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.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Zachary @ 10 Months

The baby small boy is 10 months old. Ten. Months.  How did he get to double figures already? 

Zachary has had an absolutely amazing month. He has had an incredible burst of physical development and he has changed so much. At my last update he had just started to commando crawl just a few days before; a fortnight later he started to crawl properly, the day after that he pulled himself to standing for the first time, and the day after that he started to cruise up and down the sofa! What a week that was; talk about a leap and a half hey?! 

Now a few weeks later again he is a speedy little thing and quite the escape artist. Zac certainly notices an open door or gate now and makes a bee-line for it for freedom! 

This month I've really started to notice him trying to exert his opinion on a situation; particularly not wanting to go into his carseat or buggy! I don't remember the arch of the back and shouting at me starting this quite so early on with Alexander! I think we're going to have a fire-cracker on our hands before long! 

My lovely wonderful boy, at 10 months old you weigh 20lb 8oz and have really discovered the joy of movement. You are such a clever boy! In just a space of three days you learnt to crawl on your hands and knees, stand up against the sofa and start cruising along it. You are so proud of yourself little one, and so excited to be able to stand up tall now. Already you are experimenting with your balance, letting one hand go of the sofa and turning yourself to the side. You are so desperate to be wherever Xander is, this month you've been crawling after him all the time so I think he will be in for a shock when you can properly chase him on those feet!

You love taking steps now holding our hands; you can walk across a room with us standing above you now, and will take a few steps towards us if we're holding your hands outstretched. I'm so impressed with your balance, you keep letting go of one of my hands wanting to do some of this standing business by yourself. I don't think it will be long before you're trying to let go of the other one too! 

This month you have started nursery on a Wednesday, and Mummy went back to work. Mummy has found it so hard leaving you and Xander again and the best part of my work days is getting home to my boys. But we have settled into a new weekly routine and you have settled so well at nursery, no tears at all. I'm so surprised because you are such a Mummy's boy and cry even if I leave the room at home, but you've been so good at nursery drop off; happily going to the ladies for a cuddle. You give such gorgeous cuddles ZacZac. You snuggle right in and rest your head on my shoulder or chest, you do love a cuddle, and so does Mummy. 

Finally your appetite seems to be picking up properly and your exploring so much more food. Every meal time we give you some finger food to feed yourself as well and you are doing fabulously well. Meal times have definitely become three courses rather than just the one! It must be all that moving you're doing now constantly burning all your calories off!  I've also decided you are right handed, as nearly all the time you'll reach for your food with your right hand (unlike your brother who mostly indicates he is left handed.) You're starting to eat 'family' foods roughly mashed up now rather than me puréeing, and lots of the time you're eating what we eat rather than me making you up a special baby meal. 

This month you have perfected a new little screech. It is totally adorable and you save it for when you are at your most excited. You are becoming more and more vocal, constantly babbling away to yourself - it will be so excited when those little babbles take on meaning and you find your first word. 

This month your favourite toys have been noisy rattles, toot toot cars, and the Noah animals. The Noah animals are the perfect size for grasping in your hands and at the moment you really enjoy the smaller toys that you can pick up and study for a bit longer - then chew! 

You make us happy every day baby small. We love you, always and always. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

My World Got Bigger

"Because she died, my world got bigger..." Holby City 

Almost two weeks ago, it was my blog's birthday. I've been using this space as my organising chaotic thoughts screaming board, my journey and family diary for four years now.  I look back at my first post and although we're clearly in a very different place to where we were then the truth of it is so much of it still rings so very true.

'Me and myself  - we're different now.' I can't remember who I was, or what our lives were really like before Anabelle anymore. It takes so much energy to build a happy life around grief that my former self seems to be a distant memory. I continuously feel old before my time. Next year I will be 30, but in many ways it feels like the care-free youth of my twenties was stolen from me long ago. My twenties feel defined by Belle, because certainly her death, her birth has been the turning point for who I was, and who I am. 30 feels older than maybe it really is. 

