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.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Welsh Assembly

It has been a decisively busy week; Anabelle's story in the local media yesterday, along with Alexander walking, as well as After Anabelle guest blogging over at How I Came To Hold You this week too. It is a post I wrote nearly a year ago as a guest post, but still entirely relevant and true today. Go over and take a read, and find out more about the How I Came To Hold You book, being published a month from now and hoping to raise lots of money for Sands. 

I think 'Being Bereaved' was an important post to share again this week in the light of the Welsh Assembly report into stillbirth, published yesterday. The everlasting impact a stillborn child has on a family. 

In the year Anabelle was born, 2010, she was one of 190 babies to be stillborn in Wales according to Sands. Equating to approximately 4 babies are reported to be born asleep every week in Wales. Anabelle is one of a much much larger number when including the whole of the UK. Every day, nationwide, 11 babies are stillborn and another 6 die very shortly after birth. 17 baby deaths a day. Far far too many every year. 

In the chairman's forward of the Welsh Assembly findings Mark Drakeford reports that "The stillbirth of a child is a tragedy which devastates families. Yet our awareness, as a population, of stillbirth – particularly its causes and what can be done to prevent it – is worryingly low. There are approximately four stillbirths in Wales every week. In 2011, 150 Welsh babies were stillborn. While neonatal and infant mortality rates have improved significantly over the last decade, stillbirth rates have barely changed since the early 1990s. The stillbirth rate in Wales – and across the UK – remains higher than in most other European countries. In a recent Lancet analysis, the UK ranks 33rd out of 35 countries of similar income in terms of the rate of stillborn babies.

The evidence we heard during our inquiry was startling. Stillbirth remains more common than Down‘s syndrome and ten times more common than cot death. It is Wales‘s most common form of child mortality. And yet we do not talk about it. We fail to discuss it as a matter of course with our expectant parents; the training of our health professionals about the subject is patchy; we struggle to review stillbirths when the tragedy occurs; and we fail to undertake the vital research needed to understand its underlying causes."

I've underlines the statement that stood out most to me. I felt remotely amazed, the most common form! The most common form of child mortality in our country, but we do not talk about it. And we really don't; which is why I continue to channel my energies into raising awareness. 

The Welsh Assembly report suggest 9 key findings; small but important steps that collaboratively could contribute to the reduction in stillbirth across Wales. It would be encouraging to find out the UK wide government adopts the same recommendations. The report is very readable, take a look... 

Message one, another thing that struck a chord with me in the report is the improvement of public awareness, ensuring that stillbirth is discussed during routine antenatal appointments and expetant parents are made aware that it can and does still happen.  

Public awareness would remove the silence and taboo that surrounds our reality. 

Being informed isn't scaremongering.  Currently I beleive we are lulled into a false sense of security, after the first triemester our society as a general rule begin to take for granted that after getting through the high risk of miscarriage stage our babies are guaranteed. Health professional shy away from discussing with parents about what can go wrong at later stages of pregnancy, so how are we to know any different.

During Anabelle's pregnancy, we were not informed about stillbirth, not really. We were told to monitor movements, but the reality that babies can die was not once discussed. Maybe if it had been it would've made us make different decisions; namely my eternal regret we didn't go to the hospital the night before when we were first concerned.  Assuming she was sleepy rather than poorly or distressed. The moment where I failed her the most. 

We are a nation of 'not wanting to make a fuss', so instead of ringing a midwife when we are concerned about babies movements or anything else we try home remedies first. A icy cold glass of water, a lie down, something fizzy etc. etc. Health professionals should be reassuring us it is OK to ring straight away, checking on our babies straight away. This is where they should be raising awareness. 

The day Anabelle died, the morning when I realised she wasn't just sleepy.  When we hadn't found her on the heart montior I was hysterical, I just knew, I knew she was gone. But a phonecall to the hospital got me a 'telling off' from the midwife for having a heart monitor at home 'because I wasn't trained to use one'. We were asked to wait two hours before going in for a check because they were busy. Two hours, when my baby was already gone. I knew that, deep down, but they didn't. Instead of asking me to wait two hours they should have had us straight there, incase there was a chance she could be saved. Health professionals should not be making us feel like we're making a fuss. 

To be fair to the hospital, after we were told she was gone I cannot fault them, they were caring and compassionate. The looked after us well. We felt confident enough to have Alexander with them too. But why did it take Anabelle to die for us to have such detailed and thorough care? 

The other recommendations include improving professional awareness, implementing a maternity network to standardise care across Wales, more active care of women who are past their due dates, improving professional training. 

