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.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Picks of the Week Thirteen

Xander discovered he could peek under the cubicle walls at the pool!

Sleepy baby!

Fiz is pleased with the arrival of sunshine, even if its still cold on the outside!

So tired and poorly he fell asleep stood up!

Xander and his Great-Grandmother playing together!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Picks of the Week Twelve

Another visit to a park!

and another visit to the park!

Why can't I go and roll and crawl in this really gooey thick mud Mummy?

A cwtchy beautiful story corner!

How cute do I look snuggled up after my bath?!

Friday, 22 March 2013

End Of A Breastfeeding Era

Its an end of an era.

A week ago, Xander had his last Mummy feed. 

It was a mutual decision, a natural end. He had been becoming less and less interested each evening over a period of three weeks. Lots of bobbing on and off me, swapping boob for dummy, looking around and then swapping dummy for boob again. The cycle repeating for a minute or two until he settled for his dummy and didn't want boob. I don't think he had been getting much milk really. 

So after a couple of weeks of this I decided to give it another week, and if he was still feeding like that to call it a day, and that day was last Thursday. He had his last little feed. I haven't offered again since and so far he hasn't asked for it either. 

Despite feeling quite emotional for the first few nights without Mummy feeds as part of his routine I am happy with this decision. I planned to stop around his 18 month mark anyway, but I'd rather it have been led by him, which is was in the end. He decided it was time to grow!

Because I knew it was likely to be our last feed I asked Jon to try and capture a photograph of the occasion. Which he did, and this special moment will be something I treasure forever. 

I can't believe how far we came; with the struggles in the beginning, feeling claustrophobic, battling with  the 'one bottle of formula a day' guilt, worrying it would be a slippery slope (it wasn't, he had one bottle a day for 5 months and then dropped that himself too), never mastering a shield free latch (which filled me with guilt too, but clearly wasn't at all a big deal when here we are 17 months later). Then realising I had fallen in love with this precious time with my boy. Feeding beyond 6 months, which in the beginning felt like an eternity away, never intending to be an extended breastfeeder but then feeding beyond 12 months and being led by my boy all of the way. Now here we are...

I'm hugely proud I fed Xander for 17 months. So far beyond all my expectations! 

Now my little baby is blossoming into a toddler, becoming more little boy and less baby every day and is finding a new routine. Although he'll always be my baby baby to me and Mummy couldn't be more proud of him. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

#17 Where?

#17 Where did you go today?

Roath Park 

I've been fairly useless attempting to keep up with the 365 questions challenge. Infact I don't think I've done a relevant post so far this month. We've been busy; our birthdays and then Mother's Day. March is emotionally tricky. 

I wish today was Mother's Day. Today was a lovely perfect day. Nothing like last Sunday at all. Today we've had the sort of day I hoped we would have had last week, but emotion and raw grief took over. 

Today started with the boy waking up at 7.30am. Fairly early by his weekend standards recently! So we bought him into bed with us and had lovely morning baby snuggles with Cbeebies on in the background for Mummy and Daddy dozing purposes! 

After breakfast a little later Xander and I went off to church.  Today there was an inspirational guest speaker, Jade, who works with girls rescued from human trafficking and prostitution in Cyprus, as well as co-ordinating  The Night Shelter in Newport. The timing of her visit to our church this morning, following us meeting Joseph and homelessness in London was quite something. Joseph has remained on my mind. Just this week I have emailed St Mungo's, another homeless charity based in London. 

They had put a post on facebook asking people to refer in any sighting of homeless people so that they could try and reach them and find somewhere warm for them overnight over another cold snap recently. So I responded to the post and referred Joseph to them, describing where we had seen him,  but well aware that two weeks later he has probably moved on from that spot. I guess I'll never know what happens to him, but Jade's visit to church served to remind me again how huge homelessness is and all its other associated problems. The stories of trafficking she told us of, foreign girls, some young teenagers, kidnapped and forced into brothels were harrowing. A world wide problem, no just happening in Cyprus, it is happening in Newport too. Frightening stuff. My eyes really are being opened to vulnerable people right now. 

After church we went to my parents for our usual Sunday roast dinner, and after dinner, we decided the weather was unusually spring like and off we went to Roath Park for a family Sunday afternoon walk and feed the ducks.   Alexander clearly recognises he needs to be gentle and loving to animals. As a swan walked towards him, Xander said 'awww' as he does when he sees Fiz. However, Xander didn't grasp the concept of feeding the ducks, and didn't really want to share the bread with them! I think he ate more bread than the ducks did! 

