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, 29 September 2012

Alike?

 How would they have been alike?  How would they have been different? Anabelle and Alexander.

I'm finding myself wondering that a lot at the moment. 

Alexander has such a gorgeous cheeky personality, I laugh with him all the time. Would Anabelle have been the same? Happy? Always a pleasure like her brother? I enjoy Alexander so much; I hurt that my enjoyment of Anabelle was taken away. 

Would Anabelle have looked like Alexander, him like her? Would people have instantly known they were brother and sister if they were together?  Alexander has changed so much; his hair was dark and spiky when he was born and after it all fell out when he was 4 months old it grew back blonde. Would Anabelle have been blonde too?  

I could really see the similarities when he was born. And when he sleeps he still looks so much like her, with his little open mouth and peaceful expression. Their chins and jawline have the same shape, their eyes, forehead and bridge of nose have the same shape. Sometimes I watch him sleep and do a double take and can almost see his sister. 

I like that I can see her in him, but I worry as he grows more and more that similarity will be lost. When he stops being a baby, that won't be long. We only briefly knew Anabelle as a newborn, a sleeping newborn. We have no way of knowing what she would've looked like at 11 months, we and she didn't get that chance.  Does he represent what she would've been like too? 


Anabelle just born... 
Alexander just born...


I deserve to have my children together, watching their sibling bonds; not just hurting here trying to imagine it. I miss her. I miss her for us, for Xander. He would've loved his sister. 

Our sleeping boy now...

Beautiful boy





Monday, 17 September 2012

Eleven Months

A year ago today I was blogging from my hospital bed.

32+4 weeks pregnant with Alexander, the day of pregnancy his sister had died, and there I was in hospital terrified he was about to die too. I had threatened premature labour with him at almost exactly the same point as I had with Anabelle. To this day I can't shift the feeling this episode in hospital with her was a warning sign we should've heeded; a week later she died, so to have found myself in the same position with Alexander was terrifying.  

There started a week long stay and then daily visits to the hospital, the longest four weeks ever. But at the end of it, he came home. And now, a year on from that blog he is 11 months old!

One month until the big ONE!

This month Xander has made huge huge leaps! All the skills that have been emerging for a long time he is now mastering. He suddenly seems very grown up!

Our wonderful big boy is pulling himself to standing, trying to cruise along the sofa, taking a few steps with his baby vtech walker, climbing over everything and everyone, crawling properly and generally becoming a delightful busy menace! I love it! My heart swells watching him navigate his way around the room, my clever clever baby!

Just look at him go!



Now with all this movement it was time to lower the cot and time to baby proof our house! This week will be about baby gates, especially now he is discovering the stairs... 

Another big moment this month was baby boy starting nursery.  So far it seems he is settling into his bumblebee room very well. The reports nursery give us is that he is happy, inquisitive and playful while he is there and only a few tears. I feel so proud that they keep telling me what a lovely baby he is!  They might say it to every parent of course, and I might be biased, but I have to say I agree! 

Alexander continues to enjoy swimming, bath time, shower time, any water time really. He has discovered how to splash although not with great gusto yet! Haha! I'm sure the bathroom will be soaked soon enough though. Xander is now tickleish, especially under his arms if you catch the right spot. He is getting funnier and funnier and now does this bizzare shaking his head back and fore really fast thing. I've no idea what it is about. I thought at first he was possibly indicating some pain, but he just seems to like the sensation of some sort of head rush as he'll grin at you as he does it. I wonder  if he is exploring the option of saying 'no'! hehe

He is getting increasingly vocal but still no attempt at meaningful or recognisable words, just 'uh' vocalisations as if he's trying to talk to you or get your attention and some babble. We have lots of Dadadadadadada's for example, but not in context. In fact I'm still not sure he knows who we are by name. I often ask him where Daddy is and although he sometimes seems to look towards Daddy's direction I'm not confident that it isn't a fluke when he does so. When can we expect our first Muma and Dada in context? I can't wait for him to turn to me and say Muma! That really will make my day. 

