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.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

This will be my last post of 2011. Tomorrow we are travelling to a friends down south to spend New Years weekend. Something we could not have entertained doing last year. 

A year ago I was frightened to leave 2010 behind, frightened we'd be leaving Anabelle behind in her year, frightened of what a new year would mean, frightened of everything becoming 'last year'.  

I felt flattened, broken and lost. The prospect of 2011 seemed enormous and started with me in a very bleak place. But here we are 12 months later, another year survived and finishing in a much brighter place; for one we have our beautiful boy. 

2011 has meant lots of things; it meant trying again, it meant a BFP on the 28th February, it meant Jon turning 30, it meant Anabelle turning 1, it meant raising over £9500 for Sands in her memory, it meant finding out we were having a son, it meant a very emotionally stressful pregnancy, it has meant a lot of unrealised fears but above all it has meant Alexander being born screaming and coming home! Despite the ongoing emotional highs and lows this year, we have been so very blessed with him. 

This year end I'm feeling quite strange. Another year has passed, 2012 means we're approaching 2 years since Anabelle was here. I can't believe I have to start numbering the years now; I had only just got used to saying 'last year' and its time for change again. Time keeps moving without her and I already dread the single years turning into decades.  

Again this year I'm not sure what exactly to expect of 2012; but the future (for today at least) is not feeling so huge and scary like it did last year. I know I'm still hitting big lows, as evidenced by my Boxing Day meltdown, but I've figured that's just part of life now. Sometimes my grief will be as raw and fresh as it was in June 2010, sometimes the black clouds are going to be passing overhead and I'll be emotionally vulnerable from time to time. That is always going to be part of life now.  

Despite all that and mixed up feelings, this year I'm looking forward to a New Year. 2012 is going to be better, my hope it is going to be the year of some more emotional stability. It is going to be the year to watch my baby boy grow. He is going to change so quickly and we're going to treasure it all. 

So in the spirit of positivity I'm making a new years resolution. I'm going to take a photo every day of this year and start a new blog to share them all. It is going to be our daily picture of 2012, capturing our moments and watching Alexander grow.

And that is my only resolution this year; creating many more memories. 

Wishing you all a peaceful last few days of 2011 as well as a joyful and blessed 2012. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Alexander's First Christmas

Christmas Eve: Hanging up his stocking before bed!
We started our Christmas Traditions. The ones for Alexander. On Christmas Eve night we dressed him in new Christmas pyjamas, we helped him hang up his stocking and read him 'The Night Before Christmas'.

Christmas morning we got up and opened his stocking presents in bed. We came downstairs and surrounded him with his gifts. Infact the presents in the photograph are only about half of what he received; by the time grandparents, aunties and uncles had given too he really was super spoilt. 

Too much probably; but where is the harm? The joy of being able to buy for our baby this year is immeasurable; its no wonder we got a bit carried away.

As it turns out Christmas is not yet finished in our house. Alexander has many presents left under the tree to open. He can only cope with 3 or 4 presents at a time before his concentration span has waned and he has had enough.  

Yes I could open them without him, but I want him to be involved, so we will open them when he happy to sit on my lap and rip paper hand-over-hand; happy to look at each thing he's been given. I want to teach him, even now to appreciate every present. 

Christmas Eve: The Night Before Christmas bedtime story with Mummy

Christmas Morning: Look at all the presents Father Christmas bought for me!

His current favourite is definitely his new playmat. As soon as he was led on it for the first time he was cooing away, flinging his arms and legs around and haphazardly knocking the hanging toys and taking great delight from it.    

There is so much else left to explore too, when he has finally opened it all. At this rate it could very well be January before we've managed it! Just as well his birthday is 10 months away; I think it will take us until then to play with everything from Christmas! 

I love my new Jungle Gym Playmat!

Happy Christmas beautiful boy; even though you'll never remember it I hope you had a very special day. Despite your mother's mixed emotions; you've no idea how precious you are and how precious it was to be able to spend Christmas this year with you. Our baby, on his first Christmas. 
Monday, 26 December 2011

Another Christmas

The build up to and few days after celebrations and important dates at the hardest. Over the last 18 months I've learnt to expect the actual day to be easier than the days either side. Yesterday was no different. 

Christmas day was busy; maybe that was a good thing, maybe not. Maybe that is what kept the momentum going. After going to Anabelle I was sad for a time, the weather was crap; horrendously windy, rainy and awful and as a result her visit felt rushed, I didn't spend the time there I needed to. It bothers me a lot. 

I felt sad but there was no time to be allowed to feel it yesterday. 

We focussed all our efforts into Alexander's first Christmas; opening a few presents hand-over-hand with him in short bursts, showing him that Mummy and Daddy were excited for him. He had a lovely day and was especially thrilled with his new jungle gym playmat! I will share some photographs his first Christmas soon.

Yesterday was OK; I got through, I was even happy. 

Today, despite a good nights sleep with only one wake up for Alexander, I woke up exhausted. Utterly exhausted and  even knowing the days either side are the worst it took me all morning to figure out why. Suppressing the sad feelings yesterday had bit me on the bum, Anabelle's absence this Christmas hit hard.  My head has hurt. Today I've needed space, quiet time. Today I don't feel very together. I don't want to pretend to be together. 

Today I need some space to grieve. I'm on a low. I need to be allowed to grieve; some understanding that it is not all better or OK this year. It never will be. 

I think this year I set the bar of expectation on myself too high. Next year I will plan in space. 
Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Traditions

We are quickly approaching the midnight hour and the beginning of Christmas Day. This year the build up to Christmas has been so bittersweet. We are of course very excited about Alexander's first Christmas; there is a new joy this year. But it doesn't stop the hurt that Anabelle is not here for this Christmas, last Christmas or any Christmas. The familiar bewilderment and pain is ever present. 

Last year we created traditions for Anabelle, the rituals of remembrance and inclusion for her that saw us through. Made her first Christmas bearable. I believe I described last Christmas as painful but perfect; after the horrendous build up to Christmas day, for the most part it was quiet and peaceful. We got through it because we had a plan. 

The plan for Anabelle stands this year, as it will every year. 

For Anabelle we will always put up a little pink tree in her garden and her special pink tree in our home. Each year we will buy a new angel decoration to add to our tree. Each year we will have a 'Anabelle' personalised cracker and namecard to be part of our Christmas table, a candle will be lit for her throughout dinner; a symbol that she is always included in our family.

Tomorrow morning before we join my family for dinner we will visit our beautiful girl. Last year was particularly beautiful with the snow on the ground. Magical somehow. Last year we took bubbles, this year we have two little presents to open while we are there with her; a 'That's Not My Angel' book and her new angel tree decoration. Presents that she can then share with her brother. A present that will hopefully help him to feel some connection some day. 

