When you eat mostly chocolate as your daily food intake, and wallow around sobbing and feeling anxious and gaining pounds by the second, you know you’ve hit rock bottom and are pretty miserable! And yes, this is a scene that frequently plays out in my life. You see, sadness or grief is something I experience frequently, and I suppose it is all part of my “new normal” package I received when my child died!

Sometimes I know what will trigger these emotions, and whilst they are difficult, I have learnt that I can be on my guard, and this often in the short term avoids me spiralling into the depths of misery and negativity. I know for example, that entering certain situations or doing certain things, will ultimately hold sadness for me, and this has been okay to bear (mostly) and I can cope. Whilst I may get tired from fighting it, ultimately it isn’t so bad as the days when I am caught off guard.

For me it is in the moments I am least prepared for it that the sadness grabs me and pulls me down – it’s on these days it strikes the hardest – with low mood, constant crying, some anxiety, and a desire to hide away from it all! I know for some it is easy to label it as depression, and I assure you I have gone through every type of mental health problem with these symptoms that I can think of. I have asked time and time again “What is wrong with me?”! “Am I depressed? Am I Bipolar (because I was on one yesterday)? Is it hormonal?”! And right now I do not know the answer to that. I do not know if it is simply the messy and very natural occurrence of grief since stillbirth, or if it is the effects of trauma and I have an element of PTSD? I don’t know if there are underlying and deeper mental health problems that I may need to explore. All I do know is that whilst we all get sad from time to time, (frustrated and stressed about things too), for me it is different to normal. For me it has become, and is, a very real and regular occurance in my life that makes me feel often at my limit and searching for joy.

I have had depression before (PND), and whilst some emotions and behaviors are similar, with this I can cleary pinpoint it back to 2014 – when my world came crashing down and I endured the trauma of having a stillbirth, and burying my baby. It went against all that is natural and now I am frequently sad and brain doesn’t work how it used to!

It is an almost daily battle to lift up my pain, grief and loss and try to wear it comfortably!

In the last 3.5 years I have grown in confidence with this and have come to the conclusions that those who judge me in how I respond to my grief, or choose to wear it, are obviously completely oblivious to my pain and need to mourn. You see, when I am sad I am also very fragile, and sadness isn’t all that comes in the package. The sadness is only the start because it also leads to feeling rather discouraged about every aspect of my life, momentary anger and stress and a general feeling of inferiority and longing for more joy.

I begin to think I am failing at everything.

That I am not very good at anything. 

I am not myself – But I am always sad.

I am emotional.

And I am fighting hard to survive!

But how do you get out of that? How do you stop it from making you go insane? Stop it from drowning you and consuming your life?

Yes I think it’s completely fine to be sad, to have things move us to tears, and to mourn losses – sadness is natural. But to stay there long term is not. And so here are the steps I take, and the things I do that help me embrace the grief, but also then help me to move through it and be better at the other side! I guess they are my steps to self care to cope with it all!

My steps to moving forward in Sadness! 

1.Let it out / feel it

This is a vital step to being able to move forward. For too long in the beginning I tried to suppress my sadness thinking that being strong meant I shouldn’t cry, and that to cry meant I was weak. This only made it worse and, meant the periods of grief lasted for longer. Now when I feel it I cry, I sob, I whine, I mourn, and I feel every raw emotion that at other times I keep a lid on. In these moments I remember what it felt like to be told my daughter had died, and to then give birth and how hard it all was. I look at how different life looks and feels because of it, and It is a sad thing that still makes me sad…and that’s okay.

I feel it… I acknowledge it, and I remember it’s okay to not always be okay!

Letting it out, and riding the waves of sadness and grief are so important in finding calmness at the otherside and coping with the stresses of life after loss!

2.Talk

Some people are very private when going through struggles and deep grief, and won’t talk or mention it to others. But I am not one of those people. I am a talker, and a wear my heart on my sleeve type – I find it both therapeutic and strengthening to be able to talk to a friend, counsellor, family member, or SANDS group about how I am feeling, all of the thoughts racing through my mind and how sad I am at that point in my life.These days that friend is usually Nathan or my older sister, because I have found that both allow me the freedom to go over and over the same old points I need to in order to try and make sense of them. They allow me to talk nonsense, or to bring up things that to others are uncomfortable.

With Nathan I find he holds me, my pain, and lets me speak. He seems to get now that for me, talking about how I am feeling is so important to feeling Okay again.

