This weekend has been a tough one. The one before Jason’s birthday. The one where we were meant to make some family memories. The one where Ellie had the most epic tantrum of all time. The one where Mummy cried far more than I would like to admit.
The one where it all went tits up basically.
I have found that making plans spontaneously means those plans can get broken very quickly. We decided to “celebrate” Jason’s birthday early this year as we aren’t sure how I am going to feel with Mother’s Day following his birthday this weekend and wanted to take Ellie to the Zoo. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the Zoo as by 8:30 Ellie had multiple trips to “the step” and I was defeated.
The day didn’t seem to get any better and it just felt wrong. I so badly needed to spend time together as a family that I think it made it harder to deal with Ellie’s tantrums. It’s hard being a parent after baby loss. It’s hard being a parent.
Wow the terrible twos are in full swing over here. I have always heard that redheads have fiery tempers but I’d never fully believed that hair colour could define temper yet I seem to have the fiestiest toddler ever!
Her temper is definitely worse more recently. She has learnt to scream, tighten her fists and shout as loud as she possibly can. I’m 100% sure our neighbours either hate us or thinks we are trying to kill her.
Anyone else’s toddler squeal like a banshee when she’s in a complete meltdown? Or is it just mine? She is so incredibly loud too so the banshee noise travels throughout the house. Earlier on today a meltdown happened over not being carried down the stairs, the squealing started and I had to walk away. I really struggle walking away, I don’t want Ellie to hate being on her own because we leave when she is having a tantrum but today we both needed 2 minutes to calm down and the noise from upstairs was deafening.
I know tantrums are all part of being a toddler; exhurting independence and learning about boundaries and I believe E needs to learn early on that this behaviour is not acceptable but I also know this is a healthy part of her growing up and I don’t want to squash her fiestiness too.
This morning we took Ellie for her 2 year health review at the local baby clinic, ever since she’s been born I have had awful feelings about health visitors.
When Ellie was first born we saw 4 different health visitors in the first week, none of them knew our background and I felt myself explaining Jason’s death over and over again and as any bereaved parent would tell you it is so hard when you bring your rainbow baby home finally that reliving those moments for strangers is too much. I must say the majority were sympathetic, offered support etc but one HV really got to me and even with knowing our story I still felt as though Ellie was going to die too as they were so rude and abrupt, I remember sobbing over the fact that she was jaundiced slightly and that HV had convinced me death was inevitable.
You could say since then I have felt very wary and apprehensive whenever health visitors are mentioned.
Ellie’s 2 year review went well, the health visitor was lovely and although again she didn’t know Jason’s story I chose not to tell her as I didn’t want it to become a battle of whether we needed more support or not. Ellie was great and stood proudly to be measured and weighed, we talked through her development which isn’t a concern at all however she did focus on Ellie not being able to jump yet… She does jump but isn’t confident taking her feet off the ground, I know this will come with time and that she doesn’t take steps one foot on each step but again she is quite small for her age and the steps seem pretty big in comparison.
I’m afraid that she is going to end up short and dumpy like her mama 😂 Ellie is on the 75th centile line for her weight and is a healthy 2stone now however her height is only on the 25th centile line. I never expect her to be tall, myself and her Daddy are only just 5ft and a half really so genetically she will need help getting things off the top shelf lol.
I felt myself fighting over our bedtime routine, mainly because I know what we do currently works to a certain degree, Ellie has a bath, watches In The Night Garden and cbeebies Bedtime Story (or The Simpsons), we read a couple of stories and then we sit in her room and wait for her to fall asleep. It’s not ideal at all but it works. She still doesn’t sleep through the night but has stopped waking up crying she knows she can come in to us and she settles instantly. I never wanted to co-sleep, I know the risks and the debate that goes on and I am still very against the idea however you do what you can to ensure you get sleep and Ellie simply misses us and wants cuddles in the night, it is a natural instinct as a parent to hold your children close; even more so when you had to leave one of your children in a hospital and watch as they lay in a wooden box unable to hold, unable to see or hear them cry. I believe if things were different I would be a different kind of parent but seeing as this is the life I’ve been dealt I will never give up a chance to hold Ellie and soothe her when she needs me.
I am proud of my girl and the milestones she has achieved already, I love watching her grow and develop, I love her personality and her independence even if that does mean she is stubborn and has a temper to match her fiery hair. She is my reason for breathing, she saved me in ways she will never know and she is perfect.
December has been a busy month and I decided at the beginning of the month that I wouldn’t blog but focus on family, work and life in general as December is always so busy.
December meant the start of this year’s #AdventForJason which has helped create so many memories and given me something to focus on. When Jess (The Legacy Of Leo) set up #Adventtoremember I knew it would grow and that it would be a way of making our own babies legacy known over the Christmas period. For me Christmas has never been hard, as I know it is for so many parents in the loss community, however I do find my desire to make the world remember Jason is heightened over any celebration like Christmas and Advent To Remember certainly helps me fulfil that need.
This December has seen us make lots of memories as a family; visits to see Santa, random acts of kindness in Jason’s memory, donations to different charities and a special Polar Express ride.
This December also gave us illness, with all 3 of us feeling so bad that we didn’t even have Christmas dinner! I pigged out on sausage rolls while Luke and Ellie barely ate anything, we spent Christmas day in our pyjamas resting and just feeling crap. It certainly wasn’t the perfect Christmas I had hoped for but actually it was nice just being the 3 of us and not worrying about having to be sociable or even dressed!
December was as busy as I had anticipated but the memories we made have been worth the rushing around (I was still buying gifts on 23rd December!!)
I know Christmas is a difficult time for most and I really hope it was as gentle as it needed to be for those who do find it a tough time for whatever reason.
Tomorrow you turn 2 years old and I honestly don’t know where the last 2 years have gone, it feels like I blinked and you’ve suddenly become a real toddler. A walking, talking, shouting, opinionated toddler and I love you so much!
Ellie, you will never know how much you really saved me, before you were born I was stuck in a life of sadness and grief and I had very few reasons to feel genuine happiness. Now you are here there is light even in my darkest times; I have a reason to feel happy and that reason is you.
These last few months have contained lots of milestones and the terrible twos have definitely shown themselves in more ways than one. We have heard a lot of “no” and “mine” and you are so strong willed I had to spend 45 minutes on Sainsburys car park while you had a full-on meltdown over not wanting to sit in your car seat (thanks for that!) You throw yourself to the floor crying when you don’t get your own way and have started hitting/kicking out in anger. Let’s not even get started on nappy changing or feeding!
Bedtime is still a struggle however you have started sleeping through on the odd occasion for roughly 9-11 hours in your own bed in your own room! We have no sleep routine because you fight it so much and you always seem to be asleep when I finish work to pick you up. You do love bedtime stories, yours and Daddy’s record is 10 books in one sitting but you’re favourite seems to be “Where’s Tim’s Ted?” which I know off by heart. I love watching you reading because already you are showing such a great understanding of emotion, noticing when a character is sad. You love a bath before bed, splashing around and blowing bubbles, I just wish I knew how to wash your hair without it becoming world war 3 in the bathroom.
In the past month you have found a whole new word bank and new words are being said every day, I love the conversations we are having and I can’t believe how much you understand too. It’s taken a while to get to where we are with your speech, I think your cheekiness has meant you just couldn’t be bothered to do it whereas now you literally don’t stop. Last night you started singing “Baby Shark” at 6am while you were still fast asleep, it was so cute and so annoying all at the same time. You break my heart when you sing “Twinkle Twinkle” but it is one of your favourites so I have learnt how to sing it back to you without crying, one day you will be more aware of some of the things that trigger us but I never want to stop you from doing something just because your brother died.
You have the most cheeky smile and already know how to wrap us both around your finger. You make us laugh and smile with your amazing personality and I have loved watching the girl you have become. I can honestly say this time is my favourite so far, you are your own little person, with your own likes and dislikes, thoughts and you certainly know what you want. I love watching you play and you have such a caring nature that fills my heart with so much love.
I remember the day before you were born so clearly, feeling so nervous and scared that you wouldn’t make it and the days that followed became harder too. I have spent the last 2 years wondering whether that day would be my last day with you and I hate that this is the mother I am. I find being your Mama the most rewarding and also the hardest; I am filled with guilt every time I get annoyed or impatient with you which I know is part of parenting but knowing my time with you could be cut short at any moment makes it so much harder.
Ellie, you are quite frankly my ray of sunshine and also a total pain in my backside sometimes. You deserve to have the most wonderful life, filled with love, happiness and laughter and my promise to you is that I will do everything I can to make sure that happens. You are loved beyond measure and always will be my beautiful girl.
I’ll never know what I did but I do know I am so lucky to be your Mama! ❤
It all started a few years ago when my brother who if I remember rightly was around 17 at the time woke up and had quite a traumatic situation happen (which I won’t go in to the gory details) and meant he needed a very quick trip to A&E to be checked out. Any one who know’s my brother knows he can be quite dramatic at times and we had assumed this event wasn’t too serious however we were wrong.
A trip to A&E meant we had learnt that my brother had quite a poorly bladder, and had had this for quite some time…possibly from birth and this meant he needed to be taken to Alder Hey Hospital as our local hospital did not have the facilities to support him. My family were quite worried as Liverpool isn’t around the corner and it meant close to a 2 hour drive for my Dad there and back each day and he was in hospital for about a week I think. Due to his Down Syndrome, Alder Hey allowed him to stay on the children’s ward, he was mentally the same age as the other children on the ward and it helped knowing he would be acknowledged as both a child and a young adult. I remember being so incredibly scared, thinking he was going to die, a worry I had from a young age, and I’d be left without my wonderful, loving brother. Alder Hey were absolutely amazing with him and my family and I will always be grateful to them for their amazing facilities as without them my brother may not have been here today.