Just some of the elements that might have saved Anabelle.  

The day she died I saw a different midwife at my antenatal check up.  Would it have been different if it had been the usual lady? I'm not trying to lay blame, just this report has once again made me explore the multitude of 'what ifs' I torture myself with.   The day she died the midwife commented that her heart rate was a little fast, but not fast enough to be concerned. She sent me on my way. In hindsight, this raised heart rate was probably our warning that all was not well. We should have been concerned, we should've been sent to the hospital. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  

Over the next few hours Anabelle's movements decreased. By bedtime she hadn't moved for many hours, although still alive. I knew this because we had the heart monitor. Because she was alive I didn't go to the hospital until the morning, by which time she had died overnight.   Could have refreshed and improved professional training, or a report such as this made the midwife make a different decision in that short five minutes antenatal appointment? 

 But the key recommendation is that "there is no single step which, if taken, would remedy the risk of stillbirths in Wales. Yet, we believe that progress towards that end has been held back by a frame of mind in which the search for the perfect has driven out the possible. Consideration of the relatively small steps that have already been devised – or can be devised relatively straightforwardly – to make a difference to the rates of stillbirth in Wales is long overdue. These steps need to be taken now." 

Now 

I hope this report doesn't only remain newsworthy for a few days. I hope the Welsh Assembly are serious about keeping this issue in the public eye and ensuring the changes they have recommended actually commence. 

Much too late for Anabelle though, maybe if this report had been undertaken and published three years ago we would still have her.  Maybe something about our care would have been different enough to save her. If only. 


*Today After Anabelle got a new domain name! Check it out above; www.afteranabelle.com


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Proud Mummy Day

Today has been a really big day for both of my babies. A special day, one of those rare days when something special happens for them both at the same time; we're not going to get many of these, if any more of these. We're so proud of both our children today.

Anabelle has been a part of the local medias response to the Welsh Assembly report into stillbirth, published today. Today her story has been told in two papers and on the radio. You can read the South Wales Argus report here and the Western Mail report here. I've linked one of the radio clips too. 


It has been strange,  like it was the last time her story was in the local papers whilst we were fundraising, seeing how the journalist condenses her life into a few short sentences with their reporting angle on the issue. Today I think it has been done fairly well; of course there is so much more I wish they could've included about her, the detail and not the short version. But in the context of the overall headline and the call for change by the Welsh Assembly I think Anabelle supported it well. My baby girl, even in her absence she continues to raise awareness, continuing to leave her imprint on this world. My incredible little girl. 

Not to be outdone by his big sister, Alexander has been just as wonderful as always today; a little development leap all of his own and making my day! Recently he has been desperate to be up and about on his feet, he loves walking by your side holding your hand, but hadn't yet found the confidence to let go. Last week he took his first independent single step, and today he has started to walk; three or four steps all by himself. Not only that but he has said three new words as well; bye bye, Nana and Bampi! So excited and proud of my clever little boy! What beautiful children I've been blessed with. 








Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Baby Belle

Just because, because I haven't shared her for a while. Because I wish I had new photos of her growing up and having fun to share like I do her brother. Because she is my daughter and I love her, and am so proud of her.  Because she is beautiful and perfect. Because I miss her. Because it is eternally unfair she couldn't stay with us. 

The little lady that colours everything in our lives, my baby Belle. 


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Picks of the Week Eight

On the swings 

Playing the piano

Loving the Mummy's old cot at Nana and Bampi's 

Watching the rubgy with Bampi. Cheering Wales on of course! 

Going for a wrapped up walk





Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Chicken Pox

My latest obsession; chicken pox.  Fear freakouts that seem to happen to me so regularly. 

I'm absolutely winding myself up that this year Xander is going to get it. He's much more exposed this year and with permanent sniffles since starting nursery I wouldn't be at all surprised if this spring he's contracts chicken pox or some other nasty. 

Rationally I know chicken pox, for most, is a mild (yet unpleasant)  childhood illness. But its not for all. Just as we're lulled into thinking our pregnancies are safe past twelve weeks, we're also lulled into thinking that at worst chicken pox will leave our children with a few spotty scars. When in reality, the worst chicken pox can do to our children is kill them. Rarely, but it does happen, complications happen.   

Being a bereaved parent opens you up into a whole new world. A world where you become immersed with other bereaved parents. While you share your own story, you also soak up everyone else's too. Suddenly you become all too aware that children die in many many different ways, for many different reasons. And suddenly it hits you again; children die.

A sickening feeling in my stomach, that just because Xander lived to be born doesn't mean he will live to be old. 

There is so much worth in sharing experiences on support forums and blogs, the virtual hand-holding is very necessary for bereaved parents, but on the flip side sometimes it just gives you yet another thing to be terrified of; and right now for me it is chicken pox. 

So-much-so that we're currently considering paying for Xander to be given the vaccine. A vaccine that is routinely given in other parts of the developed world, but not here. Why not? It seems some-what ludicrous to me that a vaccine that has been part of the USA's (and others) child vaccination schedule for decades is not available here.  

I know lots of people are going to think I'm being completely ridiculous and over-the-top. That's everyone is supposed to have chicken pox at some point, almost like a right of passage we have to go through here. That the chances of anything terrible happening to Xander as a result of chicken pox will be slim to none and I need to get a grip.  But what if he was that one? Like his sister was that one

We all know my perception of risk is pretty skewed. We all know I struggle to get a handle on the situation and just cannot assess those risks statistics like a normal rational human being anymore. I know the risks of stillbrith are not comparable to the risks and odds of the fatality of chicken pox, but knowing it, doesn't make me any less scared. 

You know what, once upon a time I wouldn't have known a vaccination existed. It wouldn't have even given it a thought. Once upon a time I would've accepted it as an illness we're going to have to get through one day. But my daughter died and now I spend so much time every day thinking how I can protect the life of my son. Right now we're trying to weigh up the risks of us arranging the vaccine against the disease itself. Today I feel almost as frightened of giving the vaccine as I am of not giving the vaccine. The very very rare potential side effects of the vaccine are nearly as scary as the very rare death statistic of the actual disease, but I guess the same is true of the MMR. Mostly I'm scared that because we know the vaccination exists and we didn't give him the jab, that if the worst happened because of chicken pox it would then be our own fault because our opportunity is now.  Its not leaving space for much rational or logical thought today. 

I don't want this to turn into a vaccination debate, we will come to our decision, although a little gentle help and direction to some relevant things to read might be nice either way. I know the statistics are in our favour, I know I can't protect him from everything forever. I know I desperately need to learn to trust God's hand over him. Mostly, I just wish somebody could look into a crystal ball and tell me my baby boy lived to 100 and everything was OK. 


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Watermarking

The last few weeks I've been thinking about how public our lives are becoming because of my blogging. I wonder at times if I was too naive in the beginning; should I have told our story anonymously instead? Have I shared too many photos in the public domain? Am I betraying Alexander's privacy especially? Have I left ourselves open for abuse somewhere along the line? Have I always been too trusting? 

The answer is probably, I guess. 

I had a bit of a shock a few weeks ago when something sparked me to google my name. No I'm not vain, it was in response to a forum thread; I certainly didn't expect  to be quite so high up in the search engine results. Somehow I hadn't quite made the link that photographs I share here would come up in google images. Somewhat naive; I'm not tech savvy. 

But how much does it matter?  

Now obviously, nothing is shared here that I don't want the world to know, or to see, otherwise I wouldn't be posting it in the first place. That is the whole point of blogging surely, a public space for sharing your story. But there was something about seeing the photos of some of our most special moments as a family in google images that left me feeling a bit, I dunno, weird. 

I think I felt weird because those images, there in google, they are out of context. Away from my page, away from where I chose to share them. 

3 Children and It  wrote a blog exploring the issue of our privacy around blogging over the weekend. Reading it today has once again sparked my own niggles of doubt I've been having with similar thoughts and feelings. After some consideration of the points she has raised I don't think I'm being unfair on Alexander by blogging about his babyhood.  I like to think my blog is becoming our family diary, something that in years to come I will read back on and remember all the special times we've shared and all the emotions we've explored.

I like to think it is something I will want to share with Xander one day, that he'll read all my 'in the moment' posts that proudly exclaim how wonderful he is and utterly know how much he was loved every single day without question. I like to think he'll read our story of grief and find within it a connection to his sister. I like to think my blog means we won't forget any of the little things over the years, because they'll be recorded here. 

Of course, my family are only babies right now, but I don't think anything here could be a source of their embarrassment. Maybe as our family gets older it is something I might have to evaluate again, but for now I honestly don't see any harm with what I'm doing. 

But there is the issue of feeling 'weird' about our photographs and google. I don't want to stop sharing my family and our photographs here. I think my blog works because we're not a faceless or nameless family. We're not just an anonymous family who lost a baby; we are Caz, Jon, Belle, Xander and Fiz. I think that is why my blog works. However, from now on, every image I share here will be watermarked, so at least if it comes up in a google search it will be linked and associated back to its original source; give some 'ownership' back to me. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Picks of the Week Seven

Looking gorgeous after swimming! 