But this year, alongside Anabelle's Christmas, we also have to create new traditions. Traditions for Alexander too. Traditions for our whole family. 

For Alexander we started tradition making last weekend when we took him to see Father Christmas the weekend before Christmas. Every year I want to take him somewhere different to see him, somewhere magical and exciting.

Today he dressed up as Father Christmas, I think I want Christmas Eve to be fancy dress day, at least until he feels he is too old to dress up. Tonight Alexander went to bed in new Christmas pyjamas and he listened to me read him 'The Night Before Christmas'. That will be our Christmas Eve tradition.

Tomorrow he will start his first Christmas Day in bed with us opening his stocking presents and cards before going downstairs to see the magic of the presents under the tree. And finally each and every year he will have a special new outfit to wear for Christmas Day. Tomorrow he has a little top to wear that says "My First Christmas" 

These are going to be our family traditions. This is what Alexander will learn to expect from Christmas; both his traditions and Anabelle's. I hope when he is grown he will look back on our family Christmas's with fondness. I know I have many happy memories of my childhood Christmas. 

We used to climb in Mum and Dads bed and open our stocking presents. Then we would wash, brush teeth and sit on the stairs waiting for everyone to be ready before going into the living room altogether. I'll never forget the magic that was created walking into a living room awash with gifts. We were 'spoilt' - I want to create that same magic for Alexander.  I wish I could create it for Anabelle. 

This year I feel like I'm living two Christmas's, at two very different ends of the spectrum. 

Anabelle's Christmas. Alexander's Christmas. Tomorrow they will have to meet somewhere in the middle, but after last year I kind of expect the build up to be worse than the actual day. 

I kind of expect it to be perfect in the only way it can be, just as it was last year. 

And so, as I approach Christmas Day in a very different place to where I was last year, but in so many ways exactly the same, I want to wish all my readers a happy and peaceful day. 
Friday, 23 December 2011

The Second Month

My handsome little man is now two months old and continues to be a delight every day. He is becoming more and more aware of his world all the time; now his little eyes follow me around a room, he stretches his head right around to look at one of us, he notices when something passes by him. 

When awake Alexander does not stop moving. His little arms and legs are all over the place, a proper little wriggler. He loves floor play and is getting used to being on his tummy for longer periods of time. Already trying to lift his bottom when on his front so I think he going to be eager to get on the go as soon as possible! A proper little nosy boy and into everything! 

Alexander's favourite activity, other than being cuddled by Mummy all day of course, is bath time. He smiles, coos, kicks his legs, even tries to roll on his side in his bath seat. He loves being sat up. This boy is going to love his Bumbo as soon as he is big enough to use it - he just wants to be able to look at everything. 

And his favourite person? Definitely Daddy! He saves all his best smiles for his Daddy! I'm positive his eyes brighten up a little bit when Jon comes in from work and he realises Daddy is home again. 

Ah we're just so in love with him. Alexander brightening up our lives, ending 2011 with rainbow colour in it. 

My bright eyed boy!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Happy Year and Half Birthday

This week I've a huge wobble, as I've already said.  The whole breast-feeding issue came to a head, I still need to resolve my feelings on this on another blog another day. Anabelle's year and a half birthday has got me, that is today. The Christmas build up has got me,  but I at least have the knowledge this year that the build up is likely to be far worse than the actual day.

I used to concentrate on every 21st - counting the months during her first year. Of course I still think of her every 21st, I know how many months old she is; like I know Alexander is 2 months old (although I'm still counting his age in weeks really!) But as I predicted after a first birthday the months become less significant; when asked how old you can say they are one year old, not X months old. Instead the half years become the new significant. Well that is how it seems to me anyway. 

Today our daughter is/should be 18 months old, a year and half old. Another milestone. The day she becomes a toddler.  Yesterday I once again walked down the baby clothes aisle in the supermarket and mentally picked out what I would buy for her now she is getting bigger, should be getting bigger. Jon says I should stop tormenting myself with what should've been and concentrate on what is. Concentrate on Alexander and what I can buy for him.

I know he is probably right; but Xander is my son and not my daughter. It is different.

I still hurt everyday for Anabelle, but it isn't the constant all-consuming type hurt. It's there in the background. Granted; it catapults to the front frequently, like with the supermarket baby clothes yesterday, but I go about most days without crying, in fact sometimes a whole week. Meltdowns in comparison to a year ago are few and far between. Well, averaging monthly apart now at least.

If someone had said to me 18 months ago, or even 12 months ago, I'd be in this place today I wouldn't have believed them. I didn't believe anything would ever be 'better'. Today I know things are never going to be better, not like they should be; but I'm willing to accept this might be as good as it gets, and some of it is very good. I have a good marriage, a good husband, a beautiful son.

December is just a harder month than most.

Happy one and a half birthday my beautiful girl. I would love to see how you've grown.
Monday, 19 December 2011

Wobble Wobble

An unexpected pressure is building. A few times over the last few days I've been aware of a distant panicky feeling, anxiety rising. Its been a long time since I've had to take deep breaths to quell a meltdown. It seems its getting noisier. 

I seem to be approaching a wobble.  I'm suddenly not feeling totally myself. 

Yesterday we visited Anabelle. All week I'd been worrying about her tree, a nagging suspicion that something wasn't right. I knew I had to check on it before Christmas day. We got there and there was no tree; cue tears from me. I found it destroyed in a ditch and soaked in mud. It had to go in the bin. It was nobody's fault, just some shocking UK weather, but it seems to have prompted the nearing wobble. 

I'm anxious that there is no sign of Christmas in her garden; I need to get up there and decorate it again, but the weather and time is against me. I feel I'm neglecting her because Alexander takes up so much of my attention. 

And now in all my excitement about Alexander's first Christmas I seem to be hitting a downer. A downer because Anabelle is not here. Scratch the surface of me it seems and her glaring absence this Christmas; like every Christmas to come, boils over. Suddenly Christmas is feeling pretty huge again; and not in a good way.  Now I have to reconcile Anabelle's absence against her brother's first Christmas. 

And I will do it. Because Alexander's first Christmas matters. And I will do it, because her garden will be Christmassy again; and then I'll feel much better. Like things are ready for them both. I'll have done enough for both of my babies and then I'll feel more like myself again.

But please give me a few days - this week there is her 18 month birthday to get through too - another milestone, the moment my beautiful girl should've officially (in my mind) become a toddler. 

'Rollercoster' doesn't come close does it. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Meeting Father Christmas

Today was a rite of passage for Alexander; today he met Father Christmas for the very first time. It was also a rite of passage for us; today we were able to take our baby to see Father Christmas.  You see, it could be easy to say taking a 9 week old baby to Father Christmas was pointless; he doesn't understand, he won't remember but to us it was important. 