I share this story as a bit of a background as to why I feel such a need to participate in Matalan’s collaboration with Alder Hey around this time of year. For anyone who doesn’t know, for the past few years Matalan have released a special set of pyjamas/dog outfits/socks in partnership with Alder Hey in a bid to raise money AND most importantly awareness for a charity/hospital who do their VERY best to change the lives of their patients and families during their stay.
This partnership has been a huge hit since day one and the first year it became very difficult to get any of the merchandise however my Mother-in-law triumphed and was able to get Ellie a #getyourstripeson onesie for her very first christmas. She was a month old and I felt so proud that she was already supporting such a wonderful cause. Deep down I know had Jason lived, he most probably would have needed the care from Alder Hey too so it feels important to me that I support it whenever I can.
Last year I was aware of how much support this campaign receives so I was quick to order mine and Ellie’s matching PJs. It was the first time we had anything that matched and it emphasised my love for matching clothes! I felt like the design held a part of Jason as along with the spots, there was a small blue elephant, which is Alder Hey’s mascot, but I felt so connected to him when I wore them and matched as if I had some way of keeping both my babies close.
I hadn’t really thought about this years campaign until it appeared on my FB timeline and I actually squealed with excitement. This year seems to have gone so fast, so much has happened and I currently have so much going on in my head that I am constantly chasing my tail. Once again, I ordered matching PJ’s for me and Ellie. I still wear my spots with pride however Ellie’s have been too small for quite some time now and it’s great knowing these should fit her for most of the year now she is in 2-3 years clothes rather than months!
I must say I am slightly disappointed that this years design doesn’t include the Alder Hey elephant however Ellie is so obsessed with stars and she is started to learn colours that we have had loads of fun matching the blue stars on our matching pyjamas so it is still a huge hit with us.
To sum up these PJs are super comfy, unisex so hide all my mum-tum flabby bits and are actually quite generous in size. They are nice and warm, perfect for the 4 months of snow we are apparently going to have this winter! For Ellie, the cuffed arms and legs are perfect as they are still slightly big for her (she’s not quite 2 yet) so ensure she isn’t always falling out of them. They are bright and colourful and have already given her lots of play with colours.
In your heart they can always be right there with you.”
These Precious Little People, by Frankie Brunker
I’m Frankie, mum to three beautiful children. We lost our first baby to unexplained stillbirth at full term nearly five years ago. Esme gave us the strength to try for another baby, and we were relieved beyond belief to welcome her little brother Jago into the world alive & well 13 months later. It took a lot of courage to embark on another pregnancy, but the hope outweighed the fear once again, and we were very fortunate to take home a living daughter too, Ayla, who is now 17 months old.
Parenting after loss has been a total headf*** at times – filled with emotional challenges because of my ever-present grief & the overwhelmingly bittersweet joys that come with making precious memories with your living children – but also more guilt, isolation and self-doubt than I ever realised was possible. Counselling, the love of (and for) my family, and peer support have all got me through some very dark days, and I now feel I have a much better handle on my depression & anxiety but I try to never take for granted all the blessings in my life.
I’ve experienced a deep desire to reach out & support others going through similar as a result. Part of that has been volunteering for JOEL TCP, and they have been incredibly supportive of a long-held dream of mine to create a bereavement support resource for families.
My son has already started asking questions about his the sister he will never get to meet & having the book These Precious Little People will, I hope, prove to be something that reinforces her place within our family & gives us ways in which to think about & honour her memory. I hope it helps many other families as well.
Thank you Frankie for sharing your story. These Precious Little People will give other families a way to remember and hopefully help support siblings/cousins/younger children in explaining the death of a child.
If anyone would like to look in to the book more, click on the above picture.
Today (22nd August) is National Rainbow Day, which follows on from Baby Loss Awareness Week and Day of Hope.
When I was pregnant with Ellie I didnt like the term rainbow baby, I didnt like the idea of Jasons life/death being thought of as “the storm” however the term is widely known in the baby loss community and becoming more known in the public eye too so it is easier to call her our Rainbow instead of explaining our story repeatedly.
A rainbow baby doesn’t take away the pain from the loss of a child. I have said before that I have grieved harder for Jason since Ellie was born I carry more guilt because she is alive and he isn’t but in other ways it does ease the pain. My arms are no longer empty, my heart is fuller than ever and my smile isnt always fake. She has given me a new reason to live when all I wanted was to die.
