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.

Friday, 17 January 2014


... I Want My Baby Back.

This week we watched the Panorama documentary, portraying the lives of parents accused of abusing their children. Accused because of minuscule fractures found on x-rays. Children removed from their care. Most never to return to their parents, some having no contact, others granted four hours a year of supervised visitation, some children even forcebly adopted without their parents permission and parents cut out of their lives completely; adoption that can never be overturned or reversed. 

Mostly we felt sick and tearful watching this programme. The system felt certain of their guilt based solely on these x-rays. There seemed to be nothing these parents could do to attempt to prove their innocence, although money to fight the system saved one family and a specialist employed to prove a family trait of fractures based on genetics. That family were lucky. For most children it seemed that very few other medical tests were undertaken to find another explanation, the parents written off. For those children that did have a blood test it seems results pointing towards Vitamin D defficiancy and plausibly Rickets were largely ignored, not investigated further, leaving families broken forever. 

How utterly devastating to be left grieving your living child. How inexplicably sickening that social services and the system continue to handle some families so appallingly. Sometimes social services are just as guilty of damaging children as parents proven to be guilty. We all know of the high profile cases such as Baby P and Daniel Pelka;children who died at the hands of their parents because social services didn't act quickly enough. I understand that must be why sometimes intervention looks heavy handed and knee-jerk. I know social services come under a lot of critisicm and it must be such a difficult balancing act to get their intervention with families just right. But it is so so important that they do. Absolutely protecting the child should be paramount, but I also think in cases such as this parents guilt must absolutely be left with no reasonable doubt, every possible medical explanation investigated thoroughly, before children are forcibly adopted elsewhere. And not just the families lucky enough to have the wealth to pay for their own experts to leave no medical stone unturned. 

This didn't feel the case with the families on this programme, and families are too precious to allow even one innocent family to suffer this injustice and grief. 

We were particularly affected watching a family say goodbye to their child for the final time. After being permitted four hour long visits a year, their little boy was to be forcibly adopted and there was nothing they could do about it. For their last visit they were granted an extension of just two hours with their son.  My heart broke for them. Jon cried for them. Cried imagining if anyone tried to do this to us. 

I wouldn't be able do that. Not with the calm composure this couple seemed to muster. I imagine I would be violently clinging onto my children, my babies. Mother bear in all its force. There is no way I could say goodbye to my precious babies, put them in a strangers car knowing I would never see them again, because they would be going to call somebody else Mummy.  I was forcibly put into a situation of saying goodbye to one of my babies because there was absolutely nothing else I could do, but to forcibly say goodbye to my living children? I can only describe it like some kind of hellish living bereavement. 

I'm aware no-one on this programme was ever going to admit their guilt if they were indeed guilty, but the whole thing was hugely uncomfortable to watch. Putting ourselves in their situation left us feeling sick, fearful of a system that could take our boys away. 

The medical system is supposed to make us feel safe. I call on my GP for baby clinic fairly regularly. Zachary has had a number of visits now since his hospital admission, because I'm twitchy over the least little thing. I have always been the same with Alexander. Because I fail to trust my own judgement sometimes I'm quick to take them to the Doctor for reassurance. I need that reassurance, I need it because when they are ill I'm quick to convince myself that worst thing could happen to my boys. Anabelle's death continues to reach far. I use the NHS as my safety blanket. However, I often worry that when we go through a frequent bout of visits that 'neurotic mother' will be flagged on their files or something, but this programme made me wonder could someone in this system take away the safety blanket and accuse me of something, accuse me of harming my boys or something extreme like Munchausen's?  

Panorama made me think that these innocently accused parents could be any one of us. 
Monday, 6 January 2014

Zachary @ One Month

Zachary. My sweet little baby boy is already a month old. Infact, tomorrow he will be six weeks old and it has literally passed by in a blink of an eye. Much much faster than I remember Alexander's newborn days going by!

What a first month our little boy had. Having been through a hospital stay in his second week and some horrible procedures, it wasn't the calmest start to life. But another few weeks on and it almost seems a distant memory. He's such a little blessing to this family. 

Earth parenting this second time around has been different, calmer (at least after the end of hospital stays!), not even beginning to worry about 'rods' or 'breaking the baby book rules' this time. Baby led parenting has worked so well for Alexander, that we're opting for gentle parenting and the baby calm/baby led approach again for Zac. It has been easier maybe, in some respects. The sleepless parts of nights haven't shell-shocked me the way they did with Xander. The more frustrating moments seem much easier to cope with this time. Whether this is because Zac's temperament is different to that of Xander's, or we're more relaxed having done this before, and knowing everything is 'just a phase' I don't know. Probably it is a mixture of both.

