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, 24 June 2019


I've spent this weekend feeling utterly exhausted. Bone-achingly, everything just hurts, zero energy, zero motivation, tired. I'm not feeling quite well. Nauseous. The post-birthday recovery.

The build up is long, the day feels short and then the recovery.   

Saturday I slept in to 8.30am and then was back in bed at 1.00pm. Yesterday I was up at 6.30am but back in bed at 9.00am for two more hours, and then later had another nap in the afternoon at 5.00pm for another two and a half hours. Sleeping. And I've needed it. 

That's not to say we've done nothing. The boys have played in the garden this weekend, washing has been done, we went for a walk with the boys on their bikes, we went to my parents for dinner. But there has been lots of sleeping in-between all of that. 

Today I had hoped I would be snapping out of it but the exhausted and nauseous feelings have remained. I even had to close my eyes earlier for an attempted a forty wink sofa doze earlier while the boys were watching My Little Pony all sat around me after school. Something which I rarely to never do.

I feel a bit like I'm in a daze I guess. It is like walking through treacle.  Anabelle's birthday, June, so physically takes it out of me.  If I'm totally honest I'm ready to feel better now. Its been a very long month so far.

Our baby Anabelle. On Friday you turned NINE. What a ridiculously grown up number! 


A few months ago we spent the day with extended friends. Their little girl is almost exactly the same age as you, although we hadn't known that before then. A passing comment that she was going to turn 9 in June led us to ask what her birthday was. The 23rd. Just two days younger than you. In all these years I don't think we have ever met another girl so close to your age. Two days apart. Two very different stories. 

It was a shocking realisation for us just how big you would be now. Tall, slender, long-limbed. Almost looking like a young lady rather than a little girl at all. Seeing her towering over your brothers, even Xander who is only 16 months younger, was surreal; I wish I could imagine. So that is what it might be like if you were here. 

But I find it so hard to picture you as anything other than the 4lb 5oz tiny baby you were. 


This June has been particularly rubbish weather-wise. But once again, after almost three solid weeks of rain (or so it has felt like), your birthday was glorious. Another beautiful sunny day, for your day, the longest day. 

This year, for maybe for the first time truly for the entire day, it didn't feel like your birthday was running away with me, or that I was running out of time. Maybe I've learnt what will be too much or too many things to try and complete in a day. 

Or maybe I've finally learnt to not forget to breathe on your birthday. 

To breathe and slow down, Mama. 

We saw your birthday in as we always do. 00:08. That moment stuck in time when you arrived. Oh those eight minutes after midnight seem to take so long to pass. Just as the time between the contraction a little before midnight on the 20th June 2010 and the one that saw you arrive on 21st June 2010... those minutes after midnight seemed endless too. And then that moment, 00.08, that minute gone in a blink on an eye. 

We started the day by making the beginnings of prettying up the front patch by the front door. Zac had chosen a metal 'Princess Belle' rose for your birthday and your biggest fairy of the day was given its new home on the wishing well.  This year your birthday was Fairy themed. 

Choosing a theme never gets any easier. Neither does visiting the garden centre for garden ornament style presents.  It makes me so angry. This year it was fairies and your brothers each chose a fairy for your garden for you; Xander a green one, Zac a pink one and Lucas a purple one. We bought  a beautiful pink fairy handbag house for them to live in.   

We went for breakfast after dropping Brother 1 and Brother 2 to school. As seems to have become our tradition these last couple of years. Belle's Birthday Breakfast.  Lucas enjoyed being able to open the presents you had been given by other people; thoughtful friends aware of this years theme and buying something so lovely for your brothers to play with for you... a little playmobile fairy set. Lucas has of course commandeered this as his because he was the one who got to unwrap it, much to Zachy's disgust! 

We breakfasted and bought last minute bits. More double sided tape and ribbon so I could finish the fairy wings I had made for later on in the day. We bought your balloon. We visited the garden centre again and bought some more flowers to go out the front, to go with the ones another friend had bought you for your birthday. We collected your birthday flowers from the florist.  We went home. Daddy built a bug house with Lucas and I planted your home garden flowers. 

