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.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Fabulous Things About 2014

This post is clearly two months overdue.

My heart wasn't in it at the new year, to post about all the wonderful things of 2014. I was in an emotionally exhausted place. So I read the jar, then put it back. Where it has remained on the shelf for two months. But the fantastic moments on 2015 are already mounting up on my phone notes, so it is high time I typed up all those special little moments that were the every day highlights of last year. 147 of them. In the grief life puzzle this is what I want the boys to remember, this is what I want to matter the most.


1st  Dan, Janet and Roo spending a week in Wales.
2nd  Good first day on my own with boys, complete with housework and dinner on the table when Jon got in!
5th Xander climbing out of bed to check on Zac in moses when he started crying. Asked him if he wanted dummy. ‘Dee Zac?’ and stroked his hair. Kind loving brother.
8th First beaming baby Zac smiles! 6 weeks and 1 day old.
11th Roath park with Ryan Marie and boys!
12th Xander completing a 48 piece puzzle labelled 3+ all by himself at 2y3m
14th Zac’s first smile for Jon
18th Playing letters in the bath with Xander. He can now point to m ‘Mummy’ b ‘bampi’ s ‘snake’
20th Zac smiling at Xander and Oscar was born!
30th The boys smiling and chatting at eachother.


3rd Zac enjoying ‘Bear Hunt’ story. Pulling off boob to smile and gurgle with the rhyming parts.
4th first photo of the boys smiling together
6th Xander gave up his dummy. Our big boy! Writing letters on the ipad, and X telling me what they are!
10th Xander building his own design of Toot Toot track.
24th successful start to bedtime routine for Zac
28th Painting with the boys

1st Walnut Tree Farm with Villars family
4th Zac laughed for the first time for Xander and xander naming some numbers correctly during play with his Lego train. Completely surprised me!
6th Jon’s birthday; Doctor Who experience, meal at Harvester and soft play.
7th Caz’s birthday; nails, meal at Frankie and Benny’s, swimming (Zac’s first time swimming!) and tea at the parents.
8th Busy day! Zac’s first sleep through as his birthday present to Mummy – 8.30-6.45.  (P.S. He has NEVER done as long as this since, a year later!!)   Xander in bath with letters. He knows lots of letters now but surprised us knowing ‘a’ and ‘e’ when we haven’t mentioned those before. Alphablocks on cBeebies maybe? Also a sunny day walk to Tredegar House Park and Xander learning about pedalling his trike.
9th Xander called Belle his sister.
10th Going for a Bear Hunt walk around the boating lake. Zac learning how to play. Grasping toys and lifting his head and body towards them! Age 15w. Xander telling me he had drawn bubbles on the ipad and listening to him read himself the Gruffalo.
11th Xander’s first ever wee on the potty!
14th 1:1 boating lake treasure hunting with Xander while Nana had Zac.  Listening to Xander read the Gruffalo to Zac.
17th Our offer was accepted on new house. Number 21 house, Belle will be moving with us.
18th Xander asking for potty and weeing on it.  Xander trying to say dinosaur names while reading his books. Amazed he can identify diplodicous, pterodactyl and triceratops already!
21st Great morning baby dancing with Xander. Jon taking a bath with Xander.
25th Zac enjoying the roly poly song.
26th Beginnings of Zac movement! Rollling onto his side nearly turning into rolling onto his tummy. Turned himself around 180.   Watching Gruffalo with Xander.
28th  Cefn Mably Farm with Ry, Marie and boys.


3rd watching Dad and Xander plant sunflowers.
4th Techniquest toddler day.
5th Lovely day. Relaxed morning, my nails and then Cefn Mably farm with the boys.
7th Xander nagging me for food, handing me the phone and asking to ‘speak Daddy’ and then nagging Daddy for food too!
9th Xander watching Frozen for the first time and being mesmerised!
10th Zac using feet to push himself backwards. Xander reciting Gruffalo from the back of the car.
11th Zac copying my noises and laughing at me!  Taking Xander swimming.
12th Toy shopping and Xander being a well behaved superstar!
13th ‘Do you wanna build a snowman’ comes on Radio1. “FROZEN” Xander exclaims!
14th Xander’s half birthday and cBeebies live!   Listening to him sing along to ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen.
17th Xander playing with his fire engine. Loved his reaction to the spraying himself in the face.
21st Train ride to Cardiff
24th 8 years together.
25th Xander saying ‘disaster’ about the rat in Dad’s Garden.
26th Our new babywear wrap.
28th Boating lake selfie of Mummy and boys.