3.Veg!

Being that sad, anxious about things, and generally emotional completely wipes me out. I often feel exhausted, drained and unable to function and complete my usual daily tasks. I remember how in the first year of loss, it left me feeling everyday like I had the flu because my whole body was literally trying to carry that burden and it was tough. Only on occasion do I now get that sad, but when I do I feel it all over – headaches, pain and tiredness.I have discovered that as the heart is the life of the body, when it is broken, it’s effects are felt through pain and aching in your entire body – heartbreak is all consuming.

The way for me to feel better in these moments is to veg. I do like to go for nature walks and do things that lift my spirits on days I feel a little “meh”, or in need of a rest to my soul, But on the days I hit rock bottom, I just veg! I drink Pepsi Max, eat rubbish and I don’t get dressed/do my make up. I take time out from the day to day things, and binge on treats, have a diet of chocolate for 24hrs and just snuggle in my bed or on the sofa. I stay at home and I’ll watch films to take my mind off things and give me emotions a rest. And i’ll sleep more than usual, because I am more tired than usual! The house work and laundry will still be there tomorrow, and whist I always manage to feed the kids and get them to school (success), I have learnt that sometimes looking after our emotional and mental needs has to be prioritised over those day to day menial things!

Vegging is not lazy when your emotions are wrought – it is necessary, and an important step in rebuilding yourself from a point of pure sadness!

4.Write about it!

I found writing to be a great therapy for me early on in all of this. Once I have let it out and rested from the day to day demands, I will pick up a pen and write down what I have been feeling and thinking in my journal. Some of that I will filter out on to my blog, to help others, but often the deeper things I keep private.

Writing to me is an essential step that not only helps me process what has just happened, and how hard it was… what my thoughts and feelings were and what caused it, but finally gets it all out of me and then I can close the book on that period of grief and sadness and pick myself back up again!

5.Read things that will motivate and strengthen me

Initially I don’t particularly enjoy hearing positive quotes or uplifting messages, they irritate me, because in my mind none of it means much and I already know it all – I’ve heard it before! At that point of sadness I am purely lead by my heart and the emotions of sadness from the broken, empty part left by poppy. When I am sad, I want to be sad. I want to cry, I want to talk about it all and I want to veg. I do not want positive stories and quotes until I am ready to process them, and only after the processes of steps 1 -5 do I find I want to be inspired and motivated to get up, put one step in front of the other and start walking through life again!At that point I will scroll through pinterest, I will read positive thinking books or talks from leaders in our church, and I will turn the pages of my scriptures to look for things that will build me. From here I set a couple of goals to apply those things and then head into reminding myself that…

6.Remember that there is no time limit

This quite possibly is the most important step. However sad you feel, and for however long you have felt that way…however you chose to deal with it, it is so important to remember grief has no time limit and will hit in the most unlikely situations. There will always be the expected dates and places that make you feel sad, and sometimes only briefly, but if sadness hits, months or years down the line it’s okay.
It isn’t a race, and there is no particular time you need to aim for to be able to broadcast to the world “Hey remember me whose baby died – yeah I’m all fixed and better now!”… you know, the hard reality is that I don’t believe you ever will be all better. I believe you can live a full life, but there will always be an element of sadness attached to some things, and it’s remembering with that to say “There is nothing wrong with me. It is not a lack in my faith or inability to heal. It is simply a fact of life…an act of love and the natural effects on ones heart from suffering a major loss”.

Sadness and grief have no time limit, and having a plan in place to get through it, bare it and come out of it again is something I find essential to carrying this, and living a joyful life in the easier moments despite that aching!

Always Remember…

Sadness and low mood from grief makes you feel less – you are not!

Vegging doesn’t mean you are a bad person or parent – a day of TV is fine and your kids will not suffer as result or be any less intelligent, it is self care for you and an essential step in being able to cope with the burden of sadness. 

Being sad doesn’t mean you are a failure or inferior to anyone else – it means you are normal and feeling the effects of losing someone or something you deeply love.

It’s okay to ask for help. Whether it’s a friend. family member or counsellor – Choose people you know will respect you and hold you, not tell you to move on, get over it or make you feel less for being sad!

Success and happiness can still result from a life where grief is a recurring scene! At times this may not seem true and it may feel like a balancing act, but you soon begin to realise that as you feel deeper pain, you are also able to feel deeper joy in contrast – and that is a strange, and yet very beautiful thing! 

