A few weeks ago I was driving from the coast when I saw a beautiful field of Poppies. Immediately my thoughts turned to our baby girl Poppy (our stillborn daughter in 2014) and memories and wonderment ran through my mind. I often will say how hard it is to have her missing from every picture I take, from every memory we share and from every ordinary moment of life.

With a name like Poppy it is easy to find associations and little keepsakes to help us reflect on her, but what I have wanted most is pictures. Pictures of all of my kids, pictures that remind me as the years pass by that I have had 4 kids and not just the 3 little beans everyone sees us with. The Poppy fields seemed like a great setting – a great place to show my 3rd child in pictures.

Since she has died we have used the Poppies growing at the side of roads, fields and parks, to illustrate her still living in heaven to the kids. We often will say “Oooo Poppies, maybe she’s been here and has left these to remind us!”.  It is an ordinary moment on days we see them growing, to be excited at the thought of her. The kids use them (like hundreds of others with the wars) to remember and talk of their sister.

I thought of different set ups we could have, but in the end, and with some tips from my friends at Sands, a simple family shoot in a Poppy field seemed right. As we passed some Poppy fields on Thursday I coaxed the kids out of the car for a “Practice run”, but of course things with kids rarely go to plan. Between shoving each other, whining and my battery dying (don’t get me started on that), we ended up with only a couple of semi decent ones. I look at them though and see my world in one picture. And whilst I still want to try and get us all in a Poppy field for a “Proper” family photo shoot, but for now I see the beauty of my living kids next to the simple beauties of a Poppy field, and for one ordinary little moment 2 worlds combine to capture my blessings.

I will never have all 4 in pics (or even my arms), but little moments like this along the way briefly fill my heart with joy!

The Ordinary Moments
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If you are a regular reader of my blog then you will be very much aware that we have just had the 2nd Anniversary of loosing our daughter Poppy along with her Birthday. I always find that leading up to dates like these and again around Christmas, we seem to pass through a season that is emotionally hard and moments when I just feel teary. I am however always surprised that despite the deep sorrow and missing that goes on with in me and the sometimes lonely feelings of wondering who might get it or want to, I always see things that are given and happen for us to smile about and I accepted that last year this was now our Ordinary; the roller coaster of life, the rough and the smooth and now the Joys and sadness’s intertwined.

It was really odd that after a hard week I spent most of Friday smiling and feeling happy and it was on this day, her actual Birthday that I saw, did and received things that made me smile on an otherwise hard day. They are all little moments but things that I want to share that gave me reason to smile…

1. Cards, gifts and messages from loved ones/friends when I had wrongly assumed they had all forgot.

2. Attempting a flower arrangement for her grave and it all came together so well.

3. Being invited out for the afternoon with friends and having some laughs.

4. Meeting family at the grave.

5. Dinner prepared for us with treats and hot chocolate to follow.

6. Some sneaky fireworks found from New Yrs and my brother in laws suggesting we “send them to Poppy”.

7. A Chinese lantern found with them and sent to Poppy.

8. The kids asking to buy balloons again to send to her too.

9. Spotting a gorgeous stare between Alice and Daddy

10. Daddy throwing Megan and having so much fun

11. Realising for the 1st time all the kids were in the same place.

I am sure there were more, life is filled with seemingly ordinary things that could be overlooked, but if noticed are moments to make us smile. And I believe it is so important to count your blessings and be grateful in life, to take time to notice and acknowledge these little moments, for doing so helps maintain perspective and positiveness and turns potentially sad days into manageable, put a smile on your face kind of days!

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Linking up with Katie @mummydaddme for #Ordinarymoments 

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I don’t know where you are what you are doing, but I feel wherever you are its not far from us. I believe and have hope in a heaven, and I really do hope that this is your home with all of the people we love and miss taking care of you for us. I hope by now you have laughed with mine and Daddy’s Grandmas and you have had a lot of fun with your Grandpa Smith playing and riding on the trains of heaven! I wish heaven had a letter box or email so we could know for sure, but then where would the lesson of faith be in life?
I have been thinking of you a lot this week as we approach 2 years since you came into our lives and wondered how we as your family could remember you on your birthday this year? I have some ideas and we have chosen who we are going to help this year in your memory, but as your mother I still longed to give you a gift of some sort beyond the lovely flowers on your grave. And so, after a phone call with grandma Smith and gaining a new perspective on things, I went about the day and it triggered an idea… My gift to you this year is to share the lessons you have given me so far through the brief moments we had you in our life. I feel by doing so will be healing on this day and give me appreciation of the blessing you forever will be to us. So here goes…

Firstly you taught me the sanctity of life; that every soul deserves a chance and no matter how imperfect their body is they should be given a chance to life. You were seen by this world as imperfect and damaged, but when I held you I saw absolute perfection. You were gorgeous Poppy just like each of our babies have been – you had 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes and a gorgeous little nose, a pair of neat and cute little ears, and of course a lovely head of dark hair. But one thing I will never forget is the peace I felt when I held you because you had such a heavenly radiance about you.

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I learnt from you early on the passion I had in this belief of life and that I had a voice to speak out against things I felt were wrong. Because of you and what you have shown me with this, I can promise you I will do great things in my life to change perspective.

You taught me love and understanding to a greater degree. That you can love someone you have never met and that love can transcend this life. I have seen that grief is a result of love and that friendship and love can be instant between strangers because of what we have experienced in our lives and because of what our hearts understand.
This understanding has helped me to help others and so because of you Poppy, many many people have had hard days and moments made better because I have known how they feel.

You taught me to look for God more and appreciate even the smallest things in this world. I have gained such an appreciation for nature and creation and realise these things God has blessed us with; nice sunsets, the beach, the view from a mountain or a tiny butterfly, all heal our souls and bring us joy as we walk through life, they really are given for the benefit of man!!!I Thank you so much for that because I just love nature and being outdoors and I have so much more gratitude for creation now.

Because of your life and loosing you I learnt to have more faith and trust in God and Jesus Christ. It pains me to not know why this happened and to not understand why we had to suffer such a great loss or why every year we still feel that pain that connects us to you, but because we did and because you couldn’t stay, I have learnt to rely on the merits of his sacrifice to be healed from the depths of grief. I learnt quickly that to see his hand in my life daily would bring peace and strength, and I always had the blessing of recognising it. I learnt that Joy can be present in trials because of healing and that its okay to be sad at times like this, because this is something we will live with until we die too. I have learnt to be kind to myself, have a rest along the way and don’t feel guilty.. being asked by God to carry a trial through life can get exhausting some days but he will be there when it gets too much again.

On the subject of death you have taught me that whist its so sad and whilst that sadness of loss can last a lifetime, I can still be comfortable around it.

You taught me that not everyone thinks like me and to be patient with them and not expect things. Doing so will give a sense of disappointment but rather I need to recognise that everyone leads their own lives and not everyone knows mine and thats okay. This is an ongoing lesson and trial for me and again thats okay. You will probably know I still mess up on this one or get upset about it, but because of you I am learning to look outside of myself and gain more understanding of others and not expect them to know how I feel from loosing you day in day out.

You have taught me that despite how busy people are, they do have good souls and would help if I ask but their prayers bring us strength and that because of them we made it through the hardest part of all of this. You have helped me see how our prayers can be answered by the hands, words and acts of others. I think you might not be the only Angel I have encountered in life…

You have taught me to be brave and shown me how strong the human soul is. Because of you I have learnt to have courage and ive been able to keep going when I didn’t think I could. I have seen the strength I am capable of when faced with adversity and I know I can overcome great tribulation. Because of you Poppy I have learn’t how to endure, and how to endure with a positive perspective, seeking out joy along the way.

You taught me I can keep a sense of humour when life is hard, you taught me to still have fun when life isn’t great.

Because of you Poppy me and your daddy have a stronger relationship and marriage. We have grown in love and learnt how to support each other through very very hard times. We have learnt how to stand by each other in great difficulty and to have faith in our marriage covenants. We have learnt new ways of communication with our feelings, how we want our family to be and what we truly treasure in life…all because of you.

You have shown me that writing is good therapy and its something I can do. You have given me a new passion in my life, because it was from you that I established this blog. We recognise that all that comes from it, all of the lovely opportunities we are given, the things we are sent, the places we go through it, they all come because we had you in our lives. Thank you so much.

Ethan and Megan adore you and tell people about you often, and I know as Alice grows up, she will come to know of her special sister in heaven too, but something tells me you are already well acquainted.

It hurts a lot to not have you here on days like this, and that I cant give you physical gifts. I think as life continues I will see more and more lessons from you, and as I go through it I hope I can always remember what you have taught me and given me. I hope I can be the woman and mother God sees in me when he entrusted your life to my care, and I hope more than anything that heaven is real and we see you again one day. Until then I hope you are keeping busy and I hope occasionally you stop by and let us know you’re never too far. I hope you can watch over your siblings when I can’t and that one day we will enjoy a sweet reunion. Until then I will still feel sad sometimes that I cant play with you, have snuggles or show you all of the places I wanted to, but again I know that’s Okay.

I will never forget you Poppy or what you have given to us…

All of my love
Mummy x

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I go through life happy in my role as a mother and keeping busy with all that that entails. We are getting more sleep and Alice and I are working on getting some type of routine going. We haven’t been out a whole lot since the kids went back to school with catching up on housework and getting some rest, but when we do she certainly attracts a lot of attention. I guess its only natural when people see a baby, babies are a joyful part of life for most people and bring joy when they see them, especially one as young and as cute as Alice (biased) and they like to comment, coo and then ask all kinds of questions…the main being “Is she your 1st?”!

