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, 23 October 2014

And Then He Was Three

 Can you believe my rainbow baby is three?! 

The last few weeks I've been doing a lot of reflecting; Anabelle's 3rd birthday was such a traumatic time maybe that is why the run up to Alexander's 3rd birthday found me in quite emotional deep thought at times too. I've been thinking about how differently her birthday and Alexander's birthdays make me feel, I've been remembering how frightened, how desperate we were just before his birth three years ago; how we had spent the last four weeks not just fearful, but absolutely beside ourselves scared we would lose him too. Three years ago we were experiencing the most extreme range of emotions; fear to floods of tears relief when he screamed his first breath. We kept him, we bought him home, our beautiful boy. 

And now he is three. Three joyful years with our wonderful boy. 

Something about his third birthday feels big, unnerving almost. This is a year of (more) big changes for Xander, and for me. This year I'll have to loosen those apron strings a bit, as he starts his own little adventure into the big wide world more independently of me. This year he will start half day's nursery class at school. Come January there is every chance he'll be given his nursery place and in all honesty I'm not sure I feel ready for this to happen. He seems so grown up now yet still so small, still my baby. I'm nervous about handing him over for half a day every day. I'm having real issues accepting I have to trust new people in a new place to keep him safe for me. 

You see for me it is less about him being 'looked after' day to day and so much more about him being kept safe, kept alive and back home with me again. 

I know, I know I sound like one of those Mum's.  

But this big growing up, nearly starting nursery boy is three. 

Another six months on from my last update and another explosion of development. This has been a six months of parenting extremes; delighting and exasperating in equal measure at times. Toddler's have some pretty terrific mood swings don't they?! There is no denying parenting a toddler is hard work, full of tears and tantrums but also full of such unconditional love and adventure. 

I think the biggest developmental leap has to be Alexander's speech. At two and a half he was using mostly three word sentences... now? There is no stopping him! He can totally hold his own in a conversation now, with his own input, ideas, questions, answers. He can remember and tell you all about his days now and beginning to understand and remember what is coming in the future. Some days I'm totally blown away with how busy his little mind must be! I love how Xander is constantly exclaiming what he can see, noticing the little details in the world that I have long taken for granted, blurred into my world background; but not Xander. Car journey's are never dull now with my backseat observational commentary from him! 

His vocabulary is ever expanding too, but I'll be honest, I'm being slow to correct some of his cute 'baby' language, although I've noticed recently he's starting to self-correct some of this himself as the weeks go by. I will miss 'RaaRaa' for lion and 'Baabaa' for sheet,'Dunt' for Elephant and 'My' when he should be saying 'I'. He has the cutest saying's; "Xander it is time for bed" is nearly always met with "No, my not go bed, my waking up." along with "my do it" whenever he wants to be independent and you dare help him! 

We're still learning to be independent going to the toilet. It has been a tricky business, just as I had a feeling it might be. I can safely say I've found the whole toilet training experience the most stressful parenting experience so far! After an initially fantastic beginning in May (aged 2.7m), including 8 weeks being more or less completely dry, it all went completely downhill over the summer and we even ended up back in nappies full time for three weeks. In hindsight we shouldn't have attempted toilet training in the middle of chaotic living circumstances... but we're on the up again now! 

After three weeks in nappies Xander decided he wanted big boy pants again and for the last four weeks I've been trying incredibly hard to take a more relaxed approach and it seems to be working; will I ever learn? This boy has always shown me he can lead the way to growing up success yet still I get twitchy. A year ago it was twitchy about the dummy and bottle, now it is toilet training. For now he wears big boy pants at home and nursery and pull ups for busy out and about days and with the pressure off we've only had a handful of accidents these last few weeks. Go Xander! Now the next hurdle is getting him to take himself to the toilet instead of it being adult initiated visits. 

Alexander is such an empathetic affectionate little boy.  He understands what it means to feel happy and sad now and his concern for people if they're upset is just lovely. I'm sure he could teach some grown-ups a thing of two about sensitivity! He gives the best 'make you feel better' cuddles and hearing him say 'I love you, Mummy' is the best feeling. 

Alexander continues to amaze me every single day. He is funny, amusing, inquisitive, determined, a real sense of self now and beautifully loving and sensitive . We're so incredibly proud of our boy. 

My darling boy. Where do I even begin?! You've had such a busy six months, you've had some (more) pretty enormous changes thrown at you and even as I write this we're in the middle of continuing upheaval. 

We moved house, or at least we're trying too! On your third birthday we were 'in between' houses, we have been for four months now. In the middle of June we moved out of the house we bought you home to and for now we're living with Nana and Bampi, just while our new house is fixed. You know you have a new house, you keep telling us that it is very messy and that Daddy is fixing it. Even so, I'm sure you must be wondering if this elusive new house is ever going to really happen. (Mummy is, that is for sure!) 

