Tag Archives: anniversary

A Birthday Sunrise

A friend sent me a message today with this absolutely beautiful sunrise. Shortly afterwards she sent another message saying she had just realised the date and no wonder the sunrise was such a beauty. She then thanked me for always making her grateful for everything she has. Today is Ewan’s birthday. What lovely words to receive at what can be a very emotional time.

It’s that funny time of year again where we celebrate two birthday’s. One rainbow and one angel. Dylan was 5 last Thursday and today it is Ewan’s 6th birthday.

There are so many clear memories from 2011 that I can’t escape from. It starts in particular from the 13th January onwards. From then until next weekend I will catch myself at various times of the day thinking ‘this time 6 years ago….’. On Friday night I caught myself remembering back to being in bed 6 years ago. Night-time was when Ewan would usually be most active, but on that night he wasn’t. The trouble was, I didn’t realise until the following day.

Saturday was the anniversary of the day we found out his heart had stopped beating and that he had died. It was the day I first went to hospital because I was worried I couldn’t feel any movements. In sharp contrast to the events of that day, this year we were busy with Dylan’s birthday party. He was so excited and had been talking about it for weeks. Thankfully it all went smoothly and he had an amazing time. We hired a magician/entertainer and although the jokes and tricks were old hat to us adults, the kids thought he was hilarious. Although the day was filled with fun and frivolity, again I caught myself at 2pm driving back home thinking ‘I was at the hospital now’.

I imagine anyone who has been through a traumatic experience will be the same. I guess this will be the status quo for years to come. Memories like these will never be forgotten.

I do have some fun memories though (bizarrely). Last night I reminded Adam of when we were in the delivery room waiting for the midwife. He was trying to cheer me up and lighten the mood so started doing gymnastics (badly) on a stray yoga mat. It worked.

We always try and do something nice on Ewan’s birthday. Today after visiting the cemetery, Adam and I took a drive out into the countryside, to the hotel where we got married. We had a lovely relaxed lunch by a roaring fire. We have so many wonderful memories there and it was just a perfect time for us to be together.

The boys still don’t know about Ewan yet, so they don’t realise the significance of the date. This morning I was first up and went into Dylan’s room. He had just got up and was sat in the middle of his room. I just sat down beside him and asked for a hug. He climbed into my arms and he let me hug him. For much longer than a 5 year old would normally let his mother hug him! I also got a lovely hug and cuddle off Jude when he woke up. But being a mummy’s boy through and through, that was no surprise. I needed those hugs and thankfully they weren’t in short supply.

Which brings me back to my friend’s lovely message about being grateful for what we have. We will never ever forget our angel, our firstborn. We will never fully heal from the pain. But do we feel grateful? Absolutely. Every single day. I had the joy and pleasure of carrying Ewan for 7 months. He was loved and wanted. His two brothers are absolute blessings. That we were able to go on and have a family is a luxury that some people do not. We look at them every day and appreciate how lucky we are.

I think I say this every year now, but it is still important to remember. Hug your loved ones. Hold them close. Tell them you love them. Life is precious.

After 25 attempts at getting a family photo of us all looking in the same direction, this was the best we could get!

* Photo credit to the wonderful Dr Ruth Jeanes. Unfortunately for anyone wondering where this beautiful scene can be found in the UK, it is not! It was taken in Australia.

If you haven’t read my last blog, please take a look. I am hoping to raise £500 this year for Sands (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) by running 15 races. My Justgiving page is below. #15races15babies

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Due Date

A mother should never dread the due date of her baby. She might be worried or nervous, but in most cases she will be buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Not so the mother who loses her baby before the due date arrives.

We knew Ewan had died 8 weeks before his due date. I’ve written before about one clear memory I have of that morning when I went to get some petrol. As I was filling up, I remember thinking that ‘in 8 weeks our baby might be here, in 10 weeks it probably, most definitely will be here’. Not to be.

Very early on, I knew that we had to do something on Ewan’s due date. Whilst I know that very few babies arrive on their actual due date (it’s something like 4%), I knew that the day would mark a very important milestone. I just knew that I couldn’t spend the day sitting at home, watching the hours pass and wondering what might have been.

So Adam and I made plans on how we would spend 11th March. I have written already about our love of Scotland. At that time we had recently discovered the West Coast Highlands and Islands and so decided to head up to the Isle of Skye. If you look on a map, Skye is pretty far north. It’s about a 4 hour drive north of Glasgow, and that’s just to the southern tip across the Skye road bridge. I booked a cottage on the northern tip, a place called Uig, another hours drive. Looking at it now, it seems as though I was trying to get as far away from home as possible. That thought didn’t really cross my mind at the time. We just knew that Skye would be a beautiful place to escape to.

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We split the journey up and stopped a night at a beautiful B & B at the southern tip of Loch Lomond. The following morning was the 11th March. We looked onwards and upwards. We had a weekend of amazing and wild scenery to look forward to.

The roads skirting along the length of Loch Lomond, onto the high ground of Rannoch Moor, through Glen Coe, past Ben Nevis and up to Skye give you simply spectacular views. They are a thousand times worth the journey to get that far north. There was still plenty of snow on a lot of the high ground after that particularly long and cold winter, which extended onto the mountains of Skye. The scenery was simply stunning. I’d like to think my photographs do it justice, but it doesn’t!

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On Skye, we eventually found our tiny cottage, a former Granary, and settled in. Out of the three nights, we had two blazing sunsets over the sea, looking out across the Little Minch towards the Outer Hebrides. I love the photograph Adam took of me smiling with my head out of the window. Looking out at the sunsets brought real calmness and peace. On the day that could have been one of the hardest tests, I am happy.

31 87The next day brought cold, but fine weather. We threw our warm gear on and headed to the Old Man of Storr, Staffin and Kilt Rock. We did quite a bit of walking and in the afternoon I started to get tired as we were heading up to a summit for more spectacular views. I was frustrated with myself, even though Adam kept reminding me that it wasn’t 8 weeks since I had given birth and my body was still recovering. I reluctantly agreed to turn back (why is he always right??).

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The rain for which the West Coast is famous for, joined us on the Sunday. Although it was tempting to stay tucked up indoors, we braved the elements and drove to the Waternish peninsula to go to the beach! I loved watching the wind whipping the water off the waves. Later that night we huddled up and listened to a wild storm raging around us outside.

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With heavy hearts we packed up to go home and back to reality. It was only a short trip but we came back a little more energised and with the ability to carry on facing the difficult challenges life was throwing at us. We didn’t forget about Ewan whilst we were in Scotland, we took him with us and continued to talk about what had happened and how we felt. But the trip gave us an excuse to ‘do’ something and enjoy ourselves. Smile, laugh and be silly without feeling guilty. Be normal. Start healing.

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How do I feel now on the 11th March? It’s funny. It’s actually not a day that I usually think or worry about. January is a huge focus for us as this was when Ewan was born. Being perfectly honest, when I thought about writing this post, I had to double check whether his due date was the 11th or 13th.  Most importantly though, it is now my niece’s birthday. She is 3 today (Happy Birthday Emma – see you tomorrow!). It’s quite fitting that we can now celebrate this day, laughing and smiling as we should. And I like to think that Ewan will be celebrating with us too.

 

Five Years

The 17th January comes to a close. For a lot of people across the UK, today has been significant because they were able to enjoy the first real snowfall of the winter.

For Adam and I, it will always be a significant day because carries with it an important anniversary. It is a day were we remember what happened to us back in 2011. Five years ago.

Our lives started down a very different path to the one we have been cruising happily along for some time. We had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of our firstborn. Instead, he was born sleeping. Five years ago.

Every year we aim to celebrate. It gives us a positive focus. It was a bit difficult the first year as we had a five day old Dylan to look after. My mum and dad babysat for an hour or so (making it the first time I had left him) whilst Adam and I went to visit Ewan’s grave. The second year, we both took the day off work and kept Dylan off nursery. We spent the day together and went out for a lovely meal.

The third year followed a similar path. Again we booked the day off to be together as a family. However something slightly bizarre happened. My friend sent me a message to ask if I had checked the results of the local weekly hospice lottery. I had a monthly Direct Debit going out and in about 5 years of taking part had probably won about £25. I didn’t make a habit of checking it regularly.

I looked. I had won the first prize! A random draw, I won the jackpot on Ewan’s third birthday. Surely that’s more than a coincidence? I don’t know why, it just felt as though Ewan was watching over us. And sent us a gift to make us smile on his special day. It felt appropriate to make a donation back to the Hospice and also to Sands.

Last year, I had just finished work the day before for my maternity leave. We had another dusting of snow and took Dylan to the cemetery with his new gardening kit. I took these wonderful photos. He helped us to clear the snow from the grave and arrange the flowers.

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IMG_8663Dylan and I went to the pantomime this afternoon with family. Afterwards Adam collected us with Jude (who was a bit too young for the theatre), and together we all went to visit Ewan. It was getting pretty cold but we wrapped up and picked our way through the snow. Dylan is starting to get quite inquisitive and I wondered if he would start to ask more searching questions. I haven’t yet worked out how we are going to talk to him about his older brother. I’m not sure he is old enough to understand quite yet. Anyway he was quite happy to make holes in the snow with his pick! Jude was just happy to be held.

We went for tea afterwards. Jude who has been fussy with food recently ate his body weight in mashed potato, veggies and turkey and they both enjoyed time together in the play area. I just loved watching them.

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Today hasn’t felt just quite as difficult as previous years. Is this time being a healer? Is it because I now have double trouble to run around after? Yes to both to a certain degree, but I also think that writing this blog for the past 6 months has helped by giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about Ewan, about the difficult times, but also the joy that both he and his brothers have given us.

So all it remains for my to say now is Happy Birthday Ewan. We miss you incredibly and there is a part of us that will always be with you. You will always be loved and never forgotten.

A Kind Stranger

Today I went to work. And in some ways it was just like any other day. For the past three years, I’ve made sure I’ve been in work on the 14th January. For the simple reason that I want to keep my mind occupied. I don’t really want to dwell on the events of five years ago.

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2 day old Dylan

Four years ago today I was in hospital with Dylan who was then just two days old. I was on a ward with three other women (and babies). We had all arrived at different times and with intermittent crying babies and visitors, checkups from midwives and drawn curtains, we hadn’t really talked much.

Although I was struggling to feed my newborn, I was still ecstatically happy, But there was also a cloud hanging over me. At about 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, I spoke to one of my best friends on the phone. We had exchanged texts since Dylan’s arrival but it was the first time we had spoken. I told her the gory details of my induced labour (painful but quick!) and gushed about how beautiful Dylan was. And then burst into tears. It was hormones mixed with grief. It was the first anniversary of the day I found out Ewan had died. We talked for a while and she comforted me. Eventually we ended the conversation and there I was, in my cubicle alone with my sleeping baby.

The curtain drew back and the lady in the opposite cubicle came in, sat down on my bed and gave me a huge hug. I clearly hadn’t stifled my sobs well enough and she came to see if I was ok. I can’t verbalise how grateful I was to her for that hug and just the kindness she showed me in that moment. It was just what I needed. I don’t know if she had any idea of how much I needed that hug. We talked a bit and after a while she went back to tend to her baby. She left later on that day and of course, never saw her again.

I caught my mind wandering today. As I walked into work I recalled what I had been doing on that morning and what I was wearing. I looked at my watch occasionally and couldn’t help but think back to what I would have been doing at the same time. And at 4pm I thought ‘by now I knew’. So whilst my brain can’t shut out the events of 14th January 2011, I try also to remember my positive memories of 2012 and of every year since.

Tip: If you are ever feeling a bit wobbly, don’t listen to ‘Bridge Over You’ by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir. I had it plugged into my ears as I walked into work. I absolutely love it (and the fact that it kept Justin Bieber from getting number 1 at Christmas), but it’s a guaranteed tear jerker! And as I’ve written about before, I’m a huge fan of the NHS. I’m just hoping it was still dark enough so that anyone driving past didn’t notice me!

All the above aside, it has been a good day. I came home and had tea made for me and a wrestle and tickle with my rainbows before bathtime and bed. I tried to get a decent photo of them both to share my wonderful view with you all, but as usual failed to get them looking in the same direction.

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