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, 31 December 2013

Jar of Awesomeness 2013

2013. Another year.

I remember the first time I posted about the new year I was bereft that we were leaving the year Anabelle had been born. I wasn't ready for it to be 'last year' that my daughter died. Now we're going into the fourth year since my daughter died. In June it will be four years. It still amazes me we live, we love and we survive this world after Anabelle.

2013 has been a year of huge ups and downs. Last January I wanted the years goal to be healthier in my grief. Did it happen? Maybe partly. Mostly no.  This year I overcame some enormous milestones since Anabelle; I held other peoples babies, I became Godmother to a beautiful girl, but I also completely crumbled for a while. Utterly broken and hurting beyond what I could bear. Raw grief resurfaced as if we had lost her yesterday. Despite talking about counselling in January, it took an emotional breakdown to really push me there in the summer. So I've been back in counselling and will be back in again during 2014 in the approach to June. I've realised there will be times throughout my life where I will need extra emotional support to pull me through. It will always be like this.

But there has been plenty to celebrate in 2013. Namely, of course, our beautiful little Zachary becoming the latest addition to our family. 

Last January I started 'The Morgan's Jar of Awesomeness', every time some beautiful moment happened, or a special day, or a must not forget memory occurred, I've written it down on a scrap piece of paper and added it to the jar of awesomeness. 

These were our special moments this year.


  • 1st - My family playing peekaboo with Xander. He kept shouting 'boo' back and shrieking with laughter. My beautiful happy baby. 
  • 15th - Xander waving at his sister's photo and trying to copy me saying 'Belle' *heart* 
  • 28th - Xander having a sudden burst of confidence 'standing up' - If I asked him to 'up up' he climbed to his feet, let go and looked at me as if to say 'Look Mummy, no hands'. Very proud of himself shouting 'yay' before sitting down again to give himself a clap! 
  • 8th - Xander walking from car to house holding my hand! 
  • 10th - Xander screaming in the right place for the crocodile while we were singing 'Row Row Row Your Boat' 
  • 13th - Xander looking towards Belle's photo when asked where she is. 
  • 14th - Valentine's Day at Parc Playcentre.
  • 15th - Xander walking from car into the services at Reading - all around holding hands and didn't want to be carried! 
  • 18th - Xander's first independent step. Mini egg incentive! One step, then a wobble and fall.  16 months old. 
  • 27th - Belle's story in the newspapers following welsh assembly's report into stillbirth. Interview by the Western Mail, The Argus and on Real Radio. 
  • 27th - Xander taking his first 3-4 steps on his own. Aged 16 and a half months. 
  • 27th - New baby words - Nana, Bampi and Byebye. 
  • 5th - BFP for baby #3! What a surprise! 
  • 14th - Chris and Pui roadshow in Porthcawl. Show Me Show Me on Xander's half birthday. 
  • 24th - First time seeing baby blob #3 (and we've been together for 7 years today!) 
  • 27th - A sneaky extra scan. Baby blob measuring 6+2 weeks. So happy to be dated and a Christmas due date baby! (Approx 19th Dec) 
  • 28th - Lots of sloppy wet, very very lovely, opened mouthed kisses from Xander on demand. Heart melt moments! 
  • 15th - Another scan with Mini M #3. Measuring 9+0 weeks. 
  • 20th - Icecream and play at Roath Park. 
  • 30th - Xander noticing bump already and patting it and laying his head on it! 11+1 weeks pregnant. 
  • 4th - Sunny evening picnic at Tredegar House, playing bubbles in the park and Xander saying 'bubble'.
  • 10th - Xander pointing out all the little mice when asked where they were in his 'That's not my elephant' book.
  • 10th - Xander looking after his baby doll like we look after him. Patting bottom, stroking head and trying to share his dummy to help her sleep. Lots of 'Awww' cuddles too. *heart* 
  • 13th - Finished outdoor play patch!
  • 14th - Xander trying to keep up with the actions for Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. 
  • 14th - Xander enjoying his play patch and sandpit! 
  • 14th  - Xander playing 'boo' with himself in the mirror.
  • 14th - Another scan. Beautiful clear picture of one happy wriggly baby. Even waved at us! Official due date 15th December 2013. 13+5 weeks pregnant. 
  • 15th - Sands memorial service, meeting another Mummy with an angel called Anabelle. 
  • 15th - Watching Lilo and Stitch. "This is my family, little and broken, but still good." 
  • 22nd - Xander singing along to Twinkle Twinkle! 
  • 26th - One very clear 'Mummy' from Xander! Aged 20 months. 
  • 2nd - A lovely day with Xander and hearing baby blob's heartbeat at 16 week midwife appointment. 
  • 5th - Holding someone else's baby for the first time in three years. 
  • 6th - Xander being so besotted with baby Katie. Lots of kisses for her. 
  • 7th - Katie's Christening and being Godmother. 
  • 8th - Xander jumping up and being shocked by the pop up page in his Ten Friendly Fish book! Wish I'd caught it on camera!
  • 18th - Graduating again, with Merit, for my Diploma of Professional Development in SEN. 
  • 25th - Another scan. Mini M #3 is a boy! Zachary Stephen. 
  • 29th - Xander dancing! 
  • 26th July - 4th August - Awesome family holiday in Plymouth. Xander's favourite things were: a peacock at Dartmoor Zoo, swimming, jellyfish at the aquarium, the slide at softplay, hens and goats and little Flitwick owl at Totnes Farm, the train, Kwazzi the Octonaut and playing on the beach. Perfect time! 

  • 6th - Xander wibbling side to side when he points to the jellyfish in his Ten Friendly Fish book. 
  • 8th - Zac wriggling around enough and kicking hard enough for us to see and Daddy to feel for the first time. 21+4 weeks pregnant. 
  • 9th - An invite to 10 Downing Street. Totally amazed and wowed to be invited to a Sands reception in London at 10 Downing Street. So excited and in awe at the the reach of Belle's little life. Will be going in November when very very pregnant! Such a proud Mummy! 
  • 10th - Mr Blooms Big Day out at Margam Park. Xander loved everything. Totally mesmerised by Mr Bloom in person and loved dancing by the cBeebies stage. 
  • 14th - Day trip to Bristol Zoo with Xander, Mum and Dad. Xander's favourite things were the bubbles in the fish tanks and some animatronic dinosaurs! 
  • 14th - Buying my boys matching rainbow cardigans! 
  • 21st - Another scan and seeing Zac again. Measuring spot on and a very good reassuring appointments. Agreed a 37/38 week section.
  • 26th - Jon coming swimming with us and Xander loving 'teddy float surf boarding' with Daddy. Big beaming smiles!
  • 26th - Visit to Cardiff miniature railway. Xander and Daddy mesmerised by the model trains!
  • 27th - Amazing surprise present from Jon. My own new Apple Macbook Air! So spoilt! 
  • 30th - Xander knowing which animal is which on his farm.
  • 1st - and which zoo animal is which in his duplo!
  • 7th - Xander feeling Zac move for the first time. Jumping up and looking at my tummy! 
  • 7th - Xander joining in the wheels on the bus song with 'beep beep beep' 
  • 14th - Finally calling me Mummy properly and consistently! 23 months old. *heart*
  • 16th - Legoland! 
  • 21st - Dad's 60th birthday. Steam train day out and Gruffalo trail! 
  • 23rd - Ace swimming lesson with Xander. Jumping off the side stood up for the first time.
  • 24th - Xander's word count - 62 words!
  • 26th - Watching Xander play with Nana and Bampi 
  • 26th - Doing farm puzzles with Xander and him knowing all the sounds the animals make!
  • 28th - 4D Scan day with Zac. A little mini-image of Xander. 
  • 5th - Watching Enchanted with Xander and ball dancing around the living room with him!
  • 6th - Retweeted by Ola Jordan (Strictly Come Dancing) 
  • 10th - Watching Xander play 'blow' the lights out game. 
  • 13th - Xander's colourful soft play birthday party! 
  • 14th - Xander's 2nd birthday. His favourite birthday things; 'wow' at his rocket , driving the car at the Safari park, loving the elephants, pretend play in his new kitchen, birthday tea and amazing cake! 
  • 14th - Xander's birthday card getting on to cBeebies! 
  • 20th - Xander's first three word sentence. 'Cow say moo' while doing his farm puzzles. 
  • 20th - Reading 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' three times in a row. Xander saying 'again' when we got to the end and trying to join in his new favourite story! 
  • 23rd - Setting csection birthday date for Zac for the 29th November. 
  • 23rd - Exploring Autumn with Xander at the boating lake. 


