Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Rainbow Day...

Tomorrow, it is Florence's first birthday. I can't quite believe that my precious baby girl is going to be a one year old. I guess as she is still pretty tiny due to coming early she doesn't look like a one year old, but the fact is she is trying to walk and really is becoming a proper little character, I am in denial that she really is growing up.

How do I feel about tomorrow? I think any mother is emotional for her children's birthdays. Especially first ones. The drama of their arrival is still pretty fresh and the many milestones achieved in their first year as they develop from helpless little newborns into great, big, chunky, wobbly toddlers.

I have spent a lot of time these last few days remembering Florie's arrival....

I do this with Harry around his significant dates too. 

It was his birthday back in June and I didn't write. 

Harry's second birthday hit me way harder than his first. 

Remembering the build up to his birthday, like the day my waters broke, the day I was induced, and then watching the clock to the crucial moment when his bleed was discovered... all that time was really hard for me this year and I found myself in a very dark place indeed. Missing Harry has been an intense physical pain over his birthday period and thinking about all the things he was missing out on as a two year old is heartbreaking. This year, darkness overtook my life and made me feel numb, hopeless and emotionally and physically drained. I felt empty and just didn't know what would make this better. 

I am better now, after realising I was in a dark place and learning how to cope with this and accepting that this darkness is a part of my grief and a part of my life now, as a bereaved mother. The club I can never leave, it is now part of who I am. I can try to keep busy and for me this works as an antidepressant to some point, but when I am not busy, the world is not a nice place to be me...

Anyway, back to Florie. I have been remembering when her movements slowed down and no one would listen to me. It was all about my anxiety after losing Harry and everyone shrugged it off. Thank God I put my foot down, as otherwise our little girl would've joined Harry, and I would be the mother of two angels. I am so lucky that at the right moment, I was listened to, and at the right moment our little lady was welcomed to the world.

She had a bumpy start, the doctors were very worried about Florence as she has some very irregular blood tests and they could not figure out what was wrong with her, and couldn't even tell me if she was going to live! They were really not sure what to do and talks of a transfer to Bristol were on the cards, and a full blood transfusion was just a few marks on her graph away. I was frightened but prayed harder than I've ever prayed. And somehow, by some total miracle Florie proved them all wrong and made a strong recovery, and we were allowed home.

(Here is a little video I made about her NNU journey...

Ever since then she has bought such joy to our lives. She has turned William into the most fantastic, caring, older brother. The brother he had wanted to be with Harry, he now can be to Florence. She loves him so much, she always has a smile for her brother. They love playing together and it really is a very special bond between our special boy who got us through the darkest times and our special girl, who has brightened the world for us.

She is a very happy young lady, very inquistive, very determined, very social and very vocal. I have no idea who she takes after! I love her so much, but having lost Harry before her makes her even more special and even more precious. I have seen how easy life can be taken away, and I am so protective of my little lady. I am also aware of how much love I had in my heart for Harry and how it was hard to know what to do with that love. So now I really embrace every loving feeling I have for my children and feel so lucky to have that chance to feel those moments.

I have been blessed with the ability to treasure every second of every day with my children, and watching them grow and learn has been a beautiful gift. Losing Harry broke my heart but it has taught me to be grateful for the small gifts life brings. Meeting new friends, the kindness of others, the laughter of children, giving a gift to someone, a sunny day, a beautiful new flower, a sunset, the way my dog greets me when I come home, the great feeling exercise gives you, an amazing cup of coffee.... just little things, but they make my day special.

Before Florence, I felt there was a massive void in my life and she has shown me the beauty life has, threw the darkness there is light. And when the light shines, life is wonderful.

What a gift to bring to her mother. How grateful I am.

I hope one day I can explain to her how precious she is.

Until then, I will enjoy the little moments :)

Happy Birthday gorgeous xxx

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Eating away at me.....

In this blog, I have touched on the impact of loss on parenting.

These last few months have been tough for me as Florence is learning to eat by herself.

Cue mother in a state of anxiety every meal time.
Heart racing.
Panic striken.
Reliving nightmares...

