Tag Archives: rainbows

Enchanting Stars

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I discovered after starting my own blog, that there are thousands of blogs out in cyber space. Probably tens to hundreds of thousands. Far too many to read and keep up with. There are however, a small number of blogs that I do subscribe to. These are the ones that, in particular, I love to read. Either the content or style of writing, or both.

There is one I really want to share with you – ‘Same Person, Different Me’. You may already be aware of the author/blogger, Joanne Thompson. She is the co-founder (along with her husband Dan) of the charity Millie’s Trust. Joanne and Dan set up the charity after the tragic death of their baby daughter Millie in a choking incident in 2012. The charity offers first aid training at extremely low costs (and in some cases free) as they believe everyone should have access to gaining life-saving skills, regardless of circumstances. In addition they are petitioning for all staff in nurseries to be Paediatric First Aid trained.

Our children are similar ages. Dylan and Millie were both born in January 2012. Jude and their second baby, Leo were both born in February 2015. I wonder if that is one of the many reasons why I am drawn to reading Joanne’s blog. We have also both experienced losing a child, although admittedly in very different circumstances.

It is clear that the family went through an incredibly heart-breaking and devastating experience. And still are. And whilst some people would be completely broken (not to say that they weren’t), they channelled their energies to create something positive and worthwhile. A lasting memory of their baby girl, Millie’s charity. They are the epitome of an inspirational couple.

Same Person, Different Me is a very emotional blog. Joanne writes very candidly about her memories of Millie, how she deals with different anniversaries and the mental health illnesses she was diagnosed with after Millie’s death. She also writes about Millie’s brother, their Rainbow Leo and the absolute joy he gives them. She writes about how she got through her pregnancy and how she is currently dealing with the issue of weaning. Most parents out there would see weaning as an exciting time. But understandably given the way Millie died, it has been much more difficult for Joanne. I feel as though she is so incredibly brave to share her thoughts and feelings. If you are going to read any other blog, then please head on over to take a look.

Finally (and this is what has prompted me to share my love for the blog), Joanne and Dan have entered a competition by Thomson to name a plane! They could very easily have chosen a name representing Millie or Leo. But instead they have entered ‘Enchanting Stars’ to represent all our lost loved ones, flying high through the clouds. This is her full post with its beautiful explanation. So click on the link below to vote for Enchanting Stars. If you don’t have a lost loved one, then use your vote for our angel Ewan.

http://www.nameourplane.com/name/enchanting-stars

Forward, back, forward, back?

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Tonight I aimed to put the boys to bed an hour later than their normal time. In reality it was actually about 20-25 minutes. But the intent was there. Just before Jude went down, Dylan accidentally FaceTimed my brother. He was surprised they were both still up (as I’m usually a bedtime Nazi) so I reasoned it was so they would hopefully wake up later in the morning. ‘Now that never works’ was his amused response.

I remember our first clock change after having Dylan. We’d just about started to establish a good bedtime routine and I was petrified of losing it. I Googled how to deal with Daylight Savings with children (I Googled most child-related questions back then …. wait, I still do). I can’t recall which site I picked it up from, but the advice I followed involved starting the week before (serious planning required then!). It recommended moving bedtime by 10 minutes every night so that it wouldn’t come as a huge shock to change it by an hour the night before. I followed the advice diligently. D you know what? I actually can’t even remember if it worked or not.

Fast forward to earlier this year when Jude had arrived. With two, I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I spent all week moving their bedtime 10 minutes later each day. Then on the Saturday night as I was quietly sat giving Jude his last feed an hour later than normal, it suddenly dawned on me. I had moved the bedtimes the wrong way! The clocks were going forward not back. I tried to blame sleep deprivation, but in reality I was just being ultra dim!! The following day felt super short indeed.

So tonight I just tried to keep them both awake as long as humanly possible. After a long session at soft play this afternoon, Jude had a later than normal nap and even Dylan managed to sneak in a little kip on the car journey home. So it wasn’t quite as hard as anticipated.

And tomorrow? Well if they do get up earlier, I guess it just means extra opportunities for smiles, kisses and cuddles from my beautiful Rainbows!

P.s The photo at the top is our wallpaper. I’m not obsessed with time … honest!