He's more likely to identify Fiz I reckon! hehe. Fiz and Xander's budding friendship is ever growing. He loves her, gets so excited when she comes into his line of vision; cue lots of smiles, laughing, squeals, excited little legs. I think he is starting to get the concept of 'gentle hands' (well with lots of guidance!) and she loves the smoothing attention from him. Fiz loves him to, I'm convinced! She makes a point of curling up next to him most mornings now and letting him do his rough smooths! Adorable. 

Xander still loves his food, I still can't get it into him quick enough some days. Although dare I say it? He does seem to be calming down on the 'end of the world' crying when meal times are finished now! He has become proficient with soft finger foods now, looking back at all my worrying a few months ago and now he has a good go at everything you give him. My confidence is much better now and so is his; Xander has definitely finished with smooth purées, now he has a mashed/chopped dinner and eats a range of finger foods. Hand him half a banana, toast, pancakes, etc and he'll devour it with absolutely no issue! Even though at 11 months he still only has two teeth!  

Our growing boy is 22lb 14oz at 11 months old and has just moved into his big boy car seat. Another milestone moving from the baby carrier into a Group 1 seat! A few weeks ago I would've said he would be in his carrier until his birthday, he had plenty of room left in it and then all of a sudden over a few days he was too tall and I felt he would be safer in the new chair. He looks so small in the new chair compared to his carrier, but comfortable and cocooned too! 

And that is it. My next update will be his birthday update, his 'I'm a big one year old' update! 

This time last year we were in a very scary place, still not daring to believe this wonderful boy would stay with us, feeling fragile that he would be joining his sister. I'm feeling particularly emotional at the moment that we have been blessed with him, that he came home and is such an absolute joy. Truly our rainbow baby!

Beautiful Alexander, you've given us colour back into our lives and so much more. 
We love you and your sister so very much xxx

11 Months Old 



Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Ah, another of those cross rambled blog posts. I seem to be doing a lot of those these days. 

Sometimes I read of the experiences of other bereaved parents and I am astounded.  You know, the 'Don't have a clues' (DHACs) they encounter. I've written about DHACs before.   Over these last 2 years and almost 3 months we've encountered our share of DHACs, been hurt by people we shouldn't have been hurt by. I know there are well-meaning but misguided DHACs, and then there are the other nasty kind of DHAC. 

Sometimes people are just so uncaring, flippantly unkind. But what is even more astounding is when these people are supposed to be the bereaved parents friend.

Tonight, I've been reading about a bereaved Mum, who's angel sons third birthday is coming up. On his previous two birthdays her friends have rallied around when invited to help mark her son's day. Joined her in a lunch in honour of her little boy to mark his birthday. Eaten, chatted, celebrated him, supported her. 

Friends going out for lunch for a child's birthday; not difficult huh? 

But apparently, this year, his 3rd birthday it is too difficult, too inconvenient. This Mum has noticed her friends are disinterested. Now one friend has phoned to say that she thinks it was time she let it go, that she can't let this keep haunting her forever. Basically that there is no need for a birthday lunch.  

There was more, but I don't think it is relevant after that point. 

Let it go? Can't haunt her forever?  'It' being her son of course. 

Time to let her son go? 

Really?

Nice friend huh? 

This person is no 'friend' to this lady at all. 

It makes me furious that anyone thinks it is their right to imply our dead children should be 'let go', that we should 'move on', tell us enough of remembering your dead child now, tell us how we should be behaving or grieving or whatever. Is it time for me to publish my Wish List again? 

Hello DHAC. You really don't do you. So tell me which of your children would you like to discount from your daily concerns today as you think we should so readily do? 