  • 1st - Afternoon tea with Sorreya at the Hilton
  • 1st - Xander playing 'changing bottoms' with his bunny and putting a nappy on it!
  • 2nd - Making a toy cupboard!
  • 2nd - Xander naming shapes as he plays with his shape sorter independently. (Triangle, Square, Circle) 
  • 5th - Xander's first fireworks and sparklers!
  • 7th - Painting with Xander 
  • 9th - Xander doing his Noah puzzles nearly all by himself (18 pieces) 
  • 14th - Xander gardening with Bampi
  • 15th - Baking with Xander! 
  • 16th - Xander running around my parents house for 10 minutes playing circuits of 'boo' 
  • 19th - Sands reception at 10 Downing Street! Wow Belle! 
  • 23rd - Cheeky Monkey's soft play with Xander
  • 24th - Reading 'Guess How Much I Love You to Xander, all cuddled up in bed. 
  • 24th - Decorating the tree with Xander
  • 26th - Our beautiful son, Zachary Stephen, born screaming and safely! 
  • 29th - Taking Zac home.
  • 30th - My boys together. Xander being a beautifully loving big brother! *heart* 
  • 1st - Zac breastfeeding well. A much better start than with Xander and feeling very different this time around. 
  • 2nd - Xander saying 'love you Mummy' back to me! 
  • 8th - Zac getting better and coming home from hospital again! 
  • 9th - Zac definitely better! Amazing weight gain in just a few days from 7'2 to 7'11! 
  • 9th - Watching Xander scooter to the park and pushing Zac in the pram for the first time! 
  • 10th - First Rainbow babies meet with both boys.
  • 10th - Registering Zac officially! 
  • 10th - Reuben John Villars is born. A little nephew! 
  • 10th - Mum finally meeting Zac! 
  • 12th - Xander knowing the colours red, green and blue. 
  • 15th - Celebrating Zac's due date! 
  • 16th - Meeting Reuben! 
  • 17th - Zac's first visit to Belle and decorating for Christmas. 
  • 21st - Father Christmas train trip with boy, super special! 
  • 22nd - Zac and Xander playing playmat together. *heart* 
  • 25th - Christmas 2013. One very excited Xander! 
  • 28th  - Christmas jumper party at Sorreya's
  • 31st - All the Villars' together for the New Year. 

One hundred and twenty one awesome moments recorded this year. With plenty more besides that wouldn't have been noted down. Reading back on all of these just highlights how our children are our world. For all the pain threaded throughout our lives without Belle, Xander and Zac are our focus, our pleasure, our joy in it all. Thank goodness for our rainbows and their total awesomeness. Here's to many more beautiful moments in 2014. Wishing everyone a happy and blessed new year. 

"This is my family, little and broken, but still good."

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Zachary's Birthday

Originally my section date was Friday 29th November, but after my little stint in hospital with the infection at 35 weeks and my subsequent wobbly meltdown that week my consultant moved section day to Tuesday 26th November when I would be 37+2 weeks. She wanted to get me to 37 weeks and Tuesday was the earliest elective section day at the hospital.  Only a few days difference but a few days less to cope all the same!

So the weekend before we spent enjoying Xander on his own for the last few days. Took him to soft play, treated him, extra cuddles and fuss, started Christmas for him by decorating the tree early with him (as I didn’t think I would be up to it until practically Christmas day after the section!) Just felt all emotional about changing his entire world all weekend and kept looking at him swelling with pride and love for the special boy he is and the special two years we’ve had with him.

Then Monday I had my pre-op and it suddenly started feeling very real! I was very nervous Monday night which I hadn’t expected at all. I didn’t sleep very well and was basically awake from 4.00am.

Tuesday we arrived at the hospital at 7.30am as told to and then was told I was second on the list, so earliest I would be going in would be 10-10.30am, which did nothing for my nerves, as three hours at this point felt like eternity. We were put in a side room off the main waiting area in maternity and basically left to our own devices most of the time. They had a quick listen in to baby, did my obs, gave me my sexy stockings and gown and then just left us to it for what felt like years! The surgeon and anaesthetist popped in to say hello and said they would accommodate as much of my birth plan as they could (e.g. Jon seeing him be born, photos, skin to skin etc) as long as all was well.

Last picture as a bump!
Fear really started to get the better of me and I spent the whole morning obsessing about Zac’s movements and poking and prodding him. I was convinced we were going to lose him at the last hurdle. Completely irrational but the wait was not helping my anxiety at all.

Luckily my best friend had a scan at the hospital that morning, so when she text at 9.45am to see if I’d gone in yet and hadn’t she popped by to see us for a while. That really broke the rest of the time up and she spent about 45 minutes with us, but it was 10.30am now and I still hadn’t gone down to theatre!

I was finally called into theatre at 11.00am and there was a very nice reassuring team who did a great job of calming me down, and they just got on with it all straight away. I had been really nervous of the spinal block but I barely noticed it! The anaesthetist was amazing and it was just done before I really knew about it, so obviously very good at his job!

He talked to us throughout the operation, explaining what was happening, why things were taking as long as they were at any point, reassuring me that I was ok and what he was doing at each point. At one point I thought it was taking too long and something must be wrong, remembering that Xander was born three minutes from first incision and we were definitely over that, but he explained with an elective they can take their time a bit more so it would take a little longer for him to be born.

Given straight to Mummy 
And then they said he was coming, lowered the screen and Jon saw (and took photos!) of Zachary being just born! Nine minutes from first incision,  finally we heard our little man scream and the relief was overwhelming. Zachary Stephen, born at 11:44 am on 26th November 2013 weighing a miniature 7lb 9oz compared to his brothers 8lb 13oz when born exactly a week earlier!  And the very best bit of all is that I got immediate skin to skin with him. Jon said I was absolutely beaming the whole time he was on my chest! It was beautiful and just perfect... He kept making little squeaking noises and nuzzling into my face – trying to latch onto my cheek!

Unfortunately the section itself wasn’t as straight forward as we would have hoped, although initially cuddling Zachary on my chest I was too focussed on him to really take in what was going on with me. They thought they had nicked my bladder so had to put blue dye in it to see if anything leaked, thankfully it didn’t and that was all intact. But blood loss was an issue and I felt quite frightened for a while afterwards in recovery. In the initial surgery they decided to leave a drain in because they weren’t happy with the blood loss, then in recovery they kept checking me/changing me as I was soaking through bed pad after bed pad quite quickly and the surgeon applied pressure dressings to try and get on top of things, a little while after that I was put on a drip of something too to contact everything and try and reduce the blood loss.

Zac and Daddy
At one point taking me back into theatre was mentioned and I felt really really panicked, all the while the Dr and Jon reassuring me that I was ok and it was going to be ok but the blood loss and aftershock of surgery/drugs was starting to affect me and I wasn’t feeling so well.

Luckily they got it under control but instead of going straight up to the post-recovery ward as I was told would happen they moved me back to delivery ward next to theatre just incase. I had to remain nil-by-mouth too, and by this point I was feeling woozy and really really parched because I’d already been nil-by-mouth for 12 hours and couldn’t even have a sip of water. It was a long day.

 I was finally allowed to start having tiny occasional tiny sips of water to wet my mouth at 3.00pm and 7.00pm they let me try a bit of toast, which made me feel very sick so they had to give me more anti-sickness meds.

