Last week a tsunami of grief washed over me and left me gasping for air. I couldn’t sleep, barely breathe, function properly, or be me in my everyday life.

I cried for what seemed like hours over several days … sobbing to Nathan, sobbing to the night, sobbing on my knees. I was desperate for some relief from this familiar pain that had returned (or rather resurfaced) to my soul and each day I woke up with that same heavy feeling in my heart, I wondered why?

Isn’t it supposed to get better with time? Aren’t I supposed to feel better about it … with Time? Shouldn’t I be on my way to “getting over this” and dealing with it? That’s what people keep saying or implying why isn’t it true for me?!

It’s been almost 3 years since our daughter passed away and was subsequently stillborn. 3 years. That’s over 1,000 days and I don’t know how many hours, and guess what? I still get sad about it, and I still find the week or 2 before her anniversaries to be the worst time of year. I hate the change in seasons, and find that even if I wanted to never think of it again, that’s actually not even possible. I feel in my soul and I know what’s coming.

I have found that whilst time has made it easier to live with (most days), some days it all just gets too much again. Some days I just become too tired of being strong, I become tired of being the one missing out on so many things because she never lived, and I get tired of pretending that i’m okay with that. I get tired of painting on a smile and not being able to have her in our life. And then, with all of that, something so small comes along and sweeps me over. It leaves me lost and feeling like there’s something wrong with me, and I get cross… why am I still feeling all of this? Why at 3 years is her birthday still so hard?

But you see there isn’t anything wrong with me, and I didn’t do anything wrong either. It’s not my fault that she died (though I have wondered this) and there isn’t anything mentally wrong with me either because I am still sad at certain points of my life as a result of that. I feel all of this every September because it is the natural result of carrying a child to term and then them dying before being born and really having life with you. It doesn’t mean i’m ill, lacking in faith, ungrateful for my other kids, miserable, or have a poor relationship with Jesus – it means I am human, and a mother living in a world with out my child!

But its easy to think there is something wrong with me, or maybe I am lacking something, when people tell you so much that “time is a healer”, or “I hope you can get over this and be okay”, and all along it still hurts… it still causes pain to remember. And then I find that to remember is also seen as a negative thing? Why wouldn’t I want to remember her?

It’s easy for me to think and even feel that I am lacking in something or not good enough because people avoid me or avoid asking how I am around this time of year and then wonder how after 3 long years and 1,000’s of days I am still not over it and still not “healed”.

But please tell me how you can get over your child dying and missing from everyday family life?

Please tell me how you can look at each passing year and birthday without a member of your family there to celebrate it, and then be okay about it?

Please tell me how is remembering them a weakness or a bad thing?

How is making them a part of our family so weird?

How is bringing them up in conversation so blumming awkward?

Please enlighten me on how it is such a weakness to cry and be sad occasionally about the fact my daughter was dead when I gave birth to her? And with that to know you missed a million things and more?

Please tell me why am I lacking in faith because I cried last week for days that she wasn’t starting nursery and her birthday is over looked?

What I wish people would say (or preach) to the bereaved is actually that time is not a healer at all, and that the truth is you won’t ever really get over it, but rather you WILL learn how to live with it. You will (and can) learn how to lead a happy and joyful life despite the pain of them not being in it. You will lead a new normal on a new path, that is filled with triggers of your loss and days of darkness all over again, but you will learn how to survive them and return to a functioning happy place once they pass. You will learn to see goodness in life and count your blessings despite the pain in your heart from one of your greatest blessings not being here. There will be days when the pain is barely noticeable, and people will breath a sigh of relief that perhaps we’re over it now and time has healed us, but with in a matter of days it can be all consuming again and a stark reminder that that isn’t true. That’s okay, there is nothing wrong with you.

I often want to ask “Isn’t my all functioning life, happy kids, adventures, poser pics, deep faith and joyful moments a testament that I am surviving and living a good life despite being sad?”

I wish people would realise that life isn’t easy to live with a piece of you missing, and yet I still do.

I wished they could see that however small they see a trigger of grief to be, it isn’t small at all. If its enough to make someone broken hearted all over again and sobbing, then that’s a big deal! They just need more love, more understanding, a listening ear and patience. The triggers are irrelevant, it’s not a problem to be fixed or solved because often you don’t expect them at all and so can’t help how you feel in any given moment or situation… we don’t need analysing, we just need love and compassion, and an understanding that any trigger is just more evidence, and a tell tale sign that the loss of a baby ripples into life for many years to come, therefore there is no quick fix for baby loss. We will not get over it, but with a good support system, we can learn how to live with it – through the highs and lows of life.

It doesn’t matter how many times we do the whole anniversary thing, the whole starting back at school thing, Christmas, family holidays, days out …. it doesn’t make it easier to know she’s not here with us. Time doesn’t make it easier to have a birthday and no child here to celebrate with. Time doesn’t make it easier to know that each year that passes so do so many days of no milestones or proud parent pics!

