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.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Bright Shining Moments

So far I’m having a fairly good weekend. Yesterday evening especially had some bright moments.
Earlier on in the week a dress that had caught my eye some weeks ago appeared online half price in a sale. I re-experienced excitement and bought it!  Yesterday, my new dress arrived and I love it, totally thrilled and looking forward to wearing it. They are fleeting moments, but they are bright!  It is surprising how guilty I feel afterwards, if I feel any emotion other than sad or angry. Guilty I suppose because Anabelle is dead and I have allowed myself to smile about something.  I know smiling and happiness is allowed but every now and again it catches you, because it wasn’t supposed to be like this. I’m buying dresses when I should be drowning in nappies.
Yesterday evening we also ordered my new phone. Choosing new gadgets is Jon’s department! All I did was look to see if the phone was pretty enough for me! He had to look at the spec and check out the reviews and stuff. It is arriving Monday and I’m looking forward to playing with it. Another shining moment... anticipation.
Today has been equally as calm for the most part. I hope I’m not speaking too soon.
We had a lazy relaxing morning and have been to spend time in Belle’s garden this afternoon. Visiting never gets any easier. I know her little person is not there, but the body I carried and held is. An essence of her is there. It is so important to us that it looks pretty for her. We want it to look like a little girl’s garden.
 The week after she was buried we visited the garden centres to find something pretty for her and found a ceramic pink heart which was just perfect, a miniature replica of the pink heart balloon we’d sent to Anabelle after her funeral.  In her nursery there are pink hearts that never made it onto her wall -  but she has one in her garden.  She’ll have a heart shaped headstone.
Isn’t it almost unbelievable that we have to design her garden and buy our little girls headstone when we should be buying her clothes and toys, designing her nursery.
I made it my mission to find all the other babies gardens. When another burial takes place near Anabelle I go to look at the floral tributes now. Who is the person resting near her? So far they have all been old people.
But all over the cemetery there are little babies. Little gardens I’d never noticed in all my visits to my Grandad’s grave. But now these little gardens mean something to me, because they represent more families, more Mummies and Daddies living what we live.  
Little baby gardens are usually easy to spot, now. Colourful with beautiful windmills and gently cared for.  I’m determined Anabelle’s garden will be just as fitting for her when the ground has settled some more and grassed over. I have to patient. I cannot do everything I want to do for her just now.
Most have a petite little headstone, often adorned with a teddy or rabbit. Anabelle’s headstone will be adorned with her sleeping angel. The sleeping angel we had on the front of her Order of Service. The sleeping angel her Daddy is having tattooed near his heart. It represents her. In our hearts she is our sleeping angel.
All we can do for Anabelle now is to love and honour her, and her garden being perfect is a big part of that. When it is finally perfect I’m sure it will be, ironically, a twisted shining moment. Because when her garden is pretty for her, we will be pleased. We get to be pleased with our daughter’s garden. How unfair is that....
Friday, 29 October 2010

Mamas & Papas

Today I’ve taken a MASSIVE step, infact I would call it more than just a step. It was a leap. I went INTO a baby shop. And not just any baby shop, my favourite one. Mamas & Papas.  I loved visiting this baby shop when we were expecting Anabelle, we were in and out all of the time. Everything in it is ridiculously overpriced, but totally beautiful. Anabelle had quite a bit from there. Her pram, car seat, toys and bears.  
Anabelle’s pram was the first thing we bought for her. It is a beautiful pram, a big massive hood. A proper pram. Jon goggled at the price of it, but I didn’t care – it was perfect for our baby, and very me. Black with white polka dots, very sturdy,  a matching car seat. After we found out our baby was a girl we went back and bought the red rose accessory to go with it and a red parasol. I love it. I was so very much looking forward to pushing it around, pushing Anabelle around in it.  
Today her pram and her matching car seat sit unused in her nursery, with sheets over them to stop the sun fading the fabric or dust settling.
Today in Mama’s and Papa’s I saw a little Miss Christmas costume I would’ve loved to have bought for her, a rocking horse that would’ve been perfect for her 1st Birthday or next Christmas, lots of Baby’s 1st Christmas gifts.
I’ll admit I had a cry when I’d finished in the shop. I’d never bought anything in there before for anyone but my own baby. But there was something very particular I wanted to get for a new little baby boy, and this was the only place I knew to go to get it. It hurt me, but I did it, and for that I’m very proud of me.
Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Patterns of Sleep

