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.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Two Thousand and Ten

The very best and very worst year of my life.
2010 has meant the world to me and so much more. Despite everything that has happened this year it really has been special; I became a Mummy and nothing is more special than that. Nothing that could ever happen now will compare to the year I became a mother. 2010 has been Anabelle’s year; whatever else has gone on in the world this year, she has been my single number one most important event.
I’m finding it difficult to let go of 2010 at the moment. I’m not ready for it to be ‘last year’ that my daughter died and was born. It’s been her year, I’ve been submersed it in and I don’t want to surface. I know I have no choice but to, even if I wanted to hold onto 2010 forever time would keep moving on regardless.  
We’ve been to visit Belle’s garden today, take down her Christmas decorations and leave fresh flowers to finish 2010. I made a point of telling her how 2010 would always be her year and how important and loved she is; that even though she couldn’t stay with us, we still loved every minute of the 32 weeks we had her. I would rather have had Anabelle briefly than to never have had her at all.
I’ve been trying to decide whether my favourite day of the year was the day we found out our baby was girl and named her, or whether my favourite day was the day I met her and held her in my arms. Both were huge special days. One filled with hope, excitement, anticipation; the other filled with a huge devastating sadness but so much pride and love. It is too close to call; but they definitely are my 2010 highlights.
So we’re about to enter a new year. I’m not sure what is going to be so new about it other than the new digits at the end. Everything in our lives will be pretty much the same. Anabelle still won’t be here, we’ll still be living without her. It’s not going to feel any better just because it was ‘last year’ we lost her. So really it is just an extension of 2010 and this life that we will live forever with a huge Anabelle shaped gaping hole.
What will be new though, albeit temporarily, will be my hair colour. I’m currently sat on my bathroom floor waiting for my new colour to take. It’s only a semi-permanent dye, I’ll be back to blonde by February. But for now I’m starting 2011 as a Black Cherry, sort of red head. (We’ll see how it has turned out shortly. Even if it is hideous it is only going to last 28 washes!)
However, it is symbolic to me; because something had to be new for the New Year.
I wish us all, every bereaved parent I've met on this journey continued hope, strength and love as we start another year without our children.
Thursday, 30 December 2010

Eastenders

As of today we’ve stopped watching Eastenders for the foreseeable future. Tonight Ronnie is in labour which means the dead baby storyline is almost upon us.  We can’t watch it, it is too close and too raw, we’re not strong enough to relive the early days after Belle’s death on a television screen.    
That is not the only reason we cannot watch it though. We’ve turned it off because we already know how the storyline is going to pan out. Ronnie is going to swap her dead child for Kat’s newborn.
I’m not against a storyline focussing on baby death; handled sensitively I think it would’ve been the perfect avenue for opening people’s eyes to how life really is for a grieving Mummy and Daddy. But instead, Eastenders have chosen to go with the biggest, unrealistic, shock impact dramatization possible.
No, not surprising, to them it is all about the ratings – and this storyline will probably bring in the ratings (although I know many other people, not just bereaved Mummy’s who are turning it off too). But wouldn’t it have been nice, if just for once they had thought beyond that, and used their power for good. I just wish they understood the influence they are able to have, it is quite a huge responsibility really. I’m sure they will say they consulted with bereaved parents, talked to baby death charities in their research but I, and many other think they have come to the wrong conclusion. 
No mother I have ‘met’ on this horrific journey thought to just swap their baby for a different one to make it all better.  I’m sure in the tiniest minority of cases it has probably happened, but in real life 99.9% of mothers only want THEIR child. The thought of stealing someone else’s baby didn’t even enter their heads.  I don’t want anyone else’s baby, I want Anabelle. I’ve always wanted Anabelle.
Still, unless I can block it out, or I am prepared; sometimes I can barely be in the same vicinity as another baby without nearing panic attack stages and in 6 months I have not been able to hold another baby. I don’t want to hold another baby, I want to hold Anabelle.  The baby isn’t and can’t be Anabelle, so just keep it away from me, please don’t expect me to hold it.  The last baby I held was my own, and it is staying that way until another of our own comes along.
But I digress, what is worse is that apparently Kat is not even going to notice that the babies have been swapped! What mother does not know what her own baby looks like?  Despite what people may say babies do not look all the same and parents know their children. They can tell them apart from anyone else. From the moment Anabelle was born her face was forever imprinted on us. Both of us, Jon and I, we know what our daughter looks like.  If she was here, I would know if another baby had been put in her cot in her place. It sounds like the storyline is going to drag on for the duration with Kat thinking she has lost her baby, and Ronnie raising Kats as her own.
I can’t watch it.  Instead of portraying the reality of baby death they’ve decided to show a bereaved mother in a very poor light. And so everyone, for the record; bereaved Mummy does not equal nutter.
Of course until it is aired we cannot say for definite how it will be portrayed. But if the spoilers are anything to go by Eastenders and BBC1 should be ashamed of themselves.