After the ducks had been fed we had a little wander around, and let him have a play in the park, on the swings, slide and some weird bouncy seesaw! Fun and enjoyment all round. 

Too much fun for some maybe. Jon has now been asleep in his armchair for two hours since 7.00pm. Being 32 taking its toll as he heads towards middle-age clearly! *wink* 

All in all a lovely day. The sort of day I dream of for Mother's Day. Maybe next year I'll hold myself together long enough to. 

Picks of the Week Eleven

After a stressful Mother's Day it was good to remember this:

Pick me up Mummy or I'm just going to keep throwing Duplo at you! 

Breastfeeding Xander for the last time <3 Aged 17 months (a post on this to come later in the week!)

Ready to support Wales in the big match! 

An afternoon in Roath Park, feeding the ducks and playing in the park!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Picks of the Week Ten

Sleeping baby, looking like his sister. 

Happy birthday Daddy!

Aww, cuddles!

Happy birthday me!

Body painting?!

Look how I've been growing!

Mother's Day

Motorbiking with Daddy


I set the bar of expectation too high; on myself, on today. 

Being unfazed by the Mother's Day build up didn't bode as well for today as I'd hoped in yesterday's post. My third Mother's Day without Anabelle and I'm still reactive, still raw. I spoilt my own day. 

It started well. I had thoughtful cards from the children via Jon, I had beautiful charms for my Pandora, perfect little charms for my babies. A blue stone star for Alexander and a pink stone heart for Belle. Truly spoilt,  having more for Mother's Day than I'd had for my birthday earlier in the week! Although I suppose when it all falls together, its all much of a muchness really!  

I was feeling OK. Then came the unexpected trigger. Groupon. A stupid spam, wish they would stop emailing me daily groupon email was my falling today.  

"Mother and daughter photoshoot"

The trigger for a chain of a events that left us unraveling fast. 

My mood changed. Snappy. Jekyll and Hyde according to Jon. 

My foul mood spiraled  Jon and I got snipey with eachother. Of course I hadn't told him what had upset me, I'm not sure I knew right then exactly what had upset me so much, just that I felt prickly and overwhelmingly sad. Bickering, sniping, being unkind to eachother.  

Bickering and snipey turned into a full blown (extremely rare) classy row outside the in-laws. Worse still our baby boy as a witness. I'm so ashamed. 

We went our separate ways for an hour, both in a state.  I went to Sainsbury's on my own to buy Anabelle flowers, completely drained, feeling emotionally exhausted, heavy, hurting. Neither of us with our phones; or at least mine was with Jon and Jon's was at home, although I didn't know it. I thought he was ignoring my calls from my parents house and that he had turned my phone off. He thought I didn't care enough to ring.  Just a total mess of a morning.  By the time we finally found each other again I was beside myself; because I needed Jon, I needed Anabelle, I needed Alexander, I needed my family and it all got too much. 

In work we'd call it a crisis point. And I had hit my Mother's Day crisis. I reacted badly to an email, Jon reacted badly to my reaction. A chain of events, things said, handled badly, responded to badly, communication completely broken down. A bad day. We were not coping. 

Better management of emotion would have resulted in a better end point. Sometimes it isn't that simple.

We'd made up by dinner time and Mother's Day continued for the better. We made Anabelle's garden bright and beautiful. Our Mother's and Grandmother's got their gifts, Xander's Godmother too, and we spent the evening with good friends.

This mornings trauma long forgotten. 

A spam email reminding me today, of all days, that there will never be a mother and daughter photoshoot for me and Anabelle. 

I will lower my expectations for next year and hope I won't always be like this. 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Mother Of Two

Jon says that Xander doesn't completely look like Xander in this photograph. He says he looks different, much much more feminine; like a girl. It was taken at my cousins wedding last July, when he was 9 months old. 

I hadn't seen it before, but since Jon has said he looks like a girl here I can't help but look at it and try and imagine Anabelle. Is this a glimpse of his sister? A glimpse of what Belle might have looked like as she grew?

My babies who were so alike as newborns, I so often wonder how the similarities and differences might have panned out if I had them together. What would have been determined by nature and what by nurture. I often wonder how they would have enjoyed being brother and sister together. What would Anabelle have made of having a little brother and what Alexander would have made of his big sister if things were the way they should be. 

I wonder what Alexander will make of his big sister and how mixed up his little world is going to be while he tries to make sense of his parents grief and being part of a family incomplete. 

