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.

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Decade I Called My Twenties

The first week of April we came home from my 30th birthday holiday. At Christmas Jon surprised me with a booking for EuroDisney; I had never been to Disneyland and going for my 30th had all I'd gone on about for about two years! We were not disappointed, we all had a magical beautiful time; the sight of the castle took my breath away, Xander just about loved everything, discovering Buzz Lightyear, Cowboys, and the sheer excitement of every ride, especially driving a car!  Zac mesmerised by the parades and characters and spent much time shouting and waving at them, adding the word 'Wow' to his vocabulary! Jon loved seeing the children's reactions and the awesome fireworks show at park closing time. We had a special super holiday.

But as always, our little girl was missing and we felt it; we felt it walking through the park surrounded by little girls in their favourite princess dresses,  wishing our little girl was dressed in a princess dress too. We felt it walking through the stores with aisles lined with Princess Belle dolls and toys. We felt it when we mentioned how we would've been duped into buying her so much with her name on while we were there if she had been with us, handling those toys for just a moment and wishing we could be duped anyway.  We felt it when a bolt of grief hit hard in the chest out of nowhere in those stores. We felt it when Xander identified a Princess Belle doll and said 'like my sister'. We were reminded (as if we ever forgot) again that even during our most magical times that there is a gaping hole in our family, and she is missed, so missed in everything that we do. 

Naturally these last few weeks I've been reflecting a lot on my twenties. The decade of huge fast paced changes; no way could I have predicted at 20 how my life would be at 30. Of course I had no idea what that decade had ahead of me, no-one ever does but I look at my 20 year old naive blissfully unaware self, looking so young and carefree, knowing now that just five years later my world my heart would be blown apart and never been the same again, that I would never be the same again. At just 25. That is when I grew up. 

This was my twenties. 

Age 20
Age 20 and in my second year of university. Feeling like I was now a 'grown up', living on my own, well on my own with friends. The uni year my school boyfriend and I broke up and I thought I knew what it felt like to feel heartbroken, but of course I didn't have the first clue and neither was I grown up. At the time I felt he had ruined university for me; transferring from his to mine at the end year one, so we were no longer apart, just to cheat merely weeks later and then me be stuck with his presence for two years. It bothered me so much at the time, it hit hard, I reacted badly. But now, ten years later I rarely think of that time in my life, there is no denying I was hurt at the time, but now I know he was just a silly little boy and I equally immature.

The very best, and very worst of my life so far was still yet to come.  Age 20 I 'met' Jon, on faceparty, if anyone can remember that, quite accidentally.  A random message turned into a year of email pen-palling. Who could've predicted then he would be the man I married four years later, and had my babies with. Age 20 was a year of big change, as was most years of my twenties. 

Me on my 21st birthday
This was me on 21st birthday, never mind my 18th, this was the birthday that felt like the proper coming of age this time! I look at this picture and can't believe how slim I was - that dress was a size 10, and a size 10 I am no more! Pre-babies and pre-caesareans. Twenty-One was a good year, I LOVED being 21. Days before my 21st I really met Jon, after he begged for months to move from pen-pals to a drink in real life, I finally agreed for our birthdays and we clicked instantly. A quiet after work drink turned into a whole evening of chatting and laughing, and I think we both knew right there and then we were onto something pretty special. The next night I went out dancing with a friend and phoned him to pick me up at the end of the night, he started visiting me at uni, we pined the gaps in between and within weeks I just knew he was 'the one'. Age 21 was a summer of day-trips, memories of listening to Jem and the BEP's and feeling totally and utterly in love. Age 21 was the beginning of the makings of our family as we know it today.


Graduation Day - Age 21
Age 21 was the year I finished university, qualified as a teacher and couldn't quite believe I was old enough to be so responsible! Fresh-faced and newly qualified I was excited about a career in teaching; within the first year I fell into a special school on supply, fell in love with the job and carved my way into an aspect of teaching I hadn't considered before. I still teach in a special school, love the kids I work with and nine years later I feel somewhat a nearing veteran in the profession. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration with 38 years of service left before my state pension becomes available, but you get the point!











The day we got engaged! Age 22
Age 22 and things got serious. A few weeks after my 22nd birthday, Jon and I moved into our first house together; a lovely little two bed that we loved calling ours and remained our home for 7 years until we outgrew it with our expanding family. A few weeks after moving in together Jon proposed; he ran me a bubble bath and cooked tea while I had a soak, and I came downstairs (with wet hair, wearing pyjamas) to candle lit spaghetti bolognese. Pudding arrived on the table in a plate covered bowl, and when I took the plate away inside the bowl wasn't pudding but a box with my ring inside. And of course I said yes!  Age 22 we set our wedding date for a little over two years later, and got a little kitten, Fiz, to join our home and went on a little driving holiday jaunt to Renne in France.

Age 22 I secured my first teaching contract. After two terms of full time supply in a special school I applied for a part-time permanent contract at another special school closer to home. Never did I believe I would get the job,  I was very newly qualified with only two terms experience of teaching PMLD and SEN, but get the job I did! For the next few years I worked three days a week at my new school and continued working two days a week at the school where I had been supplying, until going part-time at my three day a week school after Anabelle.