Although outwardly you coped brilliantly with moving into Nana and Bampi's you certainly showed some signs of feeling somewhat insecure for a while; disrupted bedtimes, difficult nursery drop offs, outbursts of anger/frustration, a massive regression in toilet training. Because you visited Nana and Bampi's house three or four times a week your whole life I think Mummy underestimated how much moving in here would affect you. And you know what fixed it? Simply beginning to call here 'home' instead of 'Bampi's house'. You simply needed to know that you were home. 

You have a really discovered who you are this year. You know you are Xander Morgan now and will tell us who you are when we ask you what your big name is. You find X for Xander everywhere! I love you pointing it out to me, it makes Mummy smile. You have your own ideas now, your own very favourite things, your own voice, your own opinions and you make sure your verbalise it too! 

You know all your numbers to ten now, you love counting. Sometimes, if there is two of something you know there are two without counting. You are bright and clever. You are learning all of the time. This last six months you have learnt how to pedal a trike, how to climb in the playground; getting braver and more coordinated and balanced all of the time. You are beginning to learn how to play catch now too. 

Your favourite thing at the moment is definitely Peppa Pig. You were late to the party on that one my boy, whilst your peers have been all about Peppa the Pig for a while we had avoided it until we moved in with Nana and Bampi. But then you discovered NickJr, and of course with it discovered Peppa. At the moment you cannot get enough of Peppa Pig; everytime a new episode begins you exclaim excitedly 'Its on again Mummy!' I think you'll be pleased with our Christmas trip this year; hint hint! 

You still love your dinosaurs, and diggers. You have discovered many a feature length film since Frozen and we've enjoyed introducing you to the world of Disney! You've even had your first trip to the cinema with Daddy! 

But what makes me proudest of all is the sweet, sensitive, loving little boy you are. You are still such a fabulous big brother to Zac. He utterly adores you and squeals in delight whenever he sees you. My favourite time of the day is first thing in the morning, when you realise you haven't seen eachother all night. Zac is the person you want to say hello to as soon as he has woken up, you ask to hold him every morning and love being given the job of looking after him. I hope you will always be the best of friends. 


My favourite bit about your birthday was you understanding it was your birthday; it made it all the more special and exciting. A week before your party I asked you if you knew what was happening next Saturday, and to my absolute surprise you answered that it was your birthday. You have been completely excited about being a big boy and being three, you have been excited about your party, and most of all excited about your birthday cake! Hearing you burst into spontaneous 'Happy birthday' song to yourself has been adorable too. 

Mostly you are just such a happy child and that is what matters most of all, that you are happy. I hope you look back on your childhood and know how completely adored you were, how precious you were and always will be. You've given us three years of complete joy and we cannot wait to share your journey to four with you little man. 

Keep being completely you. We love you. 








Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Zachary @ 10 Months

The baby small boy is 10 months old. Ten. Months.  How did he get to double figures already? 

Zachary has had an absolutely amazing month. He has had an incredible burst of physical development and he has changed so much. At my last update he had just started to commando crawl just a few days before; a fortnight later he started to crawl properly, the day after that he pulled himself to standing for the first time, and the day after that he started to cruise up and down the sofa! What a week that was; talk about a leap and a half hey?! 

Now a few weeks later again he is a speedy little thing and quite the escape artist. Zac certainly notices an open door or gate now and makes a bee-line for it for freedom! 

This month I've really started to notice him trying to exert his opinion on a situation; particularly not wanting to go into his carseat or buggy! I don't remember the arch of the back and shouting at me starting this quite so early on with Alexander! I think we're going to have a fire-cracker on our hands before long! 

My lovely wonderful boy, at 10 months old you weigh 20lb 8oz and have really discovered the joy of movement. You are such a clever boy! In just a space of three days you learnt to crawl on your hands and knees, stand up against the sofa and start cruising along it. You are so proud of yourself little one, and so excited to be able to stand up tall now. Already you are experimenting with your balance, letting one hand go of the sofa and turning yourself to the side. You are so desperate to be wherever Xander is, this month you've been crawling after him all the time so I think he will be in for a shock when you can properly chase him on those feet!

You love taking steps now holding our hands; you can walk across a room with us standing above you now, and will take a few steps towards us if we're holding your hands outstretched. I'm so impressed with your balance, you keep letting go of one of my hands wanting to do some of this standing business by yourself. I don't think it will be long before you're trying to let go of the other one too! 

This month you have started nursery on a Wednesday, and Mummy went back to work. Mummy has found it so hard leaving you and Xander again and the best part of my work days is getting home to my boys. But we have settled into a new weekly routine and you have settled so well at nursery, no tears at all. I'm so surprised because you are such a Mummy's boy and cry even if I leave the room at home, but you've been so good at nursery drop off; happily going to the ladies for a cuddle. You give such gorgeous cuddles ZacZac. You snuggle right in and rest your head on my shoulder or chest, you do love a cuddle, and so does Mummy. 

Finally your appetite seems to be picking up properly and your exploring so much more food. Every meal time we give you some finger food to feed yourself as well and you are doing fabulously well. Meal times have definitely become three courses rather than just the one! It must be all that moving you're doing now constantly burning all your calories off!  I've also decided you are right handed, as nearly all the time you'll reach for your food with your right hand (unlike your brother who mostly indicates he is left handed.) You're starting to eat 'family' foods roughly mashed up now rather than me puréeing, and lots of the time you're eating what we eat rather than me making you up a special baby meal. 

This month you have perfected a new little screech. It is totally adorable and you save it for when you are at your most excited. You are becoming more and more vocal, constantly babbling away to yourself - it will be so excited when those little babbles take on meaning and you find your first word. 

This month your favourite toys have been noisy rattles, toot toot cars, and the Noah animals. The Noah animals are the perfect size for grasping in your hands and at the moment you really enjoy the smaller toys that you can pick up and study for a bit longer - then chew! 



You make us happy every day baby small. We love you, always and always. 





Saturday, 4 October 2014

My World Got Bigger


"Because she died, my world got bigger..." Holby City 

Almost two weeks ago, it was my blog's birthday. I've been using this space as my organising chaotic thoughts screaming board, my journey and family diary for four years now.  I look back at my first post and although we're clearly in a very different place to where we were then the truth of it is so much of it still rings so very true.

'Me and myself  - we're different now.' I can't remember who I was, or what our lives were really like before Anabelle anymore. It takes so much energy to build a happy life around grief that my former self seems to be a distant memory. I continuously feel old before my time. Next year I will be 30, but in many ways it feels like the care-free youth of my twenties was stolen from me long ago. My twenties feel defined by Belle, because certainly her death, her birth has been the turning point for who I was, and who I am. 30 feels older than maybe it really is. 

Four years ago I could barely keep my head above water. There have been many times over these last four years, as the huge waves of grief roll in that I've had to fight drowning once more. I look back and I still cannot comprehend how we survived it, how we survive it. Human resilience is a wonderful thing.  

Four years ago we were so profoundly broken I couldn't imagine a life where we would ever be happy again. I couldn't believe we would have our very own personal rainbows. But we have our rainbows, and those rainbows saved me. 

Four years ago I couldn't imagine where our lives would be. Recently when watching Holby City a line caught my attention - 'Because she died my world got bigger' - it spoke to me. We've lost friends, but we've gained far more. We're part of a group of people that no-one wants to be part of but what a wonderful group of people they are. Even though we're not in those early days anymore, I'm increasingly thankful for my involvement in my local Sands. Four years ago I couldn't face 'real-life' support and increasingly lived in a virtual world, I frequented the Sands forum daily. Today I have a different virtual world and my local Sands is my branch of support. 

Rainbow Babies group in particular has been a wonderfully beneficial, because only those people know the mixed feelings, joy and pain of parenting earthlings while desperately desperately missing their sibling. Next week we're going out for a meal with other local bereaved parents for a Sands evening. Four years ago I didn't realise that I would consider a charity my friend. 

Because she died I've had opportunities that would never have happened if she'd lived. Namely my visit to Downing Street just before Zachary was born. Of course, I'd have Belle here over Downing Street any day, but I hope you see the point in the way it was intended. I was able to represent my daughter at one of the most iconic building in this country - and that is huge, one of my proudest moments for Anabelle, even in her absence. 

I read Still Standing online magazine regularly. Often I read about people describing their journey after loss as healing. Four years ago I couldn't comprehend 'healing', whatever that was.  Whatever it is. I'm still not sure. Four years ago I didn't even want to heal. To heal then felt to move away from Belle. Today I'm not sure what the concept feels like. I certainly don't feel 'healed', but I do feel in a different place to that of four years ago. Anabelle continues to be at the centre of our family, our little world has been built around our grief for her, we're leaning to live alongside it. We're learning to enjoy being an earthling family of four, when really we should be a family of five. We're learning to accept that we're allowed a happy extraordinary life as well as intensely hurt for the life we had taken away. 

This blog has evolved. It continues to evolve. I blog far less frequently than I used to because my life has become bigger, bigger and more than just my grief. I still grieve, of course I do. This month saw that milestone where Belle should have started school, it has pained me, this month I have felt more teary than I have in a while. I still frequently pen a blog in my head, when a new slither of hurt comes my way I think it out 'up there' as if I was penning it down here. But rarely do I find time to get it to page. My time is blessed and filled by rainbows and there is little of time left for me and organising those thoughts like I used to anymore. 

Is that the definition of healing? 

So today, if we're making my blog's fourth birthday, and where my journey is now; my life is filled with rainbows and you've no idea how overwhelmingly appreciative I am of that. Those boys, my boys. 

Life, Death, Joy, Heartbreak. But most of all love. 
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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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