I’m here because I cannot sleep. I’ve been to bed, and quickly got up again. Unable to settle.  I wonder what time I’ll be up to until tonight? My routine is all over the place and has been since the day Anabelle died.  I seem to want to sleep all day and then unable to sleep at night. I’m tired all the time. 
Last night I went to bed at about midnight and finally settled at about 1.00am. I used to settle straight away. Often I would go to bed before Jon and he would say he would be there in a few minutes. All it took was those few minutes for me to go straight sleep. I was a ‘soon as my head hit the pillow’ kind of girl. Now I lie awake.
This morning, my alarm went off at 9.30am and I woke up very tired. It took an hour before I was awake enough to get out of bed. Fighting that in between stage – aware of the world, but not quite in it yet. I spent the rest of the morning tidying my house and by 3.00pm I was shattered. I don’t think I slept very well last night. I don’t think I sleep very well any night – regardless of how many hours I sleep in one go. I never feel rested.
So I went to bed for a nap. Again. I slept for 2 hours.
It’s now just gone midnight as I type this. I should be asleep. I want my old routine. The routine where I would go to bed around 10.00pm, get up at 6.30am. Only the occasional nap in between.
I need to stop napping. I know it is not helping matters at night. I just don’t know how to fight it. I really am very very tired.  Even if I’m doing nothing – the emotional energy is constantly used up.  
I know this is all part of grief, but I’m tired of it now. I never did deal very well with my sleep being out of routine.
Night time arrives and the worries of the day play on my mind. Today I’ve worried about Christmas. Quite frankly I would like to cancel Christmas, I’ve always hated the cost and sheer amount of stress, but this year, I just don’t feel up to it at all. I haven’t got the energy to figure it all out. The present buying, the stretching the pennies, the writing cards, the celebrations. I just don’t want to be involved.  There is no part to celebrate for Jon and I this year. Anabelle is not here to enjoy her 1st Christmas, her name cannot go on the cards, she’ll have no presents under a tree.
Christmas - the next major step to deal with – that and her 6th month anniversary day, all in the same week. It’s all looming. Please can we skip December?
At least Jon is asleep. I can hear him snoring.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Ready or not?

I probably sound like a broken record, but this is what life is like now. Broken. I had huge wobbles again last night. I really do need to pull myself together. If only I knew how.
Last night’s wobble was the result of an overwhelming fear that this could happen to us again. So overwhelming, the state I got myself into resulted in me being unwell.   After you lose a baby there seems to be this natural desire to get pregnant again quickly. I can sort of understand that, the physical emptiness is astounding. Almost suffocating. Everything is empty.  It’s not about replacing the baby that was lost, nothing and no-one will or could ever replace my Belle, but more it seems the body’s natural response to an unnatural end to your previous pregnancy.
But for me, there wasn’t that immediate desire. 9 days after Anabelle was born I went to the Doctor and asked to be put back on the pill. I didn’t want to be pregnant, at all. It was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted Anabelle to still be here.  I’d already figured out that for me, another baby or being pregnant wasn’t going to make anything feel any better – it wouldn’t be able to fix me. Anabelle would still be missing.
So I went back on the pill and we decided we would see how we felt around Christmas about trying again. Christmas is approaching and I’m torn. Part of me is starting to desire pregnancy again and the hope of a new baby and a new year. The other part of me is so unbelievably scared I was ill last night.  Some of the fear last night was my own stupidity. I was on the SANDS website. SANDS is a wonderful support tool, but, it opens your eyes to the literally hundreds of things that could go wrong. As well as dealing with the uncertainty of my own circumstances, I’m aware of everyone else’s too. The families who have 2 (or sometimes more) angel babies. The families who’ve managed to continue to survive after 2 or more tragedies. I’m not sure I could be that person. I’m barely surviving Anabelle’s death.  
I know “What ifs” do not help anyone, but what if I cannot keep babies alive? It is a question that cannot be answered, because no-one can predict the future. No-one can promise me that next time it would all be ok.
I struggle with a guilt I cannot shift. I know deep down it wasn’t my fault, but I battle daily with the fact that I let Belle down and didn’t keep her safe. It was the only job I had to do and I failed. What if I am incapable of keeping my babies safe?
These fears are irrational, but totally rational all the same time considering what has happened to us. I know the Doctors will monitor us and look after us closely when I fall pregnant again, but will it be enough? My anxiety levels are so high already in general, and about trying again, I wonder if I’m ready at all for the pressure of another pregnancy. I’m starting to really worry about the strength (or lack of) of my state of mind. I can be ‘ok’ and then it seems I unravel again so fast, I almost feel manic. Am I actually becoming mad? I need to try and reign myself in.
I know that my desire for having another baby one day is greater than the madness and fear now. And although I know this, I also know that the fear will not go away of diminish with time. It will always be there, whenever another pregnancy comes. I know it will be a case of ‘biting the bullet’.
It makes me so sad, and angry, that the joy of pregnancy has been robbed from us. Being pregnant with Anabelle was some of the best 32 weeks of my life. I loved every minute.  It’s never going to be like that again is it?
Trying again will require courage, hope, faith, trust.  I must learn to cling to God’s words and promises that bought me comfort. (Post: Blessings)  I need to work on a positive mental attitude. I need to believe that this will happen for us and that Anabelle will be a big angel sister and we will be Mummy and Daddy to earth babies too.
Friday, 22 October 2010