Follow:

For such a long time (I’d say from the moment I lost Poppy) this post has been with in me – bubbling away and yet suppressed by my british courtesy and respect for others, as well as the fear and inner worry that perhaps I will be misunderstood by others and perceived to be a selfish person – one who is unable to be happy for those around me. But it is more than that, and yes, perhaps it should have been something I published in the early days, but it is just as true now as it was then and when I read Laura Doves Post recently about how she felt Jealous of those whose babies die and get to do more memory making than she ever did 12 years ago, or when she hears of those who get more time with their babies, it resonated with me (a lot), and empowered me to press publish on this long ago written post!

As we met last Monday with other bereaved mothers to film a news piece on Stillbirth, it became very apparent that Jealousy is a massive part of grief and another thing we really need to talk more about. And so in all of my vulnerability I am putting it out there, and I am writing this post to speak the truth of how it feels for nearly all of the women I have ever met on this side of loss, when someone (whoever it is), announces a pregnancy that you know! I am writing it for me to get it out, and for the women in my shoes. But I am also writing it in a hope that if anyone reading it has a friend or family member that has lost a baby, that they may approach it a little more sensitively.

Being a woman of childbearing age, and a mum of 3 living kids, it is inevitable that I will share acquaintances and friendships with women who are in the same boat – that is having babies and raising kids. We are also from big families, and belong to a church that is very much all about family, and whilst I love that we have so many people to enjoy life with, It can be (and most often is) very hard to see so many people having babies when yours has died! I love that I share relationships with people who get the madness of raising kids, but it is inevitable that with that demographic of people there will always be lots of “Hi I’m pregnant” announcements, and whilst I am happy for my friends and family, this is rarely the emotion I feel first when I hear the news.

I know that feeling of sheer joy when you find out you are pregnant, and that together you have another child coming to your family. You want to shout it from the rooftops and you want to share that happiness and great blessing with all of the people you know and love. It is exciting and you want to celebrate.

It is normal now that after calling, meeting up with, or texting family and best friends to let them know the news, that we slap it all over social media and want everyone to feel this excitement with us too.

I remember it well and it is such a great time of life.

But since having a Stillbirth, pregnancy is suddenly more fragile to me, and anything around tiny new babies just feels more heart wrenching! It is hard to see babies that new and fresh, and excitement for others, however much I love them, is not the first emotion I feel now when I find out that someone is pregnant. It is rather more of anxiety and jealousy. It’s often like an inner torture as I fight my grief and pain to find, and then balance it with the joy and happiness for others as they enjoy the blessings of a new baby. I mostly just want to hide away, and for a small while (sometimes longer) it is what I do as it all just feels raw again and a little unfair, even though I know it absolutely isn’t.

The Pain  of announcement because of my loss 

I find pregnancy announcements terribly hard because I am rarely prepared for them, and because I have little control over how much it hurts – every single time! Each time it is the same anxious and sick feeling I have always felt – a reaction tainted by grief that tears me up, and whilst I wish that my initial reaction to a pregnancy announcement was still one of joy and delight, and that I could truly celebrate the moment like others (and like I used to be able to), instead I am faced battling these bitter emotions. Often the joy comes in time, and after a lot of “getting my head around it”, but until then it can be a lot of “faking it til I make it” scenario’s.

More often than not, they are feelings that have to be searched for beneath the initial shock and pain that comes from hearing someone is having a baby.

It would be unreasonable to expect a delighted friend, family member or whoever to consider our feelings before sharing their news, but at the same time this is what is needed to soften the blow and know they are respectful of our feelings and the daily battle of living without one of our kids. An element of sensitivity would ease the awkwardness within me as oppose to the sudden “Oh hi we’re having a baby – yipeee!” which catches me off guard every single time.

I guess that people assume that our loss was an event and not a continuum we live on. They fail to see that this means that rather than sharing in their joy, I struggle with feelings of anxiety and awkwardness – I feel aching that they are getting another baby and I will always have to live without mine.

I find it terribly hard when having opened a message, a text, or a social media page, that I come face to face with an announcement. And, like a slap in the face there it is –

A baby…

A scan picture…

A due date…

A gender reveal!

And nothing prepared me for it, nothing was there to catch my fall, and suddenly I feel defensive too.

Don’t they remember what we went through?