Four years ago I could barely keep my head above water. There have been many times over these last four years, as the huge waves of grief roll in that I've had to fight drowning once more. I look back and I still cannot comprehend how we survived it, how we survive it. Human resilience is a wonderful thing.  

Four years ago we were so profoundly broken I couldn't imagine a life where we would ever be happy again. I couldn't believe we would have our very own personal rainbows. But we have our rainbows, and those rainbows saved me. 

Four years ago I couldn't imagine where our lives would be. Recently when watching Holby City a line caught my attention - 'Because she died my world got bigger' - it spoke to me. We've lost friends, but we've gained far more. We're part of a group of people that no-one wants to be part of but what a wonderful group of people they are. Even though we're not in those early days anymore, I'm increasingly thankful for my involvement in my local Sands. Four years ago I couldn't face 'real-life' support and increasingly lived in a virtual world, I frequented the Sands forum daily. Today I have a different virtual world and my local Sands is my branch of support. 

Rainbow Babies group in particular has been a wonderfully beneficial, because only those people know the mixed feelings, joy and pain of parenting earthlings while desperately desperately missing their sibling. Next week we're going out for a meal with other local bereaved parents for a Sands evening. Four years ago I didn't realise that I would consider a charity my friend. 

Because she died I've had opportunities that would never have happened if she'd lived. Namely my visit to Downing Street just before Zachary was born. Of course, I'd have Belle here over Downing Street any day, but I hope you see the point in the way it was intended. I was able to represent my daughter at one of the most iconic building in this country - and that is huge, one of my proudest moments for Anabelle, even in her absence. 

I read Still Standing online magazine regularly. Often I read about people describing their journey after loss as healing. Four years ago I couldn't comprehend 'healing', whatever that was.  Whatever it is. I'm still not sure. Four years ago I didn't even want to heal. To heal then felt to move away from Belle. Today I'm not sure what the concept feels like. I certainly don't feel 'healed', but I do feel in a different place to that of four years ago. Anabelle continues to be at the centre of our family, our little world has been built around our grief for her, we're leaning to live alongside it. We're learning to enjoy being an earthling family of four, when really we should be a family of five. We're learning to accept that we're allowed a happy extraordinary life as well as intensely hurt for the life we had taken away. 

This blog has evolved. It continues to evolve. I blog far less frequently than I used to because my life has become bigger, bigger and more than just my grief. I still grieve, of course I do. This month saw that milestone where Belle should have started school, it has pained me, this month I have felt more teary than I have in a while. I still frequently pen a blog in my head, when a new slither of hurt comes my way I think it out 'up there' as if I was penning it down here. But rarely do I find time to get it to page. My time is blessed and filled by rainbows and there is little of time left for me and organising those thoughts like I used to anymore. 

Is that the definition of healing? 

So today, if we're making my blog's fourth birthday, and where my journey is now; my life is filled with rainbows and you've no idea how overwhelmingly appreciative I am of that. Those boys, my boys. 

Life, Death, Joy, Heartbreak. But most of all love. 
Thursday, 4 September 2014

Zachary @ 9 Months

Well what a month! Of course it has flown by again, but Zachary really did have a busy little month growing up to be 9 months old. The end of July and beginning of August was a week of holidaying day trips from home, so he has been here there and everywhere this month. He has suffered terribly with teething; and just this week, just after turning 9 months old he has started commando crawling! 

The little man has been getting increasingly strong and adventurous. He reliably sits up upright and balanced now and securely lies himself down without us having to be close by in case he wobbles over and bumps. He has discovered the joy of standing up and has started to attempt to pull himself to standing. Mummy and everyone else make the best climbing frames but he is being brave and trying to use the sofa too, and the bath! It won't be long... 

