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.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Zachary @ 5 Months

I know every month I say it, but every month is alarms me a little bit more how quickly these months are flying by. No sooner, it seems, I write an update, the weeks zoom on and it is time for another. 

I'm enjoying Zachary so much. He has such a beautiful temperament; happy, content and is just gorgeous in every way. He is becoming increasingly interactive and seeking out attention now; he coos and shouts and just loves somebody talking to him. 

His routine is pretty much the same as last month, although is beginning to average three naps during the day rather than four, dropping the short 4.30pm nap and instead being ready for bed at about 6.20pm on the dot! Nights are improved for the most part and a good night is now one wake up around 2.30am - which sees him through until 6.00am and the start of the day. Of course there are other nights with an additional wake up or two, and then there is Xander and his mid-of-night waking and crack of dawn start at the moment as well making for some pretty tired parents some days; but on the whole working towards the goal of sleeping through seems to be going in the right direction! 

My absolute favourite thing are my boys together. They love each other so much, it is lovely, watching them together just makes me prouder and prouder of them both. They have this gorgeous little relationship that is independent of us and I really hope it keeps on growing. Xander shows Zac attention without our input, he shows him toys, talks and sings to him, cuddles and kisses him spontaneously throughout the day. Zac is so excited any time Xander is anywhere near; he squeals, he gurgles, he kicks his legs and wiggles about - just because he can see his brother! Alexander still makes him laugh the most. Every morning we have the boys in bed with us for a little while and Zachary is not satisfied until Xander is holding his hand - he grabs at him, pulls at his clothes as if trying to pull Xander closer for cuddles! They lie there holding hands and talking, gurgling and cooing at eachother; beautiful. 

Last month I said Zac was nearly rolling. He is still only nearly rolling! I'm so surprised, a few weeks ago I thought he was days away from rolling back to front, but he still hasn't gone all the way unassisted. He is three quarters of the way there. He rolls to his side, gets his hips over but still hasn't figured out those shoulders! But he can turn himself all the way around on the floor in a circle and what he discovered this month is using his feet to push himself backwards - which is making him quite the monkey if he decides to try and travel while we are changing his clothes or nappy. It is funny, with Xander I was so keen for him to learn how to move; and although I am excited that Zac is on the cusp of really discovering the beginnings of movement I'm also more than happy for him to remain stationary for as long as he wants to! 

Beautiful boy, this month you have definitely started to recognise your name! You know you are Zac, isn't that really special?  At five months old you have a little hair again after it all fell out. It has come back fair and very soft! You weigh an impressive 16lb 11oz now and are tracking the 50th centile on the chart perfectly! Although I was a little shocked today, because that is more than your brother weighed when he was a whole month older than you are now! 

Last month I told you you were going to be cheeky. Well this month I've decided I think you are going to be trouble with a capital T! Already you are kicking and pushing blankets off when you don't want them on, you are dropping toys out of the buggy and arching your back to try and get out of the carseat when you don't want to go in there! 

You are starting to get a bit better at sitting up with a 'U' pillow behind you, but we still need to do some practice to strengthen those tummy muscles a bit more and improve your tone to keep you upright on your own, especially as another month from now it will be time to start eating food and I'd like you to be a little bit steadier sat up before we start weaning! You love being pulled to sitting though and smile in delight when I hold onto your hands to pull you up to sit with me on the floor. 

This month you have started to discover standing up and are weight bearing really well now. You love being helped to stand on peoples knees and really enjoy bouncing too. Your favourite game this month has been bouncing - you are just a ball of excitement led on Mummy and Daddy's bed and then having the mattress bounced to make you bounce! Just this week we decided it was time for the jumperoo to be put up for you so you can do some more bouncing - unsurprisingly you love it and are just as mesmerised by the blue spinning lizard as your brother was. Mummy will have to get some video of you bouncing on the bed and in the jumperoo soon! 

This month you have also discovered your feet; not only are you using your feet to push yourself backwards you are also intentionally kicking at the hanging toys on your playmat to make them move and have spent the last week constantly grabbing your feet when led on your back - another week and I think you'll be chewing on those toes! 

I can't believe that the next update will be for your half birthday little man - these has been some of the fastest months of my life! 
Friday, 25 April 2014

Grief Lasts Longer Than Sympathy

I used to spend lots of time on baby loss forums; hours of my time would be spent pouring my pain onto the Sands website, (alongside here) amongst people who truly truly understood what it was like to have a baby born asleep. It helped. But the time for that has passed. I don't find the forums in that way are helpful anymore. I cannot remember the last time I logged onto the Sands forum, or any of the other bereaved parent places I used to frequent. Often, mostly, the grief that circulates there is so new, so gut achingly raw and harrowing.

