This week is no ordinary week. Today marks the beginning of “Baby Loss Awareness Week” (ending on the 15th with the wave of light) and all over the world people are speaking out more. They are talking more, remembering more, and doing more to raise awareness of the impact of baby loss – at any stage. It is a week where we can stand up and say “that was me – I am the 1 in however many whose baby never came home”. It is a week where it is more seemingly okay than ever to talk about baby loss and the changes it brings to a person’s life/future.

This week people pledge to do more and want to make a change – all in a hope that another family doesn’t have to face the debilitating grief of losing a baby in the future!

Each year baby loss awareness week brings moments of both deep reflection (and regrets too) for me. I reflect on the fact that I am the 1. I reflect on the fact that this week dedicated to loss, actually means something to me now, and I reflect on how massively different our lives are because one our babies died 2 days before her due date. I also reflect on the regrets I have – regrets I haven’t done more to make a difference and regrets I have that I haven’t yet changed the world in her memory (the latter of which I know now is completely okay!).

Baby loss awareness week is also a time of year when social media is filled with so much about losing babies, and people sharing their stories, that I cannot help but talk too; or at least think about our experience. This post however isn’t one of those of retelling my story again – I said in the Summer that I was stepping away from that, and I also realise that it doesn’t particularly help to make a difference when I am only telling others what they already know. Yes it sheds light on something horrendous that we went through, and at the time telling my story certainly helped others to see our journey of loss and grief, as well as helping me to make sense of it. But I am aware too that those reading this already know the story. I am sure that you don’t just forget that someone had a stillbirth, or their baby died in hospital, or that they miscarried between their other 2 kids? Those of you who want to help your friends, colleagues, neighbours or family member following the loss of their baby know the story. So in this post, I will spare you the details. Rather I want to write about things related to loss that really mean you can act – do something other than being aware, and help them or talk to them and love them even more. I want you to know this week how it feels when people do that. How it feels when they remember the story, or remember your babies name, however long it was and then they let you know that.

I want to create some awareness on your part of how you can make someone else feel loved and acknowledged in their loss, simply by remembering and then letting them know that you did!

When Others Remember 

I recently had 2 experiences that highlighted the importance of this simple act for me. It came about by the kindness of 2 strangers – Two separate individuals that I know online because we all happened to use the same # of babyloss.

Basically I was on Instagram and 2 other baby loss parents within a week or so sent me a photograph on Instagram that had on it a little tag that read Poppy’s name . Assuming their message was from one of my stories I casually opened it, only to be completely taken aback that someone I have never met and that never knew of Poppy until now, had taken time out of their day to remember my baby girl! One of the messages said that she was remembered all the way in Croatia! And the other that she was remembered at their daughters party (their baby also passed away)!

It was so incredibly kind and thoughtful and it made me feel so good inside for the next day or so.

You see, when others remember her name it fills me with pride. The mothers pride I feel daily from my other children is ignited in that moment for her. When I hear or read the name we lovingly picked out, spoken with ease by others, or written like that to remember, it feels wonderful – our little girl is remembered and acknowledged in this world. She is counted and not forgotten.

When others remember It makes me happy and I feel loved by them. Both of these emotions are feelings that are contrary to those of the grief that come with losing a baby. Therefore when your baby is remembered you get a burst of feelings that combat the draining emotions of grief and loss and you can so easily say; “That really made my day”!

When others remember I am touched beyond measure. I am touched that they see our baby/her memory as important as we do, and I am touched that they took the time to say so. Baby loss is something that is carried throughout life and whilst life moves on for others, and us to an extent, it is something that never leaves or “goes away”, so when another person can take time out of their day to remember and talk it is a wonderful feeling. I always value the time that others can give to talk and remember with me and all of those who have lost babies, know that it’s not easy to bring it up or to know what to say, but recognising that a possible few awkward minutes can change how someone feels is surely worth opening your mouth (or a new message/text)? When you remember and when you talk, it is a warm fuzzy feeling and relief to be able to share our baby!

When others remember I am reminded that she has impacted others and her life meant something more than “Stillbirth”!

Life after loss is a constant battle to live a new normal where the loss doesn’t trip you over all the time, whilst maintaining the memory of your child and doing things to fill the void. It isn’t an easy thing to do, as both impact the other. But, when your child is remembered it suddenly normalises life and both living in the new normal and keeping their memory alive, align on equal par to sit just right. I am always reminded that despite not being able to do all I have wanted to (and still hope to do) in her memory, its really okay, because when others remember her, I am reminded that those tiny feet that never walked the earth, have still made an imprint in it, and that thought right there brings a lot of peace, happiness, and balance on the other side of loss.

I have said before to not be afraid to speak about a baby who has died, or ask someone about their story and life now. I hope that this week especially you will be more aware of how powerful and touching doing so can be. I hope you can take some time to overcome the awkwardness and let that person in your life (who is one of the stats being discussed this week), know that they are loved and remembered and that their baby too is remembered and loved in this fast moving world. I have tried to move on from not being hurt when people don’t remember because that has been destructive. So, when people do, it somehow feels so much more special.

