Tiny Lives Christmas Service

I mentioned in my 10 ways to include your baby at Christmas time blog about attending Christmas services. We originally had hoped to attend two this year, one in Newcastle arranged by Tiny Lives which is a charity that looked after Silver in SCBU, and one in York arranged by The Lullaby Trust which have supported both me and Fabian with their befriending service. Unfortunately, I’ve just realised we will be unable to attend the York service which would have been much closer to home however we had arranged for my family to come over for my dads 60th birthday! Nonetheless we did have a lovely time in Newcastle and I just wanted to come on here and share it with you guys.

We arranged for Beau our toddler to spend the day with my parents, knowing that with his terrible two’s attitude it would be simply too stressful taking him with us and we would then miss half the service no doubt. We really wanted this day to be all about Silver, dedicated to her. After all, this should have been her first Christmas and we won’t get to do any of the things we would have wanted to do with her such as seeing Santa, opening presents and showing her all the lights on evening walks. So we embarked on our two hour journey to Newcastle with our little girl in our thoughts.

The drive itself I found reminded me very much of the day we picked up her little body and brought her home after her post mortem. It was difficult to remember such things and I found myself welling up every now and again despite feeling comforted knowing we were going to her home town. Newcastle was not a place we often ventured prior to her pregnancy and yet it now feels like a second home and feels that we are closer to our little girl when we are there. I know now this place will always have a special place in my heart and will be often visited. I think it’s an important place we will be bringing Beau and Leilani to as they grow up as we tell them tales of their precious sister.

We parked close to the church and arrived just in time for the service, my initial thought was an overwhelming sense of just how full the church was. We struggled to actually find a seat and it was a rather large hall completely pack. Rows and rows of grieving families all sat side by side. I could feel the lump in my throat as we sat down and prepared for the service to begin. There was a plethora of different families in the seats and pews, some just couples whilst others were larger families with children of all ages. There was also a very mixed sense of emotions, some families were able to smile and enjoy the service whilst others were very much overwhelmed and flooded with tears.

The service itself was lovely, a mixture of readings, songs, writing cards to add to a remembrance tree and lighting candles. Both me and Fabian had managed to get so far through before actually shedding a tear. I think we both had tried our best to hold it back but writing our little cards to hang on the tree was the downfall for us both. Fabian had gone up to hang the cards as I suffer social anxiety and he had heard another parent say through sobs how each year it gets worse. This was his trigger, knowing how much he’s struggled this year and the fear of the grief being so everlasting and painful. I simply found that seeing more and more people crying was the trigger for myself. Thankfully we were actually prepared and had brought tissues, both silently crying as we held hands.

 

My favourite part of the service was the lighting of candles. There was one candle lit for each month of the year at the centre of the church (I’m not religious and don’t really know what it’s called?) before volunteers then brought the flames to the front rows. The part I liked however was that from this point everyone lit each other’s candle, like a wave of light. It felt like the community spirit I have grown to love in the grieving community as we all support each other through our losses. It was especially beautiful when they dimmed the lights and you could see just how many beautiful candles were lit, representing our lost babies. A beautiful yet heart breaking sight.

Service booklet and candles edit

The service finished soon after and there was then the opportunity to congregate in the community room behind the church for refreshments and to speak with others along with viewing the memory books. We arranged for Silver’s name to be wrote into one book on the day she was born and were given details so we could write a card to send in that would be added to another memory book also. It was also fantastic that the doctor whom looked after Silver the night she passed away and also came to our home to deliver the post mortem results came to say hello to us. He was very reassuring and wanted to know all about our current pregnancy and seemed very pleased to hear it was progressing very well with none of the similar ailments showing with Leilani.

 

All in all it was a lovely service and one we would happily attend again next year. Perhaps by next year Beau will be able to come with us too! It felt nice to do something Christmassy pertaining to Silver alone and making her as much included in our festive celebrations as Beau our lively living child. I know Christmas this year will be a profusion of emotions, both exciting as we watch Beau ravenously rip open his presents but also solemn as we think of how different the day should have been. We will however try celebrating with her close in our hearts, honouring her memory and sending warm wishes to heaven. I hope you too can have a peaceful Christmas, your angels close in your hearts with the knowledge they would wish only happiness upon you.

Until next time,

Holly x

Yorkshire Wildlife Park With The Lullaby Trust

Hello everyone, I’ve got a really nice blog for you today. We recently attended an event hosted by The Lullaby Trust and I thought I’d write up a little post about our lovely family day out with this fantastic charity. We were so pleased to be invited to a day out with them at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, somewhere we have never been before, tickets provided free of charge. We were eager to be able to speak with other grieving parents and meet the charity volunteers themselves, putting faces to names.

CMYK_the_lullaby_trust_LOGO (2)

I should perhaps tell you a little bit more about the charity first and what they do before getting into the experience of our day out. We were suggested the charity by a social worker who had been supporting us through our loss. She was aware of how much we were struggling and that no counselling was available to either of us despite repeatedly asking for it. With no one to talk to we felt very isolated in the early days of our loss, Fabian even more so. I was lucky enough to develop a lot of friendships online through Instagram with other parents but Fabian still had no one to talk to besides me. Although it is so important that through loss you support each other, sometimes it can be quite hard to offer support when you also need it reciprocating, especially when you are both experiencing a different stage of grief.

The Lullaby Trust raise awareness for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome aka cot death), promote safe sleeping and also support grieving parents through loss. They provide support via a helpline but also a befriending service. There is an option for telephone or email support. Both me and Fabian signed up for a befriender quite early on in our loss. I opted for email support and Fabian opted for phone calls. I did find this tremendously helpful initially and they do try and partner you with someone who might have gone through something similar if not the same. Over time I realised personally email support was not right for myself as it meant exchanging quite lengthy emails due to the nature of the subject but this at times became overwhelming and time consuming, feeling more like a chore than of benefit.

I am so pleased however to say Fabian is still receiving support through weekly telephone calls with his befriender and it has truly helped him to have another dad to guide him through his first Father’s Day and the recent anniversaries relating to Silver. I am so glad we discovered this charity and found support for Fabian because dads are often forgotten about yet I know it has made the world of difference for him to simply have one person to talk to who actually understands what he’s feeling, probably more beneficial than seeing a general counsellor in that sense! I can’t recommend this service enough for anyone who does feel they need someone to talk to and is feeling isolated or unsupported. You can access the support for as little or as long as you need, for Fabian this has been a weekly support for several months whereas personally I only needed a couple months of emails before I felt stable enough without the support.

I do want to briefly tell you about the CONI scheme before I move onto the tales of our exciting day out. CONI represents Care Of Next Infant and is a scheme where you can access much more support from your health visitor, diaries to help you monitor your babies health and wellbeing, you are able to borrow breathing monitors for your own peace of mind with your next child, receive training on resuscitation and receive a room thermometer along with guidance on safe sleep. Unfortunately, this is not available in all areas, we are one of the unlucky ones who are not in an area that offers this, but they are still able to point you in the right direction of receiving similar support. We have received all the information to discuss with our own health visitor and are currently looking into finding somewhere to do first aid training before Leilani is born for our own peace of mind. We are also planning on buying a breathing monitor for ourselves too.

On to the exciting part now! Originally, we had planned to bring Nana and Grandad (my parents) with us to help watch over Beau so we could actually talk to people and get the support however Nana was at a Christmas fair with her business so it was just the four of us. Grandad being particularly excited to be coming to somewhere he had been desperate to visit for quite some time. We arrived for opening time and went to a booth set up with The Lullaby Trust where we got to meet a couple of the volunteers we have previously spoken with on the phone before receiving our entry wristbands and a charity sticker. The plan was to meet back at a private meeting room at lunchtime to properly meet the staff and other parents, they’d even provided a free packed lunch for Beau too which was great!

20181118_115850

Beau has unfortunately picked up a viral cough recently and had only slept for twenty minutes in the car despite it being an hour and a half journey! As we are trying to get him used to walking since Leilani will be having the pram soon, plus more often than not he’s trying to escape the pram we decided to start the day with him walking. Not sure that was our best choice, he did love walking around and was generally very well behaved however often as he was feeling rotten and a little tired he did keep wanting Fabian and Grandad to pick him up! This is the first time we’ve taken him to a “zoo” since he has actually learnt animal names and was able to say and recognise the animals without us having to tell him which was adorable.

IMG_0431

I must say I know it is quite controversial as a vegan family to be attending a place with captive animals but thankfully it would seem the focus at The Yorkshire Wildlife Park was rehabilitation and rescue, a lot of animals coming from very poor conditions and situations. We were all amazed at the size of the enclosures and how healthy the animals looked in comparison to a zoo more local to our home. This truly gave the impression that the wellbeing of the animals was paramount and that space for the animals was vitally important and integral to their layout. I loved the fact that despite the large enclosures we were thankfully still able to see the animals quite well and it was reassuring to see the condition all the animals were in. On the topic of being vegan I was also extremely impressed reading their menu online just how well they cater to vegans in their café’s and the fact they were able to provide vegan chicken nuggets for Beau for lunch, enabling him to not feel left out by technically having the same as the other children.

 

As the morning went on Beau started to get quite restless and cranky. He was tired and hungry. He had walked up to a kiosk and asked for yoghurt, only to be very upset for Daddy to tell him they didn’t sell yoghurt! I think his cough and throat was really hurting him (he’s been asking for yoghurt non-stop for four days now). We decided to head to the meeting room which was lovely and spacious compared to the general food area downstairs. I have to admit it was very busy and quite intimidating sitting down on a large table where there were already two families. We didn’t actually speak directly with any of the other grieving parents, it was quite nerve wracking and particularly hard knowing how to instigate such a sensitive conversation. Perhaps over time we will find this easier to do.

It’s funny how children can be super tired and cranky one minute and bouncing off the walls the next isn’t it? Well let’s just say trying to eat our lunch was rather stressful. Beau made many escape attempts and Fabian spent a lot of time chasing after Beau as he ran around the large circular tables, suddenly not interested in his food. Thankfully my dad was able to help, me being pregnant and particularly slow I wasn’t exactly utilitarian! Beau did however warm up to one of the volunteers very much and then wouldn’t leave her side which was in fact quite handy. It was so funny to watch as she would try talking to other parents yet he would roll about on the floor and do everything in his power to try and get her attention. It was absolutely lovely to see him also make friends with some other children which were about ten or so years old I think. He kept going up to them very shyly and they would cuddle him and play with the pom pom on his Christmas jumper but I think he was in awe of them really. I absolutely love seeing him be able to interact with other people and children and see how he is and how he’s developing as a little person.

IMG_0449

With Beau distracted Fabian was thankfully actually able to speak with a different volunteer. I know he likes to talk for England and it really helps him talking with others, so I can only imagine this was beneficial and comforting. We also gathered quite a few useful leaflets too as we prepare for Leilani coming home. One thing I know we do need to buy is a moses basket mattress as Silver had leaked and bled a little on the other one so it will be helpful to have their input on selecting a new one for optimum safety. I was also very pleased to see they are selling Christmas cards too which I didn’t realise so we will be buying some to support them in their work and as a thank you for all the amazing support they have given us as we go through this difficult journey. (For more suggestions on how to celebrate Christmas whilst honouring and including your baby click here to view my blog post on the subject matter)

After lunch Beau had an encounter with a giraffe which I found very special and meaningful. They had all come inside to be fed so we went to have a look only for an extremely large one to walk from quite far away directly towards where Beau was. Thankfully I was able to quickly snap a picture and it then reminded me, when I took my twenty week bump photo for Beau it was at Barcelona Zoo in front of the giraffes! So it got me thinking, Silver’s special animal is an elephant, Leilani’s is a unicorn and obviously Stork’s is a stork. I finally felt Beau had a special animal! Plus, they both have the same hair colour so I feel it’s just meant to be, plus Beau loved them and kept saying giraffe afterwards and ever since.

 

We did actually opt for putting Beau in the pram for the second half of the day which was definitely a good call. We enjoyed visiting the few animals we had missed in the morning and having a leisurely walk around the park as the sun began to set. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we even indulged in some retail therapy at their gift shop to end the day. We treated Beau to a giraffe for the journey home which he chose himself and promptly covered in snot. We wanted to get something to signify Silver being with us since this day was about her but nothing elephant themed stuck out to us. Instead we found a lovely angel ornament which we felt was perfect to remember our special day with her in mind. We also bought Beau a microwavable lavender giraffe toy for Christmas. I had already been planning on getting one since we have separate heating systems for upstairs and downstairs and sometimes the upstairs is quite cool at bedtime but I didn’t feel safe giving Beau a hot water bottle. Hopefully the lavender might improve his struggle with sleep too!

Silvers Angel Ornament Wildlife Park

I think it is so important when you’ve lost a baby to be aware of just how much support is out there for you. There is so many different charities which can help support you in different ways. Please reach out to your bereavement midwife, GP or simply search the net. You don’t have to go through this alone and there is support for both mums, dads and families out there. Below are a few charities which are nationwide and may be able to support you

The Lullaby Trust

SIDS awareness and advice, helpline, befriending service

SANDS

“Sands works to support anyone affected by the death of a baby; improve the care bereaved parents receive; and create a world where fewer babies die.”

Bliss

“Raise awareness for parents & families who have lost their babies. Financial Info & Support.”

Tommy’s

“We fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provide pregnancy health information to parents.”

Sending love and warm wishes to all the grieving parents and families out there,

Until next time,

Holly x

Beau

10 Ways To Include Your Lost Baby At Christmas Time

Christmas is fast approaching now and with that comes an even bigger sense of loss for most grieving parents as we are surrounded by adverts of families and ornaments for baby’s 1st Christmas. I have been in two mind sets about Christmas this year. On the one hand I have been my usual self, very excited and desperate to decorate. I can’t wait for another Christmas with Beau as he understands a little bit more each year. On the other hand, I am heartbroken to know there is someone missing this Christmas and I know there will be a sense of emptiness on the big day as the realisation sets in.

I haven’t given too much thought to it until now. Probably as a way of protecting myself. I haven’t wanted to think about all the things we would have done differently. Even as I write this now it has only just popped into my head how different Christmas morning should have been. How we should have been a family of four all sat on mine and Fabians bed opening stockings. Beau no doubt would have been helping Silver to open hers! I never really know what is best to do. Try my best not to think about these things or allow myself to think about them and try to accept the reality and find a way to cope with these situations.

I wanted to share in this blog post some of the ideas we have personally come up with for how to celebrate Christmas this year in a gentle way where we can grieve but also include our little girl as much as possible.

1)     A stocking. We had not been planning on buying Silver a stocking, it seemed sad to know it would never be filled however we couldn’t resist when we saw a pink stocking with an elephant on. Elephants were Silver’s special animal and so when we saw the stocking we didn’t even question it, we immediately picked it off the hook and went to pay for it. My only dilemma now was, as I said, that it would be heart breaking to see it empty next to all of our full ones.

So, we have come up with a plan. There will be three or so little gifts wrapped up inside which Beau will no doubt open. One gift will be for Fabian selected by me, one for Beau and one for myself which Fabian will select. Each of these three items will in some way represent Silver, for example Beau may receive an Elephant book or toy. So each year we can exchange a gift that represents our little girl and keeps her memory alive. There may also be some other gifts such as new ornaments for her shelf or for the home which are precious and meaningful to her. One such gift we have purchased is a beautiful light up bottle which will be our newest addition to her shelf in the living room. This also means she will still be a part of opening stockings on our bed on Christmas morning which eases my aching heart slightly.

Silver's Stocking

2)     Decorating her shelf. I have seen many parents on Instagram that have a designated memorial area within their home where they hold all of their child’s precious items proudly on display. For some this is a shelf, for others it may be a whole display cabinet. I think it is a lovely idea to decorate this area during the festive period and perhaps source ornaments which mean something to you and your precious little one. I am definitely not done decorating yet and will probably be adding lights or tinsel but so far I have two additions for Silver’s shelf.

I picked up a Silver Christmas tree from Hobbycraft for £2 which graces her actual shelf. I thought this was a perfect way of her having a little tree and of course the colour was perfect too. Then just underneath her shelf where her elephant hook is hung I have added an elephant tree ornament which I picked up from Primark for £1.50 I believe. I love the fact it is so glittery, definitely Silver’s style.

3)     Tree ornaments. I know this is slightly similar to number two but I for example have three trees planned out for Silver. We always have problems with one of our cats climbing the tree so this year we have three trees. I have already bought some decorations, pictured below for the downstairs tree. This will be the tree full of non-precious items so I am unlikely to adorn it with any ornaments specific to Silver. Especially with the dog too I simply don’t want to risk losing anything precious due to animals. Instead my plan is to adorn it with generic Silver decorations and tinsel so it very much resembles her yet at the same time is animal friendly!

silver christmas decorations

Our upstairs tree however will be slightly more glamorous with all our special ornaments. I am slowly growing a collection of ornaments which will represent Silver for this tree and since it will be in our bedroom it will be completely safe from animals. I think it’s such a lovely idea to find ornaments and decorations for your tree or home that make you think warmly of your baby and allow them to be included in the celebrations. If you do have older children this is also a nice way of allowing them to include their sibling and encourage them to pick ornaments which make them think of their sibling. You can also get some beautiful bespoke personalised baubles online too which you could have inscribed with your child’s name.

Silver's ornaments edited

Our third tree wont actually have any ornaments because for the first time we will be having outdoor lawn decorations this year. Being in our new detached home we now actually have a front garden! I have a section of the garden dedicated to Silver with some climbing iceberg roses and dicentra (bleeding hearts) where she will be having a light up tree all to herself. Not only this but I have also purchased three white light up presents to be put under this tree, so she will also have presents. Perhaps you have a section in your garden or your child’s grave which you could adorn with Christmas lights, even if it is little Christmassy solar lights.

4)     Another way you might chose to celebrate and honour your baby is through supporting a charity which has helped you either deal with the loss or actually supported your baby in their life. We have actually been supported by a few different charities and so after doing my research I found two of which that are selling Christmas cards to raise money. This year therefor my Christmas cards will be coming from the Sick Children’s Trust and the Tiny Lives Trust. This is a lovely way of spreading awareness too and perhaps if you feel you want to, you could even sign the card with your little one’s name included.

If your chosen charity is not doing Christmas cards then they may have a shop where you could purchase gifts which support the charity and you can tick some people off your list of who to buy for. Many charities sell stationary, mugs, flasks and clothing so its well worth checking out, you could maybe even treat yourself too!

Alternatively, you could also request that people don’t buy you gifts and instead make a donation to your chosen charity. Or ask for money instead of gifts so you can personally donate the money. I know Facebook is apparently quite good for you being able to set up fundraisers and allowing people to donate money so that could be an option for you.

5)     Whilst we are talking about Christmas cards, I do think one lovely idea is to actually write a Christmas card to your little one who has passed. I know I will certainly be putting some thought into selecting the perfect daughter card this year for Silver and writing well wishes for her in heaven whilst telling her how much she is missed and loved. I will also write the year on the back of the card so that each year I can collect them together and over time I am able to look back and remember which Christmas each card was from.

These were Silver’s cards from last year, before we knew her gender. The first for my collection.

6)     Talking. Yes, this is one thing I think most people could benefit from, or at least I know I will. Throughout Christmas day I think its really important to still talk about our babies. This may be hard for other family members who have perhaps moved on or dealt with their own grief differently but I know for me personally it will help. I find comfort talking often about Silver and Christmas day I will probably need that more than anything. Just to be able to talk about the positives, the things we love about her and the fond memories we have. I think especially once Beau is in bed that night we will probably sit together and simply speak her name and remember her. Maybe you would like to set aside some time on Christmas day where you dedicate it to speaking of your beloved baby with a family member or friend.

7)     Allow yourself to cry. Okay, so I know this isn’t how to celebrate Christmas or honour your baby but it is a way of honouring your feelings and being kind to yourself. There is no doubt going to be times when quite simply it all becomes too much. I made a promise to myself at Halloween (Wiccan New Year) to be kinder to myself and I think in todays society a lot of other people need to make that resolution too. You are not weak for crying, it is completely normal even if you have been coping really well. Christmas is a time when we are surrounded by images of happy families and no one talks about the grief and loss that some families are going through. I know I am bound to cry many times over the festive season and instead of fighting it or feeling ashamed I’m simply going to accept it. I am going to ride through the emotions but still celebrate Christmas because my little girl would have still wanted me to enjoy this season and give Beau an amazing Christmas.

8)     If you don’t feel you can or want to do anything such as decorating with your child in mind because you find it too overwhelming then maybe try something as simple as lighting a candle. I often find myself lighting Silver’s candles on anniversaries or her monthly birthday. A subtle way within the home which shows she is on our mind. There is so many beautiful scented and coloured candles to chose from nowadays you really can pick the perfect candle for your little one. We will be attending my parents this Christmas for lunch due to being 35 weeks pregnant on Christmas day but once we are home a candle will be lit on Silver’s shelf no doubt. I just have the task of finding the perfect candle for her now, perhaps I will buy a little tealight holder which has daughter wrote on it too. Another gift I can add to her stocking.

9)     One Idea I have heard about but wont personally be doing is purchasing a Christmas outfit for the deceased baby in the size that they would have been at Christmas time. Personally, I think each year I would struggle seeing the size getting larger yet knowing Silver had in fact not grown and it would simply remind me of all the things she had missed. I guess this is all down to personal choice. I had debated buying a tiny baby size Christmas outfit for Silver but then again, if I did this every year, I am soon going to have a large amount of clothes and no space within my home without storing them all away. I feel if we do buy Silver a main present/ present from Santa that it will in fact be something very small which will allow us to do so each year without having to then decide to put anything into storage.

10)  Attend a memorial service. This may be an option to some parents out there and if you are unsure it is certainly worth looking into. SANDS host a lights of love memorial service up and down the country throughout December which you can check on their website. Alternatively, there may also be local charities and organizations hosting events so it is something to consider looking up. We are hoping to attend a memorial service hosted by Tiny Lives in Newcastle as they took such good care of our little girl whilst she was alive and supported us after she passed away. I can assure you, I will be crying through the whole thing no doubt but at the same time going back to Newcastle always makes me feel close to Silver and as though I’m home again.

I hope some of these suggestions have been useful to you and perhaps given you some ideas as to how it is possible to have a gentle Christmas whilst navigating baby loss. I am not saying it will be at all easy and please give yourself permission to only celebrate as much as you feel comfortable and allow yourself to not celebrate at all if you don’t feel you can or want to. The most important thing is to do what is right for you and don’t allow others to tell you how you should be acting or feeling. It will be our first Christmas without Silver and I have to admit I am a little apprehensive to say the least. I would love to hear some feedback on any other suggestions you have on how to celebrate Christmas after baby loss and what things you will be doing for your baby this year.

With just over five weeks to go I want to prematurely wish everyone a very happy and gentle Christmas and send love out to all the grieving families and friends out there. Once I have all my decorations up, I will be posting on both my Instagram and Facebook pages so don’t forget to follow them so you can see exactly how we’ve chosen to decorate with Silver in mind.

Until next time,

Holly x

28 Weeks Pregnancy After Loss Update – Gestational Diabetes

Twenty eight weeks have flown by. I feel like I’ve blinked and missed this pregnancy, yet at the same time there was parts that felt like they dragged on. Like waiting for the consistent reliable kicks for my peace of mind or approaching that all important twenty week scan. Even in the past two weeks, time seems to be stagnant and flying past simultaneously. The “due date” is looming so close in the distance yet dealing with my diagnosis of gestational diabetes has made every day an emotional struggle and my pelvic pain has made each day physically arduous.

