Tag Archives: rainbows

#15babiesaday Campaign

If you asked me any time before January 2011, how many babies were stillborn everyday, I imagine I would have said 3 or 4. To be honest I just wouldn’t have had a clue, but not knowing anyone or really hearing anything about stillbirth, I know the answer would have been low. At the time we lost Ewan, 17 babies a day did not survive in the UK. More specifically this means babies born from 24 weeks gestation onwards who were either stillborn, or died within 4 weeks of birth. SANDS had a campaign at the time called Why 17? Why on earth, in such a prosperous country, were 17 babies dying each day?

On the positive side, this rate has started to go in the right direction, however in mine (and a lot of other people’s opinion), it hasn’t reduced enough. In 2015, the UK was rated 24th out of 49 high income countries. Poland, Croatia and the Czech Republic all had lower rates of stillbirth than in the UK. I’m not an expert but shouldn’t we be leading the way rather than lagging behind Portugal, Slovakia and Estonia?

Today, June 15th, Sands have launched a new campaign based on the fact that STILL 15 babies die every day. Now to all you lovely blog readers, that statistic isn’t new. Since the beginning of the year, it is something I have mentioned almost every time I’ve written. I’m over a third of the way through my 15 races for 15 babies challenge. A typical topic of conversation now is ‘how many runs have you got to go’. Most people think I’ve done more than I actually have (is that a sign people are getting bored? I hope not!).

The charity has a number of different social media initiatives for the campaign including the obligatory selfie shot! Click here if you are interested in any 15 themed fundraising. Of course I am pretty chuffed with myself to already be on the bandwagon with my 15 themed challenge …. hmmm I wonder if they saw it and realised what a cracking idea it was! One particularly effective initiative has been a tweet they have sent every 96 minutes, highlighting that approximately every hour and a half a baby dies.

          

I hope that in 2 or 3 years time we there will be campaigns of ‘Why 13’ or ‘Why 11’ or ‘Why 9’. And then a few years later we will be celebrating having the number 1 rating, with acceptably low to non-existent numbers. Just how amazing would that be.

Although I say time and time again how blessed we are with our beautiful, amazing rainbows, there will always be a small part of us with Ewan. When I see Dylan and Jude playing together, laughing and wrestling (!) with innocent, wide eyed smiles, occasionally I wonder what Ewan’s smile would have looked like and how his laugh would have sounded.

And although I went onto give birth without complications and have two healthy boys, nothing will ever take away the pain that I felt, that even now when writing about I can still feel in my stomach and chest, when I was told Ewan’s heart had stopped. When he was born into silence. When we went home alone.

All the joy and happiness we have experienced as a family over the last 5 years, and hopefully will do in the many years to come will never erase our memories of Ewan.

If by sharing this post, a selfie or a Sands tweet or by making a donation or getting involved in any other kind of fundraising, we can continue to reduce the number of stillbirths, then Ewan’s life will have truly had a purpose.

http://www.justgiving.com/15races15babies

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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!

 

 

39 Years Young

Blurry birthday selfie!!

It’s official. Only 364 days left of my thirties! But that’s ok because life begins at 40 right?

So yesterday was my birthday. What better way to spend it than being spoiled by my wonderful husband and beautiful rainbows, whilst on holiday with the rest of my family. The day started with the boys climbing onto the bed to help me open my cards and presents. Dylan now fully understands the concepts of birthday and can break into singing birthday greetings without prompting, whereas Jude can just mumble words resembling ‘Happy Birthday Mummy’. Both are just as special and precious. To be honest, if just being cuddled up in bed was all the day had to offer, then I’d be more than happy. We tried and failed at a few selfies whilst daddy was out getting my special birthday breakfast (pastries, croissants, pain au chocolat etc mmm). Believe me, this photo was the best of a bad bunch.