Don’t they consider how hard this is?

And I go into a panic, and I begin searching as to what it is that am I feeling about this and how will it affect me in my grief? When are they due and will it mean their milestones coincide?

Pregnancy announcements stir within me a jealousy and pain I never expected to feel and that I wish I didn’t feel. They all remind me I was pregnant and lost a baby at term. They don’t remind me of my living kids and those moments I felt at ease in pregnancy (though later I can find it), rather I feel the awful demon of Jealously rising up everytime, and I wish it wasn’t so.

I feel jealous and worried of how I am to be around the new baby, when brand new babies (however lovely they are) trigger the memory of holding my still baby! And then I worry that the more babies that come, the less Poppy will be remembered.

And so I battle and try to juggle the joy for them with the aching for me and my baby who died.

I fight to be happy that they have this blessing whilst every day we live with the continued aching for her and one less kid to raise with her siblings, and all I feel is that I wish it was me. I wish I was having the healthy baby… And the moment of an announcement makes me wonder why it was me that had to have the baby die, and why it was me that didn’t get the miracle?

An announcement makes me wonder why so many of our friends get these opportunities and we didn’t, and my heart sinks for our little girl that was gone too soon.

I get mad too … mad that I have a grave and they won’t ever know how incredibly hard that is or what that feels like – and whilst I would never ever wish that on anyone, compassion would be nice sometimes!

This feeling has never left me, no matter how much I pray and wish it wasn’t so. And it has never become easier to see people I know having babies even though I have had a healthy baby since. And so whilst its all kind of wonderful to have mum friends and family, and whilst it’s lovely to see them growing their families, often it can be like walking through a minefield, because I had a baby that died, and people keep having babies that live!

Of course I respond graciously and celebrate in the way you would hope, but it takes me a long time to digest the news because ultimately I am reminded of my loss each time I hear of newborn and expectant babies, and I am reminded of how hard it was, and still is some days and I guess I want people to continue to validate our loss. I want others to be aware that it wasn’t something awful that happened 3.5 years ago, but that it is something awful, and very painful that we have to live with for the rest of our lives.and so these joyful moments for others will trigger my grief and cause me to stress a lot about it.

If you know me personally, then I hope you would know that I love you and can eventually be genuine in my happiness for you and your family (though initially it is somewhat of a facade to try not be weird in my emotions that trip me up).

I know that It is so awkward for us all to live with this, but surely there is a place somewhere in all of this grief, where your living child and my dead child can both be celebrated and acknowledged in life. I guess in another world it would be nice if birth announcements came a little more gently to my heart and crazy mind, but they don’t. So please, if you made it this far, please have more compassion on your friend or family member that misses their sweet baby whilst you get to have and raise yours.

Follow:

The moment I found out that my baby had died, I crossed over was flung without warning into a new world – A place where I would never be the same again, and a place where I would always have this awkward part of my life that never made sense, and that people would rarely know how to respond to. I have since grieved, not only for the loss of one of my children, but for the loss of me, my happiness, and my place in life!

I have been left confused and pretty broken at times, wondering who I am? Why this happened? And why people find it so hard to deal with or be a friend to me?

I have as a result, spent these last 3.5 years trying to rebuild my life and myself, so that I can live some kind of a new normal and be happier within myself and in my life. I have pretty much accepted that in life I will never be who I was before that day, and that this life now hurts a whole lot more than it ever did before. But, with that there is also a realization that I can feel empathy and compassion now in ways I couldn’t before,  and I suppose you could say that losing my child has created a level of emotional maturity that couldn’t exist without experiencing something so tragic and traumatic. Whilst I feel incredible sadness trying to navigate through hard feelings I never thought the human heart could feel (or survive), I can also see that I have the capacity to feel love and joy more so than I ever thought one could too. Like the passenger song says “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low”, I have been so low that the highs are so much much bigger now, and vice versa. I find there is such a vastness and contrast in emotions, and yet both joys and sadnesses are so intertwined too!

This new me, I have discovered, is probably a little more high maintenance as a friend, as I talk a lot of loss and grief and thinks more deeply on things than the old me did. I guess that means that will all of that thinking I read into things and worry more too. The trauma of loss means that my memory is worse, and my concentration is bad too, and I am more emotional at times and generally less interested in the things I used to be. I am often disconnected in situations where I used to thrive and love. I pretend I am happy a lot, and I find that I spend a lot of time surviving things in order to protect my emotions and grief. With all of this “baggage” I seem to be harder for some people to accept and that is a hard barrier to overcome, but “This is ME!”.

Because of this process (or shift) from the life before to the life after loss, I have lost several treasured friends, or generally had people I love lose interest in me (or the desire to be there). I suppose that is inevitable as life goes on whilst we try to cling on and find ways to not have our children forgotten. Perhaps it sounds like a broken record as I ride the cycles of grief, saying the same things, being angry over the same points, and tripping over the same triggers. It’s not easy to support a person long term that has periods of sheer sadness and heartache, and has pain that can’t be solved, but I guess even with that I have always hoped I was worth the time and extra patience it took to be friend to me.

That aspect of life following loss has been incredibly hard, especially when I often yearn for the people that were there, the ones who met her, or who I trusted with my fragile heart because I thought they got it. I wanted them to be my side and care for her mother and mourn with me. But you cannot predict the future of life and consequently, losing friends as well as myself and a child, has caused increased grief and feelings of “why aren’t I good enough” or “Why don’t people care?!”.

But I am good enough. I am worth loving by others – and I can be something more. 

 I am learning that the people who truly love me, the people who want me in their lives, and want to be part of mine, let me know that by their actions. They don’t make me feel ashamed for what I am doing of how I am feeling, but are the ones who choose to embrace me in my loss and are okay with the array of emotions that that brings….even if they don’t always (or ever will) get it. They don’t try to move me on from my grief, or expect a time frame on it. They dont push their will on to me and tell me how they would respond if it was them, because they know it wasn’t them, and they respect me and what I have survived and how I choose to live with it! They will speak her name or ask me how I am, and then they will ask me again to see how I really am.

They remember those all important dates and know how much they mean, how special they are, and how hard they are for us to face, and there is compassion attached to that!

I want the friends who are interested in all aspects of my life, pleased for my successes and joys and then can catch me when I fall and hold my pain until it passes again.

I often wish my life was as carefree and fun as it used to be, and that I wasn’t so emotional or found so many days so hard. I wish I didn’t feel half of what I do half the time, but this is me now and I can never have that outlook back – I know too much of the other side of life. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is, and now my choice is to let it defeat me and wallow over losing friends and myself, or embrace it and realise that life is about making the most of what we are dealt (however awful and rubbish that may turn out to be), and despite the pain and the grief become more!

I choose daily that in spite of the pain I carry that has changed me, I am rebuilding me, and I am becoming more. I am discovering where my place is now, not where it once was!

Rediscovering me and discovering my place…

I was relieved to discover that when the dust settled, and the fog cleared, there were still elements of me there. I still found joy in the theatre and singing and dancing like a fool. I still liked funky clothes, mixing my hair up and wearing make up! I still loved going to places, and being in places that are rich in natural beauty and history, and I still enjoy watching films, eating out and making things. These things have kept my sanity, and as I have looked at rebuilding the next part of life they have massively influenced it.

I suppose my blog – the journal of all of this was a good place to start in seeing who I have become in all of this and where I might want to go now! My blog was started as a source of information and awareness, and a form of writing therapy… a place to share our family story and the highs and lows of life and motherhood following stillbirth. I felt like it was inspired, because it has not only kept me a float and provided our family with so many opportunities (that have in turn made our lives less heavy), but it has given me a voice at the most vulnerable and fragile part of my life. It has helped me tell her story and turn our tragedy into a tangible, inspirational and useful place for others to relate. It has helped me focus on the good despite the bad, and have family experiences to build memories in our grief. Blogging has given us feelings of gratitude in the most horrendous of times and has continuously turned my perspective and helped me to slowly move forward by having goals to work on and things to look forward to that I can photograph and write about.

But this is not all, on Monday I also had the opportunity to go to London and film for a channel 5 news programme on stillbirth, and will return on Tuesday to participate in the live discussion. I am again realising that I have a voice that is not afraid to share these things, and consequently what I can offer others through that.

I suppose I have always had a desire to help others, but It wasn’t until recently that I felt that I could be more and help more people through my experiences. For so long (it feels like) I have felt like I wasn’t enough, but then last Summer I couldn’t shake the thought that I was actually more than I could imagine, I just needed to believe it and work harder! I realised that from loss and speaking out about, I now had valuable insights and experiences that the world needed. I pondered a lot on this thought, and eventually it led to the choice to return to education NOW and begin studying to be a therapist!

I thought at the time that that meant that I would be on a path to be a counsellor and I have, since September, being going to college to do a diploma in Counselling skills (News flash), but I have since decided to take that and mesh it with my lifelong love of theatre and be a “Drama therapist” – for the first time in a long time this choice empowered me and helped me clearly see where my place could be. It takes my love of drama from the old me (I wanted to teach it when I was in 6th Form) and meshes it with the experiences and feelings of the new me, to create something exciting and beautiful!

I am not abandoning my family and becoming something else – I will always be a mother (A mother to 4 beautiful children), but there will come a time when I will not be a full time mother, and I have always been keen to better myself in education and skills. This now is where I am at – slowly moving in a direction, alongside mothering and blogging, where I am rebuilding more of me and creating more angles to the new normal life we live and want to enjoy.

It enables me to be more of me!

When I look back on my life I never imagined I would be on this path…writing and talking about loss and having a desire to help people who find themselves in tragedy. I imagined a whole host of other things, but I feel that God has helped me to see where my potential lies and has helped me find my strengths in weakness. He has shown me how I can make my tragedy into an inspiring story to share with others… He knows my heart, and subsequently has shown me how I can cling to my child who I cannot raise, and still create a legacy in her name. He has made me able to open my mouth and break the silence, even when i am grieving. He has and will continue to use my pain to help me empathise with others and guide them. This to me is what healing is. It isn’t getting over it or never feeling it, that will not happen when your child has died. But rather it is feeling it, and being aware of it, and then being okay with that as a part of life now. It is not being ashamed to feel, and using those emotions to make an even better me than I was before.

You may not believe the way I do and that’s okay, we are all different, but for me I feel grateful that I have found a place  that whilst I live a lifetime without seeing my daughter grow up, and enduring the pain that that naturally brings to my soul, I can still be a success and she can live on through the work I do through my blog/media, and now hopefully a career in therapy around our family!

I am turning my loss in to a new life – One where she exists and is remembered.. and one where I am living a new normal and embraced for me (complete with emotions, scars and a crazy host of experiences). I am rediscovering me and my place and I am amazed at what I am finding!

You know where I am if you want to come along for the ride, and ride the waves together!

Follow:

I found myself using the analogy of a magnifying glass this week to try and help a friend see how Mother’s day felt for me since losing our daughter Poppy at term in 2014. I used to think as each date passed that it would feel like an accomplishment, that it would suddenly enable me to more easily face the next one, and one after that, and so on. But instead I find that the passage of time just magnifies the loss more and brings home to me the ripples of our loss for the remainder of our lives.

It is always the time of year where I am constantly reminded by other’s to “look at how blessed I am with my other children”, to which I want to just scream! Such a comment implies that because I grieve for my 3rd child on such occasions (and every day) that I am somewhow ungrateful for my living children? It’s such a ridiculous thing to say! It’s as if Ethan, Megan and Alice make up for the fact Poppy died… or that my love for Poppy isn’t valid and would be best shared amongst each of my living kids instead!!

The truth is that yes I am a mother to 3 living kids – I know that, because it is my life! I birthed them, adore them, and I am a stay at home mum to them. Each of my children is unique and special just as every child in the world is. But neither can replace or make up for the other because they are individuals, each with their own unique character and interests, each with their own place in my heart and in our family. And so Mother’s day isn’t a failure to see what is right in front of me, it is rather a magnification of what I have and have also lost.

This day, just as Poppy’s birthday and other significant dates, are bitter-sweet, and will forever be hard for me – not because I don’t see what I have, but because that doesn’t make up for what I have lost.

Mother’s day brings lovely moments where I sit sleepy eyed on the bed with my now 3 tiny gorgeous faces glaring at me in sheer delight. Handmade gifts, cards, flowers, chocolate and pictures; all eagerly handed over and each one excited to see my joy for all they have given me. I am showered in loved, but I am fighting and battling with the soul wrenching pain that another year has passed without knowing, raising and holding one of my precious little babies. I miss the cards from her, the pictures she might have drawn, the scribble of her 3.5 year old signature!

In short Mother’s day magnifies our blessings. But it equally magnifies our loss, and that is something no-one should be shamed over!

Magnified Blessings

Mother’s day is a great day to stand up and be proud that I am a mother! To relish in my motherhood and feel so immensely proud that I have 4 beautiful children. I am 33 and I have 4 kids – it’s nuts, but its brilliant too.

