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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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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I have avoided my blog this week as I have just felt utterly exhausted. It is a feeling that is all too familiar, and a tiredness that comes as a result of my heart being sad and my head trying to accept the news of loss. You see on Tuesday my dear Granddad passed away – he went home, and I’ve felt pretty numb and melancholy ever since.

I do not cope well with loss, I mean who does? But for me it resurfaces the pain and emotions I work hard to suppress and keep a lid on day in day out. I find that grief for new people takes me back to places I do not want to go and I end up having a mess of the sadness of them mixed in with the sadness of losing my baby and others. Therefore other than a sentiment on my social media, I have avoided talking about it with few people aside from my Mum, Dad, Nath, Sisters and Cousins, and have done well not be too emotional though I do feel so inside!

I now find it rather odd to now be writing about all of this under the heading of an “Ordinary Moment”. Everything about my granddad is far from ordinary; he was unique and one in a million, and his passing is far from an ordinary event or moment in life, but has been the main event of my life this week. To lose someone that was such a mighty presence in our family stands alone as a moment that is both incredibly sad and heartbreaking both in our family, and news that radiates to be sad to many that knew him.

I find that life is made up of moments that on the surface may be seemingly ordinary to others and yet are huge to us. We are a close family, he was a great example to us…a strength, friend and teacher to us all and this week has been full of moments that have been made better by my family, as we all share in the same love and appreciation for who he was in each of our lives. He was funny, and one of the greatest men we have been blessed to know. My sister summed it up perfectly when she said “To know granddad was to love him…our loss is heavens gain” – how very true!

I have felt sad but have enjoyed a week of laughing with my sisters, cousins and family all the same as we have shared our treasured memories and stories of this great man we were blessed to call “Granddad”. Reminiscing is good for the soul, as is being with the great family that have come as a result of 2 people falling in love (possibly around) sixty something years ago (?!).

I love my cousins; they are some of my closest friends and I have felt blessed that that relationship has meant we can lean on one another through messages, chats and long afternoons sat on the beach! Apparently I am not the only one that finds solace and comfort in the beach when my heart is aching as yesterday some of us gathered to the coast where we have fond childhood memories with family and grandparents and we had a beach day. Some went in the sea whilst others just sat with snacks and the kids looking out to sea and chatting and laughing about all sorts. We then ate dinner together and laughed some more.

How grateful I am for cousins, sisters, aunts, uncles, beaches and of course parents that can share in these memories of someone so special to us all. How grateful I am for great teachers and examples in my life in the form of Grandparents.

With loss on my mind and in my heart it is hard to find meaningful things to talk about on my blog right now, I have a few reviews I need to process this week and we are moving Thursday and Friday so it will be a really odd and busy week. But I will tell you that my Granddad was such a mighty presence in our family, and thus will be a great absence, and that is very sad news to accept. And whilst it has been a week of not sleeping properly and feeling out of sorts with this news, and knowing I must grieve at some point soon, thus resurfacing sadness already present, it has been a week of feeling incredibly grateful for the gift of such great grandparents, and friends in my sisters and cousins all of whom have given greatness to my life and are an example of the roots we share!

 

 

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At 2 months old Alice is smiling, silent laughing with the odd squeal coming out and engaging anyone who makes eye contact. She has a flirty persona (which most babies do and I love) and is very tolerant of older siblings in her face. I love how she moves her little mouth and all of her expressions to try and chat back when you talk to her. I love seeing her wriggle with glee when people pop their heads into her pram, she is so happy to be alive and it is contagious! Yes overall I can say that she is an absolute delight… She brightens every day, is never short of cuddles and kisses and we each can’t help but grin when we see her looking at us. It’s safe to say that whilst she has slotted in so well, she still is very much a novelty here in our home.

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I have been using Gina Fords sleeping/feeding routines as recommended by both my sister in laws and a couple of friends and it has changed my life! A routine at this stage is certainly a new one for me and I must have been mad to not do it before because it has been AMAZING! It doesn’t work every day, on some she tries to sneak an extra feed or sleeps less that we hope but it’s good and was most definitely necessary with going back to school looming and having to be so on it with school runs. It has enabled me generally to just be able to function and get everything done to keep the family and home ticking over. But yes, so well she has fallen in to it great and things are going well, she seems very content and I am mostly in control… 2 little humans to 3 is manageable especially when this one is so easy!

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The last week or so has been, as anticipated a bit of a struggle with having Poppy’s birthday and some other difficult dates, and I have never been more grateful that Alice is still so tiny. It has been easier to slow down and do very little whilst the kids were at school and just ponder really on everything. I sometimes feel like it was all an awful nightmare and as I have said before that to really think about it takes energy with the emotions it stirs. It was good for me to sit with a sleeping baby, eat some chocolate and watch bake off on catch up!

Whilst Alice is a blessing (oh what a blessing she is to us), and boy does brighten everyone’s lives, she doesn’t completely heal us from this loss and so whilst she is a delight and life is so much more lovely with her in it, there still has been the pain of loss around certain dates. I found on one day as I was winding her and another as I was being silly to make her laugh, I just filled up and burst into tears. In that moment I felt so much love for her and felt so blessed she was here, but I felt so sad that I had missed this (and more) with her sister… the look on her face was a curious one and I guess it doesn’t help still having so many crazy hormones!!!

As few would be able to get these mixed feelings, and sometimes even the guilt for being sad when I have such a lovely child in my arms (because they thankfully haven’t had to experience it), I was drawn back to Sands on Monday to see the people that unfortunately do. I found it so helpful and such a great comfort to talk openly again about the mixed emotions I was feeling following Poppy’s 2nd birthday and having a newborn now too and all of these various dates. What a relief to be assured it was normal. What a relief to know its not ungrateful to feel this still. And how amazing these friends at SANDS are… It will always be a hard thing somewhere inside that our baby died and however many children we have or go on to have following, it will be there. I want to remember though, and share with you a saying that one of my Sands friends said to me, it may help you understand a little more what parenting after loss is like as it sums it up perfectly and I love it:

“The other kids do a great job at papering over the cracks, but the cracks are still there”.

Parenting after loss as I am finding can be a very sensitive affair with many 1sts still to encounter. Never before on this road have those highs been so high but then we still have those lows, granted never as low and dark as in the beginning but certainly lower than your average hard day. I have chilled out on some behaviours but do some things differently to when I had Megan and Ethan. I do often wonder, like many parents in our position; would we still be doing this or that if we hadn’t lost a baby?

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