I have surprised myself in this pregnancy at the courage I have found to be able to do my four daily finger pricks to test my glucose, just as I surprised myself how brave I was to undergo a CVS test for Silver and commit to a planned C Section. Unfortunately, that is where my courage has ended with this pregnancy. Instead of being determined as I was with Silver to fight so hard for her I don’t seem to have the same strength with the diabetes. I think it’s a culmination of all Silver’s anniversaries approaching and knowing that I fought so hard and still lost her. I’m exhausted from two back to back pregnancies and don’t know how I can emotionally and mentally go through another fight.

The dates have been scarily close and it feels like history is repeating itself. Part of me just doesn’t want to put up a fight again and then it is all for nothing when yet again no baby comes home. I don’t want to sound so pessimistic but the reality of the slight increased risk of stillbirth and the pressure to go into labour early has really affected my mental wellbeing. You could certainly say I’ve started to struggle with depression, a familiar feeling I haven’t experienced in quite some time. I am glad to say however that I am accessing as much support as is available to me and right now as I write this I am feeling slightly more positive than I have done over the past few days and weeks.

My biggest issue with the diabetes bar the obvious risks and possible implications of a different birth than desired is the dietary restrictions. Me, Fabian and Beau are all vegan, we have been for almost two years now and find it so easy to plan meals and don’t find it restrictive in any way. Throw in this diagnosis and now you’ve got a problem. Most vegan diets tend to fall towards the high carb, low fat category. Well now my carbs have been severely restricted and I keep getting high readings even with meals I think are okay! Each day I dread mealtimes and the anxiety I have for the hour after the meal waiting to test my blood glucose levels. One thing I’ve never coped with well in life is failure, whether perceived or a reality. Each high reading has felt like I am not only failing myself but that I am failing Leilani and therefor a bad mum.

We are all good at beating ourselves up about our parenting but when you keep getting told those high numbers could literally be putting your babies life at risk the pressure can suddenly feel overwhelming. This is of course exacerbated even more so when I have already lost one child only nine months ago. The dietician was little use and had no real suggestions for a vegan diet and kept accidentally suggesting things I couldn’t eat, whilst then also lecturing me on everything I couldn’t eat within my current diet! It was not a positive experience seeing her and I felt even more restricted afterwards. I had got to the point I was skipping meals because I was so scared of being reprimanded for high readings but would eat excessive portion sizes at my next meal and therefor get a high reading anyway! A vicious circle as my mood spiralled and plummeted lower and lower. Each day waking up and having to test first thing meant each day began with anxiety and low mood.

Thankfully I finally got to see my obstetric consultant who put my mind at ease and was more than happy with the readings I had been getting. I am completely terrified of going back to the diabetes clinic next week and the potential effect it could have on my mental wellbeing again but for now at least I do feel slightly more in control and more aware of what the plan is regarding labour and birth. We have also discussed potentially a low dose metformin tablet just so I am not starving all the time and can have a bit more freedom with my eating. This wouldn’t affect my labour plans whatsoever but could improve my mental wellbeing for the next ten weeks if I am able to eat more freely.

I did actually have a growth scan at 28 weeks which then came as a shock. I had been worrying about my high readings and the fact when gestational diabetes is not under control it can lead to a larger baby. Basically, the baby is trying to deal with the excess glucose that the body’s insulin cannot process and they tend to put on a lot of weight, especially around the shoulders which can complicate a natural birth. Instead however Leilani had dropped from the 50th percentile to the 10th! She had still put weight on but not as much as expected. This has posed yet another worry now and I will be having an extra growth scan at 29 weeks to check what pattern she is following. We are hoping it is simply that she was always meant to be on the 10th percentile but it is always a worry after we watched Silver’s growth chart as it slowly tailed off as she stopped growing.

Emotionally this pregnancy has been such a roller coaster, more so recently than ever. I had started to nest and finally felt I could breathe and relax. I was starting to bond with Leilani and allow myself to believe a baby would be coming home. So these last two weeks have been a difficult journey to say the least. I feel I’ve put up a protective barrier and felt so distant and not bonded with her. We also marked one year since Silver’s twenty week scan on the 10th Nov which has brought all the painful memories back of what we have been through and a cruel reminder of what we have lost. I am truly hoping with some experimenting I will have my diet sorted within the next couple of weeks and with some support I can get back to a better mental head space.

With Christmas approaching we are trying to find positives and focus on family time whilst thinking of ways we can include our little girl and honour her. I know these coming months will be filled with both memories from the time we had with Silver but also anticipation of our new arrival. Pregnancy after loss is by no means easy or simple but I feel so truly blessed to say I have two daughters and am a proud mummy to all my children whether they are angels or here on earth.

Until next time,

Holly x

Finding Me Again

You don’t have to look far to find articles on how social media and technology is impacting society, our wellbeing and our children’s behaviours. I’ve always been very strict with Beau, wanting to protect him from the negative side of technology. Especially when he was younger phones were completely banned from being used in front of him. I have slackened a little since then and realised the impracticalities of running a business and trying to hide my phone usage from him. I’ve also seen the benefits of times it has saved us in the supermarket as we play Blippi educational videos for him!

What I never really gave too much thought to was how much technology was impacting me and my own wellbeing. I already had some good habits with my phone and technology to protect myself. If me and Fabian have a movie night on the sofa, I tend to take both our phones and put them at the other side of the room. I don’t like sitting next to each other and ignoring the other person, that’s when technology can impact relationships and lead to breakdowns when communication with each other is key.  I do try quite often to not have television on all day too, enjoying the peace and quiet and trying to focus on engaging with hobbies instead. I do try to also not sit on my phone just before bed although this doesn’t always stick, I have to admit!

Recently however I noticed a change in my own thought patterns. I’ve been thinking a lot about pursuing writing as a career and growing my blog. Seems positive enough right? The only problem is in the process I have managed to lose myself a bit and why I actually started this blog in the first place. I had started to focus so much on growth that each day the first thing I would do is check how many followers I had on Instagram, and then I’d spend hours liking and commenting on other posts, hoping to engage more followers. I wasn’t being fake, I did genuinely mean every comment and like I did however it had become my sole focus. I realised I was becoming stressed and consumed.

I am glad I am in a place where I now notice when my mental health is deteriorating and this was one of those occasions. So I started setting myself rules. When I woke up on a morning all I could use my phone for was contacting Fabian and checking the time. I knew I needed to pull back on Instagram and focus more on me. I really think it says a lot about a person with what they do as soon as they wake up. Especially since losing Silver I know the value of family and I can’t tell you what a difference it has made to my mood that my mornings now consist of Beau snuggles and reading stories in bed. Most mornings he wakes up and comes straight into our bedroom for cuddles and brings his favourite books from the landing.

Another thing I had noticed was how I was filtering my photo’s that I was sharing. Being pregnant and wanting to cherish every moment I of course wanted to take bump photos. There is however one part of my body I have always struggled with. My chin. Sounds a bit odd but yes, I’ve always felt self-conscious of it and was even told when I was pregnant with Beau how I had put on weight in my face, not exactly a confidence booster. The problem is, I had a trapped nerve so couldn’t lose all the weight afterwards before becoming pregnant again with Silver and then Leilani. I have a memory from Silver’s pregnancy that particularly stands out to me. See the picture below? It’s a pretty Christmas bump picture, right? Well many tears went into that photo. I cried when I saw the initial pictures Fabian took and had to redo them with my hair covering my chin. I wanted to treasure every moment with Silver but felt so ashamed of how I looked.

20171229_005104

More and more recently it had started to consume me even more. I wanted to share bump photos on Instagram and my blog but always wanted to cry seeing the pictures. We were taking maybe fifty photo’s to just find one that I was happy with and I was starting to get down during the day too thinking about it. I would compare myself with others online and became my own biggest bully. In my eyes it was better to hide my face than to edit and distort my face with software, so at least technically I wasn’t cheating or changing anything. I am pleased to say however that I have realised this is a problem. Fabian has spoken with my mental health worker and she is making plans to do some work with me on this topic. I’ve also received support from a good friend who has overcome body confidence issues and hopefully with the right support I can tackle this problem before it escalates to something more serious.

Since becoming a parent I have learnt just how important it is to love yourself and be kind to yourself. Especially since Silver I have now come to accept most of the parts of my body I maybe didn’t love before, I rarely wear makeup now at all. Because I know if she had grown up a healthy little girl I would have been horrified if there was an external factor making her want to hide her face with makeup for fear of judgement and I would have hated it if she felt the need to undergo potentially life threatening procedures to look a certain way. We are always good at giving advice and not so great at taking it, we are always kinder to others than ourselves. I have realised I need to learn to be kind to myself at times when I want to tell myself I’m a bad mum or a failure because of my health problems and I am slowly working on learning to love my body.

The reason however I really wanted to write this blog and share my experience is just what a difference it has made to my wellbeing in the last week where my phone has been completely broke. Perhaps I should briefly explain why my phone was broke. Recently there has been a lot of stress within our lives. Me and Fabian have both really started struggling with our grief, we are in the process of a PIP tribunal, Beau has been very unsettled and not sleeping and I recently got diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It has unfortunately led to an increase in friction and a rapid deterioration in my mental wellbeing. I had a very traumatic experience at court last week at my PIP tribunal which led to an intense breakdown where my phone inevitably got thrown at the wall.

I must add here that every time I have in the past broken a phone and needed a new one it has been due to throwing it during a mental breakdown. The disappointing thing is that recently I have been coping much better and using more constructive ways of dealing with these overwhelming feelings without throwing items (especially valuable ones) and without self-harm. Unfortunately, the stress that had been building up got the better of me and for the first time in a very long time I threw my phone as hard as I could at the bedroom wall. Unfortunately, despite the outside visibly looking okay the internal screen was completely broke. You could see the cracks and it was completely black.

Initially I was beating myself up so badly, I was a failure after all. I had allowed other people to affect my wellbeing in such a way that I was now in a financial predicament of fixing or replacing my phone. I was especially frustrated since the reason I am in debt was due to my PIP appeal and how long it was taking to resolve. I was absolutely devastated that despite not losing any photos at all I did lose all the notes from my old phone, where recently for the first time in a long time I had wrote a poem. It was a poem about my beautiful little girl and I am devastated to have lost this.  As the title of this blog suggests however, there was actually a positive that came from this incident too. I now was forced to live without a phone which I had become so dependent on and had been allowing it to impact my daily living so much. I was forced to look at myself and where I am in my life right now whilst contemplating where I would like to be.

I soon realised there was only two reasons I truly missed my phone over the last week. I found it frustrating that I never knew what time it was. I don’t like to wear watches and rely heavily on my phone as a clock and alarm. The second reason was for the lack of emergency contact. We do have a house phone so during the day it wasn’t too much of an issue, I could still call Fabian at work quite easily. The problem I had was when we left the house. I never go anywhere alone but sometimes in shops Fabian might have to run off because Beau is trying to run riot. So we did have a couple incidents where I was left alone with no phone and had a panic attack!

Apart from that though and the occasional missed photo opportunity I realised how much I loved me time again. I was spending more time focussed on family, getting housework done instead of procrastinating and I actually did things I enjoy! My mood has improved drastically and I can’t tell you how nice it is to not be anxiously checking a device every few minutes and forever staring at a screen. It literally feels like my eyes have been opened. I have taken the time to sit and look around at the things I do have and realise what things I want to work on/ towards. I am so thankful for the little boy I have running around and all the luxuries within my home. Even the fact I am a home owner is such an achievement and I feel so lucky to know what I have been able to provide for my children, a detached, spacious family home. It was something I always wanted, having had that upbringing myself but truly I never believed it would be a reality for my own children.

I have found myself feeling much more focused and motivated again too. I had lost some motivation and was starting to doubt blogging and writing. I had become so focussed on quantity whereas now I have had the time to reflect on why I started. The clue is in the name, this was meant to be for my little girl Silver Rose, My Journey With Silver Rose. She was my inspiration and where I drew my strength from, remembering how strong and brave she was. I now feel I know where I am going with my blog again and exactly what I want to write about. I guess I also lost myself a bit because sometimes I do find it easier to cope with the grief if I don’t focus on Silver and don’t think about her as much as I would maybe like. In this past week however she has been a topic of conversation that me and Fabian have both started opening up about and it feels good to remember our little girl and all the special moments we had with her.