Zachary Stephen
Zac's first feed
Another lovely moment was Zac’s first feed about two hours after he was born. I was desperate for it to be sooner this time, but unfortunately with them all working on me for a while and concentrating on getting it all under control we had to wait until they were happy and I was feeling a bit better again. But even though he had had to wait two hours it was a lovely moment; unlike Xander who wouldn’t latch and ended up having his first colostrum expressed via syringe, Zac latched beautifully and we had a gorgeous 10 minute Mummy milk cuddle.

I was still on delivery ward at 5.00pm but luckily Xander was allowed to come out to the hospital. They did a great job of taking me off some of the bleeping machines and hiding other wires so nothing would frighten him. I really needed to see him and really wanted him to meet his brother they day he was born. It was gorgeous. He was excited to see the baby and peeked over the cot at him then gave him lots and lots of kisses and cuddles. He was also very pleased with all the presents Zac had bought for him!

I was thrilled it had gone so well, but visiting me the next two nights was really hard. He was less interested in Zac and just not himself, very unsettled not understanding why he couldn't climb on me or sit on my lap or give me proper cuddles and sobbed when it was time to leave me – which left me a sobbing mess too hearing his cry Mummy all the way down the corridors.

My Rainbow Boys

My Rainbow Family
It wasn’t until 9.00pm the night Zac was born that they decided I was well enough to be transferred upstairs to post-op care ward on maternity.  It had been a very long day and the next day wasn’t much better, when the drain and pressure bandages were removed. The drain coming out was possibly the most painful experience of my life, I absolutely howled and they had to get me gas and air to barely cope with it. I would be absolutely terrified of having one of those again.

Generally I’ve recovered much more slowly this time, and the pain has been unbearable at times.  We came home on the Friday afternoon, but by Saturday night I was coping so badly with the pain (coupled with a cold and cough making everything worse and excruciating every time I needed to cough) I was weeping all over Jon and sobbing down the phone to an out of hours Doctor at midnight asking for something stronger than the paracetomal and ibuprofen I’d been sent home with as painkillers. They told me to take co-codomol with ibuprofen instead and after half a day I actually felt more together than I had in days, and just generally more in control.

A week later, I finally started to feel like I’d turned the corner and felt much more like myself. Still sore, but totally manageable now whereas over the weekend everything had been just too much. Unsurprising when you’ve been given headache tablets to take as pain relief from major abdominal surgery! I’m positive I was on co-codomol from day one with Xander, so I’m confused as to why I had much less pain relief initially this time around. Day 12 and I haven't taken any painkillers for 24 hours, and feel like I can play properly with Xander again, so I'm definitely coping better now! 

Zac is just beautiful and totally worth it. He seems so teeny tiny compared to Xander as a newborn, but identical too. The first day I kept looking at him and having to remind myself what year is was and which baby it was. It is like turning the clock back in some ways. I see lots of similarities between all of my babies. Infact I think Zac looks even more like Belle than Xander did, because he is smaller and has such delicate features. He keeps pulling what I call a ‘Belle’ face and it is like looking at her. Beautiful but very bittersweet.

I still can’t believe I had a 7 pounder, I was convinced the last scan estimate must be completely wrong and he would be nearer to 9 pound like his brother was. But the last scan was more or less spot on when they said he was about 7lb 4oz four days before he was born! Since birth he has dropped to 7lb 2oz, and with him being poorly at a week old we haven't seen a weight gain yet. He really does feel absolutely skinny and tiny in my arms and just a beautiful ball of newborn baby! 

We’re hopefully getting there with the feeding now. After his first feed he wasn’t as good and spent day one and two having a mix of me, expressed colostrum via syringe and tiny amounts of formula via syringe to stablise his blood sugars which were very up and down. His tiny heels are still covered in the constant puncture marks from doing blood tests. But Zac was trying really hard and day three something seemed to click and he fed really well for a few days and we didn’t need to do top-ups anymore. Then of course it all went wrong when he was poorly and readmitted to hospital mid-week last week and needing a few feeds of expressed milk via NG tube. But he's turned the corner again and feeding well again now and we were discharged again today.

More than anything I’m still thrilled his first feed was cuddled up with me and that we’ve been breastfeeding for nearly two weeks and mostly its been a better start than last time, in that apart from when being unwell, Zac seems to have more of an instinct in what to do and has learnt to latch! 

We originally came home on Friday 29th November, my original section date and it was lovely. Walking out of hospital with him was as overwhelming as it had been with Xander, the feeling of having ‘made it’ and my baby leaving hospital with me is something I can’t quite describe. Xander settled right down again when we were home and seems smitten with his baby brother. He keeps demanding cuddles and wants to hold him all of the time. Keeps going over to him to share his toys with him, give him kisses and fuss. It is beautiful to watch and making my heart melt. I’m so so proud of what a loving wonderful big brother he is being, and love them both so much. 

Leaving hospital!

We're all home!

I'm really going to enjoy being Mummy to two rainbow boys, Zac has fitted right into our family and we really have been doubly blessed with two very precious sons. 

My special boys :)

A Poorly Zachary

I had a comment on my last post this morning, asking for Zachary's birth story! 

This has been sitting typed on my laptop for almost a week, but unfortunately I haven't been able to post it due to little Zac being readmitted to hospital only four days after he came home. So it is difficult to know where to start first, birth story or subsequent hospital stay! I'll start with hospital stay and post about his birthday a bit later! 

On his third day home our precious boy started to get sleepier and sleepier, and after an amazing start to breastfeeding (unlike his big brother, you all may remember!) he started to get fussy, especially on the left side and feeding really poorly, bobbing on and off and not really suckling well at all by the afternoon on Wednesday. It was like he had forgotten how to latch and lost all instinct to feed. We were having to wake him up, and really struggling to rouse him to the point we were spending more time trying to wake and latch him than he was actually feeding. 

I just knew something wasn't right so we popped him along to the GP to get him checked for thrush or something else that may have drastically changed his previously good feeding. The GP was very concerned about the change in his behaviour and his sleepiness, combined with the now poor feeding, jaundice appearance and slight temperature by the end of the afternoon we had been sent to the hospital for a paediatrician check. Initially we were led to believe that because I had been taking co-codomol for pain relief for a few days it was possible that what had transferred to Zac through my milk had made him sleepy and it was just a case of waiting for him to clear it out of his system. 

However, after a long wait in Children's Assessment, being seen by a nurse, then a junior Doctor and then finally a Registrar, the Registrar explained that experience told them that they can't ignore even one slight spike in temperature in a baby so small, and that although the co-codomol might be a factor they had to explore and treat him for infection. She said tiny babies do two of three things when they are unwell; they get sleepy or irritable and they go off their feeds. Zac was excessively sleepy and off his feeds and was presenting like an unwell newborn. So we were admitted and watched Doctors torture treat our tiny tiny boy. He has endured so much during his hospital stay. Firstly having a cannula placed in his hand, and because of his tiny veins of course it didn't go in first time, then needing a lumber puncture, and then having a nasal-gastic tube placed to give him some of his feeds and then cannula replaced after the first one came out with him fighting staff doing the LP and NG. 

 It has been very difficult to watch and hear our baby scream in so much pain, knowing its for his own good but wanting them to stop hurting him all at the same time. It has been an extremely stressful and frightening few days. He has been on high-dose antibiotics but all test results are now indicating he was suffering a viral rather than bacterial infection. Which makes sense when he came home to a house full of colds. 

I've been feeling so guilty. My little boy born because my inability to cope any further into a pregnancy, technically he should still be a bump but has already endured nasty painful procedures and been readmitted to hosptial unwell. Wednesday night through Thursday and Friday I was just getting increasingly scared. Everything seemed to have escalated so quickly and it all felt chaotic and out of control. I'll admit I irrationally convinced myself there was going to be something terribly wrong and that we were going to lose our littlest boy. After thinking those fears could evaporate a little after he was born safely our experiences this week have made me very fearful again. 

Then Friday night through to Saturday he started to turn around. 

His last NG feed was 3.00pm Friday afternoon. A few of those seemed to give him the energy to wake up a bit more and feed for himself. Friday night he kept me awake a lot, which was lovely! As exhausted as I was feeling by the morning I was just pleased he was behaving like a normal newborn again. All through Saturday he started waking for feeds himself after two and a half/three hours instead of us battling with him to wake up. Or if we were having to begin rouse him he was taking only a little persuasion! 

