Posted in parenting

Twenty Twenty

The year it all went wrong.

I think it’s pretty safe to say so far this year hasn’t been the best. In February we were dealt with storms that lasted days and caused flooding damage to so many areas around us. Thankfully, we are fortunate that we don’t live close to water and we didn’t suffer but lots of businesses and houses were destroyed due to flooding.

It feels like as soon as our county started getting back to normal we all went in to lockdown and that has been tough in itself!

As keyworkers my husband and I have both been working the odd day here and there but this has been a really difficult time. Ellie has been missing her friends, her nursery teachers, her grandparents and is so bored. It doesn’t matter what we do with her, to her she is still stuck at home and it’s really hard on her. It’s hard on all children.

Our days have been fairly relaxed, we’ve done some nursery homeschooling in the form of phonics, name writing and numbers. She’s read stories, retold stories and acted them out. She’s learnt how to put her socks on herself and has been helping do the odd chores around the house too.

We’ve also had more than one tantrum throughout, usually every couple of days we get a really bad day. It’s tough but just something we know we have to ride out as best we can.

I’ve tried to remain positive through all of this; we are safe at home and for as long as we can we will stay at home. I’ve lost one child, there is no way I am risking taking Ellie anywhere to lose another one. It saddens me that some people haven’t taken lockdown seriously enough; Ellie hasn’t seen ANYONE other than me and Luke in nearly 7 weeks and its tough yet we’ve seen neighbours still visiting their grandchildren regularly and having BBQ’s with their families. Trying to explain to a 3 year old why she can’t do the same (because to her everyone else is seeing their families and friends) is hard. We are both fortunate that our jobs are safe and we both have jobs to go back to, something I know others don’t have. Like I say, i’ve tried to remain positive and see the good in something that is so awful.

I’m hoping lockdown ends soon and we can start to begin a new normal way of living where we can start to venture out more and she is able to go to nursery but I can’t see that happening until September now. We shall see.

How has lockdown affected you?

Posted in Aching Arms, baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, Jason, life after loss, motherhood, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Neonatal Loss, parenting after loss, stillbirth

Primary School Offer Day

In an ideal world I’d have been one of those nervous parents waiting to find out what school my boy had gotten in to. In an ideal world he’d have been accepted to the primary school where I work! In an ideal world I’d already have his uniform, or parts of it in preparation and be excitedly making him try it on for pictures. In an ideal world we probably would have had to put Jason in to the special needs school because that is where he’d have the support he needed. In a less ideal world we’d have to settle or appeal the decision.

I would give so much to be able to take that less ideal world. To be one of those excired/nervous parents dying to know.

Things like this shouldn’t cause me grief, I probably wouldn’t even acknowledge it if I didn’t work in a school however when September comes and I see all those parents and little reception newbies on their first day I know it should be me there too. I will see their anxiousness and wonder whether I’d have felt the same or whether we would both be ready for him to start school. I feel like Ellie is ready to start nursery so I know she will be fine but I will never know what Jason would have been like.

My life with him seems further and further away with every milestone that we don’t hit together. I’ve missed his first words, first steps, first hug, first smile and now ill be missing his first day at school too.

Of cause I miss him constantly and the ache I have to have both of my children here is never ending but sometimes days are harder to deal with than others and there are some days where you just can’t help but think how fucking cruel the world is.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Neonatal Loss, parenting, parenting after loss, Positive Wellbeing

Positive Failure

A while back I shared the struggle I was having with myself. My mental health was taking a right beating and I was finding it hard getting it back to a healthy balance.

It took a while and a complete breakdown for me to realise that I wasn’t failing. I have spent days, weeks, months feeling like I am a failure. Failing at being a mum, a wife and a friend. Basically failing at being a human being. But the truth is I wasn’t failing at all, I was having a hard time and that is okay. