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.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Anabelle's Story

A few weeks ago a lady on Sands announced she was publishing a book about the life of baby loss and looked for volunteers to contribute. As Anabelle's story had already been written in bits over on my blog I thought it would be "easy" to piece her story together from the beginning into a chapter for a book. I was wrong; the exercise was incredibly draining, even with the help of my already written words over here.  Today I finished Anabelle's story; from the beginning to now. Its been emailed off ready to be printed into the book and hopefully before long it will be available for sale on Amazon, and the profits to be donated to Sands. 

Today I'm going to publish our chapter here. Much of it you'll have read before, but this will be the first time Anabelle's story will have been told in whole. After Anabelle is our ongoing story, but this is the little life that started it. 

When Jon and I got married on 1st August 2009 we were on top of the world; the day was magical and everything we’d dreamed. We started our married lives full of hopes and anticipation of beautiful things to come our way.
Long before we were married we knew having children was part of our plan. We wanted to be a Mummy and Daddy and enjoy being a family. I had been insanely broody for some time so after we returned from our honeymoon we decided the time was right to start trying for a baby and to begin our family.  We were fortunate to catch quickly, and after 3 cycles I had that beautiful BFP test (or for those who don’t speak internet – Big Fat Positive).
So that was the 2nd December 2009. We were over the moon. 6am and I was bouncing; Jon had the wake up call of his life as I couldn’t contain my excitement, screaming that he was going to be a Daddy.
Even at that moment, as soon as saw the word pregnant appear in the test window, Anabelle became our baby. A rush of love for the tiny little baby that was already growing inside me, the baby that was going to turn us from a newlywed couple into a family – everything we wanted and the perfect Christmas present. We had an amazing end to what had been an amazing year. Things felt like they couldn’t get any better for us.
So we got used to being pregnant and loved the feeling of a growing baby inside me. I felt tired and rough constantly and battling sickness like I’d never imagined. I quickly discovered “morning” sickness was a myth as I constantly threw up morning, noon and night. Even waking up in the middle of the night and being unwell.  However I realised it was par for the course and would quickly be forgotten once the ultimate reward arrived; our baby.
Of course we knew it was early days, I let the consideration of miscarriage briefly cross my mind, but as each early week passed I became more and more confident. We reached our first scan, saw our beautiful baby for the first time and believed everything was going to be ok. Doesn’t everyone? With no previous experience and reaching the 12 weeks mark I believed my baby was safe now. After all that’s what we’re led to believe; the baby books scarcely cover miscarriage or baby loss at all but are sure quick to tell you that reaching the 12 week mark reduces the risk of losing your baby dramatically. 
We set about preparing for a baby to come into our lives. I made lists of everything we needed and everything I wanted for our baby. I started to imagine a beautiful nursery and spent hours looking at the Mamas & Papas and Mothercare websites. I couldn’t resist the shops any longer and starting browsing beautiful baby things. By now it was January 2010 and the winter sales, and after weeks of just looking I was desperate to actually buy something.
So we decided to buy our baby’s pram. A big purchase and I remember feeling maybe it was a bit too early, but we were past 12 weeks right?  It would be fine. Initially I’d found the pram I wanted in the sales but the next time we went to Mamas and Papas with a view to buy, a brand new pram had been put on the shelves.  Instantly in love with the black and white polka dot design; I knew it was the one for us. So in the excitement of choosing things for our baby we abandoned the one in the sales and ended up bringing home the Pliko Switch in the Mimi design and spending over double what we’d originally set out to that evening. I was wowed by it and already couldn’t wait to push our baby around in it.
The weeks were beginning to fly by and I was getting noticeably pregnant. I loved it; I felt so confident with a bump and didn’t mind wearing clothes that flattered it and showed it off. What was to hide? I wanted to remember these moments and hired a pregnancy photographer to capture our growing baby in bump form. The photographer visited every 6 weeks and we had a promise of a new-born shoot at the end. The package plan was expensive but worth every penny to us; after all what was more special than growing your first child? Little did we know in those early days just how precious these photographs would become.