3rd Xander choosing Zac rainbow clothes to wear for the day. ‘What shall Z wear today?’ ‘Rainbow’ while pulling rainbow clothes out of the drawer.  And despite a late nights, nightmare bedtime and 3 wake up between them, boys slept in until 8.45!  Mummy and Daddy date night at Ilswyn Inn.
6th First nappy hour free session for Xander. Potty 3 Floor 0.  Hour two, potty 1 floor 0. Hour 3 Potty ½ floor ½
7th Zac sitting for a good minute unaided, Zac laughing when Daddy tickled him.
8th Another great potty day for X.
9th Zac laughing at Xander.  Starting the day singing ’12 days of Christmas’ with Xander at 6.00.
10th Reuben’s dedication and whole family photo.
13th Greenmeadow Farm with Sorreya Oscar and Celyn. Loved the music session, Xander was really excited and happy.
14th Lovely day. Walk to the boating lake with Zac, then swimming – gorgeous happy and fascinated by the watering can. Then a funny park visit with Xander, he chummed up with some big girls and then I was completely out of favour, only wanting them to help him play.
15th Zac rolling front to back and attempting some sort of forward motion! Age 24w and 2 d.
16th Zac laughing at ‘Timmy Time’
17th Ordering name plate for Belle for the new house, Zac’s first go on the swings in the park next to the new house and Xander having a fab potty day.
18th Paddling pool fun.
22nd Puddle splashing and frightened of thunder. Then he was excited about heavy rain and hailstones.  Listening to Xander count to 10.
24th Totally awesome accident free day. Little potty training superstar.
26th Zac’s half birthday and a trip to the boating lake.
27th We got the keys to the new house. It is disgusting and grimy beyond belief. Neighbours were so pleased to see the new us that we were welcomed with champers!
28th Xander dry whole day at nursery.
29th In the Night Garden Live at the O2 arena.


4th Xander bouncing on the bed at bedtime and Zac being totally delighted by it.
5th Grand Old Duke of York sing and march around living room as well as singing along to Frozen.
6th Zac finally did a full roly poly roll. Back to front and then straight over again onto his back.
7th Xander telling me ‘zoom Mummy’ while I was driving.  Xander saying ‘I love you’ Mummy.
8th Xander singing along to Frozen
10th Music in the riverfront and then sitting the café and looking at the trains going past.
18th We bought our new kitchen.
21st Belle’s birthday picnic on her garden. Water play in the home garden.
25th Mummy and Zac time at Tredegar House.
26th Zac laughing at minions and Despicable Me 2.


4th Definite forward motion from Zac. Even if he is pushing his face along the floor.
7th Playing a duet with Xander on the piano.
9th music and soft play with Baby Small.
12th Sing the rainbow song with Xander.
14th Tickle feet with Xander.
17th Xander pushing Zac on the swings. Zac shrieking with happiness.
20th Xander having a go at pedalling.
21st Xander knowing he is ‘Xander Morgan’
23rd A day with my Baby Small.
28th Gruffalo trail at Westonbirt Arboretum. Xander’s face when he found him!
30th Day out with Ry, Marie, Sorreya, Keith and babies. Loved Comeston Lakes and Cardiff bay beach. Zac’s first experience of sand.
31st Dinosaur park in Tenby. Racing car driving with Xander. Xander’s joy at everything he saw and did today.

1st Caerleon treasure trail. Xander loving it and finding the pictures. Our 5th wedding anniversary, Cwrt Bleddyn evening and drinks in the Greenhouse pub. Zac crawling backwards.
2nd Longleat. Xander holding a spider and feeding birds. He loved the monkey’s jumping on the car.
5th Started couch to 5k.  Xander to Zac, ‘I love you Zac’ totally heartmelting.
6th Bath time conversation. ‘Xander winky, Daddy winky, Zac winky, Mummy boobies!’
8th Zac getting himself up on all fours and rocking.  Xander being gorgeous and loving all day.
9th Xander pedalling a trike properly at 2y10m. Zac standing against the sofa Age 8.5m.
10th Xander joining in the hymns at church and even raising his arms. Funny and cute.
11th Jump soft play with Marie and twins.
13th Taking Zac swimming.
17th Xander learning to catch.
20th Zac has teeth.
27th My last Baby Small afternoon. Quality play and cuddle time.
29th Zac army crawling forward twice at Jump.
30th Cefn Mably Farm day out for Noa and Isaac’s birthdays. Xander discovering his shadow at bedtime with the lamp. It was like watching Peter pan!