When days like tomorrow can never be normal. 

Mother's Day. 

Another smack in the face reminder that on this day for Mother's my motherhood isn't as it should be. A Mummy of two whilst being an earth Mummy of one. In many ways I'm feeling stronger about Mother's Day this year, I've faced it better, I've been less fazed about acknowledging it for our own mother's too. I've bought cards and planned gifts instead of hastly grabbing stuff off shelves in supermarkets without much thought.  Progress. The previous two years I've not wanted to wish them a happy Mother's Day when I was hurting so much for my own. Difficult. I've faced the build up better this year. Usually the build up is worse than the actual day, I hope this bodes well for coping with the mix of emotions tomorrow.

And its always going to be a mixture of emotions. 

The older Xander is getting the more 'occasion' days like Mother's Day worry me. One day he will notice the underlying sadness of these days. I don't want him to feel he is overshadowed by my grief, or living in the shadow of his sister, but I've no idea how to separate the two. I don't want him ever to feel he isn't enough for me, I want him to feel so secure in my love that is precious and separate from his sister, but how does that work on Mother's Day?  When I'm Mummy to them both and that is what Mother's Day is supposed to be about? 

Happy with him and sad without her are so intertwined.  This area of bringing him up is so delicate. 

Parts of tomorrow will be lovely; he will climb into bed with me in the morning and we'll snuggle, watch TV, and open cards, I'll have beautiful gifts. Jon has bought me lovely charms for my Pandora off them both for tomorrow; a pink stone heart for Belle and a blue stone star for Xander. Equally parts of tomorrow will be painful. She won't be climbing into bed to snuggle, watch TV or open cards. To spend time 'with' her tomorrow I'll be visiting her garden, making it beautiful and pink.

How do I do Mother's Day properly without her? How do I manage these tricky conflicting feelings? How can Xander ever understand sharing me with someone he cannot physically see? How do I bring deceased and living siblings up together? 


Monday, 4 March 2013

When We Met Homelessness

This weekend we have been in London. We love London and have been there for many a weekend away these last seven years together. We love the buzz, the pace, the tube, the variety of things to do, something new every time and the very different atmosphere to home. Our favourite place to mini-break. 

This time, it was the first weekend we have ever left Alexander, only leaving him for a 12 hour over-nighter previous to this. The feelings driving away from him, knowing we weren't returning for a whole 48 hours, weren't dissimilar to those feelings back in October 2010 when we went away for the first time after Anabelle. Slighty anxious, slightly guilty, feeling a little bit like we were abandoning him like I had felt we were abandoning Anabelle.  I felt teary as we drove towards the Severn Bridge; the way his little hands had waved bye bye to us, smiley and happy and completely unaware we weren't coming home for two nights. 

Of course it was different though. I knew Alexander was happy (and spoilt) at his Grandparents, secure and safe and getting plenty of attention. When we 'left' Anabelle all I could think of was her unattended graveside for a week and her in the ground all alone, being away left us feeling a long way away from her. Guilt. She didn't need us anyway (oh how hard that is to acknowledge), but it felt like abandonment all the same.  Different. 

However it is safe to say that we pined for Alexander far more than he pined for us, if at all! We returned from London expecting a little boy very excited to see us, instead he was very "Meh, so what, you're back, what  is the fuss!" about it all. This is good, it means he wasn't upset without us, but a bubbly reunion might have been nice! He enjoyed his new toys though, so that is something! 

This weekend in London we have spent time in Covent Garden and Leicester Square, we have watched The Lion King Musical (amazing!), wined, dined and cocktailed in The Living Room off Regent Street, we have been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour (also amazing!) lots of lovely things. Its been refreshing to spend some quality time together Jon and I. 

But amongst all the spoiling ourselves in London, a moment on Saturday morning deeply affected Jon and myself. Saturday morning we encountered homelessness. 

Walking down a street in the Covent Garden area we were approached by a man, dressed smartly, in clean jeans, shiny leather shoes, a smart jacket and expensive headphones asking us for help, for monetary change for travel. We declined his request, both commenting to each other that it seemed an odd request for somebody who was seemingly so well off. 

Then about 150 yards on from this smart man I spotted another man. Hidden around a corner, behind a pillar. A man in a much more desperate state, not looking for attention or begging for change, infact trying to hide in this filthy corner. Trying to hide under a flimsy sleeping bag, on a floor lined with a thin piece of cardboard. 