Sleep? Well its probably best to not go there! There has been no improvement whatsoever! Clearly he is going to be one of those children who don't sleep through until they're 5 or something! Haha! Most days I've absolutely no idea how I'm functioning. It is surprising how you somehow adapt to broken sleep! 

My beautiful boy, you are now nine months old and weigh 20lb 1oz. You've lost a tiny bit of weight this month but I bet that is because you are a very active little baby now!  We've started phasing in your 9-12 month wardrobe,  mainly so you get some wear out of the summer clothes before the autumn arrives. They're huge on you at the moment, very long; it is such a jump in size this time, but hopefully that means they'll last you all the longer too! But you're still wearing lots of your 6-9 month clothes too.

Your first year is zooming by. It is unbelievable that another twelve weeks from now you will be having your happy birthday. We have booked your Dedication and birthday celebrations this month, so it will be a really special time, two celebrations at once. I really do wish time would slow down a little bit, so I could savour these baby days all the more. 

You are gorgeous, yes I'm biased, I am your Mummy, but you really are gorgeous. You have a cheeky little personality and take such delight in the world. You are so interactive now, and vocal. You laugh all of the time, you are so happy. Just today when Mummy and Daddy picked you up from your last settling in session at Nursery all the ladies looking after you were exclaiming how adorable and what a happy baby you are! 

Well, last month you were manoeuvring. This month you are REALLY manoeuvring! In the last few days, just around turning nine months old you have started to CRAWL! We're so proud of you baby small, and you are pleased as punch with yourself. Even in the three days you've been commando crawling you have improved loads and today I thought you were rather speedy! I don't think it will be long at all until you are crawling on your knees and then we'll all have to watch out!    

You really are into everything at the moment. Why is it, that with all of your toys around you that you seem to migrate to the nearest object you shouldn't be playing with? Xander's puzzles pieces, crayons and shoes seem to be your favourite items to try and play with at the moment!  

This month we have discovered just how ticklish you are, especially under your arms. Your favourite games have been singing 'Round and round the garden' and 'This little piggy' - as well banging the table/any surface with your hands or toys, banging your light up drum, and shaking your bell maraca rattle. Watching the change in your play is fascinating. You've definitely got the concept of cause and effect now and everything about your play has become so much more purposeful. 

Darling boy you've suffered long and hard with your teeth this last month. The little happy baby I just described disappeared for a week when it was at its worst. It has caused you no end of pain, unsettled and moaning during the day, screaming in the night, even more wakeful in the night and unsettled to go to bed. You HATED calpol (which surprised me when your brother thinks it is some sort of sweet treat!), so much so that forcing you to have some calpol would make you cry more for twenty minutes before it helped you. We've tried teething gels, and the much raved about teething powders, but for you Zac it has been ramping the pain relief up to teething Anbesol liquid that has finally helped you the most!  This is all new to Mummy, your brother breezed through teething with just the occasional smear of teething gel. 

But finally, finally, a week before you turned 9 months old your first little tooth popped through, and the second little tooth the next day! So two teeth at the same time, no wonder it has been so traumatic for you! 

This next month, growing up to be 10 months old is going to see changes again baby boy. Mummy is going back to work. I'm feeling very sad about it, I wish I could stay at home for as long as you so completely need me. I've loved being home with you and your big brother. You are completely Mummy's boy and I think this is going to be a month of separation anxiety for all of us, because Xander is going to feel it too! 

We're so blessed to have you baby small. 
Monday, 25 August 2014

Being A Duck

Do you ever feel like a duck? You know, floating serenely along on the surface whilst kicking furiously underneath. That's me. At least it feels like me a lot. 

I know, that for the most part I have this wonderful life with so much to be thankful for. The sort of life some people in this world would kill for, sell their right arm for, sell anything for; you get the picture. I know there are many people in this world who have it much harder than I do. 

I'm a duck floating around on top. I have a loving family, I have a wonderful loving husband, I have two precious incredible boys with me on earth, I have my home, (well soon, but in the meantime I still have a roof over my head,) my home is filled with love, joy and laughter. I have my job, with enough income to feel comfortable month to month. Materialistically, I don't want for much. 

