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.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Double Figures

I am many blog posts 'behind'.

Belle's milestone tenth birthday, an unthinkable hospital admission, Little's fourth birthday,  Lockdown Life, Week 1 and almost Week 2 of this years Six Weeks of Summer.... 

I can't even really blame lack of time; more so deliberately putting the first blog of the list off. 

Belle was ten. 

I had a vision, an idea of what her tenth birthday would be. 

Then it was nothing like it at all. 

I had an idea, two years ago, that for her tenth birthday I would raise a little more money in her honour for Sands. I wanted to get to Ten Thousand for her tenth birthday (after her first birthday had raised absolutely whopping £9693 - click link).  I had thought about organising an "Anabelle in Wonderland" themed afternoon tea, fun and quirky or even toyed with the idea of running a sponsored10k for her tenth. Which sounds absolutely laughable really when my current fitness levels are probably at their very worst ever!   I had intended to do some training; but could never quite stick at it for one reason or another. So still two years on I continue to play about with C25K - one step forward two steps back constantly - sticking at it really well for a bit and then falling off the running wagon for more weeks, if not months, on end. I think I need my on PT!  I've been on the treadmill on and off in lockdown but at the moment I can barely manage a Week 1 'run' and I haven't been that bad for a very very long time! That is another story really. 

I had ideas. But didn't action any of them.  I held back.  I beat myself up about it. 

But in the end, to be honest it is just as well I did hold back; because you know 2020 happened and all our lives worldwide got derailed! Maybe my subconscious knew for whatever reason it wouldn't happen this year. 

Her tenth birthday was hard. They're always hard. But this year not only was it a milestone birthday, we also had to abandon Plan A.  Travel restriction and bloody Covid meant we had to cancel the beach hut style weekend away we had booked. At the last minute we were instead throwing together a Plan B to have a mermaid themed garden party instead.  On paper it sounded lovely; I spent far too much on decorations (the surplus came in handy for Lucas's birthday too), I put together party bags even, I even ordered in an afternoon tea from up the road which was really beautifully presented. But it still wasn't the day I had imagined.  In the very end it was a nice evening when we finally were able to just sit. The day itself was nothing but calm. 

Plan B went wrong too; the standard panic of 'running out of time', a balloon that escaped the car as we opened the boot in the cemetery and not even the weather really on our side for the first year ever! A day with showers and the most annoying wind that meant everything we planned in the garden had to be gaffer taped down to within an inch of its life!  

Jon, my closest friends, have all said I need to take the pressure off myself to make her birthday perfect. To allow the day to pass without big plans. To realise that it doesn't have to be all singing and dancing.  And after my health scare in the days following her tenth birthday this year, they may well be right. Maybe her birthday needs a change. Low-key. 

Or it could just be a ridiculous coincidence that I had a brief minor heart attack (for no physically found reason) at the age of 35 in June. Because it is always June isn't it?  Stillbirth, miscarriage and now cardiac incident all in June.   

So now I'm on a weekly phonecall with Cardiac Rehab until mid-September (and feeling like I've almost doubled my age overnight!) and have been referred for grief counselling via their services too. I know it is the right thing to do; because even if there is a remote possibility that my heart issue was at all caused by the grief and stress of a never-ending June, then this cannot continue.  Fear of making myself seriously unwell each year cannot be added to the list! 

June. Ten years of reliving June 2010. Ten years of being utterly consumed by grief for the month from start to finish and before. I just don't know how to do it any other way. 

My darling Belle, 

Ten doesn't seem real or possible. It is such an important milestone. Double figures! I remembered feeling so grown up when I had my double figures birthday. We would've made such a fuss of you!  I wish that was our reality.  Instead we have had the sort of milestone that we cannot quite fathom. A decade without you; a decade that we've survived in its full range of emotions but never quite coming to terms that you, our only daughter, died before she got a chance at life. 