Age 23

Age 23 was all about  being young, care-free and wedding planning. It passed by in a blur of dresses and themes, fushia pinks and white roses. My sister turned 18 that year and she, me, and Mum went for an Easter week in Majorca. Fiz was still a kitten and we took hundreds of photographs of her and celebrated her first birthday - oh how times have changed now - poor neglected ignored in comparison cat!

Its the year of my 20s I remember the least about, probably the quietest year for me with the least of milestones. That summer we took our August holiday in Cumbria, just weeks after Jon had been made redundant; it was a stressful time, with enough redundancy payout to last just three months living, not to mention less than a year to go until our wedding and the saving/spending for that the pressure to get another job was on. Just in the nick of time, as those three months were up he secured a new job, at a company that has seen good career progression for him and couldn't be more family friendly for which we've been grateful for these seven years since!

Our Wedding Day - Age 24

Age 24. It was a beautiful year, so many happy love-filled memories. The year I married Jon. No longer a Villars by name but now a Morgan.  For one day I felt like a princess, in a beautiful big white ball gown dress. Infact just this week, Xander took notice of the photo on the wall in my parents house and told me it was when I wore a princess dress. It really was a magical day, everything about our relationship felt different, even better than it already was. I was so proud to become Jon's wife that day, just as I am still.

We honeymooned in St Lucia, which was just spectacular (if we ignore the two week stint in hospital for Jon on our return with a 'lucky to be alive' pulmonary embolism!) and on our return (after said episode) we settled into our new little life of Mr and Mrs.

Age 24 I was pregnant for the first time. Beyond excited about the prospect of becoming a Mummy, parents. We were newlywed, expecting and everything felt complete. Oh how little we knew.

I find it enormously difficult to reflect on the next few years.

The day Anabelle was born - Age 25
Age 25 marked the turning point for the remainer of my twenties and indeed the rest of my life. The most life-changing, soul-changing significant life event I think I'll ever go through. I was so young and naive, young and excited, newlywed and on top of the world, and in moments that world shattered around me. I feel cheated of my youth. I aged before my time, the person I thought I was changed beyond all recognition and our fledgling marriage faced its greatest 'for better or worse' truth of our vows before we'd even been married a year. Age 25 at 32 weeks pregnant, we lost our little girl, buried our baby and I've never been the same since.

Anabelle, my beautiful precious first born, still my only daughter.  So tremendously missed. I said age 20 I had thought I'd experienced what it felt like to be heartbroken; Age 25 I really knew what it meant to be heartbroken, grief-stricken, traumatised and never really truly be healed or fixed.  Age 25 was a bleak, bleak year and I still struggle with the 'foreverness' and maybe always will.

The day Alexander came home - Age 26 
Days before turning Age 26 I found out I was expecting another baby, eight months after Anabelle had died. Of course I would not change a thing about my rainbow boy, but in hindsight it was far far too soon. We were an absolute mess. It was a hugely fearful stressful pregnancy, of course it was always going to be, but so soon after her death neither of us were emotionally or mentally well equipped to deal with it.

But oh that boy, my Alexander. My rainbow precious beyond words baby. He lived, he came home. I love that boy so much I could burst. He gave us reason to smile again, laugh again, to live again, to heal some of that raw all-engulfing pain. There is a gaping hole in our family but we're forever grateful, blessed and in awe at these two little boys we have now that encompass it all with rainbows.

Age 26
Age 26 (still pregnant with Alexander) we celebrated, for want of a better word, Anabelle's first birthday by fundraising for Sands. When we first started planning and decided we would hold a fete in her honour, a friend and I thought we were being overly ambitious setting a £1000 target. Never in a million years did we think we could've achieved or set our sights on the just shy of £10,000 total that we finally sent off to Sands in Anabelle's name. I was totally blown away at the reach my little girl had had and have been periodically the last few years since.

I always said I would plan another event, albeit more low-key, for her 5th birthday. Her 5th birthday is upon us in just two months now and currently I'm not sure I'm in the right head-space this June to pull any fundraising off at all. Currently I feel like I'm going to be enormously letting her down but at the moment I feel very fragile and wary about June and I'm not sure this is the year for it.  So it may not be for her 5th birthday after all, but I will fundraise for her birthday again.

My 27th birthday
Age 27 was all about being Alexander's Mummy. I absolutely loved being off on maternity leave with him. Our photos from that year are hundreds upon and hundreds of him. (Well, and have been since!) Not wanting to miss a moment or a memory of him. Spending so much time still pretty terrified we still weren't really going to be allowed to keep him. We couldn't believe our dreams of being earth parents had come true.

This photo is one of my favourites; Alexander's Dedication Day. The only day such as this Anabelle had, the only day she was ever going to have in Church, was her funeral, and we needed something so different for Xander. We needed it for him and we needed it for us, to carry our baby down the aisle in a different way. Celebrating and giving thanks that we had this baby in our arm instead of a box. In this photo we look so naturally happy and proud. Our boy.


Alexander's Dedication Day - Age 27


The day Zachary was born - Age 28

Age 28 was another busy year. We discovered we are expecting again, this time Zachary was on his way. This time is was still terrifying, still stressful but somewhat different; this time we felt better equipped to deal with the strain of pregnancy after loss, and with a rainbow baby still less than two years old we were pretty well distracted too. Zachary arrived, screaming, and instantly felt like he had always been here, the perfect fit, our darling rainbow Baby Small.     It was another wonderful maternity leave, learning how to juggle the needs of two small people and give each the attention they need. But in-amongst the angst of hoping I'm being enough for both of them there has been the beauty of watching their brotherly relationship grow independent of me. They were brothers in arms from the word go; a fiercely protective Xander of his baby brother from the moment he came home, a mesmerised Zachary watching Xander's every move from the moment he could take notice. And so it has continued. Today they are as thick as thieves and have each other's back - also known as Xander sneaking Zac the things he wants and there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of them shrieking with laughter as they play their games together.  Age 28 was a year our family grew some more.

Age 28 and I had the once in a life-time opportunity to attend an event at Number 10 Downing Street. It was a huge privilege and shock to receive an invitation to a Sands reception. It was quite an adventure, with hospital bags and notes packed into the car with us. Travelling for a half a day round trip to London, at a massively 36 weeks pregnant, but it was an adventure that could not be missed!  It was completely surreal walking through that door and into the residence of the Prime Minister! We went up a huge grand staircase, with portraits of all our previous PMs on the wall and spent a few hours eating canapés and mingling with too many people affected by baby loss, too many other bereaved parents. It was humbling that a few people recognised me from this blog and I could not have been prouder that I was able to visit a normally locked down world famous building for and because of our beautiful girl. That night was completely about being Anabelle's Mummy and it was a wonderful feeling, to honour her. That Tuesday I was in Downing Street, the next Tuesday Zachary was born.

Another Graduation - Age 28
Age 28 and I graduated again. Finally finishing the post-graduate diploma I had started when pregnant with Belle. I'd been half way through when she died and course I needed to defer until I was in a space, and the course back in the place where I could see it to the end. I burnt the overnight oil many a time to finish that Diploma and passed with Merit. I felt pretty chuffed that day! Another two years on now and I'd like to complete the credits I need to get my Master's next, but with a baby (ok, he'll have to be called a toddler soon) that (still) doesn't sleep through and showing no signs of doing so any time soon, currently I do not have the energy or time to embark on anymore essay writing. But definitely something on the back-burner for the next decade!









Age 29


Age 29 and no signs of slowing down the pace. We spent the final year of my twenties house-hunting and subsequently renovating before moving in just before Christmas. Our lovely little first home two-bed had been outgrown, there was no room for the boys to play, we were drowning under the copious amounts of stuff we now owned, and well toys and it was time to move on.  We didn't quite mean to take on a renovation but in our inexperienced naivety the lick of paint and new carpets we thought this house needed was never going to cut it in the end. After a few years of pining to move back to Cwmbran, and six months, one week and two days after sale completion of much hard-graft, tears and tantrums we moved our family into our new home; a home, number 21 and now named Mehefin, where even Anabelle 'moved' with us.



My 30th Birthday
And now I'm 30.  My 30th birthday was a freak summer weather day for the first week of March and we spent it with friends and their children at the beach. It was just lovely, different and special. A month of birthday celebrations that finished with the most memorable of holidays in Disneyland Paris.


It was a bizzare feeling, knowing my twenties were coming to an end and this whole new decade and chapter was opening up for me. At 30 I feel more 'life' settled now, more sure of myself now; on a good day I know who I am and who is important.  I know what isn't going to change, I know there is thread of pain that will weave its way through my life, but I also know I have a whole load of everything too - my 'little and broken, but still good' family.

Just as I had no idea how my 20s would unfold, the same is true of my 30s; maybe there'll be just one more baby, maybe I'll complete my masters, maybe we'll extend the house - but mostly I think it will be about being Mummy and watching these children grow, filling our lives with love above all else and praying I keep them always. There is a whole loads of maybes and unknowns, I can only hope there'll be no life-changing trauma as there were mid-twenties and that on the whole this decade will be a healing and calming experience.

Reading back it really has been a full on ten years. I can't believe the next big birthday will be 40. *gulp* - lets start filling the next ten years then!

Disneyland Paris - Age 30






Thursday, 12 March 2015

A New Kind of Mother's Day

Today my little boy excitedly presented me with this as soon as I walked through the door from work, and a cake, exclaiming 'I made you a card in school, Mummy!'

I love it. I love how happy it made him that I love it. A little boy so obviously pleased with how happy I was with his card.

He told me how he had coloured it in pink because I like pink, that he had glued on the balloon and sparkly bits and that his face was on it too.  He is so proud of it, too excited he made something 'very special to me' (that is his wonderfully cute phrase when something is important to him at the moment) to possibly wait until Sunday to give it me.

And this is the year I'm going to do it better. 

I need to do it better because Xander knows it is a special day, and I want him to know that being his Mummy, Zac's Mummy is the most precious special thing in the world to me. 

This year I'm choosing to focus on my rainbows.  Because those boys deserve that of me. 