Time doesn’t erase that there are still so many unbought gifts, unwritten cards, uneaten cakes. It doesn’t erase having her not start school, or no presents under the tree for her at Christmas. Time cannot change the fact that we own a grave where she rests.

There are things I will never know about my 3rd daughter and things I will never get to experience with her, and because of that, I don’t know how I can ever get over those things? Each new year and chapter brings a minefield of emotions and triggers, and whilst I can see how I can learn to live with it in each moment, how I can lead a hearty life despite it being a part of our journey it’s still a struggle some days to have to pass through and tackle each one.

Yes I can see now how I can survive the waves of grief, however big and painful they are. But I am sorry, I cannot “get over” my child dying, and I don’t think I ever will or want to. I want to remember her, celebrate her if I can, and hold to the few memories we have of her being in our family.

One thing I have learnt from women far older and wiser than me, is that to have a happy life, you have to embrace that fact that you will never get over this, but you can learn to live with it!

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Last week (like many of you I’m sure) my social media was flooded with back to school pictures of friends, family and fellow bloggers kids, all kitted out in new uniforms and excited for the new school year. It has come around so quickly and I am honestly really sad to see Ethan and Megan returning to school after what has been an incredibly fun and adventurous 6 week Summer holiday!

I am really proud of how quickly we have all fallen back into the school run schedule, and how much they love being in their new classes and seeing all of their friends again! They were super excited to get back to it, and I smiled as I peered in on them before we went to bed last Monday night, and caught a glimpse of their new little uniforms all laid out with precision – Megan’s on the end of her bed, Ethan’s on his desk. Their little shoes, a size bigger, were sat by the door all shiny and ready for them to trash… their PE bags repacked, and book bags sat waiting to be filled with all manner of tat they choose to bring home!

I cannot believe they are now in year 1 and 2. I cannot believe that those busy days of having them at home and going to toddler groups are so far gone now and they are well and truly in the flow of school life, our family a new seasaon. Life is filled reading books, playground antics, school dinners, PE, assemblies and sports days (to name a few). They have mastered the playground, their teachers names, and they have their crew! They are so happy, and I am glad for that, but it really is a stark reminder at the start of a new school year, just how fast they are growing up, and just how fast time is flying by.

This time of year is always a struggle for me too, and not one I always wear on my face. It is just my new normal and a time of deep reflection. It’s a time of year that thrusts me into a moment where like you, having had my kids with me daily, it’s all suddenly gone. It brings a quiet house and moments where I suddenly realise they’re into a new school year, a few inches taller, a few months older, a little more independent. All of that is okay, its weird and a little emotional, but its okay. Its all of that combined with it also always being a week or so before we pass through the anniversaries of loosing Poppy, that means that September has now become a huge reminder of days that will never come for us with her.

Back to school is exciting, but its the marker to countdown to her anniversaries and remember what we will never have.

We will never get to see her starting Nursery next term, or buying her uniform and new black shiny shoes. We won’t see her running up the road excited to see her friends after the summer, or nervous that her new teacher might not like her. We won’t ever know if she will love school dinners or get to post the pictures of her celebrating the start of a new school year with her siblings all over social media.

No one will ever know that their child might be missing out on another friend and class mate, the teacher one less pupil to teach that year, but with each school we will. So, whilst I am pleased with how smooth these last couple of days have been, and how excited Ethan and Megan are for school again. Whilst I love to see them excited for school and get excited to hear of what they have been doing too.  I am always a little sad for our little flower missing from the action, the pictures and new adventures of going back to school!

This Year Megan still wants to be a vet, and Ethan a Teacher (“NOT the assistant – the actual teacher”). I hope your kids are enjoying their new years, classes and friends!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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The main goal of our recent holiday in Tuscany was to relax, get some sunshine and visit the beach. We had lush sunshine and it was over 30 degrees everyday, but aside from a couple of beach trips, the trip was far from the easy relaxing trip we anticipated. It was jam packed with adventures, whining kids, late nights, pasta, and despite the madness, we still had a brilliant adventure in a wonderful part of the world.

Flying to Pisa and our Air B&B

We flew to Pisa airport in the evening of the Wednesday from Leeds/Bradford, and arrived around 11pm, so it was a late one but the kids coped well fuelled by excitement and the bag of Haribo they talked me into at the petrol station on the way! We stayed overnight in a guest house just down the road from the airport, and then picked up our rental car the next morning. We had booked an Air bnb in a village called Buti, which is just a little drive outside of Pisa, nestled in beautiful mountains and olive groves. It far exceeded our expectations and was simply stunning!

The house was part of a large farm house, nestled up the side of a mountain and surrounded by groves of olive trees dirt tracks and animals! We had our own balcony, modern interior and the neighbours were cute old Italian locals!

As it was a farm, the kids had freedom to see the animals, and especially enjoyed the new pups which the visited daily (once letting out the mum – don’t ask!!!). Up the track, was a tiny 13th century church, and at every turn was beauty and amazing views across the valley.  We has pomegranate trees, citrus, figs, bamboo, and at nighttime only heard the crickets and farm animals – it was most idyllic and one of the bonuses of going through Air bnb when you travel.