Then we collected your brothers from school and went to your garden for your fairy party. Your garden was so overgrown when we arrived after school on Friday. It looked shocking. I couldn't decorate it like that; but neither did I have the right tools for the job with me.  Complications I know would you have sent me spiral only a year or two ago, I met with a surprising level of calmness.  I phoned your Bampi and calmly waited. Not feeling like time was running out, not panicking because there was a delay in proceedings. Being flexible with the plan and letting your brothers play with bubbles while we waited for Bampi to come with some shears. 

So the garden was sheared, we decorated it, each of your brothers helped to put flowers in the pot and give the fairies their spots on your headstone.  We threw fairy wishes dust and made it all sparkle and glittery, we blew bubbles. Your brothers played and played for nearly three hours. It is the longest time we have spent in your garden in such a long time.  

I had made fairy wings for your brothers to decorate. Cardboard cut out fairy wings with double sided tape that they could decorate with nature / flowers / leaves / grass / petals and whatever else they could find in the garden all around you. They decorated them, they wore them and they ran riot having a fairy party for you. Zac in particular took such care over his fairy wings, being so particular about what he was putting where, taking such care of making his wings look symmetrical. Xander was having a whale of a time throwing anything he could lay his hands on on to his wings and Lucas, well, he didn't like the that the wings were so sticky but he stuck bits on and loved wearing them and playing with his fairy wand when he was finished.

Then we went home, sang Happy Birthday with your birthday cake and watched a fairy film,  of course (Tinkerbell) for a Family Film Night with cake and treats and popcorn. The boys finally went to bed at 9.00pm. It is just as well your birthday was a Friday with no school to get up for the next morning! 

I'm always so aware when making these birthday choices that we don't really know at all. I'm guessing it probably wouldn't have been a fairy party in the real world. I'm guessing it would've been too babyish for a nearly Year 5 girl.  I wonder if it would've been cinema and meal, or trampolining, or  bowling, or maybe even a slime party (seems to be ever so popular at the moment and what Xander wants for his birthday party)! I always wonder what you would've chosen for yourself. 

What you would've liked for your ninth birthday. What would've been the 'in' thing for girls of your age. What are the in things for girls your age. I admit to having no idea. What would your interests have been. If having Zac who loves all things pink and pretty has taught me anything; we choose girly things for you, well because it seems like the right thing to do. But who knows, maybe you would've been into Marvel Superheroes or something totally breaking free of gender stereotyping just like Zac. Maybe it would never have been the frilly pink and girly things at all. 

We had a lovely Belle special day for your birthday my beautiful girl, but I wish beyond wish that I really knew you.

Happy birthday. Nine. 

Mummy, Daddy, Xander, Zachy and Luc love you and miss you. Endlessly. 

Monday, 10 June 2019

A Start Of June Battering

As transitions into June go, this year has been pretty brutal. 

I woke up in Croatia on June 1st after a much-needed and gorgeous wedding guest mini-break with Jon and some of our best friends. Child free none-the-less.   Fly home day. 

Woke up with swollen - couldn't get my shoes on - feet and not feeling quite myself. Nothing unusual about not feeling myself on June 1st, I know. But at the day went on a slightly sore tickley throat and cough got worse and by bedtime I felt pretty rubbish. 

Sunday I woke up feeling positively unwell and by the afternoon very unwell. Throat and ear pain and ill, swollen neck and face ill.  A Monday GP visit to a viral infection (isn't it always?!) and high blood pressure diagnosis. Still ill enough mid-week to need Wednesday and Thursday off work. Thankfully Thursday was turn the corner day and able to get my shoes back on my feet day. 