We took him because we could. Because he is here for his first Christmas. Because we're not marking his first Christmas at his graveside or with rituals of remembrance. For Alexander we're celebrating.

The rituals of remembrance and making Christmas for Anabelle goes on alongside, but for Alexander it can be different. 

So today was Father Christmas day. We queued for an hour in a wintery wonderland walk and then into the Elves workshop before meeting the lovely big man in his grotto. Alexander had a cuddle, had a fuss, given a present and had many photographs taken to remember this momentous day

Father Christmas said Xander was his youngest visitor today. It was a long wait, but totally worth it, today was so very special. 

Christmas is mixed up; we have Anabelle's Christmas, Alexander's Christmas and somewhere in the middle we have a joint family Christmas. We're discovering a new kind of Christmas. 

This year I've coped with the present buying. Not only have I coped I've eagerly entered numerous toy shops to buy a multitude of gifts for my son. Toys 'R' Us hasn't meant meltdown this year. Granted it has still meant 'avoid the pink and girly areas as much as possible' - I still barely cope with that - but I haven't been nearing all out panic attack by the time we've left the building. 

Alexander has been spoilt. For a child who will be just 10 weeks old on Christmas Day he has far too much. I admit it. We've spent a ridiculous amount of money. But you know what we will enjoy opening each and every one of his gifts with him. And that is what matters. Creating these precious memories. 

We're indulging in our baby boys first Christmas.  

It is conflicting. We are careful to separate Alexander from Anabelle; but sometimes it is difficult to let go that we're experiencing this joy, for the first time, a year too late as it were. Last Christmas was our other child's first Christmas, only we were not granted Father Christmas visits and spoiling her in toy shops. 

This Christmas is delicate; Alexander is rightfully enjoying HIS first Christmas and we're keen to make full fuss of that, but alongside he has allowed us to experience a parents real first Christmas, the one that isn't at the graveside, and that place, our parents first Christmas, was rightfully his sisters to share with us. 

This year I'm may be over-compensating; buying so much for him, because I can buy for only him. Spoiling him because I can never spoil Belle. Having a first Christmas to remember, one like we should've had with her. Alexander will be given the fullest first Christmas we can possibly create for him. 

There is no half-heartedness here. He is being doubly spoilt. Enough for him and his sister. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Feeding Guilt

This might turn into a bit of a jumbled up rant! It might also be quite epic. 

When my milk came in 3 days after Anabelle was born I was distraught. I knew it was going to come but when it arrived; and milk flooded my chest and soaked through my clothes, I was inconsolable. My body, nature had let my daughter die, but blimey it could still provide the food even though she was dead  Nature was cruel. 

I had planned to give breastfeeding a go. I wasn't particularly passionate about it (I'm still not), I knew it would likely take perseverance, but my general attitude was that of 'if it works, it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't'. Whilst expecting Alexander my attitude remained pretty much the same; I wanted to give it ago, maybe more so than I had with Anabelle because I didn't want to be in the situation again where I had milk and no feeding. But I still wasn't passionate about it. 

In my heart of hearts I believe there are FAR more important things than how a baby is fed; like it being alive in the first place for example. So why since having Alexander have I let this feeding malarky bother me so much?

I care very little for breast milk vs. formula debates. I hate the 'Breast is Best' campaign. Yes we all know it is true, and in an ideal world we would all breast feed our babies but you know what; formula isn't poison. So why has this campaign been allowed spring up groups of people who preach to the point of formula being abuse? And as far as I can see all the campaign has served to achieve among the formula feeding community is guilt. Guilt that they have somehow damaged their babies; sentenced them to poor health, poor IQ, just sub-standard members of the community. How exactly is that helpful to new mother's? 

How many new Mums have gone on to persevere with breast-feeding to the detriment of their happiness? Wasting the precious newborn days being miserable? 

And for the record I was formula-fed; I have managed just fine, I have a degree, a  career and not lacking IQ, my health is on the whole good. I'm not obese, I don't have allergies or reaccuring infections... As far as I can tell no one cares how I was fed as a baby, because it makes NO difference whatsoever.  Surprise surprise; I'm well adjusted despite the formula, and it is not, for example, a job application question I've ever been asked...  So I ask, what is the big deal about this today? Is anyone going to care when our children are our age? 

Anyway  excuse my ranty tangent. 

But with all that behind us, I was truly amazed by my emotional reaction when I thought we were not going to be able to breast-feed.  I was so determined I was going to enjoy Alexander's newborn days, I was going to try but I was not going to let breast-feeding become the be-all-and-end-all. A happy family was more important. 

So when we struggled in the beginning, you would've expected me to go onto formula and that be that. But no, I reacted in a way unbeknown to myself and cried about it the night we came home. After an hour of trying to get Xander to latch on, him screaming, me weeping; Jon insisted this was no good for any of us and gave him a bottle of formula. Of course Jon was right. 

But I felt like I'd failed my baby. 

How dare society have ingrained in me that formula = failure. How very dare they. I'm furious that in my hormonal new mother state I've been sucked in to this ridiculous guilt. And it is ridiculous, but its there all the same. And that is why I hate the 'Breast is Best' campaign, however well intentioned the original idea was; the implication from them is I had fed my child second rate crap. 

Urgh. So I cried. 

Then in the morning I tried again.  This time I tried with shields. My sons suckle was under-developed, he was struggling, I was struggling.  But the shields were like a miracle, there was no fuss, no tears. One happy feed under our belt.   We turned a corner, my confidence grew a little bit. 

But no, the health professionals were not happy with my decision to introduce shields. 5 days post-emergency-c-section, exhausted, trying my best and in a lot of pain, I was told the shields were detrimental to his well-being and would hamper his development and growth. Cue confidence shattered. I was referred urgently to the breast-feeding specialist.  Sheilds, apparently cause slow growth, 25% less milk etc etc.

Great. So as well as being ingrained that formula is poison and trying my very best to keep going with the breast, now my efforts to keep going were also wrong.  I felt guilty, again. 

After two visits to the specialist I decided not to go again. Trying to take Alexander off the shields was for many attempts stressful. A good attempt would be followed by a disastrous attempt. He would get upset, I would get upset. Why was I allowing meal-times to become so traumatic and have me dread them on the say so of someone else?  I didn't want to dread feeding my baby.

I didn't have the energy or confidence to remove them after the awful first week without them. I still don't. We have stuck with the shields, because that is what is working for us and up until now his weight gain has been just fine. 

Monday he had dropped below a percentile line; middle 50th to middle 25th. Cue me feeling the guilt again.

Although may I also add the last ten days my normally content baby has generally not been himself, crying and has been sick a lot. I went to the health visitor with my concerns first but wish I hadn't. The GP on the other hand listened, has diagnosed reflux and now we've introduced gaviscon.