But then there is this huge gulf, where I'm the duck kicking furiously underneath, where emotionally I want for a lot, maybe when I should be learning to handle it all differently. This one tiny person left such a void in her wake that is can't be filled and can't seem to be calmed. Anabelle's absense is so apparent in my everyday life, even when it isn't so apparent to everyone else. My heart continues to stab every day that she is not here with her brothers. 

Then I read this blog the other day. Living An Extraordinary Life After Loss. Inspiring. I wanted to relate to so much of it. I wanted to say I could get there too. 

But there is still so much I need to make peace with, but so much I'm not ready to make peace with either. So much I'm still not willing to accept. So much I still cannot let go of. So much I'm still not ready to explore, here on these pages. Sometimes I wonder if I've sentenced myself to feeling this hurt because part of me is stuck with her, in grief, in 2010. 

There seems to be two of myself. The myself that has such a happy life with what I have here, and the myself that hurts beyond hurt. Some days I feel guilty for hurting when I have so much joy. Some days I feel that I must be so ungrateful for not accepting what we have. Some days I feel guilty for all the joy despite all the hurt - how ridiculous does that sound on paper? And I do enjoy life, I enjoy every single thing I do with my boys, but sometimes I feel guilty for being happy 'without her'. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't have to feel grief all of the time that it is OK not to feel grief all of the time.  "I can still live an amazing life and love and miss him (her) at the same time." Thank you for affirming that Still Standing. 

This life after loss is exhausting. The waves keeps on crashing, the milestones keep on coming and I'm still learning to navigate. 

Next week Anabelle should have started school. That is a biggy. Starting school. 

This week I should be organising uniforms, buying last minute school shoes, socks and tights, matching bobbles and clips for her hair. I should be practising plaits and pigtails. We should be choosing new school bags and lunch boxes and fretting and being excited about my baby starting Reception. Instead I'm dreading a week of "My first day at school" photos on Facebook. Not because I begrudge anyone showing off their babies starting school, honestly, you all know me, and know I'll be right there with you on the photo front when the boys get there.  But because this time, this week my heart is heavy that my first-born isn't joining her should be friends at school, and I can't share her cute 'going to school in my new pinafore dress' photo too. 

There is still so much still to make peace with but I will have an extraordinary life.
Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Zachary @ 8 Months

At the grand old age of 8 months, 1 week and 2 days old its about time I wrote all about my baby small growing again. 

Well this month, Zachary has become a little mover! After mastering rolling last month, since then he has been trying so hard to crawl. He isn't crawling yet, but boy does he want to! Zac has his own little way of manoeuvring himself around with a weird stretch and push with feet action. He can rotate himself around on his tummy as quick as a flash using his arms and legs, he can push himself forwards (which sometimes involves pushing his face into the carpet!) and backwards with his feet and he's just beginning to attempt pushing up on his arms and knees - so who knows, crawling might not be far away. But for now, he is definitely manoeuvring! 

Sleep is mostly as broken as ever. A bottle with Daddy is normally followed by two gets up (or more) for Mummy. Teething has upset sleep patterns even more; and so we're officially more or less running on empty now and one very tired Mummy taking me half the morning to wake up enough to function. No idea how I'll ever get to work on time in September!  For now I've resigned myself to baby small not being a sleeper, and accepting that 'sleeping through' is a bit of a distant dream! I've also realised how spoilt we were with Xander being a 7-7 sleep kind of boy by eight months old! 

My darling boy, at eight months old you weigh in at 20lb 8oz. You're firmly becoming known as and called Zac, ZacZac or Baby Small by nearly everyone! Even Xander calls you ZacZac now! Your hair is slowly growing back, on top at least, and you have a fabulous mohican going on at the moment! My little dude.  You don't have any teeth yet but one isn't too far away. My poor boy you are suffering at the moment, you are so upset and I wish this first tooth would hurry up for you. If you find every tooth this painful it is going to be a long twenty teeth for you and Mummy! 