We are at Centre Parcs at the moment. Me and my family unit, my older brother and his family and my mum, dad and other older brother who has flown in from America for the week. The boys are loving having their family within short trotting distance and love walking from one lodge to the next. Jude wants to be able to do all the things his older brother and cousins are doing. This includes ditching the afternoon nap because he doesn’t want to miss out on anything (not something I personally am relishing!). Dylan in particular loves playing with his cousin Emma. There is 14 months between them and being very similar personalities they get on so well together.

 

My birthday was a pretty chilled day, as most are at Centre Parcs. Activities interspersed with walking, playing, swimming and eating, all at a gentle pace. Dylan went pottery painting with his dad, grandma, auntie and cousin Emma. I took Jude on a mini high ropes adventure course.

 

One of the impromptu high points of the day had to be Jude’s hairdryer antics after we finished swimming. Move over Jedward, Judeward is here!

Once the boys were more or less asleep (they are sharing a room for the first time so you can imagine there is a fair bit of giddiness!), instead of putting on my gladrags and going out or kicking off my shoes and relaxing with a glass of wine, I pulled on my trainers and went for a run. Boy how times have changed!! I got some new running gear off Adam for my birthday and like a child wanting to play with a new toy, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Light when I went out, dark when I returned!

 

I set out wanting to do my longest run of the year so far. Although I’ve run four 10k races, my longest race of the year in May is a half marathon, so my mileage needs to increase. I set out wanting to run at least 7 ½ miles but returned having managed 8.  I ran round and round the grounds, meeting countless birds, rabbits and even startling a deer.

 

I returned triumphant and treated myself to a small glass of wine and a hot bath. I then realised that wine wasn’t the best way to hydrate so followed it with a more appropriate glass of water. Call me weird (it’s fine, I understand), but there was definitely something exciting and empowering about running on my birthday. As I was out, I was pondering and thinking about all my past birthdays, or as many as I can remember. If I have the energy when I get home, I’ll dig out some photos to share of my birthday antics over the years.

 Knowing I completed a birthday first last night, something I wouldn’t have contemplated 5, 10 or 20 years ago, is in some ways an achievement. And after the cake and wine has settled, I am still buzzing!

 

 

Our Baby Rainbow

Cheeeeeeeeese!

On Monday we celebrated another rainbow birthday. This time it was Jude – 2 years old! I know it sounds cliche but where has the time gone? I can’t help calling him my baby, but soon he will start to understand what I mean .. and get seriously cheesed off!

I’ve previously written about my first rainbow pregnancy with Dylan and the (mainly emotional) difficulties we faced. With Jude it felt a lot different. I knew that my body was now capable of carrying a baby full term. I was a lot more confident. I felt like I could be a ‘normal’ expectant mother talking about ‘when’ the baby would come rather than ‘if’ or ‘hopefully’. I had another enviable pregnancy in that I had very little, if any morning sickness. My mum couldn’t believe how lucky I had been in that respect over three pregnancies. But boy was I tired. I didn’t remember being this tired before. Especially in the early weeks I just felt exhausted. I even remember lying down at work one day. I guess the big difference was having a two year old to run around after. Whereas before I could come home from work and just lie on the sofa, relax and maybe have a sneaky snooze, that was just a distant memory. Given we were potty training too in the early weeks, it felt particularly hard. But one thing I couldn’t do was complain.

Again I felt so incredibly lucky. As with Dylan’s pregnancy, we were under the care of the same consultant, the lovely Mrs Martindale. She was fully aware of our history so we didn’t have to explain a thing. By now, we also knew some of the midwives and sonographers. We followed the same plan as with Dylan. Regular appointments and scans every 4 weeks and then to be induced at 38 weeks, if nothing happened before. This was so handy with planning when to finish work as I had a pretty good idea of when the baby would come.


Unfortunately I didn’t learn any lessons from Dylan’s pregnancy. I have very few photos of me pregnant, less than with Dylan. It is one regret that I have. This is one of the only photos I have, taken the night before I went into be induced.

