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.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

My 500th Post - Lucas @ 2 Months

My little baby is getting bigger. Another month older now and growing all the time. It is shocking, while trying to savour all his smallness he seems to have so suddenly grown; or at least completely uncurled now, lengthening out, feeling longer, filling out. He is certainly gaining weight and all caught up and comparable to his brothers at similar ages.

Two months old. The days and weeks are just flying by.

This month has been mostly about figuring out a new routine. Settling in to being a "five". Learning how to get three small children up and out in the morning. Navigating school runs and settling Big into big school. Life is busy, sometimes chaotic. I’ll admit some days it all feels overwhelming and pretty relentless, we certainly feel like we don’t stop most days – a hot cup of  (decaf) tea feels like a luxury now!

We’re still leaning heavily on Grandparent support at the moment, but we’re getting there – we’re starting to find our groove and I’ve managed quite a few morning school runs on my own now.

This month has been rough in parts for poor Lucas. He is somewhat more ‘sensitive’ than his Big and Small as babies. Luc has struggled with incredibly sore bottoms and a number of inconsolable evenings - completely new to us to have prolonged periods of baby distress and feeling completely helpless to immediately fix the problem, it left me feeling like a first-timer all over again after he had screamed from 5.30pm-11.00pm for the majority on one particular evening!

We’re so thankful it appears to have been a short-lived with a few diet adjustments for me. I’m currently caffeine free and not eating citrus fruits or sharp or spicy foods, not drinking fruit juices, squash or pop – no prolonged discomfort of an evening since and his bottom on the whole much clearer and causing him less bother. I can still have chocolate, so all is good!

But more to the point in all of this, even on the days I feel tired, life is good, wonderful. I’m feeling so emotionally blessed by these three beautiful boys.   Already we find ourselves getting names muddled up – both of us have called Luc, Zac, on many occasions!


Little is newborn perfection.

He continues to feed two and a half to three hourly and still wakes on average twice in a night to be fed. Most nights he spends the first half of the night in his Moses and the rest next to me.

Currently asleep on my chest as I type this update one-handed like the last.I’m still in no rush to put him upstairs to bed of an evening!  Jon sometimes accuses me of spoiling him , holding him long after he *could* be put down! On the days he *won’t* be put down we babywear and sling. Lucas is a baby that likes to be held and close to me. I’m well versed in how fast babies grow into children this time, soon enough he won’t need me like he needs me right now, so I will hold him, and enjoy the weight of him sleeping against me.

My sweet darling baby. You are two months old. We’ve had you for nine wonderful weeks now, getting to know you, what makes you tick, what makes you, you.  You’ve been a sleepy newborn for most of those nine weeks – sleepier than I remember your brothers after the first month. It appears your four weeks early has had more of an effect for you, behaving the slightly prem that you are.

As we approached week seven I was starting to twitch – you hadn’t smiled yet and you still were not showing any interest in the world or your family – if you were awake for too long you would get grumpy.  I kept reminding myself we need to adjust your age for developmental milestones…

Then, at seven weeks exactly, when I’d stopped expecting it, you smiled! 6.30am, Xander playing peek-a-boo with you, and he won that first smile! (Not for Mummy doing those night shifts with you, but we’ll gloss over that!) He could not have been more excited that you smiled for him! Special moments.

The last two weeks you are waking up more and more, a rough daily pattern is on the cusp of emerging. You’ve started behaving like you’re bored sometimes and want to play, want to go on the floor and kick and look around. You are spotting things now, you try and look right up over your head on the floor, tilting your head right back.  You are already developing such a special bond with your brothers, they both adore you, constantly telling you what a ‘cutie’ you are! 

You are noticing them and showing an interest in them as they play around you.




At two months old you are 11lb 4oz and the last week you have been phasing into your 0-3 months wardrobe! I can’t believe I’m already packing away another size! We’re starting to discover which colours really suit you at the moment; I like blues and whites with splashes of reds and brights. Grey is my least favourite colour on you. It’s funny, each of you boys I’ve had a slightly different colour pallet prefenece, even though you have shared many of the same outfits!

You’ve had another month of firsts. Your first smile, of course, but also your first experience of sand at Cardiff Bay beach and your first overnight in a hotel in Plymouth. You’ve had your first jabs (they were rough) and your six week (at eight week) checks. Officially you ‘failed’ as the Dr has made a referral for a query divergent squint in your right eye. But you are perfect, healthy and doing just fine. You’ve had your first swim in a pool, after we won a course of water babies! Although for week one you were less than impressed  (week two was enormously better!), week one cries we are blaming those jabs.

You are really starting to make yourself known. My boy you can SHOUT! You’re finding your voice. You can be quite the impatient little one! You hate being wet or dirty and fussing for a nappy change can swiftly escalate from 0-60 screaming to be cleaned! My. we’re still getting through an unbelievable number of nappies – around 12 a day! But you’ve also started to coo and chat. You have the most beautiful soft little voice. This next month I’m most looking forward to listening to you tell me your stories; and lots and lots of more smiles of course!

This month we’ve discovered you’re not the biggest fan of your carseat, or the car if it stays stationary for too long. You like movement. You like being rocked in the carseat or bounced in your nest chair. You like the shower on your head, you like the feel of the hairdryer to warm you up and get you dry.

You know your Mummy and I love that. I love that you respond differently to my touch, my voice or my arms to others. Baby mine, you seem to know when I am near – open your eyes, still, look around or cry for me. Definitely Mummy’s boy.


My baby boy. And just like that my heart keeps swelling more. Infinite capacity.
 My boys. Raising rainbows.



Sunday, 4 September 2016

Reception

Alexander has surpassed another milestone Anabelle never got to see. 

He has started school!  

I remember how emotional I felt two years ago, on what would've been her first day at school; another day, another date stolen from us. Two years ago there was no neatly folded uniform ready for the morning, no school bag ready by the door, no excited child about the new lunch bag they were going to be able to take to school tomorrow. 

Two years ago I felt crushed because my baby girl didn't get to start school. 

Fast-forward two years and I'm emotional for the completely opposite set of circumstances.  This time my baby is starting school! I'm excited for him, beyond happy that he and we get to share this important and huge milestone. But wow, emotional - we're marking the end of his baby-hood days. Four years, ten months, three weeks of glorious infancy days. 

Now my Big is a fully-fledged school boy. 

He is ready, so ready. Every single day over the summer holidays he asked how many sleeps until he could go back to school. Last Thursday, on being told he was going to school today he actually squealed he was so excited! 

Tomorrow, after just two days of just mornings to settle in, he goes all day. 

Tomorrow morning I know his highlight will be taking all his new bags with him. His Transformer's lunch bag, his Transformer's P.E bag to keep in his locker with his kit in, his new book bag for bringing those reading books home. Xander feels like he is so grown up now he is in Reception, he is so excited to be in the big school and I'm excited for him too. This year I'm looking forward him learning to read to me - those reading books and reading journals to fill in coming home in his new book bag. 

Tomorrow; the first all-day of at least twelve years, and probably more, of full-time school. 

Tomorrow I have to share him a little bit more. Let him go to discover the world and himself a little bit more. 

A new chapter and an end of an era.

Dearest Xander, 

Last Thursday you started RECEPTION. Just for the mornings for those first two days. You were completely unfazed by the new class and your new teacher. If there was any hesitation that first morning it was so fleeting that if I had blinked I would have missed it. As soon as Mr Butcher took you by the hand you were off into class without a hint of a backwards glance. 

Tomorrow morning you will go to school and you'll be there ALL day. You're a big boy in Reception now, and that means starting school at 8.50am and staying there until 3.05pm. No more coming home at dinner time. 

You are more than ready for this new adventure, this new chapter. I know you have already been in nursery every morning for the last almost two years. But somehow, you going to school full days feels different. I feel so immensely proud and emotional in equal measure. You've grown, matured and blossomed into a wonderful little boy - you love learning, you love school, you have a thirst to absorb as much knowledge and information as you can. You are ready to be in school all day.

But I can't help but feel a little sad that now school will get the most of you.  Indeed probably the best of you while you arrive home over-tired, exhausted, over-sensitive as you adjust to a whole day somewhere else, with higher expectation of you than there is at home. Weekends will be more precious than ever my darling. They will be our days with you. 

Tomorrow marks the end of an era. You are a little boy now. Not a baby anymore. 

Tomorrow is a new chapter with those baby days behind us and you taking your first step into school age child-hood. I'm sad about all the week-time fun that you'll miss out on at home now with me, Zac and Luc.  But I know you're ready to go and do the bigger boy things now; baby and toddler classes are far too babyish for you - I've noticed you getting bored, you are ready to grow. You are ready, even if I am not! 

But although I will miss you at home, I'm so excited for you too. I can't wait for you to come home and tell me all about your days. I can't wait to discover all the things you are going to learn to do this year. We're going to be with you every step of the way, always behind you, encouraging you and spurring you on. 