I really advise people to keep something on their phone similar to the images I’ve shared below of what I keep on my phone and think we all need to remember to be human. We all need to step away from the filtered world, the world we see through a screen and instead of looking at beautiful autumnal pictures why not take a walk through a beautiful woodland area? Embrace the fresh air and the sounds of wildlife and nature that surround you. Or if you’re a recluse a bit like me and maybe can’t do those things, or at least not easily or alone then maybe find a hobby that truly lights your spark? I have loved writing my blogs but at one point it did start to feel like a chore, so I’m now being more selective and only writing about what I’m truly passionate about, turning it back into a hobby. I’ve also loved the fact in the last week I have started to crochet silver mickey heads ready to decorate our tree this Christmas with our little girl in mind.

I really wanted to share this journey with you guys because I think we are all so truly guilty of being absorbed into a culture which makes us unhappy and in the extreme cases, unwell. I noticed I was starting to become unwell through the influences of social media and I’m so thankful for this eye opener and feel a little bit more myself again. I have since bought a new phone, on this occasion the credit card came to the rescue and although at first I felt guilty for the cost of the phone I have even managed to not be so hard on myself and trust me, this phone will not be getting thrown at any walls no matter how crazy I’m feeling! I will be setting some rules with this phone too with a priority of limited usage and limited wasted time looking at other people’s lives. Life is short, sometimes shorter than we expect or are prepared for. Don’t waste it behind a screen.

Until next time,

Holly x

26 Week Pregnancy After Loss Update

This might very well be my most brief pregnancy update yet. I’ve been struggling a lot with mood recently so haven’t felt particularly inspired to write much nor do much. This pregnancy is not quite going as planned and just as we thought we could sit back and relax more things have come up. It’s been a worrying and stressful time to say the least and my thoughts on ever having children again after this are now not so black and white.

I would like to start with a positive though. Especially through my twenty-five weeks I have been crazy nesting. Gladly I haven’t yet got to the point of waking during the night to rearrange cupboards but I can assure you furniture has been moved and cupboards have been fully rearranged. I haven’t actually done any of the moving furniture, well I did try but realised I was being silly so awaited help. My house is slowly looking all the better for it and feels like we have properly moved in now after almost a year. We have taken a huge step in thinking positively about this pregnancy and nesting for a baby actually coming home too. Beau’s changing table has now officially been passed down to Leilani and moved into our bedroom, ready for her arrival.

This is such a big step, one that I never even got chance to consider doing with Silver. I have even categorised all her clothes we have bought into sizes and put them away. Beaus clothes are currently all neatly folded into a cardboard box on our landing whilst I sort finances and get him a chest of drawers ordered! I do feel it’s helping me come to terms with the reality of bringing a baby home and keep my thoughts as positive as possible. That being said I do always have that niggling negative undertone of what if in the back of my mind. And from a practicality point of view I completely forgot that where I’ve put the changing table is where our “upstairs” Christmas tree will go.

I am really starting to look forward to Christmas despite knowing it will be a difficult time too as we think of all the things Silver is missing. My plan is to have a tree downstairs which will be decorated with generic silver baubles and decorations. A tree I have chose I will not stress about should the cat climb it and then I have a white glitter tree ordered for our bedroom. So, our bedroom will be completely closed off to cats, well most likely just our troublesome one (Pebbles is too lazy to climb). But this one will be adorned with all our precious ornaments from Disney and any sentimental ones. I’m already gathering a little collection of ornaments to represent Silver from various places. This is what I’ve got so far!

Silver's ornaments edited

From a pregnancy point of view one thing that’s become increasingly difficult and impacted my mental wellbeing is my hip pain. I did have mild hip pain with Silver but my bump never got huge so I wasn’t carrying an excessive amount of weight. After all, she was a small baby with no fluid. This time however the pain has developed and got much worse. It’s only my right hip but it is so painful. Fabian is helping me with dressing and putting shoes on along with drying myself after a bath. He often helps me get out too and I can’t tell you how bad it is when I have to lift that leg to step out, I end most baths in tears now. I know its silly but I feel so embarrassed, I didn’t want to be a pregnant lady that waddles but I can barely get up the stairs or walk across the room at times. So yes, I’m not even in my third trimester yet but I’m walking like a penguin crossed with a cowboy right now!

We did manage to have a rather pleasant weekend a few weeks ago despite my hip and took Beau on the local steam train. We had free tickets from a client and had waited since Christmas for this beautiful autumnal weather. I think they had actually overbooked the train and we couldn’t find a seat on the way out so were stood in the pram storage area! Thankfully there was a cushioned bench in there and Leilani came to the rescue. I actually got offered a lady’s seat just because I was pregnant! Beau loved looking at all the trains and we got a “Harry Potter” cabin on the return journey, very hand for keeping Beau in one place I must add. I did film the whole day so once all is edited, I will share on my Facebook page.

Emotionally I would say me and Fabian have been starting to really struggle. It’s so difficult when we are approaching the anniversary of finding out Silver was unwell and remembering those difficult weeks in the lead up to her birth. We are both nervous about bringing a baby home and I know Fabian finds it especially hard when he isn’t the one feeling the kicks. The sad thing is I’ve really struggled to bond with her and I feel her moving all the time. I think it’s because I’m comparing her as she is now with Silver, a two week old baby. I of course have the knowledge of Silver’s personality, something I don’t know about Leilani. So I am left feeling as if I don’t know Leilani at all which isn’t really a fair comparison. It is something I am trying really hard to work on though through hypnobirthing and talking with Leilani.

At twenty six weeks this whole pregnancy changed.  I will be going into much more detail in a separate post as its quite complex, but, long story short. I have gestational diabetes. It was only through being overly cautious we even decided to have the test but never did I expect a positive result. The impact this has had on my mental health was close to detrimental. I did not cope well with the news and was certainly not in a good place. I am so glad the amount of support I have been provided with. My mind has slightly been put at ease but I am eagerly awaiting seeing my regular consultant at twenty eight weeks to discuss how she feels this may or may not effect our original pregnancy, labour and delivery plans.

Lastly, I want to end on a fantastic positive. I had a 4D scan! I have mentioned this before but my parents treated me and Fabian and the day had finally come. We travelled to Leeds Ladybird 4D Scans and were greeted warmly into a lovely reception before going into the scan room. It was amazing to see an actual face! All she wanted to do was suck her hands, bless. The sonographer was desperate to get us a photo of Leilani’s face but no matter what we tried (walk, hip shake, eating sweets, coughing, lying on my side…) she was adamant those hands were staying by her face. Not only that but we did have some issues with the anterior placenta being in the way! Nonetheless it was a lovely pick me up after a stressful week and was so nice for Beau to actually be present at a scan too.

scan pic 4D

We got a purple unicorn heartbeat bear, two lovely prints along with all the images and footage on disks. Not only this but I later found in the bottom of the bag a big brother sticker which warmed my heart. I am so excited for Beau to get the opportunity to be a big brother and can’t wait to see how he reacts to Leilani. He is adorable at interacting with my belly and talks often about mummy and baby. He might not feel as excited when he has to share his toys though!

As you can see its been a rather chaotic couple of weeks, emotionally at least. Anxieties are high and we are currently trying to take it one step at a time. That’s all you really can do as you navigate a pregnancy after loss, and we learnt the hard way with Silver to never become complacent. We take each day as it comes and thank the universe for every kick and movement she makes, even if it is into my sore hip!

Until next time,

Holly x

24 Weeks Pregnancy After Loss Update

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this autumnal weather as much as I am. I haven’t got to experience it too much but I’m loving the opportunities I do get to be out and about as the seasons change. We seem to always have something planned for the weekend at the moment which I’m absolutely loving. It gives me a chance to have quality time with Beau. It tires him out and gives me footage I can then play with on my new video editing software too.

autumn bump with alaska

A running theme I seem to have had over the past two weeks is very much fluctuating moods and energy levels. I’ve just had a little look through my diary and I seem to have a couple days of going hell for leather, motivated and doing as much as humanely possible. Followed by several days where I have crashed due to exhaustion and low mood follows shortly afterwards. I’m not 100% sure why this is happening, whether it is pregnancy related, borderline personality disorder related or is due to what time of year it is.

See I’ve actually found Baby Loss Awareness Week pretty difficult this year. It’s coincided with a lot of anniversaries and left me feeling pretty low. Silver should have turned 8 months old, we marked three years since our miscarriage, my friend celebrated her stillbirths first birthday… Add this to baby loss awareness where basically everyone is talking about dead babies and it can suddenly make the world feel like a very dark place. I love the fact it raises awareness and allows people to speak more openly and comfortably about their loss but at the same time, when you are a part of that group it can be overwhelming.

Unfortunately there have been a couple times over the past two weeks I have had suicidal ideations and thoughts of self harm. I am thankfully in a place where perhaps over the years I have developed a maturity where I am now able to ask for help when I need it. I am also very lucky for the first time in adult services (after 6 years) to finally have a mental health worker who I feel comfortable talking to. When I was in crisis this last week I actually picked up the phone, slightly out of desperation but also because I was home alone with Beau and knew I needed to make myself safe so Beau and Leilani were safe. I am terrified of using the phone normally but it’s amazing what our natural motherly instincts will have us do and what fears they can make us conquer. Just as I did for Silver with the CVS testing and C Section with my huge needle phobia.

I am so glad that going through this down patch I have had Nicola Gaskins new book Life After Baby Loss to read. She selected me as a blogger to read her new book and write an honest review. I have about finished it and will be doing a fully comprehensive review soon but what I can say is I have found it really helpful when grief seems to have hit me pretty hard again. It’s helped me see things in a different light and given new perspective on both my losses, something I also feel will be of benefit to the people I know who have also suffered loss. Not only this but it has eased some of my anxieties over the upcoming Christmas period which I am surprised to find I am struggling with more than expected.

life after baby loss book review

I mentioned this briefly in an Instagram post but I have found it incredibly difficult seeing Babys 1st Christmas items. I had been getting really excited about Christmas and was fully prepared when we visited a local garden centre recently that these items would more than likely be present. I now knew to expect these unlike the unexpected appearance of Christmas items at B&M recently which took me by surprise. Unfortunately it still however hit me pretty hard and I ended up crying in the store seeing a beautiful pink bauble that I wish so much I was buying for Silver. I haven’t cried like that in quite a while so my grief itself has been surprising me recently with how prominent it seems to be. I have decided that I might still actually buy this bauble for Silver anyway, perhaps each year we will buy her a bauble as a way of including her in the festivities. I can imagine she would have loved the Christmas season as much as her mummy.

baby's first christmas bauble

On a lighter note which is much more positive I am pleased to say my appetite is definitely back with full force. I still sometimes get nausea, and don’t get me started on acid reflux (I’ll get to that in a minute) but I feel like I’m making up for lost time. I have been loving food so much recently! My energy is still pretty poor at times but when Fabian is home I fully utilise the chef in him and non-stop eat until bedtime! We are also trying to really focus on getting plenty of iron in me since I am mildly anaemic so its been lots of smoothie bowls and greens which I absolutely love. Leilani’s current craving however is chilli and lemon lentil crisps and I can easily eat four packs a day.

I’ll briefly touch on the two days out we have enjoyed in the last two weeks. We decided to take beau to The National Railway Museum when I was twenty three weeks and went to Pickering War Weekend and a local farm pumpkin picking afterwards. I’ve linked the two videos I’ve edited in the previous sentence, I’d love you to check them out and see what you think. It’s pretty obvious I can’t keep up with Beau at all now and so I’m always lagging behind but nonetheless I love seeing him so happy. I’ve found it a mood booster for us all when we have something planned for the weekend and I love that Beau is learning and getting social stimulation. I can’t wait until this weekend when we go on the Pickering steam train and see all the beautiful autumn colours. It will be Beau’s first time on the train and I think he’s going to love it.