Fragile

The pressure of my new life is relentless.  Today I feel fragile. I often feel fragile – my nerves get the better of me, and anxiety builds up and I stop coping. The living this forever hits me again. 
Tears, anxiety and panicky feelings seem to be part of the new me. It comes so easily.  To the world I probably appear to be holding it altogether with remarkable ease, I think I’m good at that painted face now. But when I’m with just myself? That’s a different story altogether.
I’m convinced something else terrible is going to happen to us. I get myself worked up. While we were away I was a nightmare - Jon went for a ‘short’ walk in the dark with his new camera – over an hour later I was getting jittery, convinced he would be lying in a ditch somewhere – Dad had to come out with me in the pitch black to find him. Of course he was fine.   Jon climbed to the top of a waterfall with Dad, I got upset, convinced he’d get too close to the edge, fall off and die. Of course he was fine. Mum and Dad turned up at the lodge an hour and half after they should’ve done, I couldn’t get hold of them, convinced myself they’d crashed the car and died.  Of course they were fine.
At home I’m still a nightmare. Last week, I text Jon to see if he wanted to meet for lunch. He didn’t reply – for a mere hour and quarter. But to me it felt like forever, and in that time I’d gotten myself in a hysterical mess and convinced myself again that something terrible had happened to him. When he did phone me, I cried down the phone with relief. I know how silly this sounds.  I’m sure Jon just doesn’t know what to do with me.
I don’t seem to be able to be rational anymore. I cannot help it. I don’t want to have these thoughts. I’m not sure why I do have them. But I know the thought of losing Jon, or my Mum and Dad fills me with dread and fear. How would I go on without them?
It’s not always about death though. Sometimes it’s just ‘normal’ life things.
In the very early days I couldn’t easily leave the house without Jon or my Mum. I was scared of what was out there and what I would have to encounter. Noisy and busy places had me in a panic. I needed peace and quiet.
I still often need peace and quiet. Loud and unexpected noise bothers me a lot. But things have progressed now. I still have my moments, but I can just about manage things on my own.
This week I did the Tesco shop on my own. Half way around it started. The shaking, the verge of tears, I felt hot and sick. I don’t even know what triggered it. Sometimes the trigger is obvious – babies, prams, Mummies, baby girl clothes. This day, there was none of those things.
I did finish the shop, but I did feel like I could’ve collapsed by the time I got back to the car. It took 2 hours led on the sofa, a cuddle from Jon and quiet before I felt better again.
Today I’m feeling weepy and nervous. But I don’t even know what of. I’m exhausted again. I’m fighting the urge to go back to bed. I have to stop going back to bed.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much sleep I have anymore, I’m always tired regardless.
I just want Jon. I cannot wait for him to get home from work and make it all feel ok again.
Thursday, 21 October 2010

The 21st

Anabelle should be four months old today. Four months since my daughter was born.  When she was first born, I used to count the weeks. I still know how many weeks it is, (17 and a half), but it is the months that really stick in my mind now.  Four months.
I still find it amazing how time keeps moving on.
When you have a small baby, less than a year old, and someone asks you how old your baby is, you answer in months. The months are important this year.   Will the 21st always feel like this? Always feel so painful? Or as time goes on and we reach Anabelle’s first birthday will the months become like the weeks have come – still known, but it’ll become the years and half years that stick in my mind? I suppose that is the natural way, as with all babies and children.
Oh how I miss her.
Four months today, also means its eight months until her birthday. I’m determined her 1st birthday  will be memorable and special for all the right reasons. I have a lovely friend who has thought about ideas and offered her help this week already! Anabelle is going to have a big birthday party – it’s going to celebrate my beautiful daughter, it’s going to raise awareness of all angel babies and it will raise money for SANDS.   I need this focus. I need her birthday to be special.
I think ahead quite a lot, I think I have to, it prepares me for what I know I will find hugely difficult. Significant dates and times of year are important. Soon we have Bonfire Night, which is significant to me for reasons other than Belle, and then Christmas which I would like to avoid this year if at all possible, and then our birthdays, her Daddy is 30 next year – its special, and then my brother’s wedding for which Anabelle should’ve been a gorgeous little flower girl, and then Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day – already breaks my heart so much.  
Infact the mere thought brings a lump to my throat.  There is so much still yet to cope with. To always have to cope with.
Somebody in my virtual world today suggested that we do something special for Belle on each 21st,  – and to mark the day. I do not know why I hadn’t already thought of marking the date in a positive way.  It’s something I know will comfort me because the 21st is hugely significant to me every month at the moment. And so it should be.
So the 21st November will be different, it will be more positive, with a focus, we will do something for Belle.  Buy a special candle for her that is only lit on the 21st of the month, take a drive over her mountain, look through her memory box and books.  
I’m going to light a candle now and imagine my little daughter dancing around. Happy four months sweetheart. Mummy and Daddy love you, always. xXx
Monday, 18 October 2010

Mummy or Daddy?

When a baby is born everyone spends time trying to decide whether they look more like Mummy or Daddy. This was no different with Anabelle.  Daddy was the one in our case, apart from her mouth. Her little mouth was strikingly identical to my newborn pictures. Mummy’s mouth.
This morning I looked at Jon led there with his eyes closed and all I could see was Anabelle.  I think she looked so much like her Daddy.  Even at our 20 week scan I was convinced she was going to have Jon’s nose – her profile was so clear, it was a beautiful scan. The “Our Pink Baby” scan. When she was born her nose was identical to his just like I thought.  Anabelle would’ve been such a Daddy’s girl in every way I’m sure.
She had tiny little hands and feet. Infact her feet were no bigger than my thumb. We have her hand and footprints. I wear her little handprint every day. The little piece of her that stays with me. After she was born we sent her handprints off to a jewellery company. They engraved a miniature replica of her tiny handprint onto a charm for a bracelet for me to wear.
I wonder how she would’ve looked as she grew?  I know she would’ve been tall – because she was already tall! Anabelle was 44cm long when she was born. Tall, again, just like her Daddy. I would’ve been eventually the shortest in our family.
Would she have been blonde like me and her Daddy were when we were little? Would she have had the same blue eyes as we’ve got? I expect so, but we never saw our daughter’s eyes. Her eyes never opened.
Would she have been a girly girl like her Mummy? Would she have loved pink like me? I'd like to think so!
I suppose it is futile now to wonder like this – because Anabelle is what she is.... I will never get the answers to my wonderings, because as unfair as it is, she will never grow or change. Anabelle is forever my beautiful baby girl, but I really look forward to seeing her pretty eyes in heaven.  
Sunday, 17 October 2010