You're going to have a wonderful time in school, in Reception. 

Beautiful boy. As we get ready to share you with the big wide world a whole lot more, know that we love you and we're so proud. 

One more step along the world you go. 

Always our baby, even when you're Big. 

Mummy and Daddy xx 
Saturday, 27 August 2016

Growing Around Grief

Earlier in the week my local Sands group chairwoman posted this picture:



It struck a chord with me; ringing true in our experience. 

This time six years ago I couldn't have imagined life like it is today. I couldn't see beyond the rawest of grief, when even lifting my head off the pillow in the morning took such monumental effort. When even breathing took such monumental effort. Life back then was a haze and a daze. I've said before that there is very little from those first couple of months after Anabelle's death that I actually remember.   I know things that happened, but I can't remember living them. I was in shock. This complete blank in time now represents how truly broken I was. 

I had no idea how I was going to heal or grow. In all honesty, back then, and for a very long time afterwards, I didn't even want to heal. Accepting recovery invoked a tremendous amount of guilt. How could I be happy when my daughter was dead? 

But slowly, slowly somehow, days seemed slightly brighter again. Somehow a life began to swell around our grief. Notably, our wonderful Alexander was born and saved me from the pit. Zachary joined him and now Lucas. My beautiful rainbows. My reason to keep challenging myself to heal. They keep saving me from myself. 

There have been many ups and many downs - all of which have been extensively documented here. There have been many times when grief has been all consuming once more.   A breakdown of epic proportions over her third birthday and struggling with family events in the year leading up to her fifth.  Still, June is incredibly hard. June still feels stuck in a cycle of 2010. June I've accepted is likely to always be my sticking point regardless of how much healing there is. 

It wasn't until the second half of last year, 2015, that I finally decided to proactively heal. To reflect on all that had passed. All the time taking small steps, giving myself permission to finally accept a happy extraordinary life (click to open) despite Anabelle's death. The Capture Your Grief workshop last autumn was good for me. Cathartic (click to open). Maybe I should do it again this year. 

Anabelle's absence is ever felt. There is rarely a day that goes by without her name being mentioned in this household, there is never a day she is not thought about. But life has grown around her. I feel like I'm there on that third picture. 

This picture reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2014 (click to open). .  My world got bigger. Because of Anabelle my world got bigger, even when for a long while I didn't think it could. Our grief has never diminished, never got smaller, a little girl missing is pain beyond measure - but alongside that, around that, a wonderful life has swelled and grown too. This last few weeks our world has got so beautifully bigger again with her tiniest brothers' arrival.  

Our wonderful boys are now one bigger. Alexander, Zachary and Lucas; even without anything else, they'll always be my reason to keep growing around our grief. 

Permission to make memories. Permission to live. Permission to have a happy extraordinary life. Permission to grow around unimaginable grief. 







Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Lucas @ 1 Month

Where has the last month gone? I’ve no idea how Lucas is already a month old, changing already. We’ve had a wonderful five weeks of getting to know our newest little boy and he is such a delight; utterly adored by the whole family.

Lucas is a lovely content baby for the most part. He cries to be fed, if he has a dirty nappy or wants to be cuddled to sleep. Lucas loves a lot of cuddles, loves to be held and so it has been a month of cuddles, breastfeeding and bonding.

Luc is getting used to the world around him and us getting used to another small person needing our attention. As much as we’re enjoying Lucas and our boys, there has been no doubt that adjusting to three little boys has been overwhelming at times. It often feels like someone always needs something and it has felt quite the challenge giving each of the boys the attention they need and deserve. However I remember feeling just as overwhelmed in the early days when Zac arrived, wondering how I was going to spread myself thinly enough for them both – now there are three and we just need this bit of time to find our new groove and routine again.  



Alexander and Zachary are truly beautiful with their baby brother - always telling him daily that they love Baby Luc and that he is so cute. All Xander wants to do is help look after and hold his baby, Zachy often introducing Luc to other people as “my baby”!  They’ve had their adjustments too though; at times these little boys have seemed unusually shattered, unusually over-sensitive, there have been more tears than usual, more drama between them than usual – they love Luc but we’re not underestimating how unsettled and affected by change they have been feeling.

But we’re getting by, more than getting by. Any moments of frustration and tiredness is more than outweighed by how much we’re enjoying our beautiful Little baby.

