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.

Monday, 30 July 2012


I don't know what is wrong with me at the moment, but I feel sometimes that I'm epically failing at being Mummy to Anabelle.  I know it is a ridiculous comment to make really. I know it is neither here nor there to her how I remember her, what I do for her. But it matters to me. 

Friday, in our rush to get the car packed up and on the road for our holiday I forgot to pick up Anabelle's handprint bracelet. We were half way to Plymouth when I realised I'd left it behind; then it felt like I'd left her behind.  I felt quite upset and beside myself, guilty. Guilty that I'd so easily forgotten my 'little piece of her'.  Fortunately, my parents who were also travelling to Plymouth later on that evening were able to pop to my house and collect it, and bring it to me. Crisis was averted. 

But today, for a very brief moment I thought I'd lost it completely. 

I'd taken it off on the beach today. Getting Alexander changed into his swimsuit. In hindsight now I'd evidently put it somewhere safe without thinking about it; the inside pocket of the beach bag but hadn't registered where I'd put it. An hour or so after we'd come off the beach I went into panic when I realised I wasn't wearing it. Where was it? When was I last wearing it? Had I even put it on that morning?  Peace restored seconds later when it was found. 

You see, that is the other guilt thing. I haven't been wearing her bracelet every single day any more. Alexander pulls at it and plays with it on my arm and I'm always so anxious that he might break it, so it has taken to living for the most part safely in my drawer.  But the guilt. This little piece of Anabelle that was supposed to be close to me every day doesn't always make it out of the drawer now, and today in the rush to get off the beach in the rain it completely slipped my mind where it was at all. 

My ability to remember everything seems to be failing. Alexander takes up so much of my attention I fear I fail his sister in wearing my love for her too.  I know it is impossible; I know I can't give them equal attention like a normal parent with their children should. I know she is not here, but it doesn't stop the guilt of seemingly favouring one child over the other.

Parenting after loss is so hard. 
Friday, 20 July 2012

Our Miracle

Tonight I've been remembering the fearful 8 months carrying Xander, our precious boy we barely allowed ourselves to believe would come home. This time last year I was about 25 weeks pregnant and ever approaching the terrifying third trimester when Anabelle died. But there can be miracles, when you believe. 9 months old now and just perfect, our rainbow, our miracle, our baby boy. 

Many nights we prayed, with no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song, we barely understood.
Now we are not afraid, although we know there's much to fear,
we were moving mountains long, before we knew we could.

There can be miracles, when you believe,
though hope is frail, its hard to kill
Who knows what miracles, you can achieve,
when you believe, somehow you will.
You will when you believe.

In this time of fear, when prayer so often proves in vain
Hope seems like the summer birds, too swiftly flown away.
Yet now I'm standing here, my heart so full I can't explain
seeking faith and speaking words, I'd never thought I'd say.

There can be miracles, when you believe
though hope is frail, its hard to kill.
Who knows what miracles, you can achieve
when you believe, somehow you will.
You will when you believe.

They don't always happen when you ask
And it's easy to give in to your fear
But when you're blinded by your pain
Can't see the way clear through the rain
A small but still resilient voice
says home is very near.

There can be miracles, when you believe
though hope is frail, it's hard to kill.
Who knows what miracles, you can achieve
when you believe, somehow you will.
You will when you believe.

lyrics from Disney's  The Prince of Egypt 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Third Year

Someone once said to me that the first year after a bereavement was the hardest.

Before Anabelle, the only person really close to me that had died was my Grandad. His death was very sudden and unexpected, we were shocked, devastated. He died on his 81st birthday. Recently Jon found a video of him with sparklers on his 80th birthday and as yet I can't bring myself to watch it incase it makes me cry, his absence continues to affect me. 

But Grandad's death was and is very different to Anabelle's, incomparable. Grandad was old, his death at the time was unexepected, but it was eventually expected. It was always within the realms of possibility it could happen, would happen. We expect our elders to pass away.  In the case of Grandad, yes the first year was the worst. Missing him at Christmas, birthday's, special days. I cried on my wedding day because he wasn't there. Grandad left a huge gap, I miss him terribly still but his absence is accepted now, because his death was in the natural order of things. 

For Anabelle we are now into our year of thirds. It doesn't feel any easier than year one, neither did year two.

The initial shock is gone, the hazy bubble I first lived in has gone. But emotionally? It hasn't got any better.    In my limited number of bereavements; it is entirely different when your child dies. Life shattering beyond repair. The one bereavement we don't ever expect to bear. 

Instead of the only the first year being the hardest for your precious child, is it the first five years instead? Or the first ten?  When does it become more accepting? When do you sort of 'figure it all out'? 

The pain is as ever present as it was. Going through another birthday into another year doesn't separate us further from the hurt. It just means we have to live through another year of anniversaries, difficult dates, difficult days. Foreverness. 

What is different, better is 'the face'. I've got better at 'the face'. The one I wear day to day in the outside real world. My appearance is one that says 'I'm fine'. I'm becoming ever better at separating the me in my professional life from my personal, for the most part on a bad day I'm better at burying the presence of pain socially. In real life, for the most part I'm jolly. But then underneath the fa├žade, only here and to my best friend, sometimes my Mum, sometimes Jon, do I really divulge when I'm hurting.  I'm much better at writing about it than I ever have been talking about it. 

What a complicated long road I'm walking. The first year wasn't the hardest, every year still is. 
Tuesday, 10 July 2012


"I can do all things, through Christ, who strengthens me." Philippians 4 v 13

Sometimes these words inspire me. They implore me to look heavenward and see Anabelle there; to know one day, all this pain will be over and I'll be reunited with her. Sometimes I'm amazed that we survived her death at all and thank God for the blessing of strength I believe he's given us to somehow pick ourselves up and carry on. 

Then other days, like today, these words make me angry. Along with platitudes you so often hear, such as 'God won't give you more than you can bear', offered when people are going through difficult times of pain, suffering, loss, uncertainty.  Based on the word of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, specifically the verse 13. 

It makes me angry because I feel judged. Whether or not it is real or just my perception is another thing, but sometimes I feel my sub conscience telling me that as a Christian I should buck my ideas up and bear this better. After all, God obviously decided I could take it and will have equipped me for it. Isn't that what we're told?  Maybe I'm taking the verses out of context. 

I've hit an unexpected wobble. Today I don't feel I can bear it. I don't feel strong. Instead I feel broken to my core again. Maybe I need to crumble and cry for a while. I don't feel like I can endure it. My daughter is dead. The magnitude of foreverness is there hanging over me again. I still can't even comprehend how I live an entire life without her; its too much, too big, too long. The only baby girl I may ever have was taken away from me and I don't know how to reconcile the possibility that pink and dresses will only ever live hidden in our attic. 

Its too cruel. I feel like we were taunted with something that was never going to be. 

Its not fair, its not ok and its far more than we should be expected to bear. I don't want the strength to endure it; I just want her. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Today I've Been...

I'm about to sound like one of those women I resented so much two years ago. 

The ones who were returning to work after their maternity leave and feeling sad about leaving their babies. The ones I wanted to scream at while I was returning to work after Anabelle,  'well at least your baby is there when you get home from work, stop moaning and find something real to be distraught about. Try going back to work after a maternity leave without your baby, your baby being dead, going home to an empty house.' 

Yes, I was full of vile back then. 

Now, I'm that woman. Feeling sad about leaving my baby. Today I went back to work again. 

I was ok about going back to work, to be fair. I wasn't nervous about leaving Alexander; I knew he would have a nice day with my Mum and Dad. Lots of me was actually looking forward to being a teacher again. I love my job, I get a lot of satisfaction from it. I work with beautiful children and a great team. 

But tonight I've realised I've spent just shy of two hours with my baby today. Two little hours. An hour this morning which was basically rushing around getting out of the house, and an hour this evening before he went to bed.  I got to work at a little past 8 this morning and left at 4.40. I could've easily spent another hour or more in work this evening.   There is so much to catch up on and get stuck into again. Is this what all my teaching days are going to be like?  

I don't feel like I've held my son enough today. I've worried a little today that seeing his mother for such a short time on working days will be detrimental to his development and well-being. 

In all honesty, in an ideal world I would probably be a stay at home mother. That would be the best thing for our family. I've absolutely adored being home with Xander and a huge part of me relishes the idea of remaining home with him. But there is little point me dwelling on this because we're in no position for me not to work; we greatly rely on my income.  Beyond this, I struggle to shake the feeling that giving up work would feel somewhat like I'd wasted my degree, or rather my parents money paying to put me through university. 

So we're going to be making the best of it. I'll be continuing to work part-time and being at home with my baby for more of the week than I'm away from him. Now I have to learn to balance work and home so it doesn't leave me being a mediocre rubbish Mummy or a mediocre rubbish teacher.  Because I just don't do mediocre. 

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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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