Tag Archives: memories

Non Non: A dramatic tale of a Special Toy!

My children have never taken to dummies. Instead, they have attached themselves to special toys or comforters as they are often referred to. I wrote about Dylan’s comforter, Timmy the turtle some time ago, of their bond and the heart-in-the-mouth moments whenever Timmy went missing. Timmy is thankfully still with us, although now that Dylan is 5, he tends to stop at home thus minimising the chances of him going AWOL.

Non Non in full comfort mode

We are lucky that Jude has not one but two special toys. Teddy and Non Non. Teddy is a Kaloo bear given to him by his auntie when he was born. His cousin Nathan had the same bear when he was little so it was already well known to be a successful companion. We tried to give him a name – Dylan called him Charlie Blue. But Jude has always insisted on simplicity. Teddy. Non Non was originally called Dolly, which again was another name given by Dylan. The current Non Non is the third incarnation of similar comforters. Non Non is the sound Jude makes when he is snuggling it against his face. Again he came up with the name when he just started to point at it and say Non Non.

Non Non after a rescue from Morrisons

Thankfully Jude loves both Teddy and Non Non equally and absolutely. He is utterly devoted to both of them, so much so that he wants to hold one in each hand … all of the time. Sometimes, but not always we can get away with just one toy at bedtime. It is handy in that I can wash one, whilst keeping the other one on the go. Although having two is better than one, it is still a nerve wracking experience when one goes missing. We have visited Customer Services at our local supermarket to report either a lost Teddy or Non Non on more than one occasion. Thankfully (fingers crossed, touch wood), we have managed to keep a hold of both comforters over the past year despite Jude’s best efforts. He has a habit of chucking it on the floor and finding it funny. A couple of months ago he tried to throw Non Non off the top of Clitheroe Castle. Luckily it was such a windy day that it was blown back in his face!

Which brings me to another dramatic castle story. Before embarking on our journey back from Centre Parcs last week, we decided to stop off at Brougham Castle just a few miles down the road. As you can imagine, the boys LOVE castles. Dylan has been a fan for a while and now Jude has been bitten by the bug. It’s a 13th century ruin but with plenty of staircases to run up and down. I’m sure Adam won’t mind me saying that he isn’t the biggest fan of heights. But with children, needs must. So up we followed both boys up and round the winding staircases. I’ve no idea how high it was at the top, at least 4 or 5 floors high. Dylan and Jude loved running around, the adults less so. Needless to say Adam was happy when it was time to go back down.

  

After about 2 minutes of being on terra firma, Dylan announced he wanted to go back up to the top. Adam went up again whilst I stayed down on the ground with Jude. When they both arrived back down, we managed a few more minutes before Dylan wanted to pay another visit to the top. I offered to go this time much to Jude’s dismay. He proceeded to cry constantly whilst we were up in the tower. I remembered that I had Non Non in my bag and shouted down to Adam and suggesting I throw it down. Jude spotted it from a distance and the cries got louder, this time interspersed with shouts of ‘NON NON’. So I let go ………

View looking down … before Non Non’s fall!

I can re-play this next bit in slow motion in my head. Non Non started to float down and then unfurled and opened up, causing him to fly headlong, not into Adam’s hands, but onto a ledge of ruined wall about 10-12 feet above the ground. Adam clapped his hand over his mouth in shock, Jude’s wails increased in volume, Dylan looked at me with his eyes wide in disbelief. Non Non was stuck. We could see him. But couldn’t reach him.

Dylan and I got down the staircase as quickly as we could and surveyed the damage from ground level. There was no way we could get Non Non without help. It was just too high up. Jude was crying more and more so in damage control mode, we had to go and get Teddy. I left Adam trying to work out what the hell to do and ran back to the car with Jude whimpering on my hip. I had to walk through the entrance building. A poor bewildered employee of English Heritage listened to me blabbering on about how Non Non had ‘fallen’ and was stuck on the castle walls, and could he possibly help. Bless him, he went and got a long mop and foldaway chair and set off with a couple of visitors in tow (who had heard my tale of woe with interest) to where Adam was pacing. A pretty comical sight to be honest. I collected Teddy to Jude’s delight and kept him amused with various things in the gift shop, all the time crossing my fingers. Mr English Heritage came back with bad news. No he couldn’t get it down. We walked back to meet Adam and Dylan, strategically a few metres away from the crime scene.

Jude was calm by now and seemed to have forgotten about Non Non’s fate. Adam was still bothered and determined not to be beaten. We went for a distracting walk around the perimeter of the castle walls and Adam suddenly ‘found’ a large tree branch. Back he and Dylan went, whilst I continued to keep Jude amused. As much as I wanted to watch, I knew Jude couldn’t take it. Adam said that another visitor clocked him with the branch and asked if he was off to battle. Absolutely, he replied!

We had a lovely walk and as we came back round I saw Dylan running towards us with a big smile on his face ‘Daddy got Non Non!’.

Drama over. A wonderful reunion ensued. Cheers and rejoicing all round.

I know that one day, we won’t be so lucky. One day, Jude’s ties to Non Non and Teddy will start to relax. But we aren’t ready for that yet. Not that day.

Superdad saved the day (and the weeks/months that followed!). Non Non lives on.

A triumphant Daddy!

 

 

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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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.

cards

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.

Another Place

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I don’t need Facebook or Timehop to tell me what I was doing 5 years ago today. Adam and I went to Crosby Beach in Liverpool for the day. I’m not 100% sure what prompted us to go as it was the first time we had visited it together. It was a beautiful (but cold) sunny day and we wanted to get out and blow away the cobwebs. Get some fresh air and feel the sun on our faces.

In the car on the way, I received a text message from one of my close friends. She told me of the arrival of their third baby, William. I couldn’t help but well up. I was so happy for her, but it just brought back those memories of what could have been. It was hard, probably because it was our first experience of someone we knew welcoming a baby into the world, after our baby was no longer with us. Because it is William’s 5th birthday today, that is how I remember.

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Anyone who has been to Crosby will know that there is a permanent art installation by Anthony Gormley called Another Place. There are 100 cast iron figures embedded into the sand, looking out to sea. It really is an impressive sight, made even better on a crisp, clear day January with the low afternoon sun.

I wanted to share our day out, partly because it is a day where I have some good memories. I love to look back on the photographs. During a difficult time it feels like the day represented the first shoots of recovery. A day where we decided that we needed to participate in the world rather than existing in our own little bubble. It did us the world of good to get out there. I wonder now if we chose Crosby knowing the likelihood of seeing someone we knew would be very slim (it is over 50 miles from where we live). We could attempt to start socialising again, but with a bit of added protection too in that we probably wouldn’t have to talk about our loss.

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We returned a couple of years later with Dylan. He hadn’t long been walking and absolutely loved running up and down the sands (paying very little attention to the statues). Just writing this now makes me want to go again, this time with Jude. Maybe we’ll go in half term if (fingers crossed) we get a nice day. I won’t ever be able to go without thinking about our first visit. But we can continue to create some good memories there with our rainbows, all the time our angel watching over us.

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