Oh Little Lucas. As I type this one handed, you are sleeping soundly in my other arm. You are already a month old and your baby days are flying by far too quickly. Today, at five weeks old you weigh 9lb 1oz, measure 53cm long and steadily in proportion following the 25th percentile line. In the last week you have phased out of your early baby clothes and into your newborn wardrobe. You are feeding well, like I always knew you were. After your slow to gain start you are more than making up for it now!

You’ve started to be a little bit sicky after your feeds, but currently nowhere near as bad as your brother’s were before you. While they constantly needed outfit changes, at the moment you generally only require bib changes. You seem to posset more if you do not burp after your feed but boy do you sometimes make us work to get any wind up!

Most nights you sleep well. Well, as well as you expect a newborn to sleep anyway! While there have been a fair few nights where I have been up with you almost every hour through the night, for the most part you average two wake-me-ups a night after midnight.  Most nights you have been waking for a feed around 11.00pm – so at this point we’ve been going up to bed, feeding you and settling into your Moses basket. On a good night you wake sometime between 2.00-3.00am and again around 5.00am. Some nights are better than others, some nights you seem happy to be in your Moses, other nights you’ll only sleep soundly if you’re in my arms – but I don’t mind – you’re my last tiny baby and I will spoil you, knowing only too well just how quickly you will outgrow the need to be held so constantly, and how much I will miss the tiny weight of you in my arms.



You’ve had a month of firsts. Your first go in your pram, you’re first go in the sling. Your first visits to so many places; Belle’s garden, St Fagan’s, the Farm, a guest at a birthday party. We’ve been shopping, to restaurants. We’ve crossed that hurdle of breastfeeding in public well and truly off our lists now. Although you can still be a fusspot to latch sometimes we’re getting better at it together and my confidence has grown again – or at least I care much less about ‘flashing’ in public with each baby I’ve had!   With Daddy having another week off next week to finish the summer you’ll have been to a load of other exciting places very soon too. Already the social baby!

We’ve learnt so much about you this month baby boy. We’ve learnt that you like to feel your body wrapped tightly in a blanket but will go bananas if we try and swaddle your arms. Instead you like to feel your arms and hands up near your face.

You like to sleep curled on your side – going against everything in the rule book and making my anxieties twitch, even with the breathing monitor mat. As a compromise we allow you to have a slight weight shift more onto one side with your back mostly still facing the mattress. As soon as you can intentionally roll I’m sure you’ll be a side sleeper.

You like you snug nest chair, again preferring to almost curl up on your side in it when you doze there. You like a bath now, but only if Mummy has got into the bath with you, holding you and moving you through the warm water. I wonder if it reminds you of being on the inside? You still do not like having your hair washed and like getting out of the bath and getting dressed even less! You do however seem to like the sound of the hairdryer, often stilling and silencing to the noise when I am drying my hair.

You are beginning to have more periods of awake time and short bursts of play on your mat. When you are awake you are so alert, so switched on to your surroundings – nosy already even! Already you seem so strong – on your first tummy time you were lifting your head way off the floor and lifting your legs too, appearing to almost be unintentionally trying to roll off your tummy.



You are so bright eyed beautiful boy. Already you are trying to smile – we’ve been treated to half smiles, nearly there smiles, but we’re still waiting for that properly intentional beaming face. Both your brothers smiled at 6 weeks old so it won’t be long I’m sure. Mummy is so looking forward to it, as is Xander who keeps telling me that you’re nearly big enough to smile.



Oh how your brothers love any interaction with you. Even though Zachy will often tell me that you’re too noisy when you cry,  he plants gentle kisses on your cheek often throughout every day. Xander can’t get enough of you, always wanting to be on hand to help with getting a nappy, or helping to bath you or just wanting to know when it is his turn to cuddle Baby Luc. Baby seems to have become the first part of your name, neither of your brothers referring to you without the Baby prefix first!





You are so surrounded by love Lucas. I cannot wait to see your relationship with your brothers grow and change. Another few weeks and I’ll bet you’ll be fascinated by them, unable to take your eyes off them, saving all your best smiles for them! My little trio of lovely boys.


Precious lovely baby. It feels like you’ve been here so long but no time at all. Already can hardly remember life before you. I look at you and love that you are mine. I wish slightly for time to slow down, for you to stay tiny for as long as possible, my last baby. Equally I’m so excited for all the beautiful moments I know will be coming. I wonder what you’ll discover before you’re two months old? A proper beaming smile will be Mummy’s highlight, beautiful boy.




Loved beyond measure Little.


Mummy and Daddy xxx


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Caz
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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