I religiously read the baby book, soaking up the information about what our baby would be doing this week. We marvelled at the development and what our tiny growing child could already do. I signed up for the weekly email updates and got excited as each new message arrived in my inbox. Each week was a step closer to finding out who our baby was and a step closer to meeting him or her.
I’ll never forget the first time I felt our baby move. I was 18 weeks and for a few days I’d been feeling little pops; not sure at this stage if it was movement but knew it felt different to everything else I’d experienced before. Then one evening we decided to play some classical music to the baby. Jon found his big headphones and we put them against my bump and pressed play. Almost instantly there was a cluster of very definite baby kicks. Another one of those wow moments!
By now we were approaching the half way mark and our conversations for weeks had been surrounding baby names and if we were going to find out if our baby was blue or pink at the next scan. Jon was incredibly keen to find out, I on the other hand initially was keen to have a surprise. But as the weeks went on and Jon continued to want to know I came around to the idea; especially after the names were decided! So we both excitedly counted down to the 20 week scan which we hoped would reveal all to us.  
We were not disappointed. There on the 22nd March 2010 was a very clear view of our beautiful baby daughter. We were expecting a girl! We’d gone into that scan room with two names and came out with Anabelle Violet, our Belle. We were on a complete high! Literally flying with excitement with the prospect that our world was about to become very pink.
When I look back now I can hardly believe our naivety. Our concerns had not been of anything being wrong, or any anomalies being picked up in the scan. We’d reached 20 weeks and continued to take our pregnancy for granted; it didn’t occur to us in the slightest that anything could go wrong from this point. All Anabelle had to do was grow some more, be born and come home. We were living in a blissful ignorance and trusting in the way things were supposed to happen.
People around us questioned our decision to name our baby girl at the 20 week scan. What if she was born and we decided her name didn’t suit her we were asked. Jon and I just knew that was her name, there was no question as far as we were concerned about her name suiting her – to us she was growing into her name, it was her name, Anabelle was her identity, it is who she was from that moment on.
Jon named Anabelle. Anabelle and Violet were both of his name suggestions. I thought they were such pretty girl names and perfect if our baby was to be a daughter. It turned out she was.
Anabelle being named changed something about our pregnancy. The connection we started to feel to her as her own unique person was incredibly strong, before she was anywhere near ready to arrive in this world we already felt bonded with her. Jon spent  some time with Belle every evening, he led on my bump and talked; almost every time she heard her Daddy’s voice she responded with a boot into his face.  Our pregnancy with Anabelle was full of special moments and memories like these.
The weeks went by and quickly our house filled up with many pink things. Everything we were doing now was planned and bought with Anabelle in mind, buying her things and creating her little space in this world. Jon and I enjoyed so many shopping trips buying for our daughter; some of the most memorable included the letter “A” Jon had bought in Mamas & Papas in one of his lunch hours to celebrate his baby girls name and the joint trip we shared choosing our daughters first dress and outfits.   Little did we know then that Anabelle’s beautiful white and yellow dress with pink flowers would end up in a memory box and never worn along with her going home outfit and letter “A” among everything else.
Up until 31 weeks our pregnancy passed without major incident. With no previous pregnancy experience to go on I assumed everything was normal, I thought Anabelle moved enough and took the baby books as gospel as regards everything that was going on.  Then at 31 weeks Anabelle had a very quiet day, I couldn’t be sure I’d felt her at all, accompanied by quite strong Braxton hicks. So I phoned the hospital who suggested we come in for monitoring. Onto the trace and there Anabelle was; and as the baby books assure you with and because of that what we expected, she started squirming around as soon as we were attached to the machine.  Anabelle was busy again, but what the trace did reveal was that the Braxton hicks were actually regular and more like contractions and with each contraction Anabelle’s heart rate was dipping. The hospital assessed that I was experiencing a threatened premature labour and quickly swung into action. The Doctor on duty prescribed treatment to try at stop the contractions, steroids to mature Belle’s lungs just in case, and organising equipment to prepare me for an emergency c-section if the threat of labour progressed further or if Anabelle’s heart rate did not stabilise soon.