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People are often shocked to find out she isn’t (I guess my youthful countenance does that) but having lost Poppy 2 years ago and having far too many awkward convos in that time only to come away feeling like the ‘weird women with the dead baby’, I like this question the best as my answer can be simply “no my fourth” and the shock on their faces is enough time to escape before we get into any awkward “My 3rd baby died” convos!

Life isn’t always this easy though and often the way questions are posed to me it stops me in my tracks. I sometimes do not know how to answer and always pause before answering them and think how to word it or just wonder if this person can handle the truth? Will I regret sharing Poppy with them because she may be dismissed more than I would regret pretending and letting them believe that Alice is number 3?

2 years ago today, on the 14th of September 2014 that phrase became part of our vocabulary. A parents worst nightmare became our reality. Our 3rd child did indeed die, her heart stopped, her life was gone and we felt utterly heartbroken and robbed!

Our whole world as we knew it came crashing down and we were flung into a new world with new identities as bereaved parents. And whilst 2 years on the initial fog and heavy emotions of loosing a baby at term have lifted somewhat, the pain of loosing her ever remains under the surface.

I am healed to the point to be able to live life and see the joy which is present in it, but I know the slightest knock against that wound and the pain is raw once more. Because of that, only occasionally do I stop in my busy life and let my thoughts go back to that Sunday afternoon as the vulnerable patients who were praying with every fibre of our beings that it was wrong, and think about what that phrase really means.. “My 3rd child died”. I say it so often now, I reel off the facts and nod along when people say how sad that all is, and then we all get back on with life, without a second thought. Meanwhile I am ever longing for that child and her presence in our lives.

I see this scenario a lot more now 2 years on in life; being that how as more and more time passes there is little acknowledgement from people of our babies or bigger gaps, if at all, with them asking about what life is like after loosing our daughter now. And then how there is an assumption that because Alice is here in all of her glory that we are healed and can all move on. It hurts a lot to know that reality now is having only one friend and my mother ask what we are doing this week for her Anniversary and the people close to us not seeming to realise what the date is, mentioning her or our feelings, or just thinking that as she is and always will be our 3rd child that we want to remember and celebrate her every year..not just the 1st because its so fresh. I know people have busy lives and are not constantly as aware as we are but we hoped that surly they would want to remember too, be present to comfort and talk, but perhaps in their eyes its all been said a year ago!
So yes we have more to smile about today than we did 2 years ago or last year, and life is really good now this is true, but the truth is also that here at 2 years on I feel like whilst time has passed and healing has slowly come, the emotions about the loss are ever present and its almost as if I am on a carousel going round and round in circles with emotions building the closer we get to the 14th, 15th and 16th of September.

At this time of year I am, and will be forever faced with the same tat reminders that fill the shops shelves in preparation for Halloween. The same date on the calendar that robbed our family of our very much wanted child, and I will ache and want to weep (and probably will) over the 2 year old, or 3, 4, 5 year old that isn’t here in my arms, running rings round me and blowing out the candles on her cake. You see, however good the rest of the year is to us and however many adventures we enjoy together, we are always going to come back round on this ride of life to this date and that reminder of what was lost. We will always face the challenge of not having conversations with our child about their upcoming birthday in a few days time, and we will forever be reminded of the photographs we didn’t take, the memories we didn’t make and every aspect of her life that we cannot be a part of. We will always see a gap where number 3 should be because whilst you can move on, we cannot, because every year we are reminded that our very real and perfect 4lb 50z baby, our 3rd child..well she died.

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Nathan and I talk of Poppy daily, in our home and family her name is mentioned by us all regularly and she is very much included in our adventures and missed in everything we do. We as her parents look daily upon our other kids and are reminded of everything we missed and will miss in raising Poppy. We still say we feel robbed, we still remember the feelings of being told she had died, we talk about what she might be like, who she would be like and how surreal yet dreadfully painful her funeral was. But that is what it means that our 3rd child died…She has given us so much yet we have lost so much. We have felt God close in our lives yet at the same time felt utterly alone in our struggles and we know people want us to be happy, even positive in life, and we really are, but we wish more hadn’t forgotten to ask after just 2 years and we think if we cant be sad on her anniversaries or more reflective about her, then when can we be?

So if you have made it this far in this post, then please know that when you have to bury one of your children it changes you forever…there is a pain that is always present and an ache that comes back so fresh each time of year that you are reminded of the day they died. The days come back to ones where you retreat to not wanting to do anything but hoping someone will remember and reach out, you feel sad that that happened and have a good cry about it all. Some years, like this actually feel a little harder than the last, but none of that is a reflection of the level of our faith, nor reflection of our healing and certainly no reflection of weakness.  It is just real life after loosing a child and as long as we live this is our story…

 

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