Why am I doing this to myself?

To begin with I would only feed Florence myself, food that was pureed into a pulp with absolutely no lumps. We were doing well. I started introducing lumpy food and would panic whenever she gagged, even the tiniest bit.

Finger food - oh my god. What a nightmare this is. She needs to learn, and she is absolutely an independant young lady, so she really wants to learn too.

Every single meal time I am on edge. Worrying about the worst case scenario.

At her nursery they are fully confident in her ability and she gets to explore all kinds of food.

I want to do this too.

I am trying....

We fed her the other night, she was eating some rice cakes, while I spoke to her dad. She has a really bad cough and cold at the moment as well, and I looked at her she had a massive piece of rice cake in her mouth. The next thing she starts coughing and suddenly the massive piece of rice cake has disappeared.

Inside my head:
Oh my god.... where has that gone???? She has swallowed it??! She's choking....!!!

I freak out, and start hitting her on the back.

She's fine, but my over zealous back patting has hurt her and she is crying.

She is fine.

I am an idiot.

Relief - she is fine.

What an idiot, she is crying.....

I burst into tears... why do I feel like this? I feel like this because I can't lose another one. My children mean so much to me, I love them dearly. I am also truly broken from having to bury one of them, and now my remaining children will always be watched like a hawk.

This is a shame. I don't want to suffocate their souls. I want to let them be free to grow into their own people.

I am trying so hard.... but I miss Harry so much, I don't want to miss another one........

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Darkest days...

One of the songs we played at Harry's funeral was "Everybody Hurts" by REM. An amazing song, that touches everyone who listens to it. I felt it was appropriate for Harry's funeral as it totally sums up dark feelings.

Not everyone knows this, but for years I have struggled with depression. I have days when I can be totally upbeat and for the most part that is who I am. But for a good couple chunks of my life I have had depression of varying kinds. When I was a teenager I struggled with a few issues in my life and found the need to control certain things helped me with my depression. As I got older I found losing control over certain things made me anxious, anxiety lead to darkness. I had some counselling to deal with these issues but I don't think it ever really goes away. I think some people are more prone to depression than others. After having William I was diagnosed with postnatal depression, and some of those days were days I never want to relive. When I was pregnant with Harry I was diagnosed with antenatal depression, something that upsets me massively now knowing the aftermath... why on earth was I depressed while I was carrying him? This depression made me unable to bond with Harry, which to me is a sign I knew something wasn't going to work out.

Since losing Harry, I wouldn't say I have been "depressed", but suffering with severe grief, alongside post-traumatic stress disorder. But as this grief and the PTSD have become part of my every day life I have been surprised to see days of my old "depression" sneaking back in. I have found a good way of controlling this is by keeping my mind busy. The busier and more occupied I am, the less time I have to think. I also have quite an addictive personality, which has got me into trouble in the past with various things and I need to be careful that keeping myself occupied doesn't lead to an addiction or an obsession (OCD).

The thing I have been most concerned about though is the "is it all worth it" thoughts. I used to think this pretty much every day after losing Harry and quite a bit during my various low spells. But if I find myself unoccupied or alone then these thoughts have started to come back to me again. I know most people would be totally shocked to hear this, as most days I paint on a happy face for people to see, and most of the time this is genuine, but not many people know the me behind the smile. I have thought about what would be the quickest and least gruesome way to do it, so it's over with fast. Some days I feel like I am done. I would like to just be reunited with my son. Not have to be in this dark place anymore.

But,  I will tell you why I haven't done it. My family. They would be the ones to find me... who wants that stuck in their mind forever? They would have to go on, wondering why I wasn't happy enough to carry on, and if it was their fault I felt the way I did. I can't do that to them. So, on I must go. Carry on through the darkness.

