Tuesday, 24 December 2013

So this is Christmas....

Suddenly, it is Christmas Eve. A year has passed since we shared the news about our rainbow pregnancy, and a year has passed since the "first Christmas as a bereaved mother".

At the beginning of the Christmas period I was busy after holding "Harry's Ball" at the end of November and suddenly I had millions of Christmas errands to run, presents to buy etc that I barely had time to think. Suddenly, plans were being made and things were getting done.

Today, as I finished the last of  my jobs I felt relief. But it has been a very, very long time since I have had real time to think. I have been so busy planning the ball, being a mum, organising Christmas, seeing friends and going to Christmas parties, that today when it was all done, my mind was allowed to be free.

I don't allow this often as it doesn't always work in my favour.

This thinking time fell in line with our Christmas visit to Harry. Hard to believe a year has passed since we visited him and decorated the huge tree with Christmas decorations. This year we had bought Harry his own Christmas tree and decorted that a few weeks ago. But today, as I walked up the hill to Harry's special place, it was so sunny I couldn't see Harry's spot. I walked up with William who was excited to do our Christmas things with Harry. I felt overcome with sadness as I walked up the hill... "this is our second Christmas without Harry" I was thinking "This year he would be beginning to understand the magic of Christmas. He would be such an excellent friend for William." I began imagining a Christmas Day with Harry as a part of it, and enjoyed the imagery. Then, bang, back to reality. Here I am stood in a cemetery. I am here because my son died. The facts are overwhelming sometimes. I feel anger, I feel pain and I feel resentment. Why did this happen to me? Why do I have to come to this cemetery at Christmas to decorate my son's grave. I still can't believe it happened. I feel cheated. Cheated out of such happiness.

Tonight, I was a proud mummy as I watched William enjoy all the Christmas preparations. Leaving out the mince pie and carrot, hoping Santa will come in the morning. As I watched him, I felt sadness again. There is always going to be a huge part of my Christmas that is missing. I love Christmas, it is a beautiful time. Friends and family celebrating and making happy times. And one of my children is missing. I think as Christmas is all about the kids I will probably always find it hard. As well as it being another milestone of time without my boy.

I have enjoyed this Christmas so far. Lots of fun times with some wonderful friends and although it has been a bit of a rush I am looking forward to William opening his presents in the morning.

Thank you to everyone who have included Harry in their Christmas this year. He will always be a part of my Christmas, but it is nice to know people are always thinking of him, and us.

I have absolutely turned a corner in my grief, but I still have days where it hits me like a blow to the stomach. When you least suspect it. Today was one of those days.

I have been enjoying watching Florence develop too, and what a wonderful blessing she is, a gift from Harry to help mend Mummy's broken heart. She is a wonderful little girl and brings me such joy.

Through this joy, and the change of mindset I have had recently, I have begun to see the wonder in things again and to feel real happiness and to never take things for granted. I have certainly been a lucky girl this year with all the fun and happy times I have experienced and while there are always a few things I would change for it to be absolutely perfect, I am able to enjoy the ride until then :)

Merry Christmas everybody - and Merry Christmas to my beautiful Harry. Enjoy your day with the other angel babies, and hope Santa find you up in the stars.

Thank you for holding my hand and my heart through the good times and the bad. xxx

Friday, 13 December 2013

The pursuit of happiness...

What a nice month I have had!
Not sure how often you will hear me say that!!!

I last wrote in the weeks leading up to Harry's Ball and spoke about life being too short to be miserable. This last month that has absolutely been my focus.

The Ball went amazingly. We fundraised very successfully and raised tonnes of awareness of our work and everyone who attended seemed to really enjoy the evening. I certainly did! It was a rare occurrence for me to be able to enjoy an event i had planned but I did!

I have also enjoyed my time with the children and am trying to be more "in the moment" with them. Time seems to be racing by at the moment so I am trying to savour every minute with them and plan lots to do together.

I have also spent time with some old friends and some new, this month has really been full of really exciting times.

Being December as  well we have lots of festivities ahead and the next few weeks are looking to be as fun as the last few.

So before when I was concerned I would never enjoy myself again, I have just proved that it is possible. All this goes without saying however this doesn't mean I have forgotten my experiences or that I want to. It also doesn't mean that because I have lost a child that in some way I am now no longer allowed to enjoy myself or I should behave in a certain way. I am still me, I am still Niki, and these  last few weeks I have really been the old me and have really loved feeling that way again.

Harry has been at the forefront of my happiness though. He has shown me that I need to enjoy myself and enjoy what I have and the time I have. To have fun and to be silly and carefree now and again. You live once and no one can tell you how long that life is for.

Being Christmas as well Harry has also been on my mind. This would be his second Christmas. Tomorrow I am decorating his grave and  this year I am looking forward to it.

I also have been thinking about 2014 and the plans I made at the start of the year:

I don't think I have done too badly.

Need to make a list for 2014.  Think it's going to be another busy one!!!!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Everybody's Changing but I Still Feel the Same

I can hardly believe it is soon time for the second annual Harry's Ball.

It is insane that Harry would be coming up for 18 months next month.

My beautiful rainbow baby is now four months and starting to be weaned.

Time is passing by...

Relationships are changing, new friendships are forming and the world keeps turning.

And yet, I am still carrying this sadness for my boy who isn't here.

Harry's Trust is truly evolving and is going from strength to strength. A real honour to be able to do something so positive to keep Harry's memory alive. And is giving me such purpose in life, to use my skills to help others, and to keep my promise to Harry. This past month has whizzed by as the days are jammed full of family activities, chores and charity responsibilities.

People have asked me, how am I feeling now that time has passed.... now that Florence is here, are things easier? I cannot believe my son has been an angel for 18 months, as I can still barely believe it happened.

I have days when I am walking along and I stop and think "did that happen to me?" as sometimes it feels like it was someone else.

Sometimes the pain is just numbness and I am unable to feel anything other than shock.

Sometimes I think about my boy, and how he was with us for the shortest time, but I watched him breathe, I watched him try to open his eyes, I watched him as my mum tickled his feet and he pulled them away. And then I think about when we said goodbye. As I held him and he took his final breaths. Was he happy? Did he feel my love? I would do anything to have that moment back as there is so many things I want to say to him. So many more photos to take. God, it is unbelievably hard to think of all the things I wanted to do with that boy, but so suddenly his heart had stopped beating and I no longer knew what was acceptable behaviour with a baby that had died and he was taken to the mortuary.

I wish so bad that someone had taken the time to show me how I could've done a few motherly acts for my child. I am always so grateful to the undertaker who allowed us the time and space to spend time with Harry in the funeral parlour, and let me dress Harry in the beautiful outfit I had chosen for him. I will always remember that time with Harry as it was the one time I was able to be his Mummy.

I have been chatting to the parent of a little girl who shared Harry's due date recently. He sent me a photo of his little girl as a newborn to use in a video for the Trust, and he apologised as he knew it would be hard for me. Now, this little girl will always be our Harry-gauge. When she starts to grow, and to talk or to learn something or achieve a milestone in her life, I will always think of Harry. To begin with, it was painful and although this photo had been on FaceBook, at the time it was posted I was unable to look at it as it hurt too much. But now, I am so happy to watch this beautiful girl growing and changing and becoming a little person, with a smile and a fondness and she helps me feel Harry's soul and how he should be now. I am sad he isn't here but his soul is still growing and up there with the angels, that is just the little boy he would be right now. What a precious reminder she is.