Pumpkin picking with bump

Back to the pregnancy. I did actually have a scan at twenty four weeks. My first growth scan, with my favourite sonographer thankfully. I am so delighted to say I not only did not cry at this scan and a fleeting moment of panic was unfounded as she was confirmed very happy and healthy in there and growing wonderfully. I always panic at first because I am looking for the pools of liquid to confirm there is enough amniotic fluid, indicating kidneys are working. Sometimes at first when the sonographer is looking at baby it can seem quite compact however when she moved the probe and had a look around it was then clear to see plenty of fluid which she of course measured anyway.

This scan was then followed by an appointment with my consultant. Despite just having the scan we still listened to the heartbeat which is always such a pleasure. I actually didn’t have a huge barrage of questions to ask her this time so it wasn’t as long an appointment. The few questions I did have however were answered comprehensively and we felt at ease and pleased with the appointment. One thing I didn’t realise is for a repeat C Section they actually go though your old scar and give you a new one. At first I really didn’t like that, after all this scar is Silver’s. It’s a constant reminder of her life. But then I asked myself and I know deep down I would do absolutely anything for Leilani, just as I did for Silver and if that meant saving her live via a C Section I would absolutely do it.

Physically my health has been pretty poor recently which probably isn’t helping mood or energy levels. I’m overheating on a night. I was so delighted when I discovered how much better I slept with the window open on a night only to develop a nasty cough which both me and Fabian seem to have caught. I was so bad one night, panicking as it was affecting my asthma and also concerned about a longstanding sore throat that I went to see the out of hours GP. He prescribed Gaviscon and said the persistent sore throat was due to acid reflux which didn’t surprise me. I literally can’t even take a sip of drink without it coming back up every single time. The cough has however stuck and it would seem we have caught a bug. So now I spend most nights nonstop coughing. As if rolling over in bed hadn’t already become a challenge with my growing bump it now triggers coughing fits too.

So let’s just say me and Fabian have both been on short fuses recently and although I love being a parent and miss Beau so much when he is not with me I can’t tell you how thankful I am to the help I’ve had from family recently. Being pregnant, anaemic and sick is absolutely draining and the last thing I want to do is lose my temper with Beau when he is just doing what you would expect a toddler to do. I think as parents we are all programmed to feel guilty about everything and anything and be our own worst critic. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have a husband who challenges those thoughts for me and helps me deal with the feelings of being a perceived failure. I am an expert at mum guilt, but more on that another day.

One slight negative pregnancy wise I’ve had in the last week was reduced movement. Leilani was pretty active in the morning, maybe not as strong as usual but at least she was active. As the day went on however she seemed to become less and less active. I’d been to pregnancy yoga and she moved a little but again not loads. As it was Fabian’s birthday we sat down that evening to watch a film, over two hours she kicked once. Normally on an evening she is a live wire and nonstop. To be honest, this baby generally seems like a live wire, she moves often throughout most of the day. I sometimes wonder how she can even stay awake that long! So this was all very out of the ordinary. It just so happened this was on the 15th Oct. The day after our miscarriage anniversary and the day of the baby loss wave of light.

Being slightly on edge already due to all the anniversaries of the previous few days we decided it was not worth waiting on. I had tried having a bath to stimulate her and still only one kick. It was just gone midnight but I knew there was no point waiting a couple hours then waking Fabian up. So we all went in to the hospital, Beau included. I was pleasantly surprised they were okay with Beau coming but I’m so glad as it meant we didn’t need to call my parents from out of town during the night. Thankfully Leilani was perfectly fine and of course became more active as we were there.

I have no regrets though. She maybe had moved position and was kicking my anterior placenta but at the end of the day I know with certainty the movements were out of sync and did not correlate with her regular pattern. I think it just surprised me as I had got so used to an active strong baby that I presumed the placenta and position of her wasn’t really going to be an issue anymore. She has since then been extremely active every day and I even felt a limb move all the way across the top of my tummy one day which was a complete shock and surprise! I don’t even know how to describe that feeling to someone who has never felt that before, it is certainly strange. I can’t wait as she gets even bigger and these limbs start flying out.

I mentioned just then that I’d been to pregnancy yoga which I’ll just touch on a little here. It is the first time I’ve ever done something on my own in a long time. I was terrified but I’ve wanted to do it in every pregnancy now and I don’t yet know if this will be my last pregnancy or not. So it was now or possibly never. Of course, Fabian walked me to the door because I couldn’t do that on my own. I felt slightly awkward as we did introductions and I spoke of Silver and my aim for a VBAC. I really hope the class don’t just see me as the lady with the dead baby. Then again one woman said how she sleeps on her back whilst heavily pregnant and I had to fight the urge so hard not to say something. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom scaring pregnant ladies but I’ve been exposed to so much loss through my journey and all I could think of was her risk of stillbirth.

I did actually really enjoy the class despite my anxieties and hopefully by the next class my cough will have eased up a bit so I am able to enjoy the relaxation part a bit more next time. I am really hoping doing yoga along with hypnobirthing puts me in good stead for a peaceful, calm and easy VBAC. Its quite handy that the teacher also does hypnobirthing so a lot of what she said was very relatable and already makes sense to me. This class was actually at 7pm on the 15th, the same time as the wave of light. So we simply lit our candles when I arrived home in memory of Stork and Silver. There was also a few other mums who lit candles for our angels too which you can see below our pumpkin and tealight pictures.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading this pregnancy update as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I hope it can help other mums going through pregnancy after loss and I’m so thankful I am recording this pregnancy in a way I will be proud to look back on and remember all of the trials and triumphs we went through to get our little rainbow baby.

Until next time,

Holly x

Click here to read my complete book review on Life After Baby Loss by Nicola Gaskin.

Life After Baby Loss by Nicola Gaskin – Book Review

As some of you may know I was recently delighted to be selected to receive a copy of a brand-new book to review on my blog. The book is written for parents who are going through the motions of baby loss; Life After Baby Loss – A Companion Guide For Parents by Nicola Gaskin. For quite some time now I have been following an account on Instagram called @onedayofwinter and have found much comfort following her journey of life after loss as I try to navigate through my own grief. Nicola unfortunately lost her little boy Winter Wolfe at only one day old and now carries his legacy on through her blog, book and her beautiful little girl Raven Rain. Social media can be a great platform for support but I feel Nicola’s book really helps give that much needed direction at a time when you can feel so lost.

Reading Life After Baby Loss

One thing I must say that is easily apparent throughout reading her book is that Nicola’s personality shines through her writing. Even for people who do not know who she is, it is quite apparent Nicola is a gentle soul with a kind heart. I love the fact this comes through because I found especially in those early days when you can feel so isolated and deep in the throes of grief that this is the sort of friend you need. Having gone through her own loss she is able to be the person she no doubt recognised would have been helpful during her own loss. We have all experienced well meaning yet ill placed comments which can often be quite hurtful despite good intentions. Nicola recognises exactly what is appropriate and gives advice on how you may gently educate people around you on exactly what would be helpful and what is at times triggering.

A common theme throughout the book is how to deal with the support that is offered from others. How we may direct them, educate and encourage them to understand our perspective. The book covers many different topics, all of which I have found some friends and family at times are unable to understand. She has even given suggestions of how to word it in a way that people can recognise our feelings and realise that despite their best intentions they can never truly understand the grief and loss we feel nor the eternity of such emotions. There is even a chapter right at the end of the book so you may pass this book to loved ones where Nicola helps explain to them directly how is best to offer support along with what not to say, and suggestions of what can be said and done.

I actually think the whole book would be of benefit for loved ones to truly understand each and every possible phase we will go through after losing a baby. It covers topics such as our child’s first birthday, Christmas, trying to conceive after loss and welcoming a rainbow baby into the family. I especially think for most people who do conceive a rainbow it would be extremely beneficial to share this particular chapter with friends and family. As I am expecting a rainbow myself I even fear that people will expect me to have moved on, after all I finally have what I wanted. Nicola is very good at explaining exactly why this is not the case and there will still be grief that coexists with the happiness we feel. I was so glad this chapter was included as it has actually put my own mind at ease through reading about her own personal experiences and allowed me to mentally prepare for January when I have to go through birth myself.

As I just mentioned, there is a wide range of topics covered within this book but what I find most helpful and think others will too is how it is all split into separate chapters. I know for example this book would have helped me so much in the very early days of grief but I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to read about trying to conceive or rainbow babies. So it is actually quite easy to take from this book exactly what you need at the time you need it and perhaps some chapters you wish to leave for a later date when they are more relevant. It truly does cover every aspect from seeing new born babies in the supermarket right up until hopefully having your own rainbow baby. In that sense I feel pleased to say I could recommend this book to friends who have lost a child without thinking they then need to read other grief books too because of something being missing. It really is a comprehensive guide without being too heavy or longwinded. Not only this but each chapter is summarised with bullet points, a gentle reminder of what has been discussed and how best to direct your thoughts and actions regarding the particular subject title.

It is very clear from reading this book the good nature of Nicola and how it is purely to help as many parents are possible. Although she does share some of her own personal stories it is not actually an autobiography detailing all her own personal experiences. At the start of the book I thought it would have been nice to have known more about her story but as I continued to read through the book I realised that wasn’t actually what I needed. Her little boy is so precious but at the same time it was more important to hear the words of wisdom she had to offer which benefitted me more personally in dealing with my grief than simply sharing stories of her own grief. That’s not to say that she doesn’t refer to her own experiences, because she does and it can help put the advice into context but her main focus is so clearly to help ease the suffering of other parents which I actually found admirable and much more helpful in the long term.

Two things that I think all parents are pretty good at is finding negatives and bullying ourselves with guilt. I am quite frankly an expert at both. You know how people always say “what would you tell yourself” if you were the friend, and of course you’d always be much kinder to a friend than yourself. Well that sentiment pretty much summarises this book, Nicola is the friend we all need that tells us to be kinder to ourselves. She addresses both guilt and why our mindsets are so important to monitor and adjust accordingly. Feeling guilty after all only makes us suffer and as Nicola keeps reminding us, our baby loves us deeply and would not want us to be suffering. I love how this book often manages to gentle turn our thoughts to more positive ones without dismissing any grief or sadness we feel. It acknowledges that sadness and happiness are perfectly capable of coexisting and that is okay.

What is my only negative with this book? I really want this review to be honest and I have to say the only one thing that I didn’t like was that the tile of the book suggests it would be perfect for both parents to read. I do feel the actual lessons learnt within the book would be perfect for not only both parents but also anyone else touched by the loss of a child or supporting someone through the loss of a child. I did notice however a few times within the book the reader is often referred to in the female gender. I would still strongly urge men to read this book however and do feel it would really help the dads who also experience much of the similar emotions as we do so long as they are prepared to overlook the slight direction towards the feminine gender.

Lastly, would I recommend this book? Yes! I have only ever tried reading one other book like this before and I honestly gave up, I found it dull and more about their own story than anything that would help me. This book however is so beautifully written and quite frankly easy to read (in a good way!). Her analogies and metaphors have a special and beautiful way of explaining such a traumatic experience and allowing us to truly see the beauty of the gift of life we have been blessed with; however short that time might have been. I did find it brought back a lot of my own buried grief but actually has helped me see how I can allow memories of my little girl into my life a little bit more and know how to cope with the grief that comes alongside the celebration of her life. I’ve gained new perspective on life after loss and how I can move forward through my life in a gentle loving way with my angels close to my heart. I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my heart and I now know how exactly to navigate this journey with a motivation to help others that are navigating loss too.

I know if I hadn’t got pregnant with our little rainbow baby I would no doubt have been in a very dark place myself right now, as I was in the early days of our loss. I honestly think this book would have been a lifesaver for me. I did contemplate suicide not long after we lost Silver, on Mother’s Day actually and I know the words in this book would have been just what I needed, just as I truly feel they will help many other parents in what can be a very dark and lonely headspace. So if you are looking for a book that could help you see your loss from a different perspective without being told how you should and shouldn’t feel then I highly recommend giving this book a read. It is a book for anyone who has suffered a loss, whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss. All loss is valid and you will find this validation within the book and guidance that can correspond with each type of loss.

life after baby loss book review

To purchase your copy, click the link here. And, to visit Nicola’s blog click here.