Climbing into the washing machine.

Cute little mini deckchairs! 

Wanting to walk and not be carried! 

Sleepy baby! 





Friday, 15 February 2013

The Alarm Went Off

Alexander's angel care monitor alarmed last night. Again, for the umpteenth time over this last month. It isn't faulty, its just all over a sudden he is moving more in bed, migrating to the furthest point of the cot possible, up against his headboard, and the sensor has stopped picking him up. 

Each time it alarms my heart beats a little faster, leaping across the landing to him. To check. To check it is the mat losing him, rather than us. 

Rationally, I know we're going to run in and find him pressed up against his headboard. But there is that bit of me that is absolutely terrified every time; because one time, it could be the worst thing. 

Jon thinks with it alarming so regularly it is time to give up the baby monitors, that he might be getting too big and too mobile for it now. But I can't. I'm not ready to give up the sensor mat. The nights he sleeps without it I don't sleep as well. It is my sanity for the dark hours; while there is no alarm sounding I know he is still with us, I know he is safe.  I would rather it falsely alarm a million times than have it not be there when it needs to be. 

On the other hand we haven't used our video monitor for sometime, the plug broke, but with a baby that mostly sleeps through, and a breathing mat beneath him I felt ok about letting that one go. However, worryingly Jon says the night before last it alarmed again, and I didn't stir. I didn't hear him. Jon says it took him a long time to come around and realise what the beeping was, because it felt in the distance. Our boy was lying there for minutes and minutes with the alarm going off and for the first time no-one rushed in to check on him. (Amazingly, most of the time Xander sleeps through the alarm and the commotion of us rushing in to him!) 

I'm not berating Jon for that. He is more together than I am at the best of times and is a heavy sleeper, but usually I'm not. That night I was and I didn't hear him through the wall. 

Of course, he was just up against his headboard again, but what if he hadn't been? What if it had been a real alarm and we didn't go into him quickly. The alternative, my sickening fear, SIDS. It happens. Just this week I've heard of a beautiful little girl lost to cot death, Matilda Mae. 9 months old. It happens. Our circumstances are so different, but Her mother's blog, her tweets, mirror so much of my own pain for my own girl.  I know her pain. 

Right now Jon is  on the phone to Motorola ordering a new plug for the video monitor again. Realising that just once I haven't heard the alarm is enough, and now I need the monitor back by my bed so I can hear him, all through the night, whatever the reason in an instant. Over the top for a 16 month old? Maybe, but my sanity needs it. Am I always going to be this frightened he might die? Probably. 

I remain fearful Xander could die; that accident, illness or cot death could take him. My two biggest obessions; SIDS and Meningitis. I do not presume him safe. I do try and keep a reign on these feelings, although it may not sound like it here. I try and separate rational thought from irrational, I try and keep it all perspective and in relation to my grief and risks. But it is measures like these monitors that help me for now, and for now, there is no harm in it. He is still a baby. Still my baby. 

When will he be too old for monitors and alarms? I know he can't sleep on them forever. I also know one day he won't be sleeping just a few meters away from me. When will I have to trust that he is going to grow up, grow old and outlive me. So much fear. 




Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day

We're not very big on Valentine's Day here; we've preferred to mark St Dwynwen's day instead. In the early days of our relationship we would buy each other the obligatory card and token gift for Valentine's Day, but mostly we've not done a lot, well apart from two years ago today, when we started our rainbow journey! A fact Xander probably won't want to know when he is older! 

Usually Valentine's Day falls in half term, so to join the obligatory couple-ness of the day I make Jon book a day off work so we can have a nice day together. That is as romantic as the gestures get around here! I can't remember what we did last year, so it couldn't have been that exciting! 

Today Xander turned 16 months old, or 'two years made' - it is probably about time for an update again. Every day I think I couldn't love that little boy anymore; but then of course I do, and burst with pride just a little bit more daily too.  Everything I've raved about him before is still just as true; he is cheeky and cheerful and gorgeous. 

My favourite new thing is his dancing. He's been dancing for a while, but just recently almost every time he hears music he starts rocking and swinging his arms back and fore for a little dance; whether it be after he presses a button on one of his sound books or especially gorgeous when the Friends theme tune is playing. (Jon and I watching that from the beginning again at the moment and currently laughing our way through Series 4) I'm trying to get a little clip on film to show, but typically every time I pick up the camera he stops dancing! 

His favourite songs remain the same with the addition of 'Heads Shoulder Knees and Toes' - he has a sound book that plays the tune and he is always finding it, pressing the button, looking at me and putting his hands on his head. Very cute. He has also just recently learnt to scream in the right place for the crocodile in 'Row Row Row Your Boat'. 

His favourite game is 'Boo' after really discovering it on New Years Day.  He thinks it is hysterical; he covers his eyes, or his face using something else and then removes it and shouts boo. He has even taken to playing 'Boo' with poor Fizfiz who is completely terrorised by him,  but she secretly loves it! He'll hide around one side of the sofa, she'll be around the other side and he'll keep popping his head out and shouting boo at her, until she playfully pounces at him.   I'm forever amazed without how much she tolerates from him. Xander spends hours of every day following Fiz around, planking on her to give her cuddles and being rougher than he should be, he pulls furs out and pulls and pushes her in all diretions; yet she doesn't react. The only time she's scrammed him was when he was playing inside his tent and she was attracted to the moving object under the covers as it were! 

Alexander still isn't walking on his own, practically running holding your hands, and wanting to be constantly walked around, but not letting go. His balance however is amazing; if you do let him go mid walk, he is very controlled in how he gets to the ground again! In the last two weeks he has started to stand up on his own intentionally, instead of by 'accident' as he was doing before; he is so delicious. We call him standing up 'up ups' and he'll stand up, hold his hands up by his head, looking at you as if to say - Look Mummy, no hands - so proud of himself and cheering himself on! What was only a second or two the other week is becoming longer and longer, so the braver he gets I'm sure it won't be long before some steps follow! 

Now something that the baby books didn't warn me is the onset of terrible twos! Friends have since explained it starts in the second year and not after the second birthday! Haha; he can be quite willful my boy about what he doesn't want to do, many an arching the back moment trying to get him into a car seat I can tell you! He can be equally persuasive getting you to do something for him, I seem to spend at least half my day being dragged around by the baby with him telling me what he wants me to do through point and pull gestures! He certainly knows how to communicate and grab my attention! 

Mum-ma and Daddy are becoming more frequent in his vocabulary. Usually from his cot in the morning, rather than to our faces, but I'm positive he has linked those words with our appearance now. He makes me smile. I'm positive he is starting to become aware of his sister too, yesterday I asked him where Belle was and he looked towards her photo. It is heartwarming but bittersweet all at the same time, I wish he could have known her properly. He loves other children. 

Talking of other children he is a little flirt our boy! From shouting boo to one little girl in a service station to making eyes to another baby girl across restaurant tables he certainly already knows how to charm! 

Valentine's Day today was spent taking our gorgeous boy out for the day. Originally we had wanted to go to the farm but it was flooded and muddy for the most part so instead we went to soft play. Well eventually; soft play place one, where we normally go, was rammed with a ten minute queue to get in (I know I know, its half term!) so instead we discovered a new soft play kinda place. Its a little less soft play, and a bit more undercover outdoor play, but Xander had a great time - definitely somewhere to go again, especially when he is walking, steady and confident on his feet! This is what Valentine's Day was made for; an excuse to spend the day altogther, I hope it continues to fall in half term! 












Tuesday, 12 February 2013

#12 Photographs

How many photos did you take today? 

One 

Only one... this is very unlike me! Infact, I'm a bit cross with myself because it means I've missed taking a photograph of Xander today! I try to take one every day. 

Today has been a busy day. This morning we went to the Sands Rainbow babies group for the first time. After lunch I had my nails done while Xander enjoyed some grandson and Bampi time, and this evening we've had a lovely visit from some lovely friends. 

The Rainbow babies group was fab, I don't know why I was so nervous before I went. Everyone was warm and welcoming and the best bit of all; a real shared understanding. No awkwardness. Instead of just bleakly mentioning Belle's name as my other child, we were able to sit there, as a group of Mums and expand on our stories. Able to comfortably introduce ourselves as Mums of more than one, Mums or two (or more!). Me, Mum of Belle and Xander. Able to expand on our feelings, and not brush over it. Able to talk about all our children openly and talk about what we're finding tricky at the moment. Remembering together.  I'm really looking forward to getting to know everyone better over the coming monthly meets. I'm already wondering why I haven't accessed local Sands support groups before now! Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I'm positive this group is going to be part of my 'being healthier in my grief' for 2013. 

It has been a good day, but a day with only one photograph.

This photograph. My friend Ryan enjoyed spending some of this evening playing Duplo with the baby and made him this aeroplane! What is it about boys and Lego!? Duplo, Megablocs and building are definitely Xander's favourite kind of game at the moment! 