Rainbows

“The soul would have no rainbows if the eye had no tears.”
I love little quotes like this; nuggets of wisdom that I can identify with somehow. This particular quote was posted by one of the mums on the bereaved mummies thread tonight; it is printed inside a special notebook she has recently bought.  This quote reminds me of a poem I wrote all about colours; what colours and life mean to me now.  Many have probably read on facebook before, but I’m going to share it again.
The colour in my life has faded, It’s now all miserable shades of grey,
I struggle to find the sparkle, Since Anabelle flew away.

We were expecting a beautiful girl, Expecting a life full of pink,
But now the grey has descended, And tears are always on the brink.

My life used to be bright, With yellows and reds and golds,
Full of beautiful rainbows, Until the day I was told.

How do I find the gold and sparkle? How do I fight the grey?
Find the strength to carry on, To find new pink or blue one day.

I still want to see in colour, But it seems so far away from here,
The entire colour is now in heaven, My beauty Belle took it with her.

And yet I see a little light, It shines right near my heart,
Highlighting the fading colour in me, Anabelle and I are never really apart.

A tiny little pink remains with me, Anabelle coloured my soul,
She remains forever with me, Restoring the colours is now our goal.

The red of love is still overwhelming, For my Jon, for Belle – our family,
It’s the red that keeps me going, Without it, I would not be.

A sign of white and roses, Brings memories of smiles,
Weddings and circles and angels, Shining bright in the sky for miles.

I must continue to find the colours, To fight grey and find rainbows again,
And to especially find my sparkle, For my Anabelle, my precious gem.

I wrote this poem at the end of August, 9 weeks after Anabelle was born. I felt I was drowning in grief, like I couldn’t surface from it at all, when I wrote this I was very nearly completely crushed.
I still have days like that, weeks, most of December has felt that way. A lot of the questions I still don’t know how to answer – apart from surviving one day at a time. But I’m understanding more about the colours again. The little rainbows that pop up and brighten the soul.  Everytime somebody remembers Anabelle, the people; virtual and real, who’ve been so thoughtful, generous and kind, it all contributes to the rainbows in our lives again.
I know it is all a romantic notion really, speaking metaphorically like this, maybe it is the late hour when I should really be asleep. But reading back on the poem it is not just a tiny little pink that remains with me – pink and Anabelle completely fills me! As I’ve said it has been a very pink Christmas.  Tonight something else was added to Anabelle’s tree. A beautiful wooden decoration,  a cute little angel on it and glossed with “Anabelle’s 1st Christmas in heaven, 2010” painted onto it. Some lovely friends have had it made for her this Christmas, for her first Christmas, along with a wall plaque with her full name, date of birth and a poem about our angel girl painted on.  It is these moments that add the colour and the sparkle back in.
As always, it is including Anabelle in our lives in everything. Anabelle is our sparkle.
Sunday, 26 December 2010

