Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

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

Monday, 24 October 2016

Because Sometimes It Isn't All An Instagram Photo

Tonight I was going to write one of the boys updates. Alexander is now five and Lucas is three months.  

But today has been hard and not the greatest start to half term. One of those days where I've felt like I'm completely failing at this 'Mother of three boys' lark incompetent and feeling completely inadequate for them. Today Big and Small have pushed my buttons - not with any one big thing, but the drip drip drip effect of wearing me down with lots of little things, not listening, fighting with each other, shrill screaming, a bad toileting day, just constant something after another things. Not helped by Zachary waking for the day at 4.30am. So even though Lucas slept through for his second time last night I didn't get a full nights sleep anyway. 

I've been shouty Mummy. I hate it when I'm shouty Mummy. It is so far removed from the gentle parent I want to be and it always ends with me feeling so guilty; knowing that they don't entirely deserve my reaction and I need to get my act together and strive to do so much better. 

They're all so little. They're just little. Most of the time I love their age gaps, but it means none of them are very independent and sometimes I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew. 

We're still getting to grips with managing these three little people. Its taking me so much longer to adjust to the day to day of three than it did to two. Lucas is the easiest of the lot, (why did I ever think a baby was hard work?!) but still he has changed the dynamic. Especially the days that Jon is in work. Outnumbered. There just isn't enough of me. There isn't enough hours in the day. Some days it feels oh so overwhelming and I can't keep up with them. I can't keep up with the house either and it continues to fall to rack and ruin. 

Today was one of those days. 

An everything spiralling fast kind of day. Feeling stressed by child demands, behaviour and the state of the house. One of those days I hope they will never remember when they're grown. One of those days when I'm nothing like the mother I want to be.  And it feels crap. Even more so when Jon sends my Mum up because he can tell I'm having a struggling with it all day from my texts. As grateful as I am for the help. In hindsight we should've gone for a drive and sleep much earlier on in the day to reset.  

We finally got ourselves together at around 3.00pm. All calmed down and managed some painting. And today, that had to be enough.  

Tomorrow's goal is take them all out for a walk. 

Tomorrow is another day. I hope we're feeling 'back to normal'.  

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Babyloss Awareness Week

This year I've completely lost my way with the Capture Your Grief project.

I think my Unspoken (click to open) post really took it out of me. Laying some more of me bare. 

After my last post, I haven't felt able to let the words flow onto the screen.  Its felt stilted and stalled. I told myself I *should* be writing. I'd committed to giving myself and Belle this time. And then I realised there was no should about it. If I wasn't in the headspace to carry on with the project, right now at least, then so be it. It wasn't going anywhere. There wasn't a real time constraint. Maybe in this moment I didn't need the project in the same way as I did last year. 

So I gave myself the permission to break. And to carry on when I was ready. Explore each title heading when I was ready, if I was ready, if it felt right. It didn't need to be on a specific date in October, just because it was babyloss awareness month. It could be any time. Next month, the month after, or even next year. 

This year I'm taking Capturing Grief very slowly.  Maybe it won't even be complete. 

I cannot put my finger on why, but this year, the project, and babyloss awareness week has not sat right with me at all. Dare I say, even made me feel uncomfortable. Which is ridiculous. I am one of the faces of babyloss, a STILLborn daughter to my name.  But this year, I felt the need to take a step away from the outpouring of grief and social media awash with baby loss awareness week. I didn't participate in quite the way I might've last year, or previously. 

It has always felt significant before, that Alexander's birthday should coincide with the end of babyloss awareness week. Our first rainbow truly was the light that came shining through in that week back in 2011. Back then I'm not even sure I was aware it was the week, but as he explored his light up drum birthday present as his contribution of Wave of Light in 2012 it felt somehow special. Our two worlds had collided together in a beautiful sort of harmony in one week. 

This year, I didn't feel able to marry to the two. 

This year, as we built up to Alexander's 5th birthday, I felt removed from a babyloss community week. More uncomfortable.  I couldn't blog about such huge grief topics and focus on my rainbows birthday video at the same time, I couldn't find meaningful things to photograph for the project or give it my authentic attention when my focus was on the birthday presents and party for my little boy. 

