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.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Signs

The 7th of August would've been Anabelle's due date.  She was due a week after our first wedding anniversary - the perfect gift.  The build up to the 7th of August was painful - the hopes and dreams and all August had meant all year, it was all gone. 

But the date arrived, as dates do.

We planned a special day for our daughter. We wanted to celebrate her, it was her day.  I wore the pink dress I had bought for her funeral - the dress I now call "Belle's Dress",  I wrote a poem about her, for her, we visited Build-a-Bear-Workshop and made her a bear, we visited the garden centre and bought a proper pot for her grave (although I prefer to call it her garden), we spent time with her in her garden, we filled her pot with pink flowers and her bear sat with her a while, we drove over 'her' mountain and sat up there a while and we finished the day having a meal in Bella Italia and afterwards sat next to her beautiful photo with two flickering candles - one from Mummy and one from Daddy - we sat like this until midnight, until the day ended.   It was all remarkably peaceful and beautiful.

Our visit to Build-a-Bear-Workshop was particularly significant. It was something we had been planning to do with Anabelle - her first little trip out, her first bear to keep forever. We were going to register her birth and then go to build her bear with her. The 7th of August came and I still wanted my girl to have her bear - an angel bear for our angel baby.  So that is what we did, we bought a purple sparkly bear and named her Angel Bear - she even has her own birth certificate, with the birthday Belle should've had - and that occupies a page in her memory book.

It was this visit to the Build-a-Bear-Workshop that I had my first sign, a sign from Anabelle - and maybe a sign from God to give me comfort and strength. We were wandering around Cribbs Causeway and there across the way was our pram, Anabelle's pram. Initially I froze, I almost panicked why? That day of all days - why was there something there to give me a wobble.  We'd bought her pram in January, when I was 12 weeks. Yes it was a premature purchase but the original idea was to buy her pram in the sales - it didn't work out that way though, because the pram I fell in love with wasn't in the sales. We bought it then anyway. And in all the time since, we'd not seen an identical one in public - but there is was in the Mall on her due date. I calmed myself down and realised Anabelle was trying to show us she was there, some strength on the way to buy her bear.

My second sign was Angel Bears clothes. We couldn't buy them from the shop - angel costumes were not in stock yet. So we came home and ordered her clothes from ebay. A simple white dress and headband, shoes and wings. The clothes arrived later that week - and there was another sign from Anabelle, another comfort from God. The dress and the hairband were covered in little white roses! That hadn't been in the item description but it made my day. You see, white roses are our happy flower - whites roses was the theme of our wedding day, our flower.  I often leave white roses on Anabelle's garden. I feel it connects us.

Today I've felt connected to my daughter again, Anabelle was with me, more signs, more comfort.

Today I had my occupational review to put in place a phased return plan for work. I was anxious before the appointment, these are big steps, elements of my life returning to "normal"....

I arrived at the surgery I'd been sent to - Bellevue Surgery - and then I saw the Dr, her name - Dr Bell.   Belle was surrounding me, with her Mummy, wanting me to know she was there too.

Not everyone will believe in such things, but to me its simular to an answered prayer, sometimes God just sends you a sign. To me her signs are real, they are comforting and I look forward to her next one.
Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hope and Faith

Some people express surprise that I find comfort in going to church, they expect that Anabelle's death would have pushed me further away and not prompted my return.

I grew up going to church, faith was very much part of my upbringing. I believed in my faith but by my late teens my attendance at church had started to dwindle. By the age of 20 I'd stopped going altogether. I decided to drown God out of my life.

The last 5 years were amazing, I was happy - lots of lovely things were happening for me. I didn't need church, I didn't need God.  I met Jon, I finished my degree, we bought a house, Jon proposed and we enjoyed planning our wedding, we had a beautiful and magical wedding day and it was all topped off with the positive pregnancy test last December and we found out Anabelle was on her way.

My conscience would often be pricked about 'forgetting' my faith - not that I ever stopped believing, I just chose not to go to church anymore.  So I continued to keep myself away.

And then the worst possible thing happened. My baby died.

My baby died and I was furious with God. I hated him. All my dreams had been taken away. I blamed him, he'd taken my daugher - why had he even let her be created in the first place if she would be taken before she was born? Why us?  I had dark thoughts - I still do -Why take a baby that would've been loved and cared for and bought up well, when there are so many babies left to rot all their lives? I felt like I was being punished for my drowning him out. Almost as if God was saying "I'll teach you to turn your back on me..."

Deep down, I knew that wasn't how it really was.  God hadn't deliberately done this to me. I may not understand why he needed Anabelle, I don't think I ever will. I don't think it will ever stop hurting. But, God needed her for an angel, she was that extra special.

As the anger subsided I felt drawn to return to church, to refind my faith again.  After all, I truely have the conviction that my darling daughter is with Jesus, in his arms and safe in heaven, and I truely believe one day I'll be with her there.

So refinding my faith is what I'm doing. I now need God, I now need church again. I've started going to a lovely baptist church, I feel at home there, I'm getting to know some lovely people and I feel peace and hope there. I'm putting God back in my life.  I look forward to Sunday. I know some people may find that very strange. They may find my whole aspect of faith very strange but it gives me comfort.