Vows

Sometimes, when I sit and think about what life has thrown at Jon and I since we’ve been married, I can hardly believe we’re still standing at all.  Together we vowed to stick by each other in the good and bad times, in sickness and in health, and believe me, we’ve lived the truth of those vows ever since.
Our wedding day was magical, truly the best day of my life and everything we dreamed it would be. I would marry Jon again in an instant.  But it isn’t the wedding that makes the marriage. Marriage is so much more than the beautiful white dress, presents and being centre of attention for a day. Marriage is two people living it. Staying together, strong, faithful and true whatever life may throw at them.
The first thing to be thrown at our new marriage was our honeymoon. An exotic Carribean dream holiday – but it nearly killed my brand new husband. The first 8 days in St Lucia were just lovely; we enjoyed sunshine, cocktails, boat rides, a helicopter tour of the island. And then Jon started developing pains in his chest. It hurt him to breathe, the pain over the next two days becoming more and more severe.
Jon being Jon, refused for me to call a Dr while we were there and so we got on a plane to come home. The flight was awful, Jon was in so much pain he didn’t know what to do with himself. We landed at Gatwick and STILL he refused to go to the hospital there – I drove home, at super speed, to get him to our hospital because by now I knew something was terribly wrong.  We arrived at the Royal Gwent and he was swiftly admitted and hooked up to loads of machines, being pumped with painkillers. 
A few hours later we had his diagnosis; a pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. Jon had several blood clots in his lungs which developed on the 8 hour flight out to St Lucia – the Dr couldn’t emphasis enough how he was an incredibly lucky man to have arrived home alive. My new husband was very poorly and spent the next 10 days in hospital, and the first 6 months of our married life on Warfin, having to have his blood constantly monitored.  
Of course amongst all this, we did create our beautiful Belle and she bought us so much happiness. In fact out of everything in the last almost 15 months we’ve now been married, Anabelle’s 32 weeks with us were the happiest of all.
But in April, our next major concern was thrown at us. Jon developed worrying sensory issues – and these have remained with him ever since. Jon can no longer feel his hands, he had no sense of touch, infact he often doesn’t know where is hand is of what it is touching, unless he is looking at it. He suffers great difficulties with fine motor control and he suffers with sporadic double vision. There has been other altered sensory awareness sporadically around his body, but his hands have been constant. For 6 months now. It’s incredibly debilitating and a constant worry to us both. The process of starting tests was very slow, I was getting more and more stressed, but Jon is finally under the care of a neurologist and we hope that a conclusive diagnosis will be imminent after a lumber puncture that has now been ordered. I just pray that the news is good because it is our turn for something positive.
We’re living in sickness and in health.
We’re living in good times and bad.
A major worry when we were waiting for Jon to be seen by someone, was me,  his then at the time heavily pregnant wife. He was desperate to be fixed before our baby arrived. He kept telling our GP to hurry things along because we only had X amount of weeks left before our daughter was due. But Anabelle’s arrival didn’t stick to the plan...  
Our baby daughter died in our first year of marriage. What greater trial can a new marriage overcome than two all consuming grief stricken people?  We’re coping with our Anabelle’s death in very different ways, but throughout it all we’ve been very together. We are surviving and my darling husband has been my rock.  
I find so much comfort in our rings – the unbroken circle of forever love, the rings that connect us and symbolise our life together. When we were in hospital having Belle and Jon had his arms around me, it was our hands and rings next to each other that still managed to give me some comfort. We were together in it and I really don’t think there is anything else like the bond between a husband and wife.  Our hearts were broken but nothing could ever or will ever break our togetherness.
Vows are not just something you say in front of people because you want a wedding. The real meaning behind those vows comes through life, and the experiences that life throws your way. Vows only become real when you stick at them when the worst possible things are happening. When you continue to mean them and live them every day.
My marriage is strong and I knew it would be before I married Jon. Our relationship has always been strong from the very beginning.  I love my husband very much and we’re living our vows, and we’re surviving. We’re more than surviving because we’re a marriage.   
Even beyond death do us part.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Wave of Light


Sweet little candle,
Shining so bright,
Please find your way to,
Our  Anabelle in heaven tonight.

Sweet little flame,
Dancing all around,
Waving your pretty light,
With little flickering sounds.

Sweet little baby,
Sleeping  so gently and tight,
Anabelle we remember you,
Tonight with candle light.

