Tag Archives: family

The Longest Weekend – My Stillbirth Story

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Writing the beginning of our stillbirth story was quite emotionally draining, but also quite cathartic. It feels good to see it in black and white and published for anyone to read, because it is important not to brush stories such as these under the carpet. I received so many wonderful comments, either through Facebook, Twitter, on the blog or personal messages. I am sorry that it made you most of you cry, but I can’t guarantee any further posts won’t. Apologies for that.

So anyway I am ready with the next chapter; the weekend we spent at home before going back into hospital. Again some parts of that weekend are crystal clear, others a bit more blurry.

Adam and I arrived home from the hospital around tea time. I spent the next 48 hours barricaded in the house. I couldn’t bear to leave. I didn’t want anyone to see my pregnant tummy, whether I knew them or not. Strangers have a habit of talking to pregnant women (absolutely nothing wrong with that and quite understandable), but I couldn’t cope with the thought of anyone approaching me and asking questions.

Adam took me upstairs and got me into bed. I couldn’t think of doing anything else. I can’t remember how long we’d been home before my mum and dad arrived. They’d been over at my brother’s house in Stockport and driven back as soon as Adam rang them. Understandably they were inconsolable. We had to explain what had happened (the first of many explanations) and what was going to happen. They were both so upset and mum couldn’t stop crying. It was then that I realised that it wouldn’t just be our own grief we had to deal with, but that of our parents, family and friends. Not only would our parents grieve for their lost grandchild, but also cope with feelings of helplessness for the pain and suffering that their children were going through. I remember a feeling of mild panic. Hang on. I can’t handle anyone else’s grief. I need to focus on mine and Adam’s.

I can’t remember how long they stayed. An hour. Two? My dad drove Adam back to the hospital to collect his car, which he’d had to leave there. After that, Adam barricaded himself too and hibernated with me, at least I don’t remember him leaving. At some point he rang his mum and dad to break the terrible news. They live in New Zealand so he had to wait until a reasonable hour to ring, which wasn’t in the middle of the night for them. I started a process of ringing my friends. This was a quick learning curve. I rang two of my closest friends. When they answered, I burst into tears and blurted out ‘I’ve lost the baby’. There was stunned silence on the other end. Understandably so. Eventually they managed to speak, I started my explanations, they began to console me. I had to wait until late in the evening to ring one of my other best friends in Australia. I think she had an inkling something was wrong with the urgent sounding texts I sent. After those phone calls, I decided to start sending texts instead to break the news. I felt that it would be more helpful for people to deal with the shock first, without me waiting for a response on the other end of the phone. The news was shocking and being able to digest it without having to think of comforting words and ‘saying the right thing’ would be easier.

At some point both my brothers rang, one in Stockport, the other in America. My Stockport brother wanted to come and visit the following day. He said that they would leave their 8 month old son with his other grandparents, in case seeing him upset us. This was another important milestone. Seeing another baby. I spoke to Adam and we agreed that we should see our nephew. Although it would be hard, we knew we wouldn’t be able to avoid seeing babies when we emerged into the ‘real world’, so it would only be a positive to see him. I am so glad we made that decision. I can still see my nephew now when I saw him for the first time, sat on our sofa, smiling with the pure innocence that only a baby has. It made me so happy to see him and I didn’t feel any regret.

Sleep wasn’t really our friend that weekend. It happened in fits and starts. We went to bed with the light on. On Friday night I remember going to bed but then getting up and spending a lot of the night downstairs. This was the time I used to absorb the Sands website and read story after story written by countless parents in similar situations. I cried a lot. At one point I cried so loudly that it woke Adam up and he came down to comfort me.

We had a lot of cuddles from our cats that weekend. Call me odd, but I am sure they knew that something was wrong. I’m sure they could sense our unhappiness and sadness. They were more loving and attentive than usual. Pets definitely have a sixth sense.