So how am I feeling 18 months into my journey? It is certainly still a journey. There are certainly days that I just want to cry, or be angry about why Harry isn't here. But I think those days will always be here. I can be grateful however that I met my boy and I knew him and I loved him so very much. It is that love that keeps me going. And that love that is poured into Harry's Trust to help turn his terrible time into something more positive.

I can also say that I am extremely lucky to have so many wonderful friends that I can talk to about all this, who won't judge and who will listen. I am so grateful as I think my journey would be very different without these people.

I still have the same feelings inside, and I know I am certainly more in control of them, but they are still there.

And while I say everyone around me is changing, I think I have changed too. I think I am realising more and more that life is short, to seize the day, to live and laugh, and to have fun. So now I am thinking, what changes do I need to make to be the happiest I can be? To fulfil my destiny?

My mum once told me "Life is too short to be miserable" - she is right.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The beginning of Harry

Today is Halloween.
By the way I love Halloween. I make a huge deal of out it and for me now it's a bit of a distraction about what follows on 1st November.

The 1st November 2011 I discovered I was expecting Harry. I will remember that day forever.

I has taken test after test as I was late and they were all negative and I couldn't understand what was happening to my body. That day I was at work and came home for lunch and I'd bought a pack of tests from the supermarket. Anyway I thought it wouldn't hurt to take another test and there we had it. A lovely positive test.

Anyway that day stuck with me as although I was really happy to be carrying another child, my mind started to fill with "what about..." Scenarios. Like what about William, how will I cope with two, what about my job, how will they react, what about our families, how will they react so soon after William? Then after that I started worrying about every little thing and worked myself up.
My work were a huge pain in the backside and tried to fire me for being pregnant which was insane and I also wound up in hospital with hyperemesis.

The pregnancy was a tough one and I never felt like I could bond with this baby. I always had a feeling of huge fear that something bad was going to happen but no one took that seriously.

A girlfriend reminded me recently of the time she'd seen me last which was before Harry had been born (I went into hiding after losing Harry until giving birth to Florence so if you spent time with me in the meantime frankly you are one of a few!) and she told me about how I just knew something bad was going to happen. Strange. I'd forgotten that. The shock of it all has made me forget quite a few bits.

I can also remember vividly the day before I had Harry and the fear of what was about to happen. We had been shopping to get the final things and Harry's dad had had enough of me worrying about everything that we had a massive row and he ended up going to sleep and I ended up downstairs doing toe massive baskets of ironing to take my mind off it all. I just felt like something awful was around the corner and everyone felt like I was being a drama queen. So much so I didn't trust my own instincts.

So tomorrow marks another day in my Harry anniversary calendar. The day his life began for me. The day I knew he was existing inside of me. A mothers love starts there.... And my love for this little man will always be. He is always in my thoughts and in my heavy heart. Things in my life are certainly more positive but that heaviness of loss will always be my sadness to carry.

Thinking of you more than usual tomorrow sweetheart x x x x

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The big day

Today was a very important day in my journey with my promise to Harry.

My promise to Harry was to keep his memory alive by helping others. Part of that promise was to make sure fewer babies lose their lives to vasa Praevia, by raising awareness and trying to get somewhere with a routine screening programme nationally.

If you read back in my blog to "Hospital Debrief" you can read about the first time I realised that what caused Harry's death could be screened for.

Since then I have been on a journey. Many media opportunities and many letters and phone calls with various bodies has bought me to today. A meeting with the UK's National Screening Committee. They have conducted a review on vasa Praevia and whether or not a universal screening programme should be ruled out.

Well they have decided a universal screening programme right now is not applicable as there isn't enough evidence in the identifying, and monitoring areas as it is such a rare condition. However today they have decided to bring about screening the "at risk" women.

I was so nervous ahead of the meeting, knowing there would be representatives from the Department of Health, the Royal College of Obs & Gynaes, the Royal College of Midwives etc. I felt truly honoured to be in the room today listening to professionals who want to make a difference and see the lives of little babies saved.

I didn't contribute much to the meeting as I do not hold any medical training or indeed do I know enough statistically about the condition to put up a massive argument with someone who truly knows their stuff. But to listen and be a part of a change was humbling. My son Harry has bought this passion to me, to give those babies a voice and to stop them dying needlessly.

I kept thinking about Harry and how if someone had only taken then time to diagnose him then I wouldn't be there in that meeting. I would be at home with my two boys. He would be big now. He would be having so much fun. But doing all this good has made me so happy, and fulfilled. Would I be happy if life had been so different? Who knows.

The screening committee has taken small steps today and I am very proud of our journey. But I want to thank everyone who has been on this journey with me. I have been very lucky to have massive support, on FaceBook and in "real life". This journey has bought new people into my life and made relationships closer, and shown me some new wonderful friends. Thank you everyone who has and still are part of "Harry's Army" helping me to raise awareness of this dreadful condition and make a difference to other families.

And those of you who helped me find my confidence when I needed it most over the last few days. Thank you. You're amazing xxx

Monday, 28 October 2013

Smiling through tears

It has been a long time since I have felt this happy, and I am so grateful to feel happiness again after such a long time of darkness.

I feel guilty for feeling happy, as I think of Harry and how he would never know conscious happiness. My counsellor used to tell me that Harry only knew happiness, as all his life, inside my tummy and his short time with us, he was always surrounded in love. I like that thought and I carry that with me.

I feel like I have my old self back, a bit more confidence and a bit more fun.

I feel happiness bursting out of me when I look at my two beautiful children. William is such a darling and says such loving, sweet things. And Florence truly is a blessing. Such a happy baby and so cute and gorgeous.
But when I cuddle her, and feel such amazing love for her, I can't help but burst into tears. I miss Harry. Watching Florence grow and change is so amazing, but Harry will never be more than my newborn Harry.

Sometimes I can't beleive what I have been through. My own child has died. I wish I didn't have to have these memories.

When people look at Florence they ask me is she my first? I always say she is my third and hope that the nosey old people will be satisfied with that. The other day in the doctors, I had a lady ask me how the other children like Florence. I said "they love her" and hoped that would be it. Then she asked me their names. My god. I know you're just being interested but....! I told her William and Harry. Then went back to my magazine. Then she said "How old are they?" Ugh, now I have to tell her the story. I am ok with telling the story. With the work of the Trust I have to do it all the time, so it's ok. I told her William is 3 1/2 and Harry sadly died. She asked how old he was when he died and I told her he was just over a day old. I know it must be hard to be told that a baby has died, especially when it is not spoken about in public. She looked so uncomfortable and asked what happened. It was pure disbelief when I told her, almost like I was making it up. Man, I wish I was.

Others say, oh one of each, you're very lucky. Yes. One of each here. And I have an angel watching over me too. I am very lucky. But my heart is broken. I had to kiss my son a final goodbye. No one should have to do that.