 

Loss is loss, whenever it happens

Angel

When Ewan, our angel, died, a lot of people shared their own experiences of loss with us. Either their own, or that of friends and/or family. A lot of people, particularly those who had experienced a miscarriage, said that they thought that a stillbirth in late pregnancy must have been much harder.

About 18 months after losing Ewan, I met another local couple who had recently lost their baby. At the time we were both interested in setting up a local Sands support group. We shared our personal stories. Their baby had been born with various physical complications and died at about 3-4 days old. When I told them about Ewan’s stillbirth, the girl commented that our experience must have been much worse. Her reasoning was that at least they were able to spend a few days with their child.

I remember disagreeing with her. She had gone full-term and left work to go on maternity leave. They had the nursery ready and when she went into labour, were fully expecting to bring a healthy baby back to the house a few days later. I had only gone to 32 weeks and hadn’t finished work. We hadn’t decorated a nursery (partly because we were moving house). We also knew that when we went into hospital, we wouldn’t be bringing our baby home.

There is obviously something within us, or most of us, where we look at our own situation and maybe think how it could have been worse. Kind of looking on the bright side in a way. I know that I did that a lot. And still do. Ok, losing a baby so late on was bloody awful. One of the most horrendous things that could ever happen. But I am incredibly thankful for those 32 wonderful weeks. Adam and I were full of excitement and anticipation. We were nervous, as most first time parents are. I can remember the scans. I remember his first kick and the many more that followed. Talking about names. Booking NCT classes.

I have never experienced an early miscarriage but I have some friends who have. I have heard people say the words ‘it’s only a miscarriage’ or ‘she was only 8 weeks’. Seriously? There is no only about the loss of any baby. Whenever it occurs. I really do feel for those who have experienced miscarriage, because it is so often kept under wraps and not discussed. With early miscarriages, a lot of people wouldn’t have announced the pregnancy in the first place. So they often suffer in silence. An ex-work colleague of mine who has also started blogging, recently wrote a thought provoking post about it. It was only after her eldest boy was born, and through similar groups we joined on Facebook that I was aware of her losses.

What I am trying to say, in a roundabout and not very eloquent way, is that grief and loss is not a competition. No one person can hold the monopoly. Any loss is agonising. Just because someone loses a baby at 8 weeks, shouldn’t mean that it can be any less painful that losing a baby in the second or third trimester. I imagine it is a different type of pain and grief, but at the end of it all, there is still ache and longing. Loss is loss.

Did you know that 9th – 15th October is Baby Loss Awareness Week in the UK? A number of different charities work together to promote awareness and give parents, families and friends the opportunity to commemorate their babies lives. It is also an opportunity to talk more openly about baby loss. If you are interested in more information, visit the dedicated website. Ribbon pins are available from the Sands online shop. The week finishes each year on October 15th with the global ‘Wave of Light’. People all over the world will be lighting candles in memory of their babies. If you will be taking part, I would love to know.

Written in memory of all the angels who were taken too soon.

#babyloss #breakthesilence

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I’m sorry for lying

2 Rainbows, dreamy

How many children do you have?

A simple question. Or is it?

It’s a question I dread because most of the time I lie. I say that I have two children.

I don’t. I have three.

So why do I lie?

The vast majority of people who ask the question have only just met me. They have seen me with one of my children and politely enquire whether there is another. It could be a work contact who knows I have been on maternity leave. They may have known me a while, but maybe not personally. Most people who ask probably didn’t know me before January 2011. Because that is when my firstborn was stillborn.

I lie because lying is easier than telling the truth. If I tell people I have two children, two boys, it is a safe answer. They nod, smile, maybe ask their names, enquire if they are good or not. It may spark a conversation in which we might swap stories, compare notes. It is easy.

But every time I lie, I feel a pang of guilt. I feel as though I am cheating. That I am denying Ewan’s existence. Deep down I know that I am not. I do talk about him to friends and family. I write about him in this blog. But somehow I can’t help thinking I am taking the easy way out.

What would happen if I told the truth? I have a fair idea. I would tell them I have three children, three boys. ‘Oh really’, they would say and possibly follow it with a ‘that must be a handful’. They would most likely enquire of their ages. And that is when it would get awkward. Well one is 3 ½, one is 7 months. And one was stillborn.