1st Painting with the boys. Zac loved it!
2nd Mummy Daddy and Xander time. Swimming and the park. Xander’s first go on the zipwire.
3rd  Mummy and Daddy date day and a Safe trip to Hannah’s.
4th Day out at Blackberry Farm.
5th Trampoline soft play then swimming at Hannah’s gym.
6th Uckfield evening carnival. Xander falling asleep snuggled into my shoulder while reading him stories.
7th Xander finding X for Xander everywhere. Today on the severn bridge toll booth.
9th Zac taking steps holding hands.
10th Listening to the boys playing over the monitor after they woke up. Xander not wanting Mummy to work again tomorrow. On being told Nana is looking after him ‘no, no Nana, no Mummy work, Mummy stay me.   Zac properly crawling.  9.5m old.
11th Zac pulling himself to standing fo the first time! 9.5m old.
12th slowly but surely crusing and testing out his balance, letting one hand go of the sofa. On a roll baby Zac!!!
16th Mummy, Xander and Zac day at the farm. Lush!
25th X telling Z to say p p p for Peppa Pig.   Xander squeezing up to make room to fit Mummy and Daddy, Xander and Zac all in bed together. Lush morning cuddles.
27th Xander cheering Dadddy and saying well done when he had finished his race experience.
29th The boys playing crawl through the tunnel together.  Spending the day with Sorreya, Xander throwing the ball for Alfie at the park.
30th Xander singing along at music class today. Had a lump in my throat. The boys playing crawl around the sofa together at Grandmas.

6th Xander knowing it is his party next week. Me ‘the next time it is Saturday we are doing something special. Do you know what?’  Xander ‘my birthday’. I had no idea he understood!  Xander saying ‘My love Zac, my love Mummy, my love Daddy, my love all of you’.    A disney quiz telling me my life’s mottos is ‘ohana means family. Family means that no one gets left behind or forgotten.’ Made me think of Belle.
11th Xander waking up and chattering to himself saying ‘its time for my party day now’ Xander’s bear hunt 3rd birthday party.
12th Xander bursting into spontaneous singing of happy birthday to himself.
13th cBeebies land!
14th Xander’s 3rd birthday. Gasping when he saw his honeybunch cake saying ‘dinosaurs, they’re my favourite’
22nd Really lovely parents evening for both boys. Xander is well behaved, happy, making friends. His best friends are Rebuen and Elise. Loves the garden and messy play. Zac is happy delightful baby, they love how cuddly he is!
24th Zac listening to his own bedtime story.
26th Xander cuddling in bed with Fiz.  Zac learning to clap and wave during lunchtime.


2nd Fireworks at Caldicot castle and Xander saying ‘You’re my best friend Mummy’
3rd Zac saying ‘hiya’ back.
4th Xander ‘ I’m not a rainbow baby, I’m a rainbow big boy’. The boys holding hands walking along.
7th Proud of Xander. His first ever overnight dry nappy and asking for the toilet instead. Even if it was 5.00am. Zac pushing cars along playing properly.  Zac playing boo.  Zac starting to look at people when asked where they are.
10th Xander reading ‘squash and a squeeze’
13th ‘Kisses for Mummy Zac’ met wit open mouth wet kisses!
15th Zac calling me Mama!
20th Zac briefly standing unaided!
23rd Zac’s dedication and happy hands birthday party day. Loved watching him join in enthusiastically on the instruments.
26th Zac’s first birthday


1st Xander specifically asking for a frog, mouse and teddy bear in his letter to Father Christmas.
4th Xander calling the hoover a moover!
5th Sands Christmas service.
6th We moved into our new house after 6m 1w and 2d of renovating!  Visiting festive and the look on Xander’s face when he first walked in and saw all the Christmas things.
20th Peppa Pig World!
21st Xander’s first nativity at church. Dressed as a shepherd, running around the stage in a big circle when he should’ve been standing and singing. Much hilarity, stole the show. We were crying with price and laughter. Christmas dinner with Sorreya Keith and Oscar.
22nd Panto with Fran and Theo.
25th The boys and their trampoline, and my surprise trip booked to Disney!
27th Zac totally mastering the standing unaided thing and trying to take a step!