The slow weight gain may not be anything to do with the shields just yet, and more to do with my poor boys reflux. But you can imagine where my mind went, especially when the entirely unhelpful blunt health visitor tells me he is either not getting enough milk or not keeping enough down.   

Is make the mother feel like crap part of their training?  Thank goodness for our lovely realistic GP seeing the bigger picture. 

We'll see how he goes a little while longer yet, I'll be listening to the GP before the health visitor from now on. But please tell me; when did a pound weight gain in a month become an issue? He is a lovely size for his age. You would have thought he lost weight, not gained with her tone. 

Our breast-feeding journey so far has at times been rocky. But I have stuck with it when I would never have expected myself too, which goes to show the influence of these campaigns, and the unnecessary but very real guilt inflicted on new Mother's.

I'll even admit I've stuck with it at times when a bit of me hasn't wanted too; on a bad day I feel a bit smothered and claustrophobic and glad when a feed ends. I could hold him all day and not feel like this, but there is something about him being attached that sometimes creates the other feelings, especially when some feeds take an hour or more. 

I don't enjoy breast-feeding like I thought I might (or should?). I like it a lot of the time, just me and my boy, but other times I really don't. I don't like the number of meals I eat cold or on my own because he happens to want feeding while everyone else is sat at the table. I don't like feeding in public; I do it, but I feel uncomfortable. No-one has made me feel that way, I just can't get used to it, I'd rather take a bottle of expressed with me. I find expressing a real chore; but when he was 3 weeks old, when I almost lost the plot I had to introduce one expressed bottle a day for my own sanity and space. 

It is a big deal to me to admit all these things. Especially when I'm so grateful for him and shouldn't feel any negativity. I've discovered this is one area my grief for Anabelle and knowing how lucky we are to have Alexander doesn't negate the parenting frustrations. 

I've stuck with it, but who exactly have I been trying to prove myself to? Myself? Medicals? Family and Friends? The breast-feeding militants? Why do I feel under so much pressure to keep feeding to at least 6 months? 

I've been surprised by my reaction to the thought of formula, how every time I think of making up a bottle I feel guilty.  I'd made a plan of exclusively feeding him until he was 3 months old and then, as expressing enough for one bottle a day was already becoming a battle, we were going to introduce formula for one bottle and see how we went from there. I thought having a plan to stick too would stop the ridiculous formula guilt I've had foisted on me, but apparently not. 

My supply seems to be changing, dwindling, I can't express as much as I used too. Depending on the next couple of weigh in's and taking all factors into account we may be mix-feeding soon. I don't want to be counselled on this, I don't want to be pressured 'encouraged' to keep feeding exclusively. I want it just accepted that will be the best decision for ME as well as Xander, and not the implied tone to be I've failed if we haven't exclusively breast-fed for 6 months then continued to 12 months or beyond. 

I just wish I felt empowered to not feel guilty about that. My rational head absolutely knows it won't do him any harm to move onto formula  and still have some boob.  I know it also won't do him harm to be just on formula. As my GP said; formula fed babies thrive too. 

Why, if there is a change soon, can I not just be proud we got to two months. Isn't that an achievement too? When did it become acceptable to make Mother's feel like failures?  When did baby feeding become a competition? Because sometimes that is the impression I get.

For another excellent blog on this topic go and read MmeLindor's take on the issue. Guilt Free Breastfeeding
Thursday, 8 December 2011

Signing Cards

It is decided; this year we will be sending Christmas cards again. 

Last year, in my effort to cancel Christmas as much as I possibly could, cards were off the menu. I had no goodwill to wish others a Happy Christmas and no energy to torture myself writing 100+ cards from just myself and Jon when our daughters name was so glaringly absent. It didn't feel right, the greeting from our family wasn't complete. It didn't feel right receiving them either; so instead of reaching the mantel, the cards heaped in a pile on the side, and swiftly to the recycle bin on Boxing day. 

Cards of all description is something we've struggled with. I know it is not socially acceptable to write dead people's names in cards, and so until now I haven't included Anabelle's name (apart from in some very close family cards).  But each birthday card written has briefly pained me and with the whole Christmas expectations looming again so has the absolute dread of sitting there writing card after card after card highlighting the incompleteness of my family. 

So something had to change, I simply can't go around in these circles year after year. Writing her name on doesn't feel quite comfortable to us, but neither does not writing her name on and so this year we've found our solution. 

Anabelle's angel; the one engraved on her headstone, and the one her Daddy wears above his heart, has been turned into a stamp. Anabelle is going to have her place in our family greeting, not just for Christmas cards but all cards. Finally after almost 18 months I'm finding my peace with card writing and sending again, because I've found the way that feels right to me to include my baby. 

So if you are due to receive a card from us any time soon, from now on they will be signed like this; from all of us, as a family. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Smile!

As if on cue from post earlier today; we captured it!
A bright beaming beautiful Xander smile! 

His First's

Tell me what is 'wrong' with the following photograph...

Four generations of Villars 

It is a photo of my Grandma, Dad, myself and Alexander. My Dad is my Grandparents eldest child, I'm my parents eldest child, Alexander however is not my eldest child.  What is wrong with this photograph, as lovely as it is, is its in theory the 'wrong' baby.  Alexander didn't make us four generations of Villars; Anabelle did. 

As in many things since he arrived, Alexander has taken the place of his sister and we've shared 'firsts' with him that should never have been rightfully his. Such as this photograph. 

Its a painfully conflicted place to be in. He has bought us such immeasurable joy; but he hasn't dampened the sadness that lives alongside him. Every now and again missing what should've been with Anabelle gets all too much.  

Yesterday evening I was particularly teary, probably because we'd spent time decorating her garden for Christmas. Jon told me not to be sad, but once again the forever reality hit hard; for Christmas we decorate our child's grave. Despite how wonderful each Christmas will be with Alexander that reality remains.  

We enjoy all Alexander's firsts; there are so many that belong soley to him, the most special so far being his smile. Ten days on since that first smile and each and every time it still melts us. He is so beautiful. Now all we have to do is capture the biggest brightest smile on the camera to share; a surprisingly difficult feat! 

His first's acutely remind us that Anabelle never opened her eyes, looked at us, smiled at us, cooed at us. Anabelle never recognised us like her brother does. I suppose in essence we are grieving and re-grieving for all the things we lost with Anabelle as we journey along with Alexander. 

I sometimes feel so guilty for enjoying him so much when I miss and hurt for her so much.  And then I feel angry; angry that this precious time can be so easily tainted by our forever grief and that I feel guilty at all. It should've been better. Somehow we should've had them both   Both of our babies deserved a much better deal.

