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.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

National Breastfeeding Week

So this week has been National Breastfeeding Week. (NBW)  It is well documented here my emotional struggle with breastfeeding Alexander in the early days. Back then it seemed beyond that we would maintain breastfeeding until six months, let alone the eight and a half months we're now at, and still going strong. 

All those months ago it felt like something I had to endure. Now it feels like one of the most precious things  I've ever done. I can't say how glad I am now that I persevered through all those bad feelings, and more importantly that I finally had the courage to make a change that enabled me to emotionally keep breastfeeding, and then start enjoying it. 

Another few months on from my 'B is for...breastfeeding' post and Xander is still feeding 3 or 4 times a day. The 'dreamfeed' bottle of formula he was having is becoming increasingly infrequent. More often than not these days he is sleeping approx. 6.30-6.30, making the change I agonised over for weeks almost obsolete now. 

Unless Alexander self-weans I fully intend to keep feeding him until at least his first birthday, probably/possibly the until the end of this year and then I'll reassess where we are at. As much as I enjoy feeding Xander and sharing these intimate quite times with him, I can't imagine being an extended feeder . At the moment the end of 2012 feels like an appropriate/good place to consider stopping for me/us. He will be almost 15 months old in the new year. Who knows, by the time we get there I may feel very differently again but because it feels unlikely I'll still be feeding my boy by the time NBW rolls around again next year, for this week I wanted to capture some photographs and memories of these special moments. 

My absolute favourite time of the day now is feeding Xander before he goes to bed. It is the only time of the day when it feels we have all the time in the world. Just me and my boy, snuggled up together, quietly while he feeds to sleep cwtched up in my arms. 

Just bliss. 

Now before I share our NBW photographs I want to leave you with this. A beautiful blog post I stumbled across a few weeks ago from The Mule about nursing her baby to sleep. Just says it all so much more eloquently than I have! 

Snuggle time with Mummy

Having a snooze while I feed...

...until I'm peacefully fast asleep. 




Thursday, 28 June 2012

Stargazing


A dedication to our darling girl; two years to the day we said our goodbye.





'Oh that I had wings of a dove. I would fly away and be at rest.' Psalm 55 v 6. 
Wednesday, 27 June 2012

My Ugly Shoes

I'm wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, each day I wish I had another pair.
Some day my shoes hurt so bad I don't think I can take another step...
Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes,
they are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others' eyes they are glad to wearing their shoes, not mine.
They never talk about my shoes.

To learn how awful my shoes are will make you uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I'm not the only one who wears these shoes. There are many pairs in this world.

Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned ho to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.

Nobody deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman,
These shoes have given me the courage to face anything.
They have made me who I am. 


Author Unknown


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

One More Step

Time keeps galloping on by, fast. We're approaching the last time we saw Anabelle, two years ago tomorrow, in the chapel of rest, the evening before her funeral.  But you know what really frightens me, is that as time moves on, the real clarity ever begins to fade. Not of the details about what happened and when but the clarity of her. Surely I should as her mother be able to remember forever? It scares me that I could really forget what she felt like to hold in my arms, what she really looked like beyond her photographs, what she felt like to touch, how heavy she felt.  

Sometimes, how tiny she really was feels like it is beginning to escape me. Just as it does with any newborn. It has only been 8 months since I held a newborn Alexander in my arms, but already I marvel at how tiny he used to be. This must be why you can never get over how tiny newborn clothes look when they are unpacked. You simply forget how small your children were in the beginning with the passing of time. He still feels tiny to me now but he is enormous in comparison to 8 months ago, and a complete giant compared to his sister.  The difference in their hand and footprints on the fridge now is staggering. Both my babies; one grows the other doesn't. 

Anabelle was 44cm born and 4lb 5oz, Alexander was 57cm born and 8lb 13oz.   Now he is 70cm tall and 20lb and I already cannot really remember how small he was on me in those tiny baby days. If I can't really remember with Alexander is is any wonder the clarity is fading for Anabelle too?  See, with Alexander it has been even easier to forget, he has been growing all the time, I hold him every day, he is always my small baby in my arms, but his sisters memories I try and cling to because they are the only ones I've got.  But memory is failing me, time and distance tug away and it can only get worse year on year.