And as I think about these dark times, I remember the song...
When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough
Of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go'

Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes

Watch the video CLICK HERE

I am lucky that I have some really lovely friends and family who make the dark times easier. Catching up with a lovely friend or seeing my kids smiles make the world a brighter place. I hope one day the dark days disappear forever and leave my poor brain alone. For now, I will keep myself busy and keep my mind occupied with pretty things and happy thoughts :)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Living with a broken heart

After listening to many love songs about unrequited love, or love that could never be - and seeing the true similarities in grief and relationships ending I have decided that grief can be compared to having a broken heart.

People who know me, or have come to know me, will know that I am not one to hide my feelings, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I tell it how it is. Same for my relationships. I fall in love quickly, I express my feelings openly and I am really an all or nothing kind of girl. Sadly, when I was "dating" - being this way has meant I had my heart broken many times.  I will admit I was young and naive, I haven't had the best luck but am lucky to have found someone now that wants the same things I do, and while we have had our ups and downs as any couple do, we are both realists and we both live for the moment. But, some of the break ups looking back, were worse than others, but in hindsight there are a few times that stand out for me.

I adored these people and loved every second of being with them. Making me laugh, sharing stories, being silly together and enjoying each others company. I had let myself dream about the future. And then one day, suddenly it was all over. They had changed their mind, or some circumstance or another meant that what we had would no longer work.

The first time this happened, I was beside myself. I didn't know what I could do to make it right again.
The second time, I was confused and left wondering what I had done wrong.
The third time, I felt utterly let down and as though the person I thought I was in love with, wasn't that person at all.

I felt gutted, really sad and so disappointed.

I was certainly miserable afterwards, but after a period of time had passed, I thought I had better pick myself and move on. I would always feel sad that things hadn't worked out the way I had hoped but keeping busy would help me to stop thinking about what went wrong and focus on making myself stronger, better and happier.

This is kind of the same as to how I feel about losing Harry.

Losing Harry was obviously a total shock. The realisation that things weren't going to plan, and sat listening to the dear doctor delivering us the terrible news that Harry had suffered considerable trauma and the outlook was not good..... that was like sitting there and listening to your boyfriend telling you that things were no longer "working out". I remember wishing and hoping that this doctor had got it wrong and that somehow things would turn around and our little boy would be just fine.  Just like when I'd been "dumped" I was trying to figure out what I could do, to make it all go away.

When I got to meet Harry, I remember sitting next to his little bed. Staring at him, taking him in, the way that a new mother does. I was so confused. How had this happened? How is my baby so, so poorly? Did I do something to make him be born this way? So many questions, and no answers. Just like being heartbroken before, and wondering what I had done wrong for it to be all over.

After we said goodbye to Harry, I cried and cried. The baby that I had hopes and dreams for, so many plans... it was all over. I had gone into hospital to give birth, I had a bag full of clothes to dress my baby in. And yet, I was returning to the room with all his things, a new teddy, some babygros, a blanket.... and no baby. I felt emptiness. Such total sadness. This baby I had really loved for nine months, was gone. He would not be the baby we all wanted. Just like the last time I was heartbroken, and I sat feeling sadness and emptiness because the man I loved was not that man at all. It was all a fantasy. Just like the life I had planned for Harry.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I have said this many times before.

All those sad times in my past have made me who I am today.

I believe every event in your life has a place on your "life path".

I know that losing Harry was the most terrible thing I have ever endured, and nothing for the rest of my days will ever compare to what happened with Harry. But do you know what? That knowledge gives me such strength. I have battled the worst, and came out the other side. So I feel like, bring on anything else. I can cope with it.

I said that after my heartbreaks, I would try really hard to focus on something and become stronger. Things like going to university far away from where he was, finding a new job in a different sector, or just focussing on a project to distract myself. This is the same way I have coped after losing Harry. Harry's Trust has been the thing that has carried me through all of this nightmare. I tried to find something that would keep my mind busy and it really has! The other side to Harry's Trust has been that his name and memory can live on to help others, and when things get really chaotic and crazy, it is that that keeps me going. I am doing this for Harry and for all the other families, who have sick babies, or babies that die or suffer with vasa praevia.