Some say, at least you have Florence. Things are better now. Like she is some kind of plaster, covering a huge wound. And I am always grateful for Florence. She really is our rainbow. But the devastation of the storm won't ever be completely cleared. Harry has left a massive scar, but I don't want him covered up. Some people don't understand why I don't just tell people I have two people to save those awkward moments, but to me, that is denying Harry. He is a part of our family and I think about him every single hour of every single day, so I won't lie to make someone else feel more comfortable.

So yes, smiling through the tears. Happy times after sad times. But sadness coming through the happiness. It's a bloody tough old ride.

Friday, 25 October 2013

A different life...

So I've started referring to my time before becoming a bereaved mummy as pre-Harry and after as post-Harry. The difference in my life is staggering. Aside from the obvious trauma, shock and true sadness my life has changed immensely.

Last week I found myself short listed in two categories at the Butterfly Awards, an awards ceremony recognising achievements in the baby loss world. It was a real honour to be there, amongst others who understand. I didn't win but after the initial disappointment I have used the inspiration of the other finalists to drive on my work for Harry's Trust.

We went to the awards with two lovely friends and it was so nice to spend time as me not someone's mother and enjoy myself without having to think feeding schedules or bedtime routines. It was lovely to have adult conversations and to hear about other peoples lives.

I am also going this week to meet with the National Screening Committee to discuss the screening programme for vasa praevia, alongside the Royal College of Obs & Gynaes, and the
Royal College  of  Midwives amongst others. I have no medical training so I am obviously nervous about the meeting but this is one of the most important days in my work since losing Harry. When I was told at our birth debrief at the hospital that the condition that cost Harry his life could be screened for but isn't - I made a promise to Harry that his life would not have been lost in vain and that no more babies should lose their lives unnecessarily.

And the rest of my time when I'm not taking care of my two kids and running a home, is spent organising our objectives for 2014 and planning our huge annual fundraiser which is at the end of next month.

My life pre Harry was less emotional and much more innocence and happiness but now I am busy trying to keep Harry's memory alive, save other babies from dying needlessly and helping others who experience the pain of losing part of them.

My life post Harry is crazy busy but he has given me such a wonderful  new direction . I feel a real sense of purpose.

In my life post Harry are some amazing people. I have been shown my true friends. Those who are there no matter what. Those who genuinely care. Those who will listen, and cry with me. Those who celebrate my triumphs with equal excitement. Those who understand exactly, and  those who don't understand but will hold your hand  and  care.

How blessed am I to have these opportunities and such wonderful people to share them with.

And that blessing is Harry. He has made my life this way. I miss him with all my being,  my heart aches for him. But he is doing so much good and I am so proud.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Since My Last Blog Two Months Have Passed In a Flash

Time is just whizzing by at the moment. 

Who can believe Little Pip will be 12 weeks at the weekend? 
She sure is our little miracle and we are so thankful she is here with us. 

Since writing last we have discovered that infact I didn't have dodgy blood as I was first led to believe. The reason they couldn't fathom why I had such a high level of fetal haemoglobin was that my beautiful daughter had bled across the placenta into my blood stream. 
Thank goodness I pushed for her delivery as I was told by her consultant that she lost approximately 200ml of blood, which given her total blood volume was 350ml at birth she'd lost nearly 2/3 of her blood.
Here are two newspaper articles about Florence's story:
After seeing Harry so poorly after a catastrophic bleed, I keep thinking about him. 
I look at Florence and pray that her bleed hasn't affected her long term. 
Harry and Florence are identical babies:

They are similar in so many ways....

So you can understand that when I look at Florence, not only am I so grateful that my little girl is here with me after all her and I went through, but I am constantly reminded of Harry. I am reminded of his experience and his time with us.

 When I cuddle Florence and am bursting with pride, I am also remembering my only cuddle with Harry. I am remembering how sad I was that I was saying goodbye. Trying to fit in a lifetimes worth of memories into a few tiny moments. Harry has made me truly appreicate every minute I have with Florence.
I know so well how it feels to have your loved one snatched away too soon.

Harry gave me so much in his short life.
He taught me empathy.
He taught me patience.
He taught me to appreciate the small things in life.
He showed me my real friends.
He showed me my true path.
He bought my family closer.
He gave me my daughter.

So two months have passed since my last blog, and I haven't blogged not for lack of things to write about, but from literally being so busy I have barely had time to scratch my head! But things are well and little Florence has bought a very happy ray of light through the very dark clouds. She is our wonderful rainbow.

I am going to try and  get back to writing every week or every two weeks as it helps me and I hope it can help others in some way too.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The arrival of the rainbow...

So my last blog ended with this:

 I NEED my baby here to hold and to watch. But the baby is safer in my tummy. It is a very hard balance to strike. 
Will I make it the next two weeks? Or will it come sooner? Will that be on his or here's own accord? Will it be a drama or will it be calm and relaxed? Or will it be because I cannot control my insane anxieties and I am causing my new baby to have a difficult start because I can't get a grip? Watch this space....

That afternoon I met a wonderful midwife who understood my anxieties. She listened to me when I spoke about my tears, from seeing the surgeon who delivered Harry. She helped me so much, by taking me to the operating theatre, to face my demons, and taking me on a short tour of the NNU so that I didn't feel so anxious if I had to make another visit there. It was not at all as I expected when I revisited the operating theatre. The room's proportions were not as I imagined and had a completely different feel this time. I felt calm and in control. The NNU wasn't as scary as I remembered, either, instead a friendly and special place.

That evening I was put on the monitor as I wasn't feeling baby's movements much and the kind midwife listened to my fears about the lack of movement and said a CTG trace should reassure me that everything was ok. Except, it didn't. I was seeing more and more of the decelerations that I spoke about it my last entry, and I was certain it wasn't the monitor picking up my heartbeat as it became more of a pattern. The trace started to normalise and the midwives were reassured. However as there was very little movement from the baby I was still panicked and asked them several times to take the print out to a doctor for a second opinion. Overnight things were varied, little movement and more decelerations, but periods of "normal" behaviour as well. It was when the morning came that it became clear that the doctors were not reassured by the traces and things did not seem normal. All this time, while I was pushing for a second opinion, I always felt like my anxieties were all based on paranoia, and suddenly they were justified and backed up by a doctor! I had only been awake for about half an hour when I was being told that I was going to be taken across to the labour ward. I wasn't allowed out of bed to freshen up, and suddenly midwives were collecting my belongings and taking me to the labour ward. I rang Harry's Dad and told him he needed to get here as things were happening. He had just finished a night shift and had barely had an hours sleep but came as quickly as he could. By the time he arrived, I had been gowned up and was signing the consent forms for surgery. I could hardly believe that I was going to be having my baby today, I was waiting for someone to change their mind. The day before, my consultant had seen how anxious I was that something wasn't right, and had promised to come in, on his day off, to check on me. It was when I was sat in theatre, on the edge of the operating table, having my spinal block cited, that in came my consultant. He looked confused and said "Niki, what is going on?" I felt like crying and hugging him all at once. He spoke to the consultant who was to perform the section and read up on my notes. They were going ahead with the delivery due to suspected ruptured membranes at 30 weeks, reduced fetal movements and a non-reassuring CTG trace. My consultant dismissed the other doctor and said he would perform the procedure, bless him! The neonatal doctors had been briefed as we would be having a premature baby, and suddenly I was lying on the table with Harry's dad by my side and things were underway. I still couldn't believe it was happening. It felt so so surreal.

The next thing I know, my consultant has his hands in my belly and says "who is this little person here then?" and pulls out a baby. A live baby! My goodness... He lifted the baby up and I saw a dear little scrunched up face, and he turns the baby to show Harry's Dad the sex.... A GIRL! A girl... oh my god, a girl, is all I could think. I turned to look at Harry's Dad, and he is as white as a sheet, and looks like he might pass out. A girl. My dreams had come true! She started to scream, and I burst into tears. That sound, that I had longed to hear for far too long. She was here, she was well. I couldn't believe it. We had a quick cuddle before the doctors took her away to the NNU to begin a course of IV antibiotics and undertake a few observations given her early arrival. She has also had her cord around her neck, twice, and had done a poo inside as well so it was really lucky that she was delivered when she was.

After we had been taken to our room, made some phone calls and texts and freshened up, we went and spent time with our baby, back in the NICU, a few bays away from where Harry had been. We enjoyed cuddles and kisses and special time with our new baby. It was heaven. A few family members came in to meet her and it was just as wonderful as we had hoped it to be.

We named her Florence, after my great-nanny Flo. A very special lady, so a special name for a special baby :)

Florence had low blood sugar, so they had fitted her with a tube through her nose to feed her, but had no problems breathing or controlling her temperature. She was doing so well.

That night I was asleep in bed, and woken by a doctor. "Our routine blood tests have shown that Florence is very seriously anaemic. On top of that, her jaundice levels have risen at an alarming rate. We have commenced triple phototherapy and wanted to let you know that it is looking increasingly likely that we will have to undertake an "exchange blood transfusion", where we basically give her all new blood. We wanted to let you know as this was very unexpected and we have no real cause to explain why this has happened. We are concerned about her and need to run tests on you and her Dad as we are currently unable to identify her blood group. Bearing in mind what happened to Harry we are starting to think that the two cases are possibly linked".

WHAT? I was in shock. What is happening? My beautiful girl? She is unwell? She wasn't! What is going on?

I called Harry's Dad and asked him to come and be with me as I was starting to panic. I can't do this a second time....

I went across to the NNU and saw my beautiful girl in an incubator with jaundice lamps and dear little sunglasses on to protect her amazing eyes. I felt so helpless. I was so scared. Her and Harry are linked?

The phototherapy went on for a few days, and the whole time I listened to doctors talk about all different blood conditions, and how Harry had been unable to clot his blood and was also born very anaemic, but not as anaemic as Florence. What did all of this mean? My head was in a spin. I wanted answers but no one seemed to be able to give me any. All I could think was that we were going to lose our beautiful girl. So many questions from friends and relatives about what was happening. How could I explain such a terrible piece of news when I was so afraid of the outcome and didn't fully understand what was happening. I thought we had been through enough as a family, and wondered why on earth we were being tested again!

Miraculously, Florence's haemoglobin (anaemia) levels picked up slightly, but were still about half what it should be, but her jaundice levels stabilised, and they were able to take her off the lights.

She was still subject to many tests, but she had begun breastfeeding well and soon the doctors were letting us home.

It is still unclear on what 100% caused all this, but the general idea is that we suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage which basically means we had a cross placenta bleed. The tests showed my blood containing high fetal blood cells which could only really be explained by a bleed. The doctors talked about my blood attacking the pregnancy and was starting to reject it. Another reason to be pleased she was delivered when she was! What I struggled to get my head around was that they were saying that my pregnancy with William would have kick started this reaction, and when I was pregnant with Harry this would have been a secondary factor in why he was delivered so poorly (the primary factor being the vasa praevia). I couldn't get my head around why my body would reject a baby... why would it do that? The guilt begins... I need to speak to my counsellor about this guilt as it is something I am really struggling with. While it is not a conscious decision of mine, it is still my body that is causing harm to my children. My own body killed my baby. How do I live with that?

Here is some information about the condition they have spoke about for those who are interested:

It is not 100% diagnosed, as we don't fully meet all the criteria. We have the same blood groups, not different, and so did Harry. We are seeing a series of geneticists and haematologists  to get to the bottom of it all.

On a much happier note, it is amazing to have our baby girl home with us. After two weeks of an absolute rollercoaster of emotions in the NNU, it has been an amazing week of having her home. She has completed our family and makes me feel so happy and proud. We feel so lucky to have her with us, when we were so close to losing another child.

I know that Harry has certainly been watching over us these past few weeks, and am so thankful to him for truly being my guardian angel, when I needed him the most.

I am feeling blessed. Thank you Harry xxx

Friday, 19 July 2013

Closer and closer....

Today is two weeks until my scheduled section. I have reached 35 weeks. Yet here I am, admitted to hospital and being monitored for early labour. This wasn't part of my "plan". My plan had been to wind down all my Trust admin work this week, and to spend time relaxing at home, getting the finishing touches right in the nursery and organising my bags for my postnatal stay at my mums house.


I am here because of suspected ruptured membranes three weeks ago, and a gigantic leak yesterday followed by lots of cramps in my back and menstrual like pains in my legs and under my bump. Followed by semi regular contractions around every 15-20 minutes. Am I in labour? Well last night a consultant gave me my first shot of steroids to mature the babies lungs incase of an early delivery, and the pains seem to be progressing. I DO NOT WANT TO DELIVER THIS BABY NATURALLY. I have had two very traumatic labours, I just don't feel I can cope with a third. Hence the elective section. William was born at 37w and Harry at 36w so it isn't surprising that things are starting to move on at this stage. What I am concerned about it that my levels of anxiety are going to make this baby come a bit sooner than he or she should and he or she might need extra care that he or she wouldn't do ordinarily if they could be left to "cook" a bit longer. 

While being here this morning I had a huge flashback of Harry's delivery when the surgeon who delivered Harry came in to see another patient. There I was back in the theatre reliving that moment where all was so uncertain and seeing his face and remembering searching his grief stricken face for answers was just too much. I burst into tears.

Again while being monitored on the CTG machine baby's heart rate dropped from 140 down to 70 and again I freaked out that I was replicating Harry's birth when his heart rate took some dramatic dips. "No! I can't do this again!" I said welling up, but it was only the baby shifting around and the monitor picking up my heartbeat instead. 

Being here is hard. I am suffering multiple palpitations, my heart beat is a racing 112 and I keep getting hot flashes

 I NEED my baby here to hold and to watch. But the baby is safer in my tummy. It is a very hard balance to strike. 

Will I make it the next two weeks? Or will it come sooner? Will that be on his or here's own accord? Will it be a drama or will it be calm and relaxed? Or will it be because I cannot control my insane anxieties and I am causing my new baby to have a difficult start because I can't get a grip? Watch this space.....

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Harry's Birthday Weekend

As part of my blogging journey, as well as writing about the emotions and feelings of being a bereaved mother I wanted to keep a little log of the things that we do to remember Harry and obviously his birthday weekend was a huge milestone in our grief journey and we had a lovely weekend full of rememberance.

