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, 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.  
Monday, 19 August 2013

The Pride Of A Mother

In stark contrast to yesterdays post I've been reminded that there are many aspects of the Mother I am to be proud of. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge the things we are good at and the things we're proud of and contributed to our children being as wonderful as they are.

What have you done for your children that you are proud of? Please join in. This isn't boasting. This affirming that we are all the best Mother's our children could have.

Mostly I think I'm good at being a Mummy.  I love being a Mummy more than I've loved doing anything else. Raising Xander and spending time with him fulfills me in a way nothing else does.

I'm proud that I laboured and loved Belle into this world. That my body endured more than I ever thought it could to bring her to us.

I'm proud that I was the one to dress Anabelle, that it was something that I did for her and not a midwife.

I'm proud that I cradled her on my chest and had the skin to skin with her she always should have had.

I'm proud that her little life has reached so far and wide. I'm proud that I've been brave enough to share our story, her story on this blog. I'm proud that we managed to raise so much money in her name and that her name continues to shine out from our family and the wonderful little girl she is recognised.

I'm proud of the family unit we are, even with our gaping Anabelle shaped hole. I'm proud that Jon and I have remained strong together, in love together despite everything that has been thrown at us. I'm proud that we're providing a stable and loving home for our children.

I'm proud that we had the confidence to take Alexander's lead and haven't conformed to a prescribed book of parenting. Taking his lead with gentle boundary setting continues to pay off for us all.

I'm proud of the little boy Xander is growing up to be and that we've left him in no doubt how loved he is. I'm proud that we love his company and that he loves ours.

I'm proud that we've raised a sensitive loving boy who gives the best cuddles and kisses. I'm proud that we've taught him to be affectionate

I'm proud of all the things we do with him. That we take him to different activities and give him a width of experiences to ensure he has a full, fun and mixed week.

I'm proud that I was able to breastfeed Xander for 17 months, because at one point I was so close to packing it in.

I'm proud that my background teaching children with profound disabilities gave me the knowledge to grasp how he has needed me to support him at every stage of these earliest parts of his development.

I'm proud of all the words he is learning now and my part in helping him to learn those words. I'm proud that I taught him to be a communicator and want to explore his world.

I'm proud every time someone random in public tells me what a beautiful lovely boy he is and shows him attention (it happens surprisingly a lot!), because he is beautiful and lovely and his happiness must shine out from him. But I know I am biased!

and for Zac? I'm proud that all my fears about how I would feel if he was a boy were unfounded, and that I already know I love him as much as I love his big brother and sister. I hope Zac's arrival will see plenty more for me to proud of for all of my children together.

So for all the guilt we Mother's carry, that weigh on us so heavily, there is so much to be proud of in the families we've created and raised too.

Lets have a positive day!
Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Guilt Of A Mother

Last night I came across this blog post about Mummy guilt over at Water Birth Please. It really hit me, resonated with me. Made me realise how powerfully so many of us are affected by the things we do, or don't do, or things that have happened to our families. How we carry this guilt and hold onto it. 

It made me think about my own. What is the biggest guilt. What would be my sentence? 

There is lots of guilt. Lots of guilt over the things we didn't do with Anabelle, things I wish I'd done differently. I feel guilty that we didn't go to the hospital the night she died. I feel guilty that we waited until the morning. I feel guilty that she died at all and I failed her. I feel guilty that I didn't hold her one more time in the chapel of rest. I was scared to move her body but how I wish I'd picked her up just one more time. I feel guilty that she went into the ground before I'd had a chance to touch her coffin and say goodbye just one last time.It all happened too quickly. I feel guilty that she travelled in the boot of a car alone, instead of on our laps. 

Lots of guilt about how her death continues to affect our family so acutely. How I cope, or not cope with Anabelle's death. I worry all the time how her death and the person I am because of it will affect Alexander and Zachary. Even though I know there could be no doubt about how much they are loved (Xander is told multiple times day that we love him, probably told too often and smothered in our love!), I worry that they'll feel inadequate because I hurt so badly for their sister. Especially over significant days like Mother's Day. A day I just don't do well with, and wish I could avoid; only now we have two other children and it should be a celebration of them, as much as their sisters absence is noted.   

But if I had to wrap my specific guilt for Alexander, in one sentence, it would be this:

I feel guilty because 
we wouldn't have you if your sister had lived. 

It is unlikely (although I know not impossible) that we would have had them both. We would never have planned them both if things had been different. This little boy, who is my absolute world, only exists because his sister does not.  We started trying to conceive again six months after Anabelle died and was pregnant with Alexander two months later. Eight months between pregnancies. We wouldn't have planned that if she had lived. He could have been an accident, but it is unlikely. 

Sometimes when I wish for her it feels like I'm wishing him away.  
Monday, 12 August 2013

The Faces Of Anger

What is the purpose of counselling? 

I'm not sure what I want the end result to be. I'm not sure what it is supposed to be achieving. Is it to just go for a nice little chat? I know tonight was only session two but I certainly don't feel like I'm getting any answers. Just more questions, maybe feeling more uncertain. About myself and how on earth I'm supposed to navigate through. 

Counselling sessions are weird things. Half the time is spent feeling a bit nervous and awkward, not really knowing what to say. And then just as you are beginning to open up and conversation is beginning to flow better it is time to wrap it up and call it a day. 

Tonight we talked about anger.

We talked about anger long past. The anger in the beginning, who it was directed at and why. The anger, the people I feel so indifferent to now. Not angry anymore, not sadness. Just nothingness and an overwhelming couldn't care less. 

We talked about the cycles of anger, patterned anger that goes away and sometimes come back again. I guess for me that is usually God. Anger at the foreverness. Anger at the not understanding why this happened to our family. Anger that is was my baby taken away. These are my cycles of anger. Unfairness.

Then we talked about more recent anger. But then I haven't felt raging anger for a long time, just overwhelming exhaustion and sadness. 

I don't feel angry at the moment. So she talked about the different guises of anger. That anger isn't always rage but sometimes something else entirely. She said sadness can be anger. Maybe everyone has different definitions of anger but I certainly don't really know how to address my feelings at the moment, or even what label to really give them. 

Feels a bit like a PSE type lesson doesn't it. Maybe I need my own little set of emotion puppets to figure it all out! 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Happy Holiday

We're home!

It is a clique, but sometimes you really do need a holiday. A different location, or maybe just a holiday from yourself. Last week I felt like I had both. A much needed holiday after an emotionally difficult few months, quality time with my family, and a break from myself. Real breathing space. A change of scenery and a change of routine. My mind felt lighter for a week. 

Last week I remembered something that I knew. Of course I knew, but for weeks I had been pretty sucked into the big black hole. I remembered that surrounding the big black hole and the broken part of me, is a very special family. Surrounding all the hurt and the pain there are still are wonderful things in our lives. A life full of blessing and full of pain. Oxymoron

My attention has been drawn to The Morgan's Jar of Awesomeness 2013, that I started in January. Back when I pledged to be healthier in my grief this year. I accept that so far that hasn't really happened, back in counselling and hitting the biggest low recently, possibly since the first year of grief isn't really agreeable with being 'healthier'. But the jar is quite full now, another reminder that outside of the pain there are still happy times. At the end of the year I'll share every snippet that we put into it. I can't wait to remind myself of all the things we were excited about this year. Retaining our memories. Even the very small things. Happy times. That is progress isn't it? It is full of mainly our family moments, our special days and all the cute, crazy and clever things Alexander is doing. But mainly Xander, our rainbow. Thank goodness for our rainbows. Last week on holiday we saw lots of rainbows in the sky. More reminders or the happier things in our lives. 

Being on holiday reminded me that beyond the black hole we still enjoy many things, but also accept sometimes the black hole takes over and the happier times seem a long distant memory. A pendulum with two extremes.  Sometimes the black hole, the brokenness and the pain consume and swamp everything else; June. It will always be June and other lesser trigger points throughout the year. But now I've had my July 'recovery month' and our lovely holiday, we're on into August and I'm feeling much more refreshed than I have in a long time. 

So we've had a perfect week away. Calm, enjoyable, full of new things. Xander has been wonderful, loving and obviously thoroughly enjoyed having a Mummy, Daddy and him all the time week. Every day for him is an adventure, this is a wonderful age and I'm enjoying him so much. All week last week he was so excited by the new things he was seeing. Constantly pointing things out to us and pulling us over to where he wanted to go. He is a bright, colourful and shiny magpie my boy! Just like his Mummy, Jon might say!

So today I've added a new piece of paper to our Jar of Awesomeness.

"Awesome family holiday in Plymouth! Xander's favourite things were a peacock at Dartmoor Zoo, swimming, the jellyfish at the aquarium, the slide at soft play, hens and goats at Totnes farm, and little Flitwick owl, the train, Kwazzi the Octonaut at the seal sanctuary and playing on the beach. Perfect time. Smiley face." 26th July - 4th August 2013

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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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