As I sat in church on Christmas eve (morning), singing back to back carol’s and hymns, my heart began to ache and I felt tears well up into my eyes! I had to stop, as I knew that if I sung one more word about Angels and such, that I would quite possibly lose it, and I wasn’t ready to do that!

I said in my December family update that I had been grateful for the busyness of the season and our involvement with “Light The World” because it had kept me distracted from my own pains and grief that naturally come from having one less child with us at Christmas time! I felt like this year I was very much on autopilot with our stuff, and kept busy with everything I had filled my days with, that I rarely let myself think of the “What if’s” and “Should be’s”, and really feel anything about the fact we had another Christmas with out her!

All of those things that dull the sparkle of Christmas because of the death of one of our kids, were pushed into the back of my mind and I was determined that this year would be different. But it wasn’t really, because then when my guard was down on Christmas eve, and in a moment when everything was bought and wrapped, and projects complete, my heart had time to feel it, and my mind time to reflect on what another Christmas without her (our little girl) really meant.

And it was hard. Really hard. All too much you could say!

I guess at the time it was a good strategy to keep preoccupied and caught up in giving to others. And I loved it. Every moment… I was all for giving of myself to others and the Joy that I knew would come from giving, and I know it did a lot of good. I felt so joyful, and it was lovely!

But then there were moments that my temper became frayed and things felt a bit too much. Days when I felt fragile and done in, and days I had to take a deep breath and really prepare myself to get through it! There were moments when my mind reflected on Poppy and that it was another Christmas with out her, and then moments when I felt annoyed at myself and Nathan that we hadn’t made time sooner to go decorate her grave, and I realised (whether consciously or not,  that I was merely doing a good job of pasting over the cracks and “getting on with it”!

This year we opted for some gold butterflies on her grave. I spent ages in the Christmas section of “The Range” that day, trying to find the perfect decoration, but all I felt was irritation that what I was buying for my third child this Christmas was some naff decoration to put in a cemetery to be weather worn! I felt anxiety that it had to be right, and nothing quite was!

And so Nathan’s mum bought me 2 hooks and we settled on some sparkly gold butterflies…. because technically they weren’t on the grave at all but gave a feeling of life above it! I tried to make an arrangement, but that too didn’t feel good enough, and It was in these moments that I realised that another Christmas without her was just as hard as the others. Just as unfair and sad!

We had hung her decorations on the tree, bought some little Angel wings to add to them, and decorated her grave, and with that it was all we could do. No Christmas stories snuggled in bed, no madness with her siblings, and no gifts with her name on… all small and little private moments in a desperation to include her in our Christmas, that just felt sad and somewhat unfair! We had gone through the motions and as I stood to leave her graveside I again wondered how the heck did we become the ones with a baby in there and not here!

When you have lost a child, Christmas leaves you feeling divided. In one moment you want to be excited, and we very much were, but then in others you feel incredibly sad and lost again, and it feels unfair they are not here making memories with you. You wonder as you watch your other kids in excitement – “What would Poppy have loved?”. And it is moments and thoughts like that, and moments where we sing of Angels and little babies on silent nights, that make me so annoyed. Annoyed that I don’t know her in that way, and annoyed my baby was born dead…and I never had any of what I wanted with my sweet little baby! I missed opportunities over and over again to celebrate Christmas, and see her enjoying the lights and festivities of the season! I missed her 1st, 2nd and now 3rd visit to see Santa, and missed knowing what she would most wish for under the tree on Christmas morning!

And yet even with all of that in my soul, we just carry on as normal as we can, because that’s all we know how to do. And also because I know that if I didn’t, I think I would break some days!

Christmas affected me quite a bit more than I thought it would when I was in the highs of the season (for there were still many). And then it also caught me again as we welcomed in a new year. It was that turning point (and it always is)… the moment where the memories you made, the things you bought to remember, or the feelings you felt, are all now gone and wrapped up in another year. Any progress you made is almost irrelevant because you move forward like everyone else and you find that you are another year away from them, and that in itself is a hard pill to swallow!

Yes another year closer to seeing them again, but another year away from when you last held them, saw them, and had them here. And I have always found New Years rather tough for that feeling!

With a new year comes new opportunities, and fresh starts but it also brings anxieties and fears where great loss is. The dread of another 12 months of anniversaries to navigate. Another year of family things without them here. Another year with new triggers and reminders, and more time passing and life moving on from when you last saw them.

And this year – A 4th birthday and talks of school next year that are all gone too.

On Christmas day I shed some tears in frustration that you were not here again. I gazed out of the window and wished with all my heart I could have felt you closer. I shared some moments of reflection with other family members about your brief life and how some days I have to remind myself because it feels like a bad dream and I am scared to forget. But mostly it was that all familiar feeling of a missing piece of our family when paper was ripped from gifts, and when the kids table was set. The familiar gap only we notice when we posed for family pictures.

Yes we survived and even celebrated with great joy another Christmas without you, and in some ways it was easier with the eagerness of your siblings. But in many other ways it was just as hard and heart wrenching to not see your smile, hear your voice, see your excitement, and have you here with us!

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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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Twilight books were a big part of our newly married life and whilst not a natural lover of fiction, I did enjoy them (a lot). Back in the day I would read them on a night when first married, whilst Nathan went to play football. It was a great balance for us to “do our own thing”! I thoroughly enjoyed each one and fell in love with the characters the anticipation of it all…the fight, power, love story/triangles, and then finally each of the films too!