Anabelle's First Christmas

Christmas day 2010 in a nutshell?
Painful and perfect.  
Contradictory? Yes. But let me explain.
Painful that we celebrated our daughter’s first Christmas at her graveside. Painful that at home there were no presents under the tree for her. Painful that the first Christmas we wanted tending to a baby wasn’t to be. Painful that we opened angel presents from our angel daughter without her here. Painful that Anabelle’s place at our table was her candle and place card instead of her being. Just painful.
But, and I can hardly believe I’m saying this, it’s also been perfect. In its own way, in the only way it could be.
Everything that we could’ve done to mark Anabelle’s first Christmas has been perfect.  Our little lady was the very essence of everything today.  Anabelle has had her first Christmas. I hope she enjoyed it from above.
This morning we went to church. I’ve never been to church on Christmas day before, but this year it felt right. I wanted to start the day off there. It felt peaceful to start today off with singing a few carols, to start today off in quiet reflection.
From there we went to Anabelle’s garden. My, did it look beautiful with a white sheet of snow over it. I know I said earlier in the week that not even snow could make this Christmas magical, but somehow, in its own quite twisted way, it did. It made Anabelle’s little place look wonderful. It made all the difference up there today. Not many babies can say their first Christmas was a white one, but angel Anabelle can!

Anabelle had her first Christmas present. We’d bought it all the way back in May, before she died. We were out buying our nieces their birthday presents and I saw a bubble machine that I decided would be perfect for bath time. Of course this would’ve been wasted on a brand new baby, but I thought that by Christmas, when she should’ve been 4 or so months old and taking more notice it would be lovely. So we bought it. We bought our daughters first little Christmas present and then only weeks later she died.
Anabelle had her bubbles today. We filled the machine with bubble mixture and watched the bubbles cover her garden. I held the machine in the air and watched the bubbles float away up to heaven. It really all was beautiful. So very fitting for our daughter and just the way we planned today.
Perfect in the only way it could be.  
We had her present today but we didn’t have her. It is all backwards. A present here, that could so easily be replaced, but our daughter who’s irreplaceable, gone.  Just painful.
Last year I had a card from my “bump” – we’d known about our little baby for 3 weeks at Christmas time last year. Last year we were full on anticipation, so excited about the prospect of becoming parents, so excited about 2010.
This year there is no bump, there is our angel baby. No excitement, just hanging onto some hope for 2011 by a fragile thread. This year we are parents. Today I opened a gift ‘from’ Anabelle, Jon opened a gift ‘from’ Anabelle. Little things from eachother, ‘from’ our baby was appropriate. Jon had letter poem from Belle and a small angel girl statuette, I had a ‘ Me and My Mummy’ photo frame with obviously, photos of me and Belle together in.  Perfect in the only way it could be.

And of course, today we lit a candle for Anabelle; a special white and glittery Christmas tree candle accompanied by glittery silver tea lights. Anabelle was the centre piece of our table today. Her things were our decoration.  Along with her candles we also had a little angel cracker for Anabelle. Inside was a place card with her name on, an angel decoration, an angel charm, another candle. I love the place card completely – her name on it, especially made for and belonging to Anabelle.  
Anabelle was with us today, included in everything. Our darling girl we love you so much, more than you could ever know. Mummy and Daddy hope you have had a beautiful first Christmas day in heaven little angel.
Perfect, in the only way it could be. Painful, because it isn’t how it should be.
Saturday, 25 December 2010

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy
I miss you so much,
And I know that you miss me too,
But today it is Christmas day,
And this is my message for you.


Daddy I love you always,
I’m so happy that you are mine,
And I love my Mummy too.
We will all be reunited in time.


I am your angel in heaven,
You do not need one on the tree,
I’m flying around right above you,
I just wish you could see me.


I’m really good with my wings now,
They are really so much fun.
I keep visiting all the stars,
And I even found my one.


I saw you in my garden place with Mummy,
And all the pretty bubbles for me,
I caught them all one by one in heaven,
And now they are like baubles on my tree.