So this year there is a new plan; we're having a 'Mother's Weekend', a day to visit Belle and be her Mummy and a day immersed with my boys and celebrating how very lucky I am that I have them here with me.  

Sunday we're going to the farm, and it is going to be a Happy healing Mother's Day. 
Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Fabulous Things About 2014

This post is clearly two months overdue.

My heart wasn't in it at the new year, to post about all the wonderful things of 2014. I was in an emotionally exhausted place. So I read the jar, then put it back. Where it has remained on the shelf for two months. But the fantastic moments on 2015 are already mounting up on my phone notes, so it is high time I typed up all those special little moments that were the every day highlights of last year. 147 of them. In the grief life puzzle this is what I want the boys to remember, this is what I want to matter the most.

January

1st  Dan, Janet and Roo spending a week in Wales.
2nd  Good first day on my own with boys, complete with housework and dinner on the table when Jon got in!
5th Xander climbing out of bed to check on Zac in moses when he started crying. Asked him if he wanted dummy. ‘Dee Zac?’ and stroked his hair. Kind loving brother.
8th First beaming baby Zac smiles! 6 weeks and 1 day old.
11th Roath park with Ryan Marie and boys!
12th Xander completing a 48 piece puzzle labelled 3+ all by himself at 2y3m
14th Zac’s first smile for Jon
18th Playing letters in the bath with Xander. He can now point to m ‘Mummy’ b ‘bampi’ s ‘snake’
20th Zac smiling at Xander and Oscar was born!
30th The boys smiling and chatting at eachother.

February

3rd Zac enjoying ‘Bear Hunt’ story. Pulling off boob to smile and gurgle with the rhyming parts.
4th first photo of the boys smiling together
6th Xander gave up his dummy. Our big boy! Writing letters on the ipad, and X telling me what they are!
10th Xander building his own design of Toot Toot track.
24th successful start to bedtime routine for Zac
28th Painting with the boys

March
1st Walnut Tree Farm with Villars family
4th Zac laughed for the first time for Xander and xander naming some numbers correctly during play with his Lego train. Completely surprised me!
6th Jon’s birthday; Doctor Who experience, meal at Harvester and soft play.
7th Caz’s birthday; nails, meal at Frankie and Benny’s, swimming (Zac’s first time swimming!) and tea at the parents.
8th Busy day! Zac’s first sleep through as his birthday present to Mummy – 8.30-6.45.  (P.S. He has NEVER done as long as this since, a year later!!)   Xander in bath with letters. He knows lots of letters now but surprised us knowing ‘a’ and ‘e’ when we haven’t mentioned those before. Alphablocks on cBeebies maybe? Also a sunny day walk to Tredegar House Park and Xander learning about pedalling his trike.
9th Xander called Belle his sister.
10th Going for a Bear Hunt walk around the boating lake. Zac learning how to play. Grasping toys and lifting his head and body towards them! Age 15w. Xander telling me he had drawn bubbles on the ipad and listening to him read himself the Gruffalo.
11th Xander’s first ever wee on the potty!
14th 1:1 boating lake treasure hunting with Xander while Nana had Zac.  Listening to Xander read the Gruffalo to Zac.
17th Our offer was accepted on new house. Number 21 house, Belle will be moving with us.
18th Xander asking for potty and weeing on it.  Xander trying to say dinosaur names while reading his books. Amazed he can identify diplodicous, pterodactyl and triceratops already!
21st Great morning baby dancing with Xander. Jon taking a bath with Xander.
25th Zac enjoying the roly poly song.
26th Beginnings of Zac movement! Rollling onto his side nearly turning into rolling onto his tummy. Turned himself around 180.   Watching Gruffalo with Xander.
28th  Cefn Mably Farm with Ry, Marie and boys.

April

3rd watching Dad and Xander plant sunflowers.
4th Techniquest toddler day.
5th Lovely day. Relaxed morning, my nails and then Cefn Mably farm with the boys.
7th Xander nagging me for food, handing me the phone and asking to ‘speak Daddy’ and then nagging Daddy for food too!
9th Xander watching Frozen for the first time and being mesmerised!
10th Zac using feet to push himself backwards. Xander reciting Gruffalo from the back of the car.
11th Zac copying my noises and laughing at me!  Taking Xander swimming.
12th Toy shopping and Xander being a well behaved superstar!
13th ‘Do you wanna build a snowman’ comes on Radio1. “FROZEN” Xander exclaims!
14th Xander’s half birthday and cBeebies live!   Listening to him sing along to ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen.
17th Xander playing with his fire engine. Loved his reaction to the spraying himself in the face.
21st Train ride to Cardiff
24th 8 years together.
25th Xander saying ‘disaster’ about the rat in Dad’s Garden.
26th Our new babywear wrap.
28th Boating lake selfie of Mummy and boys.