Never underestimate the power of the simple act of remembering. And Never underestimate how it feels to hear your babies name who never made it home. Lets talk more and remember all those gone too soon.

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This Monday at our SANDS meeting, one of my friends and I decided it might be nice to do a craft with everyone. With the approach of mothers day this weekend, it just tends to be a more sensitive time for bereaved mothers and we find that crafts not only help us create (hello therapy), but our poor skills in that department also mean we tend to laugh together along the way as we share what’s in our hearts. We thought that tealight holders would be a nice thing to do as then we could all light them to remember our babies on mothers day.

I am sharing this with you because whilst it was something I did in my journey of loss with my fellow bereaved mothers, I also think that on a general scale it will make a lovely craft to do with kids as a gift for someone. Ethan actually asked if he could make one when he saw it yesterday morning and I then thought what a lovely activity to do with them too. The thrifty lass inside of me got to thinking a homemade tealight holder would make a nice and inexpensive gift for mums, Grandma’s, aunts or teacher’s for Mothers day or any occasion really and would be so personal. So here you go –

Homemade Tealight Holders

You will need 

*A glass or jam jar  (these were 50p from asda)

*Glass pens

*Embellishments (we used washi tape and stick on diamantes but lace and ribbons too would work)

*Tea lights (available all over, though the supermarkets have some lovely scented ones).

Then just go for it…Draw patterns, images, Lettering. Maybe add some tape or sparkles. Maybe some burlap and lace…

We all chose to do them differently with hearts and quotes drawn on some, to me with a letter P for poppy. One of the dad’s even got involved with tape and lots of sparkle for his wife. I loved how it was just personal to each of us for our baby, and I imagine when Ethan and Megs have a go they’ll be different again.

They are/were super easy and look pretty cute, so why not just go for it… Make someone a little tealight holder with a scented tealight. They will be lovely, cheap and greatly appreciated i’m sure.

Run Jump Scrap!
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My mum often tells me (and everyone else that coos over my babies), that when I was born I had a head of thick silvery blonde hair, curls to be exact and it was lush. I imagine looking at Alice now and Megs as a baby too and think that we must share that trait of luscious baby blonde hair. From day one I was a blonde, and stereotype or not, was destined for a few ditsy moments in life as well as being a little scatty (it certainly explains a lot now) and of course having way more fun!?!

I remember the first time I died my hair though, it was one of those Wella “wash in wash out” sachets in a honey blonde shade or something equally no different to my natural colour, and I thought it was fabulous! Looking back, whilst there was no obvious change, at 13 I feared i’d be in trouble for such a rebelish act and drastic change to my natural blondness! I kinda got hooked on dying my hair from then on, I guess partly for the change and partly from seeing my grandma bleach her roots as I grew up, but I just remember from then on it just became part of my life…Like when in my single days with my bestie we dyed our hair blonde in the middle of the night, falling asleep on the bathroom floor waiting for it to develop and it was so much fun, we loved being blonde and we loved daring to go a little brighter!

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Despite being blessed to be a natural blonde, with thick straight hair, I often have moments in my life where I desire a change and it always rests on my hair… shorter, extensions, textured or usually a different colour. I want it darker blonde or even light brown, I want to try purple streaks (aged 17) or more silver. Then when I made the awful choice to have a Victoria Beckham chop and do the tips red back when I was 16, certainly not my proudest moment but did I learn? No! Even now at 31 I hit a phase a few weeks ago where I wanted to look more “grown up” than the bleach blonde days, but in reality it wasn’t that lovely at all!

These changes often make me feel dull after a while, and once the initial wow factor has worn off I feel a little blah about my looks and I finally realised this week that it was because I am a blonde..on some days enhanced yes, but my soul is blonde and my tone is made to have blonde locks. My husband adores me blonde (despite previously dating mainly dark haired girls) and blonde gives me a little spark of joy when I look in the mirror. Its funny how something as a hair colour can affect your mood, but my recent desire to be “dark blonde” turned far too dark and really did make me feel a little more dull. I missed the blondenss, the glow, and my hairdresser summed it up perfectly when she said I just wasn’t living up to my hairs true potential. So on Thursday I had it lifted with some highlights and the transformation was amazing. I literally saw light come back to my skin as she blow dried it and I couldn’t stop smiling.

It may sound like a bit of a shallow post, but in that moment I felt like something had been restored to my soul; I was meant to be blonde, it makes me happy to be blonde and it gives me an air of joyfullness and fun. It really is amazing how hair colour can affect your mood or view of yourself but it really does. I feel so good now and I love it. Next month I turn 32 and I feel I finally accepted that I love how fab it is being a bright and healthy blonde and how it makes me feel and of course how well it suits me. My pics this week are some silly selfies after the hairdressers (because lets face it our hair rarely looks that good again) and I can’t get over the difference. No longer will dying my hair be an ordinary moment, unless its at the salon getting it freshened up!

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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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