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.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My Rainbow Big is FOUR!


I have just been back and read Alexander's three and a half update. Talking about finally cracking toilet training not long after his third birthday and starting his nursery class at school - this feels like a lifetime ago now. What another six months it has been, and more than ever Alexander seems so grown up in so many ways now . His ways have matured so much and I think the year between three and four has seen his understanding of the world and how is works grow more than ever before. 

School especially has seen his world get so much bigger. There are new adult influences in his life now and he loves telling his teacher Miss Jordan everything! At parents evening recently in the days after his fourth birthday she had nothing but praise for him. She had such lovely things to say about our family; Alexander talks endlessly about what he gets up to at home and his teacher mentioned how obviously loved he is from everything he says. It was such a lovely thing to hear! 

Equally what he is learning at school shines through at home, Alexander has so many 'school-isms' now, for example, telling us that only one person it allowed to talk at a time, or asking us to 'clap to 100'. He spontaenously uses welsh in his interactions with us, asking us if we're 'wedi blino or hapus' or what colours we like using the welsh colour names. Our boy is bright; already working towards Reception rather than Nursery level targets but beyond that she said he is happy, enjoying and involved with everything at school and friends with everyone. What more could we ask for?! 

My beautiful Big.  At four you are 36lb heavy and 101cm tall. How you continue to change and grow! It seems such a short time ago that you were my baby, and now all of a sudden  you are four! I look at your brother now, just about to turn two - the age you were when he was born, just two and six weeks old - and I cannot believe this was you just two short years ago. How quickly little ones become big. 

In these last six months you have learnt the art of compliments and humour. My lovely boy you get the fun of a joke now and like to tease Mummy and Daddy! On the flip side you are always telling us you love us and always telling Mummy that she is beautiful or pretty. You are kind and sensitive (for the most part, lets be honest you have your moments!) You love teaching your brother how to do something, the sweetest recently were showing him how to put one of his 4 piece animal puzzles together, showing him and then encouraging him have a go himself too! You are so protective of him still and quite the pair together now he is getting bigger; either playing a wonderful game and shrieking with laughter with each other or fighting over the toy you both want. But you're wonderful and your bond is so precious. 

The absolute worst insult apparently at your age is 'You're not my best friend anymore' - which we have heard lots of in this last few months whenever you are cross about being made to do something, or have to go somewhere you don't want to go, or if we have to tell you off.  This is an age of sensitivities to friendships and ever increasing awareness of gender stereotypes and roles. We've always tried quite hard to not dictate your world knowledge by boys or girls things but after two terms in school it is there; your favourite colour is now blue and no longer pink, Mummy is a princess and you are a Knight, sometimes you say you only like boys because you are a boy - but other times you only like girls! Apparently you are very fickle at this age! 

You're just so much more aware of your world now, you're beginning to question what you see around you and starting to become more and more aware of that which is pretend and that which is real.  You've even questioned if your sister is real or pretend. I know by the time you read this you'll understand completely, but at three and a half/four I'm so very aware how confusing the make up of your family must be for you sometimes. Of course you're questioning how she fits and if she is real if she is not here. 

Your pretend play is as fascinating as ever to listen too - you still love your little characters and they're becoming more and more adventurous; or you are becoming louder! You are becoming ever the 'boy' and playing more with your little cars - you are beginning to move on from Toot Toot now and have your own little collection of big boy cars instead; a collection I'm sure that will grow and grow. Your very favourite thing at the moment is Lightning McQueen from Disney Cars and your little Lightning car often comes out of trips with us or sleeps under your pillow. 

You are loving school, thriving and learning so much.  I could not have been prouder at parents evening when Miss Jordan was telling us about everything you are achieving at school. You continue to blossom my boy.  Your teacher says you love to be involved in group discussions and that you are a right little chatter box in school loving to answer her questions,  she has noticed how your confidence in yourself has soared in these last few months too! I love that about you, I love that you feel secure. You are enjoying learning Welsh and hands on experiments, problem solving, exploring and outdoor play are just your thing too! 

You have started learning to swim - your progress in the pool has astounded me. We started AquaTots classes just after you turned three and a half. That first week you clung to me like a little chimpanzee but within a few weeks you were swimming around the pool with a woggle around you without me holding you, another few weeks after that and the woggle had gone and now you are swimming with just a belt. Your confidence has come on leaps and bounds in the water and around your fourth birthday you were just beginning to swim on your back cuddling a float but without a belt, and attempting a very short way swimming with nothing at all towards a wall with your swim teacher there to catch you. It is amazing! We're so proud! 


Dewstow Gardens
My favourite memories with you this last six months are our Mummy and Xander Wednesdays in the summer holidays. What a special summer we had. Each week was themed and filled with new adventures, but Wednesday's were extra special for you. Zachy went to nursery and we had a big boy only day out and you were so excited. Together we went to Dewstow Gardens where you loved the stepping stones, we visited some castles and explored, we went to Techniquest, on a special bus ride where the driver let you sit in the drivers seat and pretend to drive the bus, and to the farm. 