Until next time,

Holly x

 

Storks Story

With today being the three year anniversary of our early miscarriage coinciding with baby loss awareness week I wanted to share the actual story of Stork, our miscarriage. I find it’s always a tricky topic speaking about early miscarriages. Some people find it quite easy to move forward as they might have only just found out and not had the chance to give it too much thought, other people are deeply broken by this tragic loss. I have mentioned Stork many times on Instagram but never really shared her story in detail before now. I am using the pronoun her just for ease of writing and fluency however we don’t feel tied to a specific gender with her.

Let me begin. we had just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary in the September of 2015. We had been trying to conceive for five months when I got the positive test on the 13th October that next month. Okay that’s a lie, it was probably just past midnight on the 14th. I knew I was, my breasts had changed and I just had a feeling. Its funny because part of me thought for sure no way I could be pregnant because that month I’d had the worst PMS ever! But my body felt different. I was super angry all the time with no known reason but I was still hopeful at the same time. It was actually mid argument with Fabian I randomly decided to take a test. I know you’re meant to take it on a morning normally but hey ho. I still to this day have no idea what gave me the urge to take that test at the moment, but I am so thankful I did. It was a first response test which claimed to show results within 1 minute. That second line showed up within about 30 seconds! It was faint but it was definitely there. Still sat on the toilet I burst into tears with happiness, Fabian came and we both hugged, the argument soon forgotten.

I couldn’t believe it was real! In them days it was nothing out of the ordinary to go food shopping late at night, it was our way of getting out of the house and yet avoiding the hustle and bustle of daytime shopping. We drove 45 minutes to the 24-hour supermarket to buy another test, or several should I say. I needed to test again to know I wasn’t imagining things and we were both too excited to sleep. There was road works galore and it felt like a lifetime travelling to the shop, buying the test and coming home. We got home and went to bed and I took a test the next day. A second test with two lines, I was pregnant! I was already so excited after five months of trying every different wives’ tale and myth to get pregnant – I was starting to go a little crazy you could say. Fabian went to work that day whilst I went shopping with my parents. I was so desperate to share my secret but wanted to do a special announcement. I remember being on Pinterest on my phone searching announcements and generally getting carried away already. I had been so happy that day. I still remember going to B&Q and for the first time that year there was Christmas decorations in the shops, everything felt positive.

That night Fabian had started to cook a lovely meal. It was a new Christmas nut roast that we had wanted to try which I had purchased earlier in the day. That’s when I noticed I felt moisture. I was stood half way up the stairs and awkwardly checked. Sure enough I was bleeding. Not even 24 hours after my first positive test. Then the cramping hit me. It hurt so bad and was intense. I was hoping it was just spotting but no, I was properly bleeding. Easy enough to mistake for a period if I hadn’t done the test, only I don’t cramp when its my period. I panicked and told Fabian before I sat and cried on the stairs. At the time I was only 20 and had no idea what to do. I phoned my mum and said I urgently needed to see her. She was eating her tea so I had to wait before going to her house around the corner.

We sat trying to eat tea but I couldn’t stop crying and neither of us had an appetite now, I hate remembering that meal and how heartbroken we felt. It’s a meal that since the miscarriage I have refused to eat, out of painful memories and also superstition too. Eventually we couldn’t wait any longer and rushed to my mums. I didn’t know what to say so I simply showed her the tests, broke down crying and said “I’m bleeding”. I could see from the sad look in my sister in laws (to be) eyes, who is a midwife that she knew it wasn’t good. We phoned the non-emergency line and were told to come in to hospital for an appointment. My mum drove us there, still getting stuck in the same road works from the night before. It was an agonizing journey.

As we sat there in the waiting room I desperately tried to google and convince myself everything would be okay, reading of people who bled through their whole first tri and went on to have healthy babies. I eventually got called in and what can I say, I have never seen such an incompetent and insensitive doctor and been so let down by the NHS. Not only did she say I was too early to scan, because she couldn’t count and work out that I was exactly six weeks! But she also didn’t even understand what cycle days were and how that meant days since the 1st day of my last period… So, I was technically 6 weeks on the dot and because she said I wasn’t I didn’t get scanned. Her advice was “yes its probably a miscarriage, go home and see what happens”. It was only when I left that appointment did I realise she had miscalculated and ideally, I should have been scanned.

Naturally we were devastated and heartbroken. The bleeding and painful cramps continued so I tried my best to rest whilst simultaneously bursting into tears often. The next day (15th October) was Fabian’s birthday and we decided since this had happened, we would go pick up a kitten we had already reserved earlier in the week as a way of distraction. I rested in bed most of the day whilst enjoying this new kitten, keeping the cats separate at first. Since it was Fabians birthday I said it was still okay for him to go out to kickboxing and enjoy himself whilst I rested. My mum had come to see the new kitten, who we now call Little Man, only I was laid in bed and had three very sharp intense pains. After calling the non-emergency line again we were told to go back to hospital. This time to a more local hospital which happened to be where Fabian was kickboxing. So unfortunately, once he finished his class he got a call to come meet us at the hospital.

20151015_174653

Its funny how they treat you so differently in A&E if it’s a physical complaint and not a mental health matter. I was put on a bed and I broke down crying. I was scared of the physical aspects and emotionally broken. They wanted to take blood and put a cannula in just in case they needed to do anything in an emergency. Wow they hurt so bad! I am scared of needles but seriously a cannula is on a different level, especially with no numbing cream. It was all in all a traumatic experience. They said my blood was fine and HCG levels were already quite low but they made an appointment for me to go the next day to the early pregnancy unit.

Here’s where it all gets very confusing and it’s one of the hardest parts I find to deal with in terms of grief. I took my positive tests to the early pregnancy unit and they performed an internal scan which showed nothing in my womb. No doubt because it had been left so long before they did anything. The consultant I saw said he didn’t believe it to be a miscarriage based on my positive tests and what my levels were when the blood test was taken. The problem with this is he thought the tests I had used were ones which detect at 50mIU/ml whereas I believe first response tests can detect from around 20mIU/ml. Baring in mind they were faint positive lines, I believe I was actually only about 4 weeks pregnant based on the cycle before being quite irregular. With these tests being more sensitive I believe it was completely possible within that time frame for my level to then go down to the number that had come back in my blood results. I hope that makes sense.

But either way I know I miscarried. My body was different, I had three positive tests and I had intense pain like I’ve never experienced for a period. The thing I find hardest to cope with is that this life was not acknowledged by that doctor. It also means when I have got pregnant afterwards with Beau, Silver and Leilani I always have to justify and explain why I’ve had 4 pregnancies now. I hate the feeling that Stork doesn’t exist in some people’s eyes. We know Stork existed though and grieved very much in the days and weeks following the loss. I guess it was slightly easier trying to conceive again afterwards compared to the loss of Silver because Stork was not someone we had had the pleasure of getting to know, nor had we had much opportunity to even bond or enjoy any part of the pregnancy. We had less than twenty-four hours.

It’s only a most recent thing that we actually decided to give Stork her name. We would always say “the miscarriage” and we were okay with that. That was until we lost Silver. I suddenly realised how uncomfortable I was talking about my children, all having a name except “the miscarriage”. After speaking with Fabian, we both agreed and took our time to gather some name suggestions. It took a couple of weeks but eventually we both decided the name Stork was perfect. We wanted something gender neutral but also love that this tied in with the idea of a stork delivering babies. It feels so much better knowing all my children are equally loved and are still to this day involved in our lives. I feel so proud to be able to talk about Stork and although this isn’t the way I wish I was sharing her story I also know if we had Stork we never would have had Beau. I am forever grateful for the little brother she sent down for us that we are blessed to wake up to every day.

stork

As this loss was experienced in the run up to Christmas we bought some special little bootie ornaments in memory and display this each and every year. You may have also seen these in our most recent gender reveal announcement where we wanted to include all of our babies. I can imagine this year Christmas will be a very difficult time as we remember Stork and Silver whilst approaching our due date and Silver’s birthday. I am currently trying to work out how I can make this Christmas special, involving all my babies and how I can honour them all individually.

All four babies

Each person deals with grief differently. Just as each person acknowledges life from different points in the pregnancy, hence the debates about abortion limits. Some pregnant women say they are going to be a mummy when the baby is born, some say they are a mummy from conception. Me and Fabian both acknowledge life from conception and saw ourselves as parents as soon as we got that positive test. I know there has been debates within the loss community and hurtful comments that some people’s loss is greater than the other persons. I can see how I have dealt differently with each of my losses and they have been very different experiences, from simply a loss after two lines on a stick to a loss of a two week old. One thing is for sure, both my angels were loved equally despite me perhaps grieving in different ways for each of them. Miscarriage is still the loss of a baby and that’s why I wanted to share Storks story this week.

I found it particularly difficult this last week that I saw several triggers I associate with the loss of Stork. Before I knew I was actually pregnant with Stork we attended a Bullet for my Valentine gig at the York Barbican. We had bought seated tickets as we knew we were trying to conceive in the months prior and wanted to be safe from the mosh pit we are usually so close to! I was so convinced I wasn’t pregnant however that I broke several years of sobriety and indulged in a Kopparberg cider. I must add here I’m not an alcoholic, I just know people with borderline personality disorder can easily get addicted so I decided a long time ago to simply abstain from alcohol. When I miscarried I blamed the music, the venue and the drink.

Bullet is officially banned in our household and car now. I have only been to the barbican once since the miscarriage – I was pregnant with Silver. So clearly I don’t have positive feelings towards the venue. I feel uneasy every time we go near that building now but this week was especially hard. Fabian has some weird and wonderful routes to get around York from place to place and sometimes he does drive past the barbican. This week had to be one of them, when I was already feeling emotionally vulnerable. It was emotionally quite hard and I had to keep myself distracted as we drove past by talking to Beau. I also have only had 1 alcoholic drink since that gig, I recently tried an old favourite of mine after the loss of Silver. I’m pleased to say alcohol is completely revolting and had no numbing effect on the pain I felt for my recent loss so I have returned to complete sobriety since that one glass.

On this particular evening last week we also attended Tesco’s as I was craving a new vegan pizza that only they retail. I left Fabian watching Beau who was pushing all the buttons on the toys while I did the small grocery shop. I went straight to the freezer free from aisle and what did I find? Literally three days before our miscarriage anniversary and I immediately saw that same nut roast we had eaten those three years ago. I welled up but decided to take a photo to show Fabian and you guys. Only I had to pick up the box to make it easily visible. It is such a shame because its clearly labelled vegan and is probably one of the best Christmas options for vegans, especially since I hate mushrooms and most other stores have nut and mushroom roasts. Perhaps next year I will be brave enough to purchase this item but not this year, not with my precious Leilani on board.

nut roast

And that’s the problem. On the way home I started to worry about her movement. She had been moving most of the evening but in the last few shops and drive home she wasn’t moving. I naturally began to panic and instead of being rational my mind instantly went to “something’s happened because we drove near the barbican and I touched the nut roast box”. Fabian had to talk me through rationalising the situation and I did then calm down, knowing that actually she had been non-stop moving all day. She was bound to need a sleep at some point! And, of course, when we arrived home that night she woke up and was back to her active self for a few more hours.

It’s impossible with life after loss to avoid triggers so we simply need to learn new ways to cope with them. Sometimes it can be easy to anticipate where we know there may be a certain trigger. Other times it may sneak up and take us off guard. It’s these moments when I find it most helpful to have a trusted person such as my husband to talk to about how I feel in those moments and support me through them.

I hope this blog gives people the courage to open up more about early miscarriage and know that your loss is no less important or painful than my loss of a two week old neonate. All loss hurts and we are all grieving. It’s time to say their name and its time to support each other through whatever it may be we are experiencing.

Sending all the grieving parents out there much love this baby loss awareness week.