I was inspired to write this after singing along to a song today in the car (one of my favourite pastimes, but I can't sing too well, so it won't take me very far!) Paloma Faith's "Only love can hurt like this" and it reminded me of how rubbish I had felt when love had hurt me. Even though my life has moved on past those times, now and again I am reminded.

But, the deepest hurt I have ever felt is the sadness I carry for Harry.

And that is because I love him. I love him so much. A mother's love is greater than anything.

The difference between a relationship ending and the loss of your baby is that you might one day bump into your ex, or hear from them randomly, or have someone tell you all about their latest news. Sometimes, hearing certain things can be cutting. On the other hand, I have heard many interesting stories about relationships ending, even in the messiest of ways, and sometimes they get back together. They remember what they had was special. They had missed each other, and their company. I like stories like that as I am big old soppy romantic at heart. Especially stories about high school sweethearts who have been apart for years and years and one day the timing is right again. How lovely. (Awkward note: That is not to say I want to get back with my high school sweetheart, if he is reading this then I am so happy that you are happy!!! I am very happy with my life the way it is ;-) )

The loss of your baby is so final. You say goodbye and that is that. He is gone. I won't get the chance to ask Harry if he remembered "that time" or look through fun photos of us together. I won't get the chance to ask friends how he is getting on.  I hope that Harry will always remember that wonderful day we had together. I hope the love I gave him wraps him up like a great big hug, and keeps him feeling safe and secure and happy. I hope that he is watching over our little family, as we go about our days and how we all miss him so very much. And, just like I like the stories where love is reunited, I know that one day, me and my boy will be together again.

Like all wonderful things, it will be worth the wait. <3 xxx

Monday, 24 February 2014

Finding it harder and harder

People say time heals.

Some people would expect you to be "over it" by now.

Many don't understand how one can be so sad after losing someone you didn't "know"...

Well here's the thing... Time doesn't "heal". You learn how to carry on functioning but it never gets easier. Just less raw.

It has been 21 months since we lost Harry and I most certainly am not over it.

People even thought that having Florence would "make things better".
Wrong again. In some ways it is harder.

I have accepted the facts. I have accepted my feelings. I cannot accept Harry's loss of his tiny life nor the injustice of what happened.

Harry didn't die just because of undiagnosed vasa Praevia. It was a poorly managed birth from start to finish. For more information on this see my previous blog post:

This week I have to prepare a witness statement in my quest to seek justice for Harry. This has bought back many feelings of anger. And this anger is very strong. How dare someone be allowed to get away with taking the life of my child due to laziness or neglect? How is this ok? My child?! My poor baby who was so loved and so wanted and had so many hopes and dreams before him.

And  instead of being at home playing with his family, my son is wrapped in a white blanket and buried in a white casket, because someone had an off day at work.


That is not ok.

And this will not be ok, never ever.

Poor Harry had everything taken away from him.

And I have had everything taken from me.

I lost a massive part of me when he died. And my life will never be as it was.

I will seek justice for my boy. He deserves that.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Unbreakable Bonds

Today I decided that my next counselling session will be my last. I feel funny about that as it has been a wonderful support to me since we lost Harry however I have been coping ok with the trauma side of things and the grief is now part of my life that I can accept and embrace when necessary. I take a very open view to my grief, which is not to hide it away and to understand that I will have days when the grief burden becomes unbearable, and that's ok. After all, I have experienced a hideous event and lost my child so I feel like these emotions and encounters are to be expected.

The trauma side of things seems to be subsiding. I am no longer overwhelmed by it. I feel like I am through the worst and am letting myself let go of the terrible memories whilst holding on to the memories that can make me smile.

I was explaining to my counsellor that right now going to the cemetry is quite painful and I feel guilt that I don't go visit his grave as often as I should. I used to find great peace at the cemetry but at the moment I am reminded of our final goodbye every time I visit and until I am ok with it again I am avoiding it.  I don't want to feel bad as not a day goes by that I don't remember that precious boy, or that I talk about him in someway to someone.