Sweet little angel,
Flying  above so high,
Enjoying her beautiful wings,
Up in the big blue sky.

Sweet little daughter,
So loved and missed every day,
Mummy and Daddy so lost without you,
But trying to find our way.

Sweet little Anabelle,
Play with your angel baby friends,
Until we’re reunited in heaven,
Our family together forever again.

Sweet little candles,
All burning brightly away,
Honouring all angel babies,
On October 15th, Baby Loss Awareness Day.
Thursday, 14 October 2010

What Makes a Mother?

I wasn’t supposed to be blogging. I was supposed to be going to bed and having an early night. Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day. But I found myself here anyway.
I wanted to share my daughter with you a little bit more. You might remember in my first ever post (Life) I talked about the album of Belle I have on my facebook page, and how I considered that a brave moment. I felt it was about time that my daughter was given a face on my blog – the real little person I pour my heart out about. So her photo is now here, in the column to your right. Another brave moment.  I’m so proud of her. I sometimes sit looking at Anabelle’s pictures and cannot believe that Jon and I could produce something so perfect and beautiful. I cannot believe she belongs to me.  Sometimes it all feels very surreal.
I am a mother, I have a baby.
What sort of mother am I though? How do I identify myself?  I struggle with this. It is so difficult to be one thing in my heart and another in the devastating reality that is now my life. I sometimes feel a fraud when it comes to the word and notion of mother.
There is a poem called “What makes a Mother” -  it’s a poem written for Mummies without their babies. Mummies like me. The final verse of the poem reads like this; So now you see, What makes a Mother, It's the feeling in your heart, It's the love you had so much of, Right from the very start.
Anabelle was so very much loved right from the start. Our start was the 2nd December 2009 when we found I was pregnant. We were SO excited! I did the test when I woke up that morning at 6.00. Poor Jon has never woken up with such a start as he did that day – me screaming, jumping up and down, and shoving a positive stick in his face. We were expecting a baby, we were expecting Anabelle. Jon took a picture of the stick which said pregnant, Anabelle’s test.
We were very lucky to catch quickly. I fully appreciate how fortunate we are that we created Anabelle with such ease. We’d been married for only 4 months when I did that test, and it was only our 2nd proper go at trying. Expecting Anabelle was like an early Christmas present, the best ever and the perfect end to what had been a wonderful year.
Quite frankly life couldn’t have got better at that moment.
Anabelle was never an embryo or a foetus to me. She was always my baby, right from the word go. My tiny little person who I was going to love and nurture, she was never going to want for anything.  If what makes a mother is love then I have that in abundance for my daughter.
But it breaks my heart that I failed her in the worst possible way. I feel so guilty that I didn’t keep her safe enough. Her death remains unexplained and it is very difficult not to blame myself, because keeping her safe was my job. I have a tough time letting that feeling go. Maybe it will never go.  
At the moment I’m waiting on blood results. Tests are being done to explore a whole range of blood disorders. If they find a disorder, it is likely it will have been a high contributing factor to Anabelle’s death. To me, if they find something, it will be evidence that my body failed my baby.
It is a long process. We had to wait until 12 weeks after Belle’s birth before these tests could be done, so no pregnancy hormones would be left in my system at all. They are such fragile and complex tests they have to be repeated 12 weeks apart to ensure a consistent result so I’m told. So they’ll be repeated at the start of the December. We’re looking into the new year sometime before all results are back from both sets of tests and we have a definitive answer.
The answer after all this time and waiting, could very well still be ‘unexplained’ – a non-answer.   I don’t know what’s worse in all honesty, unexplained or my body’s failure?  I suppose a result would help Dr’s to stop my body being a failure again. But how do I live with that confirmation that I, her mother, didn’t keep her safe instead of just feeling it the way I do now?
This new life I live is a minefield – something ready to blow up and break you a little bit more all the time. That is Anabelle's mother's reality. My reality. Maybe resiliance and strength will eventually come, but what I need more than anything is some peace.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Blessings

Three days ago I read a verse in the Bible, a verse I’m going to claim as my own as God’s promise to me. These words bought me comfort as if God was saying your time will come. 
Genesis chapter 49 verse 25 ‘By the God of your father who will help you, And the Almighty who will bless you, With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the womb.’
I read it, and re-read it and re-read it again. As I read, it appeared to me that I was meant to read it and take it to my heart as a message about Anabelle, and a promise of future children to come. Anabelle was a blessing of the womb, and she’ll be my blessing in heaven above when I get there.
In the middle of August, a thread was started on SANDS about our angel babies being gifts. The Bible verse reminded me of that thread. Amidst the devastation that my daughter is not here I know she is a blessing. Her existence bought joy into our lives.  
On the thread I celebrated my daughter and said that Anabelle is our beautiful gift because;
she chose us for her Mummy and Daddy, she is our firstborn and that is so special, she made us a family, she gave us the happiest 32 weeks of 2010 and shown me how precious growing a little baby is, she has shown me what really matters in life, she has shown me how special it is to be a Mummy and that there is no other job like it, she has shown us how strong and steadfast our marriage is and we know we’ll always be together, she has made me really believe in angels because a little one belongs to me.
Today I’ve had my third counselling session. We discussed my family dynamics, and my not coping with being away. We also discussed God, and I discovered that she is also a woman with a faith. God is certainly putting his people in place to help me.  I wasn’t sure about the idea of counselling but I got to a point, on Belle’s 3 month anniversary, (coincidently also when I moved my blog over to here), where I didn’t know what to do anymore. I was melting down and I knew it. So I went to the drop in centre that is dedicated to baby loss.
I still don’t know what to do – I know really there is nothing I can do but survive the days - but I think I find the sessions helpful. It is liberating to be able to say what I want to say to a real person without fearing I’ll upset them. Someone private to confine in who won’t judge. I think I’m a person who needs to talk about my grief to manage it. I think that’s why the counselling is useful and my blog. Both are avenues for me to organise my thoughts.
After I left my session I went and sat with Anabelle in her garden for a while. Made it look a bit prettier again with pink flowers. It always has to be pink flowers.
Sunday, 10 October 2010