Midweek I thought our breastfeeding journey was going to be over before it had even really begun but it seems he has re-clicked with it now and is taking to it with less trouble than Alexander did. For a start we're currently feeding without shields! He feeds a lot quicker than Xander did and seems to be finished in 10-20 minutes compared to his big brothers epic hours; now I just need to trust him to know what he needs and rely on his wet and dirty nappies as an indicator of taking enough milk. His latch seems mostly good but I do want to get that checked again this week. I'm only a little bit sore, which I think is mostly 'toughening up' sore at the moment than any real damage. I'm hoping weigh in this week will finally show a gain too - that will be reassuring that everything is finally going the right direction.

This morning the Doctors decided he was well enough again to go home and discharged us. I'm so pleased we're home together again, especially for Xander who has been pulled pillar to post these last few weeks and his Mummy disappearing into hospital for the third time in a month. 

But very nervous too, it feels a huge responsibility having him home after being a poorly newborn. I hope we are home longer than four days this time! 

So there we are, Zachary has spent most of his life in hospital so far but we're hopeful this week we can start enjoying Jon's time off with us, doing lovely things with our boys. 

Birth story to follow a little later :)
Friday, 15 November 2013

It Had All Been Going So Well

We got to 35 weeks pregnant, no major drama, no hospital admissions. I was feeling a bit more confident that I was actually going to get to the end of a pregnancy with relative calm. I had even commented to Jon I thought we were going to make it without spending a night in hospital... I spoke too soon.

I got poorly Sunday evening. 

I was having frequent tightenings (and had been for a good few days) but it wasn't really that that was bothering me, it didn't feel like threatening prem-labour as I've done in the past and Zachary was wriggling about. But my tummy didn't feel like it was relaxing fully between the tightenings and I was having constant bad pain across my bump. So after a few hours we phoned labour ward and went for a check up. Their diagnosis after a happy trace from Zac was 'take paracetamol' and said the pains were muscular because of the tightenings and sent us home again. 

Overnight the pains got worse and worse, to the point of unbearable and unable to move without shrieking out. Just hugely agonising and we got no sleep. I couldn't lie down at all for the pain, I couldn't stay still, I couldn't move - it all just hurt too much and I just didn't know what to do with myself at all. I tried paracetamol (!) and a warm bath at 4.00am, which of course did little to help. By 5.30am Monday morning we knew we had to go back to labour ward and something really wasn't well. 

This time we were taken much more seriously. Doctors made sure I wasn't threatening premature labour (I wasn't - yay, I'm still managing that), but alerts in urine sample and then bloods within a few hours revealed highly elevated infection markers. They weren't sure of the source of the infection at this point but the stomach pains indicated probably UTI somewhere. I wish they'd picked that up Sunday night when we had gone in originally. 

I was admitted properly and spent most of the day on labour ward, being flushed through on a drip with bags of fluid, started on antibiotics, and painkillers that still were not doing anything. It was a tough day. They gave me steroids to prepare Zac for an early delivery just incase and just tried to stabilise me and the pain. Zac was happy and fine throughout which was a relief. My consultant gave me Pethidine at 3.00pm which finally, finally gave me a break. I can't say it solved the pain too much but took the edge off and, my, I was glad to be knocked out and whoozy for an hour!  I was taken to the baby ward upstairs and she prescribed a similar sort of sleeping pill for the evening, but to be honest being on a constant drip, having constant samples taken from me and just general hospital ward noise isn't conducive to sleep, even with sleeping pills.  I was so thankful when the pain eased around 4.30am so I could at least feel more comfortable lying down again. 

Tuesday was a more comfortable day. Although I was still exhausted, still on a drip most of the day and my samples producing all the alerts possible. However they were happy enough that I could go home to sleep Tuesday night if I wanted to, as an 'in but out patient' meaning there would still be a hospital bed should I need it in the night. I thought I would get more sleep at home, and I was desperate to be with Xander, but sleep didn't really work out. Anxiety got the better of me in the night and I was awake again from 4.00am. 

A scan hadn't been able to be arranged to double check Zac until Wednesday and after two days off my asprin I was starting to convince myself blood flow would be getting clogged and something terrible was going to happen to him, to us. Then the scan Wednesday only half reassured me. Yes, he was fine and wriggly and looked happy, and I was relieved, but this scan was in the ultrasound department when usually my scans are with my consultant. Ultrasound wouldn't do a doppler flow check - because everything else looked fine they don't routinely do them. The doppler flow was my biggest concern and it wasn't checked so this started to play on my mind, worried how two days without asprin had affected my baby. But tried to relax, tried to trust. 

Then, Wednesday overnight, Thursday morning I woke up with chest pains. Hurting to breathe, move anything. I'll admit I was panicking and that was probably making it worse, sleep deprivation starting to get the better of me. But another trip to labour ward, for another check. Yup they are probably sick of the sight of me and I know I sound a drama queen. They checked me over, did an ECG, ruled out heart complaints and concluded muscular pains, again. Just a different location. They checked Zac over, his trace didn't reassure me - yes it was within normal range, but it was 'different' for him. Everything was screaming Anabelle at me and I quite simply lost it. 

The duty Doctor was completely dismissive of my fears, completely dismissive of Belle and everything that happened to us and made me feel like a waste of his time. So of course I cried and demanded my consultant. And of course it was her day off. But at least the midwife arranged for me to be seen and monitored again today with an unscheduled appointment with my consultant today. 

After days of feeling so poorly, days of no sleep I had reached my limit. All the coping bravery of this pregnancy is used up now and yesterday was a meltdown day. Chest pains, dizzy spells and just a wreck all day. I needed a consultant review. 

Today has been better. This afternoon I've actually felt well by comparison. Xander has finally had some Mummy time after a week of being cared for by others because I've not been up to it. I saw my consultant at dinner time and she totally got straight away why I'm hugely wobbling after this week of being unwell. She was kind and gentle and prescribed some proper pain relief for anymore chest pains (although added they should still be checked out and not to feel I'm being a nuisance), added daily monitoring now until his birth and altered our birth plan. Chest pain has become mild discomfort which makes me well aware that these are symptoms of me not coping this week and of stress. Not 'real' muscular pain or anything to worry about. A supportive appointment with MY Doctor and I'm calmer. I'm so cross with myself - I thought we were mostly doing better to hold it together this time. A few little blips but mostly braver. I really wanted to get to the end without a hospital admission, I wanted to stay brave. 

I didn't make it and now I'm past being brave. Zac is so close now yet still so far and these are going to be a long few weeks. Stay safe my beautiful boy, we cannot wait to meet you.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Shelving Therapy

Monday we shelved counselling after another three and a bit month stint. 

With Zachary due imminently my focus has to be elsewhere; preparing for him, and then when he hopefully comes home I'll be in the full throes of newborn joys and chaos at home, with little time for appointments.   So for now it is shelved, but not forgotten. Not off the books like the last time I finished. 

Progress made? Hard to say really. All the immense pain and bewilderment is in a different place. June. We've talked a lot about my children, how they all individually make me feel. We've talked about other peoples children, and babies and pregnancies and how they make me feel. We've talked about how Anabelle colours everything in our lives, how even the most wonderful days are tinged with sadness that she isn't here too, we've talked about friendships, we've talked about fears and anger and expectations of other people. We've talked about the insensitive things that have been said to me over the years; from friends, others and professionals. We've talked about the taboo and lack of understanding about the everlasting impact of a baby born sleeping.  We've talked about time moving on. We've talking about me 'letting go' of June and all the things I cannot change. We've talked about the new challenges lying ahead for our family again, as time keeps moving on and the world keeps changing around us. We've done lots of talking. But progress. I'm really not sure.  

I think at this point, my counsellor and I both recognised that I'm not there at the moment, so it is difficult to work through it at the moment. It isn't June and for now I've reached another calm before another storm. We've recognised that my mental health and grief is 'seasonal' or at least temperamental with peaks and troughs and triggers. Sometimes I function like I'm back at the beginning, but now, November, I've finished unravelling and have put myself loosely back together again for a time. Maybe I need to be unravelling for her to do any real work with me. 

