As I cuddled Alice close this week I began to think of how many days worth of cuddles I have lost over the last 2 and half years with Poppy. Then I moved onto smiles, milestones and life generally with her in it. Nathan and I have spoken a lot about how hard it is some days to wrap our minds around the idea that we should have a 2.5 year old with us too, and it all feels weird and sad that we don’t. Its hard to not know her and hard that we don’t know what she would be like! I struggle with that some days, the fact I have a child I know nothing about and can do nothing for. I do forever wonder who she would have looked or being like and what my life would be like having my whole brood with me now. I guess its been a while since I had such an obvious reminder or thoughts like this, but I am good at suppressing them too. They are always there under the surface and sometimes I just feel a need to have to think about it all and wonder. It connects me to her and I feel like I have to remember or I worry I will forget.
I know that these thoughts and reflection have a lot to do with doing my SANDS befriender training last weekend. Everything has been on my mind a lot more as I did expect it to be, and it has left me not only feeling good about how far I have come in my journey of loss, but also with a lot of reflective thoughts and realisation of how many emotions and thoughts I still have to make sense of surrounding having a stillborn baby! This stage of parenting after loss has been and is getting more and more fun, and most days are a lot easier in some ways…yet it has also held a lot of moments to bring reflection on Poppy too and make me want to squeeze and protect Alice even more.
At 7 months I am still feeding her myself, which has really surprised me. I don’t know really know why I am when I always said only 6 months, but its working well so I am just getting on with it. I do find it tiring and know some days she really plays on it to get bonus feeds, but out of ease and convenience (especially first thing on a morning and when we are on the go) its fine and I am glad I am keeping on with it. I think also it makes me feel useful. There wasn’t anything I could do for Poppy, but here with Alice I can literally sustain her life, stop her tears and comfort her and that brings me a great deal of joy that I never imagined would come from breastfeeding. I do love to look at her little cheeky face, and have her close to me, and yet at night when shes screaming its the last thing I want to be doing – I find it such a roller coaster and test of endurance some days but overall its still working for us both.
We also had a few words this week (Alice and I), as she seemed to be lacking somewhat in her ability to sit up unaided. I was aware she was coming up to 7 months (today) and realised that with her being the baby, she is used to being carried around or held by everyone and anyone. Whilst she loves this, it has most definitely created a sense of reliance on others doing all the work, and as such sees no reason why she needs to try to move anywhere or sit up. There is no indication that she will be crawling anytime soon, but with that little chat we had, and with a little perseverance, distraction, a few wobbles and face plants, she finally seems to be getting the hang of sitting. So yes, I think at this point in her life we can just about tick off the “sitting up” milestone!
Sleeping has been shocking this weekend with us being away, but leading up to that I really felt we had turned a corner. Ethan and Megs were sleeping trough by this age and so I have been struggling with the fact she isn’t and wondering what is different. She seems to think that 1am/2am/4am/5am are party times and as a result of night after night of minimum sleep with me still feeding her too in the mix, I have been exhausted and at my whits end! I’ve wondered if she would ever master sleeping well?? But its safe to say we have some hope. For about a week we have managed 7ish pm – 6am most nights which has been brilliant and I have felt way more refreshed and life more manageable. I hope that this is a sign of things to come.
She is still in our room and whilst that can be annoying and not help on the sleep front, I am not ready to move her out at fear of something happening! At 7 months she well and truly knows how to play us and the way she grins at us each morning, she knows she has scored well with sharing our room!
Finally we took her swimming! A very late “milestone” in comparison to the others, and another indication of my hibernating nature with her through the winter. But last Friday we went to the coast and finally took the plunge! She looked so cute and Ethan and Megs LOVED it! They splashed her and we dunked her. She laid in the water, splashed and kicked in the water, and she loved every second of it. It was all very adorable to hear her squeals of excitement and she managed to stick it out for almost an hour! I realised what a great sport she is and how much she just loves anything with her family.
Alice loves to be in the middle of us all and to have the kids playing with her and making her laugh. She loves hugs and kisses galore and has this wonderful way of staring into your eyes as she stretches out and touches your face, she will then smile and it melts your heart. We feel blessed that she is ours everytime she smiles and we cuddle her. I am so thankful everyday for this baby in my life, she hasn’t made me all better or stopped me from thinking of what I lost with her sister, what she has done is filled my heart with love and joy and helped me see colour in the world again, and I cannot kiss or thank her enough for that gift!