What scares me the most is that one day, without her photographs I won't even remember what she looks like. But for now, although much bigger than her, her brother still looks like her when he sleeps. Although this is something that still manages to catch my breath and my tears every now and again I hope it is a resemblance he doesn't lose any time soon. It helps keep a tiny piece of her with us. 

Someone earlier on today said to me to look at it like this; every day that passes, even though you think it is separating you further from her memories, is actually a day closer to her...

and they are right. Each day, all those of happiness, joy and those full of sadness and despair are days of life closer to being reunited with my baby girl. If time and age stop me clinging to the clarity of memories, it cannot take away clinging to the hope of an eternal lifetime with her in heaven. 


One more step along the world I go, 

one more step along the world I go;

from the old things to the new 
keep me traveling along with you:
And it's from the old I travel to the new; 
keep me traveling along with you.

Round the corner of the world I turn, 
more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see 
you'll be looking at along with me
And it's from the old I travel to the new; 

keep me traveling along with you. 


As I travel through the bad and good, 
keep me traveling the way I should;
where I see no way to go 
you'll be telling me the way, I know: 
And it's from the old I travel to the new; 

keep me traveling along with you. 


Give me courage when the world is rough, 
keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do, 
keep me traveling along with you: 
And it's from the old I travel to the new; 

keep me traveling along with you. 


You are older than the world can be, 
you are younger than the life in me;
ever old and ever new, 
keep me traveling along with you
And it's from the old I travel to the new; 

keep me traveling along with you.



Sunday, 24 June 2012

Alexander is 8 Months

I don't normally do two posts on one day, but today Alexander is 36 weeks and 2 days old, which means he has been born for as long as I was pregnant with him. So today seemed like the perfect day to do his 8 month update!

So what can my gorgeous 8 month old boy do? 

Well he wants to be stood up all the time now. Sitting down just doesn't cut the mustard at the moment and he will fuss and wriggle until he's pushed himself to his feet or you've pulled him there. This is making for tired arms for Mummy as I do his balancing for him when he's stood on my lap. He also enjoys being stood on the floor leaning against your legs, or being put against the sofa. As always he is eager to get going.   

I don't think baby attempts at jumping will be far away, you know the type where the knees go up and down without the feet leaving the floor! After all he is already a master at bouncing in the jumperoo! Additionally, a few times now, being held stood up he's experimented with moving a foot off the floor and forwards. I won't say its a step, but he's beginning to realise his feet don't have to be glued to the spot.

Elsewhere on the whole discovery of movement thing he is enjoying floor time in a whole different way now he can wriggle somewhere. We're still not quite there with the crawling, although he's desperately trying hard to. He has started to push himself backwards and attempts to commando style crawl by pulling himself forward an inch or so every so often on his arms.  He's getting himself around quite a bit now with rolling!  

He's not yet pulling himself up to sitting or standing, but he suddenly became such a wriggle bottom and travelling around his cot that we pre-empted the 'making himself sit up' occasion by lowering the cot to middle position. Every time we go into Xander in the night, or in the morning, you can guarantee he is nowhere near where we've previously left him. More often than not he's turned himself around at least 90 degrees and lying across the cot instead of down it! So yes, he's becoming a little mover! How long do you think I have left before we have to put up some stair-gates and baby proof the rest of the house? 

I really think our baby swim lessons have helped Xander discover what he can do. Over the last month or so he's become much more animated in the water, as he has at home. He loves Monday mornings at the pool. He reaches out for toys in the water, (swimming pool and bath time!) kicks his legs, holds on to the side and enjoys bobbing around and kicking his legs in a woggle. He isn't so keen on being dunked under the water but is tolerating his brief under water swim much better than he used to!  Now, all I'm waiting for is the real vigorous splashing to start, then we'll all be getting drenched in the pool and at bathtime. 

Our baby boy continues to explore lots of different sounds, including this month 'Dada' much to Jon's amusement and excitement despite of course not understanding the sound in context yet! Hehe! We both can't wait for that first meaningful 'Muma' and 'Dada' although we know we still have a long wait for it! Another sound he has mastered is shouting about something he isn't pleased about; he's got a whole little routine for stropping and complaining now! Usually because one of us having walked away from him, or he's been put down, or some food he's been enjoying has finished! 

Alexander has reached that stage in the food process where he complains loudly if you eat in front of him and not offer him anything! The time has come where I'm really going to have to crack on with offering more finger-foods. He is doing fairly well coping with lumps of food now, such as toast, but I am irrationally terrified of giving him anything that is not mush. Just as Alexander is starting to independently reach out for food and becoming increasingly willing to have a go at feeding himself, I'm getting increasingly anxious about it. 

It is a difficult balancing act.  At the moment lumps that are small enough for him to swallow safely are too tricky for him to pick up independently, but larger bits he can hold and self-feed with he seems to just shove the entire chunk in his mouth and then gags, coughs, goes bright red and starts to panic. Which is almost nervous breakdown inducing for me. Needless to say, I'm not coping well with this 'big-boy' food. I know I need to get over it, I know Xander needs to learn how to eat a wider range of foods, I know this is another skill he has to learn but blimey I'm constantly living worst case disaster accident/death scenarios in my head. 

I probably sound a little like a crazy person! 

Alexander still has no teeth, despite the ongoing pulling at gums, chewing everything in sight and dribble dribble dribble! I've given up trying to predict how long it will be before one arrives now! But I'm hoping the arrival of teeth will make tackling finger type foods much easier for both of us. 

In a nutshelll, of course my boy is just gorgeous. I'm still overwhelmed daily how in love with this little boy I am. And doesn't eight months old make his birthday seem really, really close?! 

A few hours old - after growing for 36 weeks and 2 days...

Today - another 36 weeks and 2 days later!

Anabelle is Two

Important days these last two years have followed the same pattern; the build up including me being on edge, snappy and not myself, then the actual day being beautiful. And now, here we are, the few days later on the emotional 'come-down'.   Today has been my come-down. Today I'm feeling it a little.Triggered possibly by a late night last night and being over-tired, or by the horrible moment earlier today when I thought we had lost Glo. (Anabelle and Alexander's glo worm toy, the one we bought for his sister but he plays with and loves.) 

So my Anabelle is two years old, or at least she should be. To me it feels like she is somehow, up there in heaven I have a two year old. I asked Jon in the week when he thinks of her now, does he think of her as the baby we knew her as, or imagine her as the toddler she should be. He always thinks of her as a baby. Me? I'm unsure. Sometimes I try and picture her as my little girl with blonde bunches. I often look at Alexander and wonder, just wonder, how similar they might've been.  I look at him and miss her not only for myself, but for Alexander too. In a perfect world he would be mesmerised by her instead of other children. 

The day started off torrential. So just like last year,  any hope of sending her a lantern at 00:08 to mark the exact moment she was born two years ago was rained off. Instead we lit candles outside our home. 

We decorated our home, we decorated her garden. Xander helped to send a birthday balloon to his sister and blow out the candles on her birthday cake.  Anabelle was spoilt, so beautifully remembered not just by us, but by the special family and friends that surround us.   We were given decorations for her garden, candles, flowers a birthday cake. Gorgeous things. 

Decorated home garden...

Pebbles and candles for Belle

Sending a birthday balloon to Belle

Blowing out the birthday candles. 


I'll admit, part of me wondered for a while if people would be 'less interested' this year. I know that time cannot pass or stick in the same way for others as it does for me and Jon. I had wrongly assumed that for the majority of people the assumption would be things would be 'easier' for us this year. My lovely friends, in my anxieties I did you a great mis-service when so many contributed to celebrating our beautiful girls second birthday.   I cannot really express what it means to Jon and I others also take the time to include Anabelle in their lives. 

The weather was kinder to us before bedtime and a lantern sent to finish the day. Along with a glass of champagne, raising a glass to our baby girl.

Raising a glass to Belle

Birthday complete with a lantern

Anabelle,
 always loved, always missed, always everything.
Happy birthday baby girl xXx



Sunday, 17 June 2012

Her Second Remember Day

The 16th June isn't the date I think about all year. All year my focus is Anabelle's birthday, and then her remember day just jumps on me as we approach June.  Why would I want to think about the day she died for longer than I have to? It is very hard to explain; of course I think about the events of that day, that week. But the actual date doesn't cross my mind all too often, not consciously. Then June starts, and I know we have to get through her remember day before her birthday, and so it hangs there, a bit like a dark cloud. 

The 16th leaves me feeling flat. I can still find something to celebrate in Anabelle's birthday, the only day we shared precious moments with our little girl, but there is no joy to be found in the 16th. But an important date all the same. 