Today I’m going to a party,
Mummy would love it if she could see,
A beautiful new dress for me to wear,
It’s all pink and white and sparkly.


Great-Grandad is going to take me,
I will play with the other angels too,
I don’t need any presents to open here,
My bubbles are my favourite from you.


I am so proud to call you my Daddy,
You are such a strong amazing man,
I know my Mummy loves you like I do,
We are both your biggest fans!


Our hearts are connected forever,
You plus Mummy equals Me,
I look so much like my Daddy,
Your girl I’ll always be.


I’ve sent down a little present,
To put under my pretty pink tree,
Your name is written on it, dear Daddy,
A little gift to you, from me.


Feel floaty kisses on your cheek Daddy,
As I say a Christmas goodbye to you,
Feel my wings as they flutter by,
And know that I’ll always heart you.

All my Love, Angel Anabelle x x x

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Beautifully Thoughtful

It is so easy to focus on all the people who are insensitive, all the things that upset or hurt me. It is easy to focus completely on myself and my grief, because it is all-consuming.
But there have been so many times this month where people have been so thoughtful.  The gestures that let me know they are thinking of me. The people who’ve given us angel ornaments and angel things, the light up candle, the special bauble and glittery butterfly for Anabelle. Each of these things gestures have been shining moments amongst the huge difficulties we are facing this Christmas. It touches our hearts that other people remember and think of our daughter too.
It is hugely touching that people remember us.
Today in the post we received a truly wonderful surprise; a voucher for a night’s stay at our “happy place” hotel including dinner, breakfast and 2 mini spa treatments. The ladies in my virtual world community have taken the time to contribute and organise this treat for me and Jon. It was completely unexpected and we are overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity. I think it is a beautifully thoughtful gesture.  It made our day and is another bright shining moment.
Spending time in our happy place is something we will look forward to and has bought smiles to our faces.
The same ladies have organised a part 2 to their surprise. A part 2 after all they’ve already done – this friendship community really is quite something!  I am to understand that part 2 is something for Belle and they are hoping it will arrive with us tomorrow on Christmas Eve.  I think Anabelle has been a spoilt angel this Christmas; people have added to her tree, given us and sent us things in her memory. I really do hope part 2 arrives tomorrow in time for Christmas, because we are both looking forward to finding out what else these fabulous ladies have done to mark her first festive season.
And so to everyone who has taken the time to think of us and Anabelle, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Half Time Year

Today is a day I’ve been dreading. It is Anabelle’s 6th month birthday. The day that marks half a year has gone by without her. We seem to be dealing with everything at the same time at the moment; her 6 month day, Christmas and the end of 2010, start of another.  I officially hate December.
Sometimes it feels like no time has passed at all, and that we only lost her yesterday. Sometimes it feels like it felt a long time ago, and this has been the longest 6 months of my entire life. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel real, and that there was never a baby in our lives at all, and this is some huge nightmare that I will wake up from.  Does that even make any sense?
Sometimes I cannot believe we are living this.  I guess this is what I mean when I say sometimes it feels so raw and others times so numb. This is what I mean when I say time moves differently now – the passage of time feels so mixed up.
My entire life feels mixed up.
Yesterday Mum and me had planned to go over to Cribbs Mall to spend the surprise money Jon had given me to (in his words) ‘buy myself something pretty with’ – but the snow cancelled the trip. So we have been today instead, and Anabelle must’ve known her Mummy would be sad today; she sent me a sign to cheer me up, to tell me she is always there and all around in everything I do.
Because my something pretty just so happens to be a dress called “Belle” – it is perfect and definitely from her; I knew it as soon as I saw it. Our little lady knew what she wanted me to spend her Daddy’s money on that’s for sure, because it was exactly the amount he had given me!   
So on her 6th month birthday, I have a dress with the same name as her. See I knew we would make a good team spending his money one day. It’s just not the way I wanted it to be.