Now a full week on I'm feeling mostly better. Still coughing a bit and not feeling quite 100% but better. Tomorrow I have a some blood tests (unrelated to virus) and blood pressure check to make sure it was only an illness related high blood pressure last week but in the meantime, Jon and the children haven't shown any sign of catching whatever it was.

Which leaves me pretty sure this viral whatever it was, is entirely linked to my reaction to a month. Like not a real virus at all but another manifestation of grief, almost like an allergic reaction and my entire anatomy effect by a month of the year.  Ill because the month changed to June. 

This year it seems my reserves are lower than ever and last week felt like a battering. 

I feel like I've lost a week of preparing myself for the month and all of a sudden it is now the 11th tomorrow, with ten days to go to her birthday, with not enough prepared.  Tonight I'm feeling a running out of time panic. An ever familiar nauseous ball in my stomach. 

I'm glad to be feeling physically better this week though. Even on a good month I've little time (quite literally) for illness. There are never enough hours in the day to get my job and the rest of life done as it is! 

At the weekend we bought Belle's ninth birthday presents.  The annual visit to the garden centre. To buy presents for our should-be nine year old.  The. Garden. Centre.  Garden ornaments.  Even though the boys were instrumental in the choices and their input is always precious... and even though they are pretty and girly purchases, they're still not what would be buying if she were here. At least I assume it isn't what we would be buying. Unless she particularly wanted a fairy village in the garden. Fairies being the theme her Daddy decided on for this year.  

Every year I feel somewhat angry that we don't really know what girls of her age really like. Not really. We make half-educated guesses. Land on something appropriately girly. 

So presents have been chosen. 

This week flowers will be ordered if one of us can steel ourselves to go to the florist. This year I find myself avoiding it. I've never known the 11th June without flowers ordered before. Another location where birthday money shouldn't be spent. Tomorrow that needs to get done.

Then Sunday we endure 'the day, the 16th, in collaboration with Father's Day. Then those five lost days ticking up to her birthday begin. The no-mans-land days of 2010. The just waiting. I haven't got a firmed up birthday day plan yet either.  

I'm so unbelievably already distracted by next years birthday. 

NINE means we're just twelve months off Belle being TEN. A decade. Double figures.  Distracted because I remember my own tenth birthday and how grown up it felt to be in double figures. Like a rite of passage.  Distracted because I'm already awash with anxiety about next year. A super significant 2020.  I wonder every year how another year of my life has ticked by. How the date is June 20andsomethingdifferent when my mind for this month always says 2010 to me. But ten years. A decade. That is a hell of a lot of growing up and getting older time. 

I may not have firmed up a birthday plan for this year quite yet. I have ideas, I'll set a plan in motion this week.  But next year, I'm planning to do it all a bit differently.  A bit differently like we would've if she had been here for such a significant birthday. Like we will also for the boys. Traditions starting with Belle. Our children's tenth birthdays will mean a quirky get away! 

We might not even be home at all on her actual tenth birthday. Which I have no doubt will present its own anxiety and guilt ridden challenges for me. But its ok isn't it? To plan to do something different that we might have done on her tenth birthday anyway. To not be here. To not necessarily be graveside on the actual day? 

I think I want Belle's quirky tenth birthday to have a beach / mermaid theme. Something like a beach-hut stay.  I've done a bit of googling tonight. Something not too far away but still away. I want to find something magical.  Magical that also doesn't break the bank. I've been surprised by the costs of weekends away that are not a Premier Inn on the longest day of the year so far.  

So if anyone knows of somewhere magical and quirky between an hour/hour and half from Cardiff that will fit the brief please send the links my way please! 

This year I'm distracting myself by already fretting about next year. Fretting how we'll mark it with the significance it deserves, beyond a quirky weekender. 

But anyway. I need to shelve ten for another time. 

Tomorrow I need to refocus on Belle just turning nine and get my act and plan together around that. Because a plan is what always sees me through. 

The ever changing symptoms, coping mechanisms and lack thereof this time of year never cease to amaze me.  Illness and distracted thoughts are right up there this year. 

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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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