Although we didn’t want to see tonnes of people, we let down our barriers to allow other close friends and family visit. It stopped us going stir crazy. At this point I was starting to feel a lot more pain and was less mobile than before. I don’t think I moved much from the sofa and definitely didn’t even consider getting dressed. I have one vivid recollection of my mum’s cousin turning up on the Saturday night. I opened the door and she was stood in the dark, in the wind and rain and she just simply said ‘I had to come’. She didn’t need to say anything else.

Adam and I made the pact that I have written about before. That we would talk about anything and everything, no matter how silly or embarrassing we thought it might be. He was such an incredible source of comfort to me that weekend (and every day since). Some men are not good at expressing their thoughts or feelings, or dealing with emotions. Adam is not like that. Many people have said how strong I have been and how well I coped. That may seem true, but I couldn’t have done it without Adam. He was my rock then, and every day since.

On the Sunday, we started to make preparations to go back into hospital. We’d been advised to go in for about 6pm (unless labour started sooner), so the day really dragged. We had to pack our bags. There was no excited and careful planning of what to pack, which is usually what happens with a maternity hospital bag. Just a case of throwing in the necessities.

We had, however been advised to bring a couple of specific items. I can’t remember if it was the midwife we had seen on Friday, or through the Sands website.

  • A camera to take photos of our baby. I was unsure about whether it was appropriate to pack it at the time. Now I am so glad that we did.
  • An outfit to dress him in. Because I was only 32 weeks, we didn’t have lots and lots of clothes at that point. Just a few bits and pieces that I had started to pick up. We sat together going through the tiny clothes. We both cried knowing our baby would never wear them. In the end we chose a Very Hungry Caterpillar vest.
  • A small toy. Adam’s boss had bought a beautiful little elephant, for Christmas I think, to give to our baby when it arrived. We packed this too.

In the late afternoon, I had a bath. I had started to get very weak contractions at this point, but wanted to feel as fresh as possible before going in. I remember looking at my tummy sticking out of the bath and willing it to move. So it could all have been a big mistake.

It wasn’t.

Time to leave and make the short journey back to the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre at Burnley General Hospital. We parked up and realised that we had no change for the parking meter. Thanks to the lovely staff at the hospital we were let off under the circumstances.

The walk to the birth suite seemed to go on for ever. Then we had to open those doors, and see those beautiful baby canvasses again. We went to the desk and asked for Elaine, our midwife from Friday. I think we both broke when giving a brief explanation of why we were there. Quickly we were ushered into a delivery room. And onto the next chapter of our lives……

My 100 Happy Days Greatest Hits!

Have you heard of the 100 Happy Days challenge? The premise is quite simple. Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? Participants choose a platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc) and then publish a photograph each day of whatever has made them happy, using the #100HappyDays hashtag. I embarked on the challenge last year from April to August and successfully completed it (apparently 71% of people who start it, don’t finish). For some crazy reason this year, on the 1st anniversary of my first happy day, I decided to start it again. The Facebook ‘Memories’ tool helped to serve as a reminder. I finished the challenge last week. Although it was tough, it was also enjoyable. It also helped me to start this blog. Because as well as posting a picture, I also like to write a small (or long) narrative. It made me realise how much I liked to write and wanted to carry it on, but maybe without the time pressures of doing it every day! Now that I have this blog and a platform to get my thoughts, musings and feelings out in public, I doubt I’ll be doing it again though. I would recommend the challenge to anyone, although perhaps pick a time of the year that isn’t particularly stressful. I started at the end of spring and carried on throughout summer, which isn’t a bad time to choose. I avoided my extremely busy period at work. I guess if I really wanted to challenge myself then in theory this would be the best time. But I wanted to give myself some chance of success. Anyway, as some of you won’t have seen the #100HappyDays on my personal Facebook page, I’ve decided to share with you my top 10, or as my husband just said, my ‘Greatest Hits’. Picked either because I particularly love the photograph, the event, or the narrative. Enjoy!

I just love this photo. My dad was completely oblivious to me taking it.

I just love this photo. My dad was completely oblivious to me taking it.

Day 4. I love seeing my parents with their grandchildren. I took this photo today of dad with Jude – he was keeping him entertained by chatting and singing whilst I had my hair cut. Precious moments.

Netball

Chosen because I just LOVE netball!

Day 14. I played netball this evening for the first time in almost a year. I can’t believe I was a little bit nervous walking onto the pitch. I absolutely loved it. We aren’t the best team by a long shot, but we certainly aren’t the worst and we played really well tonight. Being part of a team is so much more satisfying than doing something on my own like running. I used to love playing when I was at school but like most people gave it up at 16 – I’m so glad I picked it up again a few years later. I can’t wait for next week’s match now (although my aching muscles might not agree in the morning!) ** Notice I haven’t posted a photo of my very red face at the end – I do have some dignity.

I was really impressed with this photo ... although I took about 20!

I was really impressed with this photo … although I took about 20!

Day 28. A walk to the shop with Dylan in tow is never straight forward and takes twice as long than if I was on my own. There are plenty of fun things to discover on the way – including finding a tonne of dandelions. I tried (and failed) to take an artsy photo with me blowing the seeds. This was the best of a bad bunch.

Pulled pork
I am salivating even now just thinking about this meal. I was so pleased with it.

    Day 33. Oh wow, my genius in the kitchen has just gone up a notch. I’ve rolled onto the sofa and I am just revelling in my first attempt at pulled pork along with my homemade coleslaw and BBQ sauce. To quote Peppa Pig and family it was Dee-licious! Now relaxing with a beer!  

Just great memories and a brilliant weekend with my friend who I don't see a lot

Just great memories and a brilliant weekend with my friend who I don’t see a lot

Day 47. I’ve had a brilliant weekend with one of my bestest pals. Invariably we spent some of the time reminiscing about our university days, helped in part by the Happy Book. In some ways not dissimilar to the 100 Happy Days project, we spent the summer term of our first year (18years ago!) writing down reasons why were happy. Needless to say the majority of the book needs censoring as it was filled in after many nights out at the union. However it provides a huge amount of fun for everyone concerned. Everyone tagged either wrote or was featured in it in some way. Fabulous memories from a fabulous time. Made me wish I was 18 to relive it all again. Only this time with better dress sense!

Although they can be hard work, I do love our cats.

Although they can be hard work, I do love our cats.

Day 55. I didn’t have the heart to put these two out last night because of the rain, but I have to keep them in the kitchen so they don’t trample on my head at 4 in the morning. When I came down this morning they were both sat waiting for me. They looked so cute I ran back upstairs for my phone so I could take a picture. I’d like to think they were looking forward to seeing me – but I think they just wanted breakfast!

Me and Adam - 10 years and still going strong.

Me and Adam – 10 years and still going strong.

Day 57. A historic 10 years ago today, Mr C and I went on our first date. Well I say date – in truth he asked me out in the morning if I fancied a drink after work. We went to the Talbot and then into Burnley and got pretty trollied. I asked the DJ in one pub to play Meat Loaf & Cher ‘Dead Ringer for Love’, and when Adam followed me on the dancefloor, I knew I had found the man for me! It’s been an amazing 10 years and I’m happy to say that it’s mainly been ups. But when the bad times have hit we have worked hard together to get through them. I love you to pieces Mr C. Enjoy one of our first photos together.

Blog

A momentous day for me!

Day 75. Wow I am super excited about today’s post. I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time. So after a bit of work over the last week, I have finally hit the ‘publish’ button .. about 10 minutes ago, on my blog ‘An Angel and Two Rainbows’. If you are interested in having a read (and I hope you are), head on over. It will need more work over the next few weeks (it looks a bit basic at the moment) and I am getting to grips with how it all works. Hopefully I’ll be an expert soon. Enjoy!

It was just a wonderful moment when Adam made this wand

It was just a wonderful moment when Adam made this wand

Day 77. Anyone who has watched Ben and Holly might understand the significance of this post. I bought Dylan a Ben and Holly magazine and the ‘free’ gift was an elf horn (Ben’s) and fairy wand (Holly’s). Despite being flimsy and cheaply made, Dylan loved them and asked for them every day. Today he dropped the wand down one of the slats on our deck. There is no way of retrieving it. He was absolutely MORTIFIED and took himself up to his room to howl. Quick thinking Mr C grabbed a pencil, blu tac, some scissors and card and quickly rustled together a new homemade wand. Suddenly we had a happy, smiling boy again. Oh to be 3.

I loved watching Adam and Dylan 'working' together on this table

I loved watching Adam and Dylan ‘working’ together on this table

Day 85. The worker and his apprentice! Mr C enlisted Dylan’s help in building our new garden table. None of the help was actually required e.g asking him to help tighten the screws with his plastic screwdriver as Dylan is doing in the photo, but he was delighted to help his daddy (plus it kept him entertained for a good half hour!).

A Lancashire Lass

So I’m a real Lancashire lass, born and bred. Although I spent the first years of my life near St Helens, Merseyside, I was actually born across the border in Ormskirk, Lancashire. We moved to Burnley when I was three, and aside from this, a three-year spell at Loughborough University and a 14 month round the world backpacking trip, I have always lived within a 5 miles of Burnley, the place I class as my hometown.

As a teenager, like a lot people, I didn’t think much about where I lived. I thought living in a city would be far more exciting, or by the sea even (influenced by an intense diet of The Famous Five and Mallory Towers!). An old cotton mill and coal mining town in the ‘grim’ North of England was quite boring in comparison.

On the West Coast of Australia

On the West Coast of Australia

My long-term plans did not involve living in East Lancashire. Whilst I didn’t quite look down my nose at friends who hadn’t moved away, I was superior enough to think that I would fly the nest and see the world. I left to go to university, and it was there I caught the travelling bug. On my return from backpacking, I had grand ideas of another long-term trip abroad again (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have that dream crushed by reality!). But also on my return, I started to look at my surroundings with different eyes. I had visited some amazing places. Blazing sunsets on the west coast of Australia.

Flores, Indonesia

Flores, Indonesia

Lush, green rice fields in Indonesia. Volcanic mountains in Hawaii. The first dewy sunrises of the day in New Zealand. Surely my hometown couldn’t compete with these? Ok not exactly, but I suddenly had an appreciation of how beautiful the Lancashire landscape was. I took notice of the rolling, vivid green fields and hills, the clean air and how the sunrises and sunsets, whilst maybe not as spectacular, could still compete with those abroad.

Anyway in the short-term, I decided I wanted to move down to London. I had quite a few friends in the capital from both university and travelling, so decided it would be the ideal place. What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? My move to London never materialised. Because of a boy. Yes love (well at the time I thought it was love!) got in the way. So as I result I stayed in East Lancashire. We broke up 18 months later but by that point I was ‘stuck’. Stuck because I’d bought a house.

Now (without the bitterness of a newly ended relationship) I appreciate how lucky I was. I had my own house at the age of 25. I wasn’t sharing. It wasn’t rented. It was my own. Well, mine and the Nationwide Building Society. I had also started working in Further Education at a local college, supporting young people in their education, lives and careers, and realised I had found a job which I had a passion for. I then went onto find real love, got married and properly ‘settled down’. Things started to fall into place.

Adam and I decided we wanted a bigger home. Although our two bedroomed terrace was sufficient for the two of us and our two kittens, we knew we wanted to start a family in the not too distance future. However putting the house on the market in the middle of a recession meant that it took well over a year to find a buyer. But thankfully we did and we found our perfect home in a nearby village.

Camp Street

The Sold sign outside our terraced house

Adam and I moved in February 2011, less than 3 weeks after Ewan died. I should have been 35 weeks pregnant struggling to pack a box let alone lift one. We didn’t expect to start our new life in our new home as grieving parents. It turned out to be a positive step for us. A fresh new start. We were able to decorate (which we hadn’t initially planned on with a new baby) and I spent those early days in painting therapy! We were also able to explore our new village and surroundings. Although we were familiar with the area, we didn’t know it awfully well. We could put on our walking boots, set off from our front door and head off over the nearby fields. It was so refreshing.