So Anabelle has now been dead for two years and one day. What sort of upside down world is this when the day you die is before the day you were born? 

Yesterday was peaceful. I'm well aware by now the build up to important dates is far more traumatic and exhausting than the actual event. 

We marked Anabelle's second remember day by going to the annual Sands memorial service in the National Memorial Arboretum. For 12 years Sands have had a baby garden there, decorated with so many pebbles representing so many angel babies.  Too many angel babies. Yesterday we laid a pebble there for Anabelle too, her little piece for years to come in that garden. 

I can't think of a more perfect way to have remembered her, on her remember day. 

For our little girl. 

Just a few of the stones representing so many babies.
Anabelle's is at the top, 4th along the left. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

I'm Feeling A Bit...

The build up to all of Anabelle's special days over these next two weeks is horrendous. Waiting.  Anticipating. Knowing the build up will be worse than the days. 

I'm feeling a bit snipey,

I'm feeling a bit short,

I'm feeling a bit impatient,

I'm feeling a bit irritable,

I'm feeling a bit disinterested, 

I'm feeling a bit 'get a grip',

I'm feeling a bit 'not in the mood',

I'm feeling a bit tired,

I'm feeling a bit grey,

I'm feeling a bit like I want June to go away.

Remember day countdown; 4 days. Birthday countdown; 9 days. 




Monday, 11 June 2012

So You Think It Is A Joke Do You?

There are some entirely sick individuals out there. Sick individuals who mask themselves under the guise of free-speech; as if it absolves them of all compassion and sensitivity because they are apparently entitled under so called free-speech to say what they like. 

Today I was disgusted to hear about this book.  It also has an accompanying hateful facebook page.  A facebook page that has an astounding 584 likes! What sort of people like this crap? And astoundingly what possesses Amazon to sell it? They had an email complaint from me this afternoon and I reported the group to facebook. 

What sort of vile person thinks it is remotely appropriate to have dead, baby and joke in the same sentence? Let alone a book title. 

I find it abhorrent that people out there think that my life is some sort of laughing matter. That my beautiful baby girl deserves to be the butt of 'dead baby jokes'. And yet what is worse that when it is highlighted to them on their facebook page that their attitude stinks and their book vile they see fit to openly mock a bereaved parent as 'being too serious' and 'not being able to take a joke'. 

Really.

You low-life scum. 

Really. May God forbid you should have your own dead baby one day. I'm sure you wouldn't find it all such a joking matter then. 

My dead baby is precious, she's beautiful, she's perfect. What gives you the right to defile her? 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Birthday Countdown

My blog has been being neglected.  

I sometimes wonder if  it is because there comes a stage when there is little left to say; when the foreverness of grief becomes just that, forever and the same, continuing old and the same ground, with new ongoing life stuff thrown into the mix too. May got a bit crazy to be honest, with something on nearly all of the time. Recently we've had hens and a stag to go to, returning to uni, a christening and just general life busy busy. 

But now here we are, that time of year again, June. 

June. 

The month two years ago when my daughter died and was born. 

Two years. 

It is June and we're still busy, and so far I'm thankful for that. 

Being busy until Wednesday so far is helping me put off thinking about how to approach Anabelle's birthday this year. I don't know how to do it. I know in reality this build up will be far worse than the actual day, but at the moment I'm not ready to deal with it. There is something about it being her second birthday that I'm finding a lot harder to accept than I did her first.  What is that all about? 

I almost want to ignore it, just for now. Just until I've figured it all out. You know how I thrive off a plan. 

I want to make it special, but I don't quite know how. Last year her precious first birthday was marked with incredible fundraising. Big plans kept me going, a positive focus. I'm not sure what we have this year. This year I want her birthday to be far smaller and more intimate, but equally special. 

So far I've come up with a decorating pebbles theme.  We've decided we're going to attend the annual national Sands remembrance service at the memorial arboretum on the 16th June. Anabelle's remember day, 2 years to the day she died. And while we're there we will leave a decorated pebble for Anabelle in the baby memorial garden, and if she has a pebble there I want her to have decorated pebbles outside our front door and decorated pebbles on her garden. So far I will be busy painting and varnishing pebbles over the next couple of weeks. 

Pebbles and what? Lanterns, balloons, pink flower posies, decorated home and cemetery gardens? 

Birthday countdown; 18 days to go.
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Caz
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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