We were flabbergasted. This was not what we had been expecting at all. I couldn’t believe what I thought were the Braxton Hicks the baby book told you to expect at this stage were threatening to become full blown contractions. It was too soon for Anabelle to be born. I wanted to avoid delivering her by c-section because she was just too little. A neo-natal Doctor was called to come and talk to us about everything that would happen if we were taken into surgery in the next few hours. She discussed how Anabelle would be treated and cared for, that I would be able to express milk to feed her. For every week past 24 the prognosis for a premature baby fared better, especially past 28 weeks she said. But even now our thoughts didn’t turn to her not surviving; our concern was any special needs she might grow up with if born prematurely.  You see I am a teacher and I work with children with profound and multiple disabilities, some with very complex medical needs. Some of my pupils have difficulties because of birth trauma, or a genetic condition.  Some it was from the moment of conception, others because they were born too soon.  At this moment with the talk of c-sections and catheters I was terrified our beautiful Anabelle would be born too soon and live with an overwhelming difficulty for the rest of her life. The neo-natal Doctor could promise us nothing in regard to prognosis of this but assured that most babies born at 31 weeks did very well.
Fortunately, I responded to hourly drug treatment and the tightenings became less frequent and less severe. Anabelle by 10pm that night had settled down and given a consistent stable trace for over two hours and so after spending most of the day on delivery ward not knowing if today was going to Anabelle’s birthday or not we were given the all clear for the night and transferred to the maternity ward upstairs. We were looking at another 48 hour stay for regular monitoring, continued treatment and more steroids.
By the end of the 48 hour stay the contractions had completely disappeared and after a scan checking in on Anabelle we were discharged. Anabelle was absolutely fine in the scan, all her vital signs were good; her heart, blood flow, placenta all fine.  What happened only 7 days later I was assured was just a horrible coincidence in timing and in no way related to our experience of threatened premature labour the week before.
In the week after we were discharged there was a big push on preparing things quickly in case Anabelle tried to make an early appearance again. We had a fun night casting my bump, our pregnancy photographer visited again, Anabelle’s Grandad painted her room and Jon bought my gift ready for her birthday.  Jon set about starting to build her furniture, we were very nearly ready for her arrival.
Then at 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant Anabelle went quiet again. I had a midwife appointment that day and after hearing her heartbeat on the Doppler I was reassured. At this point she’d only been quiet for a few hours and I assumed she was just having a sleepy morning. By the evening she was still quiet and I was getting concerned but didn’t know what to do and after only just being discharged 7 days before didn’t want to come across to the hospital as a hysterical first time mother. We had a heart monitor at home so we put it on before bedtime and heard what was definitely her heartbeat. I reasoned with myself I would give it until the morning and if there was still no movement I would go into the hospital first thing.  
First thing came and there was still nothing. I put the heart monitor back on and heard deafening silence. Now I was hysterical, in some sort of denial, telling myself the batteries must be flat and the monitor not working properly, but really I knew she was gone. A mothers’ intuition.  Over the phone I was told off by the receptionist on delivery ward for using the heart monitor; I wasn’t trained and would have only upset myself unnecessarily. Because they were busy I was told to wait an hour before coming in for monitoring.
At the hospital I was put onto the trace that I had become so accustomed to the week before. For a few minutes our hopes were raised; a heartbeat had been found, slow for a baby but there. The midwife however looked very concerned and rushed off to find a consultant. Within seconds I was surrounded by midwives, the consultant and registrars who pulled in a pre-historic ultrasound machine to look at Anabelle. The picture was not that clear but I knew what they were looking for, and I also knew they hadn’t found it.