It is going to be a pink Christmas in the Morgan household. Tonight, as another way of marking her special day, we put up Anabelle’s 3ft pink tree. Even Fiz joined in with the decorating. Showing lots of interest in the pink baubles!
Neither of us could face putting up the big tree this year, and so we bought a little pink girly one, for Anabelle to match the one in her garden. It is another way of including her – making her the Christmas focus in our home and somehow getting us all through it.
There are quite a few angels and special things on Belle’s tree; her angel engraved bauble that we bought for her, the same angel that sits at the top of the tree in her garden, angel ornaments or baubles that people have seen and kindly given to us after thinking of her.
But one thing is certain; a real angel belongs to us for Christmas this year, Christmas time and always. Despite all the angels on our tree, the angel that matters most of all is looking over us in heaven.
Happy half birthday our angel. Mummy and Daddy love you to the moon and back, always.
Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snowbright Candlelight

Today has been quite monumental. I know how dramatic that sounds. But today, for the first time in 6 months, I actually felt carefree for half hour.  For half an hour I had fun – proper, not a care in the world, fun. You know what I had actually forgotten what that felt like.
This afternoon my nearly sister-in-law wanted to build a snowman. So off we went out into my parents garden; me, Jon, my brother and her and built ourselves a little snowman! (or woman actually as we’ve since named her Sally Snowman!) Four adults in their mid to late twenties behaving as little children! I can honestly say I think that’s the first time I’ve built a snowman as an adult, first time I’ve played in the snow as an adult. Of course the whole thing turned into a big snowball fight, and for that short time I lost myself. There was something liberating about being able to walk around my parent’s garden kicking and throwing snow, as if I was a little girl again.  I briefly re-experienced carefree.
It has been a good day and it is refreshing to be able to say that isn’t it. Today has been my shining light amongst the week that is to come.
Tonight I went to the “Carols by Candlelight” service at church. It looked so pretty with the hundreds of candles around flickering in the darkness. Each one representing that Jesus was born to be the light of the world; to shine in our darkness.  
We have lit more candles since Anabelle has died that at any other time in our lives. Two little candles sit under her photograph on our cabinet; one from Mummy and one from Daddy. Lighting the candles comforts me, I pretend that Anabelle can see the little light from heaven and knows that we’re thinking of her. 
But more than that those candles represent our hope; our hope in this darkness. Sometimes hope is thin on the ground, almost non-existent. But a flickering candle seems to be able to reignite it – the warm glow of the flame seems able to melt away the ever growing fears. That one day new happiness will outweigh the constant pain and sadness we feel now.  
In our school Christmas concert we sang about Christmas candles.  The second verse stuck out to me – so eloquently describing the importance of the candle in our grief.
Light a candle to shine in the window
To chase away fear and despair,
Light a candle to send out the message,
We have plenty of kindness to share.
Christmas candle shining light,
Christmas candle burning bright.

And so for Christmas we have bought Anabelle a special candle to go on our Christmas table. A whilte and glittery candle, shaped as a Christmas tree. We’ll light it and let it burn for her all day.
Chasing away our fear and despair and being our shining light.
Friday, 17 December 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day...

…is a song by the Hurts. Have never heard of them before but this song was flagged up on the Sands forum this afternoon. This song just about sums it up, apart from one thing. It isn’t all I want for Christmas. Of course it isn’t remotely possible, but my daughter back for Christmas would be at the top of my list this year.  But I cannot have Anabelle, and so getting through to New Year’s Day sums it up.
It is not quite Christmas, but it’s white outside. Once upon a time I would’ve been excited about the prospect of a white Christmas. There are plenty of songs about snow at Christmas, but not once in my lifetime have I actually seen one. Looks like the probability of there being snow this Christmas is increasing, but even the snow won’t make this one magical or special. In fact, if a heavy snowfall prevented us from getting to Anabelle’s garden on Christmas Day I would feel like we had totally failed her. I need to go and mark the day with her there. Visiting her is part of our Christmas Day plan and therefore snow isn’t.
It should’ve all been so different.
Thursday, 16 December 2010