You are becoming very noisy and have really discovered your voice now; squealing, shouting and babbling. You get so excited now and let us know with all the sounds you can make! Your current favourite noises to make are little (but loud) squeals and brrr and a-buh noises. Of course Daddy is encouraging you to focus on your 'Da-da-da's but I think you should be working on 'Ma-ma-ma's - he got Daddy first last time, its definitely my turn you know! Xander is forever telling you to talk and you love gurgling to him. You also love shouting at him too; if he tells you off for playing with one of his toys you've started to tell him off back. It is clear to see you will be giving as good as you get before long! 

You never stay still for long now, you are desperate to get around the floor and a bit frustrated that you can't get what you want quick enough. But a moving baby equals a nightmare to get changed or dressed baby! Nappy changes and getting clothes on you is interesting now you are constantly trying to escape me! You still have little interest in standing just yet, collapsing your knees frequently but you still love bouncing time in your jumperoo, so I'm sure wanting to explore the world from an upright position won't be long! 

Your favourite toys this month have been your robot on your buggy, your linky rings and an bright orange monkey soft toy you were given at a birthday party recently. Although, that isn't to say you've not also loved exploring shoes or your brothers cardboard puzzle pieces! Mummy is forever rescuing you from something you shouldn't be playing with at the moment. It is much harder to keep things out of your reach than it was Xander! 

This month you've been enjoying baths with your big brother. You love lying down in the water and kicking your legs to make a splash. Between the two of you you manage to completely soak the bathroom, and Mummy! You can splash the water with your legs nearly as much as Xander can! 

You're not a fan of uninterupted sleep little man. I can't decide if you are genuinely hungry in the night or if you just like a cuddle with Mummy to check I'm still there! Its a good job you are so gorgeous ZacZac and that you give such lovely snuggly cuddles to make up for the number of times you wake Mummy up every night! At the moment you are exploring different positions to sleep in. You've taken to cwtching a muslin into you, rolling onto your side with your feet resting elevated on the cot bars - which isn't helping your wake ups; at least once a night we're going in to rescue a stuck leg from between the cot bars! 

Mostly at the moment you are Mummy's boy and only I will do.  You will cry and cry being held by someone else when you want me; then instantly calm and content as soon as I've picked you up again! I'll admit it can be completely overwhelming at times being the only one you want, especially if Xander wants me at the same time, and stressful hearing you scream unless you are in my arms but there is something really special about being your Mummy and even when I'm finding things stressful, deep down I love that you know I'm Mummy, and that you only want me to make you feel better. 

All too quickly these sleeping on and needing to be held by Mummy days will be few and far between, I wish I could hold you more baby small. I must try and make more time. 

But for now I'm going to try and get a little sleep. Before you call for me again for our sleepy rocking chair in the dark cuddles. Love you more than you could ever know, my little ZacZac. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Topsy Turvy

I'm having the sort of July that would normally tell me it is June. 

Last month I mostly felt numb. So busy in a craze of figuring out exactly what renovation the new house needed and preparing the old one for our tenant, I didn't have time to feel.  It passed by with but one moment of huge wobble on her birthday. 

But these last few weeks my moods are extreme; happy one moment, but then I've lost count of the rolling tears, strops, anger, impatience, worry, anxiety and worst of all panic.  

These months are back to front. Reaction delayed maybe. Stress maybe. 

It is clear heightened stress is not something I cope with well anymore. Was I always like this? I can't remember. The new house is crazy; the expense, the work we've decided to do, living at home again. It is all somewhat overwhelming. Things I should be able to take in my stride take me time to get my head around. I know I worry needlessly lots of time. I struggle when things are out of my control, and I guess this is all part of it too. A feeling of being out of control.

Delayed birthday grieving, heightened stress. 