 

 

 

I was due to go into hospital on the 4th February in the afternoon. Jude arrived less than 48 hours later on the morning of the 6th. Although it might seem like a long time, for the most of it I was sat on the antenatal ward waiting for things (my cervix) to get moving!! Knowing that it would probably be a couple of days given my experience with Dylan, I took about 4 novels in with me … and read them all. It was absolute bliss! I was determined to make the most of the peace and quiet (I was in a single room!) whilst I could.

On one of the nights, I received a visit from one of the midwives on the Delivery ward. It was Paula, the midwife who delivered Ewan. She’d seen my name up on the board and recognised it. I know it sounds corny, but Paula is one of those people I will probably only see a few times in my life, yet I have such a strong bond with her that is hard to explain. She was there almost every step of Ewan’s delivery and for the hours afterwards. She shared such an important chapter in our lives that is usually only reserved for close family and friends, not someone you barely know. I will forever be grateful that she was with us and it was so wonderful to see her when I was waiting for our third baby to come.

So how would I describe Jude’s entrance into the world? One word. Quick! That might sound a bit bizarre when it took nearly 2 days from being induced, but when labour actually started, boy did I know about it. I had an epidural with Ewan, but didn’t have anything with Dylan. I didn’t consciously plan a pain-relief free birth but it just happened that way. With Jude I was determined to have as many drugs as I could get. But it wasn’t to be. It felt like I went from 0-60 in 10 seconds. At the point I asked for an epidural, I got the same response again, ‘too late, baby is on its way!’

Thankfully I got another heavenly midwife, Jayne. She came on shift at 8am, took control and sorted me out straight away. She got me on gas and air (which I’d never got the hang of before) and then suggested a water birth. I was completely stunned. I had no idea that I could have one because the baby was to be monitored throughout. ‘Of course’ she said, ‘we’ll get the tub filled up’. Talk about distracting me and diverting my attention.

It’s funny how the different senses invoke particular memories. It was a beautiful sunny morning on Monday. As I got out of the car with Jude, the sun hit my face and warmed me instantly. I was transported back to the birthing pool. As I settled in the water, the sun was coming up and streaming through the water. The design of the room couldn’t have been any better. I lay there with my eyes closed and on the sun on my face. It had a enormous calming effect.

I won’t bore you with any further details other than to say within 10 minutes of getting into the pool, Jude made his entrance into the world. Our second rainbow was in our arms. Dylan came to see him a couple of hours later. He was a bit bemused and couldn’t really work out what all the fuss was about, especially when Jude cried! He eventually came round a few days later. The photo below is one of the first I took of them together. It’s a bit blurry but you can see Dylan showing him one of his dinosaurs!

 

I don’t ever want to take my rainbows for granted. They are the delights that came into our lives and mended our broken hearts. Every day is a blessing, but on special days, like birthdays, I count them even more.

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A tough day for some

Selfie

Love it or loathe it, you can’t escape the fact that tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the UK. It will be my sixth Mother’s Day as a mother, but I have only spent five with children. Having experienced the raw pain of losing a child, I now have a real understanding of what Mother’s Day means, to me anyway. In very simple terms, I can best describe it as appreciative. Appreciative of the fact that I was given another opportunity, two opportunities in fact, to be a mother.

That sounds kind of contradictory. One of the hardest thing about spending 32 weeks creating a life, for it then to end so abruptly is that you so desperately feel like a mother, you ARE a mother, but you don’t have a baby in your arms.

And when Mother’s Day comes along just over 10 weeks after you have lost that baby, it just feels like a slap in the face. It’s everywhere. On television, radio, in almost every shop and store possible. Inescapable. I actually can’t remember much about that first Mother’s Day, only that I woke up feeling terrible and wanting to hide in bed all day. Quite early in the day, I received a text message from a friend who whose mum had died a few years before. I don’t recall the exact words, but it was a message of understanding and awareness of how I might be feeling.