Anabelle should've lived; Alexander should've got to live without our sadness. 
Sunday, 4 December 2011

Happy Christmas Belle

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Fourth Trimester

This post is a little overdue; the weeks are passing me by at a galloping speed. My original plan was to update with a photo monthly of our little man; as it was I wrote the post (One Month) but neglected to add the photo!  So anyway, here it is. Isn't he handsome?!
Alexander - 1 Month 

Today Alexander is 7 weeks old but it already feels like he's been here for so much longer than that.  Our little boy, who in many respects is only here because his sister is not. So much of this life without her hurts but I cannot dare to imagine a life where Xander didn't exist now.  It is something that troubles me; if Anabelle had survived there would've been no planned pregnancy anytime within the months or indeed years afterwards. 

But she wasn't here and we decided to make 2011 our year for trying again.  Trying again didn't mean we replaced her; it just meant we were adding to our family quicker than we would've planned. Plans changed. 

Still it troubles me; now to wish Anabelle back would be to wish her brother away, and vice versa. 

Currently Alexander is curled up on me and I'm slowly typing one handed.   We are having another "only my Mummy will do" days.  I think there is much to be said for the so called "4th trimester" of a pregnancy; the first 12 weeks or so of baby's life, the adjustment period for us both as he gets used  to life on the outside.  

Alexander certainly likes to be close, some days, like today, he would let me hold him all day if it were possible to do so. And why wouldn't he like to be close? For 8 months he wasn't separated from me for even a moment. Of course he needs to still be close while he adjusts to life on the outside, for me that is absolutely ok. Today there is a reason he needs a lot of me, even if I can't always figure out what it is; he knows and it is my job to listen and respond. 

For a little while I stressed about all the things we should be doing. Until I realised there was no should be doing about it. 

I've quit listening to the 'rod for own back' brigade, and the 'you are spoiling him' chorus, I've put the parenting guru books away because my boy needs what HE needs, not what Gina and Tracey (among others) think and advise he should be doing.  These books of course have their place, some useful tips that we might try and might work for us along the way, but for now they are too rigid for my family. They may always be too rigid for my family, who knows. 

We are doing what is working for US for now and what is working for now is lots of cuddles, being rocked to sleep, a dummy, some co-sleeping, feeding with shields and one expressed bottle of milk a day.  Alexander has developed his own loose routine but neither of us are ready for a strict one. We are all ok with the flexibility for now. Alexander is pretty good at going with the flow. 

Yes I've broken many of the parenting rules I made myself before I had a baby at home. 

In my pre-parent days I naively decided my child was always going to sleep in their own bed, they were never going to have a dummy, they were going to have a routine very early on, they were not going to be 'spoilt'.  But now Alexander is here, we are finally the here on earth parents we dreamt of being all of that has gone out of the window. The reality is different and above all I now firmly believe it impossible to spoil a newborn. 

Everything we do with Xander and what he needs us to do for him, simply reassures him he is safe and loved, and most of all that he can trust and rely on us, always.  

Besides I've waited a long time for these precious newborn days; why would I not want to hold him close as much as I can. We are half way through our 4th trimester and we need to be close to eachother.  I'm going to enjoy everything about him, about being his Mummy as much as I can because it won't always be like this. One day he won't want to be cuddled all day. One day there will be a change. 

But things will only change as Alexander tells us he needs them to change and that he is ready for them to change. Our parenting rules are coming directly from him and not a book. 
Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Monday Friday

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wesnesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day,
is bonny and blithe, and good and gay. 

Monday's child: Anabelle, Friday's child: Alexander 

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Return of Christmas

It is only November; but Christmas has started.

This time last year I was already despairing of the festive season. The in your face commercialism, decorations and Christmas music wherever we went. Last year I couldn't cope with any of the jolliness; there was nothing to celebrate, we wanted to cancel Christmas and I blogged extensively through December about our pain.  Anabelle wasn't here to enjoy her first Christmas.

Much is different this year; a whole lot is still the same.

This year I don't want to cancel Christmas.  This year it feels like we can join in again; like we must join in again. Despite the same pain surrounding Christmas as last year there is also new joy, excitement. This year it is Alexander's first Christmas and that is important. Important that we do for him that we would've done for his sister, had it all been so different; celebrate.

This weekend Alexander got his first taste of Christmas. "Fake Christmas" - our long running uni tradition of sharing Christmas dinner, party and presents with friends. Last year we didn't go, couldn't go. We missed it because we missed Anabelle, immersed in a world so bleak there was no joy to be found for Christmas. We couldn't cancel real Christmas but fake Christmas was so much more easily avoided.

This year we've rediscovered Christmas, rejoined fake Christmas and Alexander has already been thoroughly spoilt.

We're not missing Anabelle any less this Christmas, it doesn't hurt any less that she isn't here for her second Christmas, the ever familiar ache is there. It is still the same, much is still the same.

The biggie being I still want to avoid Christmas cards, especially the writing of them. Still the thought of writing (and indeed receiving) so many cards without her name on them is more than I can bear, somehow I have to find a way to reconcile myself to this, maybe this year we should send cards. But so far I've successfully managed to put off buying them...

It will be a mixed up Christmas finding our way to include both of our children. Finding out what Christmas will mean this year for our family. Meeting our own emotional needs and recognising what our hearts need to do to feel peace in our Christmas celebrations as both angel and here on earth parents.

To feel we do enough for both of our babies.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Beauty and the Beast

I thought my crying in the supermarket days were behind me; I thought I always knew what to expect there. I thought I'd learnt for the most part to steel myself (on the outside at least) around the pink and girly things. 

Then today this bit me on the bum; 

I don't know whether it was seeing my baby girls name when I didn't expect to, or the moment where I imagined the world where she was here and I could've made a big deal of buying her really special pyjamas with her name on. A moment in my head when I imagined they would be her favourite pyjamas. 

Of course the moment led to a lump, and the lump led to my eyes brimming. My Beautiful Belle can't have a favourite anything.

When did Beauty and the Beast make such a comeback anyway? After all it was a classic Disney from my childhood, probably getting on for twenty years or more since it was originally released...


Monday, 21 November 2011

Too Many

Too many babies are dying. 

In just the last three weeks,  on what I will call my 'pink pages' (a private forum with 181 registered users and around 100 or so of them regular posters), three ladies have posted to tell us about babies they know that have died.  Two of the babies born sleeping, the other losing their fight in the neo-natal unit. 

Three babies in three weeks.

They are not the first babies to have been bought to the 'pink pages' attention. Since I've been a member (and I joined in July 2010 just after Anabelle died) there have been other babies too. As an aside, three ladies, including myself are also bereaved mother's. 

In such a small online community how can so many of us have had experience, directly or undirectly, with baby death? 

Are babies dying more frequently?  or is the silence and taboo starting to break down? 

I'll be honest, the news of the third baby really affected me. It put me right back there, those early days of our grief. Being on that scan table being told that my beautiful Anabelle was dead. I've relived her funeral, the rawness, the blinded denial of hope not wanting to believe it could possibly be true. The realisation as soon as she was born the Dr's hadn't got it wrong; we really were going to live forever without her.  

This little baby, born sleeping on Saturday morning, has had me choked to tears. For him and his family and for my own. I miss Anabelle so much my entire self aches. 

The statistics haven't changed.

17 babies continue to be born sleeping or die neonatally every single day in this country. 17 families every single day are devastated in the truest sense of that word. 119 every week, 6500 every year.  1 in 4 of all deaths are unexplained. Anabelle's death is one of those.  

Many more babies don't even become part of the awful statistics because they are born sleeping before 24 weeks of pregnancy.  Baby death is a much bigger and widespread issue than most people would care to realise. 

In May I wrote about the publication of the Lancet report. I wrote that every single baby's existence counted. (Read Just and The UK verses Finland) Why isn't more being done to bring these awful statistics down? Why do our babies deaths matter so little to the majority? Why does the UK think it is acceptable to be one of the worst for baby death in a rich western nation? 

Stillbirth and neonatal death rates have remained unchanged for over a decade. As I said in a previous post; surely in a country where our cot-death rates have been reduced by 70% since the 'Back to Sleep' campaign of the 1980s and beyond, the same could and should be done to reduce our stillbirth and neonatal death rates. 

Its high time these babies lives were also a priority.   

Remembering Florence, Tess and Noel. Remembering my Anabelle. 
Thursday, 17 November 2011

For Anabelle, For Alexander

For Anabelle: 

The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes,
but it never fails to bring music to my ears.

If you really are my friend, let me hear the beautiful music of her name.
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.

Author Unknown

For Alexander: 

Reach out your hands.
We will not let you fall.

Give us your love and trust.
We will not betray you.

Teach us once again the joy of living.

Pam Brown
Tuesday, 15 November 2011

One Month

One month has passed, he is changing already, growing already. 

Our small boy is transforming from a sleepy newborn into a bright and alert infant, so often ready to take everything around him in. At one month old Alexander is now growing quickly out of newborn clothes and starting to wear his wardrobe of 0-3 months. He goes 3-4 hours between his feeds and in-between he enjoys time in a bouncy chair or a playtime on the floor. He enjoys being sung to and his favourite thing of all is cuddles. Alexander is finding his voice and making new happy sounds and he is already so strong; holding his head up to look around, pushing up with legs and throwing himself around in arms until he's exactly where he wants to be. 

Eager. Content. Happy.  Just an absolute pleasure to be around. 

Our lives have been turned upside down for all the right reasons this time. The world revolves around him right now and not because we're consumed by an unthinkable grief. This is how it should be; should've been for Anabelle; not the one month that included choosing funeral flowers, hymns and a eulogy. 

I can barely comprehend how we survived it. 

We're finding our way at being angel and 'here on earth' parents; finding our way in our mixed up world of  overwhelming grief vs. overwhelming joy. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Wrong Alternative

I've had a bad dream. 

A dream where my life is the same but different. An alternative life; but not any better, not one I would choose. 

Between 3.45am when I settled Alexander back to sleep and 5.45am this morning when he woke up for his next feed; Anabelle was alive.   Anabelle was alive, but Alexander was dead. 

For some reason they were there together, but still exactly as I know them both. Anabelle was still her 4lb 5oz tiny self, and Alexander was still as he is right now.

Anabelle was the one in my arms, with her eyes open taking the world in, the one making cooing sounds and Alexander was in his moses basket being wrapped and covered in blankets ready to be taken away from me. Silent and still.

 For reasons I cannot fathom in real life; I couldn't put Anabelle down to hold or look after him, I wasn't being the Mummy to him I should be. I was asking other people to pick him up and wrap a blanket around him. I'm not even sure who the other people were. 

My identical babies were in the opposite places. They were them but not quite looking like themselves. Something wasn't quite right about either of them. Something felt uncomfortable. 

And then I woke up. But at least it was to the sound of Alexander's voice. 

I knew it was a dream but I woke up quite tearful. Even if it is 'only a dream' I've seen my son dead. The night time has decided to show me my worst fears and give me something I long for all at the same time. Long for; but not like that, not exchanging my one baby for the other.  

The only alternative life I want to dream about is the impossible one where I have them both. The one that can never come true. 

You see I've had many crazy moments since Alexander has been born; or really just ongoing crazy moments from when he was inside. The poking and prodding hasn't stopped. I've lost count of the number of times I've given him a little shake to make him move when he's been in his stillest of sleeps, or the number of times I've put my face close to his to feel him breathing or removed blankets to see his chest rise and fall.   

My absolute number one fear right now is SIDS. We've moved on from the fear of him being born asleep of course, now I've perceived his biggest risk as cot death and I'm terrified it might actually happen.

I know in reality all parents have a life of worry for their children, but is this how his life is going to be indefinitely? Me moving on from being frightened of one scenario of death to the next? Because for me is always about death. 

I think I'm going to feel out of sorts today. 
Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Our Newborn Boy

Today is my beautiful boys due date. 

But instead of me being sat here enormous (and blimey I and Xander really would've been enormous by now if he was still cooking!!), impatiently waiting his arrival he has been in our arms for 3 weeks and 4 days already!  

3 weeks and 4 days old and perfect. 

Of course we always knew he was going to be early. If we're honest the 8th November had meant very little to us through our pregnancy, apart from it being the official date quoted all over my notes for his 'due' arrival.  

Today the date seems very important, a special day for Alexander. 

Today we are really going to celebrate; on his "happy due date" day we're going to open the champagne we had wanted to drink straight after delivery, only I was too poorly after the labour and c-section for us to concentrate on champagne. Now I'm well, Alexander is all settled in and we've reached this significant date we're going to drink bubbles to mark the wonderful 3 weeks and 4 days we've had with him already.

To mark his safe and screaming arrival into our world. To mark that our baby boy came home. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Visiting Anabelle

Yesterday we took Alexander to Anabelle's garden for the first time. 

It was an important moment; introducing him to his sisters little place in the world, the first of many visits he'll make there during his lifetime.  He also visited his Great-Grandad for the first time and watched the sparklers we lit to remember him on his birthday. This year we managed our bonfire night visit without getting ourselves locked into the cemetery! 

While I was pregnant with him I stood over Anabelle's grave and was often so frightened that the ground would have to be reopened for him to sleep next to her. I could visualise it even; as if the ground was open while I was there and seeing tiny coffins side by side. 

If I'm honest the fear hasn't gone away.  Fear that he'll be taken away from me too is still often at the forefront of my mind.

Yesterday, stood by Anabelle's side, I held Alexander tighter than I've ever held him so far. Wrapping my baby boy up with as much love as I could muster. Trying to keep him safely away from the reality of my fears.  