Rushed down to ultrasound accompanied by a midwife to use the modern machine and as I led on the scanning bed I was scared. Minutes before the midwife had been trying to keep us calm and I remember joking that she wasn’t even born yet and she was causing us no end of worry. But then the sonographer turned to the second sonographer and shook her head. Without needing to be told I knew Anabelle was no longer there. Sometime in the early hours of 32 weeks and 4 days Anabelle had grown her wings.  The unthinkable had happened; our baby girl had died.
Nothing can prepare you for the words “I’m so sorry, but we cannot find your baby’s heartbeat.” For nano-seconds time stood still as the shock of the words sank in, and the noise that came out of Jon and I next were unearthly; wounded animals in horrific pain.
I don’t know how long they left us alone in the scanning room. We clung to each other sobbing, in shock, not understanding how or why our baby, our daughter who we already loved so much had died. We were taken back to delivery suite and put into a room more comfortable than all the others. A room which had an en-suite, a sofa bed for Daddy, medical provision for me, this was eventually the room Anabelle was born in.  The registrar came to see us and explained what would happen next.
We were advised that a c-section should only be considered as an emergency or last-resort option at my stage of pregnancy because the womb is not stretched as far is could go yet and because the lining was still quick thick it would likely cause more complications for future pregnancies. So their preferred option was to induce labour. He explained I would be given a tablet then, and another one 24 hours later. If I still hadn’t gone into labour on the 3rd day I would have a rest before being admitted to delivery ward and intensive treatment given on the 4th day.  They couldn’t tell me how long it would take; hours or days.
I was terrified. Terrified of being induced unexpectedly, terrified of going into labour, terrified of what it really meant that my daughter was dead.
The tablet was given and we were sent home. Nothing happened. Nothing happened at all for those first three days. I remained visibly pregnant and could not cope with my bump anymore. The bump I had loved every minute of was now my greatest pain. Every mirror in the house had to be covered.
It was in these few days that we were in a flurry of preparation again; only this time it involved speaking to a funeral director to explain we would need their services over the coming days, making sure we bought more clothes for Anabelle that would fit her, her grandmother knitted a gorgeous tiny pink cardigan in tiny premature baby size for her to wear.
Day 4 arrived and by now we were both beyond distressed, despite the fear of labour the lack of its arrival was torture. Partly still in denial and partly so grief stricken we wanted to believe some dreadful mistake had been made. We wanted to believe she would be born very sick but somehow be ok. How could our little girl be dead?
Day 4 turned into Day 5 and started to approach the evening again towards another new day again. A new plan of action was being discussed; my waters were going to be broken at 7pm. If I didn’t go into active labour after that a consultant would probably take me to c-section the next morning. I was beside myself; going to c-section anyway after all the days of waiting just added more distress to the worst situation anyone can find themselves in.
So my waters were broken; 3 minutes later full blown contractions started. Finally as labour became real I realised more than ever I was not ready for it; not ready to give up my daughter. Much of my labour between then and 11.30pm is a complete blur. Drugged up on morphine I remember passing out between contractions and coming around to contract again. The pain however I remember; the morphine, gas and air may have taken an edge off it, but it was very real and horrific. I made noises during labour I had never heard myself make before.  I remember Jon begging them to give me an epidural or something to take the pain away; distressed by my own distress. However, in the days of waiting for labour to establish I’d developed an infection and was on an antibiotic drip, an epidural was refused because of the risks of taking whatever infection there was into my spine.
From 11.30pm my morphine drip was disconnected and I took myself off gas and air. I knew we were very nearly there and I knew I needed to be a bit more with it. So for the final few pushes I was completely aware of Anabelle’s birth. 11.45pm and her head crowned and was born. Unbelievably contractions seemed to stop and for over 20 minutes nothing else happened, just waiting for my body to finish to greatest job it’s ever done. Finally at just gone 5 past midnight another overwhelming contraction started and at 00:08 Anabelle was born sleeping.
After waiting 5 days to meet our daughter, when I was finally in labour she was with us in only 5 hours and 8 minutes. On the 21st June 2010, Anabelle Violet arrived perfect and sleeping into our arms and weighing 4lb 5oz. 
It was important to us that we maintained some sort of ‘normality’ around Anabelle’s birth as well. Despite the outcome we knew was coming we wanted this precious moment of meeting our daughter to be special. Anabelle was placed straight onto my chest for some skin to skin, she spent time on Jon’s chest for some skin to skin, she was weighed and hand and footprints taken and made sure we dressed her ourselves in the clothes we’d bought especially for her tiny little body.  This was our only time with our little girl and we treasured every second that we had, we barely put her down at all. We told her we loved her, kissed her, cherished her.
Then the time came 12 hours after she was born, when we knew it was time to hand her over. I made her safe, wrapping her in her blanket and laid her in a moses basket before giving the midwives permission to take her somewhere safe.  Handing her over to a funeral director was soul destroying; in that very moment a piece of us died alongside Anabelle.
At 4pm, just 16 hours after Anabelle was born, I was discharged and sent home. We left hospital without our baby.
The day after arrived and we had a visit from the funeral director to start discussing arrangements. We found ourselves in the position of every parent’s worst nightmare. I could scarcely believe we’d gone from excited anticipation about becoming parents to discussing coffins and colours, funeral services, hymns and flowers. Her funeral was arranged for a week after her birth.
On the 28th June Jon carried his daughters’ coffin up the aisle of the church instead of her on his arm as we’d imagined would happen many years from now. In our experience it is the father that gets forgotten. In those early days people remembered to ask how I was coping but rarely how Jon was. Jon was expected to be the strong one for me; as if people had forgotten it was his loss too.
Jon was there with me and Anabelle every single step of the way.  He laboured with me, he cried with me, he was the best Daddy in the world to her.
Jon looked after his daughter in a way that not many men can say they have. The most important job a man can do for his child. He ensured his daughter was safely taken to her special service and to her garden. He did the job that no other person in the world could’ve done for Anabelle in the way he did. He carried Anabelle in her tiny pink coffin with love and pride because she was his.  I was proud of him that day – being so strong for Anabelle. So strong for me.
The church was packed; far more people there than I could’ve ever imagined. I could barely stand up and clung to my own father tightly as we walked in behind Anabelle and her tiny pink coffin. The church was a sea of pink, everyone wearing pink to honour Anabelle on her goodbye day. We sang Jesus Loves Me, Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild and There’s a Friend for Little Children and listened to our pregnancy story and love for Anabelle being read out and shared. Sharing the huge impact Anabelle had already had on lives and gaping hole that could never be filled she’d left behind.
From the service we went to the cemetery, to a huge open grave ready to lay Anabelle and her coffin inside. We’d planned it this way but the tiniest of coffins in an adults grave more than I could bear and after dropping white roses into the grave with Anabelle I crumpled into Jon’s arms.  Anabelle has an adults grave because one day Jon and I will lay beside her too and that brings us comfort. At 25 and 29 we knew where we were going to be buried one day too.
The day after her funeral, we plucked up the courage to return to our own house. Up until now we’d moved into my parent’s house, unable to face our home. You see as well as dealing with the death of our baby girl we then had to deal with the new-born girl next door. Born the day before Anabelle died; we returned home to a sea of pink tiny clothes drying outside. It was the final twist of the knife and for months we lived in darkness.  Opening the curtains was not an option and each cry heard from the tiny new baby next door broke my heart even more.
Even now 10 months I find it incredibly difficult to deal with crying babies. My heart races, my body becomes tense and my chest starts to hurt. We never saw Anabelle’s eyes and we never heard anything from her but silence. Can you even begin to imagine the pain of your child not even once opening their eyes to look at you? 