Growing up we never really got caught up in the commercialism of Mother’s Day (although I am sure that is something that has snowballed in the last decade). My brothers and I would attempt to do something nice for our mum. I know that mum still has a card one of my brothers made, with a poem he wrote. A rhyme something along the lines of ‘have a cup of tea whilst you relax on the settee’. I remember writing a breakfast menu with about 10 different toast shapes she could choose from. I think she opted for heart shaped!

Mum always used to (and still does) say that we didn’t need to get anything or make a fuss. She would much rather we do something spontaneous on another day in the year, rather than buy something when retailers dictated. Unfortunately on one occasion in my teenage years, I took it a bit too far by not even getting a card or acknowledging the day existed. Not my best hour! I’m hoping I’ve made up for it since!

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When I wake up tomorrow, I will be thinking about a few things. How happy, lucky, fortunate and blessed I feel to have my two rainbows, crawling over me, thrusting pirate swords and rattles in my face. My wonderful handmade cards from nursery already have pride of place in the living room. Anything else will be a bonus. Most importantly we will spend the day as a family, whether that’s going to the park or watching a DVD.

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But I will be thinking of all those mothers who don’t have noise and chaos, dribble and mess. Of those mothers who have lost babies and children. Also of those women who don’t have children and may never have. For whom Mother’s Day is one day they wish they didn’t have to endure.

And the people out there without their mothers. Those who no longer have the luxury of deciding whether to buy chocolates, wine, flowers or a pamper day. Or the even simpler luxury of putting their arms round them for a hug. On this note, I go back to word appreciative, this time of my own mum. How lucky I am to have her with me, and how I should be telling her more and more how amazing she is (Mum, I love you!).

Above all, I will think about my angel. He may not be with me in person to celebrate Mother’s Day, but I will forever celebrate being his mother in my heart.

 

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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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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Our first Rainbow

January brings with it a mixture of emotions in our household. It is a significant month for two reasons. We celebrate the birthday of our second son but mourn the death of our first.

I want to write a bit about my pregnancy with Dylan and his birth, and how Ewan’s death affected us during this time. Essentially this is the story of my first rainbow pregnancy.

It was a strange feeling when Ewan died. I knew that in essence I was a mother, but it didn’t feel like it. I felt cheated because I didn’t have a baby in my arms. So, although I was grieving, I knew very quickly that I wanted to try for another baby. It was an awful feeling. I remember the first time I mentioned it to Adam. I felt as though I was cheating on Ewan. That I was being disloyal. That in some ways I was saying that he didn’t mean a lot to us if we were willing to try again so soon. I knew deep down that wasn’t the case, but I still had conflicting voices in my head trying to convince me otherwise.

Adam was on the same wavelength as me. But he was also sensible enough to say how important it was for me to be physically and mentally well.

About eight weeks after Ewan died we had an appointment with a consultant. We were told that they couldn’t find any reason for the stillbirth. We hadn’t opted for a post-mortem (more about that another day) but still had blood tests and other results. Essentially this meant that there was nothing to stop us from going ahead and trying for another baby. The consultant echoed Adam’s thoughts about being ready. I didn’t want to wait any longer. I thought I was ready, and looking back, I still think I was.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long. Taking the pregnancy test was a completely different experience to when I found out I was pregnant first time around. The excitement just wasn’t quite there. Even though I was happy and it was what I wanted, the carefree joy wasn’t forthcoming. I remember coming downstairs to show Adam. We hugged and asked each other if we were ok, but the smiles were muted. We had lost our innocence and knew that the next nine months potentially could be anything but plain sailing.

We kind of carried on with normal life and especially in the early weeks didn’t really talk about our situation. We were kind to ourselves and in between working had a break in Germany and then a bit later on, a holiday in Scotland. We didn’t want to get too excited or think about what could be. We were still in the mindset of thinking about what should have been.

Our GP referred us to a consultant at the local hospital. We were able to see her quite early on, at about 8 weeks I think. She explained how I would be cared for and would have additional monitoring to be on the safe side.