Until next time,

Holly x

Jaxson’s Story

Today is a very special little boys 1st Birthday. I feel truly blessed to have my good friend Kerry’s consent to share little Jaxson’s story on her behalf. I am so lucky to have such a good friend with which we have both supported each other through our bereavements. Jaxson was my first real introduction to the harsh world of baby loss. I had experienced my own miscarriage a couple years prior and had spoken with other miscarriage mums before but never had I known of a much older baby passing away.

When I look back on my pregnancy with Beau I am envious of the girl I once was. As soon as I got to the twelve week mark I never considered anything could ever go wrong. I was so innocent and naïve as I sailed through the pregnancy without a care in the world. Never did I consider that my pregnancy could upset people, never once did I second guess complaining about pregnancy symptoms on social media. I wasn’t aware of the baby loss world, I presumed all if not the majority of babies eventually come home, even the sick ones.

I was thrilled when I first knew I was expecting Silver at the same time Kerry was expecting Jaxson. We lived only a couple doors away from each other at the time and were only 9 weeks apart, Jaxson being due late January and Silver being due early April. I was looking forward to having play dates already and that we could both go through the same stages together. We had been friends since attending the infant’s school together and most of my other friends were still so career focussed that I was pleased to have a friend on the same wavelength. It’s always a girls dream to be able to carry a baby at the same time as her friend, especially if you have grown up together and now you hope for your children to do the same.

I don’t fully remember the day we found out the bad news, where we were or what we were doing. All I remembered was having a missed call from Kerry. I’m not very good at instigating phone calls so I texted her to see if all was okay and that’s when she texted back the awful news. My memory of finding out is pretty foggy but I remember crying my eyes out, shocked and in disbelief. She was twenty-three weeks after all so why or how could this happen? She was in the safety zone and had had a perfect twenty-week scan too. Of course, I now realise there is no such thing as a safety zone. Until your baby is in your arms and breathing you do not know if you will be taking a baby home.

Perhaps I should explain exactly what happened to little Jaxson. Kerry was blessed with feeling regular movement from sixteen weeks pregnant. He would always wriggle when the alarm would sound on a morning and they’d wake up together. Unfortunately, on the 9th October Kerry noticed some reduced movement but presumed it was more due to the position of where Jaxson was laid rather than anything worrisome. When the alarm sounded the next day however there was still no movement.

As she was at work so early she decided to still attend and spoke with some colleagues. They decided at the end of the shift due to still no movement that it was best to call the doctors. The doctor’s surgery informed her to go straight to the local hospital, a most terrifying journey for Kerry. Arriving at hospital she was directed to the maternity ward who then took Kerry to the assessment room with several beds, one I am all too familiar with. After using a doppler to check they discovered there was no heartbeat. I can only imagine how this must have felt for Kerry. A feeling that unfortunately I now know has happened to all too many people whom I have connected with online.

She was then taken to a separate more private room where they performed a scan, also showing nothing. They had one last attempt with a better-quality scan machine only to confirm her worst fears. Somehow her little boy had passed away in utero, at this moment in time not knowing her little baby was actually a boy. Thankfully they gave her plenty of time to contact all the family and friends she needed to inform and receive support from, me being on of them to receive the missed call and then the dreaded text. Once she had done this she was taken to the maternity bereavement room where all was then explained of exactly what would happen next. After all she would still have to give birth to her little baby boy, something I think a lot of people sadly forget. She was sent home after taking a tablet to be induced, with the arrangement to return in two days to deliver her baby.

Naturally any labour of a baby you know will not take a single breath is going to be emotionally taxing to say the least. Kerry attended the hospital with her partner, sister, mum and her mums’ partner on this emotional day. Surrounded by the support of her loved ones the day commenced with regular checks and more medication to help the induction along. By noon she was unfortunately beginning to struggle physically and felt a desperate need to sleep and feeling rather out of sorts. After a sleep the pain unfortunately got much much worse, she was feeling drowsy and low blood pressure was setting in.

It was all quite a traumatic occasion physically, including blood tests and cannula’s which triggered immense panic attacks alongside the many other emotions going through her head. The pain became unbearable and for twenty minutes Kerry had the support of gas and air before welcoming their tiny little baby boy into the world. Every person in these situations reacts differently. I know some people who never want to see their baby and some who don’t want to let their baby go. Until you are in that situation yourself you will never know what decision you would have made. Kerry and her partner decided to allow Jaxson to be taken away to be cleaned and dressed before properly meeting him.

It gave Kerry they opportunity to physically recover from the birth and freshen up with a shower and some food. More family had arrived throughout the day and there was now Kerry’s dad and her partners mum present. The next two hours were spent getting to know their little boy. They held him, took photo’s and took the time to memorise his features. He was presented in a mosses basked looking ever so peaceful with his blue hat, a cardigan and a blanket. Kerry has very kindly sent me some special photos from this moment with the consent to share these below. I feel truly honoured that she would trust me with such a responsibility of introducing these photos into the world and being blessed to share the story of her precious little boy.

I am of course sadly all too familiar with memory boxes now after receiving one myself. Kerry very kindly showed me through their precious memory box on one of the nights I had gone to sit with her and keep her company after the birth. Many of these items are similar to what we received, her particular box included: two teddies, two bracelets, a candle, a book named Guess how much I love you? And a card with Jaxsons hand and footprints. The duplicate items were of course so that Jaxson could keep one and Kerry and her partner Ryan could keep the other. The teddy had been swapped many times in hospital so they could exchange scents with each other, something I also did with my mini boo’s with Silver. I have no doubt this memory box provides much comfort to them even one year down the line, just as mine does with Silver’s seven months down the line.

Despite being born after twenty-four weeks Jaxson was actually classed as a late miscarriage due to passing away one day before Kerry turned twenty-four weeks. It is a harsh reality of how weeks pregnant can mean the difference between your baby being acknowledged legally and simply being a baby lost before it had a right to life. This is what I hate about the abortion limit, I know from currently being twenty-four weeks myself how she is so active and shies away from sounds or being prodded, they can feel pain and respond to touch, light and sound. They were still alive and have  then passed away. Because of Jaxson passing away one day too soon in the governments eyes he was not entitled to a birth certificate and in the eyes of the government didn’t exist. Thankfully hospitals do acknowledge this life and provided their own certificate which I think is imperative for all grieving parents.

43469325_310960586359455_1855919947729862656_n

Kerry and Ryan proudly named their little boy Jaxson Lee on the 12th October last year after welcoming him into the world. It has since been discovered that the reason for their tragic loss was due to placenta abruption. It’s something I had never heard of until researching it myself and I am praying that they are soon blessed with a healthy rainbow. I know they are such proud parents of both of their little boys, Jacob and Jaxson. Jacob kisses a photo of Jaxson every night and often sleeps with the little teddy from their memory box whilst Kerry and Ryan take it in turns to wear the bracelet from the memory box. They forever cherish his memory and keep his spirit alive in this way and through talking about their loss with trusted loved ones.

I know they have some lovely plans for his first birthday today to celebrate the beautiful life he had within Kerry’s womb and to share with friends and family their everlasting love for him. No loss will ever feel justifiable or fair, nor will a grieving parent ever stop wondering about missed milestones or stop missing their child. The only choice we have as grieving parents is to honour the memory of our loved one, live each day for them and keep their memory alive through talking about our children like the proud parents we are. I wish me and Kerry did not have such a tragic truth in common and yet I am also glad to have someone so close who can relate and understand how I feel.

I know just how hard it is to celebrate other people’s happiness when your own life is so dark. I know how much I hurt even now seeing pregnancy announcements and how sometimes seeing new born babies can trigger the tears to fall. I am so lucky to have a friend that despite it probably being completely heart wrenching to see me get pregnant with our rainbow she has still celebrated my happiness. She has still babysat Beau for me to be able to go to scans and doctors’ appointments and asked how my scans have gone. She is always pleased when I have yet another set of good news and was always there for me during my first twenty weeks when I was absolutely terrified of losing Leilani. She offered reassurance and support as I was fearfully navigating pregnancy after loss, despite most likely wishing she too was in the same boat.

I can guarantee that the day she is blessed with her Rainbow I will gladly hold her hand and support her through every step just as she has done for me. I will forever remember her little boy and think of him being with Silver as they look after each other in heaven or wherever they may be right now. Kerry’s birth was classed as a miscarriage due to one day. I hope everyone remembers that life begins at conception and every single loss from that moment forward is a baby gone too soon. It is still a life lost and I know each year there will always be milestones where we will wonder what our child would have been doing and how old they should have been.

43395072_2079502458968473_3629025727627657216_n

And lastly, I just want to say a big Happy Birthday to Jaxson Lee Simpkins, today is your day and you are still very much loved by all your earthly family and friends.

Until next time,

Holly x

Rainy Nights and Ruminating

Usually autumn is my favourite time of year. I love how it’s a cosy season. Where the nights are getting cool and dark and its time to wear cardigans and snuggle up on an evening with warm drinks and spiced foods. I also think it’s by far the prettiest time of year, driving along with leaves falling as if they were colourful snowflakes. It’s also that time of year when we get to celebrate Halloween and the exciting build up to Christmas.

I want to address both those celebrations in separate posts because both are significant Wiccan holidays which we as a household celebrate. Halloween is a time when we honour the deceased as our worlds are closest. It’s also regarded as the Wiccan new year so it’s a time where I evaluate my life and the things I want to change. This year of course will trigger many thoughts of Silver and I’d love to share with you my plans in a separate post on how we plan to involve and honour Silver and our miscarriage Stork. Yule is Wiccan Christmas which for ease with family we choose to celebrate on the 25th instead of the traditional 21st Dec. I would have thought most people who have lost a baby will understand why Christmas or in our circumstances Yule, can be a difficult time.

As you can imagine, with both those celebrations on their way plus my impending birth of Leilani I am at times feeling rather anxious and wondering how I will cope. One thing that surprised me recently however was how upset I felt one night when it was raining. Normally I love the rain, Fabian usually tells me off when I go outside just to stand in the rain. I don’t mean in a controlling way, more in a protective you’re going to get sick way and also a you’re a little bit crazy way. He puts his foot down when I’m pregnant and won’t actually allow me to which I can understand in all fairness, baby always comes first. It has however always been very grounding and soothing for me. I find standing in the rain or listening to the rain can be quite a spiritual experience and connect you with nature and the earth. As the rain washes away debris, it has the ability to wash away emotional pain and cleanse the mind and soul.

That was until the other day. As I mentioned, I love the idea of being cosy in autumn and snuggling up on an evening as the weather battles on outside. Even torrential rain I usually find soothing and it helps me sleep. For some reason that evening however I was sat thinking of how if Silver was here how lovely it would have been to have a warm soft baby snuggled and nestled on my chest. I wanted the experience of making her feel snug and warm as the rain poured outside. It was such a perfect evening where we were all in the living room as a happy family, it was tidy and the lamp was turned on giving a warm glow as the rain poured outside. Normally I’m in my element and absolutely love these occasions but not this time.

From pondering these thoughts, I also realised that a few days earlier, if Silver had been born on her due date (April 3rd) she would have been six months old. So despite initially imagining how sweet it would have been to have a little baby snuggled up on my chest she would have actually been much larger than I first thought. Of course a six month old still isn’t huge but it was certainly a reality check of how much time has passed, even more so since she was actually born seven weeks early. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, I don’t want time to keep passing so fast and moving further away from her but at the same time I’m so eager to give birth and begin this new positive chapter with Leilani too. Because I’m still on maternity leave from Silver I don’t tend to focus too much on dates so when I do actually check the date I often realise much time has passed, more than expected.

Going to bed that night I still couldn’t stop thinking about the weather outside. My body and mind know I gave birth to a baby girl and yet my mind also knew she was not with me safe within the home. I know and understand she is no longer here but, in my head, that night all I could think of was that she was out there; cold, in the dark and alone. I couldn’t shake that thought and it really disturbed me. I had this urge to protect her, comfort her and keep her warm. I couldn’t do any of those things and it really hit me hard. Day to day I generally have coped better as time has gone on but then I have moments like this where I suddenly can’t wrap my head around it and don’t know how to cope once the reality does start to set in.