The Beach and Genoa

On our 3rd day we were finally settled in and ready for some sand and sea. By recommendation we drove a little ways up from Pisa to a gorgeous part of Italy known as “Chinque Terre”. We went to both Lavento and Vernazza and found it to be a beautiful coastline with quaint little streets and colour everywhere, and the smell of muscles, baked breads and garlic! 

We did a lot of driving up steep windy mountain roads and the whole experience was surreal and breathtakingly beautiful!

As we were only an hour way from Genoa, and it being a place Nathan really wanted to go to, we deiced to drive a little further north in the afternoon and spend a couple of hours there. Of course my kids were the rowdy ones, wading through the fountains when we got there, but I am glad we went because it was a really lovely city. The fountains were spectacular (and very inviting), and it was great to see history at every turn and amazing architecture … Christopher Columbus house was small but cool to stand on the forecourt of, and just to be in a place he lived, pondering upon his life and legacy! 

This day ended with the kids swimming in the sea at 10pm – perfection!

Florence and Lake Bilancino

The next day we drove to Florence, which I had high expectations for. I dont know why but its one of those cities people talk a lot about. It was a great city and had beautiful architecture yes, but wasn’t my fave. There was lots to see if you were willing to pay (which we didn’t see the point of with our rowdy crew), but being only 45 minutes from our house, it was certainly worth an afternoon to just wander and see the city as a whole. The kids found a carousel and we just took it easy admiring the buildings and cathedral. 

On the way home we took a different route and called by Lake Bilancino. It was beautiful, clear, turquoise and warm, and a lovely evening spent paddling and chilling together. I think next time it would be fun to spend a day there and do some water sports or just have a picnic, but we found to be a lovely spot enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. 

Pisa

Finally we saw Pisa and it was brilliant … we saw it Sunday afternoon following church and was totally worth the wait. Everything about it was charming and exciting and I had a lot of fun there. We did all of the cliche tower pics and it was a place that really impressed the kids too. Site seeing can sometimes be a challenge with kids, especially when its more old stuff in the blazing sunshine, but Pisa really grasped their attention and they loved it. We went into the cathedral, which was free and then walked around the little streets… it was a great 4 or 5 hours!

Pisa also has some great beaches and a park too that are very family friendly and we spent some time at these too later in our stay. The park in Pisa in on an archaeological site and has pretty little gardens as well as a play area that is well equipped. We spent a few hours here before flying home, and it was a nice relaxing morning and fun for the kids too.

The beach we went to near Pisa was on our last day and was quite busy but a great spot all the same. We found a little patch of sand amongst the other visitors to nestle down in for a couple of hours to chill, dig and swim. It had man made walls to make it into a large outdoor pool which at the deepest point was only up to Ethan’s neck! Pisa has a lot of currents so this ensured it was safe and the depth made it easier and more fun for families. It was a lovely beach and lovely afternoon soaking up far too much sun!

Tuscany is the perfect destination for a family trip, but also a place I would love to go just Nath and I. It has a great balance of beach, history and nature and is in great proximity to visit a whole host of famous and breathtaking sites. We paid just over £600 for our flights and accommodation, and I would definitely recommend hiring a car to make the most of your visit and turn it into the ultimate adventure.

I loved our week in Tuscany – the food, our little farm house, the adventures, the sun. But mostly the company and the memories made there. It was the ultimate adventure and a great Summer holiday! 

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An ordinary moment for the majority of children, comes the day when they can stand up tall! Oh the joy when they learn to stand. That moment when they’re not quite ready to take those first steps, but the wobbles are diminishing and they are gaining their confidence. They stand there so amazed at what they can do and its just so cute!

It seems like a lifetime ago that my kids were learning to stand, learning to walk, and learning to hold their own and stand tall. I forgot the excitement it brings, the sheer joy and relief that they can do it, and just generally how great/useful it is to pop them down on their feet.

Last week was a tough one, but on Tuesday it was made a little brighter when Alice suddenly stood up grinning at us. I couldn’t believe it! She was 13 months a couple of weeks ago (the age both her living siblings were walking by) and out of sheer anticipation I have wondered when the day will come that she takes those first steps. I practice occasionally with her, and the kids walk her around daily to get a feel for it, but up until now she finds it more fun to drop down on her bum and start laughing than toddle along. We stand her up, she drops down and it has become a great little game – for her!

On Tuesday however it was different, she was steady, she was determined and she stood up tall in her room with the biggest smile. I tried not to be too over excited whilst I grabbed the camera, but when Ethan and Megs got wind of it, we all just went a little nuts clapping and cheering!

Since that ordinary moment of standing up tall on her own, day by day she has gained her confidence to stand a little more, for a little longer. I am so excited to have witnessed this ordinary little moment and milestone in Alice’s life and to feel the joy of seeing another of my kids standing up!

The Ordinary Moments
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