Now, four years on I think we would struggle to live anywhere else. We are only a mile from the nearest motorway, yet half a mile from glorious countryside. The village is perfect for raising our rainbows. Our favourite place is the park, which I would say is 300m from our front door. It is so easy not to have to get in the car, but instead roll down our hill with the pram (pushing it back up the hill is definitely more of a challenge… but helps with losing the baby weight!). There is a river (perfect for throwing stones), playground, duck pond, picnic benches, waterfall and big open spaces. There is even a bear! Perfect for going on a Bear Hunt. I sat down last night to pick out some photographs of the park to include. It was so difficult because I have so many! Dylan would probably go every day if we let him and even though Jude has been plenty of times already, albeit asleep, we can’t wait for him to discover it for himself.

IMG_0555 IMG_2508 IMG_0133 IMG_0091 Dylan and bear Jude first park visit

If there are days when life gets hard, I look around and I am thankful for our lovely surroundings. Despite any hardships we may have, we are lucky beyond belief to live in a beautiful village, in a beautiful county, in the beautiful North of England. There is nowhere else I would rather be.

 

The start of something new – my first blog post

So this is it, my first blog post.

I imagine most people reading this first post will know me personally. And perhaps be wondering why I am starting a blog? I’ll do my best to explain.

I have always enjoyed writing in some capacity. As well as loving English at school, from the ages of about 11 to 13 I kept a diary. I wrote my innermost thoughts and feelings … ok, so actually that bit isn’t strictly true. From recollection my first diary wasn’t very in depth. I spent more time detailing what I had eaten for my lunch at school and what time I went to bed, than exploring my adolescent emotions. But that did change over time. When I discovered boys! I kept my diary hidden under my mattress. At the time I thought it was an awesome hiding place. Oh how wrong I was. With two older brothers in the house, you can imagine I wasn’t the only one who knew the contents. Anyway I gave up writing a diary. I’m not 100% why – probably because I knew it wouldn’t stay hidden for long!

Until now, the only other times I have written a diary/journal have been on my travels. When I was 20, I spent a month Inter-railing in Europe one summer with three friends. We all wrote a diary every day. A couple of years later I backpacked around the world and catalogued every day of my entire journey. Eight countries over fourteen months. It was a mammoth undertaking and at times hard work. I used to refer to it as the millstone around my neck. But now I am so glad that I took the time and effort to do it. Occasionally when I’m in a reflective mood I go up into our loft, find my battered diaries and lose myself for an hour. (I just nipped up to take this photo and got caught up in my Indonesia adventures!)

Diaries

My round-the-world travel diaries (in all their battered glory)

 

Recently I embarked on the #100HappyDays challenge (it is still ongoing!) for the second time. It has struck me how much I have enjoyed composing my post each day. I have also recently started to read a few blogs (mainly mum/parenting related!) which have fired my enthusiasm for writing and made me wonder whether I could do it too. So here I am, having a go!

Me and Jude blogging

Setting up my blog, with Jude’s ‘help’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to write about a variety of things. About my family – my children and my husband (if he’ll let me) and the fun things we get up to. About my life as a working mum (ok I am on maternity leave at the moment, but that won’t be forever) and my attempts at juggling work, home life, parenting and keeping fit. I want to write about the beautiful corner of the country where I live (Lancashire) as well as our jaunts out and about. Maybe I will also write about our two cats and how they are sometimes harder work than the rest of the family put together!

There is also one significant subject I want to write about. Our eldest son. Our angel. Ewan.

Ewan was born in January 2011. But we never brought him home. He was stillborn.

I want to use my blog to share our story, how it affected us and how time helped us to heal. Not entirely. Because there will also be a piece missing.

But we learnt to laugh and love again. And we were so incredibly lucky to go on and give birth to two healthy and happy boys. Our two rainbows. Dylan and Jude.

Anyway I hope you will enjoy my posts and musings over the next few days, weeks and months to come. I am looking forward to developing the look of my blog – admittedly it’s a bit basic at the moment and I’m just getting my head around using WordPress. I also have a logo/heading being designed, which I am very excited about. Hopefully it will be ready to showcase soon, but I just couldn’t wait any longer to post. Impatience is my middle name!