My only solution that night was to talk it through with Fabian about how I felt. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to do this when you have lost a baby together, to express to each other when you are struggling and what you are finding hard. There are many times where we have been struggling and have not spoken openly and it usually results with us fighting about other menial matters because deep down our head is in a darker place. The only comfort Fabian could offer me was the knowledge that although she is deceased, and the situation is far from happy, she is in fact in no danger or discomfort. It was enough to make me feel supported and I understood despite my feelings and thoughts being disturbing they were in fact far from true. I needed that validation.

I have still continued to bond with Leilani as I did with Beau and Silver which was by listening to a specific track on YouTube with rain and music. It’s something I always listen to when I’m in the bath as I focus on my wriggling baby, talking away to her and having that time away from social media and stress. I absolutely love these moments and still find the rain on this track to be of comfort, especially since it links all my babies together and is an experience I have shared with them all. It’s also the music we play when Fabian reads my hypnobirthing scripts to me on a night just before bed. I love how this in itself is a way for Fabian to be more actively involved in the pregnancy and is a time when we both dedicate it to each other and our baby. It’s also a time when we focus on reducing anxiety which I still find so beneficial and have done through all my pregnancies with my absolute favourite rain music.

It has yet to rain again since that evening. I am more prepared emotionally this time and hope that in fact it will give me the soothing comfort it used to. I don’t think these next few months emotionally are going to be exactly straightforward or plain sailing. I am both excited and dreading the first snowfall. Last winter the main snow fall was the nights leading up to Silver’s passing and continued for a few days afterwards. I still remember walking though the hospital after she passed and looking down one night on the perfectly still courtyard with a fresh white blanket of snow. I had been so gutted I didn’t get to take Beau sledding and I am excited to hopefully get to do that this year but at the same time I honestly think I will cry my eyes out when the first flakes start to fall.

I think no matter how much time passes there will always be occasions when certain events or items will trigger a catalyst of emotions despite feeling I had been coping well. It’s a natural part of grief and especially with a baby where you notice the dates and how old they should be. Something you don’t think about with someone who has died of old age. I sleep every night with Silver’s blanket and doubt that will change but that one night I held it especially close. I know life will change and maybe one day I won’t have all of Silver’s items on display, but she will always be there on my mind and forever in my subconscious thoughts. There are times we will have positive triggers for her coming to the forefront of our minds and there will no doubt be times such as the snow falling when the experiences may be more negative.

One thing is for certain, she was and always will be my baby and to this day I am still trying to work out and learn how to live without her in my arms. I hope you enjoy reading my blog posts as I try and discover what my new normal is exactly.

Until next time,

Holly x

Trusting Strangers with Beau

I am sure most loss parents will be able to relate to my overprotective nature of Beau. Surprisingly however I have always been very protective of him. I remember worrying when I was pregnant how I would feel about other people holding him when he was born, especially with family members I was not close with at all. Because after all, babies are like magnets. Suddenly the people who have never really been interested in your life before want to come visit you at your home and hold your new born baby. It was a terrifying prospect to me. Thankfully I did actually manage to cope pretty well.

 

Throughout the years only a select few family and friends have been trusted to watch over Beau. I’ve had family members offer to look after him. Unfortunately, because I didn’t feel confident enough to make it clear to them exactly how I wished him to be taken care of due to not having a rapport as adults with each other and I didn’t have the confidence in them listening to me if I did make things clear, I even restricted certain family members from taking care of him. It was silly little things like Beau’s diet, or swearing in front of him and I also didn’t want him to be encouraged to watch television or have people using mobile phones in front of him. I needed to know he was in an engaging yet safe environment with people I wholeheartedly trusted. I was very lucky that when we did start weaning him and it was easier from a breastfeeding point of view to leave him that I had a small collection of people I felt truly confident with.

Beau and Jacob with Kerry

I still of course worry even when others are looking after him and want regular updates. Thankfully I never leave him more than a couple of hours with anyone and its usually for appointments, especially with Silver’s and Leilani’s pregnancy. If it is ever overnight the only people I trust of course is my parents to have Beau. I know their home inside and out, I know that despite not following a vegan diet they fully understand what Beau can and can’t eat and will even eat vegan friendly food in front of him so if he wants to share he can do. I know he absolutely love’s going to see nana and grandad, playing in their secure garden, watching the frogs, birds and fish along with chasing Poppy our labradoodle who just loves playing with him. We don’t often require Beau to stay overnight but it was a life saver to know my parents could look after Beau for the two weeks we were up at Newcastle with Silver. I missed him like crazy but not once did I worry about his wellbeing. They brought him several times to visit too which just warmed my heart even if it was hard to interact with him post-surgery.

You might be wondering about the title of this blog post then if I’m telling you I can’t even trust family members with Beau. Well let’s erase the taboo and stigma of social services right now. When child social services become involved you expect it to be due to negligent parents who don’t care about the wellbeing of their child and are not putting their child first. There are times when this could be the case. This could not be further from the truth in our circumstances. Firstly, if you are pregnant with any mental health diagnosis you are automatically submitted for a social services assessment without much of a choice. I had one whilst pregnant with Beau and they deemed there was no risk to Beau so long as I had a safety plan in place should I feel my mental health deteriorating whilst alone with Beau.

Unfortunately, over the years I have had many mental health break downs. These have resulted to police being called. Not because Beau was in any danger, but because I was suicidal and a danger to myself. In certain cases, ambulances like police to go in first with suicidal cases to ensure they are then safe to enter to treat the patient. Unfortunately, if Beau is present in these moments, despite perhaps seeing absolutely nothing and him being unaware or even asleep through the whole event the police have to make a referral to social services. Since an incident when I was pregnant with Silver social services have been supporting both me and Fabian. Every single time they have come to my home they have always said how well Beau looks, that he seems well cared for, safe and has plenty of age appropriate toys.

We’ve had issues in the past where they’ve said this, and then dismissed our case because Beau was safe and well. The only problem is we have still been struggling with the same issues, still not receiving the appropriate help we know we need and have asked and begged for, resulting in us getting re-referred. It is so frustrating when you keep asking for help because you are desperate to get better and improve your situation and no one is willing to help. Fabian had gone to the doctors not long after Beau was born to say he was struggling with stress and anxiety. Beau is now two years old and he has only just been told he will get counselling (in about three months’ time!). You can imagine the struggles we’ve had over two years of desperately asking for help and not receiving any. I am so thankful to say I am also getting a lot of mental health support since moving house and generally we are both progressing and moving in the right direction.

With things being much more stable now and updated safety plans in place the social worker recently decided she no longer needed to be involved and wanted to step down the care to a prevention worker. I can’t tell you how lovely this new woman is, she seems so jolly and down to earth but most importantly approachable and proactive. We expressed our concerns with Beau’s recent behaviour of hitting and the tantrums we are struggling to manage with the health visitor but didn’t feel we were getting anywhere. We were so glad for our prevention worker to suggest a parenting course which would be not only free for us but included creche for Beau too.

In theory this seems like a perfect solution. We would finally get the help we needed to sort out these few little niggles before Leilani arrives and we wouldn’t have the worry with childcare which is always so much hassle and stress. We agreed to attend the course and all was well, until I started to think about it more and more. I am so overprotective I am even planning on home schooling Beau because I don’t trust teachers to keep him safe and don’t want him to be subjected to bullying and the peer pressure that comes from the government curriculum. He has literally never been left with someone I don’t know before. I can’t even find the courage to let him go to preschool for myself to have a break so I suddenly had a last-minute panic on the Friday before the class started the following Tuesday.

I just want to put a little disclaimer in here, when I say overprotective and mention home schooling etc. I am however aware of his social needs. I most certainly want him to join clubs and engage with other children but feel for my own peace of mind I would be happier with this being under my supervision. The prevention worker has actually been really great at helping us find clubs and activities for Beau to go to. We do have a plan at the moment to hopefully sign Beau up to a gymnastics club, a weekend dance class and hopefully re-joining swimming early next year too. I also have plenty of play dates in the pipeline which I just need to confirm and arrange. So don’t worry, I am making sure he’s interacting and hopefully going to make some friends very soon! We all parent differently and I just have my own way of doing things, after all I don’t see the point having a child then allowing a teacher to raise the child for me. I want to be the one to teach him about the world and share my morals and principles with him.

Beau swimming

The thing that worried me the most was there wasn’t really much time to go to this creche and meet the people first. Thankfully our prevention worker came to visit us on the Monday to talk through it all. I felt relieved to know she was willing to meet us the next day and go in with us to introduce everyone and help us get comfortable and settled into the creche before the class started. I researched the creche the night before and checked their Ofsted reports and felt my anxiety was manageable. A few years ago this would have been a completely different matter and I would have been hysterically crying and hyperventilating all night and adamant I couldn’t cope and wouldn’t be able to attend or leave Beau. I am so glad in this aspect that my mental health has drastically improved. Night times before events were always one of my worst moments and hardest to manage, usually ending up in a trip to the hospital to see the crisis team (who are completely useless).

The next morning I became very nervous. Thankfully this time it was not actually about Beau and the creche. I was worried in case it was a group full of people who had perhaps been forced to attend and actually all they were going to do was complain about their children. This was a group for 0-3 year old parenting so I was very nervous of anyone complaining about their new born, something I should have had this year and would be so grateful to have in my arms. Thankfully our prevention worker introduced me privately to the woman running the class and helped me express those feelings prior to going into the room. She reassured me if I needed to leave at any point that I could do and that’s why they had two people running the course. So if I needed any support I would have that available. I am pleased to say all the parents were absolutely lovely and to be honest I think we all had children around the same age, with the same problems!

I must say when we got to the creche I was very pleased with the layout. It was basically one big child friendly room with only about three other babies. I felt very nervous so Fabian went to fill out the paperwork as I was too scared to talk to the people in charge. Beau was actually pretty shy too which was a surprise considering his rambunctious personality at home. At first he held my hand and I had to go everywhere with him. I was terrified of the other children – I’m just not a natural with other peoples kids! I don’t think I could have managed if our prevention worker hadn’t been there with me. She interacted with Beau and got him playing which helped me relax, its kind of embarrassing but when I’m in public I don’t know how to act with Beau. I think I fear getting judged so it looks like I’m the most awkward parent not interacting with their child whereas at home I’m rolling around on the floor with him!

The longer we were there and Beau was playing the more I felt at ease. Beau seemed happy and was engaging with the toys. He was also being respectful with the other children and not feeling he needed to hold my hand anymore. I double checked they knew about his vegan diet to give myself the reassurance and signed a few forms. I don’t know why but I never even thought of taking nappies for him. Thankfully we did have the changing bag in the car but it was such a new thing for me I just completely forgot about the essentials. Once we felt he was settled and I felt comfortable I had seen the staff interact with him we sneaked out while he was engrossed in playing with a truck. It was so reassuring to know our class was actually only down the hallway too so should an emergency occur we would be close by. 

The class itself went better than expected and I left feeling really positive and motivated. We had homework to do and I now had some ideas of different things to try with Beau. Fabian had gone to look through the window and check on Beau at “break time” half way through the class to find Beau happily playing away. I was very pleased to learn they’d given him a banana and they were thoroughly impressed when he asked for another – my boy could live off fruit! (I’m pretty sure in total that day he ended up eating four bananas!)

In conclusion. I’m now comfortable enough to continue with him going to this creche and feeling proud of myself for overcoming this fear. It was a tough thing to do after losing a child and already being a protective parent. I actually missed the class this week but Fabian attended with Beau and I’ve been told he had two bananas again and thoroughly enjoyed himself. I’m not going to suddenly be taking him to pre-school or leaving him at clubs without me but I do feel confidence in myself enough to hopefully get him started in all these new clubs where he can engage while I sit back and watch from a distance. I’m also super pleased that since we have started reading him his bed time stories in his bed and not downstairs it has made bed times so much easier. He is a much happier chap going to bed and we are feeling like winners right now in the toddler game! Let’s hope it continues to improve and both me and Beau grow in confidence alongside each other.

me and Beau

Until next time,

Holly x

%d bloggers like this: