Monthly Archives: October 2016

Wave of Light

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7pm is usually getting out the bath and into pyjamas time in our house. I was panicking so much that I would miss the Wave of Light so I lit my candle a wee bit early and took photographs in advance to post.  #Waveoflight is now trending over social media as I type. In some ways it is tragic there are so many photographs of candles commemorating babies loved and lost, but how wonderful they can all be remembered and shared in this global community.

The SANDS Facebook post simply stated:

“For the light they brought into our lives, of which this candle is a living sign.”

I have pictured our candle with our angels and rainbows light. My mum’s cousin gave this to us last Christmas. It floored me a bit when I opened it. She had got everyone else in the family lights which were similar and had children/grandchildren on, I don’t know why but didn’t expect ours to include Ewan on as well as Dylan and Jude. I absolutely love it and it has pride of place in the living room.

“Our little Star is shining bright, his love exalted in the night. Watching over our Rainbows here who frolic and play with radiant cheer”.

Thinking of our little man tonight, and all the other angels sadly taken far too soon.

My love goes out to everyone who has lit a candle tonight.

#Waveoflight

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A boxful of memories

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I once read an article about a mother who lost twin babies. She was sent home from hospital with a scrap of paper towel with the words ‘twin one’ and twin two’ and their birth weights. That was it. Nothing else. The scrap of paper was all she and her husband had to remind them of their babies. This was about 25 years ago. Thankfully things have moved on since then.

Creating and holding onto memories for a stillborn baby is one of the most important parts of the grieving and healing process. As the parents of a child which was never able to take its first breath, make that first step, utter a first word, experience the first day of school, the few memories we have are treasured and extremely precious.

Of course I have the memories stored away in my mind, but we also have a memory box filled with various things which all relate to Ewan. Things that are tangible that we can take out and look at.  I knew quite early on that I wanted to buy a special keepsafe. A beautiful box to keep everything in. An online search eventually took me to Reads Creations, a company making personalised wooden memory boxes. They had just what we wanted. And here it is. P1100237 P1100239

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We usually keep it in our wardrobe so it is neatly tucked away but easily accessible. One day I took it out and left it for a couple of days. Dylan took a shine to it and enjoying sitting on it. I managed to take what is one of my favourite but also most poignant photographs. When he is older he will understand the significance.

 

So what keepsafes do we have? Probably too many to mention so I’ll pick out a few for now.

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We received an overwhelming number of cards from family, friends and colleagues and struggled to find places to put them in the house. There were so many kind words and even those which said ‘I don’t know what to say’ still meant so much. Occasionally I will get them out and have a read through some of them. The photograph of my favourite cards is at the top – the pandas. It wasn’t even a bereavement card. It didn’t have any words, just a simple picture. Adam and I thought it summed up how we felt.

I still have cards to add to the box now. One of my dear friends sends me a card every year on Ewan’s birthday. She keeps his memory alive by recognising that he should have a card to celebrate like everybody else.

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This necklace holds a particularly strong memories for me. I was wearing it the day I went into hospital to find out his heart had stopped. I can visualise myself now, sat in a chair playing with it. I wore it again when I went to give birth and then to his funeral. I carried on wearing it for a while but started to worry I would lose it, so now have it tucked away for safe keeping.

 

p1100249Another dear friend gave me this cross-stitch a couple of months later. I can remember she gave it to me in what seemed to be a bit of an apologetic, ‘I hope you like it’ kind of way. I was so touched that she had gone to the effort of making something like this for us. It was incredibly thoughtful.

We have quite a few photographs. Obviously all his scan photographs are there, including one taken at the scan taken which determined he had died. I always feel a little bit funny about that one. Especially as I didn’t know it existed for a few months until my consultant handed it to me when I was pregnant with Dylan. We have all the photographs we took of him in the hospital. These are in a little album. They are mainly ones taken with our camera but some from the midwife too.

There is plenty more I could show you, but maybe for another day.

It’s at this point that I really want to acknowledge and thanks SANDS for their contribution to our memory box. If it wasn’t for the work SANDS did, particularly in the early days of the charity, then we wouldn’t have the memories we have now. It upsets me to think of the mother of twins in the article. Families left hospital with nothing and weren’t encourage to create their own memories. Instead it they were encouraged to forget and move on. SANDS worked hard to train professionals to make them realise that the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality didn’t work. Acting is though losing a baby never happened wasn’t going to help parents, instead it made it worse. By allowing parents to take photographs and hold their babies, it helped their grieving process enormously.

So for this I am eternally grateful.

Our memory box will also be a painful reminder of the loss of Baby Ewan, but it is also a source of comfort. A reminder of our support network and all the wonderful people who helped us through some dark and difficult times. It is a reminder that Ewan was loved and still is. And most importantly that his memory lives on.

A Bereaved Mother’s Guilt

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The first line of Saturday’s blog read ‘Being a mum can be hard sometimes. Really hard.’ It was at the end of a day where I didn’t feel like I’d been a very good mum. Not as good as I thought I should be.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to be a perfect mother. It’s ridiculous I know. I’m the kind of person who likes to be in control. I put pressure on myself to cope with anything and everything. I must cope, at all odds. I cannot say that things are too hard, I cannot crumble and I cannot fail.

Why am I like this?

I think part of it is in my nature and my personality. I’m sure anyone who knows me well, in particular those who have worked with me, would agree. But also it is in part down to what I can only and best describe as my burden of guilt, a bereaved mother’s guilt.

I feel so incredibly grateful that I have not one but two beautiful and healthy, living boys. They are good boys. Dylan was an absolutely perfect baby. He slept through from 3 months old, weaned like a dream and cut his baby teeth with barely a murmur. Jude has been a bit more challenging, in all aspects. But still he is much less troublesome than many other babies I know. They are both very sweet tempered and absolutely adore one another. We have been so so lucky.

Of course not every day pans out perfectly (does anyone’s?). Dylan had the terrible two’s at times and could tantrum with the best of them. He suffered from the usual toddler OCD (and still does) whereby food served with the wrong colour spoon or cereal with a splash too much milk would cause a meltdown. Jude having started out as a great sleeper, regressed at about 7 months old. At times an uninterrupted night sleep was very much the exception rather than the norm. Last winter it felt as though he was constantly ill, either bothered by teeth, a cold, sickness, diarrhoea and general whingeyness. It doesn’t feel as though summer has quite gone yet and already the never ending snot-stream has reappeared! Oh and Jude will be about to embark on the terrible two’s in the next few months.

But I think losing Ewan has affected my experiences of motherhood with his two younger brothers. Not in a practical sense, but more psychologically. It’s as though I don’t allow myself to have a bad day, or admit that sometimes it’s too hard. Because by saying that it’s like I’m smacking the face of every person out there who can’t be a parent. That I’m not appreciating what I have. Any mother who has lost a baby would much rather be delirious with sleep deprivation than with grief. They would give their right arm to deal with post-immunisation fever or walk up and down for hours to settle a colicky tummy.

There probably are people out there (especially in Social Media Land), who want to present to the world that parent-hood is fine and dandy, all roses and buttercups. Their parenting world is text-book and there are no negatives (well not that they talk about). Behind closed doors, we all wonder if life really is that perfect. I kind of do the same thing, ok not so much by presenting a perfect life, but trying as much as possible not to moan, or talk about the times when parenting feels sometimes just too hard. The guilt I carry stops me from doing that.

I think (and hope) that over time this will change and get better. As the boys get older, the challenges they present will change. Less about potty training and tantrums, and more about homework and social lives. Maybe as these are less baby related, they might make me think less about the baby we lost. Who knows? Maybe my cathartic method of getting the thoughts out of my head and onto a screen will help! And hopefully you won’t all think I’m crazy for publicising my personality flaws (remember, no-one is perfect!)

Writing as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Breaking the Silence #babyloss

http://babyloss-awareness.org

 

Baby Loss Awareness Week

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Being a mum can be hard sometimes. Really hard. But not being a mum, when you really want to be. That’s a whole different ball game.

Tomorrow is the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week. If you asked me 6 years ago whether I’d heard there of such a week, my answer would have been no. If you asked me whether I would be sat up on a Saturday night writing about losing a baby, I would have thought you were mad.

But here I am. A bereaved mother. Unfortunately not alone, but one of many.

It is estimated that one in four women experience pregnancy loss. A quarter. 25%. Before our own loss, I knew of very few people who have been affected. In the few days following Ewan’s death, the number doubled if not tripled. People shared their own experiences or those of friends or relatives. Some were recent, others dated back 40 years. All too quickly, baby loss became far more common that I ever realised. Just less than 3 weeks after losing Ewan, one of my best friends received devastating news about her own pregnancy. The only slither of a silver lining being that I felt I was able to help her because of my own experience.

Talking about the loss of a baby is often taboo. I’ve often thought about why that is. I think generally as a society we don’t like to talk about death. We find it uncomfortable. People don’t know what to say to one another. Most likely for fear of saying the wrong thing. For some reason that is heightened when it is the death of a baby. Whether it is an early miscarriage or a full term pregnancy.

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Ewan at 12 weeks

As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week I am here to talk about it. Break the Silence. That has always been an aim of my blog, I just unfortunately don’t have the time to write often. But I’ll be honest, I do sometimes worry that people don’t want to read what I have to say about our experiences. I think I should write about jollier things. Silly really. If you don’t want to read, no-one is stopping you.

So unashamedly throughout this week I’ve decided to either write a new blog or share an old one every day. To commemorate but also to embrace. I’ll apologise in advance if they are upsetting (there is always a get out clause – you don’t have to read them). Hopefully for those of you who have ready my posts before, you will know that I try to look for the positives. You know that I consider us to be so incredibly blessed to have two amazing, beautiful, energetic and fun-loving boys, who have helped us to heal in so many ways. But know that we will never ever fully heal. Any bereaved parent will tell you the same.

Please take some time out of your busy lives to find out more about Baby Loss Awareness Week.  About the 24 amazing charities who are involved, who tirelessly raise awareness throughout the year and campaign for change.

http://babyloss-awareness.org/

If you know someone who has lost a baby, take time this week to acknowledge their loss. Whether it was last month, last year or 40 years ago. I am sure they will appreciate a hug or a few words so that they know you have been thinking of them.

Finally, if you can, join the Global Wave of Light on October 15th at 7pm. October 15th is International Pregancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Families all over the world will be remembering their babies who were taken too soon. Light a candle at 7pm and leave it burning for at least an hour. Post your photo to Facebook or Twitter to join the digital Wave of Light using #waveoflight

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