Quite frankly if we invited friends to help mark Anabelle's birthdays and they said that to me it would be exactly like them saying it me about Xander's too. Because as far as I'm concerned my one child is not more important than my other, just because the one is dead. Can you imagine somebody saying to me on Xander's 3rd birthday?  Basically, that they cannot be bothered to help celebrate because they've already been around for the first two parties, so that is their fill of his birthdays now.  Can you imagine somebody saying to me that I should 'let him/his birthdays go' now?' 

What a ridiculous thing that would be considered to say to me, about my living child.  Ridiculous to say to me about my dead child too. 

What because its been 3 years we should forget now? Maybe you don't think we hurt as much any more, or if you think we do, maybe you think it was about time we stopped hurting. 

Do you forget one of your children's birthdays? No? Then why should we forget one of ours? Do you have your close friends part of your children's birthdays? Yes? Then why shouldn't we have our close friends around at our children's birthdays? Isn't that what supportive true friends do? 

If we invited you to our living child's birthday celebration would you come? Probably. So why not come along if we invite you to our angel baby's birthday celebration too? Is a meal, or a balloon release or anything really that inconvenient? Because it makes you feel uncomfortable? Why? And frankly, tough. Real friends put up with a moments discomfort to show love and compassion for a friend in need. 

Is it really so unreasonable to ask your close friends to join you in a birthday lunch for your angel baby son (or daughter)? If that is what it take to help you get through the day?  Is it unreasonable to ask your friends to acknowledge all your children's birthdays, living or otherwise, like they would acknowledge all of yours?  Can you imagine your friends remembering one child but completely ignoring the other? Would you think that acceptable? No? Then I don't for my children either.  

We've been so incredibly lucky in our friendships. We have always felt able to be open about Belle as a member of our family, not once have our friends made us feel like we should shy away from her name, or not to talk about her. I talk about Anabelle with my friends regularly, there isn't a day that goes by without her coming up in a conversation somewhere.

Our friends have remembered her 'remember day', remembered her birthdays, we've had friends make the effort to travel and visit her garden to leave their own floral tributes on her birthday, given us memory gifts, pass things to us for her to take with us, sent cards to us to tell us they are thinking of her, invited us out for a meal to mark her birthday. We have friends who have remembered her and honoured her in their weddings. We have friends who 'get it' as much as they can do and for that we are blessed. 

I hope (and I'm sure it won't) that doesn't change because it's her third birthday, or fourth birthday or whatever birthday when June rolls around again each year. 

I'm already anxious of Anabelle's third birthday. I know it is nine months away, but living without her doesn't only happen to me in June, it happen's all year around. For her third birthday I know it already falls on a work day; I already worry how on earth I'm going to cope in work. 

For her third birthday I worry people will expect me to be better. And it won't be better. There'll be another lantern, another decorated grave, another balloon into the sky, another cake. Another year of birthday rituals because she turns three but won't all at the same time. Another year of living without her again, until the next birthday and so on and so forth, forever.  

Same for this lady on MN too. 

There is no better, there is forever, but to quote the Beatles; there is getting by with a little help from your friends (and family).  



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Why?

Its been one of those weekends. You know, quite angry, quite all over the place, feeling emotionally fragile. 

Yesterday I got myself worked up about going up to the cemetery. The build up going to Anabelle's garden is becoming quite an ordeal for me. For some reason I'm not coping with it all so well at the moment, I'm not entirely sure why its become a bigger deal but it has. 

We don't go as often as I feel we should, and for that I feel perpetually guilty. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to emotionally deal with the mess and tidy up there because we are leaving it longer in between visits. It doesn't feel comfortable or comforting there at the moment. I can't do enough for her, nothing feels enough. Everything feels overwhelming and so wrong.    I find it difficult taking Alexander there; I'm not sure why. Possibly because he represents everything Anabelle should've been. Possibly because my fear of that grave being his fate is never far away. Possibly because he makes me so happy he is part of my guilt. But evidently, at the moment I'm not in a good place with garden visits. 