A School's Christmas

Another day in work and I can officially say I survived my first half term back in work. For the most part it has been like I was never away, two weeks in and I felt like I had found my feet again. Quickly snapped back into my teacher mode and got on with what needed doing.
Today, in fact has probably been the hardest day since my return. Christmas party day. 
The Christmas activities haven’t really fazed me until today. The concert was fine – I had my role on the piano, being involved in the nativity hasn’t bothered me. After all, the nativity is the reason we have Christmas. The Christian aspect of Christmas is ok, I seem to be able to deal with it. In fact I’ve filled Christmas with it. I’m involved at church Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
But today; the party, the presents for the children, the Father Christmas visit was too much. By 9:00am I already felt like I needed a cry. Of course I didn’t cry though – I was at work and at work I’m the professional, I am responsible for leading a class of children and staff.   However hard the Christmas party was for me personally, professionally it is part of my job to contribute to making Christmas time special for the children in my care. The show had to go on.
I cannot pretend it doesn’t hurt me though. Buying and wrapping presents for other people’s children, making a fuss about Father Christmas for other people’s children, the party for other people’s children.  All painful reminders of the things I cannot do with my own child.
No presents to wrap for Anabelle, no visit to Father Christmas for Anabelle, no parties to go to with Anabelle. Never any of these things with my own daughter. Not this year, not any year.
To be honest after the last fortnight in work I’ve had about as much of Christmas as I can take. I’ve done my bit now. The bit I had to do.
But, I made it. We finish for the holiday tomorrow and I can hope that for the next week I can have a ‘break’ from it before the big day arrives.  I am aware that this may involve some hibernating at home.
I have to keep reminding myself that this build up will be far worse than the actual day. Christmas Day we have a plan. We’ll stick to the plan and we’ll get through it.   
My plan between now and then? Have as little to do with it as possible!  
Monday, 13 December 2010

Hurt

“It’s never going to stop hurting it is.” Jon said to me through tears a couple of nights ago. It wasn’t a question; it was a statement. We’ve both been feeling so low all of last week that it came to a head this weekend. Last night I sobbed. There was lots of sobbing in the beginning, but over the months it has slowly turned into quiet cries at home, or the odd tear that escapes when something triggers out in public. Regular tears but I hadn’t had an uncontrollable sob for a while.
Last night it all got too much. The physical hurt was back, literally my heart was aching in my chest. The little hope I had learnt to see for the future was gone last night and it all seemed black. So I cried, and cried some more.  Hope is still hazy this morning but a good cry was obviously what I needed. I can at least look forward to today’s plans this morning.
Once upon a time, when I heard somebody say that their heart was broken, I thought it was a metaphor for things being really bad. I didn’t realise that grief could be so physically painful before. My heart and chest sometimes really does feel like it is broken, it physically hurts.  It’s not always that intense – it couldn’t be, we wouldn’t survive it – and so the pain comes in waves of intense to numb. More often than not somewhere right in the middle.
I asked Jon if we actually wanted it to stop hurting though. I don’t think I do, for the pain to be gone would imply that it was ok now. It will never be ok will it – the huge Anabelle part of our lives will always hurt, because she is not here. We love our little girl so much, living without her hurts. I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Somebody posted on my virtual world last night that she feels now, years and years down the line from her child’s death that “It is never going to be as good as it should be but it is now as good as it can be.”  I think that is a good mantra – I suppose that is where we need to aspire to be. A place of acceptance that this is the way things are, and that no, life will never be the way it should, but that what is left can be a good place around it.
I can make sense of that; eventually.
Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Low Week