Monday, 11 February 2013

A Nominated MAD

I'm really excited and honoured that somebody appears to have nominated me in The MAD blog awards 2013! For "Best Family Life" category! I'm honoured that people do actually read my blog, and whats more think it worthy enough for an award! Whoever you were, thank you! 

I realise our family life doesn't always make for happy or easy reading, that we're a bit mixed up between grief and joy; raising angels and rainbows.  But what I hope my blog is achieving, after almost two and half years of writing, is raising awareness that not everyone's family is quite how you think it might be, that bereaved parents exist, even today. 

I hope it helps to break down barriers and break taboos, empower people to approach bereaved parents they know or may come across.  I hope, amongst my low posts, that love and hope shine through in the midst of grief.  I hope my blog gives hope for happier times ahead for those not so far along the journey, that it doesn't get 'better' but it does get different. Somewhere along the line you learn to process life again. 

I'm still processing. I'm still reactive and raw to so many things. But I'm living, figuring it out as I go. Family life for us means a balancing act between death and life, learning to be brave again, believe in life again. Diary of an Angel Mother, Rainbow Mother. Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love. 

I'm going to join in the nominating now! You should too... Which blogs do you enjoy reading? 
Sunday, 10 February 2013

Picks of the Week Six

Fiz has rediscovered her toy box! 



Comparing Belle and Xander's newborn outfits. Her 'up to 5lb' Him 'newborn up to 11lb'
 She makes Xander look like a newborn giant! 

Cheering Wales on against France! We Won!

Terrorising Playing with Fiz 



Saturday, 9 February 2013

An Angel Never Dies


Don't let them say I wasn't born, that something stopped my heart. 
I felt each tender squeeze you gave, I loved you from the start.
Although my body you can't hold, it doesn't mean I'm gone.
This world was worthy, not of me, God chose that I move on. 
I know the pain that drowns your soul, what you are forced to face.
You have my word, I'll fill your arms, someday we will embrace. 
You'll hear that it wasn't meant to be, God doesn't make mistakes.
But that won't soften you worst blow, or make you heart not ache. 
I'm watching over all you do, another child you'll bear. 
Believe me when I say to you, that I am always there. 
There will come a time, I promise you, when you will hold my hand.
Stroke my face and kiss my lips and then you'll understand.
Although I've never breathed your ai, or gazed into your eyes.
That doesn't mean I never was, an angel never dies. 
Friday, 8 February 2013

#8 TV

What is the largest TV screen in your house? 

37"  in the living room...

and 32" in the bedroom... and the computer monitor is 22".  I think it is safe to say Jon required big screens. Infact he's just said if he had the space he would have a 24" monitor...! 

When we moved in our house (almost 6 years ago!) we only had my little portable TV that I had used at uni. We planned to 'make do' for a while before buying a flat screen TV... which we did a year later.   

I thought 37" was going to be far too big in our little house but Jon insisted! He is big on film watching and Xbox playing see, which needs a 'proper' screen apparently! He equally insisted on the huge screen in our bedroom and huge monitor screen! 

I sometimes think we have far too much screen time in our house. Jon with his films and TVs and monitors and me with my laptop and facebook and forums and blogging. Not to mention iPhones. They have become an integral part of life; but I often think we should try harder to have more time without screens and background noise. We're a gadgety household. 

Salt and Caramel did just this experiment recently and blogged about it; a really interesting read - her day without technology!  

Could we go a day without modern technology? Without facebook, twitter, forums, films, TV? Not using our phones or even our cameras?  I wonder what I would miss the most... I think it would be my camera closely followed by my phone -  I take photographs of Xander every day, I love taking photographs of him! That has been one of the best things about my iPhone; always having a fairly decent camera in my handbag, but it has also made online far more accessible. There are pros and cons to this of course; google in your pocket is handy but I've logged onto facebook and twitter far more during the day since getting my iPhone. Is it necessary or is it just habit because its so easy to have a quick look and catch up at intervals during the day when the whole world is on your phone?!  

Do we miss elements of the real world because our noses are in our phones? 

I'm in two minds about the influence of phones and gadgets on Xander. I know there is the entire debate in the background about screens and TV and the effects on development, (and I don't really want to get into that here) but gadgets are undoubtedly going to be a huge part of Xander's growing up; as they've increasingly become in our through our teenage years and beyond. He is going to need fairly proficient ICT skills to get on in his adult world, more so than us. He's already got the gadget bug from Jon, Jon being gadget mad and ICT dominated by his career, so I'm sure he'll be ok in that area... especially as Xander is so attracted to our phones and iPad and can already explore his own baby apps with little support from us! His current favourite apps are 'Doodle' which allows him to make noisy mark-making pictures (each colour paintbrush makes a different sound on the screen as you draw), 'Volt' - a basic cause and effect touch app with lightening/electricity type noises, and 'Fisher Price Animals' - he particularly likes the songs in that one and dances along! 

