Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011 and Zachary November 2013.

Diary of an Angel Mother, Rainbow Mother.
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Zachary @ 4 Months

Zachary has totally become a little baby boy this month. He has grown up loads, changing before our eyes and I'm utterly in love. I really wish time would slow down just a little bit, his babyhood is zooming by and I just don't feel I've given him the time to really appreciate him like I was able to with Alexander. I blink and another month has gone by. I will miss these small baby days with him, him curled up into me is so precious, although I know there is so much to look forward to at every age and stage! 

Zachary has his own definite routine now and the day is getting much more predictable. He naps on average four times a day at the moment; about an hour and a half after waking up, usually somewhere between 8.00-9.00am, then again late morning at about 11.00am, another nap at around 2.00pm and a very short one at around 4.30-5.00pm before going to bed at around 7.00pm. Naps vary greatly in length, anything from just twenty minutes to two hours - although usually averages 40 minutes to an hour.  Predictably we hit the four month sleep regression, the last few weeks night time wake ups have been on the up (and not just for Zachary, Alexander has decided to join in too - just to add to the tiredness!), a good night (but currently rare!) is one wake up, a not so great night has been four! I think he has been trying to up my milk supply because my boobs are feeling full lots of the time the last few days, that and his little brain is busy getting cleverer and cleverer! 

It has been fascinating watching Zac learn to play this month. Just a few weeks ago he was only just starting to hold toys and move them around after they had been placed in his hand. Now he is reaching out for and grabbing toys, chewing toys and really exploring. I love watching him play. 

Lovely baby, you are 14lb 15oz now and filling out all over. Your thighs are very squidgy and chunky with little rolls - so very cute indeed! You are getting so strong, you are trying to pull yourself forward to look at things now. You don't want to be led down anymore; only sitting up will do. Next you'll be learning how to balance and sitting up by yourself - I wonder if you'll be doing that by the time I write about you being 5 months old?! You are already beginning to try and move though. On the floor you roll onto your side all of the time now, and you are very nearly rolling from there to your tummy, and you are having a go at moving yourself around in a circle; last week you managed to turn yourself 180 degrees on your playmat! You are trying so hard so I don't think it will be long before you are on the go! 

I've decided you are going to be a cheeky one you know. You've discovered your voice and you are very very chatty. Chatty and loud for someone so little! You are experimenting with different sounds your voice can make including turning the volume up and shouting, and singing, and squeaking and screeching! 

His first little laugh! 
You've learnt to chuckle Zac. It is so cute! Of course your first little laugh was for Xander. You were just 14 weeks old. He was playing with your feet, matching your little feet up to his bigger feet. He loves noticing that you are smaller than him, and you thought it was funny too. Such a cute little giggle. Daddy is still waiting to hear it, you won't give up those giggles easily you know! We can't wait to hear you erupt with laughter little boy, very soon you will be finding everything funny! 

You enjoy little games and singing now. Daddy has been pulling funny faces at you and you keep trying to copy him, especially when he pokes his tongue out - you are very good at copying that now! You've even tried to copy blowing a raspberry!  You are already enjoying a bit of rough and tumble play; you love being rolled side to side and your arms being shaken up and down - your favourite song at the moment is the Roly Poly song, you get so excited wibbling, wobbling and shaking! 

This month your favourite toys has been your little giraffe and listening to the sound of your rainmaker. The other day you pulled the rainmaker right close to your face to you could have the sound right next to your ear. Oh and not forgetting your hands - your favourite thing to do at the moment is suck on your fingers and fists! 

You're perfect little boy, just perfect! 
Saturday, 29 March 2014

Another Mother's Day

Is Mother's Day ever going to feel better? 

I want it to, if only for Alexander and Zachary as they get old enough to understand what it is and when they'll have some expectation of it being special. This is probably the last year of special days meaning little to Xander and therefore my being able to ignore the ones I want to, like this one. Next year, he'll get that Mother's day means something special. Or at least should.