We were in shock; living in a haze – there but not really. I used to think that heartbroken was a word used to describe being very sad; now I know differently, because my heart is broken. In those early days the pain in my chest was so real and so hard that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it stopped beating and literally broke into two. I was tormented; the heaviness of guilt that I hadn’t kept my daughter safe. It felt like my fault. It was my job to keep her safe but I’d failed.

I played and replayed the weeks over in my mind. Sometimes I still do. What had I missed? I should’ve known she wasn’t doing well. All the what ifs? What if she’d been delivered instead of all the treatment fighting to keep her inside. Would she have been alive now if she’d been born instead of premature labour stopped? What if I’d gone into hospital the day she started going quiet instead of waiting until the next morning? Could they have saved her instead of her dying in the middle of the night. How could so much change in one week? There was so much we didn’t understand and we still do not understand.

The world seemed very noisy, much more noise than I could cope with and being out in public had me panic stricken. I leaned heavily on Jon and if he left my side for too long I crumbled and imagined all manner of terrible things that could happen to him too. I remember one particular day, about 8 weeks after Anabelle’s death and not long after Jon had gone back to work; I’d text Jon and the minutes kept ticking by with no response, a few minutes turned into 15 minutes, 15 minutes into half an hour and half an hour into 45 minutes. By the time Jon phoned me I was crying hysterically down the phone. In the 45 minute wait for a response I had convinced myself he must’ve crashed the car on the way to work and was dead too.
Rational thought disappears when your baby dies. Everything you once held to be true and trusted about the order of this world is shattered and you are left with nothing. Our entire world was smithereens and everything in it changed. We are changed.  Some changes for better some for worse; for one I’m now a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person. I’ve always been a worrier, but now negativity surrounds me – I fully expect something disappointing, upsetting, devastating to happen to us. Anxiety fills our lives, anger rears its ugly head in our lives because our world is broken and hurting.
The biggest change of all surrounds other people in my life. Relationships change when your baby dies; we as a society are not geared up to cope with bereavement, let alone the death of someone’s child. After the initial deluge of sympathy cards, flowers and messages you are often left alone by the majority. People drift away; some not wanting to intrude on your grief, others because your grief is too ‘upsetting for them’ and because they just do not know what to say or do.
Your baby’s death isolates you from the rest of the world. Time moves on around you while you remain stopped in the moment you heard those words. There were times; there still are times when I wonder if I’m losing my mind. Time moves differently now; Anabelle died over 10 months ago, but she died just yesterday.
People in the darkest time of our lives have astounded me; from the acquaintances with the thoughtful gestures to the people you once spoke to daily who are no longer there, to even strangers and downright ignorance from all. 
Anabelle had been buried for 2 weeks and we were making one of the many visits to her garden. Being a sunny summer evening there were quite a few people in the graveyard as well. An older lady, visiting a grave 2 up from Anabelle said hello to us and asked if the grave we were visiting was that of a child. I simply said it was our daughter. We were then asked how old she was, in response I said that she had been born sleeping. The lady did not understand until I choked out the word stillborn. That was conversation over, the lady loudly tut’ted at us and turned away.
This being one of the many episodes I’ve since experienced surrounding the taboo of stillbirth and complete lack of acceptance about the impact and devastation caused has spurred me to feel a real need to raise awareness. I had absolutely no idea how many babies were stillborn or died shortly after birth until it happened to me; 17 babies every day in the UK, 119 every week, 6500 every year; the equivalent of 16 jumbo jets crashing each year with no survivors. I could not understand how this many babies were dying with a complete lack of acknowledgment. Why is stillbirth a silently ignored problem?
The problem with the word stillborn or the term stillbirth in my opinion is that it does not honour the angel baby. In a society where stillbirth appears to be very much a taboo subject the terminology feeds into attitudes of old; a stillborn baby was a non-baby, not ever really here, not a real death, something to brush under the carpet. I struggle with referring to Anabelle as a stillborn baby.  My daughter was born, I laboured and gave birth to her, we lavished all the love we could on her until it was time for her to go. Anabelle was really alive, inside of me for over 7 months and she really died. Our love for our daughter did not die with her; she is very real to us, our firstborn and an important member of family. We are parents, we have a child.
Three months after Anabelle’s death the shock bubble and haze burst. Reality set in and I reached my lowest point, recognising I could no longer cope and on the verge of a complete breakdown I walked into a local counselling centre dedicated to supporting people who’ve experienced baby loss. Between counselling there, support on the Sands forum, and plucking up the courage to start a blog I began to function. 
Over time my blog has especially become my salvation. The freedom to write and express the mixed up world in which I live was liberating and saw a significant improvement in my emotional health. My blog has also become my richest source of raising awareness; I do not shy away from the realities of what it means to be an “Angel Mummy”.  It sometimes makes for hard reading but I hope my stark openness encourages readers to relate to bereaved parents they may know in a different way and allows other angel Mums and Dads to not feel alone.
In just over a months’ time it will be Anabelle’s 1st birthday. One whole year since our world fell apart. We’re planning a big fundraising fete to celebrate her short life and raise money and awareness for Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. We could not let Anabelle’s 1st birthday pass without acknowledgement and wanted to end the very worst year of our lives in a positive way; what could honour our daughters’ memory better than raising funds for a charity that supports angel families and seeks to prevent babies of the future dying? We hope our contribution to the charity will stop more families living our reality.
The passage of time amazes me. If you’d said to me the day Anabelle was born that today I would be functioning relatively well, working and living I would not have believed you. The resilience of the human spirit is a wonderful thing. Even in the darkest days we somehow pull ourselves into some resemblance of normal; from somewhere within us an incredible strength pulls us through.