It is time to pull it back together.

Maybe August will be my month for feeling on a more even keel again this year. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Zachary @ 7 Months

My darling baby boy is another month older again. Time zooms on by. My return to work is looming on the horizon, albeit just one day before the summer break. So not really until September at all but already I'm dreading leaving both of my boys. Somehow feeling worse about the prospect than last time and really not wanting this maternity leave and precious time with my children to end. If only there was a magic wand to keep me at home hey. 

As well as feeling emotional about that I'm also feeling nervous about Zachary. Although getting much better at being left with other familiar people for the moment, he isn't at all ready for a whole day without me. He still breastfeeds 3-4 hourly and is much more reliant on milk than Alexander was at the same age.  This day in work the week after next will be 'interesting' to say the least and I'm just hoping he won't be too distressed until Jon can bring him to me in the lunch time and then when I get home late afternoon. I know things could quickly change by September as he gradually gets more established on food, but this one day before the summer break could be very tricky for him.  

Zac appears to be much more a milk monster than Xander. Xander LOVED his food when he was weaned, couldn't get it in quick enough, would scream for more inbetween mouthfuls, scream blue murder when the bowl was finished and his portion sizes grew at an alarming rate. In stark contrast Zac is taking to food very slowly. Only last week we introduced a third meal and portion sizes, although slowly growing, are very hit and miss. Some meals turn out to be just a taste, yet others can be a full bowlful! Just now, he'll still happily take Mummy milk over a meal. Infact quite often he'll start eating, get upset and food is abandoned. Food is very much something he can take or leave and isn't bothered when its gone... I'm sure that will change in good time!  But with Mummy milk still being his main form of nutrition a whole day away from me isn't the greatest prospect for him, or me, or Jon! 

But, with another month of atrocious sleep we have introduced a 'dream-feed' bottle. So, I suppose if all else failed Jon could see if he would take one in the daytime too. Yes, sleep still isn't great. With nights of Mummy up every two hours from 11pm becoming the regular occurrence, we needed to try something different. So although not hugely consistent, and Zac only wanting 2-4 fl.oz (compared to the 9 fl.oz Xander would down at the same age!) it seems to have somewhat helped.  The last week has seen only one or two wake ups - which is a vast improvement! 

It has been a month of big changes. Baby small now shares a room with his big brother instead of sleeping next to me, and everyone has moved into my parents house while our new house is renovated. Huge changes for such a little person! 

My beautiful boy, at seven months old your weight gain has slowed down and this month you are 19lb 6oz. You are such a delightful gorgeous little thing and Mummy is totally fascinated watching you play and explore. 

You are getting stronger and better at sitting up all of the time, and you are finally on the move! After spending so long being just a smidgen away from rolling over, you did it and now there is no stopping you! You are no longer a 'find you where I left you baby' and no sooner are we turning our backs you have zoomed across the entire room and getting up to mischief, usually getting your hands on something you shouldn't or trying to play with your big brothers toys; much to his disgust! Oh how he loves you Zachary, but he isn't afraid to tell you they are his toys and gives you one of yours to play with instead.  It is going to be interesting seeing how your little brotherly love relationship develops now you are getting into everything!

Your play is getting better all of the time. You are so much better at manipulating toys now, your fine motor skills are just emerging and you are learning to clumsily press buttons to make things sing to you or light up. You are starting to get cause and effect and remembering how to play with your toys, remembering what they do and what you like. It is such a joy watching you shake your rattle with such enthusiasm! You are so purposeful now. 

Your favourite toys are becoming everything and anything you can get your hands on, but you have a definite soft spot for your giraffe and elephant off the animal train Mummy and Daddy gave you for your half birthday, they make great clicky noises that you love!

You are such gorgeous company Zachary. You have a infectious little laugh and a wonderful little personality beginning to shine through.  

Such a beautiful happy baby boy and we all love you very much. 
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I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander and Zac. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem @tonofunstweets
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