I don't know why it has felt different this year to others. Why I felt weird, removed, uncomfortable. Its as important as it ever was. 

But I do know that birthdays are a big deal in this family. Our Rainbow boys especially so. The boys who lived and came home. We celebrate! Big, emotional, making memories. I'm always aware and so very conscious that our boys may one day feel like they grew up in the shadow of their sisters death, as hard as we try to make it not so. This year I just felt like I couldn't drain myself in the week of his birthday by fully participating in babyloss awareness week. Alexander deserved to be the entire centre of my attention. Rightly so. 

On Wave of Light day we were at Longleat having a special day our for our Big. In previous years I would've felt a strong sense of unjustified guilt had we not been home at 7.00pm to light our candle for Belle with everyone else. This year we were on the road home at 7.00pm and I felt no guilt. As facebook flooded with candles and I was tagged in posts, I felt no guilt at the alerts. Just that his sister would wait for her candles when we got home. Just as it wouldn't be her turn to be the centre of attention on his birthday weekend if she were alive.  

In the end, when we got home from Longleat at around 8.30pm, I lit six candles to mark the six years we've lived without her. Six years darling girl. Six years, four months, two days. 

This year Babyloss week didn't feel right for me. Its taken me another week to realise that this is OK. After all, I don't need and have never needed a special week or month to be vocal about Anabelle's place and importance in this family.  She is known by those that matter every week of the year. 

Maybe this is more evidence of an evolving grief. More evidence of a sense of healing in strange and wonderful ways.  More little steps. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Sixth - Empathy

I've said before that I've kindness on this journey from other people than I have deliberate insensitivity. More people are thoughtful than thoughtless. 

In the early days I took thoughtlessness and insensitivity incredibly badly. I wasn't very forgiving of people who put their foot in it, or worse. Grief was so raw, everything was so broken that I just couldn't see beyond that. I raged that some people didn't have the foresight to find a better more appropriate thing to say. 

Over the years I've softened. Become more charitable. More forgiving. 

Most of the time I don't get so worked up about it anymore. That is not to say that I always handle it well, but I can now, let it wash over me, even though it still very much stings when people that should know, forget, making a careless comment, or neglect to acknowledge that I had a daughter.  That there was one more.

And I get it. Only I can carry Anabelle like I do and only three of my children can be seen.

But empathy for me today is counting my children carefully. Four.

Those that know; including her, validating her. Allowing me to still openly be her mother and not a part of my life that should be hidden away.

And I'm lucky, because I am surrounded by people that do, and allow me, just that!  

Just this last week my Mother and Xander were having a conversation about who was born first. His birthday is coming up and he is of course excited about being the biggest and getting bigger. But my lovely little boy still remembers his sister. When Mum made an innocent comment about him being first, he said "No, Belle was first, and then me Nana!"

Even my almost five year old can already manage empathy (click to open)!

The time of concern is over. No longer are we asked how are we doing. Never is the name of our child mentioned to us. A curtain descends. The moment has passed. Her life slips from recall. There are exceptions, close and compassionate friends, sensitive and loving family. For most, the drama is over. The spotlight is off. Applause is silent. But, for us the play will NEVER end. 

The effects on us are timeless. Say HER NAME to us. On the stage of our lives she has been both leading and supporting actress. Love does not die. Her name is written on our lives. The sound of her voice replays within our minds. You feel she is dead. We feel she is of the dead but still she lives. She ghostwalks our souls, beckoning in future welcome. 

You say she was our child. We say she is. Say HER NAME to us, and say HER NAME again. It hurts to bury her memory in silence. What she was in flesh is no part of our now. She was our hope for the future. You say not to remind us. How little you understand; we cannot forget. We would not if we could. 

We understand you, but feel the pain in being forced to do so. We forgive you because you cannot know. And we would forgive you anyway. We accept how you see us, but understand you see us not at all. We strive not to judge you, but we wish that you could understand that we dwell in both flesh and in spirit. The mystery is that you do too, but know it not. 