I love that Mother’s day is a great time to reflect on the excitement and anticipation we felt leading up to their arrival – the days we decided it was time to grow our family and how each one is such a lovely blessing in our lives. I love that I am their mother, and I love that I know them. I am forever changed for the better because of that. And so I love that on this day, out of all of the others, we get to be high-fived for our efforts and made to feel so special!

I love to think of how blessed we are with our own mothers and grandmothers and the amazingly strong women in generations before that too (that somehow impact me now as a mother), and I love to think of their sacrifices and examples to me of faith, courage, and strength.

Being able to be a mother, and know such great mothers is such a wonderful blessing in life, and I love how this day enlarges that reality and blessing. I love how I have time to be grateful in the fact that raising my kids, whilst challenging, is also a lot of fun!

Mother’s day is certainly a day to magnify our blessings and feel proud in what we do!

Magnified Loss 

But I am also a mother to a child that isn’t alive and that concept is something I can never get used to. I miss her everyday, and whilst some of those days are more gentle and I am able to function and feel great happiness and sunshine, on other days the storms rage and I can’t see for the fog!

I always find that Mothers day rolls around and magnifies these foggy feelings and our loss – It’s approach brings a lot of anxiety and sadness, and I find as it is a day that celebrates Mothers and Motherhood, what is to celebrate when the child isn’t here? When the world only chooses to see who is here and now, and not who has died and is missing from all of these moments, I find myself closing up and wondering how I make my motherhood to her a tangible and living thing still.

In a nutshell Mother’s day magnifies my loss because it suddenly reminds me of my own motherhood, and my inability to mother my 3rd child because she has passed away. It’s a day where it suddenly feels more intense, and the hole in my heart feels wider and bigger, the gap in our family is enlarged, and as I see pictures of other mother’s, with all of their children and celebrating their day, and my smiles are turned to stinging tears because my loss suddenly feels so huge and obvious again.

I become frustrated that I haven’t got those pictures of me grinning with my 4 beautiful kids, and I never will.

I haven’t nursed her, taught her, played with her or had the adventures and snuggles like I have with her siblings. I left  the hospital that Sunday night numb and heartbroken that she had gone before we could meet her, and I left that same hospital on her birthday empty handed and never to be the same again! I have carried that pain ever since, and no matter what I do it’s always there hovering beneath the surface.

And so now I look at Mother’s day, and whilst my blessings of 4 wonderful children are very apparent, and my love for them and hard work is acknowledged, I sit and wonder how the heck do I validate myself as her Mother when she isn’t here and few people even knew of her?

I want more than anything on these days for everyone to know I have had 4 kids, and that my amazing body made, carried and birthed each of my precious babies. I want them to see and know that even though there seems to be 3, there are in fact 4. But somehow stillbirth still creates an awkward barrier to that truth, and I back away and feel like I am weird or something. That feeling then feels like a scream that I want to shout out and tell the world that I am a mother to 4, proud of each one. I want to shout out and say that whilst I grieve I am strong, because life is incredibly hard to live without one of your kids. And yes, even though the others make it a happy and fun journey, full of wonderful and blessed moments – it is hard to have number 3 missing from them. And it’s hard to always fight for them all to be remembered, and for me to be validated as a mother of 4!

So how do I feel about my 4th Mother’s day after loss? Well I welcome the day to feel treasured by my little family, and look upon my blessing to hold the title of “Mother”, but I also dread the day because it hurts and enlarges all I have lost in our precious Poppy – another reminder of the ripples of loss!

There are mother’s all over the world that will be reading this and know exactly what I am saying. But there are also the mothers who unlike me, don’t have other kids to celebrate their motherhood with on this day. They don’t have the “other kids” to bring smiles and soften the blow of a painful reminder of loss. These Mothers need the acknowledgement more than ever – the chocolate, the flowers, the “thinking of you” momentos to say “YOU ARE A MOTHER TOO”!! But more so what they need, and what we all need, is some acknowledgement – Acknowledgement of our missing child. It is one of the greatest gifts one can receive and they need that often because they are mothers, and their children are real. They now have so much love and longing that can never leave, and it will always hurt. Yet despite that, they/we are still standing strong and surviving every single day without our beautiful babies here!

So “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” to all of you Mothers – may the day be gentle and kind!

Follow: