Last week was all about the kids and their cousins – this week i’m bringing it back to me and my generation and the cool kids that are MY cousins! Yesterday was far from ordinary, but I share it all the same, because it was pretty mint and pretty much the highlight of my week! You see its not everyday your Granddad turns 85 and you get together and celebrate with the majority of your childhood buddies.

I love my Granddad – He is a legend!

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He has been a great example to all of us, he cracks EVERYONE up that meets him and always has a tale to tell. In one moment we are all crying with laughter, the next we are overcome with emotion and having deep convos. Its great because I can see his sense of humour in pretty much every member of our extended family too and I think thats why we all just click (that and were all a bit nuts).

We had a great afternoon with family in celebration of his birthday; ate too much food, reminisced and I laughed harder than I have all week. Megan was so sleepy (refusing to go to bed at night will do that to you) and spent the most part on a blanket, in the corner asleep and when she did wake up the waitress had cleared her dinner away (#badtimes), which she didn’t find as bad when she saw the cake come out!

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It was so wonderful for me to see a chunk of my cousins and to watch everyone mingling. Its so hard when we all get together to remember I’m still a parent and have responsibilities…I chat away, laughing my head off, bantering with them all, whilst my kids are legging it around. I heard some great stories from Aunts and uncles and was able to get up to date with a lot of my cousins too.
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I look on this day and the pictures I managed to capture as a moment in life I will treasure for many years. Its not very ordinary that we are all together like this, it is quite ordinary to see granddad quite frequently, and whilst I don’t know how long we will have our granddad in our lives I hope to share and spend time with him where we can. Ethan adores his great grandfather and I especially loved seeing them chat and joke together. He often asks when we will see him again and tells all of his buddies about it when he has. I’m so happy that my kids are getting to know such a legend and that they are loving him as much as we all do.
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I hate pregnancy. I’m not talking about pregnant women, though they aren’t exactly my favourite people to be around (unless I’m already close to them) I mean personally.. I hate my physical life for the most chunk of the 9 months being pregnant. I don’t make a good pregnant woman, not at all (if you question this just ask Mr Smith and he will be sure to confirm) It feels so alien, I don’t glow and its vom central for weeks on end. My hips, bum and back seem to kill every night, I can never find anything decent to wear and so usually look like a frump as oppose to the inner yummy mummy that’s bursting to get out and I just want to eat rubbish and sleep which makes me cranky (sometimes) and like a whale by the time I’m done cooking. Yet despite all of the woes I realise I am lucky to be able to experience it and despite how naff I feel Id give anything to experience it again.

With Ethan I was pretty sick but mostly clueless with a diabetes diagnosis and induction thrown in. With Megan I was hospitalised several times for terrible sickness (Hyperemesis) and then pre-term Labour and this time last year Id just found out I was pregnant with our 3rd baby – “what we were thinking” and “what dramas would arise?” We said in jest as my track record was evident that I don’t rock pregnancy too well. Yet a baby very much wanted and planned we had no idea would never be coming home with us. This time last year we had just made it official around 10 weeks or something by posting it on FB and couldn’t believe that within a few months we would be outnumbered! My friend just celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary and behind the excitement I remembered how sick I felt at her evening reception and how I felt like I had a mini bump.

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I didn’t ever imagine the little bean growing inside already had serious CHD and full Trisomy 18..id never heard of them and as I looked forward to knowing if we would be having another boy or girl it never even crossed my mind that at that scan we would be told part of her brain was underdeveloped, her abdomen measured very small and her heart chambers couldn’t be seen. It was the start of a long journey of tests, scans, appointments, specialists, complaints and fights for right to care. Far from dramas the pregnancy became a living nightmare, dreams became tarnished and it was pain beyond that of a stretching pelvis.

If I had been told last year what awaited us I would have betted it would kill me or send me insane at least. I’d never have believed that I would I would still be functioning and having fun with my family and friends, but here I am a year on… 3 children born but only 2 living. I am afraid to touch, to hold, sometimes to look at a baby not because they might break but because I might break, because I am healing and they might open my wounds again. It hurts (sometimes more than others) but I am alive, I am mostly sane and I am a survivor of Stillbirth.

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I hate pregnancy..yet I miss it too. I miss feeling, hearing and seeing my baby girl alive, I miss the hope of a new born and I miss the excitement. I miss seeing pregnancy as a safe, guaranteed, in the bag type of affair and instead at each announcement think of all the potential dangers..nothing is safe, life is fragile, not to mention how it fuels the grief I try so hard to control. Though every pregnancy has brought with it some drama, some set back and in my most recent, heartache and pain like no other, I want it again. As each day passes and Ethan and Megan grow I long for another baby in the family.

I love being a mother and I want that baby I hoped for.

I don’t want the last baby I birth to not live; I want siblings for Ethan, Megan and Poppy and I want to have faith in the creation of life once more.

A year ago id found out I was pregnant and after an early scan we celebrated it with friends and family. Today I wish I still was yet we fear making that our reality. I never imagined id be here but I am. I never imagined I would go through pregnancy (with all of its woes) and not have the reward of a baby at the end. Most mothers that received this news last year are marking milestones, preparing to wean and probably approaching the start of a new wardrobe but a year on I visit my daughters grave, I don’t know her but I imagine who she might have been. I never saw her eyes or heard her cry but she was mine, my beautiful perfect 3rd child that was born asleep and rather than letting it completely consume me and damage me I choose to have hope and seek a brighter day when I will make her a big sister, when I will have the strength to take on pregnancy again, when I will hope for another living child.