Baby Loss Awareness Week

This week is National Baby Loss Awareness Week.  (9th-15th October)
Today and every single day 17 babies are born sleeping.  This and every week 119 families will be devastated by the death of their precious baby. By the end of 2010, as every other year, there will have been 6500 angel babies.   Jon, I and Anabelle are one of those families. Anabelle is one of those babies.
Stillbirth is 10 times more likely than cot-death, but not spoken about even a fraction as much. Not publicised.  Everyone is made aware about how important it is to put a baby to bed properly, to reduce the risks of cot death – yet we’re a society that thinks when we’re past that magic 12 week milestone of pregnancy our babies are ‘safe’ and we’ll be bringing them home. We take it for granted.  I too was guilty of this. Especially after our 20 week scan – we were having a baby girl and everything looked fine. After that it was a waiting game.
How wrong could I be? Especially as Anabelle isn’t the first angel baby in my family. When I was 13 my cousin Andrew was born sleeping at 38 weeks. I should’ve been more aware than anyone, I knew babies could die, but it still wasn’t going to happen to me. Andrew’s was the first funeral I ever went to. His tiny white casket has lived with me since. I would never have believed I would be seeing another tiny casket in my lifetime, let alone my own baby daughters pink casket.  Apparently lightening does strike the same family twice.
I often feel angry at myself. I shouldn’t have just assumed everything would be ok, not when I already had a baby cousin in heaven. But I don’t think the full impact of the situation sank in when I was 13. However, one thing I’ve learnt out of this, is 12 weeks means nothing, 20 weeks means nothing. In future, my baby is not safe until they are screaming in my arms.
I desperately want people to become more aware.  Not to take a single moment of their pregnancy for granted – because whatever stage or week you’re at – it could be over in a moment.
I loved being pregnant. We were excited about having a bump and embraced my changing body. Having a baby was all we wanted after we got married. We’d booked a pregnancy photographer who visited us for the first time at 12 weeks, and continued to visit every 6 weeks. We have a beautiful record of Belle growing. The last time the photographer visited us was 2 days before Anabelle died.  That final visit couldn’t be more precious to us.
Apparently, according to the SANDS forum, This Morning (daily television programme), were asked to cover Baby Loss Awareness Week. Instead, it appears National Chocolate Week will be more deserving.  Our babies and the heartbreak of 6500 families this year alone, dismissed.  ITV had the opportunity to break the silence surrounding stillbirth, to raise awareness – but no, let’s celebrate chocolate instead.  
Anabelle’s short 32 weeks, her death and birth are important. Please take the time to look at the SANDS campaign website. I think ITV could do with a read too. http://www.why17.org/
After reading on the forum about the lack of support from This Morning and ITV I was inspired to email my local paper. I implored them to listen to Anabelle’s story and run an article about Baby Loss and to support Baby Loss Awareness Week. I will be gutted if they don’t respond.
Baby Loss Awareness Week will end on Friday with a “Wave of Light”. At 7.00pm parents and others of precious angel babies will be lighting a candle for one hour, to honour and remember their sons and daughters.  We will be lighting a candle for Anabelle and my cousin.
If you have visited my blog this week please take the time to join in the “Wave of Light” .  If you do join in, please comment here and let me know that you lit a candle for my beautiful daughter and her angel baby friends.
Saturday, 9 October 2010