We started Harry's birthday weekend by lighting a candle that we would burn for the 26 hours representing his little lifetime, with a beginning and an end:
At 22.37 (8th June)

At 1am (10th June)

At the exact time of his birth 22.37, we also set off a chinese lantern to Harry from our backyard:

Both these things I found incredibly moving and significant.

Something I struggled with was no birthday party. I kept remembering William's first birthday party and how lovely it was to watch him playing with his friends and blowing out his first ever birthday cake candle, surrounded by those who love him. Harry would never have this.

So my mum had a lovely idea about doing a little birthday tea as she does for everyone in our family, and said she would make a cake and bring some flasks of tea and some blankets to sit on, and we would go and visit Harry's grave and have tea and cake:

Then, on Sunday morning at 1am, the time when Harry became a beautiful angel,  we set off some lanterns on Budleigh beach to send our birthday messages to Harry and how much we love and miss him.

It was very moving to watch these lanterns float off in the wind and represent Harry's little soul going off to be in heaven with the other angels.

A lovely and very memorable weekend.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

A year of reliving an event...

Today is Harry's 1st Birthday. We have had a nice day but I will write about how we have remembered Harry over this important weekend in a separate piece, when it is over as I feel it deserves it's own space.

I wanted to write about recalling events. I have this week been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, which may or may not be shocking to you. I have been so consumed with my grief and have been dealing with whatever emotion or feeling hits me, as it happens. That being said, I have been reliving the moments of "trauma" again and again, to the point where it is happening on an almost hourly basis.

Today has been hard as I have been thinking "this time last year" over and over and recalling the events of the day and experiencing the emotions as if I were in that moment, again and again.

So, today at 5.30 I found myself remembering after having my epidural fitted, that at this time a year ago my forewaters went with a pop and we were all excited that things were starting after hours of being on a hormone drip.

I was left by my midwife from the time of my waters breaking at 5.30pm until 9.15pm when she asked to undertake a vaginal exam to see how dilation was coming along. It was at this time I lifted the blanket to discover the blood. I was told how common a bleed is during labour, it was probably after being catheterized after my waters broke she may have nicked me, and it looked worse than it is - cleaning up sheet after sheet of blood. In hindsight this is traumatic for me, now knowing that was dear Harry's blood she was cleaning up.
So here, I question how things may have been different if I had been more vigilantly checked and a bleed was discovered as it happened rather than hours later...................

She left the room with all the bloody sheets and returned with a matron who seemed to think that perhaps it was as bad as it looked, and had a look of stress on her face. At this time I was full of confidence in the medical staff. Not anymore - god forbid I ever see that look on someone's face again, I think I would lose the plot. Anyway, suddenly they were studying the heart trace and a clip was being put on Harry's head to check his heart rate as things didn't look right.
It also turns out the readings weren't being read correctly so that is even more disappointing to know that things could have been different if they were read properly, and it was clear Harry was in distress......

An hour after discovering the bleed I was being prepped for an emergency section. At no point was I told that this was going to have an impact on my baby, I had been made to believe that all the problems were with me, not my baby. I was nervous for myself but knew that it wouldn't be long til we met our new baby and the excitement of that was spurring me on as I signed the section consent form.

We were taken to theatre, and just as I was being moved on to the table it became obvious that something wasn't right with my baby, as the heartrate dropped so low that it was almost stopping. I was scared, and I was starting to panic. I was out of control. Recalling this moment makes me shakey and feel like I am suffocating. I can feel my pulse as I write this as I feel the stress of the moment over and over again.

As I was being operated on, the feeling of having the hands digging around my insides like someone was doing the dishes in my tummy was uncomfortable and strange but I was reassured "you're going to meet your baby soon"... and I couldn't wait. At 22:37 we were told "it's a boy" and the baby was whisked away and for the longest time Harry's Dad and I just sat looking at each other waiting to hear something, but there was nothing. Nothing. Nothing.... and more nothing. We were asking the staff to tell us what was happening and we were being told our baby was very poorly... We couldn't understand what was going on.

And this is what I go over, every single hour of every single day. From discovering the bleed until we were told by our Doctor that Harry had lost a considerable amount of blood and had suffered severe brain damage as a result. An insane two hours. A life changing two hours. Our baby that we had been so excited about meeting and holding and feeding and taking home, had made a complete u-turn in such a short space of time, and the shock of this and what was about to unfold has changed my life beyond recognition, and changed the future for Harry from being a healthy, happy baby to being so poorly that his little life lasted just 26 hours.

I am sure it is normal to relive traumatic events to some degree, but I hope that in time things start to get easier as right now, recalling these things as "what was happening a year ago" is stressful, painful and hellish.

Harry - I just wish that there was some way I could go back to before those two hours unfolded and change things so things could be different. I can't. I wish it were possible. But I do believe that we all have a plan, and as much as it pains me to think that Harry's life was only meant to be 26 hours long, if that tiny life can mean that a great deal of good can come from this horrendous time, then I will make it my lifes work to ensure that is what happens.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all

So here I am.... Blimey I can't believe I am writing this! A year has passed since the beginning of Harry's story. On this day, a year ago, I was making lunch for William and I began to leak. I remembered this sensation from having William just two years before. Exactly the same. A leak, not a gush, and no labour to follow. I called the hospital and they asked me to come in. It wasn't until Harry's Dad was home from work and my Nan could sit with William that we went up to the assessment unit.

"Oh yes" she said, "definite evidence of liqor." Then went off to book my induction. The next day was a busy one on the labour ward but she said she would call me first thing to let me know a plan, as it may need to wait til the following day. I went home, excited and nervous, to meet our second baby. I had prepared William for the big arrival and had a list of things to do before the baby came. First thing, I got the call, they were too busy that day and could we please come in the next day (Friday) at 9am. We spent that Thursday packing bags, picking up the last few bits we needed (as he was a month early, I wasn't entirely prepared!), organising William's stay with Grandy. It was exciting. I will admit I was scared, as my labour and delivery with William was less than straight forward but EVERYONE had said to me, the second time is different/easier/quicker. I trusted them.

Anyway, now isn't the time for recalling the birth of Harry as I am sure I will do that a thousand times over the next few days and I am sure to write again over this "anniversary period".

I wanted to share something that I had been thinking about a fair bit over these last few days.

A dear friend of mine who is so ready to be a mum, but sadly nature is not making it easy for her, said to me recently. "I just can't imagine what you've been through. I know I want to be a mum more than anything in the world, but to go through all your pregnancy and your labour expecting everything to be all ok, and then to go through what you went through.... I think I would rather never get pregnant than have to experience what you did". She often tells me how strong I am and how proud of me she is, which is lovely - and as you all know, I don't really feel strong, or that there is much to be proud of, but it is nice to hear.

Anyway, it got me thinking. How would I be if Harry hadn't been a part of my life? What would I be doing right now? How would I be feeling? Would I be busy? Or happy? Or would I be bored and stressed and tired? Who knows? What I do know though is that while my pregnancy with Harry was not easy, and while the labour was stressful and the delivery was absolutely traumatic - and obviously the end result was a very poorly Harry and we didn't have long together... I would never say that I would want to never have experienced those things so I don't feel this pain.... The pain is immense, but I have the memories of feeling Harry is my tummy, the love I felt for him from the minute I got that positive result, the excitement, the joy, the plans... I also have the memories of the day we all spent together, which we will all treasure in our hearts forever. And the time Harry's Dad and I spent with Harry having cuddles is a time I remember always. Looking at his beautiful face, touching his skin, embracing him. I could never wish those times away.