A positive test isn’t always a positive result, but a negative result doesn’t have to mean a life of despair and negativity… I carry the pain of loss, I feel battered from life but I still see some colour in a grey world and the hope of a rainbow after the storm!

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Half term is apparently a mad week of cramming in as many fun things with the kids, going to places rammed with like minded parents and spending a load of money on activities and days out to fill the time so they don’t trash the house and get under your feet. That and getting together with cousins…

I had to laugh at myself on Friday night as we said goodbye and drove home from a fun packed day of swimming, slides, cheeky chips and games with our family – It was planned weeks ago because it was half term. Its funny because everything I have planned this week has been “Because its half term”! Yes my kids are in preschool and yes 3/5 days we are at home anyway with no school runs and free to do and go wherever we please, but we did TONNES this week because its been half term and whilst that meant more driving than usual and the occasional very frequent late nights, the highlight for them was how much they got to see (most of) their cousins.
We are very lucky, and perhaps maybe even take for granted at times that we both get on well with each others families. Some of my best friends are my sister-in-laws and whilst there are aspects to our lives, interests and parenting ideas that are very different in other things we are so like minded. We all have fun, have LOTS to talk about and I appreciate that I always feel like a sister as oppose to an “in law”. I love that our friendships have evolved to not just friends but sisters where we laugh, cry, hug, forgive, excuse, understand, help, support and even laugh til we cry, I’m aware this probably all sounds very cheesy but it really is our reality and its brilliant. Having my own sisters too its just even better as both sides offer those relationships and its great to have so many wonderful women in my children’s lives and that have also been so kind to produce many great play mates for my kids. We are lucky to all live in the Yorkshire area (or there about’s) and that we can frequently get together for lunch and play dates. Little E has loved seeing his baby cousins and asked a couple of times if we could just steal them?!?!?!?!?!??! (I did explain that this would result in prison and not one of his best ideas).
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I had a great childhood and great times with my cousins, I still laugh and cry with them now and some things only they will understand or remember. I always hoped when I had kids they would have lasting friendships and years of fun with their cousins and as things go I think were doing great with this goal…when together there are usually some tears, there is most definitely mischief (we noticed Ethan tends to bring this out in a couple of them) but there are always smiles, giggles and things non of us mummy’s have a clue that they are chatting about. I love that “because its half term” we have had muddy walks, climbing in the parks, pancakes, scooter rides, swimming and general fun and games with the cousins.. yes they are things we regularly do with them but as its been more than once in a week it has made it that extra bit special. I can’t wait to see how their friendships evolve and I know they can’t wait to hang out with them again VERY soon.
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Ethan and Megan have 6 cousins on my side and 6 on Naths side. Both sides have a set of twin girls and together the ages range from 5 down to 8 months. Poppy was number 9 on both sides and as non of us are yet done with having kids or all of Naths siblings married it will be great to see how many cousins they’ll all end up with!

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Not compatible with life but Compatible with Love…

I still remember how my stomach turned as the Fetal Medicine specialist told me over the phone at 30 weeks gestation that our baby was “not compatible with life”, because she had tested positive for full Trisomy 18, she didn’t have a chance to live and she probably wouldn’t live without assistance from the very people that had labelled her as that. I know exactly where I was  (in the car outside Pizza hut for a lunch date with Nath) and how I felt when they asked (at 30 weeks) if I wanted to end this now with an early induction?!
So because my daughter was not compatible with life, it also meant she was not compatible with love?

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Thankfully my heroes at the Hospice believed she was and Emma has taught me this and been our friend ever since. We visited again this week to discuss with her “Poppy’s Gift” a little gift of love our family have set up in Poppy’s remembrance to help other families with a similar diagnosis to know their baby is compatible with love and to know we want to support their desire to wrap them in love for however long they have them. The thing that brought a lot of comfort to us was the blanket that Naths mum had made her and the hat and cardigan my mum made were essential when she was born and so we decided to include them in a little gift pack for the Hospice to take to families referred to them and these will continue to be knitted by volunteers and packaged up by us. I still have Poppy’s blanket (of course) and in the early days it filled my arms, as a new mother with no baby it gave me something to hold, something physical to look at to remind me she was here. It almost told me “you are a mother and you wrapped and held your baby in this”.  Now It sits a little further away from my bedside but I still look at it and touch it occasionally and remember her little body wrapped inside.

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Emma also gave the kids some Christmas gifts from the hospice that Santa had left them, which made their life (that and the flapjack they seemed to scatter everywhere) and gave me a special gift too – the leaflet they have been working on and that will go out to hospitals for antenatal referrals. Inside is our story, another way we wanted to spread the word that their babies are compatible with love and another way to help Poppy live on and for others to know of her:

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I feel so pleased that despite our loss we have been able to use our experience in these short months to be able to help other families that have to face a “not compatible with life” diagnosis. Whilst my grief is still under the surface and quite regularly erupts, working on these projects with the hospice and finding these ways to keep Poppy’s memory alive have helped me to heal some. I feel I am finding healthy ways to remember her, and ways in which she can touch the lives of others for the better (something I hope all of my children will do) and give a gift to them because of her life.

I felt so positive and peaceful and that life was beginning again that I also chose not attend this months SANDS meeting. I haven’t made my mind up yet if this was a brave thing to do or a mistake Ive made but on the day I just felt so good at where I was at in that moment that I didn’t need to bring up Poppy, I didn’t need to relive what happened and I didn’t have the capacity to share the load of others grief either. I just felt like a ray of sunshine was poking through the clouds, that things in the world were starting to look good again and that I had no more energy than to bask in it until the clouds cast over and the storms hit again.

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