I know there will be a storm ripple over Christmas, possibly bigger than other years when newborn adrenaline has worn off at the same time as Christmas and grief will be battling surgery recovery and extreme tiredness too. This year I'm pre-empting that new Mummy hormones are going to be mixed in together with the Christmas grief and anxiety, mixed in again with readjusting to our family growing while not growing all at the same time. Happiness and sadness of becoming a family of five but only a physically a family of four. While I process the excitements of seeing sibling bonds develop between my boys while being pained that it is something I should already have seen with my girl and boy. 

I expect another ripple over Mother's Day, these ripples traditionally short and ridden with some composure - but the biggy? The biggy is June. I get anxious just thinking about June. Because June won't be 2014. Not really. It will be living 2014 while reliving 2010 at the same time. That is where I need help. 

So we're taking a break. And I'll return to counselling again after Easter, to support me through May and the build up to Anabelle's fourth (!) birthday and the crisis point I may reach again through June. Maybe by returning to counselling again then I can avoid the epic measure meltdown I crashed into last June. 

Why do Anabelle's birthdays feel harder each year? Time hasn't healed. Isn't time supposed to heal? 

It is a clique I don't understand. Not really. Of course there has been some healing. I function day to day, I have lots of happiness and joy in my life it is true. But scratch the surface away, get to June or other trigger points and there is no healing. I have lots of pain too, pain I can't see ever being any better. Just pain upon pain as another year passes. Another birthday and my little girl isn't really the age she is supposed to be at all. A birthday without real celebration is so foreign to me. 

We've agreed 'therapy' is probably something I'm going to need on and off for many years to come. Maybe forever. I'm not sure how that makes me feel. Slightly unhinged maybe; but then maybe that is the reality of living after immense trauma, maybe always a bit fragile under the surface.

For now I'm well enough to leave it be and I'll return to it again when the blackness re-descends.

So maybe we have made progress, in at least I know I won't be waiting for the meltdown to pieces to have happened before accessing help next time. Next year we're going for prevention rather than cure. Or if we can't prevent, at least somebody professionally riding it with me. There is progress. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

We Have A Terrific Two Year Old

Two weeks ago Alexander turned two!

He had a wonderful birthday and was so very spoilt again. Again I was emotional in the run up to his birthday, looking back over all the photographs of the last year and how he has changed and grown. I don't think the absolute preciousness of his birthday will ever feel any less than it does now; that he got to be another year older and we got to live it with him. That we are blessed with watching this beautiful child grow. That Alexander's birthday involves a proper party and proper presents; not flowers and balloons into the sky in stark comparison to how we mark his sisters precious but painful birthdays. I'm so grateful we have so much joy in his birthday instead of pain and I can't believe I'll ever take the 14th October for granted. I hope so hard we'll soon have the same pure relief in his brother's birth.

This year for his birthday we booked a soft play party at the local leisure centre and he was so excited when we arrived and he saw the room. It is gorgeous hearing him exclaim 'wowww' now when he thinks something is wonderful! On his actual birthday, Jon took the day off and we took him to West Midlands Safari Park to see the animals, but of course, as much as he loves animals his favourite bit was being in the front of the car and Daddy letting him sit on his lap to 'drive'! He had a wonderful couple of days and the perfect start to being a two year old!

The amount he grows and learns and grasps continues to astound me. I know we never really stop learning, but it is incredible the amount of developing a little human does in the first few years compared to a life-time of much slower learning by the time they finish infant school. I've just read back over his 18 month update, and realised how much more he can do just another six months later! Alexander amazes me every week and we're so proud. 

So where to begin?!

I can't believe he has only been confidently walking for six months. In April he had just started walking independently outside; now there is absolutely no stopping him, now he can run too! The last few months he has been increasingly determined to be independent, so of course, lots of the time he doesn't want to hold hands when he is walking anymore - although he knows I'm going to insist he holds my hand if we're near a road or other danger! I've never been a fan of baby reigns but they have definitely saved my sanity on occasion these last couple of months. Xander has had his independence and I've still had control of keeping him safe! He is exerting his independence daily now in lots of areas; for example sometimes refusing all help to eat his dinner - he is very determined to use his spoon all by himself now, but when he does want help he likes to choose who helps him! Or choose who puts him to bed, or brushes his teeth etc.

Two-year old strops are still mostly short lived and easily forgotten or distracted, although he knows how to stand his ground when he wants to! We're by no means 'get your own way' all the time parents but equally not 'We're big you're small and what we say goes' type parents either. We're trying to find a gentle mix between the two extremes! Xander is certainly learning he has a voice and an opinion and within boundaries I think it is important to allow him to exert some control in his world and be made to feel like his voice matters and that we are listening to him too. 

He enjoys lots of physical and outdoor play. Visits to the park are a favourite activity and he'll spend as long as you'll allow him running around from one piece of equipment to the next climbing and crawling, up and down slides and through tunnels! He has been thrilled with his mini-micro scooter he was given for his birthday, meaning he can play on his 'bike' outside!  He enjoys rough and tumble play; being tickled and chased and can be quite cheeky with it; looking over his shoulder to see if you are coming to get him, and also loves chasing you back. Someone (!) taught him to bounce on the bed so he loves getting on his knees and using our bed as a bouncy castle, and is trying hard to jump properly now too, although he still isn't quite getting his feet off the floor!  He still loves soft play centres and swimming on a Monday, although at my current pregnant size I'm struggling to keep up with him!  

It feels like Alexander literally never sits still!

His words have come on leaps and bounds these last six months. He has reached the stage where he is trying to copy and repeat lots of what you say to him and often 'talks' to us in his own version of conversation and full sentences, trying so very hard to tell us something but still not quite legible! At my last count Alexander had 65 words and representational sounds (and now probably has a few more again!) and he is now starting to combine two words together more frequently. For example 'Bye Daddy' in the morning when he leaves for work. He spends huge parts of the day pointing to and naming the things he knows and knows he can say, he's very proud of himself when he gets a word right! He talks to himself and his toys in his play and his intonation is fab, he is so expressive! I think as soon as all the word formation and pronunciation clicks he's going to be a super little chatter box. He is so very nearly there!

He took us by surprise at the end of August when we realised he knew all the animals in his toy farm, and then a few days later all the zoo animals in his Duplo. We hadn't spent huge amounts of time naming animals with him at this point so we were impressed that he has obviously naturally picked this up during play or somewhere else! He loves looking through picture books now and pointing to and naming the animals he can see and will tell you what sound they make too. Infact his first three word sentence was recently 'Cow say Moo' while he was doing his farm animal puzzles! His favourite animals are Lions, which he calls 'Rarrs' and Elephants which he says is a 'Dunt'.

Alexander loves singing songs and dancing and enjoys twirling along to Strictly on a Saturday evening at the moment. He only has to hear music and he starts trying to bounce in time! His favourite songs at the moment are Twinkle Twinkle, Old MacDonald and If You're Happy And You Know It. He is singing along now, making a sound for each word (and saying some in the right places!) and humming the tune along in a recognisable way.  It is particularly cute listening to him trying to say E-I-E-I-O and then making the animal noises!

More recently he has started becoming increasingly interested in numbers and counting, and the names of shapes and letters. Mesmerised by the Numtums and Alphablocks (cBeebies), he tries to join in the songs and copy all the sounds they are making through the programmes. He enjoys somebody counting things with him and has an emerging awareness of one-to-one correspondence, pointing his finger to touch things as he 'counts' although of course it isn't accurate yet! He is beginning to say numbers with you and is grasping the pattern of the sounds counting one to ten. Xander can accurately recognise a star and is starting to identify a square and circle consistently too.

Alexander has enjoyed looking at books for a while but now he is actually listening to and giving you a chance to read the stories to him. He looks through his pile of books until he finds the one he wants and will turn the pages in lots of books to find his favourite page! For his birthday we bought him 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' and it has already become a firm favourite. He is joining in the repetitive pattern, and words in the right places. He especially likes saying the 'Uh-Oh' - and gets in there before I do! The Gruffalo is another favourite story and I'm looking forward to introducing him to Dear Zoo at Christmas!