Family Dynamics

Being away did not end as planned. In theory this family going away was a good idea, in reality it has been a total disaster.   Last night we fell out, irritations all week (and all life, apparently) came to a head. Written down it sounds so stupid, pathetic and petty that I’m not going to give it the time for day in all the gory details – there are too many levels and I don’t have the energy for it. Needless to say I won’t be family ‘away-ing’ it again. 
We’re home a day early –  Jon and I left first thing this morning, no energy left in me to survive another day. I cried much of the way home. I was so relieved when we hit the M4 and home was in sight. The anxious knot I’d had in my stomach all week just disappeared.  I’ve spent the afternoon in bed, asleep, recovering.
Why are family relationships and dynamics so difficult?   Why do the people you expect or need the most from insist on letting you down or causing more hurt and distress? Maybe I expect too much. Maybe I need too much. Maybe it really is all my fault.
I’ve never really liked being the eldest child. Such high expectations that disappeared by the time they got to the youngest. 5 years, so different.  This has transpired into adult hood and will probably remain the same for the rest of my life.   I should probably be more accepting of it because whatever the situation, I should know better, react better, cope better, whatever better.  I should just be better.
But I’ll never have an eldest child to make ‘mistakes on’ – my eldest child has gone. If I’m ever lucky enough to have any earth children, I hope there will be no blatant differences in expectation.  
I’ve never been so emotionally vulnerable, I don’t really recognise myself at all. I feel like a little child who needs looking after. But who is really there? Jon and me, emotionally it seems we’re going it alone. Right now I feel like the littlest thing could push us over. We’re scarred for life, but still there are no allowances made, not for me. What exactly has to happen to me before I’ll be given a break? Having a dead baby is apparently not tragic or awful enough.
Anabelle was born only shy of 16 weeks ago. That may seem like long enough to you for us to be dealing better, but to us, it was as if yesterday. I don't know how to even begin to deal with living without my daughter  forever. I feel very lost, and I'm starting to feel more and more alone.
Maybe I bring the alone-ness on myself.
 I’ll be the first to admit I’m not easy to be around at the moment. And I’m aware that is probably quite an understatement. I’ll admit I’m quite selfish at the moment, no patience. I just do not have it within me to take on anything but my own grief.  Every moment takes effort, I’m exhausted all the time. For the majority of the world I find that stiff upper lip, the effort of a brave face is there – but I thought with my own family I could just be. Apparently not.
I feel a little bit more broken tonight, I already had so much to carry.  I cannot bear the load of much more.
But at least Fiz is pleased to see me. My simplest family relationship and dynamic. Thank you my furball, you are always just what I need.
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.  I wish you wouldn't think if I have a good day I'm "over it" or if I have a bad day I am being unreasonable because you think I should be over it. The truth is there is no "normal" way for me to act.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Terminology

The 16th June our lives changed forever, the day we were told our unborn daughter had died.  It took 5 days of the medical team trying to induce labour before our beautiful daughter was born sleeping. The 21st June at 00:08 and weighing a tiny 4lb 5oz.  Myself, Jon and Anabelle became a statistic at that very moment – we were 1 of 17 families that day to experience the horror of stillbirth or have a very young baby to die.
How can 17 families a day go through such an enormous loss yet stillbirth be such a taboo subject, not spoken about?  A dirty word almost.   From times of old I know things have muchly improved. I know that families even 20-30 years ago would’ve been treated like their darling baby had never existed at all – registered without a name, buried without a funeral in a mass grave. The parents allowed no wishes, lucky if they knew where their child’s final resting place was.
In many respects maybe we were “lucky” – we and Anabelle were treated well. Anabelle has a (still)birth certificate with her name on, we’re named as her parents. She was given a proper funeral  A beautiful funeral, all planned by us - full of pink and all about her, just as she deserved. I wrote about how much we love her, about how precious our pregnancy had been, the special moments that we’ll treasure forever – read out for us and Anabelle honoured.   Anabelle has her own grave that I can make beautiful just for her. One day her Mummy and Daddy will be buried with her, asleep by her side forever. You may think it morbid but buying a family grave gives us huge comfort. 
I often hear the saying “My child was stillborn, but he/she was STILL born.”   Parents of angel babies are desperate for them to have same ongoing recognition that their live children would have. I already worry that no-one will remember Anabelle’s birthday next year for example.   I agree with the above statement, but I HATE the terminology. Stillborn – I can barely say the word, and its pained me every time I’ve typed it here.  I know its the official term and I have no other suggestions; but I don’t think it does my angel baby justice.  I sometimes wonder if in societies eyes it makes her a non-person.  Never really here, not a real death.  Something to brush under the carpet.
There are two particular instances in the last 3 months that stick in my mind.
  • One week after Anabelle’s funeral we were sat with her in her garden. Another lady (older, in her 60s) was visiting another garden two rows above Anabelle. She asked us if we were visiting a child’s grave – the teddy floral tributes probably gave it away. I said it was our daughter. The lady then asked me how old our daughter was. I replyed she had been born sleeping. They lady didn’t understand – I somehow managed to choke out the word stillborn and this lady tutted at me and turned away. Yes tutted, no further recognition or discussion. I was deeply hurt by her reaction. Maybe she didn’t know what to say, or maybe she didn’t think my baby deserved a grave, an olden days attitude, a brushed under the carpet attitude.
  • Recently I’ve been to the nurse at my GP’s to renew my pill. This was only the 2nd time I’d been to the surgery since having Anabelle, the 1st time being my 6 week post-natal review. At my review I was asked how I was coping by my GP. We had a discussion. On my 2nd visit I saw his notes on the screen from our discussion – he’d referred Anabelle’s death as a miscarriage.  Now I apologise upfront, I’m not trying to belittle how awful a miscarriage is -but it is not in the same vane as what we’ve been through. I did not have a miscarriage. I gave birth, I bled for 5 weeks afterwards, my milk came in and I leaked for a month – I didn’t miscarry, I am a mother and my daughter died, she was a little person. By my GP recording my daughter as a miscarriage I felt it was another sweeping under the carpet moment, not significant.
In my mind my baby was born sleeping, not stillborn, and definitely not a miscarriage. She was born. I laboured and gave birth to her, I held her in my arms and I lavished all the physical love I could on her until it was time for her to go. She was really alive, inside me for over 7 months and she really died. Please remember her special days, she is significant.
I wish you wouldn't think that my baby wasn't really a baby and it was blood and tissue or a fetus. The truth is my baby was a human life. He had a soul, heart, body, legs, arms and a face. I have seen my baby's body and face. My baby was a real person.
My babies birthday, due date, Mothers Day, celebration times, the day my baby died are all important and sad days for me. The truth is I wish you could tell me by words or by letter you remember on these days.
http://www.uk-sands.org/
Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Caz and Belle Blog

