Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

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

Tuesday, 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

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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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