Under most circumstances that would be a real conversation stopper. Come on, be honest. What would you say?

So rather than deal with the likely discomfort and embarrassment, I lie.

Occasionally I tell the truth. Not often, but occasionally. And I think I do this because I believe the person I am talking to will understand. I believe that they won’t fidget or look at the floor. That they will respond in a way that won’t make me feel the need to apologise or hurriedly gloss over it. I don’t mean to criticise those I don’t initially tell. It’s just the best way I have of explaining it.

Reading other forums and social networks on the topic of stillbirth and baby loss, I know there are other parents out there who don’t take the easy route. They tell it how it is. And to those, I raise my hat.

I know my reasons for doing it. I’m kind of ok with it. I think. I guess. But I still feel pain. And I still feel guilt.

So to Ewan, this is my apology. I am sorry. I don’t mean to act as though you never existed. I hope you understand.

#MySundayPhoto – Summer in Scotland

So here we are on holiday. Packing our bags for Scotland in September was challenging. 4 seasons springs to mind! We’ve been here a full day and to be fair the weather hasn’t been too bad. It was sunny when we arrived and only rained a little bit this afternoon. It just so happened to be when I took this photo!

I love it though. We were sat on a wooden boat, overlooking the sea and taking a make believe journey to a pirates cove. Just Dylan and me huddled up together (oh and two plastic sharks, Timmy the turtle and his new Pterodactyl!). Who needs sun?

Summer in Scotland

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A Lasting Lullaby

Last night (or should I say the early hours of this morning), Baby Rainbow aka Jude wouldn’t settle. He’s started with a cold I think and was pretty grizzly. This is not a usual occurrence as despite not yet being 6 months, he is an excellent sleeper. Sorry! I am one of those annoying mothers who has a baby that has slept through from an early age.

Anyway I ended up bringing him downstairs, trying my best to soothe him to sleep. I paced up and down (clocking up 1500 steps on my FitBit in the process!) and after all else failed, I started singing. It’s not that I never sing, I just don’t sing to him a lot. The one song that pops into my head when I do sing to calm my rainbows is a lullaby that my grandma used to sing to me. As I started, I had the most vivid recollection of her. I always do whenever I sing or hear this lullaby, as I associate the song with her. I could picture being in her spare room, dark but with the light coming through the door. I think (but this could be my mind playing tricks) that there is a pink eiderdown and grandma is sat on the top of the bed, singing to me:

Moon stars“Go to sleep my baby,  Close those pretty eyes, God is up above you, looking at the beauty of the skies.

Great big moon is shining, Stars begin to peep, It’s time that little Rachel Smith was going to sleep. “

 

My memory is at least 30 years old, yet it is so clear it could be from last week.

It’s not the most popular lullaby I don’t think but it is simple and beautiful. I have also since heard the phrase ‘Angels up above you” and so I now sing this as it makes me think of Ewan and my grandma, together looking down on us.

2 Rainbows, dreamyIt worked a treat, well after about 50 repetitions and Jude finally dropped off. Before heading back upstairs, I just took some time to stare at his beautiful face and count my blessings.

 

 

 

Stateside and Steam Trains

This is my first Out and About post. One of the aims of writing my blog is to document (partly for me to read in years to come!) but also share the various fun things we get up to as a family. I love to write about places we visit and if we go on holiday, I’ve barely unpacked before I’m on Tripadvisor uploading photos and carefully composing my reviews.

So I am starting with our jaunt into Yorkshire last weekend. We are only 7 miles from the border so it isn’t too far or adventurous! We first paid a visit to the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam railway and then moved onto Billy Bob’s Parlour for food and play.

Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam railway

This was the perfect trip out for Dylan. Like most boys aged 3, he absolutely loves trains. Any type of train really. Steam, diesel, electric, miniature, toy. He isn’t fussy. It wasn’t our first ride on the railway. We visited 18 months ago for the Santa Special. Dylan was a tad too young to fully appreciate the experience and was more interested in trying to run up and down the platform than board the train. Oh and he cried when he met Santa.

