Way back in March, whilst strolling through home bargains (of course) and minding my own business, a little frame caught my eye in the mother’s day section, and I completely fell in love. It’s hard to find gifts for bereaved mothers, and whilst I know I probably wasn’t their target group with this product, it just jumped out and spoke to me…I needed it for a special little picture of a special little girl!

I’ve never been a fan of scan pictures on display, but then there was something about this one that made me feel like I needed it in my life. I think it was a combination of the font and the crisp white frame, but something more, buying it was an opportunity to display a picture of my stillborn little one when she was alive. I see her features and feel the hope I had when she was safe inside of me. I see a baby, fully formed and looking like her Sisters.. I see life and another member of our family. I feel sad too that we don’t have what we have with her siblings or multiple pictures framed of her doing silly and cute things, but I love it because at last its a lovely way to have a picture of her alive and in our home.

I have put off having pictures in my home of Poppy, even though I have so desperately wanted to, because it makes me too sad to look at them and know she was dead when it was taken. Whilst my sister did a wonderful job of editing them and many may not even realise it’s her or that it is a photo of a dead baby I would know, and I’m not ready yet (and may never be) to have her up on the wall to be scrutinised!

Seeing her is a reminder of what I went through that day, along with all of aching, turmoil and general broken months that followed as a result of my little baby dying before birth. As beautiful and perfect as she was, seeing her dead honestly breaks my heart. I have wanted to, for so long, make a memory frame with all of her things in and have something tangible of her existence and her part in our family, but framing my loss is just too painful to do right now too. And so that day back in March, I reached to the shelf and paid the £1.49 for this frame, because this frame isn’t so sad. It holds a photograph taken at a time of hope and time when life was strong. It is an opportunity to have her to look at and acknowledged her as one of our babies… its a physical reminder we had a third child, not just a pregnancy that came and went with time, but a real life fully formed little girl that grew to term and was birthed. It gives my heart a tiny piece of joy to look at her and remember how hard it was but also how great it was to have hope for her.

It was not until we moved that I felt we would have a place to display this frame, but which place I wasn’t so sure of. Then this weekend we decorated our porch, and up on the shelf there was a space…a space that needed a special picture or quote maybe? And then I remembered how perfect my “Hello Little One” frame would look there next to our potted plants. As I placed it on the shelf it fitted in just right. I looked up and thought how perfect it looked there, that when we leave the house she will be with us, when we arrive home she will be there to see!

 

Life was taken, gone/died however you want to say it, it happened to our 3rd child. But I will never forget that a baby girl lived and grew inside of me back in 2014. She was number 3 in the Smith tribe, and now that she isn’t alive and here I am grateful to have a picture of her when she was. I am grateful that we have technology that captured her personality and can help us remember her being alive.

Hello little one – it’s nice to have you to look at here in our home!

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This week has been, and currently is 2017 Baby loss awareness week! MP’s have been discussing it in parliament (massive), parents have been sharing their stories in the media, and charities all over the UK continue to campaign and raise awareness of the effects of baby loss and the need for improved bereavement care in every hospital!

And me? Well I am ashamed to say that I have at present done nothing to acknowledge it or try to raise awareness. I haven’t contacted local media to share my story, I haven’t raised money for the charities that helped us. I haven’t stood and handed out stuff to the public letting them know the reality of baby loss in the UK and the lives of those affected.

I am at present in 2 camps…1 where I want to be campaigning and talking to make a change. And the the second camp where I stand, I stand with feeling of “what’s the point?”.

 I want to make a difference for other women faced with a Trisomy 18 diagnosis, I want to make a change and raise awareness of stillbirth and what life is like weeks, months and even years down the line. I want to be the one talking to the world, doing fundraisers and finding sponsorship opportunities to raise much needed funds for the charities that helped us so much … but I’m too tired and honestly with just getting through the events of September – it all feels too much to go to that place so soon!

I have my other kids that bring blessings and joy, but I still face storms, and I wonder…should I keep trying to talk to make a difference only to feel like what is the point? Am I really making a difference? Who even cares?

 And then I remember that that mentality isn’t right! How can changes take place if we don’t , in our corner of life stand up and break the silence? Yes it isn’t easy to keep revisiting, and progress can be slow, but does that mean we shouldn’t try? We shouldn’t write about it again?

Because it feels like a huge task, does it mean I shouldn’t talk about it again, and continue to tell people about Trisomy 18 and Stillbirth? And then what life feels like with out your child year after year?

There is always a point to sharing things, even if it makes the difference to just one woman…one family…

I know that for some, they want us to be silent. There are some that want us to put it in the past and leave it there, so they don’t have to hear it all again, see it all again and act interested! Some people want us to “get over it” so that they can too!

It’s exhausting to live with some days. Its easy to feel Im failing at raising awareness and making a difference and its hard to have Baby loss Awareness the month right after the anniversaries. But silence isn’t an option, and silence isn’t me!

We need to break the silence, we need things to change. In this day and age 15 babies a day shouldn’t be dying. In this day and age, women who suffer miscarriage (early or late), Stillbirth or infant loss should feel okay to talk about it if they want to. They should be allowed to talk about the impact of loss in their life and family without judgement on how they choose to feel and behave as a result of that loss.

There are mothers and fathers all around us that for one reason or another have lost their precious son or daughter too soon… they shouldn’t be silent and nor should I. I am one of those mothers, who makes a decision every day to be happy despite my loss. Most days I succeed, but some I don’t!

Baby loss is crap! Its hard to say goodbye to the life that never lived. It was hard to be told our baby would die and they wouldn’t help us! It was then even harder to birth a dead baby and see her beautiful little body and face. It was incredibly hard to bury her, and in the beginning life just feels impossible. And then its hard to let the world know how you feel and what you need. You soon realise how quickly people move on and you are stuck with the pain, and you realise how hard it is to walk through life with more fear, and being more broken and emotional with out them in it.

I guess I want people to be aware of that fact – to know that for some it lives with them forever and is hard. Know that what they need is love, friendship, compassion and empathy. A woman who has lost a baby doesn’t need to be told she can just try again, or that she needs to have more faith, or that she needs to get over it. She doesn’t need silencing or being made to feel awkward when she speaks out. She shouldn’t be told ever that in your opinion she isn’t dealing with her loss in a way you see fit… She doesn’t need limitations on support or time frames of when she should be over it. Please just love them and listen to them…acknowledge their child and be grateful it wasn’t you!

I am hormonal, I don’t want to do a whole lot this year for baby loss awareness (other than this post evidently and the wave of light!). And yes it’s hard to keep remembering in full all I lost and went through with my 3rd pregnancy and birth,  but I will always tell anyone who will listen that I had her. A beautiful little girl called Poppy Quinn. I have 4 kids not 3 and that some days I might need a little more love and less judgement.

I lost a baby at full term due to Trisomy 18, and I carry that with me through my journey of life. I love my kids, I count my blessings, I love and have joy… but baby loss is crap and doesn’t just go away because of those things!

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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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I really thought I had another week before I would be publishing this post, and then yesterday I was reminded that in actual fact little Alice is 11 months old today – oh how my heart broke a little!

This milestone has crept up on me and I don’t think I am actually ready for the next 4 weeks, and subsequently the countdown to her turning 1. I suddenly feel at that stage where you look at your baby and realise they soon will no longer be a baby, but instead a toddler. I can’t believe how fast it has gone and especially with these last few days of sunny weather, it seems 2 minutes ago that it was July 2016 and we were having her. I am genuinely sad to be saying goodbye to having a “baby baby” and my baby becoming a tot.

These last few weeks Alice has really amazed me with her development and has made a lot of progress. On Saturday after lots of whining, she realised she did in fact love the beach and spent ages splashing with the kids and stomping in water with Grandma. It was such a beautiful day, and she was absolutely shattered after a day in the sun and playing on the beach with family, and I am so glad she finally chilled out!!!

This last week or so we have also witnessed her victory on several occasions of conquering the stairs, followed by signing “food”, “more” and “Mummy” on a regular basis, and now clapping of hands too. She is a speedy confident crawler and is constantly pulling up on things and taking the odd steps towards cruising around the furniture too. She is slowly getting better with Nathan and I leaving the room, when previously she would be almost sick with screaming and tears. But mostly it is a lot of whimpering and crying when either of us are out of sight, and we roll our eyes a little at her neediness (Sorry Alice).

I am trying to adapt to her more needy nature and snuggly personality, which for a while now has been at times wearing. I realise that breastfeeding and wearing her so much in her first 9 months have created a great bond and attachment, but I struggle with the fact she screams her head off and becomes distressed if she’s not next to Nathan or I. Grandma’s, Aunts and others have the same effect and its only ever us she wants, which of course makes it impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her right there next to you!

The other day she spent a good 20 minutes nestled down on my chest and cuddling, and it was lovely and really nice, it was also a moment I realised in that she is different to the others, and I shouldn’t try to change or fight that. Whilst she plays silly with them, she obviously needs more closeness and feels safer and more content snuggled (or at the very least close) with Mum and Dad! I do love that she loves us so much, and over her short life with us it has been most healing to have her gentle, loving personality in my life, but on the flip side it gets rather wearing too to not be able to just get on with things! I hope we can build her up to being okay left a little while with family at least for things like dates or even just a walk!

So yes – just 4 more weeks and our little rainbow will be a whole year old. It’s the first time we haven’t talked about another baby in the next few months and the first time I have really felt the sadness of losing these baby days with age. Usually I am excited for the next stage and looking forward to them getting bigger and finding independence, whilst developing their little personalities and loves in the world around them…and whilst I do look forward to all of this with Alice it almost opens that wound a little more that I don’t have a baby anymore. It feels very weird to let that go of that and allow her to grow up in to the toddler stage. She has papered over the cracks for so long that its hard to think of life without me having my little baby and instead one of chasing around a quickly growing tot called Alice!

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