Moments before Jon had taken this photograph and asked me to smile. It was a strange moment. I smiled, then cried. Holding my one child and aching to hold my other. The closest I'll ever get to a photograph with both of them, the only place where we can remotely be altogether 'complete' as our family. 

Remembering Grandad Villars; 5th November 1926 - 5th November 2007

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


"Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven. 
Would it be the same, if I saw you in heaven."

Today I'm thinking out-loud. Probably not making much sense. 

So many questions, not enough answers. Never enough answers. 

I keep looking at my beautiful son; currently the image of his sister and wondering. Wondering how he will change. Wondering how quickly he'll stop looking so much like Anabelle. Wondering how close his changing looks as he grows might have been how his sister would have grown too; albeit of course with a more feminine flare. How much would my children have continued to look alike. 

He's already changing. Growing already.  

At two weeks and five days old Alexander is already becoming more aware of his world; this wonderful little person that already doesn't want to sleep quite so much, that wants an hours playtime on the floor in the afternoon. Alexander constantly reminds me that each moment on these tiny newborn times is precious and to soak it all in; blink and I'd miss it. As if I needed much more reminding. 

I miss Anabelle. I miss all the times I should've been able to enjoy with her. I miss being her Mummy like I'm getting to be for Alexander, I miss watching Jon dote on her like he dotes on our boy. I miss all the cuddles that were taken away, I miss her smell, her tiny hands, fingers and toes. I miss the dreams I had for her. I miss all the things I should've seen; seeing her change and grow. 

So what do you believe about heaven? 

I'm wondering how people change in heaven. Do people 'age'? Not in the earthly sense of course as we know it, but will tiny babies and children in heaven always be that way? Will Anabelle still be the tiny newborn I had to let go? Will she be different? Is she the 16 month old tot she should be up there? Will she be all grown by the time I get there? Will I even recognise her? 

16 months. How did it ever get to be that long already? 

"Beyond the door, there's peace I'm sure.
 And I know there'll be no more... tears in heaven." 

Eric Clapton

Friday, 28 October 2011

Being Earth Parents

Well it is next to impossible to keep up with my blog at the moment!  I'm snatching a few minutes now before Alexander's next feed; at the moment he is asleep on his Daddy.   

I can't believe our little boy is already two weeks old. Where has that time gone? 

There is so much we've learnt every day; about him, about us, about how life should've been with Anabelle. We've experienced how two weeks after birth should be, the gorgeous baby taking over the house, not their funeral to plan and live through. We're celebrating him.  Re-grieving these precious moments that were taken away from us with his sister. 

Our days at the moment seem to blur from one into another. At least once a day one of us will ask what day it is today, but there isn't a moment we would change. We're enjoying immersing ourselves into Alexander's world; doting on him, smitten, making sure he is learning how loved and precious he is. Being 'here on earth' parents. I don't think its truly sunk in yet that he came home. 

He is just so beautiful and content and wonderful; we're mesmerized daily and cannot believe this gorgeous little boy actually belongs to us. 

Wide eyed and starting to discover his world! 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Xander's Birth Story

As everyone knows our birth story starts with a planned induction. After 36 weeks of pregnancy we’d reached the end of our sanity rope. Growing Alexander had been wonderful, but also very stressful and emotionally draining; 8 months of holding our breath waiting for the worst to happen but hoping, praying, for the best.

Our induction was in for the long ride again; although not as long as Anabelle!  Alexander only made us wait 3 days instead of 5!  It’s going to be a long read.

Tuesday 11th October

I arrived at the hospital and given an hour to settle in before being examined and starting the induction. Despite being 1cm dilated my cervix was still very unfavourable and quite far back.  I will admit I was a little disappointed after all the pre-labour symptoms I’d been having for weeks.  So they started the induction and I sat around waiting for things to happen.

In the meantime the baby-doctors from special baby care came to see me to have a chat about any potential problems that Xander might experience because he was being delivered 4 weeks prematurely.  I wanted to be fully informed of what to expect if he needed a little stay with SCBU and what the ‘usual’ problems they usually encountered with a 36 week baby. They assured me that they weren’t expecting him to need their help at all and that if he had any premmie issues they would probably be minor but that they would be present at his birth as a precaution.

About 12 hours later I started having quite nasty period pains and all the usual Braxton Hicks contractions but nothing that hadn’t already been happening for weeks previous.  I took some painkillers before going to bed and by 2am I was feeling fine again and got a good few hours sleep.

Wednesday 12th October

I woke up about 8am with nasty period pains again. I was examined again and was gutted to be told that there had been no change since yesterday morning; still only 1cm dilated and still far back.  I was given the next pessary and sat around waiting again.

Around 1pm I started having really bad pains that by 2pm had turned into contractions.  It appeared I was going into labour.  By 4pm the contractions were coming thick and fast and I didn’t know what to do with myself. This quickly turned into contractions overlapping each other; one was starting before the previous one had finished. Agony.

The midwife gave me some pethadine to try and ease the pain; it made me woozy which surprisingly helped me cope quite a lot!  I’d reacted badly to the pessary and my body was hyper-stimulating and almost going into labour too quickly.  

The doctors explained that this was dangerous for Alexander because neither of us were getting a rest in between contractions and potentially could cause a placental abruption.

I was taken to delivery suite, not to have my baby but to have some 1:1 care and be given a drug to stop the contractions and stop the induction.  

As relieved as I was to get rid of the intense pain I was really disappointed that things had started only to have to be stopped again. The consultant said she didn’t want to give me another pessary and that she would examine me in the morning to try and break my waters, or failing that make a plan.

After a few hours recovering and being observed down in delivery suite I was taken back upstairs to the wards to have some sleep.   I didn’t have any more pain other than period pains all nights and by morning was feeling really despondent.

Thursday 13th October

Consultant came to examine me at 8.45am and I fully expected her to tell me there had been no change again.  However, I was very pleased when she said I was 2cm dilated now and although it would be ‘tricky’ but she reckoned she’d be able to break my waters and then after a few hours put me on a drip to really get my contractions going again but in a more controlled way. Cue me being moved very quickly downstairs to delivery suite again. I phoned Jon at 9.00 after the examination, who was already in work, to come in.  He works in Cardiff which is about an hour away from the hospital.  (Driving within the speed limit anyway!)

When I was induced with Belle it was breaking my waters that really got things going, and she arrived 5 hours later, so I was fully expecting the same or similar to happen again.

I thought they would wait until Jon got there, but at 9.30am the consultant broke my waters while I was on my own. As last time I had contractions more or less straight away, still on my own and feeling a bit panicky that Jon wasn’t there holding my hand.  By the time Jon arrived I had started on the gas and air and got into a lovely warm bath to help. 