Equally there are the hard, needing to learn how to readjust our family parts too. Harder in that lots of the time everything feels a little more chaotic; trying to meet the attention and play needs of a just two year old and balance that against the very 'instant gratification' needs of a newborn. The most challenging thing of all is ensuring the boys are both getting equal amounts of attention, never making one wait too long for the time they need from us. Time often feels against us and life is definitely busier! Not that we would have it any other way!

I suppose one of the biggest parenting differences has been breastfeeding. This time we're feeding without shields! I'm thrilled! Zachary has taken to it so well and it feels so easy compared to those early weeks with Xander. So far I've had none of those negative feelings that crept up on me with Xander, I haven't felt smothered of claustrophobic. Compared to Xander's epic hour feeds, Zac is often finished in twenty minutes, and fourty minutes would be a long feed for him. I love that I'm enjoying this time with my boy from day one this time, and hope I continue to enjoy it for as long as I did in the end with Xander. I now find it remarkable that his last feed was less than a year ago, it seems a lifetime ago, but it is still so recent really. Xander has been very interested in Zac feeding, I get the feeling he wants to be the same as Zac sometimes and has tried to have another go himself when I've been in the bath with him. He  is also enjoying saying the word boobs!

We're enjoying getting to know Zac, but mostly he has just slotted into our family and it feels like he was always here! The best bit of all is that Xander seems besotted with his baby brother. He is continuously 'sharing' his toys with Zac, giving him kisses and demanding 'cuggles' - he is very protective of him too! When we visited Xander's nursery with Zac he stood guard of his little brother from all the other toddlers, telling them no whenever one of them tried to touch Zac or his carseat, and just this morning Xander was having cuddles with us in bed when Zac started crying in his moses basket. Xander jumped straight out of bed to look into the moses at Zac, asking if he wanted his dummy, 'Dee Zac?', and stroking his little brothers hair to comfort him. Zac seems pretty fond of his big brother too, tolerating Xander's attention and often staring at him! Becoming a big brother (and cousin, my brother's little boy born two weeks after Zac and Xander is just as loving towards him too) has made me even more in love with my big boy, if that were possible. I wonder what his experience of being a little brother would have been like in the normal way of things? Would Belle have adored him like he adores Zac?

I know it is not all about comparisons but is fascinates me daily the similarities and differences between Alexander as I remember him as a newborn, and how Zachary is now.

Zac is for the most part quite chilled out, as was Xander as long as he was being held! Differently to his older brother, Zachary will happily doze, rest and watch the world go by for quite lengthy periods in his bouncer chair. Xander tolerated being put down for minutes at a time at this early age!  Zac's temperament already appears different to Xander, but I wonder what is him and what is learnt behaviour because of the family situation. After all it is impossible for me to cuddle him all day when there is Xander's to be entertained and looked after too. I find myself feeling quite guilty that he isn't having the luxury of being held all day like Xander was. But Zac, seems mostly content. We are very lucky.    He is as strikingly different at night time too. From very early on he has slept big chunks/most of the night in his moses basket, Xander spent the first 8 weeks in with me and Jon on the sofa. Zac does of course end up in bed with me for feeds and spends some of every night sleeping snuggled into me, but that is down mostly to my laziness to stay properly awake for feeds and the hassle of moving him back into moses, rather than him not being able to settle there.

His night waking is inconsistent at the moment. We have lots of nights where he sleeps 3-4 hours between feeds (we've even had one night with an amazing 6 hours stretch!), but equally we've have plenty of nights feeding every hour and a half to two hours.

So Zachary, you are just a month, nearly six weeks old. You are still wearing your newborn clothes quite comfortably but it won't be too much longer before you are into 0-3 months wear. Mummy is looking forward to finding out what you weigh tomorrow, just before Christmas you were 8lb 4oz. In your first month you were a poorly boy, already a patient in hospital. You were so brave and endured procedures Mummy hasn't in her lifetime. 

You have experienced your first Christmas (although to be honest, you slept through most of it and only woke up properly at 9.00pm Christmas night!).  You love sleeping with your hands above your head and you like to sleep in your moses or next to Mummy and Daddy. You love your dummy. You don't like the little baby bath but you love being in the big bath with Mummy and Xander, you like the water very warm. You don't like having a wet or dirty nappy (your brother never noticed his nappies and still doesn't really!) 

You love your bouncy nest chair but you're not so fussed on the swing just yet. You like the floor for short bursts and even tolerate tummy time already! You are very string and can lift your head up. You've just started spending more time awake between your feeds and love staring at peoples faces. You enjoy Mummy, Daddy and Xander talking and singing to you. You are trying very hard to smile but you haven't quite cracked it yet; we're having lots of nearly smiles which are already so beautiful! 

We think you are especially the image of your sister, but you look so similar to your brother too, the only real difference are your eyes are further apart than his. All three of you are so alike. But we can already tell you are your own little person with different likes and dislikes to your big brother! You've made this family very happy and we love you very much. 

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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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