Yesterday we were going to go; but I got myself into such a state it just didn't feel like the right day to go anymore, so we put it off again. Instead we've been today.   Like everything this build up is far worse than the event; tidying up today wasn't as traumatic as I thought it was going to be, infact I was pleasently surprised how tidy it was there considering we've not been for six weeks.   

Six weeks, and there lies my biggest guilt. What excuse have I got for letting so many weeks slip by? I can't really blame it on being busy. Its not being busy. Basically the problem is me, I'm finding it harder to face up there. I don't understand why it feels harder at the moment. Nothing has fundamentally changed. We should go more often.  If I showed such little interest in Xander for six weeks I would be accountable to my health visitor, social services. If I neglected him I would be called up on it. But, because she is dead I'm not accountable for not being brilliant for Belle. 

Then today, to top the weekend off, yet again I've been made to feel the need to justify myself, explain myself. We could call this post exasperated (two). Something precious to me tainted because I used a sweeping excited statement, and offence was taken to it. There I go unintentionally hitting those nerves again. Goes to show the importance of more carefully choosing expression and turn of phrase though. 

So why have I said my baby boys birthday will be a big deal? why I gushed it will 'be the best a one year old ever had'? (And here at this point please note I didn't also add: P.S. a bigger deal than your baby or all your babies first birthday have been awful/rubbish/not good enough.) 

Because this is what baby birthdays have meant for our family so far:

Anabelle's 1st Birthday

Anabelle's 2nd Birthday 

Yup, here she goes again... playing that dead child card. But you know what, Anabelle death and absense colours everything, dominates our family. This is our reality. 

This. For our baby's birthday so far we've got to stand over their grave, cry, send ceremonial balloons into the sky, buy flower posies, garden ornaments and a big number balloon to decorate her garden.  

So I shall not be apologising for being overly excited or indeed over the top with my expectations for Alexander's first birthday.  Unless something goes horrifically wrong for our family in the next few weeks his birthday is going to be worlds apart from his sisters. For a start he will be alive. So in comparison to Anabelle, which is where all my comparisons normally lay, having the 'best' first birthday isn't going to be very difficult is it. 


Birthdays hurt me, all birthdays. Going to any child's birthday party these last few years have been a source of enormous pain for me. However much we love them. I had hoped Alexander's birthday was going to be the start of some healing; a precious party we've never been able to have in quite the same way for his sister. I thought after holding a party for Xander everyone else's birthdays would start to get easier too. Because finally we would've shared in that joy for one of our children. 


I thought people knew me better than this. Understood me better than this. Could see the bigger picture for our little family better than this. I'm incredibly upset that it could be believed that I would imply other parents in my circle of friends are not doing a good enough job for their children. That my excited expression of 'the best birthday' could be twisted into something of me being nasty, cruel or interpreted as criticising other peoples party choices.   Because quite frankly the thought to compare in this instance wouldn't even cross my mind!  

It is astounding that my excited statement has been taken so completely literally. I'm not ridiculous, I do know at literal value it is a far-fetched, unproven claim. But no more far-fetched than those of us who gush in a moment of love or excitement  that they have the best sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, friends, dogs, cat etc etc. Should offence be taken to all these statements too?! Because surely by making such a statement you are implying my family relationships are crap.  Well of course not. 

So no, Alexander will not be literally having the 'best birthday a one-year old ever had' as I dared to gush last night. My implying 'the best' is just a mother's excitement.  My declaration that it is a big deal for us doesn't automatically equal me saying 'a bigger deal than your baby'. I would never literally imply that. All baby's birthdays are important to their parents, our reasons for his birthday being so important is just different to others. 

 I'm not spiteful, I certainly do not claim to be more important than anyone else, or Alexander more important just because his sister died before him. I just use this space to record our lives; and right now the big deal for our family is his first birthday and the fact he is actually here to celebrate it instead of us grieve. 
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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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