Fast forward to Sunday and he was definitely much more interested in the build-up. Typically he had fallen asleep in the car but quickly bucked up at the sight of the train yard. Aboard the train, we sat in one of the old-style carriages (with a corridor) facing each other. It wasn’t too busy so we had one to ourselves. The seats were plush and velvety. We delighted ourselves in plonking down Jude on his own (only for a few seconds, he can’t sit up yet!). He looked so adorable.

The journey from Embsay to Bolton Abbey is 15 minutes. Ok, it’s not very long. But for the attention span of a 3 year old it was perfect. Jude sat on our knees for the journey and seemed to be taking in the passing scenery with great interest. Dylan delighted in shouting out everything he could see – cows, sheep, fields, trees, rivers. Unfortunately there weren’t any tunnels (his absolute favourite) but there were a few bridges which kept him more than happy.

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Bolton Abbey is a bigger station so we got off to have a bit of a walk, look inside the ticket office and watched the engine chugging back to the other end of the train. We decided to get the same train for our return journey. Jude paid less attention on the way back as he announced his hunger and demanded feeding.

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The ticket office at Bolton Abbey

The railway is run by volunteers and all those we met were friendly and welcoming. The guard who came round to check our tickets was happy to talk to Dylan and explain what he was doing. We didn’t use the buffet car (we’d brought our own snacks) but the prices seemed very reasonable. Both stations are in great condition given that they were built in the late 1800’s. I’m not sure if they were ever in a bad state of repair, if they were then they have been lovingly restored.

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The beautiful Yorkshire countryside from Embsay Station

The visit definitely got the thumbs up from both boys (even though Jude was less aware!), and given it is only half an hour away from home, I’m sure we will make a return visit, maybe at one of their themed events.

Billy Bob’s Parlour

A confession. Billy Bob’s is one of our favourite places at the moment. This was our sixth visit of the year so far, and is unlikely to be our last! Given its proximity to Embsay station (less than 2 miles), it would have been simply rude not to have combined the two in one trip.

After our first visit last year, I wrote a Tripadvisor review giving it 5/5 and said that it managed to combine two things that rarely go together – fantastic kids play area and amazing food. Usually soft play areas are great for the little ones, but offer up the usual fair when it comes to food – sandwiches, pizza, chips and the like. Alternatively you can find a great restaurant with fab food, for both kids and adults, but there is nothing to do to keep them entertained. Billy Bob’s can do both with ease.

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Starting with the play areas. There are two – outside and indoor (the barn), so you can visit in all weathers. We have been in July and January and Dylan has had an equally good time. I’ve no idea how much all the play equipment cost (probably a lot) – it looks amazing and appeals to both boys and girls. All carefully crafted by wood there is a plane, bus, train, digger, pirate ship, ark, castle (the list is not exhaustive!). There are swings outside and a huge slide in the barn (which the children have to climb huge bales of hay to get to the top), as well as an area for mini tractors and trailers. There is a separate area in the barn for older children too. Obviously I haven’t spent much time there yet but at a quick glance there are plenty of rope swings and more hay bales. There are plenty of places for adults to sit and observe, although of course they can always get stuck in with the kids on the equipment.

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And now onto the food. Excuse me while I drool for 5 minutes. Oh the food is amazing. Adam and I are busily working our way through the American themed menu. So far we have sampled pancakes, nachos, the Coney Island hot dog, burgers, pulled pork, onion straws and our current favourite, the Brooklyn Deli-wich (New York style bagel with pastrami, pickles and a tonne of other wonderful toppings). Every time we over-order, although we are getting a little bit better. The portion sizes are huge! Dylan tends to opt for pancakes or a puppy dog off the kids menu. The boys also fill themselves up with a huge banana milkshake. I have still yet to leave room for one of the amazing sounding desserts and only once think I have managed some ice cream (the parlour is the home of the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Company).

The diner itself is what I imagine most 1950’s American eateries looked like. There are booths that fit up to 8 adults and it has also recently been extended and houses a yellow American school bus… which you can dine in! We have yet to experience the this – maybe we will tackle it when we don’t have car seats, buggies or high chairs to contend with …. that’ll be in about 3 years then! The service is super quick and always with a smile.

We often arrive early, let Dylan have a play for an hour, eat and leave time for another play before heading home. On Sunday we took a risk, didn’t book and luckily we nabbed a table for 4pm. However usually I book via the website, which is a great new-ish service they offer.