So today I wanted to celebrate her. I live to make my children proud and I want Ellie to grow up knowing everything I do is for her. My worry is that she will grow up feeling like she is second best or having to compete with Jason for my attention however I also want her to grow up being able to talk about her big brother and know about him, I need him to be included just as much as I need Ellie to know she is our reason for living.
For me, Ellie has made me feel like I can be happy again, she makes me smile and feel more love than I could have possibly thought I could give. Since Ellie arrived I have been able to listen to music without crying, I can focus on the lyrics and find some happiness within the sad. I don’t drive to work with the tears flowly freely, in fact I dont cry as much as I used to at all. I want to go out and make memories but I still find celebrations and family meals etc hard. I am still reminded every day of the things we are missing out on but it is easier to handle now I have someone who gives me cuddles when I am sad.
When Jason died I thought that was my only chance of hearing anyone call me mum and it was gone; hearing Ellie call for her Mama is something I will never tire of no matter what time it is.
She reminds me of how much I love her Daddy and how much our family means to me; sometimes in the crazy life of parenting it is easy to forget about the love you had before children but when I see how much he makes Ellie laugh and how big his smile is when he is with her it makes me feel like I am 15 again and in this early stages of love.
Ellie has filled my life with happiness, love and so much laughter that I never thought I would ever feel again. I will always be so grateful for my rainbow baby, for her beauty, for having her brothers nose, for reminding me how lucky I am to have held them both and loved them both as long as the stars shine in the night.
I am also always reminded of those who don’t have their rainbow and my heart hurts for them so much. Our babies are our lives and for a grieving parent the longing to have their baby is intensified. Please know I share your pain and wish I could take it away and bring your beautiful babies back to you. I wish none of us knew this pain and I hope you are able to feel true happiness once more.
Its no secret how excited I am for this Summer. I love being a teaching assistant and developing childrens minds however I would be lieing if I didnt admit that the holidays are a huge bonus. Having 6 weeks off has always been boring and i usually crave routine and work before September comes however I am determined to enjoy this extra time with Ellie and Luke and have written a bucket list of all the places I would like to go, some places we probably won’t get round to visiting and some I know we will go to. I am excited to share our adventures honestly and hope to find some new treasures along the way.
Summer holiday bucket list!
These are in no particular order:
1) Monkey Forest/Trentham Gardens
2) Local National Trust places such as Attingham, Wightwick Manor, Benthall Hall, Sunnycroft etc
3) Ice Cream Farm
4) Cardingmill Valley
5) Lavender Field – Newport
6) Chester Zoo
7) Cbeebies Land/Alton Towers
8) Ty Mawr Country Park- Oswestry
9) British Ironworks Museum – Oswestry
11) Colwyn Beach
12) Bodnant Garden
13) Rhyl Seaquarium
14) Bodafon Farm – Conwy
15) Thomas Land/Drayton Manor
16) National Memorial Arboretum
Of cause money doesnt grow on trees and this list is quite long, I am not expecting to cross everything off, there are also short trips to the park and things I would like to do in the house such as messy play, crafts and we will definitely need time in to chill out too!
We are going on holiday the second week to Pensarn and I am excited to find some new walks and places around there too. Some of the places on my bucket list are near the caravan too.
Last year Ellie had only just began crawling so we were very limited, this year she is far more curious and so adventurous and I can’t wait to make memories with her.
Id love to hear your Summer Bucket List if you have one or a regular spot you like to go to in the holidays.
Today did not go the way it should have. Today should have been a normal day, work and then a quick shopping trip to Tesco to stock up on food for our holiday. None of that happened due to a trip to A&E instead.
As we were leaving this morning Ellie had tripped over my foot and bumped her head on the side of the door frame. I could tell she wasnt okay as she cried immediately which is unusual as she doesnt normally cry when she falls. I ran to get a cold flannel to act as a compress and that was when we noticed the lump on her head was getting bigger and blacker. Ellie cried most of the way to the hospital and I tried as hard as I could to suppress the uneasy feeling I was getting.
I hate the hospital; to me no matter how much I think about Ellie’s birth it will always be the last place I saw Jason, the place I left him in all alone.
We arrived at A&E at 8:10 and after frantically trying to find it (work being done at the hospital so everywhere was different ugh!) we were signed in and waiting for the triage nurse. Of cause it didnt take long for it to fill up and we werent seen for over an hour. This was okay because Ellie was obviously feeling herself however it baffles me why a toddler with a head injury isnt priority.
It was over 3 hours of waiting before we finally got back home and felt reassured that Ellie would be fine. Actually by the time we had seen the nurse her bump had gone down quite a lot and was already starting to bruise.
Im so grateful that we have the NHS and although we had a long wait it meant we had piece of mind that she had been seen by a qualified nurse and that means so much when you have lost a baby.