Of course we’re by no means fixed. You do not get over the death of your child; our grief and pain will be there forever. Sometimes the overwhelming foreverness of it all completely engulfs us. It doesn’t go away; it just shifts position with the passage of time.

All those months ago we were a complete emotional wreckage, the day I walked into the counselling offices I couldn’t find the strength to eat, get dressed, breathe, sleep, or stand up, I somehow managed to continue to live even with a broken heart.

Today I’m emotionally scarred. My heart is stuck back together with some sticky tape. I know it will never be quite healed. Some days my strength deserts me, some days the physical pain returns. We live a life we wish we didn’t have to; but we would rather have known Anabelle for a short time than never at all. We can live with this life because it means she touched it.

When Anabelle died we wouldn’t have believed any hope or joy could enter our life again. Our entire world had crashed around us. All hopes and dreams, all trust in life, blissful ignorance; all shattered. 

Today we dare to hope. Admittedly it is feeble and easily extinguished but I sometimes dare to believe there will be things in our life to smile about.  Our world is fragile; we know it will never be the same again. Our personal tragedy altered all perception of it. But it is amazing how far we have come. Today with some trepidation we attempt to look forward, to try and find some new hopes and dreams. Dreams that are different now, but still include Belle in them somehow. 

On the 21st June 2010 our daughter, our firstborn, our Anabelle was born sleeping; stillborn, but STILL born.  


Nanny Davies/ julie said...

tears were falling all the way through your chapter for this book. It is a beautiful explanation of Anabelle, her short life and the grief both you and Jon felt ,continue to feel.
I grieve for Anabelle ( my beautiful granddaughter ) and i grieve for you both.

Ally said...

No words can ever express my feelings. You and Jon are amazing and wonderful people and Belle will always have a special place in my heart xx

Chloe said...

I have cried my way through you're story Caz. You write so beautifully about your experience. You are both an inspiration. Belle is lucky to have such devoted parents xxxx

Sherri said...

I just found your blog today, and have to say how sorry I am that Annabelle isn't here on earth with you. You have done a beautiful job of putting your story into words, and I hope that through this, the world becomes a bit more educated on how to deal with infant loss. I'll be thinking about you through the months ahead, especially as her birthday approaches.
Sending hugs your way.

Unknown said...

Your openness and strength humbles me. What you went through should never happen to parents. I am staggered by the statistics of babies born as Angels. While I am fighting my own battle, I believe finding your blog has given me strength...knowing you can function after this, I know I have to keep going with my experiences. I do not even try to compare mine to yours...I have not lost a child.
Annabelle will always be loved, cherished and remembered by you, and now her memory will live on in me. I hope this reaches as many people as possible to honor your daughter and raise awareness.
Katy x

Unknown said...

Caz, what a heart wrenching story and such a brave one. You truly brought me to a standstill reading that and I can't even begin to imagine what you must have gone through. Huge hugs to you xx

Ramblings Of A Suburban Mummy said...

What a beautiful post, utterly heart wrenching and totally devastating but written with such strength and humility. It is a wonderful tribute to your daughter and your family x

Mama Marmalade said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. Having been through a very similar loss myself I know the agony of losing a child all too well. Beautifully written and a lovely legacy to your cherished daughter.

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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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