter going on his travels in a sandwich bag.

Ruth Hopkins 49:07
I hope I don’t get arrested for this. Someone once told me what I was doing was really illegal.

Alison Ingleby 49:13
Oh, is it?

Ruth Hopkins 49:15
I don’t know. And if I’m honest, you’re going to arrest me and tell me that what I’m doing is not right? Well, I can’t get my son’s ashes a passport. So what are we going to do. I really don’t care. So, we had Dexter cremated, I don’t know why we did. I can’t really remember the thought process that you know … you’re so compounded with horrendous grief. But we decided that that was the right thing for us to do was to have him cremated. And so we had him cremated and I remember the phone call saying, that’s his ashes are back and do you want to come and collect them. So we travel to the hospital to go collect them and we’re presented with them in what I can only describe as a gift bag. And to anybody else who listens to this conversation that hasn’t gone through it must think. oh my god, you’re actually like … what’s going on? And we came out of hospital and we were laughing and we were walking, swinging this gift bag with our son’s ashes. I’m like, the actual thought of it is actually crazy. And even now I’m thinking, I’m like, what on earth… you’re swinging your son’s ashes in a gift bag. And then we decided we were going to go out for lunch. And we were like, what do we do with him? Do we take him into Marks and Spencers with us?

Alison Ingleby 50:39
Stick him on the table!

Ruth Hopkins 50:40
I don’t really think Marks and Spencers are ready for that. So we’ll put him in the boot? Should we put him in the boot? Do we strap him in like… just very odd conversations that to anybody else must sound absolutely, certifiably insane. So we did that. And then we decided I’d really like to take him to different places that we go to that was my thing. I just thought you know what, let’s do that. How are we going to achieve that? So we’re going to put these little Tupperware boxes that we only use for his ashes we’re not going to use them for like, you know pots of sauce or anything like that, just for his ashes… honestly, talking about it and hearing what I’m saying, must just sound insane. So we’d scoop a bit of his ashes out and pop them in a Tupperware and then we put it inside a sandwich bag because you don’t want his ashes to you know, spill all over your best flip flops or your best underwear or whatever. And there he is, tucked in his sandwich bag, tucked in the suitcase and off we take him, and we just portion him out and Dave gets all worried about , oo, are we going to run out of him. And we sometimes have conversations of, oo, which part do you think this is? And honestly, endless conversations but they they provide us with humour and I think when you are going through grief that you need, you need humour. So my sister took him to Las Vegas and chucked him in the fountains at the Bellagio, which was amazing. And we’ve taken him to Greece and various other places. And for us, we’re going to keep a little bit and my mum got us this beautiful sort of, like trinket box thing engraved, we’re to keep a little bit for when we die, um, another, you know, wonderful topic of conversation. But when we die for him to be buried, or cremated or whatever with us, and our ultimate goal, and when I will then settle with that I’m happy with where we say his ashes is, if we are lucky enough to go on and have a family, I really want to take him to Disney World and take him to Magic Kingdom. And that for me will be us, our family with him in, for me, the happiest place on earth. It’s where we went for our honeymoon. I’ve got really fond memories. And I can imagine it must be the most magical place through your own children’s eyes. So that’s our ultimate goal. And then I will just let his poor ashes rest in peace on the sideboard.

Alison Ingleby 53:14
I think it’s wonderful that you’ve taken him all over the world. And again, this is probably slightly morbid topic of conversation. But hey, this is a dead baby podcast so we can talk about these thing. Because I was … obviously they warn you and they’re like, Well, you know, she’s only little so you’re not going to get very many ashes, but I was actually surprised that how many you know how many ashes she produced.

Ruth Hopkins 53:36
I was really surprised, yeah.

Alison Ingleby 53:39
We scattered Skye’s ashes on the Isle of Skye, actually in Scotland. And I was there and I thought, well, I’m just going to do it gently because there was only a little breeze and, you know, I didn’t want it to kind of plop everywhere. So I just started and I was like, still going … Still going … Still going…. Anyway so I don’t know, maybe to some other people and I imagine you know if you have maybe a an adult who’s cremated obviously they’re going to produce a lot more but there were more ashes than I expected which does give you options for what you do with them.

Ruth Hopkins 54:12
And the tiny little spoon thing that you get. You can’t really, like when you scoop it out, I mean … Dave won’t do it, it’s my thing. I can kind of look past it, I don’t really see it as … I just try and don’t think about what I’m doing. But also I can’t really think about the idea of Dexter being committed. Because the thought of that, the real thought of actually what that means and what happened to his little body, can be a really dark thought. So I try and come away from those thoughts. I did have some cremation jewellery made … I had a necklace made which I wear every day. And the gentleman that did it, he was so kind and you just send like a little sort of test tube thing off and he puts it into a necklace. It was beautiful and I hadn’t thought about cremation jewellery. Somebody had mentioned it, and I thought it was the most morbid idea ever. And then I don’t know how, I sort of saw something, and I thought, that’s beautiful. And I ended up getting it made and it’s got his… It’s engraved with his name and the date of his birth. And I always get comments on it. Oh, that’s a beautiful necklace. Oh, that’s lovely. And somebody once asked me where I got it from. And I thought, you’re going to really regret asking this question. And I just said, oh thanks, I got it handmade because I was in a random shop and thought, now is not the time to have a conversation. I just said it was homemade or handmade.

Alison Ingleby 55:41
Yeah, and yeah, so I am we’re in the process of getting something made for me – a necklace. Because I just wanted to keep just a little part of her with me. And do you celebrate his birthday?

Ruth Hopkins 55:55
So again, how do you celebrate your son’s, your child’s first birthday, what do you do? And I remember thinking, the idea of it is horrendous because he’s not here. And yet I can’t go through the day without not celebrating… I can’t not acknowledge it. It’s a funny one. So for me, I think he needs a cake. Because birthday and cake, it’s a thing that needs to go together. But I remember, because I do a lot well, previous to Dexter, I do a lot of baking, it was something I used to really enjoy. And that’s sort of gone by the wayside now, I think you lose a lot of the sort of things that you loved. And I’m going to try and get back into it. But I said to myself, and I think you’ve got to make the right decision that’s going to protect your own heart as well. And I, I said I can’t make him a cake because if it’s a disaster, or if it looks awful, or if it’s not perfect, I will be wracked with guilt. And there’s already so much mum guilt when your child has died. I couldn’t live with the fact that his cake wasn’t right. So I remember, we found this beautiful cake at Marks and Spencers that had like balloons and clouds and stars and things and that’s perfect and we were both happy with. Yes, it’s not a homemade cake and if it had been alive it would have been. but let’s just do the thing that’s going to help us the most. So we did that and he had candles and it said happy first birthday Dexter on. I can’t sing to him. I find the singing thing … I don’t know. I’m happy for other people to sing and I’m happy to listen to it. But I can’t sing happy birthday to him myself because it doesn’t feel happy. But equally, I need to feel happy in the fact that we celebrated him. I don’t know if that comes across in the right way that I mean it. We buy him cards. He’s got a bench. I don’t know if you’ve seen that we bought him a bench – I did talk about it at Baby Loss Hour Live. Because we didn’t choose to have him buried, there isn’t anywhere .. And because we kept his ashes, he doesn’t have a plaque anywhere as it were. And so we decided to do a sponsored walk to a local park that we decided we wanted to get a bench. And all his little friends – we called it Dexter’s big toddle – and we all toddled down the park. And the park is the park that I’ve grown up going to. And it was the same park that I went to on my first school trip when I was four when I was in reception, so it’s a park that I’ve visited for 25 odd years. And we just decided that was the place that we wanted it to be. And it is one of the best decisions that we’ve made. that has come from this. because the park’s beautiful. Andit’s a really nice thought for me to think when and if we’re lucky enough to go on and have a family, ee can always go there and he is there. And we can sit and we can play and we can talk and we can have a picnic, and he’s there and he’s part of that. Although he’s not part of the family things that we potentially are doing, in that moment, he’s there.

Alison Ingleby 59:08
Yeah, and I loved the idea of Dexter’s bench. And I think that’s, I think it’s a really lovely way, not just to remember your son, but to create a legacy for him. And I know since you said that, every time now I go past a bench which is dedicated to someone, I always think of them. And I actually usually remember Dexter as well, because you mentioned it, and I think that’s just such a nice thing to do, and to have other people thinking about him.

Ruth Hopkins 59:36
And that’s part of it. So for Dave and I, it’s really nice to think that somebody sits on his bench and says his name or wonders about him, and might say, oh, Dexter, I wonder who Dexter was. And that is such a heartwarming feeling for me to think that it’s not just me that has to say his name that there’s other people – strangers – that are also thinking and wondering about him. And that’s a really lovely feeling. So we often go there on his birthday. And we go plenty of other times during the year and we leave random acts of kindness on his bench often when we visit. And it’s been a really good thing for us. And I hope if we go on to have a family, it will be somewhere that we can go that were that, like I said, he’s there, we can create memories and feel like he’s part of those memories.

Alison Ingleby 1:00:25
And I think just as a final question, because let’s face it, parenting, as you said, parenting a child who’s not here is rather more complex than parenting a living child. And I think particularly in terms of people who haven’t been through that and are looking at it from an outside perspective, how they perceive that and how they may treat you and I think you may be touched on that a bit in terms of having lost some friends. What would you tell someone who may be perhaps wants to be a bit more active in parenting their child but is maybe afraid of judgement or what other people might think of them?

Ruth Hopkins 1:00:58
It’s really hard and I know I can often be a people pleaser, or will often worry about what people think. And I had some really difficult times when he first died probably the first year of his death, trying to establish what I wanted to come out of it for me in terms of like, what cards I expected, or how I was going to write his card or how I wanted him to be remembered. And I think you’ve got to lower your expectations a little bit, which feels really hard because it’s your child at the end of the day, and they’re your number one thing and, for somebody that myself, I have high expectations of myself, you know, in my job and other aspects of my life, I have really high expectations, but I have had to lower my … Do you know what, somebody’s done something and that’s enough, you know, they’ve at least thought of it. And I think don’t put too much pressure on yourself but equally, don’t be afraid to do what you want. I’ve got to a point where I think, yeah Okay, I’m going to remember Dexter, he’s my son. And if you don’t like it, or you … It’s very odd. We had some kind of, almost jealousy, like warped jealousy from other people. Because we were getting … It’s really difficult to describe because I don’t want to say like, we were getting attention because our son had died, but quite rightly, people are looking out for you because your child has died and you’re doing all of these nice things to honour your child and it was almost like some people couldn’t cope with that, like, trying to find some good out of the hurt, if that makes sense.

What would they rather you do? Just like, I don’t know, sit at home and become a kind of weeping grieving mother the whole time?

Or don’t try and find joy. Don’t try and do good things. Don’t be a good person. You know, just deal with… I don’t really know. It’s a bit of a funny one. And it surprised me. And it’s something I still need to work through sometimes. But we’ve lost a lot of people and I don’t know if it’s because they got bored of it. And it might be that they got bored of the fact that I still talk about Dexter, I still do things about Dexter, I like people to come and visit his bench with us. I like people to do random acts of kindness. I don’t expect any of those things. But they’re things that fill my heart and I know that I really try hard with our friends’ children, our family’s children, to talk about them and be with them and do things with them. And I think it’s a really difficult thing because when your child’s not here, there’s no visible reminder of them in the sense of when your friends come and visit you, hat person’s, that child’s not there like they would be if we go visit friends that have got living children. But the friends that make a huge amount effort to talk about Dexter still and include him with their children is a huge thing, like to know that Dexter is their friend. And he’s their friend that lives in the rainbow. Or he’s their friend that lives in the sky, or we see Dexter every time we see a bear, is a really heartwarming feeling. And so I think I’ve got to the point where I just think if I want to do something for Dexter, then I shouldn’t be ashamed or worried what other people are going to think because I’m his mum at the end of the day, and I’m sure there’s parents with living children that do plenty of things for their children every minute of every day. And so I deserve to do that as well. You know, I shouldn’t need to feel like I need to have permission or I shouldn’t need to feel like it’s not right or is weird. And maybe it is weird, but I think I’ve got to live with … Okay, it’s weird to you guys. But to me, this is what I need to do to help heal my heart that is forever going to be broken.

Alison Ingleby 1:05:00
And I think that is a perfect point on which to end. Thank you so much for sharing Dexter’s story and your experiences. Would you like to tell people where they can find you online?

Ruth Hopkins 1:05:12
Yeah, I’d be more than happy to. Thank you for inviting me to the podcast, it’s been a really lovely thing for me to do. It’s the first thing I’ve done like anything like this. So it’s been lovely. You can find me on Instagram at @ruth_and_her_bear. You can also find my blog, which currently … It’s got blogs written on it, but I haven’t written anything for a while but I am thinking of doing something and that’s Wading Through Shit. And that came from, whenever you describe this to somebody, you always say it’s sht. There’s no other way to describe this other than it’s sht. And there’s is no dressing it up, there’s no making it any better. It’s sht and it’s sht that you have to wade through every minute of every day. And that’s where that was sort of born from. So yeah, you can find me on Instagram or on my blog and I’m willing to talk to you if you’d like to or you can look at Dexter and look at things that we do.

Alison Ingleby 1:06:11
Fantastic and I’ll include those links in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Ruth. It’s been wonderful chatting with you.