These days Twilight may seem like a such an immature interest for a now 30 something mother – and it certainly feels like a lifetime ago that my thoughts were taken away to the land of Vampires, werewolves and romance with the Twilight books. But, with no WI-FI still here at the new house (BT issues!), I have resorted to watching films out of our DVD collection, and decided a couple of weeks ago that to re-watch the Twilight saga again would be both nostalgic and joyful!

One thing I failed to account for however is how different my life is now, and how emotional it would leave me feeling for days after. I never anticipated it would, and then it did! As a result I find myself in this frustrating cycle of being annoyed and sad all at the same time. Sad for how it leaves me, annoyed that there isn’t the same joy in the things that I once loved so much!! It, to me, is one of the most frustrating things about life after loss; it’s this feeling that things just aren’t the same anymore…simple things like a film I loved and made me so happy, suddenly becomes tarnished because they hold triggers and reminders of what I have lost and how much pain lies beneath the surface. I suddenly see them from a new angle…read deeper into them or are more easily overcome with emotion.

Almost 3 years on I mostly know my triggers and know the what to expect in certain situations. I know how to protect myself and when I need more strength for things ahead. I know when not to shy away so much, and just ride the waves of grief that will inevitably come, because it is what it is – my baby died and as a result I feel sad at certain things more than others. The hardest part though are these random and annoying moments…the one’s where I am unprepared, and especially when it is with things I felt safe with and once loved so much that are the trigger of all that reflection and sadness. Like I say, I really do find it to be one of the most frustrating and hardest things about life after loss. Its like trying to walk but always tripping. It’s learning to walk through life again!

I never imagined “The Twilight Saga” to one of these triggers though!! I never Imagined Twilight of all things to remind me so much that my baby died and life will never look or feel the same again!

I forgot that the song “1,000 years” was part of the finale – the same song we chose to carry our daughter out to at her funeral.

I never imagined I’d feel a connection to Bella fighting for the life of her unborn child.. and then wondering again if I did enough?

I didn’t think fictional tales of death would have me balling, because I knew how they felt now. Or that the constant talk of “immortals” would leave me wondering where my daughter is and thoughts of life after death (Deep I know!).

I realise as I write this, and I say it often to Nathan too that even if I wanted to forget the fact my baby died (which I don’t) I couldn’t! It is actually impossible to “move on” from something so significant and even traumatic in your life, because somewhere down the line there is always going to be something to remind you of those days and moments when it was all so fresh and raw. I realise that time teaches you how to live and function normally with the pain of loss, but that it doesn’t completely erase it – to do so would erase the love and longing to be with them again.

I never anticipated a much loved film series would be the source of such great reflection and therefore become a trigger for my grief. I thought it was safe, but unfortunately this is one of the bigger frustrations and battles of life after loss and living with a new normal. You suddenly exist in a place where joy and sadness’s are suddenly intertwined and where your eyes see things, and you heart feels things, so very differently than before. I exist in a place where my daughter did die, and because of that loss in every fibre of being, something will always remind me and things will never be the same again, and that’s often a hard pill to swallow!

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2.5 Years ago I never imagined I would be so excited to be buying a cot again. 2.5 years ago with the stillbirth of our baby girl I hated the sight of all things baby (or rather the pain they surfaced), and I was done. I had been burned pretty badly, broken, and was left wounded so deeply I wondered how I would survive.

I quickly rid my house of anything baby and was adamant I wouldn’t be risking my heart again.

But then comes that magical thing people ALWAYS refer to – “Time”. And whilst I find it hasn’t healed me in the way I thought, with it’s passing some of the initial fog has lifted, and I found myself wanting to have a 4th child and try again!

And now here we are with her safe in our arms, and loving life in her new cot!

Buying a cot, like buying a crib was a HUGE thing for me this time around. With both Ethan and Megan it was all pretty straight forward and easy – I just had white cots and I loved them. Both were preloved (of course) and as a lot of my furniture is white, it made sense as they felt fresh and I loved how it all looked against the bright colours I choose to adorn my home with.

Naturally, the plan was that Poppy would go into the cot Megs had had, in the same little pink room and she would have bunk beds with Ethan. But then she didn’t come home. Suddenly the cot I once loved tormented me as I walked passed it daily, weekly, and seeing no baby in it. It had to go, it no longer had a place in our lives or in our home and so it ended up on a car boot.

2.5 yrs on my taste has changed a lot, and I enjoy more retro furniture and patterns, and with those darker woods. So whilst scrolling through my shpock app last week I saw this cot bed for £30 and it was just perfect. Perfect for my style, perfect for a new chapter, and perfect for our quickly growing little girl.

When a baby has died in the family and all things baby have left the house, suddenly bringing them all back carry’s with it a whole host of feelings and emotions. It has been a long overdue purchase and one I have been avoiding, but I love that this cot is nothing like the white we once had. I am grateful that with time I have learnt to understand my grief a little more and thus be able to accept these things back into my life. It is lovely to see everyday with her little face poking out. It’s something different for this new stage of life. Something individual and well, I’m quite in love with my little bargainous purchase!

My Petit Canard
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