My reserves have been low this week. I’ve been full of cold, streaming and just generally feeling worse for wear. Everything seems so much worse when you’re tired and ill. My coping with the little things have been pushed to the limit. I’ve spent much of the week feeling irritable and impatient and hard done by. In a nutshell; feeling sorry for myself. Of all the weeks to be ill it had to be this week didn’t it; an intense week at work with the Christmas concert, and with me on the piano being unwell wasn’t really an option. But as my luck would always have it of course I would be ill this week.  Anyway I persevered through, as you do. It’s only a cold after all, worse things happen as I fully well know.
It’s not surprising I’m run down. There’s been a build-up of stress the last couple of weeks. What with Jon’s lumber puncture, and then him not recovering well, and the continuous headache he’s had since, coupled with our blood results around Anabelle yesterday.  Always so much going on to deal with, sometimes it gets the better of you. 
The blood results have all come back negative.  I don’t have any blood disorders.  Anabelle did not die because of something I have. They took repeat bloods anyway just to double check that they still come back all negative, but that is just routine. We’ll have a consultant’s appointment to discuss the results sometime in the New Year after the repeats results have come back. I don’t suppose there is much to discuss though. They are negative.  No-one can tell me why my daughter died, so all I want to know now is exactly what they are going to do to stop any more of our babies dying in the future.
Negative results are good. Of course it’s good news; there is nothing wrong with me. No reason why I cannot carry babies safely to term. It makes me a little nervous though; they have no idea what they are looking out for to prevent next time. I suppose there is nothing to prevent though.  The midwives have already told me that negative results is so much better for a subsequent pregnancy – the risk of a recurrence of in-uterine death is so much lower when there is no reason.
Anabelle’s death is being put down to a horrible ‘one-off’ (hopefully) unexplainable tragedy.
But part of me feels that our beautiful daughter died for no reason at all. Which cannot be true; because nobody dies without a reason. It wasn’t my blood, it wasn’t the placenta or cord that let her down, there was no indication of an underlying disability and all chromosomes came back as normal.
We didn’t consent to a post-mortem because we were told that even by having one there was every chance the results would still come back as unknown.  We knew that if a PM wasn’t going to guarantee a reason then she wasn’t having one. No-one was going to touch or hurt our daughter’s little body. Even in death we were fiercely protective of her.
So we’re never going to know why Anabelle became an angel. Part of me feels sad about it, but I know we can live with not knowing much easier than we would’ve allowing a PM.
Last night we, Anabelle’s grandparents and one of her aunties went to the Sands Lights of Love Christmas service in Cardiff. A remembrance service for all our babies.  We wrote a tag to Anabelle and put it on the Christmas tree and as part of the service we lit candles for our children.
After the week/day we’d had I found it really peaceful, found comfort in the words of the poems. Thankful that something had been arranged for Christmas to acknowledge our babies; Anabelle will never get to take part in nativity plays so last night’s service was really important to me. I think we’ll go again next year.
The tree with just some of the tags on.
Anabelle's is the green one at the top.
Looking at the Christmas tree in the church I couldn’t help but feel sadness. All those tags; each one representing a baby and family, hurting at Christmas time instead of being joyful. The world focuses on children at Christmas - all the adverts on TV, toys are pushed to the front of the store in supermarkets, Father Christmas visits every town. Everything painfully reminds what you haven’t got.  
Christmas is coming fast and I’m not ready for it. There are still things to buy. I’m just so uninterested I keep forgetting there is only a few short days in reality to go - it will be here before we know it. I’m going to have to make myself go shopping sometime next week.
But today I’m going to go back to nursing my cold as well as a visit to Belle’s garden to add the Rudolf plant decoration we bought yesterday for her. Including Anabelle in Christmas is about the only part I’m interested in.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Angry Letters

Today I have had one of the most useful counselling appointments yet. Today we discussed anger. She asked me to make a list of everyone or everything I feel angry at and then to turn my list into a pie-chart, accounting for the things I feel angry at with a percentage. Some of my angry list is people, some of my angry list is things.
For next week I’ve been asked to write an “angry letter” to something or someone off my list to bring with me to discuss.  I think this will be a really useful and constructive exercise, a safe exercise, because it will be between me and the paper (and the counsellor). I already know who to write too this time. It has been a long time coming, the anger directed at this person is legitimate, it is deserved. This is a person who has caused so much hurt and damage it is irreparable and I don’t want anything more to do with, ever. Destroyed any relationship we once had with him. I can’t discuss the details yet, I don’t think I’m ready to discuss it here. But maybe I will after I’ve written the letter.
I know some of the other anger I feel is unreasonable though. I’ve briefly discussed my anger and resentment before (Blog: Some Days). I know I’m not always being very fair. But you know what, what is fair about anything in my life? What did I do to deserve this life? What did we do to deserve the death of our daughter?
For some, I have such high expectations. So high I’ve realised they simply cannot attain, because they can’t feel what I feel and can’t even begin to understand what hurts us.  But even knowing this and realising it, doesn’t make insensitivity and disinterest any less painful to bear.
But for all the people who cause distress there are always the thoughtful people who make up for it.  This week I’ve been given two angel gifts, something for the tree and a key ring with a lovely poem. These are people who had thought of us and our daughter. Another who instead of giving a Christmas card gave us a small bauble for Anabelle’s tree and a memory card for her too. But I can never get my head around how can some people show such sensitivity when other are so crap. The differences in us all I guess.
I know I’m feeling particularly sensitive at the moment. But please forgive me that; some days expecting reasonable and patience is asking too much.
Sunday, 5 December 2010

Limbo Babies

Last Tuesday night a programme called Limbo Babies was aired on BBC2. It focussed mainly around the Catholic church of olds view and opinion on the souls of babies born sleeping. The entire programme had me furious. So angry for the poor parents and families, angry at the Catholic churches stance, angry at yet another example of how stillborn babies were marginalised and unacknowledged as a real person, unacknowledged as a real death.

I feel so sorry for the parents who were left believing that their precious baby was in ‘limbo’ – neither in heaven or hell, but floating around somewhere with no place to go for all eternity, left believing that they would never be reunited with their child. The Catholic church that taught that because these children were unbaptised they could not enter heaven; because they were unbaptised they could not be buried in the consecrated ground of the cemetery. Because they were unbaptised their souls had not been cleansed of their sin.

The Catholic church is supposed to teach of God’s love and compassion, only as far as I can see, taught through their actions that what matters to them is pomp and ceremony. The soul of these babies all hanging on the occasion of being baptised.  They would not baptise a dead baby. And so these families and babies were denied a funeral, denied a proper burial, denied access to heaven as they saw fit.   They basically said through their actions that these babies didn’t matter.

Because of this many babies were buried in wasteland along the outside of a cemetery wall, taken to a remote beautiful place and buried there. No funeral, unmarked graves, mass graves, not acknowledged at all by the world. Many parents not even knowing where their child’s final resting place was.

I cannot imagine how you would even begin to live with this as a Catholic parent of a stillborn child. Instead of your faith holding you strong, it rejects you. You are taught that (the falsity) God rejected your child. Where else is there to turn if your church cannot support you and offer comfort?

I don’t know where the Catholic church got its teaching from, but as far as I’m concerned it is not scriptural. It infuriates me because the Jesus I know would not turn these babies away, he did not turn these babies away. Jesus always welcomed little children with open arms. “Let the little children come unto me, for as such is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19 v 14) The kingdom of heaven belongs to little children.

I understand that in more recent years the Catholic church has relaxed its attitudes around stillborn babies and the idea of limbo.

Jon once asked me how Anabelle could be in heaven if she had been born into sin.  Yes Anabelle was born into a world of sin, but she herself had never sinned. She was yet too young to understand sin or to learn about Jesus. The Jesus I know would not banish anyone too young or without the capacity to understand to damnation.

Anabelle had nothing to atone for, nothing. Anabelle was pure. Anabelle is in heaven and I truly believe one day we will be reunited. Anabelle, as all angel babies do not need to be christened to obtain a place in Jesus arms. There are no such conditions or requirements. There is no such thing as limbo babies.
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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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