What would you miss the most in a gadget free world? I wonder if I could persuade Jon to give it a go just for a day!? 
Thursday, 7 February 2013

15 Months 3 Weeks

Today is a milestone of sorts. Alexander is exactly the age his sister was (should have been) when he was born. 15 months and three weeks old.  This is what she should have been like 15 months and three weeks ago. Like her brother is now. Happy, cheeky, bright, wonderful, always ready to explore his world. Or would she? I like to imagine their similarities in looks but they could have been so very different in personality. 

It makes me wonder once again what she would've been like and I find it so hard to imagine despite trying so hard to see her in him. Would she have been walking by now, unlike her brother? Would she have enjoyed toys and books as much as her brother? Would she have the same play skills? Would she have been as boisterous as Xander or quieter?   What sort of nearly toddler would Anabelle have been the day her brother was born; the same age he is today? We'll never know. 

I struggle to imagine another newborn in our lives now with our 15 month and three week old son. He seems so young, so baby like, for there to be another baby yet. I wouldn't feel ready yet, still nurturing my son. But this might've been our reality if Anabelle had lived. Might have, but unlikely. 

This only feeds into my guilt; he is only here because she is not. I worry that he'll think in the future he is just her replacement. That in less than a year, or eight months to be exact, we were expecting him. What age gap would we have planned if she had been alive? Well, probably a similar age gap to the one we're planning now; which isn't quite yet.  Which means he was planned sooner than he would've been. Did we leave enough healing time?  

The decision to try again when we did was momentous; it wasn't a crazy overnight decision. Just days after Belle was born I put myself back on the pill. There was absolutely no way I was in any frame of mind to think about another baby, I didn't want the risk, I didn't feel the urge to be pregnant again, I didn't want another baby; not to begin with, I wanted some breathing space. Besides we were advised to go through the blood testing schedule which was to take six months or more by the time we had had all our results and final meetings with the consultants. 

When that was over, we decided. A new year, 2011 and to try for another little baby. A deep breath, a leap of faith that somehow we would bring a baby home. Six weeks later we were expecting Alexander. 

My mind boggles when I think of the uniqueness of our two babies. They might have been similar, but there would always have been some differences; parents cannot make the same baby twice. They are who they are simply because of the moment they were made. The egg and sperm race. A different month, a different sperm; the same month, a different sperm and they wouldn't have been them, not Anabelle as I wish we'd known her, or Alexander as he is. They would have been different babies, different people. I find it fascinating. Each combination a very unique individual despite sharing so many of the same genes in their DNA. 

Babies and siblings are really very special indeed. 
Tuesday, 5 February 2013

#5 Health

On a scale of 1-10 how is your health? 

Maybe a 7 or 8? 

In what context? With 10 being a high/good and 1 low/bad? Physical health? Emotional health? 

Physical health, well there is my 7 or 8 above. Day to day I'm not too sickly. I don't have lots of coughs and colds, or general feeling of being unwell. Why not the full 10? I have occasional IBS. My diet is rubbish, inconsistent. I'm overweight. It yo-yos. I lose a stone, to put it back on again. Since breastfeeding my appetite has been enormous! There are things I need to change. Most recently my main complaint has been frequent headaches, following a migrane at the end of November, but I'm hoping after new glasses these will clear up to normal and infrequent again. But on the whole? Physically I feel ok. 

Emotionally? Not always so great. I think I would score that anywhere on the majority of the scale to be honest; not the full 10, but you know there are times I do feel pretty good! It is exhausting swinging from one extreme to the other but that is my life. The way it is. Last week I would've scored my emotional health at a 3-5 depending on the day. Triggers had set me off. All familiar hurt there, breaking for my daughter. 

This week, I'm so far feeling better than I was last week. Less emotional. I haven't cried yet; an improvement on last week! Today I'd score my emotional health a 6 or 7. 

See, my emotional health is a scale. It isn't perfect, but it is never going to be is it. 