So many lovely memories, I loved our Wednesdays and spending some quality time with my big. 

What a fabulous little boy you are. 

Raglan Castle

Techniquest

Bus Ride Day

Greenmeadow Farm


And now you are four. 


You had a lovely birthday. We had a Fireman Sam themed party, including a visit to the fire station which you loved. What a treat to be able to sit in the huge fire engine. The day after that we went to Legoland for your birthday daytrip - you were in your element, going on all of the rides and just thoroughly enjoying your treat. You loved telling people we were there because it was your birthday and so sweetly thanked us for taking you to Legoland. Such a happy day, I already cannot wait to take you to Legoland again next time! 




I love your birthday darling boy, you'll never realise just quite how precious it is to us - the celebrations and sharing each year of your life with you!

Now a month has already passed since you turned four and there are already only eleven months to go until you are, gasp, five! Funnily enough you have already started telling me you are nearly five! Haha! 

Looking forward to another wonderful year with you, my ever growing up boy! 



Our beautiful boy Big, keep being fabulous! 
We love you, always and forever.




Your birthday video - Being Three Was A Very Good Year



Thursday, 5 November 2015

Reflection

I know I'm very late bringing this workshop to a close now; but I'm determined to finish it. 

I think I have needed something like this for a long time. Something to focus my thoughts and make me make time for my mind and revisit areas of my grief; to show my how my grief is different now, to show me where the rawness has softened and open wounds are becoming healing scars.

It has made me open Anabelle's memory box for the first time in a very long time, years really, at least two. Not since her 3rd birthday when I completely lost myself in the trauma of grief. I've handled things of hers I wasn't sure I could bear to see, her first dress, the coming home outfit that never was, re-read the letter that we left with her and look at the book full of things I put together for her.

I didn't manage to watch the DVD the photographer gave us of our pregnancy photos, or the video I put together on her 2nd birthday, I didn't dare listen to that music. But that is ok too. The box out of the cupboard was enough; at the moment Anabelle's box is on our bedroom floor and hasn't yet been returned to the cupboard. Maybe before it is returned to its home I'll empty the box completely and look through the contents in their entirety. Maybe that can be my 'Sunset' activity over these next few days.


I no longer really believe in the stages of grief that the counsellors talked so much about in those early days. Sure, they exist, but not in a beginning to end type journey, where they tell you eventually you'll reach acceptance. Maybe that is true of some grief, but not the soul-changing forever life changing grief after the death of your child. I don't think I'll ever truly accept my daughter died, not in that way. 

I see my journey more as a pendulum swing now; always hitting somewhere along this curve.  Sometimes hitting the better more positive places than others.

The approach to and the month of June might always be my nemesis. The annual trauma when my mental and emotional health take a battering. Her birthday each year feels harder,  it leaves me bereft, its a place where I cannot find healing. I there, in all those those stages there on the left hand side and there at the bottom. June is my crisis. Bewildering, chaotic, spiralling out of control, heart hurting and chest hurting painful, breathing painful, exhausting, frightening even. Crisis. I'm not well in June.

But right now, today on the 5th of November, I'm at the top side of the right and I'm well.  New strengths, developing new patterns, new plans, feeling hopeful and its a good place to be.

This workshop, this summer, this autumn, has been good for me; like a little confidence boost. A recognition that I am healing in parts and I've taken so many more positive steps than I realise; especially this last two years. Steps forwards and steps backwards and turning points.


Healing.

Today I saw this on a friends Facebook wall, and it seems very apt. 

At least for today I feel like I am winning.


Day 30. Capture Your Grief. Reflection. 


Monday, 2 November 2015

What Heals You

Today this is easy. 

What heals me and brings joy to my heart is so blindingly obvious; my boys. 

My beautiful rainbow boys.

Alexander arrived 16 months after Anabelle was born. 

I was pregnant just eight months after she died. In hindsight it was ludicrous. In hindsight should I have timed it differently? Probably, but in no way would I want to change it now. We survived. He survived! 

But, there is no denying we were nowhere near emotionally or physically strong enough to embark on the most terrifying experience of our lives when we did. Initially a new baby was the very last thing on my mind, 9 days after Belle was born I was back on the pill. But we got to the Christmas and Jon's 30th birthday was looming not long after that and I wanted to be pregnant again before then. I made that our milestone. 

Jon had made a comment, throw away, not at all meant with pressure,  or malice, that he had wanted to be a Daddy before he was 30. And I remembered that, and needed to give him the chance of having a baby that stayed and came home the year he turned 30. 

It was ridiculous reasoning, an absolute nonsense looking back now. But the mind does not think straight in the thick of raw and bewildering new grief. 