31st Zac taking his first step, best way to end the year. Age 13m5d.
Thursday, 12 February 2015

It's Time To Talk

The 5th of February was Time To Talk Day 2015. Led the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, it was a day dedicated to challenging the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. A day to take 5 minutes to talk to somebody about mental health, a day for people to have the confidence to share their stories and struggles. 

It is no secret that I have spent 4 years and almost 8 months struggling with my mental health in one way or another. I've been through counselling twice in that time. I'm in no doubt I'll see myself there again in my future, in one form or another. An intense grief I carry with me daily has spilled over into bouts of anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression. It isn't constant, but a fragile mind, a fragile heart is never far away. I've often questioned where grief as a standalone ends and where struggles with mental health take over. I still don't know; the Grief Life puzzle is complex and oh I miss my girl.

Sometimes the overwhelming pain of living without her threatens to destroy me. Sometimes I cannot bear it. Sometimes, still, the very physical heartache, when it comes, crushes my chest until it feels like I cannot breathe. 

Time to talk. Time to change. 

Sometimes thoughts filter into my mind. Intrusive. Sometimes I'm plagued by intrusive thoughts.When I'm having a bad spell, my intrusive thoughts drift to the reality that the only real escape from the pain of living without my daughter will be death for myself.  I don't think I've ever quite admitted it like this before. Sometimes I think about what a relief death might be. For the record, I am not, nor have ever been suicidal. I don't want to die, not for a moment. I just wonder where, when the pain will otherwise end. I wonder where it is within myself to beat grief and all its complexities. 

I say it before and I say it again. I have a life also full of blessing. There is much happiness. My wonderful wonderful boys. Oh how I can't bare to contemplate how much worse my broken self would be without them now. Thank goodness for those rainbows. But frequently I'm plagued by obsessive and intrusive thoughts; my rainbows being taken away from me, either by death or kidnap or social services. Anxiety very often reigns.

There are times when my mind does not feel at all well. June 2010 irreparably changed me. Shattered. I think the blog had its alarming glimpse of this in June 2013 when my broken heart, my broken mind was triggered to so vividly relive much trauma and it felt like my entire being was threatening collapse.  PTSD. 

There are times when I feel tortured. There are times when I feel as tortured by life as I do by grief. Sometimes things that happen in life feel like a knife is being twisted in my already mangled wounds.  

Sometimes it frightens me that parts of me feel more fragile then ever rather than healing as times goes on.  Time heals is a myth. There are healing experiences, but some wounds never completely scab over. 

There are times, despite everything I have, that when I still cannot bare the thought of a lifetime without her. There are times when I'm plagued by guilt. I've explored it before. Guilty that her absence effects me so deeply, guilty that she died at all and I failed her. Guilty that being an earth Mummy took over and the time we don't spend in her garden now compared to before, guilty that I find going to her garden so difficult these days. Guilty that intrusive thoughts sometimes outweigh good and make my heart very heavy. Guilty that my boys are exposed to that. Guilty that I have intrusive thoughts at all when I adore everything I do have with those boys. 

There are times I just do not cope. There have been times when I have unravelled spectacularly, there will be more times when I will unravel spectacularly. I fear June. I'm almost paralysed by fear that another spectacular unravelling is coming. 

I've come to realise that is the nature of the beast. And it is a beast, it is a demon when it rears its ugly ravaging unforgiving head. Grief unlike no other grief, with its elements of subsequent anxiety, PTS episodes, depression. The grief life puzzle rages on.  

Sometimes life is so very very good. More than sometimes. More than good. But sometimes it really really isn't. Sometimes it is both at the same time. Sometimes I don't know what it is.

Extreme spectrum ends.

My soul is still patching its gaping hole.  I'm working on it. 