Anabelle will always be dead. Her absense is always always going to affect me in a momentous way. Some weeks I don't process my life well, I am reactive and raw. Other weeks I process it better. Maybe one day there will be lots of good processing and less reactive processing. Some weeks there are more triggers than others. Some months more triggers than others; the build up to December, the build up to Mother's Day, the build up to June. In many ways I wish we could skip June, the build up of June. "My lifes a circus-circus, round in circles." 

Before Christmas I was feeling particularly low, consumed with hurt once again, the build up to December; its becoming an expected pattern. Since the new year I've been trying hard to be 'better'. To positively tackle head on the things that have been affecting me so much in recent months. To make progress with my demons. There are some big 'tests' coming up this year, I'm trying to put coping strategies in place. Namely the rainbow baby mother and tots group for a start (first visit next Tuesday) and still considering plucking up the courage to ring the counselling service too.  I'll be honest, I'm currently still doing lots of burying my head in the sand at the moment too; in my list of things there are still some that I'm trying to ignore until I have to face them. One thing at a time hey! 

Emotional health might always need some working on.
Monday, 4 February 2013

February's Favourite

February 4th, 2012

I'm reminiscing back to my Picturing Twenty Twelve blog again... It snowed on the 4th of February last year; it hasn't snowed today. Infact what I hear on my window right now as I type this is heavy rain! 

This was Xander's first experience of snow... he wasn't very impressed. he screwed his face up and looked confused as the cold snowflakes landed on his nose... Don't worry he was only there sat there for a minute! 





This year, Alexander was equally unimpressed with the snow; maybe even less impressed! Friday 18th January 2013.  I attempted to take him out the morning after his breakfast; he was super grumpy with me. Infact he was hugely cross about the layers and snowsuit I attempted to put on him. So before we even got outside he had decided he didn't like it all that much.  I sat him on the snow, he touched the snow and really pouted and grizzled. So I put him on his sledge, (that I had bought especially for the predicted snow the night before) he pouted and grizzled.



The grizzles soon turned to tears, so I gave up trying to make my son enjoy snow and we were back indoors stripping off again after less than five minutes. Not much fun. 

But we decided to try again when Jon came home from work. This time, we got him dressed up in a different snow suit and just put him straight on the sledge for a ride. Still pouting, not so much grizzling this time... maybe Daddy is better at sledging than Mummy! I don't think Xander got the fuss about snow...








Sunday, 3 February 2013

Picks of the Week Five

"Look Mummy, no hands" standing!

Love my Fizfiz!

Got new glasses

Rainbow leg warmers

Engagement ring back on my finger!

The boys got haircuts, Jon's cut by me for the first time!










Friday, 1 February 2013

#1 Art

Different approach this month; instead of going through the 365 questions in numerical order I'm going to stick to them in date order. So for example, today I'm going to answer questions 1, but if I don't post again until Monday, then Monday, instead of answering questions 2 I'm just going to answer number 4 for the 4th, Get it? Good! Haha. 

What is your favourite piece of art you own?

Xander's baby art work 

He was a week old the first time we explore paint with him. He wasn't impressed, but I wanted his teeny tiny hand and footprints to cherish forever. A memory of just how little he was. 

The next time we got artistic was for his Daddy's 31st birthday. He was more or less covered head to toe in orange paint getting handprints-a-plenty to create the mane for the Lion we were making for Jon's card! It was fun though and I love our efforts. Anabelle's handprint was included too, copied and printed from her memory book and made the tail for the Lion. Very special. :)  Definitely one of my favourite art projects. 


Along with the Lion we made together, the first piece of art Alexander bought home from nursery was very special. It is a rite of passage for a child really isn't it; the first piece of art work bought home to show Mummy and Daddy. For Xander, his first 'bought home' painting was a sheep! 

Our kitchen is fast becoming Xander's gallery of art work and photographs nursery send home. A Mummy kitchen. The sort of kitchen I remembered growing up with our art work put up on the fridge. In our kitchen Xander's art is all over the cupboard, the fridge displays his and Anabelle's hands and footprints. Hers looking ever so tiny next to his; 32 weeks grown next to his 8 months old. Alexander's need updating again. Maybe that can be a job for half term.


I'm well known in my place of work for my art-tastic Thursdays. A long running joke, Thursday after dinner means one thing; paint, paint, a bit more paint, and some very messy children! I'm really looking forward to being able to do more art stuff at home too as Alexander starts to get a bit older and interested in art, sensory and messy play. Let creativity commence!

I love it, I'm looking forward to many years to come of him bringing home art work he is proud of and wants me to display in our kitchen. These are always going to be my favourite pieces of art. 



Lovely February

Happy February everyone; the month to be in love! 

Our little love bug! 

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Caz
After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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