I want it to be a happy day with my boys, Jon asked me if I wanted to do anything this year, but I don't, apart from put some flowers on my little girls grave. Maybe we should've planned a day trip or something, change the focus, I don't know. But once again this year I'm approaching it with twisting anxiety and guilt. Every time an advert reminder come on the TV, or I walk in a supermarket with their 'Mother's Day' display right at the front of the store,  my stomach feels a ball of knots. 

While I feel I should be focusing on the boys and how blessed we are to have them; how much I love being their Mummy and how much I'm enjoying everything I get to do with them, instead all this feels overshadowed by my absent baby. How much I miss her. I want Alexander and Zachary to feel enough on Mother's Day, but they can't. And I feel so guilty about it because they are so very precious to me too.  

Mother's Day just makes me feel so incomplete, uncomfortable.

Why does it even exist? So much pressure. 



Thursday, 20 March 2014

Love You Forever

A few weeks ago, I discovered the book 'Love You Forever' - I read this article, discovering it was written as a song to Robert Munsch's two babies born asleep. A testament to the enduring love of a parent, even when there is no baby to keep.

So what did I do? I bought the book. 

A mother watching her son grow, from a baby to a toddler, to a child, to a teenager, to a grown man with a baby of his own. The same continuous song throughout his life; I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. 

A song that could also be sung to all my babies throughout my life. My Anabelle, who will for always be a baby. Then my boys, who won't stay like babies, they will grow, they are growing but will always our very precious rainbow sons. 

I worry you know, that I'll be unable to let my boys go. 

That the more they grow the more independent they want to be, I worry constantly about what might happen to them when I can't protect them anymore. My heart is in my mouth watching Alexander at the park just now; he is desperate to climb, he is getting higher and higher and more daring and I'm scared to watch him fall. Because of course, the fearful irrational part of my mind doesn't see a simple fall with cuts and bruises and scrapes. I see head cut open, unconscious, dead. 

I'm fearful of the day they'll want to play out the front on their own, or play around the block, or go to the park across the road. I'm so fearful to let them out of my sight incase they are stolen from me. I'm bad enough now at rainbow babies or soft play - where he can't escape from, and out of sight means 'playing in a house' or 'the other side of the slide', not really out of my sight at all.  

I'm fearful of the grown up stuff too; programmes such as 18-30s holidays get me in a right tizz; worrying it will be one of my babies drinking until they need their stomachs pumped, drunk and falling off balconies to their death, drunk and going into the sea and drowning, I'm fearful of them learning to drive - knowing full well how their father behaved as a teenage/young twenties driver, and how some of my friends did when we were that age too. I'm fearful of their career choices, praying they won't want to go to the forces. I'm so fearful that another of my babies will be taken away from me and all the terrible ways it could happen throughout their lives.

I try hard not to be that Mummy, outwardly at least, but sometimes I wish I could wrap them in cotton wool forever. Keep them with me forever where I can keep them safe. But they will grow, they will leave. I will have to trust them to not do anything to endanger their lives.  I worry I'll be seen as a that horrendous over-bearing type of mother-in-law, the one who loves them too much, still struggling to let them go and give them to the families they will make for themselves. I'll try not to be, but I can't promise my anxieties will ever change. 

Maybe I would have always been this afraid. But some how I don't think so. Their sister died and it changed everything. Something so very precious was taken from me and it colours everything. My grief stricken heart is so very over-protective of my boys. Or maybe it is over-protective of itself. Or maybe it is over-protective of both boys and heart, because my boys are the glue holding all those broken bits of heart together. I can't apologise for that.

So the book. An ode to the babies he couldn't keep.

And now an ode to Anabelle my little 4lb 5oz baby girl forever and Alexander, and Zachary. My boys who will become big strapping men to the world, but still my little babies forever to me. Stay safe my precious boys. 

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. 



Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Zachary @ Three Months

It is funny. Every time I'm ready to pen down Zachary's monthly update I go back and read about Alexander. It is fascinating that his monthly update could be almost identical to Zachary's. It is like reading about my little baby now and then! 

Much less the newborn baby now, Zachary is spending big chunks of the day awake, happy and engaging with his little world and falling into his own little pattern. We introduced a bedtime routine around the same time as we did for Xander and so far Zac is taking to it exceptionally well. He is fairly independent at settling to sleep; happy with a cuddle, dummy or hand in the Moses with him and goes off to sleep quite quickly. Unlike the days of Xander old that required endless rocking, white noise, vibration etc etc.  (I'll bet I'll have jinxed that now by writing that!) So far he is going to bed around seven and then sleeping through until around 1.30am or so. Sometimes a bit later.   

Nights at the moment after that are a bit hit and miss depending on when he has had his last poo... The feed at around 1.30am can be the one and only for the night, or, like last night it can be the first of three wakes ups before 7.00am.  Currently Zachary is only pooing once every 3 or 4 days. Although I realise this is perfectly normal for a breastfed baby, when he does finally go it is epic! An excellent night or two of sleep follows a poo day with just the one wake up that night, after that his tummy seems to begin to gripe a bit and he has the smelliest wind (that could compete with his Daddy!) and nights are a little more unsettled until he goes again. 

At this point with Xander we had started giving him an 11.00pm bottle dreamfeed, at the time it saved our feeding journey and I went on to feed him and loved it until he was 17 months old. My feeding journey with Zachary has been so vastly different, easier from the word go. I love every feed, I love now how he pulls off and often beams one of his beautiful smiles at me, looking right into my eyes so full of love.  Experience this time and different baby, but introducing a dream feed hasn't felt necessary, at least not yet.  Some how this time is is easier to accept the way things are night by night. But ask me again next month when we're hitting the expected 'four month sleep regression'! 

My beautiful boy, at 3 months old you are 13lb 8oz and Mummy has just put all your 3-6 months clothes into the drawers. You are such a happy and clever little boy. You've become a right little chatter box and spend lots of every day cooing and gurgling at Mummy, Daddy or Xander. You have such a lovely soft little voice, but you can be very loud too! You've learnt how to have a 'conversation' and will take turns to chat with us. Xander is definitely your favourite person, you don't take your eyes off him. You love watching him play and get quite excited about his attention now. You are going to love being brothers together. 

At 11 weeks old you discovered your hands and you seem to like the taste of them. Infact quite often you'll reject your dummy in favour of sucking on your fist of fingers at the moment! Your hand to mouth co-ordination is actually getting pretty good now and you seem to want to nudge the dangly toys off your gym into your mouth.  

Your favourite toy this month is your baby gym mat. Especially the monkey toy hanging from it. You spend ages staring at his face and chatting along to him. You've rolled onto your side a few times on your playmat, the first time aged 11 weeks old. You are getting stronger all of the time and holding yourself up really well, even seem to be trying to pull up sometimes when you don't want to recline! Although your head still gets tired. 

You are getting busier and busier every day and Mummy is noticing you falling into your own little routine and pattern now. You are having approximately four naps during the day now and going to bed around 7.00pm and sleeping for lots of the night. 

We're totally in love with you little man. You and your brother bring such joy to our little family every single day and I love being Mummy to you both so much. If only being a stay at home Mummy could last forever! 




Friday, 21 February 2014

The Girl Missing From The Picture

Last week we picked up our new family photo piece for the wall. 


Two weeks after Zachary was born I forced Jon into a photoshoot at a local studio with him on the other side of the camera. Zachary looked tiny and adorable and Alexander was on his cheekiest fine form. Beautiful photos of our beautiful boys. We were really pleased putting together the 'Storyboard' product; a photo of the four of us, surrounded by ten photographs of the boys together or individually. 

We love it! It has captured Xander's character so perfectly; happy, cheeky and busy. Zac so tiny, delicate and new. Us, the very proud parents. We are so chuffed with the new focal point of our living room. 

But still, I struggle with describing these photographs as family photographs. They are of course, but they're not all at the same time. Incomplete. She isn't there. Sitting here on the sofa across from where our storyboard hangs on the wall it is so obviously glaring at me. Anabelle, the girl missing from the beautiful picture. 

I see the family photo, there in the middle of all the other photos, I see it as it is, so proud of my two boys. I see how happy we are, (and we are happy), in love with those boys.  And then I see it with the gap where Anabelle should be. Maybe she would have been stood behind Daddy leaning over his shoulder, her head near to Alexander or cuddled into the side of Mummy; Zachary between his two older siblings. 

We're a family of five, minus one. 



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Zachary @ Two Months

Our little baby gets bigger every day. I've just read back to Alexander's two month old post and so much rings trues of Zachary too. The developmental progress of these babies fascinates me; how certain behaviours have become apparent at around the same age, for example,smiling... 

Just two days after I finally got around to posting Zac's aged one month post he smiled for the first time, at six weeks and one day old. (Alexander had smiled at six weeks exactly, so just a day apart, or 12 hours by the time of day they cracked smiling!) It was 6 o'clock in the morning, (Xander, had been 6.00pm), Zac had woken at 4.00am, not really hungry but not able to settle, fuss and a bit more fuss. I had given up going back to sleep and a few hours later I was rewarded for my sleep deprived state with our littlest boys first beamimg smile. The awakeness was obviously those brain cells gearing up for this little developmental leap!  A few days later he smiled for his Daddy and a few weeks later he is smiling his beautiful smiles all of the time. 

Our home continues to be some kind of crazy chaos. Of course I wouldn't have it any other way, but I have the Mummy guilts that Zac doesn't get the kind of attention and input that Alexander was having at this age. With a busy toddler it is sometimes difficult to make the space safe from toppling over tots that could land on the baby.  Zachary is lucky if he snatches some space on the floor for a  stretch amongst train sets and duplo! He certainly spends more time entertaining himself in his nest chair than Alexander ever did. The hardest thing about my two boys continues to be splitting myself in half to meet both of their needs. 

I'm beginning to trust Alexander around Zachary more and more, he is loving and gentle with him, and although sometimes he is 'heavy handed' and needs reminding now and then he seems to understand that he cannot lean on or sit on Zac. I'm hoping as Zac starts to get a bit bigger and less fragile it will get easier to manage playtime for them both!  

In the last month we have had evenings full of cluster feeds and inconsistent nights. At the moment Zachary either sleeps amazingly or appallingly; with very few nights of the inbetween kind! But as we begin to approach yet another month older the cluster feed evenings are decreasing, the gaps between feeds are lengthening and we hope he'll be ready to start a bedtime routine before long. 

I must get quicker at posting these monthly updates, we're already at the two month half way point!

At two months old Zachary you are 11lb 13oz. A whole 6oz heavier than your brother was at two months old. You may have started off considerably smaller than Xander did, but you're making up for it now! All of a sudden you went from tiny baby to plumping out really nicely. You were in your newborn clothes for a good seven or so weeks but we're flying through the 0-3 months wardrobe and I reckon you'll be into your 3-6 months bang on the three month mark another few weeks from now. We'll have to get Daddy to get them down from the attic very soon! 

Talking of clothes, it fascinates me that my favourite outfits on Alexander are not my favourite outfits on you. Reds, brights and navy always suited Xander at this age, but they don't look so right on you. Instead I think whites and blues and some navy and light grey are your colours! 

You have learnt to smile a beautiful smile, you are so interested in your family now; your little eyes now follow whoever walks past you. You're taking everything in about your little world. You stretch your head right around now to find out what is making a noise or to find someone or something. You love your big brother and he equally loves you. My heart melts watching you smile at eachother and play with eachother; I hope it can only get better as you learn more and more about how to play. Xander wants to be involved in whatever you are doing and when you are having a playtime, Xander can often be found lying on your playmat with you, or leaning over your nest chair, talking to you and showing you toys instead of playing with his own big boy toys. You reward him by cooing back and smiling at him. He loves that! 

Your favourite toy at the moment is your crinkly lion snuggly. You are learning to move your hands to feel your toys and you seem to enjoy the sounds your lion makes. You are noticing so much more, you notice the lights on your playmat the moving pictures on the television and will stare transfixed by the bright lights. Yesterday I took you and your brother to soft play; you hated the ball pool but loved looking at the lights under the canopy in the cafe! You are such a little wriggler now, lying on your back kicking your little legs and waving your arms. Playing makes you tired quickly at the moment and you're known to fall asleep on your playmat! 

You are growing up so fast Zachary. I can't believe another month has already passed! 


Friday, 17 January 2014

Panorama...


... I Want My Baby Back.

This week we watched the Panorama documentary, portraying the lives of parents accused of abusing their children. Accused because of minuscule fractures found on x-rays. Children removed from their care. Most never to return to their parents, some having no contact, others granted four hours a year of supervised visitation, some children even forcebly adopted without their parents permission and parents cut out of their lives completely; adoption that can never be overturned or reversed. 

Mostly we felt sick and tearful watching this programme. The system felt certain of their guilt based solely on these x-rays. There seemed to be nothing these parents could do to attempt to prove their innocence, although money to fight the system saved one family and a specialist employed to prove a family trait of fractures based on genetics. That family were lucky. For most children it seemed that very few other medical tests were undertaken to find another explanation, the parents written off. For those children that did have a blood test it seems results pointing towards Vitamin D defficiancy and plausibly Rickets were largely ignored, not investigated further, leaving families broken forever. 

How utterly devastating to be left grieving your living child. How inexplicably sickening that social services and the system continue to handle some families so appallingly. Sometimes social services are just as guilty of damaging children as parents proven to be guilty. We all know of the high profile cases such as Baby P and Daniel Pelka;children who died at the hands of their parents because social services didn't act quickly enough. I understand that must be why sometimes intervention looks heavy handed and knee-jerk. I know social services come under a lot of critisicm and it must be such a difficult balancing act to get their intervention with families just right. But it is so so important that they do. Absolutely protecting the child should be paramount, but I also think in cases such as this parents guilt must absolutely be left with no reasonable doubt, every possible medical explanation investigated thoroughly, before children are forcibly adopted elsewhere. And not just the families lucky enough to have the wealth to pay for their own experts to leave no medical stone unturned. 

This didn't feel the case with the families on this programme, and families are too precious to allow even one innocent family to suffer this injustice and grief. 

We were particularly affected watching a family say goodbye to their child for the final time. After being permitted four hour long visits a year, their little boy was to be forcibly adopted and there was nothing they could do about it. For their last visit they were granted an extension of just two hours with their son.  My heart broke for them. Jon cried for them. Cried imagining if anyone tried to do this to us. 

I wouldn't be able do that. Not with the calm composure this couple seemed to muster. I imagine I would be violently clinging onto my children, my babies. Mother bear in all its force. There is no way I could say goodbye to my precious babies, put them in a strangers car knowing I would never see them again, because they would be going to call somebody else Mummy.  I was forcibly put into a situation of saying goodbye to one of my babies because there was absolutely nothing else I could do, but to forcibly say goodbye to my living children? I can only describe it like some kind of hellish living bereavement. 

I'm aware no-one on this programme was ever going to admit their guilt if they were indeed guilty, but the whole thing was hugely uncomfortable to watch. Putting ourselves in their situation left us feeling sick, fearful of a system that could take our boys away. 

The medical system is supposed to make us feel safe. I call on my GP for baby clinic fairly regularly. Zachary has had a number of visits now since his hospital admission, because I'm twitchy over the least little thing. I have always been the same with Alexander. Because I fail to trust my own judgement sometimes I'm quick to take them to the Doctor for reassurance. I need that reassurance, I need it because when they are ill I'm quick to convince myself that worst thing could happen to my boys. Anabelle's death continues to reach far. I use the NHS as my safety blanket. However, I often worry that when we go through a frequent bout of visits that 'neurotic mother' will be flagged on their files or something, but this programme made me wonder could someone in this system take away the safety blanket and accuse me of something, accuse me of harming my boys or something extreme like Munchausen's?  

Panorama made me think that these innocently accused parents could be any one of us. 
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Caz
I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and little rainbow Xander with another little rainbow, baby Zac, on the way. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem @tonofunstweets
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