May

3rd Xander choosing Zac rainbow clothes to wear for the day. ‘What shall Z wear today?’ ‘Rainbow’ while pulling rainbow clothes out of the drawer.  And despite a late nights, nightmare bedtime and 3 wake up between them, boys slept in until 8.45!  Mummy and Daddy date night at Ilswyn Inn.
6th First nappy hour free session for Xander. Potty 3 Floor 0.  Hour two, potty 1 floor 0. Hour 3 Potty ½ floor ½
7th Zac sitting for a good minute unaided, Zac laughing when Daddy tickled him.
8th Another great potty day for X.
9th Zac laughing at Xander.  Starting the day singing ’12 days of Christmas’ with Xander at 6.00.
10th Reuben’s dedication and whole family photo.
13th Greenmeadow Farm with Sorreya Oscar and Celyn. Loved the music session, Xander was really excited and happy.
14th Lovely day. Walk to the boating lake with Zac, then swimming – gorgeous happy and fascinated by the watering can. Then a funny park visit with Xander, he chummed up with some big girls and then I was completely out of favour, only wanting them to help him play.
15th Zac rolling front to back and attempting some sort of forward motion! Age 24w and 2 d.
16th Zac laughing at ‘Timmy Time’
17th Ordering name plate for Belle for the new house, Zac’s first go on the swings in the park next to the new house and Xander having a fab potty day.
18th Paddling pool fun.
22nd Puddle splashing and frightened of thunder. Then he was excited about heavy rain and hailstones.  Listening to Xander count to 10.
24th Totally awesome accident free day. Little potty training superstar.
26th Zac’s half birthday and a trip to the boating lake.
27th We got the keys to the new house. It is disgusting and grimy beyond belief. Neighbours were so pleased to see the new us that we were welcomed with champers!
28th Xander dry whole day at nursery.
29th In the Night Garden Live at the O2 arena.

June 

4th Xander bouncing on the bed at bedtime and Zac being totally delighted by it.
5th Grand Old Duke of York sing and march around living room as well as singing along to Frozen.
6th Zac finally did a full roly poly roll. Back to front and then straight over again onto his back.
7th Xander telling me ‘zoom Mummy’ while I was driving.  Xander saying ‘I love you’ Mummy.
8th Xander singing along to Frozen
10th Music in the riverfront and then sitting the café and looking at the trains going past.
18th We bought our new kitchen.
21st Belle’s birthday picnic on her garden. Water play in the home garden.
25th Mummy and Zac time at Tredegar House.
26th Zac laughing at minions and Despicable Me 2.

July

4th Definite forward motion from Zac. Even if he is pushing his face along the floor.
7th Playing a duet with Xander on the piano.
9th music and soft play with Baby Small.
12th Sing the rainbow song with Xander.
14th Tickle feet with Xander.
17th Xander pushing Zac on the swings. Zac shrieking with happiness.
20th Xander having a go at pedalling.
21st Xander knowing he is ‘Xander Morgan’
23rd A day with my Baby Small.
28th Gruffalo trail at Westonbirt Arboretum. Xander’s face when he found him!
30th Day out with Ry, Marie, Sorreya, Keith and babies. Loved Comeston Lakes and Cardiff bay beach. Zac’s first experience of sand.
31st Dinosaur park in Tenby. Racing car driving with Xander. Xander’s joy at everything he saw and did today.

August
1st Caerleon treasure trail. Xander loving it and finding the pictures. Our 5th wedding anniversary, Cwrt Bleddyn evening and drinks in the Greenhouse pub. Zac crawling backwards.
2nd Longleat. Xander holding a spider and feeding birds. He loved the monkey’s jumping on the car.
5th Started couch to 5k.  Xander to Zac, ‘I love you Zac’ totally heartmelting.
6th Bath time conversation. ‘Xander winky, Daddy winky, Zac winky, Mummy boobies!’
8th Zac getting himself up on all fours and rocking.  Xander being gorgeous and loving all day.
9th Xander pedalling a trike properly at 2y10m. Zac standing against the sofa Age 8.5m.
10th Xander joining in the hymns at church and even raising his arms. Funny and cute.
11th Jump soft play with Marie and twins.
13th Taking Zac swimming.
17th Xander learning to catch.
20th Zac has teeth.
27th My last Baby Small afternoon. Quality play and cuddle time.
29th Zac army crawling forward twice at Jump.
30th Cefn Mably Farm day out for Noa and Isaac’s birthdays. Xander discovering his shadow at bedtime with the lamp. It was like watching Peter pan!

September
1st Painting with the boys. Zac loved it!
2nd Mummy Daddy and Xander time. Swimming and the park. Xander’s first go on the zipwire.
3rd  Mummy and Daddy date day and a Safe trip to Hannah’s.
4th Day out at Blackberry Farm.
5th Trampoline soft play then swimming at Hannah’s gym.
6th Uckfield evening carnival. Xander falling asleep snuggled into my shoulder while reading him stories.
7th Xander finding X for Xander everywhere. Today on the severn bridge toll booth.
9th Zac taking steps holding hands.
10th Listening to the boys playing over the monitor after they woke up. Xander not wanting Mummy to work again tomorrow. On being told Nana is looking after him ‘no, no Nana, no Mummy work, Mummy stay me.   Zac properly crawling.  9.5m old.
11th Zac pulling himself to standing fo the first time! 9.5m old.
12th slowly but surely crusing and testing out his balance, letting one hand go of the sofa. On a roll baby Zac!!!
16th Mummy, Xander and Zac day at the farm. Lush!
25th X telling Z to say p p p for Peppa Pig.   Xander squeezing up to make room to fit Mummy and Daddy, Xander and Zac all in bed together. Lush morning cuddles.
27th Xander cheering Dadddy and saying well done when he had finished his race experience.
29th The boys playing crawl through the tunnel together.  Spending the day with Sorreya, Xander throwing the ball for Alfie at the park.
30th Xander singing along at music class today. Had a lump in my throat. The boys playing crawl around the sofa together at Grandmas.