It has been fascinating to see his play mature recently. He has always played beautifully, exploring toys appropriately and quick to catch onto concepts but over the last few weeks or so this has turned into proper imaginary role play and it is lovely to watch. Over the summer he started using the hose pipe in my parents garden to pretend to put petrol in his cosy coupe car, he looks after his dolls and soft toys now, talking to them, loving them, offering them his dummy and patting their bottoms to help them go to sleep. He has started playing properly with his role play toys; pushing cars around saying beep beep or trying to copy Daddy make a engine noise, he plays with his farm taking the farmer out in his tractor (although sometimes an animal drives it too!) and putting the animals in the fields and pen. He has loved his rocket spaceship for his birthday and blasts it off into space complete with trying to countdown along with it first, and builds his train track and pushes the train around; a few weeks ago he would've spent most of the time dismantling the track! It is adorable watching him play with his toy kitchen, he has spent hours so far cooking food and then dishing it out to everyone to eat! We're going into a new era of pretend play and I love it!

Currently his favourite TV programmes are still Show Me Show Me (especially the groovy moves bit!), RaaRaa the Noisy Lion and In the Night Garden. He recognises characters off the TV in shops now and his favourite is definitely Upsy Daisy...if he spots 'Daidy' on the shelf he will point and call for her! He'll be super pleased when he finds out he is getting his own Daisy Doll for Christmas I'm sure!

Alexander is certainly growing up now and we continue to find that gentle 'baby-led' parenting suits our family and him best. In his 18 month update he was nowhere near ready to self-settle for sleep and that he was very dependent on our presence and being held to drift off. Without any prompting from us this all changed a few weeks before his birthday. Just as I was starting to get jittery how we would manage two demanding babies dependent on lots of reassurance to go to sleep, almost all by himself Alexander decided he was ready to put himself to sleep. Once again proving that he'll do everything when he is emotionally ready to do so!

He started fussing while being cuddled after his milk so we started putting him in the cot and leaving the room as he got drowsy. The first couple of nights he sensed we were going and cried in protest as we left, but hearing our voices over the monitor was enough for him to stop crying and lie back down and drift off to the nursery music the monitor played. After a few nights he didn't even cry as we left the room and was fine with the music. A few weeks later he is going straight in the cot on finishing milk and is totally self-settling, most nights without the music cue too! I don't think it will be long before he drops his bedtime bottle by himself too, as some nights he is unfussed about it now.

Around his second birthday we had originally planned to try and encourage him to wean off the dummy, but with a new baby on the way very soon we are expecting him to regress and become unsettled for a while and think it would be cruel to withdraw his comforter. Although he is much less reliant on it now we want him to feel as secure as possible as this major change happens to his world!

The dummy is another thing he is showing signs of giving up by himself as he is un-fussed about having it most of the time now; mostly he still only has it for nap or sleep times and will give it up when asked to when he has woken up properly. It spends more time in his hand than his mouth and if he has found it during the day he frequently hands it back to us of his own independent decision too. So we're going to see how it goes and look to remove it when he has fully settled into his role as big brother. I'm hazarding a guess though that this is another thing I'll start getting jittery about as he gets a bit older again but that he'll mature out of his own volition!

So he continues to go to bed well and sleep well, we've been so extremely fortunate with him that he has been such an easy baby and toddler so far! Of course he has his moments, but on the whole he is such a happy, easy going little boy!

What is it about a baby turning two that makes everyone so interested in when you plan to potty-train them? I'll be honest, this is my biggest parenting dread, it sounds like such hard work, but equally not something I'm planning to do anytime that soon; yes sometime between now and his third birthday of course but not until Xander is showing some signs of being ready. He certainly isn't anywhere near ready just now. Nappy changes can be a battle ground and he shows little to no awareness he has pooed. He never indicates to us he has gone and will sit in it until we sniff it out, and then more often than not doesn't want to be changed! The other side of Christmas, when we're settled and more importantly Xander is settled, into a new routine with the new baby I'll start introducing him to sitting on potties and toilets in a really informal way as part of nappy changing so he starts to grasp the link but I certainly won't be pushing training or introducing pants unless he shows an interest or readiness for it.  To be honest, I'm hoping, like everything else, he'll lead the way in his own time and sort of start doing it himself.

He is making some lovely relationships with other special people in his life now independent of us. He particularly loves his Nana and Bampi and will often get very upset when it is time to say goodbye to them and leave their house! Equally this can work in my favour though if he is being a pest to get ready, so if we are actually going to their house we've only got to mention their names at home and he is getting dressed nicely and running to stand by the front door ready to run to the car to go up there! He has clearly learnt the route to their house too, because as soon as we're on the roundabout that leads to the road down to their house he is shouting 'Nana and Bampi' - very cute!

Alexander had his first visit to the dentist today who was pleased with his 16 teeth! The 16th pushing through the week after his birthday. So that is just the back molars to go now. He is very good at brushing his teeth and opening his mouth but didn't want to show the dentist today; but was happy enough for him to pull his lips apart for a little peek. I hope he inherits good teeth; my personal goal is getting to age 30 without a filling, so I'm quite obsessed with keeping his teeth just as healthy!

Alexander's weight gain seems to have slowed down and hasn't put on any weight these last few months. Instead he has grown upwards and slimmed out a little. He still has his lovely round baby belly though! He is approximately 31lb and 89cm tall and still wearing his 18-24 month clothes with plenty of room for another little while yet.

His biggest change soon will be his new role of big brother. He has patted my tummy throughout this pregnancy and said 'baby' and seems to understand that the baby's name is Zac, but how much he really understands is anyone's guess. As much as he loves other peoples babies (especially mesmerised by my friends twins when he sees them at the moment!) I know it is going to be a huge shock when the baby is there all of the time and I hope he doesn't feel too unsettled or anxious. We keep looking at a book called 'Waiting for Baby' and talking with him about the baby growing and being gentle with his baby doll and other peoples babies, but I'm not sure how else to prepare him now. I think he is going to be gentle (well gentle for a toddler!) and loving with his new baby brother, and want to hold his hand and give kisses and cuddles, but equally I fully expect the jealousy at some point too. I'm apprehensive how to give Xander the attention he is used to and needs with a newborn too, when I remember how 'demanding' he was when he was tiny.   I expect I'll be making good use of my baby sling this time and looking for advice on how to manage both my boys needs at the same time! But mostly I know our family will adjust into its natural rhythm again around the end of the 'fourth trimester' and I'm excited to see my boys together and as anxious as you would expect to get to the end of this pregnancy safely.

So that is it! My beautiful rainbow baby is now a fully fledged toddler boy.

One epic post I know, which just goes to show how much he will change in another six months. Will let you know how he is getting on at two and a half, but for now enjoy his One to Two video. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Thirty Two Plus Three to Four

Thirty two plus three.

The last few hours Anabelle was alive. I went to bed at 11pm; having thought she was quiet but foolishly and falsely reassured myself listening to her heartbeat on the bonding machine we had. Thinking we would go in in the morning if she hadn't woken up a bit. She didn't wake up. Instead sometime overnight, during the early hours of thirty two plus four my baby girl died. 

If only I could turn back time and re-do that night. Maybe she would've still been alive to see thirty two plus four. Maybe Doctors could've tried to save her. Instead while she died, and slipped away, her mother slept. I slept when I should've gone to the hospital before going to bed. 

Tonight I am thirty two plus three again, for the third time in my life. I'm scared of tonight, scared of tomorrow. These milestones etched into me when life shattered into uncountable pieces and will never be quite the same again. 

Zachary hasn't been quiet today, he is wriggling around even now. I've no reason to be concerned. He has been scanned today, he was happy and healthy and growing well. Today has marked the furthest into a pregnancy I've got without being admitted to hospital for threatening premature labour. I hope I haven't spoken too soon and of course will be entirely unsurprised if I am admitted between now and his birthday, but one day further on to start off with is important nonetheless. So why am I so scared? Scared that by the morning he won't be with me anymore. 