Obviously, I never want to experience the pain of saying goodbye to my child ever again, or to have to say the things to him like "sleep well little man, you'll always be in our hearts" , having to plan a funeral, dress our dead baby, bury our son in a tiny white coffin, and now suffer the grief of missing him for all eternity. All those things I would endure again, for the moments we had together. I love my son, and I always will and the pain of losing him is so great, but my love is far greater. I couldn't bear my life without the love I have for that boy.

Today, I learnt from my health visitor, that at the hospital's "Clincal Incident" meeting that she attended, the Doctor that spent longer than the alloted time frame resusitating Harry was chastised for going outside of guidelines and therefore "prolonging unnecessary suffering". Lucky for me, my health visitor is outstanding and not shy to speak up and told them that the fact that this Doctor did spend a bit longer meant that as a family we spent precious time with our son, that has not only got us through the dark times, but will keep us going for the rest of our lives and that, is invaluable. That told him! He didn't have an answer for that.

So as we head into the anniversary period, of Harry's birth and our special day, and then his very sad death, we will be thankful for the time we spent together and hold on to that. We have a weekend of rememberance planned and shall be thinking of our little man.

We thank everyone who has been thinking of us too, without your support this year would have been even harder.

Love to you all xxx

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Let's not forget about the Dads

All the while I have been grieving and blogging I haven't really written much about Harry's Dad and how he has been throughout this horrendous time, and to coincide with the national campaign "Dad's Matter" for grieving father's from the wonderful charity Saying Goodbye:

Photo: Don’t Cry for Me Daddy

Don’t cry for me Daddy
I am right here
Although you can’t see me
I see your tears

I visit you often
Go to work with you each day
And when it’s time to close your eyes
On your pillow’s where I lay

I hold your hand and stroke your hair
And whisper in your ear
If you’re sad today Daddy
Remember I am here

God took me home
This we know is true
But you will always be my Daddy
Even though I’m not with you

I am Daddy’s little girl
We will never be apart
For every time you think of me
Please know I’m in your heart.

I love you Daddy!

Please LIKE the www.facebook.com/SayinggoodbyeUK page
Web: www.sayinggoodbye.org
Twitter @SayinggoodbyeUK
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Please feel free to share this post on your pages, as every share helps to spread the word about Saying Goodbye.

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I read these poems on their FaceBook page and wanted to share them for their poignancy and how accurately they describe a father's experience:

Men Do Cry

I heard quite often "men don’t cry"
though no one ever told me why.
So when I fell and skinned a knee,
no one came by to comfort me.

And when some bully-boy at school
would pull a prank so mean and cruel,
I’d quickly learn to turn and quip,
"It doesn’t hurt," and bite my lip.

So as I grew to reasoned years,
I learned to stifle any tears.
Though "Be a big boy" it began,
quite soon I learned to "Be a man."

And I could play that stoic role
while storm and tempest wracked my soul.
No pain or setback could there be
could wrest one single tear from me.
Then one long night I stood nearby
and helplessly watched my son die.
And quickly found, to my surprise,
that all that tear less talk was lies.

And still I cry, and have no shame.
I cannot play that "big boy" game.
And openly, without remorse,
I let my sorrow takes its course.

So those of you who can’t abide
a man you’ve seen who’s often cried,
reach out to him with all your heart
as one whose life’s been torn apart.

For men DO cry when they can see
their loss of immortality.
And tears will come in endless streams
when mindless fate destroys their dreams.

by Ken Falk

Don’t Cry for Me Daddy

Don’t cry for me Daddy
I am right here
Although you can’t see me
I see your tears

I visit you often
Go to work with you each day
And when it’s time to close your eyes
On your pillow’s where I lay

I hold your hand and stroke your hair
And whisper in your ear
If you’re sad today Daddy
Remember I am here

God took me home
This we know is true
But you will always be my Daddy
Even though I’m not with you

I am Daddy’s little girl
We will never be apart
For every time you think of me
Please know I’m in your heart.

I love you Daddy!

So anyway, back to Harry's Dad. He was the emotional one when we were in the hospital, and when everything was going on, he would be the one who would talk and cry and I was the one who would listen to the Doctors and try to think practically. The roles have now utterly reversed and I think they did the day we left the "bubble" of the hospital. I felt like while we were there we had to be strong for Harry and to make the important decisions for him and his care and his treatment and his future. I think when I left, the "burden" of that responsibilty had gone as we had said our goodbyes to Harry and now was the time to cry and to talk and to question. Harry's Dad was the opposite. It was almost as though now the world would see his feelings and it is not acceptable for a man to behave in any way that shows emotion. He would open up with me when we were alone but otherwise would put on a brave face. I was worried that this would lead to repressed feelings but after a while of trying to coax it out of him, and getting an aggressive reaction I thought it best to leave it be.

I know his friends were thinking of him, but knowing how strong he is generally, they didn't want to bring it up with him and upset him so would discuss more trivial things like football and tales of nights out. After speaking to a few of them, I know that they would be there for him if he did decide to open up to them and for me that is great, just to know that he does have others who will listen if he feels he wants to share. But he doesn't. If I bring up what happened or if I want to go over that terrible day vocally (rather than just over and over in my head) I know now that doing this with Harry's Dad is not the right thing to do. It is almost as though he has found a place for Harry in his heart, and he can deal with his own feelings inside, but will not want to talk about the event or those feelings and feels comfortable managing things this way.

Men are so different from women, but that doesn't mean they don't feel the same inside. It just means that they have different ways of expressing how they feel. Some will want to talk, and share, and cry. Others, like Harry's Dad will find their own ways to deal with it all, and that doesn't mean they aren't feeling anything anymore.

He still expected a baby just as I did. 

He was there, in the labour ward, watching the contractions on the machine, and holding my hand as the epidural was sited.

He was there, when they decided to go to an emergency section, and witnessed the chaos that surrounded that decision.

He was there, in his theatre outfit, while I was wheeled to theatre. He watched as they operated to give birth to our son.

He was there when no one would tell us what was happening to our son. Just that he was "poorly".

He was there when the amazing doctor broke the horrific news to us.

He was the first to go and see Harry on the neonatal unit when frankly, I was too afraid.

He was there when Harry was christened on the unit.

He was there when Harry met his family members.

He was there when the doctors would explain Harry's condition was deteriorating and we made our decision with the doctors that we would withdraw treatment.

He was there, when we returned to the unit to allow Harry to be with the angels.

He held him, as I did, and loved him, as much as I did.

He was there when we went to the funeral directors and he supported me while I dressed him in his perfect white outfit. He put on his tiny blue slippers before I placed him in his tiny white coffin.

He carried Harry into the church for his funeral, infront of all our family and loved ones.

He stood beside me as I read my reading in the service.

He carried Harry into the cemetry and laid him down to rest at his grave.

He did all these things.

He is Harry's Dad.

He is grieving too. 

Please remember the fathers. They tend to grieve silently. They put on the brave face and pretend all is fine. 