We felt deeply moved by his plight. He was the one we offered our change too, even though he wasn't asking for it. We offered him our change and walked away; towards the main Covent Garden area and market. Change didn't feel enough. 

What a desperate desperate position to be in. When your 'home' is a filthy, smelly corner of London and you obviously haven't had a shower in weeks, months maybe.  When comparatively wealthy people walk on by oblivious that you are even there. Desperate. 

We walked on for five minutes; but felt compelled to turn around and return to the man, who was now completely hidden under his sleeping bag, trying to be inconspicuous. We returned because a handful of change didn't feel enough. We asked him his name; Joseph, and handed him £20 and told him to get himself warmed up and fed. Enough we hoped to feed him at least for that day, maybe the next and buy him a hot drink or two. 

We could have chosen to by cynical and walked on by. We could have chosen to have the attitude you so often hear that the money we were offering might have been spent on alcohol or drug addictions.  Instead we chose to notice Joseph  and try and show him that we cared about him and his situation in the small way we could. We chose to believe he would use the money in the spirit it was intended. 

£20; so little to us in the grand scheme of things but Joseph was so grateful for the hand outstretched. He said for God to bless us in his gratitude; but instead I quietly asked for God to bless him, to provide his basic needs and a protecting hand.  Maybe it was just something to say in thanks for Joseph, but in this instance we were not the ones that needed blessing.  We felt ashamed and angry that all we could do for Joseph there and then was offer him money. Short term help rather than a long term fix. £20 wasn't going to solve Joseph's problems, but we just hoped it could make him a little more comfortable just for today. 

I felt ashamed because I've so often moaned about our living conditions or that we feel 'poor'. Moaned about our house that we have outgrown and ready to move on from but stuck by the current housing market. Coming face to face with Joseph sleeping rough put all our accommodation 'problems' and money moans into perspective. It may be small, but it is home, it is warm and comfortable and a roof over our head. We do not need to worry where the next hot meal is coming from or when our next cash handout will be. How fortunate are we.

Since coming home I've tried to find out a little bit more about homelessness in the UK. Crisis is a charity dedicated to ending homelessness. Homelessness comes in many forms; from the person sleeping on a friends couch to a person like Joseph sleeping rough on our streets. 

I was astounded, maybe naively, to learn that in 2012  approximately 5678 people slept rough on London's streets. I also learnt that the average life expectancy of a person sleeping rough is 47 and that they are 35% more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population. People living on the street are more likely to be victims of violence. People sleeping rough hide away because they are frightened, which leads to them becoming more and more isolated and unreachable. 88% of people sleeping rough on London's streets are male, large proportions do indeed have dependency issues on drugs or alcohol, large proportions have mental health issues, have been in prison, care and the armed forces. Some of the most vulnerable people and society has failed them.   It is so easy to assume that a homeless person equals addiction. It is important to remember that being homeless isn't always a symptom of an addiction; people find themselves homeless for a whole host of reasons, infact the biggest cause of homelessness is relationship breakdown. Being homeless could happen to any one of us. 

I dread to think how huge the problem is around the UK. 

In Newport, A Churches Together project tries to meet the need of some of our homeless people by providing a night shelther at churches across the city. If we had met Joseph in Newport I would have known somewhere to refer him to via the Council or Police etc, somewhere he could be kept warm and safe for the night. But we were in London, far away from The Night Shelter project at home. 

Joseph is just one of approximately 5678 people, just in London, who call the streets their 'home'. What an obscene figure. Since returning home from London my mind keeps popping to Joseph, hoping he's safe. Hoping somehow somebody will reach him who can really help him. 

This is Joseph and this photograph was taken with his permission. Please keep him in your prayers. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Picks of the Week Nine

Painting using daffodils!

Walking all by himself!

St David's Day - Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

London Baby!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

March's Favourite

I love looking back on my Picturing Twenty Twelve blog! My favourite March picture of last year is this one; 2nd March 2012.

A four and a half month old Xander enjoying his new jumperoo! He looks so tiny compared to now, and hairless! This was just as all his newborn hair was falling out in clumps leaving him almost bald for a little while.  Then he was just learning to explore his world. Now he is sixteen and a half months old, a master at exploring his world and just starting to take his first independent steps!

Love that boy! 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Happy March

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus - Wishing you all a Happy St David's Day!

March, my favourite month of the year! 

A celebration of being Welsh, my birthweek  birthday, the start of spring and sunshine if we are lucky! 

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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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