Last time I was thirty two plus three and going to sleep I was already in hospital, having been admitted the day before threatening premature labour with Alexander. I remember sobbing as Jon left at the end of visiting hours, terrified what the night would bring even there and being on my own. Sobbing on the midwives that I was scared to go to sleep. So they listened in to Alexander throughout the night, waking me up so I could hear he was still there as we went through to the morning. Alexander lived, he kept living. He was born screaming and perfect four very very long weeks later. 

Tonight I don't have that. And I'm still scared to go to sleep. There is no listening in tonight. Just waiting with bated breaths for kicks and wriggles from Zac. 

I hope I can celebrate being thirty two plus four in the morning, and that Zac will be older than his sister ever was.    

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Pregnancy Turbulence

I've been so very up and down.

When anxiety hits about our unborn baby now it is crippling me. Here we are, Week 31, and I'm just waiting for something to go wrong. 

Last Friday evening we ended up on delivery ward, again, after convincing myself I hadn't felt Zac all day. Of course I must've, but work is so crazily busy that I haven't the time while I'm there to give Zac and myself the attention we need. Light little wriggle movements are no good to me. They don't reassure me, because I don't trust my judgement. I need focus time to really notice what is going on inside my tummy, and I need Zac to give me big boots! 

As always, the hospital were marvellous with me. And of course as soon as I was hooked up to the monitor Zachary started having a party in my tummy. 

A little concerningly the trace was showing some uterus irritability with regular tightenings, approximately four minutes apart. You know, signs of my usual performance on the horizon. I so really hope not. Anyway, the midwife got the Doctor on duty to come and have a chat about the tightenings who said a trace like that makes them worry a lady is about to go into labour. It didn't feel like I was going into labour. Strong Braxton Hicks, yes, but nothing like the last two times I've threatened the whole labour thing. Uncomfortable, not overly painful is the difference! Doctor seemed reassured I could tell the difference and allowed me home with a list of things I should and shouldn't be doing to reduce the risks of it happening again. The consultant backed this up on Wednesday with her orders to rest. 

We'll see I guess. When I'm 'up' I really don't feel like it will follow that pattern again, somehow it feels a bit different this time, but when I'm 'down' and the weight of the baby is pushing down there I'm convinced something will kick off any day now. Emotionally I'm feeling all over the place, which is hardly surprising I guess as we get through these next few weeks. 

I'm just rubbish at being 30+ weeks pregnant aren't I! 

I'm just dominated by thoughts at the moment that in Anabelle's pregnancy we had no idea that she just had one week left to live. Despite the threatened premature labour, the very thought she could die hadn't entered our minds. We thought she was going to be born early, but not dead. I was discharged, she was fine, or so we thought. We were so oblivious that our little girl was 'breathing her last' in this week. 

Rationally I know 32+4 means little for subsequent pregnancies, but it is a milestone I have to get past and right now I'm struggling to control the anxiety surrounding it. What if Zac is also 'breathing his last'? I have no control over whether Zac lives or dies, as I didn't with Belle or Xander. All I can do is hope and use the NHS system to its max to reassure me and constantly check on him over these final weeks of pregnancy. Which I'm doing, and with an excellent supportive consultant behind me. She is so intune with my emotional angst at the moment and is trying to remove any extra pressure for me. 

So that's me. Hoping that if we can get to a week Sunday without incident that I'll calm down and feel a bit more on an even keel again. 

P.S. Alexander had a wonderful 2nd birthday, and as soon as I find a good half hour I'll write his two year update and all the clever things our beautiful boy has learnt to do these last six months. He makes me so proud every day, such a bright, loving and sensitive boy. In the meantime, here is his birthday video photo journey From One To Two... what a blessing he is! :) 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The 28 Week Milestone

So I'm officially now in the third trimester and a maximum of ten weeks away from meeting our little boy. 28 weeks was the next milestone on my list of markers. The next after this are the tricky milestones. 

So here I am. Right at the start of the anxiety ever-increasing weeks. They've been on the horizon for a while, but now we're here. 

I feel like a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off. 

Just sat waiting to threaten an episode of severe braxton hicks, that start to become contractions that threaten to become premature labour, just as I did at 31 weeks with the other two. 

Just sat waiting to get to, and get past, 32+4 weeks with my baby boy still alive. 

Tomorrow is my next appointment with the consultant, for a growth scan, general check-up and my Anti-D injection. I haven't had a scan for five weeks and after I get over the first moments while they show me his heartbeat, I'm looking forward to seeing him. Care-wise I'm seeing somebody weekly now, after my midwife recognised anxiety was on the up a few weeks ago. It is my focus each week. Getting to the appointment where she'll listen to his heartbeat, but I'm hoping the consultant will start seeing me more regularly now as well after tomorrow, just to get me through to the end. 

So near, yet so so far. Even though Alexander came home I still cannot trust me or my judgement, not really. I hate them asking me about his movements. Although I think for the most part he is an active baby, and I'm beginning to notice a pattern when he is most awake (late at night, typically!), on a quiet day I freak out. Or I wonder if he is as active as I think he is or have judged him to be. Should he really be more active? I'm always scared I'm missing something. Always scared I'm going to get it wrong. 

Saturday I'm really looking forward to seeing him. The highlight of the week is our 4D scan. 

With Alexander a 4D scan was booked at the last minute, in a moment of complete panic. Truly fearful he was about to die and I wouldn't have seen him alive. This time we booked it weeks ago, ready for this point in the pregnancy when I know I'm likely to start going a bit crazy with fear. This Saturday I'm going to see Zachary alive. I hope we'll see him frowning, waving his arms around, rubbing his head, and sucking and opening and closing his mouth just like we did his brother. I can't wait to see how much he looks like his big brother and sister.

A little DVD, a piece of him alive forever, seeing how he really looks like and moves. I don't want to say incase the worst happens, but its why. 

This week I've gone into nesting mode. Its a response to the milestone I'm sure. I'm thinking about overnight bags for me incase I'm admitted anytime now over the next few weeks. I've sorted drawers in Alexander's room to make space for tiny baby clothes again. Clothes are down from the attic and in the midst of being washed and put away. Yes it is all very premature and I know more than most there is no guarantee he is coming home. But I want to believe he is. I want to be ready for him, however these next few weeks pass by.

So the 28 week milestone we're marking by seeing him alive. By 'meeting' our baby and showing him to his big brother, who is coming with us to the scan. 

Stay safe little one. 
Saturday, 14 September 2013

I've Forgotten Her...

... well not her, but I've forgotten exactly what she felt like. How precisely tiny she was. 

Back in July I overcame one of my biggest hurdles yet. I held someone elses new(ish) baby for the first time. I say newish because the little girl I held was already three months old. Still small, still new, but not quite brand-new newborn.  

Today I faced another step along the mastering new babies path and held two very tiny newborns; my friends five-pound-something twin boys. Proper newborns, one day shy of two weeks old. And not just proper newborns, but the very very small kind. 

Very very small like my Belle, only she was even smaller again. My tiny 4lb 5oz baby girl. 

I felt surprisingly mostly unfazed by the babies themselves. I instantly just felt comfortable enough to whip them into my arms for snuggles and enjoyed these small sleeping babies. I think it shows how far I've already come since my first baby in July, although I will of course acknowledge the fact they were boys and not girls makes it different mindset, and a different hurdle. Easier I guess. 

They made me very broody for Zachary; my newborn-to-be to stay safe for another 10-11 weeks before I can hold him.  They were an excellent, insightful, oh my goodness, introduction to toddlers and newborns! Alexander was totally mesmerised by the fact there were two babies and just wanted to keep touching them and having his own cuddles. It was actually quite stressful! Haha! Continuously reminding an almost-two-year-old about gentle hands and being on pins that he was going to pull one of the Moses baskets over as he leaned over them to watch the babies! Luckily the twins parents were much more relaxed about Xander around their babies than Jon or I were!   

To say Alexander with Zachary is going to be busy is an understatement! But maybe we'll be more relaxed with our own newborn and toddler? Tips for management of those tiny days with the two of them welcome!

But of course these beautiful tiny boys have made us think of Anabelle. The closest babies to her size we've seen since we had her. Today Jon had tears in his eyes as he remembered our tiny daughter on his bare chest. I gulped that I couldn't remember enough, not in the way I want to. I'm struggling to explain quite what I mean. How can I convey that I remember and I forget all at the same time?

Anabelle: 4lb 5oz and 44cm long. 
I knew I had forgotten how really small she was. The her size was escaping me.  The boys felt absolutely miniature, their clothes smaller than newborn and I know she was another pound smaller again and in smaller clothes again. I know she was small, I know she was tiny on me. Half the size again her brother was as a newborn. But I had forgotten what tiny felt like. Of course I had. I have equally forgotten how small Alexander once was. Evidence that looking at newborn clothes again for  Zac and being wowed that they were once big on Xander. Just as I'll forget how little Zac once was in years to come too.

But it is so much harder accepting I've forgotten exactly how small she felt and was, because Anabelle never grew. 4lb 5oz is all she ever was or will be and I wish so hard I could hold onto that. That part of her, everything she was, all we had of her. 

Why is it so hard to retain this feeling of her size in my memory?

What else will begin to fade with more time? It frightens me that we could 'lose' even more of her in this way.

Darling girl. I miss you. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

And So The Unravelling Begins

The unravelling has started. 

Even earlier than in Alexander's pregnancy, which makes absolutely no sense to me. 

Yesterday, fear, panic and anxiety got the better of me. 

At not even quite 25 weeks. 

We were having a lovely day. To make up for an abrupt cancellation of Legoland due to the sickness bug hitting the household midweek, we decided to do another of the Treasure Trail maps at the weekend. Monmouth bound and picnic planned. 

We had a lovely day; apart from me becoming increasingly fearful as the day went on. 

From the moment I woke up Saturday I was anxious. Obsessed with how much, or little Zachary was moving. He was quiet all day. I kept making us sit on benches throughout the trail so I could try and make him move. But Zac was having none of it. At least not in the way I wanted him to. I could feel him, the occasional little wiggles, but the big strong 'make your whole tummy jump' boots were not forthcoming. I was unravelling. 

You see I don't trust myself, I don't trust my judgement. I don't trust myself to make the right call or decision at any given time. The wiggly movements don't always feel defined enough for me to count them as a 'real' movement. Because I get scared I've just imagined them. You can't imagine a boot that jolts your entire stomach. They are the ones I need to keep me together, the ones I need to know he has really moved. 

Why do babies move so differently every day? Today I've been booted plenty. Is it me? Do I just stop being able to feel when the anxiety starts sky-rocketing?  

By the time we got home I was becoming frantic. Panic completely getting the better of me. Knowing I was being unnecessarily hysterical but reaching the point of not being able to do anything at all about it. Past the point of reigning myself in and past the point of all rational thought. Convinced myself he was dying, but knowing I was probably being ridiculous all at the same time. 

So last night, simply to calm me down and get me reassurance before the awful night hours (because night time is my worst hours for fear.. Midweek I was up for an hour between 3-4am obsessing about movements again), for the first time this pregnancy, at 24+6 weeks pregnant I phoned the delivery ward and asked them to calm me down. Which they did, told me to come in so we could listen to him to give me the reassurance I needed to know everything was ok.  They were wonderful. A midwife I've never met before but she was fab and knew exactly how to handle me. I'm so thankful they are so patient with me, telling me if I need to make this call every day to get me to the end, they will listen to him every day for me, just like they did was Alexander. 

I haven't even reached the 3rd trimester without this need for emergency reassurance starting. This doesn't bode well for the 13-14 weeks to come. There is still such a long way to go and I need to keep it together so much better. Stay safe little baby. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Today Was A Milestone

Today I could rewrite this post again, word for word. 

We've reached that important milestone again; 24 weeks pregnant. Viability. 

Although I'm not sure what that means for us. Today doesn't guarantee us anything, I know that only too well. Anabelle was 32 weeks when she died, well beyond todays 'viability' milestone. Being viable didn't save her, it didn't guarantee her life, it doesn't guarantee us life for Zac. But I guess we have to cling onto something. So today I'm clinging onto the hope of life and the chance of life increasing now we're here some how. 

I wish morbid thoughts didn't dominate me, but they do. The anxiety is ever increasing. I'm becoming increasingly obsessed with Zachary's movements, just as I did with Alexander. Today he's been quieter and so of course I work myself up, and then work myself up some more. I convince myself of things that are unlikely to be true when I think rationally.  But rational thought is impossible most of the time. I convince myself he is dead or in trouble and we're going to have to relive it all again. 

The more worked up I get, the less he seems to move; a vicious cycle. 

Yet it is only a few days since my last growth and reassurance scan when I know he was doing well. His size and growth is spot on for his dates, unlike his brother who was already measuring 2-3 weeks bigger than his dates at this point! Blood flow is good, everything looks fine. I'm seeing a midwife Tuesday for a heartbeat check and more reassurance, from now I'll be seeing someone two weekly/weekly, as soon as I need it they'll see me daily. I'm being given so much support again, yet my anxiety is still on the rise again. Because a scan or check is only as good as the moment it is done. Because Anabelle died a week after a scan and hours after a heartbeat check. I know there is nothing else the medics can do to reassure me; all bar admit me and keep me on a CTG trace indefinitely. But that isn't and can't be the way forward, for any of us, least of all Alexander.  

See, I told you morbid thoughts dominate me, but we've marked today positively none-the-less. I need these milestones to be important, to be special, to keep me somewhat sane and get me through. Mostly, today, 24 weeks is important to us not because of the 'V' word attached to it, but because it will mean Zachary will be given recognition as a person should he die. If we don't get the life we hope for, then it is important to us that Zac will now be given the same certificates and rights to registration that his sister was entitled to. 

Today we decided to buy the boys their new buggy. The baby pram we bought for Belle, that was then used  by Alexander is still beautiful, but I'm unable to push it one handed, and we decided that would make the job of baby and toddler management harder. So a bank holiday weekend sale was also a persuasion for new pram purchases. 

We went for the Mamas and Papas Sola, in blue. I was going to get a uni-sex colour, (you know, incase for baby number four!) but in the end I couldn't resist getting the blue for my little boys. Even though there is only going to be a two year gap between the boys, we decided that the cost of a decent (fussy Mummy!) double buggy couldn't be justified for the length of time it would probably be used. We don't walk great distances as a family, mostly around a park or a few shops, and Alexander is already wanting to be out of the buggy so much, and walking much of the time when we're out and so it seemed silly to invest in a double for the sake of what could be six months or so.  Xander looked very comfortable and happy in the Sola today! 

Instead we're going to invest in babywearing slings, which I'm really looking foward to. I already have the Close Caboo carrier for the newborn days and planning on buying a beautiful R+R structured carrier when Zac is a bit older. Whenever Xander wants or needs to use the buggy I (or Jon) plan to babywear Zac, and will get a buggy board too for Xander those inbetween times. All else fails and I struggle with this plan then we'll look at possible second hand double to tide us over those few months or take the two buggies out with us if we know we're in for a long day for both boys. 

So today was 24 weeks. The next milestone I'm aiming for is 28 weeks, just like last time. 28 weeks will be marked with our special 4D scan and meeting Zachary properly in the womb. I can't wait to see how alike or not he is to his big brother and sister. 28 weeks also marks the start of the enormously scary third trimester, the trimester our daughter died. The trimester that no longer feels like the home stretch but a ticking time bomb waiting to go off and destroy our world once more in a moment. 28 weeks will mark a maximum of ten weeks to emotionally survive through, for Zac to stay safe through. Zachary's birthday is currently planned for 37 or 38 weeks pregnant, depending on my coping (or not) as we near.

After 28 weeks? The milestones get harder and more fraught; the milestone of Anabelle's death, and the only goals are not falling to pieces and keeping Zachary alive for his birthday.  
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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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