I was in a dark and black place. Questioning why on earth he even wanted to be with me anymore, the wife that couldn't keep his baby alive. On numerous broken occasions I told him to leave and find somebody who's body wouldn't fail them in the worst possible way. I was in a black hole, blaming myself entirely for Anabelle's death at that time. 

But he stayed. Of course he stayed. Continually and constantly reassuring me that it wasn't my fault, he didn't blame me, I hadn't failed him and that he loved me. 

We found out we were pregnant with Alexander just a few days before our birthdays. 

And there began an utterly terrifying eight months. Not daring to really believe that this time there would be a baby at home instead of heaven. I even 'planned' Alexander's funeral and 'redesigned' the headstone figuring out how both babies would fit on there if the worst was to happen.

But even now, now he is here and four, and Zachary here and almost two. Those thoughts never truly leave me. I don't allow myself to ponder of 'plan' in that way anymore, but the intrusive thoughts are there. And I know some of what would be in their funerals if we lost them. 

Those boys.

They came home.

Alexander arrived screaming at 36+2 weeks grown. As far as my fragile tormented mind could handle. After another threatened pre-term labour at 32 weeks and a complete sobbing meltdown on my consultant following this it was agreed 36 weeks was enough.

And he arrived. And he screamed. And we cried. He was alive, what a beautiful sound. 

He felt like our miracle. He really was our miracle. 

That beautiful baby boy turned our world upside down and a bit back together again all at the same time. Those raw broken pieces of heart started to soften around the edges. I was in-love. I'm still in-love with that boy! 

We found out we were pregnant with Zachary when Alexander was 17 months old. Ironically, although we had decided we were going to try and have another baby in the next 6-12 months we had decided I was going back on the pill for at least 6 months after I had finished breast-feeding Alexander. I stopped feeding him at 17 months exactly and was just waiting for my period to turn up to start the pill; that period never showed and Zachary was already on his way. A lovely surprise! 

Another fear-filled pregnancy began, but this one, on the whole we coped with far better. Maybe just because a little more time had passed, maybe because we had Alexander at home keeping us busy there wasn't time to dwell, but maybe we were just a little more hopeful too, because Alexander had proved I was able to keep babies alive. But we were still scared. Pregnancy is scary. 

This time I managed to get the 37 weeks my consultant wanted, although there was a wobble in the final two weeks that moved birth day from 37+5 forward a few days to 37+2. There was no threatening premature labour this time but a water infection saw me hospitalised and my strong resolve vanished with it. So we were having him a few days earlier, exactly one week later than his brother had been born. 

And he arrived. And he screamed. And we cried. He was alive, what a beautiful sound. 

I was besotted with him. I'm still besotted with him. 

I've had rainbow sons now for four years, two weeks and five days.  And each of those days they have helped heal my heart a little bit more. I often describe our family as being surrounded by rainbows, because that is exactly what it is. The grief and hurt sits there, those broken pieces of heart at there, but those rainbow boys envelope it and are the glue that holds me altogether. 

Alexander gave me a reason to live a life of colour again. Zachary undoubtably added to it. Those boys have saved me. When my mental health has been falling to grief-stricken pain it is those boys that pull me up again. 

They are always my inspiration to heal, to rebuild (albeit slowly), to combine my life of grief with a life of joys in gentle and appropriate ways, to find better coping strategies. Because although I cannot deny Belle or the importance of her place in this family I don't want them to have memories of a childhood where grief dominated. 

Grief has its place and walks alongside us, we miss her. We always always miss Anabelle. But joy has a wonderful big space in this family too. 

A friend said on one of my posts last night that she thinks there comes a point in grief where the good days outweigh the bad days and more and more you allow yourself to enjoy those good days without feeling the guilt. 

I think she hit the nail on the head. 

I want our lives, their lives to be happy and beautiful. I don't feel guilt for that anymore. 

And so I concentrate on making memories with those boys. 

Making memories with my boys is what heals me. 

I hope they're never left in any doubt how incredibly precious they are to us. 


Reach out your hands. We will not let you fall. 
Give us your love and trust. We will not betray you.
Teach us once again the joy of living. 
Pam Brown.

Day 29. Capture Your Grief. What Heals You.  
Sunday, 1 November 2015

Reach Out


I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I'll laugh with you;

I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we've seen this journey through.

These words are from a hymn called 'Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You' 

We sang this at church a few months ago on a Sunday morning; I'd never heard the hymn before. It is song not so much to God, but a hymn to each other. Person to person. This verse, verse four, leaped out at me.

Love, compassion, empathy in practice. This. 

This is what grieving, hurting, distressed people need. 

Someone. 

Someone to join them on the rollercoaster. To hold their hand.

No judgment. Just love. Just acceptance. Just reassurance. 

Today the workshop invites us to Reach Out. To act in compassion and kindness. 

Someone is on my mind tonight. I cannot and will not say any more about it. But these words are my reaching out. 

Day 28. Capture Your Grief. Reach Out. 









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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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