Saying it out loud.

I'm Caroline and my mental health is clearly not intact following the death of my darling baby girl. 

Supporting #timetotalk 

Being brave and pressing publish. 
Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Grief Life Puzzle

It has been so long since I have found the energy for blogging. For so long I've been ignoring the heavy parts of my heart, not really knowing what to say anymore, or if there is any point saying anything anymore. October was the last time I wrote about grief and before that August, before that her birthday. Lately this space has just been the boys updates with very little of our lives in between. It has become less of a life diary and more a quick record book. Writing used to help so much.  But I'm not sure if anyone wants to hear it anymore or if I can be as open or as brutally honest as I used to be; not without coming across as bitter or resentful or a number of other negative and unforgiving traits no-one wants to be labelled with. 

This post has been sitting on my shoulders for weeks but I haven't been able to bring myself to write it down. But today I'm home alone and unwell, so it seemed as good as time as any. 

So little changes, yet so much changes all the time. I still don't know how to manage myself at my worst most of the time. Sometimes I feel like I'm living two lives in one and they don't go together. I can't make the pieces fit properly together. 

Grief sits on one shoulder, life sits on the other, and they still don't really mix well.  Posting about one is never truly representative of the other. A happy life post doesn't mean everything is fixed, a painful post doesn't mean I'm not happy. 

Life. I have these beautiful beautiful boys and a long suffering loving husband, a beautiful new home and so much to look forward to in the next few months especially; turning 30 and a trip to Disney Paris for a start.  For the most part we're a happy home. I want our boys to remember a happy childhood and a happy family. Day to day our lives are more than good, we're happy more than we're sad. I adore those boys, I relish being busy with them, taking them here there and everywhere, planning trips and activities for them, creating memories giving them endless special times, just being with them. 

We have a good life, I know that; but I still don't know how to count my blessings (and I do count my blessings), but leave the pain to one side. I can dull it down for a while but it always comes back with a vengeance eventually. It is so intrinsically threaded through my being. I work so hard now to make my life matter more than my grief,  we've made our world revolve around the boys, every year I try harder to take the focus off an absent Anabelle and to the in my arms boys. 

But I don't know how to really make what we have enough. I miss her immensely. 

Over four and a half years and I still can't neatly sort this grief thing out into acceptance. I'm not really sure how I'm 'supposed' to be. But I feel an ever growing pressure to be 'better'.  Four and a half years and I know patience must wear thin. Sometimes I wish I could neatly package the Anabelle part of my life up and leave it there, and manage it better when it bites, but I still don't know how. So I carry on clumsily juggling. Maybe I'll always be juggling. 

Occasions are still the hardest to navigate. 

Yet again I ruined Christmas. It had started out so well. December has been the best yet, the build up to Christmas hadn't been painful. Every day I had done a Christmas advent counting down activity with the boys. I really thought that this Christmas was going to be a healing Christmas, I was going to get through it without tears and brokenness. I vowed Xander wasn't going to see me hurt at Christmas. (Just as I'm currently vowing he isn't going to see me hurt on Mother's Day.) I was even excited for Christmas! Christmas morning was good, and then the carpet was pulled from beneath my feet and the tears flowed for days. I let Alexander down. I let Zachary down. I let Jon down. 

I feel perpetually guilty for the pressure I put on my family when the broken part of me dominates once more, for the tears my three year old mops me up with his cuddles, patting my back and telling me 'Its all fine Mummy'.  But it isn't all fine is it. I fear what his first memory might be.  I hope it one when we were all really happy, somewhere special, or even something mundane and ordinary but magical through a child's eyes, but not when Mummy was breaking her heart, or cross. 

Am I allowed to grieve forever or does the definition change? Does grief become bouts of depression? Where do the lines blur? I know I've asked this question before. We're in a cycle of yearly highs and lows, and already I dread June this year. When does it become unacceptable to still hurt so much? I know for some that time has already been and passed. 

So that is where we are. Still trying to figure it all out, still sticking pieces back in the puzzle board and those rainbow boys being the glue that holds it altogether. 

This year I need to do some things better and make some more pieces fit. Goal one, a tear free Mother's Day. Any suggestions for a day trip? 

Apprehensive and excited about 2015 in equal measure. 
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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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