It isn't where I am anymore. Almost four years later. Please tell me how it can be almost four years. 

As the years started to pass, the people who lost their babies around the same time as we lost Anabelle posted less on these forums too. Is it us getting 'better', for want a better word? No, because better never comes. Different comes. Grief year after year is different. I think we just found other ways to pour out our grief and other ways to support eachother. I keep up with many of those Mums via facebook now. Still supporting eachother where we are; but not engulfed by the the brand new grief on the forum.

I know that my grief isn't old by any stretch of the imagination; in the grand scheme of my anticipated life, my baby girl died just yesterday. But comparing where I am to the parents that arrive and post on the 'I'm New Here' boards - I'm not there, sometimes I don't know quite where I am, but for the most part I'm not there. 

Now that time of year is approaching. It is very nearly May, which means it is nearly June. The anxious spiral is almost upon us once again, and oh my, I'm so aware it is coming. I remember last year; which so violently threw me, back to beginning, I could've been one of those parents writing on the 'I'm New Here' boards again - I felt so off course, so absolutely stricken, so ill. 


Last year made me realise how very fragile I might always be and all these months since have made me value, more than ever before those few real friends and family who stick it out with me. You know who you are and you know I love you for it. 


These days I get the support I need from those family, those friends, and from my local Sands rainbow babies playgroup. I follow a number of baby loss pages, blogs and an online baby loss magazine. I find Standing Still Magazine especially helpful. Here there are articles, photographs, quotes from people at all stages of their journey of life without their babies from recent to many many years down the line. Here I so frequently read something that leaps out at me, as if I could have written it too. It is finding something I can relate to in this baby loss community that helps now, along with blogging when I need to.

I blog 'on paper' far less often than I used to. These days I so often find myself composing a post in my head, organising my thoughts around the latest stab of pain but never finding the time to pen it down; and I feel blessed that it is this way. I have less time because I have my two rainbow boys who fill it. 


But every so often, like tonight it creeps up on me after weeks of anxt to make my peace with it.


I know there are people who find my ongoing pain unacceptable. And that is ok, because if that is the truth then they are not the people I need around me anyway. While I no longer need, or even want gushing sympathy, I do need, and do want quiet empathy. I do need my pain acknowledged and my baby girl remembered. I need it to be OK and accepted that Anabelle and all my grief is carried with me daily; acceptance that some days I carry it better than other days and meeting me where I am, accepting me as I am.



And I guess this is where my involvement with the online loss community comes into play; because sometimes I need to know what I feel is normal, that others have felt like me too, how others have coped with what has been thrown at them and because so often nuggets of truth pop up that, really, when acceptance doesn't work out that way, say it all. 
Monday, 21 April 2014

Half Way Through Those Terrific Two's

Alexander, my beautiful wonderful boy, is two and a half.

There is no way I can do my wonderful boy justice in what will inevitably be an epic blog post, but here goes;

The transformation in him these last six months has been incredible; he has grown up, learnt so many new things, things I wouldn't have expected him to learn yet (such as letter sounds and names and recognising numbers), he seems to be such a bright intellectually clever little boy. He loves singing, dancing, books. He has coped spectacularly with enormous changes in his little world and has begun to show his own real individual interests and 'favourite things'.

Where has my baby gone?! It is frightening how fast his third birthday is now approaching, and that this time next year he'll likely have finished his first term in school nursery (if there is a rising three place for him in January), the months seems to keep whizzing on by faster and faster. Sometimes I wish it would slow down a little, so I could savour him all the more! 

In his last update I was getting jittery that he still had his dummy and bottle, but as always Alexander showed us exactly when he was ready to be rid and did it all by himself. End of January he started going to bed without milk, and the start of February he started going to sleep without his dummy. He stopped asking for it and we didn't offer it, after a week we threw them all out. It is amazing how quickly things can change, and how quickly he can grow up without us forcing the issue. Without the bottle, bedtime routine now involves stories which is just lovely although he isn't self-settling anymore at the moment. In the middle of March we converted his cot into a big boy bed and self-settling went out of the window! As soon as he could get out of bed he did, and in the month since he has needed us to sit with him again until asleep, plus a middle of the night visitor by our bed most nights and early waking up again too! Now we just need to wait for him to sort it all out again! I'll admit that we've been feeling fairly tired recently between Zachary's four month sleep regression and Xander's added wake up's recently! 

He certainly knows his own mind now; his two year old strops are still mostly easily distracted but certainly more ferocious when they really get going than they were six months ago. The worst of battles continue to be over nappy changes and getting dressed; he doesn't like his play being interrupted so I've learnt for an easier life it is best to try and catch him within a natural break or in routine. Of course it doesn't always work and we've had some pretty epic meltdowns; which seem very frightening for him, he swings between pushing me away and throwing himself into me to be held and comforted. I won't deny that some days feel really hard work now, navigating tantrums, with a toddler swinging between two extreme mood swings of super happy or distraught about something.  Like nothing can prepare you for the tiredness of sleepless nights with a newborn, the same is true for life with a toddler; and we're doing both at the same time at the moment! It can be quite exhausting, but it must be equally exhausting for him too.

We have started to gently introduce the potty to Xander and he has done a number of wees on it now, although mostly this is just our catching them rather than him asking and going (although he has done that once!).  He has been showing lots of 'nearly ready' signs for a month or so; he loves watching us go to the toilet - and helping us flush the toilet, he on the whole doesn't like nappy changing and sometimes refuses to have a nappy back on without persuasion, he can be dry for a long time between nappy changes and just seems to be generally more aware of toileting; he will tell us when he has gone to the toilet when he chooses to now and very occasionally will asked to be changed too.  He isn't quite ready though and with an imminent house move (that is for another blog) we've decided we won't push on will full toilet training until we're settled in our new home. 

Alexander's speech has flown along these last few months. I've lost count of the number of words he now has; although some of his speech still isn't legible, he copies everything we say and is mostly using 3 words together now as a sentence when he is talking to us. I especially can understand almost everything he is trying to say now. He pulls some pretty terrific facial expressions as he chatters along too which can be very funny and endearing! 

My lovely Alexander is loving and gentle, happy, cheeky; he has such a beautiful sense of humour.  Confident, determined, inquisitive; a little explorer. He is as fascinated by the world around him as I am watching him explore it.

Xander, what a lovely little boy you are. We're continually overwhelmed that we are getting to watch you grow, you amaze us every day. At two and a half you weigh 30lb 8oz and are about 91cm tall. You have been fluctuating between 30 and 31 pounds since last July now, growing upwards a lot but not outwards; that'll be all the energy you are burning off being a busy 'doesn't ever stop' type toddler! You are wearing 2-3 tops now, but trousers are becoming tricky; you need 2-3 for length (albeit a little rolled up) but 18-24 months for the waist, so you're wearing a mixture of sizes at the moment. 

You have such a funny little character now, you make us laugh every day. You have an infectious laugh, you love life and find so many things funny. At the moment you love the film 'Frozen' and you're asking to watch it every day, and every day you laugh when the princess pushes a carrot through the snowman's head to give him a nose!  

Your little personality is really starting to develop, your personal interests are growing all the time and you are very much your own little person now. You love being outdoors, you love the park, walks, your bike, your scooter. You love gardening with Bampi. 

You have many what I call 'Bampi'sms' - you are picked up many of Bampi's little quirks; learning against the radiator in their living room, walking or standing with your hands behind your back. You love your Bampi! 

Your favourite things at the moment are books, especially The Gruffalo or 'Rolo' as you call it! You love your toot toot train track and cars and can build some Xander own-designed tracks now. You are amazing on the iPad - a proper mini-gadget user; you can swipe through screens to find exactly the app you want to play - usually puzzle apps, clicking and dragging pieces of puzzle to the correct places. You also love floor puzzles, another of your favourite things to do - you have been doing  3 years plus 48 piece puzzles on your own since Christmas! 

But you favourite thing of all right now is dinosaurs. I'm fascinated by your love of dinosaurs! Cbeebies had a dinosaur special week a few weeks ago and it sparked your interest entirely! You keep asking for dinosaurs on the TV and love playing with your little dinosaur toys and reading your dinosaur books. You can even identify lots of dinosaurs now and hearing you try to say their very long and complicated names is the cutest! 

You know all of your base colours more or less now; only really grey and brown you sometimes seem a bit unsure of. Your favourite colours seem to be green blue and purple the most. You know more of your shapes; square, circle, triangle, heart and star. You know lots of your letter sounds (and some of their names because Bampi has been teaching you those too!) and love playing with the foam letters in the bath, finding the letters I sound, or telling me the sounds of the letters I show you. You've started to identify numerals - which took me completely by surprise, because until you showed me you somehow knew one of the numbers on your number train it wasn't something I had done a lot of with you. You know numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 now and enjoy counting along too, getting more consistent with the number that comes next when we're counting together.