We do not ask you to walk this road. The ascent is steep and the burden heavy. We walk it not by choice. We would rather walk it with her in the flesh, looking not to spirit worlds beyond. We are what we have to be. What we have lost you cannot feel. What we have gained, you cannot see. 

Say HER NAME for she is alive in us. She and we will meet again, although in many ways we've never parted. She and her life play light songs on our minds, sunrises and sunsets on our dreams. She is real and shadow, was and is. 

Say HER NAME to us and say HER NAME again. She is our child and we love her as we always did.

Author Unknown
Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Fifth - The Unspoken

I wasn't sure where to go with this.

I'm still not sure where to go with it.

Blogging for six years there isn't much that has been left unspoken.  I've always been open about our grief and the ongoing pain of Anabelle's absence from our lives. 

I've been open about her. In those very early days I shared some of our carefully selected photographs of her, even though it initially terrified me to do so. Terrified because I was scared they would offend someone, or that people wouldn't be very kind. 

Then I decided I didn't care who I offended. It hurt me more not to be able to share her. 

It still hurts me. I think that is why I'm a complete over-sharer of my boys. Frequent and regular photos shared of them on Instagram and Facebook. Because I can; they are here, alive, growing and that is so beautiful. I take many photographs every day, thousands upon thousands a year. Recording each moment that I can, because I can! All their photos feel like a little celebration. I'm so grateful that I can continue taking photos of them. 

We took around 70 photos of Anabelle. And those will never be enough. Never enough, but all we have. We've shared around 10 of her photos on my facebook albums. There are 2 photographs of her I've used regularly here and elsewhere too. But there are still many photographs of Anabelle that I haven't shared. And won't ever share. 

Because if I'm honest, they are too graphic and scary for public consumption. Her broken and battered skin, puffy and bleeding eyes. Nothing like newborn baby photos should look like. Even over the course of the twelve hours we kept her with us, taking photographs periodically from beginning to end, her deterioration after being exposed to the outside was evident. 

Her photos, her, she is so precious and beautiful to me but my fragile heart couldn't take any spiteful or unkind remarks from others or even thoughts about her. Because I know, I know from experience and comments early on in my blogging days that sometimes people just cannot even begin to try and understand. And so they don't. Not everyone can manage empathy. 

I wish we could've taken more. If we could go back now we would take more. Taken some differently. Captured so many more of her small details. But we were in daze, in shock. At least we had the foresight to take photos. Clicking away trying to get anything of her. But it was never going to be enough. 

Oh the benefit of hindsight and photography experience now.  

Tonight I've been crying as I've typed this. 

I've looked at some photos of Anabelle that I haven't looked at for such a long time. I wish she was alive and it hurts. 

I'm going to share a new one. I'm taking a deep breath as I do. You see, this is my most precious, favourite photo of all. My tiny baby girl sleeping on my chest.  Some select people will have already seen it once before. But today is about the unspoken. I'm choosing the unseen.

Please be kind. 

Normalising grief. Baring a little bit more of me.  

Capture Your Grief. Day 5. The Unspoken.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Fourth - Support Circles

Already two days behind. The demands of a new baby, keeping on top of a rainbow children filled house, choosing sleep over finding the time to blog. I knew it would be harder to make myself make time for this this year! 

Support Circles. 

I think nearly everyone in the grief community, would agree that in the aftermath of unfathomable profound grief, all your relationships take a battering to one extent or another.  

Marriages, partnerships, friendships, family links. 

There is so much truth in the saying finding out who your real friends are.

Some relationships falter, some relationships fail, but some will weather well and come out stronger than ever.  Finding out who your real friends are. 

Some people cannot cope with your grief and drift away quietly. Some people unbelievably betray you. Some relationships are so irreparably damaged that there is no going back. Some will over time start to recover and paper over the cracks, but will never be the same again. We're cautious with our trust now. Secondary losses. (Click to open)

We've been there.

Some friendships and family links took a battering. 

And it hurt.  Some people we miss. Some people we didn't. Some people we realised we were better off without. 

But the people you're left with, the ones that had the strength of character to weather the storm with you, to hold you together, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be a person to rant and rave at, to be the person you could take it out on, to be the person that tried so very hard to understand you; they are beautiful thing. 

Finding our who your real friends are. Finding out the family you can rely on, lean on. 

People you might not have expected it to be. People who kept loving you even when you weren't very loveable. Who keep loving you when you're not very loveable. 

A long-suffering husband, parents. Those who've seen me at my rock bottom worst and never gave up on me, even when I've pushed their love and support away. Closed in on myself, lashed out and let grief devour. Jon, Mum and Dad, unfaltering, always there. 

In those early days leaning heavily into online grief support charity networks. Bereaved parents networks. Finding people who had lived it too. I lived through a virtual support network for the first 18 months after Belle died, posting almost daily on the Sands forum or Mumsnet. And then I found I didn't feel like it was a good fit anymore. I wasn't there anymore, I couldn't immerse myself in such raw grief anymore, it wasn't helping me heal. I spend little time immersed in online bereaved parent networks at all these days. They had their time. They're still there in the background, I still dip in and out of the facebook groups from time to time, other Mum's a similar length along this grief journey as me, but I've noticed I'm not really there in that place so much online anymore. 

There was an undeniable shift in friendship groups. Before friends. In the midst of it all friends. Friends who accepted me as I was then, and as I am now; good days, bad days and all those in-between days. New best friends. After friends. Friends who didn't know the old me but were there at the beginning of life After Anabelle. Fellow bereaved parent friends, who have their own stories, own dead children too. Sands events and Rainbow Baby coffee mornings. Reaching out and making real life links with people who've been there too. Newer friends. More recent links. People who may not even know that much, or anything, about our grief.

Support Circles (Click to open) 

I've been lucky. Many of my relationships survived. There are people I can lean on. People who really want to know me still. And that is so important because grief doesn't end. It changes, it shifts, but there is no end.  

Support circles. They are the core to surviving. 

Capture Your Grief 2016. Day 4. Support Circles.

Monday, 3 October 2016

The Third - What It Felt Like

There are simply no words to convey the magnitude of what it felt like. That moment we were told our daughter was dead inside me. No heartbeat. 

Wednesday 16th June 2010

We had gone to the hospital because I couldn't feel her. Really, I think I already knew way before we heard those words. We were taken into a side room on labour ward. A midwife tried to listen. A Doctor was called. An archaic old ultrasound machine was pulled in. The Doctor looked. He said the machine wasn't clear. Still no-one had actually said what was wrong. We were taken to the x-ray and ultrasound department. A sonographer looked, and looked. She indicated to her colleague for a second opinion. There was a silent nod. And I knew, before they said anything at all, I knew. 

There is no heartbeat. 

I cannot remember exactly what they said. All I heard was no heartbeat. 

Barely before she had finished her sentence, before the gel had been wiped from my tummy, Jon was across the room and scooped me in his arms. And we crumpled. Guttural broken sobs. 

I have very little recollection of the sequence of events that day after this. The world was spinning and shattering around us. I have no idea how long the staff left us in that scan room, clinging to eachother. I know eventually we were taken back to labour ward and into Room 4. The Room where Anabelle would be born five days later. I was sick. Another Doctor came to see us, explained what was going to happen next. Induction and Labour. He said it was better that way, better for my recovery and future pregnancies. A different more senior midwife came to look after us. I was given a tablet. We were sent home with instructions. It was all a blur. Those days between her death and birth are all a blur. Time moved differently.  I was sick a lot over these next few days. 

Sent home to wait for something to happen. Still pregnant but not. 

We waited for something to happen. Nothing happened. 

It all felt unbearably cruel. I wanted her out but not all at the same time. 

We went to my parents - and there we stayed until after her funeral. 

I couldn't bare the sight of me. Mirrors had to be covered around the house, I couldn't look at my pregnant shape anymore. The bump I had been loving so much was now beyond painful. I was so scared. 

Then on the Saturday morning I was admitted onto the labour ward for the next part of the induction. Labour ward where despite best efforts it was inevitable that I would hear other women in labour and their babies arriving crying. 

Staff were kind. I was set up on the morphine drip and told not to be brave; to press the button that would administer a set dose of morphine whenever I wanted it. I realise now that morphine was much less for pain management and much more about sedating me somewhat. Numbing me to the horrific reality I was living through. 

The midwife looking after us that morning had been in the same position as me, with her own sleeping baby. I was astounded she could do this job. 

I don't remember how the day passed.

We were in a self-contained labour room. A sofa pull-out bed for Jon, a fridge, a kettle, a shower room. I don't think I realised at the time that we weren't in any old labour room. I realise now it was 'the room' that was used for families like us. 

Twenty-four hours nothing happened.

The same started again Sunday morning, still waiting. Father's Day.

How utterly unbearable for Jon. That his first Father's Day was spent in that room, waiting for his dead daughter to arrive. 

Coming up to 7.00pm that evening Belle still wasn't on her way. I still wasn't in labour. They were going to break my waters and give me overnight, but if I still wasn't in labour by the morning then I would be having a c-section. 

They broke my waters and within minutes it all kicked off. Fast and thick contractions. 

It was only on reading my notes a few months later that I realised how quickly I did dilate and labour after this. Labour was recorded as 5 hours and 8 minutes. 

She arrived. The loudest of silences. Part of me died with her. 

And then, in the afternoon of that day, after all of that. We had to leave hospital without her. And it was that moment that broke me once and for all. Empty. Broken-hearted. Changed forever. 

Capture Your Grief. Day 3. What It Felt Like. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Second - Who Are They

Anabelle Violet Morgan.

Sometimes it just feels really good to be able to write down her name. 

Anabelle Violet Morgan. Our Belle. 

Our firstborn. Our daughter. The only daughter we'll have. 

The only daughter we'll have is really beginning to sink in now.  I'm not ready yet to explore the finality of that here. But I will in time. It needs processing but not yet. 

We were so excited to be having a little girl.

Anabelle Violet. Named by her Daddy.

She was nearly Violet. It was up there on the first name choice list along with Anabelle.

She could've been Violet Ivy. Isn't it strange when you think of the variation of name choices that were considered for your children?! To think a different decision would've given them a completely different identity.

But it was Belle that won it. Deciding that Belle was such a pretty short name, that Anabelle would be spelt with the emphasis on Belle rather than Anna; so we dropped an 'n'. And kept Violet as a middle name.

And so began our naming rules. Any girls we may have had from then would have had a flower based middle name. Even though no more girls were to be. 

Years before children were even on the agenda, I had always assumed, taken for granted that one of them would be a girl. I assumed I would have some of each. Doesn't every one? 

It could never have occurred to me that I would indeed have a daughter, but I wouldn't get to keep her. My only daughter. 

If she was here today she would be six. She would be in Year 2 of school. The top of infants. No doubt feeling like the very big girl.  She would be a big sister to three little boys and feeling like Queen Bee. I imagine she would mother hen them. 

It is occurring to me more and more that I have no idea who a six year old girl is. I can't imagine her as six, I can't picture her as six, because I've never had a six year old. In those early years I could imagine her baby-ness. But recently, I've realised that is where she stayed - in my minds eye. My tiny baby girl. 

Born just into the 21st June 2010.

Summer solstice baby. 


It was a Monday. The day before had been Father's Day. Her head was actually born on Father's Day, but it took around 15 minutes for that final contraction, that final push for her body to follow. 

4lb 5oz. 


And you forget don't you, how tiny they are when they are born. 

Lucas is 10 weeks old now, and already, the tiny 6lb 8oz he was is getting beyond me. It blows my mind how very very little and light he felt, and that Belle was over 2lb smaller and 5cm shorter again. 

My tiny girl. I wish six years later I could really remember the weight of her, the size of her. I wish I could feel it. 

To this day I'm still more bothered by baby girls than I am by older girls, girls the same age as Anabelle. Of course they make me wonder but its baby girls that still fill me with great anxiety, sadness, and a ball of grief that threatens to overflow. Longing for the baby girl I could only hold for the briefest of times. Still after six years my immediate reaction is to avoid newborn girls. Six years later I'm still working on over-riding these feelings. But sometimes it is still all too much. 

We have a daughter. Her name is Belle. 

Capture Your Grief 2016. Day 2. Who Are They. 

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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