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. 
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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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