8 week Dylan

8 week Dylan – so tiny you can barely see him!

I was to go every four weeks for a scan and check up, partly to check on the baby, but also for our own reassurance. At the first check up we unexpectedly had a scan and got to see a tiny embryo with little more than tiny stubs for arms and legs. It was amazing to see, but I found it hard to get too excited.

 

12 week dylan

12 week Dylan. The little buds are his hands and feet.

 

At my 12 week scan, I went through the normal procedure e.g. seeing the sonographer, before I then had see the consultant. Adam and I sat in the waiting area and I had a flashback to sitting in the same spot waiting for the scan which would tell me Ewan had died. Up to that point, I felt as though I had kept it together, but broke down when that memory pinged in my brain. By the time I saw the sonographer, I was an absolute gibbering wreck leaving Adam to explain why. She was absolutely lovely and reassuring, and probably spent more time with us than necessary just to make sure I felt better.

We were very reluctant to tell people and kept the news to ourselves other than telling close family and friends. Usually most people will make an announcement after 12 weeks, but we just told people on a need-to-know basis. And the Facebook statement was a definite no-no. Why? My skewed logic told me that the more people knew, the greater the likelihood something would go wrong. So by keeping it quiet, it would increase the chances of everything going well. Bizarre I know, but that’s what my brain told me at the time.

Still trying to cover up! In Scotland at about 16 weeks

Scotland camping St Andrews

I don’t think I made it public knowledge at work until I was about 18 weeks. I remember my manager asking me when I was going to say something (she knew very early on) because people were already starting to wonder and ask questions. A few nights later, I became very upset. I (irrationally) thought that now more people knew, the more likely it was that something would go wrong.

It wasn’t long after this that I spoke to a work colleague, who had been through a similar experience and then gone on to have twin daughters. I asked her how she had coped during the second pregnancy. She told me that she came to the conclusion that there was no point in worrying. It wouldn’t make her feel any better, nor would it affect the outcome. This struck a chord – she was right. Spending my time and negative energy thinking about something which may never happen was pointless. When I talked it through with Adam later, he was a bit frustrated as he had been trying to tell me the same thing all along! I think I maybe just needed to hear it from someone who had been in the same dark place but had a positive outcome.

From this point on, my mood definitely lightened. I wouldn’t say I fully relaxed and had the carefree abandon of the first time pregnant me, but mentally I was in a much better place.

We continued to get excellent care from our consultant, Mrs Martindale. I was also assigned a caseload midwife which meant I saw the same midwife every time rather than seeing a different one each time in clinic (thus saved from having to explain our situation time and time again). Around the time I was scanned at 28 weeks, Dylan was measuring on a small side. Although Mrs Martindale didn’t have huge concerns, she still sent me for regularly heartbeat monitoring over a few days, just to double check. I was surprisingly calm throughout this time. The hardest part was going onto the antenatal ward and being taken into one particular room. I recognised straight away that it was the same room I went into when I had my first scan to find Ewan’s heartbeat.

Early on, it was suggested that I would be induced early in an attempt to reduce the risk of another stillbirth and also allay our worries and fears. Mrs Martindale recommended going to 37 or 38 weeks. I was quite comforted knowing that I wasn’t going to go overdue and could plan ahead. Because of this I decided to finish work quite early (34 weeks). This coincided with time off over Christmas and the wedding of one of my best friends in Northern Ireland. This was quite exciting actually. I wasn’t able to fly so we had to take a mammoth trip driving to Scotland to get the ferry. Still, it was worth it to catch up with old university friends and get the cobwebs blown away by the wind blowing off the Irish Sea!

One regret is that I didn’t get many photographs of my pregnancy with Dylan once I started showing. (Stupidly now) I was reluctant to capture pictures of my bump. As if it was going to affect anything! Thankfully I did manage to relax in time for the wedding.

Finally some bump photos!