Once upon a time I imagined how if I survived ten years then I would feel stronger. More accepting. That maybe at this milestone somehow the grief would change and or become easier to bear. That the rawness would pass. Because in those early days ten years felt like an impossibly long time to live. I thought ten years would be a significant turning point. In which direction I yet not know; but it is fair to say ten years passed by far more quickly than I could've imagined and that raw June grief is still only ever just beneath the surface.

It can't have been ten years, can it? 

Each year we try to imagine what we would've been doing, or buying for you for your birthday. We almost torture ourselves googling a "What to buy a ten year old girl?" lists trying to discover what would have been on trend this year.   Would it have been fashion clothes, handbags, an iPod, jewellery or jewellry making kits? Books or stationary? Craft? Maybe even pop concert tickets; although I'm not sure about the influence of the likes of Little Mix or others!   I watch your slightly younger brother who is now all about Lego or Warhammer, building and painting models and marvel at how grown up he is all of a sudden. Maturing. And you are 16 months older again than he is.  Who would you be now?  On the cusp of Year 6, the top of the Juniors and applying for secondary school places.   I wish I could picture it; but mostly all I see is the tiny 4lb 5oz baby girl you are. 

This year we had a mermaid themed party but I'm under no illusion that would've been what you might've picked for yourself! Maybe parties would be out now and grown up meals with your friends would be in. Maybe a girly pampering sleepover complete with take away, films, nail painting, footspas and face masks?  For all the maybes of a reality that will never be, we had originally planned a beach hut themed weekend away; this year I wanted to escape for your birthday, to spend your tenth birthday at the seaside. Something different, something special. But it wasn't meant to be.   I don't think anyone could've imagined the turn this year would've taken. Locked down, travel banned and staying at home for months on end because of a virus. 

So this year there was no 'out for breakfast' that had firmly become our tradition of these last few years.  We had a slow morning at home, afternoon tea was collected ready for the garden party, we waited until dinner (and hoping the morning showers would pass) to go up to your garden. 

When we arrived at the cemetery it was in a shocking mid-lockdown state; everywhere we looked was overgrown and neglected. Grass up to my knees, or more.  I hadn't thought about how the council would not be attending graves at the moment.  I could've cried, just imagining the state we were about to find you in...  But you wouldn't believe it, we drove down the hill and I could see that your grave was all nice and tidy! I don't know who; but someone had recently mowed yours and your neighbour's plots!  I can only assume that your neighbour's family had been tidying up and had noticed the date on your headstone, or simply because you were a baby maybe, decided to tidy you up too. How amazing and thoughtful is that?! We were so grateful to our mystery gardener. 

But then the day got derailed, as it so often does on your birthday.  If there is one hiccup, I've learnt there will be many... on a day when we're not very equipped to cope.  

It was just going to be one of those days. Time started to feel like it was running out, one of the balloons had somehow become detached from the weight and escaped to the sky as the boot was opened (resulting in an hour round trip to get it replaced), and the weather and the wind especially just would not let up!!!  Wind and garden party decorations do not really go together! And the weather certainly wasn't right for the new paddling pool for the boys to pretend to be mermaids in! 

I'll admit I lost it completely at one point. The wind, of all things, totally pushing me over the edge. Not my finest hour by far.   Last year I thought I had finally learnt to breathe on your birthday. This year showed me once again how I still haven't a clue! 

Somehow we pulled it all back together. The garden got decorated with serious amount of gaffer tape, we all enjoyed the afternoon tea and the boys had a lovely play in the garden, albeit in their onesies because it was particularly cold!  We sang happy birthday, we enjoyed the Little Mermaid cake I had decorated the night before. In the end we got there once again.

But it was the hardest of birthdays. The hardest of days.   The way things should've been still hurts this family so much, you're missed beyond what you could ever realise.  The gap in every family photo. The boys missing piece and brothers who so often mention their sister they never knew. Missed by us all. 

I just cannot imagine a day when I will find my peace with your absence. 

We love you endlessly. 

Happy double figures birthday Anabelle Violet! 


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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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