Unlike my last labour; although the contractions had started they weren’t as intense as soon as my waters were broken this time. At this point they were averaging 5-6 minutes apart so we were encouraged to go for a walk before I was put on the drip at 11:30am.

So we went for a walk and on our return at 11:30am I was told I was now 4cm dilated. Things were moving in the right direction! I was put on the drip which really geared things up; the pain suddenly got far more intense, contractions far more regular and I was grabbing at the gas and air!  At this point I think I was coping really well.

At around 1:30pm I was examined again and was now 6cm dilated. All the while the drip was increased at regular intervals to keep encouraging the contractions along. I remember things getting a lot more painful from here on in as the drip was turned up.  Around 3pm I had a pethadine injection which did very little at all and when I was examined again at 4:30pm and told I was still only 6cm dilated I had a big not-coping wobble and asked for an epidural.

We were now 7 hours into labour. I know each labour is different, but after delivering Anabelle in 5 hours and always being told subsequent labours were ‘easier and quicker’ I was feeling very emotional and desperate to have Alexander out soon by this point.

The epidural was a feat and a half. It appears I have a difficult spine to work with.

The anaesthetist arrived and spent 10 or so minutes going through all the risks with me and saying he couldn’t start until he was sure I understood. Now I know this is protocol but I was in full blown labour, having contractions every 2 minutes and really not in a fit state to be listening to him; and all the while wishing he would just get on with it to give me a break from the pain.

Anyway, he had two unsuccessful attempts at positioning the epidural and called for his senior colleague to have go.

Senior colleague has a go and manages to position the epidural but not at brilliantly has he would have hoped. He explains he is unsure how effective it was going to be.  It actually was very effective; but only for short bursts.   For an hour or so I was feeling so much better; still aware of the contractions, but they were now almost painless. For a little while I felt much more able to cope again and re-acquired the calm environment I wanted for my sons birth. 

Unfortunately it wasn’t to last. The epidural wore off as quickly as it had worked. It seemed it was either all or nothing. Over the coming hours it was topped up twice, until at 9.30pm I was examined again and told I was fully dilated and would be ready to push any minute.  They were reluctant to top up the epidural again because they wanted me to be able to feel when I needed to push to avoid an instrumental delivery.

So I started pushing. And pushing. And pushing. For over 2 hours. Alexander wasn’t coming and I was exhausted.

Midnight and Friday 14th October arrived and I was reaching the end of anything I could cope with anymore.  I think I actually reached emotional meltdown levels, to the point where I was begging them to help me.  And help they did, but only after Jon forcefully putting his foot down, saying enough was enough and that I was finished and beyond exhausted and it was time to get our baby out before my distress became his distress too.

I don’t understand why they were initially reluctant to intervene but after another examination which showed Xander hadn’t actually moved any further down into my pelvis despite all my pushing efforts the Doctor agreed that they would be unable to perform an instrumental delivery and arranged an emergency c-section.

Because of the ineffective epidural I had to have more needles in my back to give me a spinal block and off we went to theatre. I was feeling frightened of the surgery but relieved all in one go and I couldn’t believe how many people were in the room!

And then there he was: Alexander Jon Morgan came SCREAMING into the world at 00:45 on Friday 14th October 2011. Weighing a very healthy 8lb 13oz and 57cm long! (Whopping for 36 weeks!) 

It really was the most beautiful sound we’d ever heard and I instantly started sobbing,  before I’d even seen him, completely relieved because he was alive.   The midwife showed him to us and then he was taken to side room for the paediatrician to check him over with Jon.  They let Jon trim the cord and then Xander had cuddles with his Daddy for 20 minutes while I was being stitched back up.  

As soon as I was in the recovery room we had lovely skin-to-skin cuddles and we took every bit of him in. Amazed by the amount of hair he has and just how much he looks like his big sister.
Labour recorded at 15 hours and 15 minutes.

It wasn’t the birth I was expecting; after Anabelle I really did think I would be able to push Alexander out too. But it really doesn't matter to me that he ended up being a 'sunroof' baby - he's here in my arms and that is the only thing that ever really mattered.  The de-brief about the c-section with consultant told me that his position wasn’t great and that is why despite me pushing with all my might he wasn’t moving. She also thinks he was possibly too big for me.  I dread to think how heavy he would’ve been by 40 weeks!!

Since his birthday...

Me - I must be honest; I don’t think I’ve ever felt as poorly as I did in the 4 days after his birth.  The trauma of Wednesday and Thursday, a full labour and over 2 hours pushing plus a big operation completely took its toll.  I seemed to be recovering very slowly compared to other women on the ward who had had sections as well. 

I became very anaemic and it has only really been parts of yesterday and today now the iron tablets are kicking in that I’ve started to feel normal in myself again. Obviously I’m still very sore from the operation but that is to be expected and coping well now when the painkillers are working!  

It was hugely frustrating not being able to get to Xander when he needed me in hospital as I was bed bound until the Saturday morning; and even when I was able to get out of bed the amount of pain I was in moving around and feeling so faint all the time made caring for him very difficult.  Feeling so much better now are home and Jon is looking after us both.

Alexander -  has had some of the minor premmie problems the baby-doctors had discussed with me on Tuesday. My poor little man struggled with maintaining his temperature, blood sugars and is being slow to take to feeding due to a bit of an under-developed suckle. The paediatricians prescribed him formula top-ups while we were in hospital because he just wasn’t taking any milk down. Now we are home we are trying our very best to get to grips with breast-feeding. 

Xander also has jaundice and had to spend 18 hours under the UV phototherapy lamps. (Midwives still keeping an eye on this now we’re home as he is still a little bit on the yellow side.) Of course he wasn’t very impressed because it meant he was having very little contact with us as he was only allowed to come out for feeds and nappy changes. It was horrible for Jon and me too. 

All in all Alexander has been a very brave boy though; his little heels are covered in puncture marks from all the blood tests he has had to have in his first week of life.   He now weighs 8lb 4oz at his last weigh in on Wednesday so we’re really hoping we can get feeding established now to get him on the up again.

We came home on the 18th October and walking out of hospital with him really was one of the best moments of our entire lives. A total wow moment of ‘yes we’re bringing our baby home this time’

Jon and I are just completely smitten by him. I love watching Jon with his baby boy; he is just so proud and full of love!  Makes me all gooey seeing my two boys together and Alexander is blissfully unaware how precious he is to us both.

Yes we’re completely shattered, of course this beautiful newborn time is stirring up lots of painful emotions and missing Anabelle on a whole new level, yes we’re already getting fairly sleep deprived and have lost all ability to manage our time; but there isn’t a single thing we would change about finally being a ‘here on earth’ Mummy and Daddy.

Our dreams for Xander came true and we’re loving every minute. 

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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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Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

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