October
6th Xander knowing it is his party next week. Me ‘the next time it is Saturday we are doing something special. Do you know what?’  Xander ‘my birthday’. I had no idea he understood!  Xander saying ‘My love Zac, my love Mummy, my love Daddy, my love all of you’.    A disney quiz telling me my life’s mottos is ‘ohana means family. Family means that no one gets left behind or forgotten.’ Made me think of Belle.
11th Xander waking up and chattering to himself saying ‘its time for my party day now’ Xander’s bear hunt 3rd birthday party.
12th Xander bursting into spontaneous singing of happy birthday to himself.
13th cBeebies land!
14th Xander’s 3rd birthday. Gasping when he saw his honeybunch cake saying ‘dinosaurs, they’re my favourite’
22nd Really lovely parents evening for both boys. Xander is well behaved, happy, making friends. His best friends are Rebuen and Elise. Loves the garden and messy play. Zac is happy delightful baby, they love how cuddly he is!
24th Zac listening to his own bedtime story.
26th Xander cuddling in bed with Fiz.  Zac learning to clap and wave during lunchtime.

November

2nd Fireworks at Caldicot castle and Xander saying ‘You’re my best friend Mummy’
3rd Zac saying ‘hiya’ back.
4th Xander ‘ I’m not a rainbow baby, I’m a rainbow big boy’. The boys holding hands walking along.
7th Proud of Xander. His first ever overnight dry nappy and asking for the toilet instead. Even if it was 5.00am. Zac pushing cars along playing properly.  Zac playing boo.  Zac starting to look at people when asked where they are.
10th Xander reading ‘squash and a squeeze’
13th ‘Kisses for Mummy Zac’ met wit open mouth wet kisses!
15th Zac calling me Mama!
20th Zac briefly standing unaided!
23rd Zac’s dedication and happy hands birthday party day. Loved watching him join in enthusiastically on the instruments.
26th Zac’s first birthday

December

1st Xander specifically asking for a frog, mouse and teddy bear in his letter to Father Christmas.
4th Xander calling the hoover a moover!
5th Sands Christmas service.
6th We moved into our new house after 6m 1w and 2d of renovating!  Visiting festive and the look on Xander’s face when he first walked in and saw all the Christmas things.
20th Peppa Pig World!
21st Xander’s first nativity at church. Dressed as a shepherd, running around the stage in a big circle when he should’ve been standing and singing. Much hilarity, stole the show. We were crying with price and laughter. Christmas dinner with Sorreya Keith and Oscar.
22nd Panto with Fran and Theo.
25th The boys and their trampoline, and my surprise trip booked to Disney!
27th Zac totally mastering the standing unaided thing and trying to take a step!

31st Zac taking his first step, best way to end the year. Age 13m5d.
Thursday, 12 February 2015

It's Time To Talk

The 5th of February was Time To Talk Day 2015. Led the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, it was a day dedicated to challenging the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. A day to take 5 minutes to talk to somebody about mental health, a day for people to have the confidence to share their stories and struggles. 

It is no secret that I have spent 4 years and almost 8 months struggling with my mental health in one way or another. I've been through counselling twice in that time. I'm in no doubt I'll see myself there again in my future, in one form or another. An intense grief I carry with me daily has spilled over into bouts of anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression. It isn't constant, but a fragile mind, a fragile heart is never far away. I've often questioned where grief as a standalone ends and where struggles with mental health take over. I still don't know; the Grief Life puzzle is complex and oh I miss my girl.

Sometimes the overwhelming pain of living without her threatens to destroy me. Sometimes I cannot bear it. Sometimes, still, the very physical heartache, when it comes, crushes my chest until it feels like I cannot breathe. 

Time to talk. Time to change. 

Sometimes thoughts filter into my mind. Intrusive. Sometimes I'm plagued by intrusive thoughts.When I'm having a bad spell, my intrusive thoughts drift to the reality that the only real escape from the pain of living without my daughter will be death for myself.  I don't think I've ever quite admitted it like this before. Sometimes I think about what a relief death might be. For the record, I am not, nor have ever been suicidal. I don't want to die, not for a moment. I just wonder where, when the pain will otherwise end. I wonder where it is within myself to beat grief and all its complexities. 

I say it before and I say it again. I have a life also full of blessing. There is much happiness. My wonderful wonderful boys. Oh how I can't bare to contemplate how much worse my broken self would be without them now. Thank goodness for those rainbows. But frequently I'm plagued by obsessive and intrusive thoughts; my rainbows being taken away from me, either by death or kidnap or social services. Anxiety very often reigns.