They have lost a baby too. They feel the agonising pain. Just because they are strong doesn't mean they feel nothing.

He remembers Harry, as I do. He thinks about him when he sees babies who would be his age. He thinks about how Harry should be playing with William. 

Dad's Matter.......

Friday, 10 May 2013

Is it OK for life to not be as perfect as we planned...

Well at the end of this month I turn the rather over ripe age of 30. How do I feel about this? Well it is a strange one. I have made 30 a massive milestone for myself for many, many years. I have to say, I have lived a very fortunate life, and have made the most of every oppourtunity thrown my way. When I was a teenager, I wrote a list of achievements to have checked off by the time I reached 30.

My list included to travel, to work and live in cities outside of Devon, to buy my own place, to go to university, to pass my drivers test, to get married and to have two children. As it pans out, I have managed to achieve all those things, and yet somehow life still doesn't seem as complete and as "perfect" as I had envisaged as the teenage girl writing this list.

I travelled and absolutely loved it. Travelling has been the foundation for the person that I am today, and I will always be thankful that I managed to go to all the places I have been, the people that I met and the things I got to experience. I lived in Liverpool and in London, and really loved both places. I must say I do really miss city life, but know that the life I am making for my little family is far more important than fancy restaurants and glamorous parties and spending my free time in spas or shopping in Bond Street. I went to university and studied hard, and got a "first" for my first year, then I moved into a wonderful job and decided to put the university project on hold. I bought a flat in London, and made it into a beautiful home. I love that place so much, but when I decided to move back to Devon I left it behind and rent it out to a nice Polish family until I am able to sell. I got married, but the wedding wasn't the wedding of my dreams. We got married in my seventh month of pregnancy expecting William. It was very last minute but we wanted to be a "proper family" before the arrival of our first born. We invited 20 or so guests, had a registry office ceremony, and a meal afterwards in a local restaurant. It wasn't grand or the big princess day one dreams of, but it was lovely and it was achieving the end goal of being officially married. And then having two children... I have given birth twice... I have my gorgeous William, who yesterday celebrated his third birthday and I am bursting with pride for his little life and how much joy he brings to me and all his family. But my dear little Harry, he is not here to complete the "perfect" family we had planned. Poor Harry had his chance to be with us cruelly snatched away and that makes me feel sick, sad and empty all at the same time.

So, is my list incomplete? Have I done all the things I wanted to? Yes I have but not everything works out exactly as planned. It is near on impossible to have the "perfect" life.

The timing of my thirtieth birthday could not be worse either. Just a week before we see Harry's first birthday. Right now, I should be planning a wonderful first birthday for my little boy. Just as I had for William, with toys, and party food and balloons, and watching Harry play with William, taking his first steps. I have felt very strange even discussing my birthday as I know looming around the corner is my big reminder of my son who died, a year ago. A year? How is it possible to be a year already? It certainly doesn't feel like a whole year ago I was sat in shock, confusion and disbelief as the horrendous events unfolded around me. As I was wheeled to meet my "poorly" baby, and watching him helplessly lying there in his cot. How can it be a whole year since I touched his skin, held his feet and hands while we had him christened on the neonatal unit and unbearably, a year since we held him in our arms as he took his final breaths? Moments I will hold in my heart for all eternity, and feel like just yesterday.

A year - so much has happened though in this year. A year of pain, internal suffering, grief and anger. Of sadness, jealousy, uncontrollable tears and real, real sorrow. People say it will get easier... The pain never, ever goes away. You just learn how to cope with that pain. You learn how to behave, how to put on a face, an act, to say the "right thing" and to find the inner strength you never knew you had. People say I am strong, I should be proud of how collected I am, and how I can talk about Harry so openly. Well let me tell you, inside I do not feel strong, I do not feel collected, and I can talk about Harry because I love him so very much, and want the truth of what happened to be understood and known by all, and for his memory to go on to achieve many wonderful things. To try to find a positive out of the most foul thing to ever be endured.

I have to say, the work I carry out for Harry's Trust, makes me very, very proud. The pride I feel for my efforts in his name are the replacement feelings I should be feeling for my living son. I should be bursting with pride for my little boy, but instead, Harry's Trust is my "baby", so obviously, I want to see the Trust grow and achieve and be successful.

I also feel as though I am expected to be "over it" now that we come up to this huge milestone. I feel like this is the end of a chapter in my grief journey. Is it? I don't know. What I do know is that I miss Harry, every single day. Every day I wish things had been different. Every day I wonder what he would be doing if he was here. Every day I see him in William. Every day I pray to God to take care of my boy. Every day I pray that our angel in heaven is watching over us, keeping us all safe and surrounding us in his light and his love. I don't expect that will change. I know I am able to do more of the things I couldn't do before. I can see happiness in new babies. I don't hate pregnant women anymore. I am ok with being asked questions about what happened and can even take the ridiculous comments from idiots who speak before they think. I will never be over it, or be OK about what happened, as it will always be the cruel, painful event that it was and I can never make it right.

I spoke to my wonderful counsellor about how I feel about my birthday and how wrong it feels to be celebrating my "big day" when I should be sat in a dark room, remembering the loss of my son and in mourning. She reminded me of how I have felt inside for the whole of this past year, but yet there have been happy times. About how it is possible to enjoy yourself and celebrate other things, while still always having the place of sadness deep inside that I will always carry for my blessed son. It is possible to feel real sadness inside, whilst laughing at something funny, whilst bursting with pride of your other children, to enjoy spending time with those you love and to find happiness in what you enjoy. You aren't always going to just experience one emotion all your life. So it is OK for me to celebrate the end of an era of my twenties coming to a close? Remembering all the many happy and wonderful times I have enjoyed and looking forward to a new decade, full of hope and a chance to make new memories, and hopefully a time full of happiness and love. I have been a lucky girl to experience and enjoy everything I have, but I have been most unlucky to have suffered the most hideous event of all. I will remember Harry on my birthday, and while I will be incredibly sad to not have him celebrate with me, I will do my best to enjoy the plans we have made and to make the most of it. I won't get another 30th birthday, things aren't going to change and I know he will be wishing me a wonderful thirtieth birthday from high up in the sky.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Holiday! It would be so nice....

We took our second family holiday last week. I wanted to write about it on this blog as some of the emotions I felt were ones that caught me by surprise.

When you book a holiday, it is all very exciting. The prospect of fun times, sunshine and relaxation. And, I was incredibly excited when we booked this holiday.

I wanted for us to have a lovely break together before the arrival of Little Pip and create some happy memories for William as well as for Harry's Dad and myself.

I was reminded of the identical holiday that we booked last year. The same time of year, and for the same reasons. We wanted William to have some quality time before the arrival of Harry.

When I was packing, I found all the maternity clothes that I bought last year for last year's holiday when I was expecting Harry. When I was planning our day trips I was reminded of all the lovely things we did together, with Harry there growing in my tummy. I remember stuffing my face with all the lovely, healthy, fresh fruit and salads at the all inclusive resort thinking of all the good I was giving to my baby. I feel very sad recalling my pregnancy with Harry as I was blissfully unaware of any problems, and just accepted all the symptoms as I did not know any better. If only.....