Now you can talk you are forming ideas and requests all of the time; you often ask to go to Nana and Bampi's house, or to the park. You hand me the phone and ask to speak to people and can be quite a monkey with it too! Just the other day you were nagging me about dinner time, and when I said it wasn't quite time for food yet, you went quiet, then five minutes later asked for the phone to speak to Daddy - so I phoned Daddy and then you started nagging him about dinner time too! You can be very bossy (but I guess we know where you get that from hey?!) - I love listening to you chatter, you have so many cute words and your speech is getting clearer and clearer every day. 

You are such a loving little boy Xander, you give the best cuddles - big squeezy cuddles, and just constantly show affection to everyone around you; especially your little baby brother. We're so proud of how you responded to the new little person in your family. You could not have been better, there has been so little jealously but lots and lots of love. You are so protective of him, guarding him when strangers try to look at him, or if you are unsure of anyone near him. You are constantly giving him kisses and cuddles, talking to him and showing him toys. You seem to love being a big brother, so gentle with him and I can safely say you are Zac's most favourite person; he is mesmerised by you! 

I'm amazed by you every day.  Hard work and joyous company in equal measure, I wish I had your energy! You are learning so so fast now. I can't wait to see all the things you are going to do by my next update.

We love you, precious boy.



Saturday, 5 April 2014

Zachary @ 4 Months

Zachary has totally become a little baby boy this month. He has grown up loads, changing before our eyes and I'm utterly in love. I really wish time would slow down just a little bit, his babyhood is zooming by and I just don't feel I've given him the time to really appreciate him like I was able to with Alexander. I blink and another month has gone by. I will miss these small baby days with him, him curled up into me is so precious, although I know there is so much to look forward to at every age and stage! 

Zachary has his own definite routine now and the day is getting much more predictable. He naps on average four times a day at the moment; about an hour and a half after waking up, usually somewhere between 8.00-9.00am, then again late morning at about 11.00am, another nap at around 2.00pm and a very short one at around 4.30-5.00pm before going to bed at around 7.00pm. Naps vary greatly in length, anything from just twenty minutes to two hours - although usually averages 40 minutes to an hour.  Predictably we hit the four month sleep regression, the last few weeks night time wake ups have been on the up (and not just for Zachary, Alexander has decided to join in too - just to add to the tiredness!), a good night (but currently rare!) is one wake up, a not so great night has been four! I think he has been trying to up my milk supply because my boobs are feeling full lots of the time the last few days, that and his little brain is busy getting cleverer and cleverer! 

It has been fascinating watching Zac learn to play this month. Just a few weeks ago he was only just starting to hold toys and move them around after they had been placed in his hand. Now he is reaching out for and grabbing toys, chewing toys and really exploring. I love watching him play. 

Lovely baby, you are 14lb 15oz now and filling out all over. Your thighs are very squidgy and chunky with little rolls - so very cute indeed! You are getting so strong, you are trying to pull yourself forward to look at things now. You don't want to be led down anymore; only sitting up will do. Next you'll be learning how to balance and sitting up by yourself - I wonder if you'll be doing that by the time I write about you being 5 months old?! You are already beginning to try and move though. On the floor you roll onto your side all of the time now, and you are very nearly rolling from there to your tummy, and you are having a go at moving yourself around in a circle; last week you managed to turn yourself 180 degrees on your playmat! You are trying so hard so I don't think it will be long before you are on the go! 

I've decided you are going to be a cheeky one you know. You've discovered your voice and you are very very chatty. Chatty and loud for someone so little! You are experimenting with different sounds your voice can make including turning the volume up and shouting, and singing, and squeaking and screeching! 

His first little laugh! 
You've learnt to chuckle Zac. It is so cute! Of course your first little laugh was for Xander. You were just 14 weeks old. He was playing with your feet, matching your little feet up to his bigger feet. He loves noticing that you are smaller than him, and you thought it was funny too. Such a cute little giggle. Daddy is still waiting to hear it, you won't give up those giggles easily you know! We can't wait to hear you erupt with laughter little boy, very soon you will be finding everything funny! 

You enjoy little games and singing now. Daddy has been pulling funny faces at you and you keep trying to copy him, especially when he pokes his tongue out - you are very good at copying that now! You've even tried to copy blowing a raspberry!  You are already enjoying a bit of rough and tumble play; you love being rolled side to side and your arms being shaken up and down - your favourite song at the moment is the Roly Poly song, you get so excited wibbling, wobbling and shaking! 

This month your favourite toys has been your little giraffe and listening to the sound of your rainmaker. The other day you pulled the rainmaker right close to your face to you could have the sound right next to your ear. Oh and not forgetting your hands - your favourite thing to do at the moment is suck on your fingers and fists! 

You're perfect little boy, just perfect! 
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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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