Tonight Jon is coming to church with me, this will be his first time. I'm not sure what he'll make of it, he doesn't believe, but I hope he finds some of the comfort I do there.   Tonight church is doing a "Songs of Praise" evening, a little like off the TV - people have chosen hymns and will say why they've chosen it.  I've chosen a hymn, a hymn that means a lot since my return to church - "For the Joys and for the Sorrows - For this I have Jesus" - I'm nervous, I hope I have the strength to hold it together as I speak about Anabelle in public, and speak about how she is the reason I'm there.
Friday, 24 September 2010

My Virtual World

I could be accused of living more in the virtual world now than I do in the real. Although I continue to try very hard with my real world, I've not cut it off, its still there, its just mostly easier in the vitual.  I spend time daily on a bereaved Mummies thread, where I 'met' Susan, our children have died at many different ages, in many different ways, but we have a common bond. I spend time on SANDS fairly reguarly too, linking with Mummies who've had sleeping babies like me, women (and some men) with simular yet also very different experiences...I spend time daily on another forum, a private forum you can join by invitation/request only,  a very close knit community, linking with people from all walks of life with many a different mix of things going on - mothers and not yet mothers, its not a forum for bereaved Mummies but there are also 2 other bereaved Mummies there as well.

Each of my 3 virtual worlds offer me comfort in different ways, and all 3 worlds Anabelle is very much part of.  Always recognised by the ladies I feel connected with. I consider the people in my virtual world 'friends' too. Teaching me to believe everything I feel is normal and its perfectly ok to feel the way I do. Without passing judgement, my virtual world allows me to be just me, as I am at that moment. No stiff upper lip is needed like in the real world.

The virtual world often feels safer than the real one. The people I speak to online are unlikely to say anything insensitive, I'm sheltered from having to cope with "things" said. As I've said before I know people are doing their best and they don't mean to be insensitive but even knowing that doesn't make it any easier to keep the painted "ok" face on and the effort to respond in an appropriate way.  Its all very exhausting. Grief is exhausting. There are so many levels that you cannot think of unless you are living it. The real world presents with such a huge range of challenges to keep my composure around of which I'm spared in the virtual.

I suppose my virtual world is part of my way of coping with my grief right now, I get strength from it and therefore it can only be a good thing.  So for me and Anabelle please don't judge a bereaved mother's reliance on a virtual world with virtual friends who offer eachother support.

My wish for today:
I wish you wouldn't judge me because I am not acting the way you think I should be. The truth is grief is a very personal thing and we are all different people who deal with things differently and ready to do things again in our own time.



Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thank you to the friend who...

So I was thinking, I'm not ready for the beginning quite yet, but as last post I talked about people... I've been thinking about people again - but flipping the coin and thinking about the acts of kindness and how thoughtful some of the people in my life have been. The little things that have made all the difference, the people that made the effort to go the extra mile to truely recognise our little girl - some people surprise you.  I won't name them but they'll know who they are.

Thankyou to Mum who knitted for Anabelle - a perfect pink cardigan that would fit a tiny and premature Belle. Simply beautiful.

Thankyou to the friend who made Anabelle a big letter "A" cake for her goodbye day.  This cake had been planned for months - for the naming day Anabelle was going to be having sometime after she was born. Anabelle never got her naming day, but she did get her naming day cake.

Thankyou to the friends who named a star for Anabelle. The star came with a certificate that now occupies a page of her memory book. I love looking at the stars now because a little one belongs to my daughter.  The shooting stars came at a time when we needed them the most, it was a beautiful evening.

Thankyou to the online friends who bought a rose for Anabelle and raised money to send to SANDS in her memory. I'd been part of an online community of women, all due in August 2010. How remarkable that a group of women I'd never met came together to give us a special gift for our angel baby. Her short 32 weeks touched so many there. I look forward to the roses arrival this autumn and it will have pride of place next to our front door.

Thankyou to the friend who painted a name canvas for Anabelle. The friend who listened to how we were decorating Belle's room and painted her canvas to match with butterflies and hearts and flowers.

Thankyou to the friends who gave us the gift of "Courage" as we live without Anabelle - a verse from the Bible to help us on our way.

Thankyou to the friends and family who had already bought Anabelle gifts and still gave us those gifts for her. It all adds to her memory.

Thankyou to the friend who spent her time making Anabelle a book of photos and poems.  It is truely beautiful and a fitting momento to our daughter.

Life

Even the title of my blog should not be. There should've been no such thing as "After Anabelle"  But here we are, 3 months and 2 days since I gave birth to her sleeping.


Tuesday (21st) felt pretty significant to me, every 21st since has been hard to get through, but something about Tuesday and it being 3 months made it especially so. How could a quarter of the year gone by without my girl already?


You see, life, even when the most catastophic thing has happened to you, it continues to tick on by. The clock doesn't stop.  People say "Life Goes On" - those three little words, but do they not realise my life has been shattered into a million pieces? Life going on for me includes trying to find the pieces to put it back together again with one huge piece forever missing and never being able to be put back. How do you live forever with a gaping hole?


I think a lot about the things people say - and forgive me, I'm not trying to be ungrateful for people trying to be kind, I realise people often do not know what to say and they are doing their best - but often it is just words with little thought behind it. And believe me, I've been guilty of it to in the past. Because it is the things people say to eachother when they are grieving.


"I'm thinking of you" - For how long?  How long every day do you think of our awful situation, that we live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do people really put themselves in your shoes? Thoughts are fleeting, for just the moment they are out of the mouth. I sound mean, I know, but as soon as the thinking finishes back to lives they go. Besides, this is so horrific it is impossible to imagine.


"We are always here/You know where you are if you need us" - but in truth, people are not always there. I have very good family and friends, but they cannot possibly be always there. Their lives have carried on, the messages from the majority start to dwindle, they have other stuff going on, other responsibilities. It is difficult to intrude on that with my grief because quite often I don't even know what I want or what I need, and I know I can be uncomfortable to be around, I've noticed how people become uncomfortable around the topic of a dead baby.  But also people think others are there and keep their distance...  and so you end up spending time with people you maybe never have before, or hardly did before. People closely in your life become different. 


Then there's the other's that are down right hurtful, even if the intention behind them is not to be.  People cannot think behind the weight of these words - because they simply cannot understand, and I wouldn't wish them to, because to truely understand they to would have to lose a child also. -:


"You can try again" - Yes, I know I can - but how exactly will that fix Anabelle being dead?  It is not a baby shaped piece of my life missing, its an Anabelle shaped piece.  I could have another 6 babies, but it would not ease my pain of losing my firstborn child.   Another baby will, (God willing), fill my empty arms, but it would not heal a broken heart, like I've already said - A piece has gone forever. And besides, another pregnancy, a new baby, just opens up another whole can of worms doesn't it...  


"She just wasn't meant to be/There must've been something wrong with her" - Oh the pain when I hear these words.  I carried my daughter for over 7 months, she was meant to be. She moved, she kicked, she responded to her Daddy's voice. She knew us, and we knew her, she was so very much wanted. We loved her. We still love her.  She'd been named for 12 weeks when she died, she was very much already a little person to us. Belle was perfect, there was nothing wrong with her to me. Maybe its easy to say this to me because very few people ever met my baby, maybe they cannot realise just how real she was - but Anabelle was alive, for 32 weeks, growing and waiting to meet the world, a baby that fell asleep inside her Mummy, a baby I laboured and gave birth to.


I got increasingly angry about the last comment, so I was quite brave, I put an album of Anabelle on my facebook page, not really sure what reaction I would get. But determined to make the world recognise her too, not just as the lost baby, but a real baby, with a real face, real hand, real feet, real everything. Afterall, Belle is my daughter and I am so proud of her - as far as I was concerned she was going to be celebrated as she would've if she'd been born screaming.  I needn't have worried about the reaction, lots of beautiful comments about my beautiful girl. But people surprise you - those I would've expected to comment on her picutres never have, and those I wouldn't have expected to say anything are the ones who have been the kindest.


Me and myself - we're different now.  Things that once got me so riled or upset have no meaning now - trivial things just cannot matter. Its difficult to care about the little things anymore, even when they seem big to other people.  You see, all my efforts got into surviving the day - painting on that "I'm ok" face to go out into the world and do "normal" things.  This will come across as selfish, and maybe it is, but there is very little energy left over to get excited about some happy news or sad for somebody elses frustration.    But my daughters death is all consuming.  Life now was supposed to be different. Anabelle was supposed to be around a month old now not gone 3 months already.   My daughters room is full of the things we had bought for her but my daughter is not.


Maybe next time I will go back to the beginning, but for now I will leave you with this.


I have a list of wishes, given to me from a lady on SANDS.  I won't list them all, but maybe from time to time one or two will crop up. 

I wish you understood that losing my baby has changed me. The truth is I am not the same person I was before and will never be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to ""normal" you will stay frustrated. I am a new person with new thoughts, dreams, beliefs, and values. Please try to get to know the real me-maybe you'll still like me.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010

About Us

I'm Caz. I'm Anabelle's Mummy. I'm Jon's wife. Jon is Anabelle's Daddy. We are also Alexander's Mummy and Daddy. We have a little cat called Fiz. This is a picture of us with our Belle as a beautiful bump, taken only 2 days before she died. We were so unaware. 


Mummy, Daddy and Anabelle Bump


Our precious baby daughter, Anabelle Violet Morgan was born sleeping on the 21st June 2010 at 00:08 hours and weighing a tiny 4lb 5oz. 

Anabelle Violet

On the 14th October 2011 we were blessed with the screaming and safe arrival of our wonderful baby boy, Alexander Jon, our amazing miracle son. 

Alexander Jon

This is our family - but its not the way its supposed to be. Never complete, always broken, always shattered, always a bit mixed up. We are what is described as angel parents. This is my diary of our journey through the realities of stillbirth, trying to make sense of what life means for us now our little girl is gone and life beyond. 




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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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