Then as we were preparing to leave I would find myself getting upset going on the holiday that we had discussed last year, except it was without our second baby. We had talked while we were away and when we got back about booking our next trip, and all the logistics of taking William and another baby. And yet, there we were, preparing to go on that very holiday, still with just the one child. I would find myself crying about it, and William would ask "why are you crying Mummy?" and I would say "because Harry can't come on our holiday". William always knows what to say. "Harry will be watching us in the sky with the angels Mummy". I felt horrendous on the day we were leaving, as it was the first time we had all left Harry for over a week and we would miss our regular visits. I felt empty and sad when I should have been feeling happy and excited.

While we were away, the hotel was just the same, and the staff were just the same. It was like we were reliving the same trip all over again. I would remember what life was like before we lost Harry and the "without a care in the world" feeling we all had. How I miss that. The "undamaged" time. But in reality, our lives have changed beyond recognition. It was nice to try and get a sense of "normality" for a while though.

I thought I would share something with you though. We took William back to the sealife centre we went to last year, and had a photo done with the sealions, as we did last year - and also to the crocodile park, and I held a baby crocodile:

2012 - pregnant with Harry.....

2013 - Pregnant with Little Pip:

So you can see it really does seem like the identical holiday! However this time I have the sadness to carry of losing Harry and the anxiety of carrying our rainbow baby... all emotions I never knew existed this time last year...

But, all the while, we had a nice trip and we enjoyed each other's company. William had a few days of sickness unfortunately but he was a star and didn't let it ruin his, or our, trip. So I decided to take a bit of inspiration from Wills and remember that Harry could still be with us on holiday and watch over us as he always does. While we didn't take him in person, I am sure he was there with us, in spirit. xxx

Monday, 8 April 2013

10 Months On...

Today is ten months since the birth of my beautiful boy.

It has been a whole month since I last blog. Not because I have nothing to say, that would never be the case. Mainly because I have been so busy and also quite ill. I have spent most the time rushed off my feet, or asleep!

So I wanted to just do an update on where I am at.

Well, sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago that Harry was born. Other times it feels like just yesterday. When I consider all that has happened in these 10 months I find it incredible that it has only been 10 months and so much has gone on. But when I recall the events of Harry's birth, and those precious 26 hours he spent with us, it feels like just yesterday.

I am unsure of whether or not my emotions "got stuck" along the way, or if I found some strength to put my sadness away until I was ready, but this past month has been emotional. It could have something to do with my hormones, I am not sure. I have found a lot of things very upsetting this past month, and have been more inclined to allow myself to cry.

I have also felt a good deal of anger this month. An example, I was so fearful up until my 20 week scan that Little Pip, our rainbow baby, would have problems that would mean we wouldn't wind up bringing him home either. Every little tiny thing was filling me with despair and worry. Harry's Dad couldn't understand my fears as he said to me "why are you worried? All your children have had nothing wrong with them. It was someone else's f*ck up that caused Harry to be born so poorly". I had never considered this. Whenever I think of Harry, I think of him as a poorly baby. Lying there, so helpless, wired up to all the monitors. I thought that the way he was, was my fault, as my stupid body grew the cord and the placenta abnormally, and "it was just one of those things". But it wasn't. Harry's cord issues could have been diagnosed at one of the many scans regardless of whether it is routine, it could have even been diagnosed in labour when the midwife felt something unusual infront of his head. The bleed could've been discovered far sooner, his heartrate could have been monitored closer if the fetal scalp clip had been used properly, he would've received expert care if the placenta and cord had been examined upon delivery. All these things. They weren't my fault. Someone else could've acted differently and we could have had a lovely healthy baby. But it wasn't meant that way. And that makes me angry. I wish so badly things could have been different, not just for me, but for everyone else suffering from the loss of this lovely baby, and also for Harry too.

Anyway, thankfully, it turns out this time around, after a very thorough 20 week scan, Little Pip is doing really well, and the consultants seem keen to do a pre-37 week c-section so that I don't go into labour and have to deal with an emergency section again.

Something I cannot bear at the moment though is how people seem to truly think that having Little Pip is going to make the pain of losing Harry go away. No, it isn't. The pain of losing Harry is still as painful as it was the day I came home without my baby. Everyday I am reminded of various things, that Harry is not with us. This morning William woke up and his first words were "Mummy I am sad." When asked why he was sad he said "I am sad because Harry isn't here". Blimey.... I told William that we are all sad that Harry isn't here, and we all miss him very much. But he loves you and watches over his big brother, every day. Or looking at Facebook and seeing the babies who were born at the same time as Harry and seeing them growing and changing and learning, just like he should be. But instead my arms are still empty. I will long for him every day for the rest of my life. Having another baby will not change my sadness. It will not fix my broken heart. It will bring me some joy, and some happiness, and it will occupy my mind, but the pain and sorrow will never soften nor will it disappear. I am a broken woman, and that is me now. Forever.

I am having a slight social problem at the moment in that I am not feeling much up to spending time in groups or in any environment that might encourage questions. I live in a small town, a lot of people know me or my family and questions are often thrown around. Sometimes inappropriately and sometimes intrusively. I want to avoid these situations. I also don't feel like putting on the brave face most of the time, or feel like pretending things are all ok. I have have to bail out of several things of late as I just cannot deal with it. My emotions and my strength are suffering somewhat. I am unsure of a solution to this. Harry's Dad is becoming frustrated with my hermit-like behaviour, and while for now I have my sinusitis to hide behind, it will soon have cleared up and my excuses for not wanting to leave the house will be few.

The Trust is doing well and as ever keeping my mind extremely busy, I continue to be proud of our work and have spent a lot of work on future events as well as making my list of "Harry's Wishes" to share with the hospital and make some solid plans for how our donations are spent. More to come on this.

On a more positive level, I am starting feel far more connected to Little Pip. His or her movements are making themselves more known, which is obviously reassuring and also very exciting to know my baby is wriggling around in there. I didn't want to know the sex of this baby, as the excitement "on arrival" is just overwhelming and I wanted that special moment again. I really have no inkling what we have in there, I would obviously love a girl, being the girlie girl I am I would love to indulge her, however having another boy would be lovely for Will to have a playmate and a brother to grow up with. I have started to allow myself to plan more for his or her arrival, making arrangements at home and creating a nursery in my spare room, and getting a few bits and pieces to put away. I had everything ready for Harry's arrival so I really don't need much as all those bags of nappies, and Johnson's baby products are all tucked away in the cupboard. Along with all those freshly washed and ironed baby clothes that I had put in Harry's chest of drawers that never made it on to his little body.
Harry is letting his brother or sister use what he didn't.

I am amazed that is so close to Harry's birthday as well. I have a lot on in the next 8 weeks as well. A holiday, where we went last year, a few months before Harry's arrival. Looking back at that holiday is strange as I feel I was so innocently happy then, and now I am forever disturbed. I also have William's third birthday which will be a happy time, and my 30th, which I can take or leave right now. The week after I have a scan when we will get the date for my section, then it is Harry's birthday... a time for happiness and true sadness. A time for remembering the precious life we wanted and loved so much, and celebrating all the love we share for this little boy. And also the sadness, that he was taken too soon, and missed more than words can describe.