We trundled back into Lancashire, full to bursting and happy with our afternoon’s adventures. Well almost everyone was happy. Jude cried solidly for 30 minutes which was a tad traumatic for us all (mostly for him). Bless him, he just wanted a cuddle!

 

What’s in a name?

Growing up I didn’t really have a nickname. But that didn’t last for very long when I started university. It was a bit of a ritual to be given a nickname in the first few weeks. And almost 20 years on (ok that really makes me feel old!), mine still refuses to be forgotten. To be honest I don’t mind. I quite like it actually.

Ninja

Don’t worry, I’ll explain. Without boring you too much, in Fresher’s Week there was an event at the Student Union bar. I’d maybe had a wee bit too much to drink (it was Fresher’s Week after all) and maybe got a wee bit too feisty with some students from a ‘rival’ hall of residence. A few weeks later it was reported in our Hall newsletter that the Ginger Ninja from Burnley had started a fight. And so the Ninja part stuck. Ok so the part about me starting a fight wasn’t strictly quite true, but I wasn’t going to let an elaboration of the truth get in the way of a good urban legend … and a good nickname!

Some of my close friends don’t even use my real name (I think they have forgotten what it is). They have even taught their children to call me Auntie Ninja. I wonder if they will still use it when I am sat in my rocking chair with grandchildren at my feet!

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Two rainbows (I didn’t take this… I wish I had!)

 

So where does the title of my blog come from? An Angel and Two Rainbows. The name describes our children. Our Angel – Ewan, our eldest son who died before he was born and his two younger brothers Dylan and Jude, our Rainbows . The term ‘Rainbow baby’ is used to describe a baby that is born following a still birth, infant death or miscarriage. I had never heard this term before until I became pregnant with Dylan (our second baby). The rainbow represents beauty, colour and brightness following the darkness and misery of a storm. I keep finding these words below on the internet. I’m not sure where it comes from:

“Rainbow Babies” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm.

When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath.

What it means is the something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds.

Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of colour, energy and hope.

I can’t remember when I first heard the term, but I think it is such a lovely description. Some friends of ours tragically lost their baby boy about 18 months after Ewan died. A year later they had a baby girl – they gave her Rainbow as a middle name. How beautiful and special for her.

I’d been musing about a blog title for a few days and wasn’t happy with anything I thought of. Then, when I was out for a run, with my head clear the name just popped into my brain. I knew straight away given the things that I wanted to write about, it was the perfect name. I was so happy that I ran an extra lap around the reservoir!

When I was pregnant, Ewan was always our number one boy’s name. I remember being on holiday when I was about 8 weeks pregnant and we started to tentatively and excitedly talk about names. We knew we probably shouldn’t at that early stage. Anyway there was no contest with Ewan and Adam and I were in complete agreement.

We found out that Ewan had died two days before he was born. Friday 14th January 2011. We spent the weekend at home before we went back into hospital on the Sunday to give birth. We decided to finalise names before going in. Adam and I had an agreement early on that we would be honest with each other and talk about anything, no matter how we felt. We talked about how we weren’t sure whether to use the name Ewan (I think I was the one who brought it up). Because it was our favourite name. The one we had always wanted. If we used it for our baby who wasn’t going to live, then we couldn’t use it again if we were lucky enough to have another boy. So we started to think of other names. I can’t even recall what the suggestions were. It doesn’t really matter because we quickly realised that none of them seem right. So we decided to go with our first choice.

A few days later after Ewan was born, Adam said to me that he was so glad that we went with our hearts and chose our favourite name. Because it was our special name and our angel was, and will always be, so very special. If we had chosen any other name, it would have been like saying Ewan was second best. When he was anything but. In hindsight it now seems almost ridiculous that we had that initial conversation. Why did we ever think that we wouldn’t call him Ewan? But also in hindsight I remember that we were in a state of real shock and despair, and that helps me understand.

Whilst we were able to pick Ewan’s name easily, it took us a long time to agree on Dylan and Jude, our two Rainbows. Not down to me I might add. Adam was the fussy one (you know the episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel are trying to pick names? – Adam veto-ed almost everything I suggested!). I love all three names, but Ewan? It’s just that extra bit special.

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!)

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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!