I carry Harry in my heart. I have three amazing children, two that I can see and one that I can't, but my love for all three children is the same. They are all very loved. And that love is something that can never be taken away, not even death can end my love for those children. After death, my love for Harry is just the same as it was when I found out I was expecting, and when I met him for the first time... Just like anyone else you love... Pets, grandparents, friends, any loved one that dies or is no longer a part of your life, for whatever reason. That love you held for that person will remain for always, and nothing can ever change that. Love is permanent.

This sentiment is something I loved so much and wanted to share it. I am lucky to love many people in my life. Some I see frequently, some I don't see as much as I'd like, some I no longer see... but the love I have for those people is constant. While things around us change, bad things happen, or people move on, they move away, death parts us or circles of friendship change, love remains, and is constant.

And with Valentine's Day this week I would like for all those that I love to know how our bonds are unbreakable. Bad things happen, but our bond will always remain.

Love will keep that strong.

Love will get you through the tough times.

Love will bring you happiness when you are sad.

No one can ever take that away... not even death, the most final of things.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Coming Full Circle

Tomorrow we are getting our beautiful rainbow baby christened. I cannot wait.

We have made lots of lovely plans, picked some lovely outfits, food and decorations for our little girl's special day.

I am so excited to see everyone and to celebrate the wonderful gift I have been blessed with, my beautiful daughter, Florence Ruth. My wish come true. 

And also to watch our dearest friends become her godparents. To guide her through her life laid out before her.

However, admist this happiness, I will be thinking of our sweet boy, Harry. The last time we were all in that church Harry was there with us. Lying in his forever bed, his little white casket. I miss him deeply, and while I know Florence is our gift from Harry - my heart will always ache in pain, carrying this love for Harry that cannot be placed.

As we walk up the steps tomorrow carrying our beautiful girl in her wonderful christening gown, I will remember the hardest walk up those same steps. Harry's Dad carrying the tiny white box, and me, just days after the emergency caeserean still on massive pain relief, holding his arm as we faced the final goodbye to our son. Florence tomorrow will be wrapped in our beautiful family shawl. The same shawl William was wrapped in at his christening, and the same shawl that Harry was wrapped in when we said our goodbyes in the hospital. Memories....

We had Harry baptised in the neonatal unit. One of the few things that we were able to do for Harry. When the minister came to our house a few weeks ago to discuss the service he read the words that would be used in the service to us. Bang - there I was suddenly back in the NNU, stuck in the hospital bed, next to Harry's cot, stroking his foot whilst the hospital chaplain baptised Harry, with Harry's dad and my parents watching on. Tomorrow as we baptise Florence, I will remember the words we read for little Harry. 

I feel lucky that we were able to do that for Harry. It means that all three of my children have been welcomed into God's family. It is special.

With all this sadness however, it is still a special happy occassion. My family and my friends tomorrow will be thanking God for this incredibly precious gift that we have been blessed with. 

The most loved and most wanted little girl.

"We prayed for this child and the Lord answered my prayer" 

a special passage from the Bible that means so much, that we now have this on a plaque in Florie's bedroom.

I also wanted to share this lovely poem, that I may or may not get a chance to read tomorrow at Florie's party. I hope you like it xxx

A Different Child
poem by Pandora MacMillian

People notice
There’s a special glow around you.
You grow
Surrounded by love,
Never doubting you are wanted;
Only look at the pride and joy
In your mother and father’s eyes.
And if sometimes
Between the smiles
There’s a trace of tears,
One day
You’ll understand.
You’ll understand
There was once another child
A different child
Who was in their hopes and dreams.
That child will never outgrow the baby clothes
That child will never keep them up at night
In fact, that child will never be any trouble at all.
Except sometimes, in a silent moment,
When mother and father miss so much
That different child.
May hope and love wrap you warmly
And may you learn the lesson forever
How infinitely precious
How infinitely fragile
Is this life on earth.
One day, as a young man or woman
You may see another mother’s tears
Another father’s silent grief
Then you, and you alone
Will understand
And offer the greatest comfort.
When all hope seems lost,
You will tell them
With great compassion,
“I know how you feel.
I’m only here
Because my mother tried again