Giants Causeway Me and Jen Ruth and co Ruth wedding

The hospital were so careful in their attempts to avoid any clash with dates associated with Ewan (14th and 17th January). So I eventually went into hospital to be induced on the 10th January 2012 and our beautiful rainbow bounced into the world two days later. I will share his entrance into the world, but that is for another day.

Tomorrow we will celebrate his 4th birthday. His new scooter is set up in the living room with balloons attached and I think I am more excited than he is. In those darker months it didn’t feel as though we would get to this day. Only a few weeks after losing Ewan, my mum and I went to visit his grave. She told me with confidence that I would be a mum one day. I didn’t dare believe her then. But as we all know, mum’s are always right!

Happy Birthday to our beautiful Rainbow!

P1070626

..And a Happy New Year

Fireworks

So another New Year passes. How did you spend yours? We celebrated in the same way as we have for the past six years. A night in watching a film/boxset (last night we caught up with the latest season of the Walking Dead), our favourite food/takeaway (left over buffet dips, cheese and biscuits and smoked salmon!) and generally rarely making it to midnight. We lasted until about 10.30 pm and then crawled up to bed!

It hasn’t always been so. Whilst some people are very ‘anti-New Years’, I’ve always been one to celebrate, ideally somewhere different or exciting. But always with friends and of course, for the last ten years, Adam. It probably stems from the fact that from turning 18 I worked in a pub on New Years Eve for about four years. Ok it was generally lots of fun (with great tips!), but it wasn’t the same as kicking my heels up and being on a dancefloor at midnight with friends singing Auld Lang Syne.

There has been a fair share of  celebrating in nightclubs and pubs across the country. One favourite New Years was at a friend’s house party in Watford. It was particularly memorable because at midnight, after the obligatory singing, we stayed in our huddle and started decided to shout out all the things that had made us happy or we were proud of in the previous year. The fact it lasted a long time obviously showed what a contented bunch we were! I also remember spending the whole of New Years Day in our pyjamas watching Sex and the City boxsets.

I’ve been lucky enough to be abroad a few times and celebrated in memorable places.

  • The Blue Mountains near Sydney – my family came out to visit me whilst I was backpacking. We rented a cottage in the middle of nowhere, played games and set off our own fireworks.
  • Christchurch, New Zealand where my in-laws live. We had a few drinks during the day and then watched the fireworks from their house overlooking the city at midnight.
  • Cologne, Germany – a truly amazing New Year experience spent with friends, ranking up there with one of the best. We had a tip off that NY in Germany would be spectacular, and it didn’t disappoint. We witnessed a truly ‘dis’organised firework display, spontaneously created by the locals. It was the stuff of nightmares for British Health and Safety staff, but we loved it.
  • Arusha, Tanzania at the start of our honeymoon. We actually went to bed early that NYE because we had to be up at the crack of dawn to go on safari the following day. I still remember hearing the fireworks.

Cologne 068 Cologne 018Celebrating in Cologne

It could be argued that our most memorable was the year we got to celebrate midnight twice! We’d spent another Christmas with Adam’s parents in New Zealand and set off travelling back to the UK on New Years Eve. Our flight left Auckland at 11pm. Once we were in the air, the cabin crew handed out glasses of bubbly and toasted the New Zealand midnight. After a 12+ hour flight we landed in Los Angeles just after midday on the 31st having crossed the International Date Line (thus going back in time). When we boarded our connecting a couple of hours later, out came the glasses again and this time we toasted the UK New Year. Two for the price of one!

So even though I’ve enjoyed sharing my trip down New Year Memory Lane, I am still more than happy to spend the evening of the 31st, as I did last night. Some may say it is boring and uneventful.

I know that one day the boys will stop up and celebrate with us. We might take them out to stop with family or friends. You never know, we might even take them to experience a New Year abroad.

But for now, I am happy and satisfied cuddled up on the sofa in my PJ’s, with my other half and two sleeping rainbows upstairs. Forever grateful and thankful for what I have.

Happy New Year to you all.