There are times when my mind does not feel at all well. June 2010 irreparably changed me. Shattered. I think the blog had its alarming glimpse of this in June 2013 when my broken heart, my broken mind was triggered to so vividly relive much trauma and it felt like my entire being was threatening collapse.  PTSD. 

There are times when I feel tortured. There are times when I feel as tortured by life as I do by grief. Sometimes things that happen in life feel like a knife is being twisted in my already mangled wounds.  

Sometimes it frightens me that parts of me feel more fragile then ever rather than healing as times goes on.  Time heals is a myth. There are healing experiences, but some wounds never completely scab over. 

There are times, despite everything I have, that when I still cannot bare the thought of a lifetime without her. There are times when I'm plagued by guilt. I've explored it before. Guilty that her absence effects me so deeply, guilty that she died at all and I failed her. Guilty that being an earth Mummy took over and the time we don't spend in her garden now compared to before, guilty that I find going to her garden so difficult these days. Guilty that intrusive thoughts sometimes outweigh good and make my heart very heavy. Guilty that my boys are exposed to that. Guilty that I have intrusive thoughts at all when I adore everything I do have with those boys. 

There are times I just do not cope. There have been times when I have unravelled spectacularly, there will be more times when I will unravel spectacularly. I fear June. I'm almost paralysed by fear that another spectacular unravelling is coming. 

I've come to realise that is the nature of the beast. And it is a beast, it is a demon when it rears its ugly ravaging unforgiving head. Grief unlike no other grief, with its elements of subsequent anxiety, PTS episodes, depression. The grief life puzzle rages on.  

Sometimes life is so very very good. More than sometimes. More than good. But sometimes it really really isn't. Sometimes it is both at the same time. Sometimes I don't know what it is.

Extreme spectrum ends.

My soul is still patching its gaping hole.  I'm working on it. 

Saying it out loud.

I'm Caroline and my mental health is clearly not intact following the death of my darling baby girl. 

Supporting #timetotalk 

Being brave and pressing publish. 
Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Grief Life Puzzle

It has been so long since I have found the energy for blogging. For so long I've been ignoring the heavy parts of my heart, not really knowing what to say anymore, or if there is any point saying anything anymore. October was the last time I wrote about grief and before that August, before that her birthday. Lately this space has just been the boys updates with very little of our lives in between. It has become less of a life diary and more a quick record book. Writing used to help so much.  But I'm not sure if anyone wants to hear it anymore or if I can be as open or as brutally honest as I used to be; not without coming across as bitter or resentful or a number of other negative and unforgiving traits no-one wants to be labelled with. 

This post has been sitting on my shoulders for weeks but I haven't been able to bring myself to write it down. But today I'm home alone and unwell, so it seemed as good as time as any. 

So little changes, yet so much changes all the time. I still don't know how to manage myself at my worst most of the time. Sometimes I feel like I'm living two lives in one and they don't go together. I can't make the pieces fit properly together. 

Grief sits on one shoulder, life sits on the other, and they still don't really mix well.  Posting about one is never truly representative of the other. A happy life post doesn't mean everything is fixed, a painful post doesn't mean I'm not happy. 

Life. I have these beautiful beautiful boys and a long suffering loving husband, a beautiful new home and so much to look forward to in the next few months especially; turning 30 and a trip to Disney Paris for a start.  For the most part we're a happy home. I want our boys to remember a happy childhood and a happy family. Day to day our lives are more than good, we're happy more than we're sad. I adore those boys, I relish being busy with them, taking them here there and everywhere, planning trips and activities for them, creating memories giving them endless special times, just being with them. 

We have a good life, I know that; but I still don't know how to count my blessings (and I do count my blessings), but leave the pain to one side. I can dull it down for a while but it always comes back with a vengeance eventually. It is so intrinsically threaded through my being. I work so hard now to make my life matter more than my grief,  we've made our world revolve around the boys, every year I try harder to take the focus off an absent Anabelle and to the in my arms boys. 

But I don't know how to really make what we have enough. I miss her immensely. 

Over four and a half years and I still can't neatly sort this grief thing out into acceptance. I'm not really sure how I'm 'supposed' to be. But I feel an ever growing pressure to be 'better'.  Four and a half years and I know patience must wear thin. Sometimes I wish I could neatly package the Anabelle part of my life up and leave it there, and manage it better when it bites, but I still don't know how. So I carry on clumsily juggling. Maybe I'll always be juggling. 

Occasions are still the hardest to navigate. 

Yet again I ruined Christmas. It had started out so well. December has been the best yet, the build up to Christmas hadn't been painful. Every day I had done a Christmas advent counting down activity with the boys. I really thought that this Christmas was going to be a healing Christmas, I was going to get through it without tears and brokenness. I vowed Xander wasn't going to see me hurt at Christmas. (Just as I'm currently vowing he isn't going to see me hurt on Mother's Day.) I was even excited for Christmas! Christmas morning was good, and then the carpet was pulled from beneath my feet and the tears flowed for days. I let Alexander down. I let Zachary down. I let Jon down. 

I feel perpetually guilty for the pressure I put on my family when the broken part of me dominates once more, for the tears my three year old mops me up with his cuddles, patting my back and telling me 'Its all fine Mummy'.  But it isn't all fine is it. I fear what his first memory might be.  I hope it one when we were all really happy, somewhere special, or even something mundane and ordinary but magical through a child's eyes, but not when Mummy was breaking her heart, or cross. 

Am I allowed to grieve forever or does the definition change? Does grief become bouts of depression? Where do the lines blur? I know I've asked this question before. We're in a cycle of yearly highs and lows, and already I dread June this year. When does it become unacceptable to still hurt so much? I know for some that time has already been and passed. 

So that is where we are. Still trying to figure it all out, still sticking pieces back in the puzzle board and those rainbow boys being the glue that holds it altogether. 

This year I need to do some things better and make some more pieces fit. Goal one, a tear free Mother's Day. Any suggestions for a day trip? 

Apprehensive and excited about 2015 in equal measure. 
Sunday, 28 December 2014

Zachary @ 12 Months

Or well actually 13 months. 

Life since Zac's birthday has been crazy, we moved into our new house, had no internet for me to post with, and then it was Christmas - so opportunity to write his birthday blog has been slim. I've been slacking! 

He has changed so much since I last managed to write. He all of a sudden seems to understand so much of what we're saying to him. Of course the word 'no' gets met with him laughing at us, he's a cheeky little thing, but he knows. He 'gets' how to join in the game or the song now and will start rocking back and forth if you sing "Row your boat" with him, or tries to cover his face already to play Peekaboo.  His play his changing and he's becoming a proper little grown up boy now. His favourite Christmas presents have been his Egg box, his new toot toot toys and his ELC toybox bus filled with little characters. He is just loving putting the little eggs in and out of the box, the characters in and out of the bus and his little cars at the top of the ramps and pushing them down. 

It is funny. When Xander was this age he felt like such a big boy, the baby rapidly disappearing before my eyes, but with Zac, even though he can do much more physically than Xander could do he still feels like my tiny little Baby Small. I don't know whether it is because I have such a big boy Xander right next to him, or because he is quite a bit smaller than Xander was at the same age but he really is still my baby. 

My lovely Zachary, on your birthday you were still only 20lb 14oz.  I can't believe you are ONE! Your first year past us by so very quickly and here we are and we've already had your second Christmas. Although it really felt like your first considering you didn't open your eyes until 9.00pm on your first Christmas! 

Your birthday was really special. You had your special Dedication service at Church a few days before you turned one and your birthday party after that. You were the star of the show my boy, so happy and going wild with those instruments in your Happy Hands music party. You were beautiful. 

You just love music at the moment Zac. It is so cute, whenever one of your songs start singing you start dancing along with it rocking in time to the music. You adore music class on a Tuesday morning and are so good at playing along on the instruments, banging a drum with a maraca or shaking some bells along. 



You know who everyone is now Zac. If we ask you where somebody is you turn straight away and look towards them. I just love that you know I am Mummy,  Daddy is Daddy and Xander is Xander.  You've become so affectionate too, head rubbing into Daddy's beard and nuzzling, you are still such a cuddly boy and I love holding you in my arms.  I know all too well this time that before I know it cuddles will be more fleeting as you become a busier and busier, dare i say it, toddler! You're starting to give your own version of kisses when asked for a kiss too. "Have you got kisses for Mummy?" is met with you leaning opened mouthed towards me giving me wet slobbery but just gorgeous kisses complete with you saying Awww.  Daddy and Xander get kisses too! Just adorable :) 



You are starting to make a few noises that are sounding like recognisable words.  You've said hiya, and boo and something that sounds like Xander a few times and you are most definitely calling me Mama. Oh it makes me heart melt to hear you call me by name already and before you've said Dada too! 

You are so very clever at balancing and climbing now little Mr. You've already discovered this art of getting to 'high' places and the other week Daddy discovered you up on top of the coffee table at Nana and Bampi's house.  If there is something to step up onto you are straight on it - I'm so not ready for this, your brother was much older before he discovered he could climb! But you're so clever and it is so exciting to watch you at the moment.  Just before your birthday you started to briefly let go and stand by yourself for a few seconds, but just yesterday at 13 months and a day old you completely mastered standing up by yourself - you seem so small and dinky but you're so proud of yourself - you think it is such a great game and you even tried a few times to take a step forward yesterday too - those first steps they're not going to be too far away we imagine. 

You still have only the two teeth, but boy are you suffering again at the moment. Between you obviously teething with four teeth in your top gum bulging (cut already, they've been visible for weeks!) and suffering the ongoing side effects of your MMR jab this month has felt like one thing after another for illness and unsettled baby you.  I don't think ongoing  separation anxiety is helping the matter at all either, so needless to say, you're still not sleeping well but at least now we're in our new house we have a king bed to share when the night gets tough instead of just a double! 

For now following on from the pattern I set with your brother I'll leave you grow for a while now you've had your birthday and write about everything you can do when you reach your next half birthday. 

We love you so so much Baby Small. 





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Caz
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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