My clever husband (I say clever because its is beyond my understanding) connected me to the internet on my laptop via his mobile phone yesterday evening.  As you will be aware from my previous post I was not coping particularly well with coming away. We arrived at our log cabin in mid-Wales and my anxiety levels were through the roof. They still are.
Anyway, he connected me to the internet, I instantly logged onto my virtual world – my safe places, an attempt to bring my anxiety levels down.
I found one safe place in pieces. It doesn’t feel so safe anymore; I’m quite shaken by it to be honest. A bereaved mother, Susan, accused of being a troll, the implication that she is a fake. Banned, all posts deleted – because of something  that happened on a different thread, on a different area of the forum – but its left our thread in tatters too.
Our thread has gone quiet, people are leaving, too nervous to say too much at the moment in case we are also not believed I guess. Our open safe place has become “closed”...  It is desperately sad and uncomfortable. An avenue of support possibly destroyed.  Not sure what to say, or what to think about the whole sorry situation. So I think it best to say nothing, not have an opinion other than innocent until proven guilty, I’m not joining the witch hunt.  I feel for Susan right now.
Then this morning, someone realised mine and Susan’s blogs are linked. We follow each others. I’d not commented on that thread until then, not feeling strong enough to join the argument. But there my name was... my stomach did a lurch – was I being considered guilty of the same accusation by association? I don’t think I’m the only one feeling vulnerable on our thread now.  I’m not sure what they were trying to imply (probably nothing) but I’ve noticed my blog has had much more traffic than normal today.
So readers, why do I blog?
I’d originally been blogging on the SANDS forum.  But after Susan directed us to her blog I was inspired to blog here instead – because it is open – anyone can read it. Not just my contacts on SANDS.  SANDS is a great service, but no-one there needs to know how it feels to be the mother of a dead baby, they all get it, they know because they are all there themselves. A bit like preaching to the converted.  I guess I thought by blogging here the taboo subject that is stillbirth (and I HATE that word with a passion, but that’s another subject for another time) would be given consideration by those who would have no understanding. (Through no fault of their own,  I add).  An insight into what its like to be me now.  I hoped my blog would be an education.
But besides that, blogging is so helpful to me. I get to say things here, in my blog, that I can’t or daren’t say in real life. A platform to “get it all out” as it were.
So this is me. As I am. I miss and love my daughter, my Anabelle, beyond words. I don’t understand my life now but believe me it is very real and so is she.  
Friday, 1 October 2010

Away

Tomorrow we are going away. I don't want to use the word holiday because holiday implies happiness, fun etc. I organised the going away, people kept saying it would do us some good, I got my parents and sister on board - a family going away it is. But now that its here I'm feeling very wobbly about it. The anxiety has been building all week. I don't think I want to go anymore.  I've been putting off packing all week - its 10pm and the case is still only half done, and I haven't even started to think about kitchen or bathroom stuff yet.  I didn't realise before what sheer amount of energy goes into packing, I used to be good at organising things, yet I can't bare this - I'm starting to feel panicky.

I feel guilty for going away. I feel anxious about going away.

Guilt - Being away for a whole week from where Anabelle's garden is. Not that I go there every day, but I suppose its the knowledge that I can when I'm here, if I want to go, I can just go and sit with her. Being away means even if I want to - I'm too far away from her. 

Guilt - Its not supposed to be like this is it... we're not supposed to be going away - that wasn't part of the plan, not in October. The plan was Anabelle, a screaming baby, sleepless nights, Mummyhood, Daddyhood.

Anxious - The packing is not boding well with me.

Anxious - I'm going to be away from the support networks I've created for myself. My virtual world. I've got to survive a week in the real. But at least its away from anyone who will know us, small mercies. We're going to mid-Wales, the signal and reception there for the I-phone access to my virtual world will probably be next to useless, but the I-phone isn't the same as my laptop anyway.

Anxious - Leaving Fiz. My cat, my furball. (She'll be another post in her own right one day.) I know its completely irrational and probably quite crazy but I can't get the thought out of my head of something happening to her while we're not here. Its ridiculous really, my next door neighbours will do a wonderful job as they do every time we've gone away in the past, but I cannot get this feeling away. I don't want to leave her. I know I probably love her way too much for a cat but losing her is not an option, she's my other baby. I fell in love with her the moment we bought her home 3 years ago, and she brings me so much comfort. There something about a purring Fiz that relaxes the soul.

Wish me luck. I don't know what else to say. It probably won't be as bad as I'm imagining. We may even enjoy something. I hope I relax if nothing else.
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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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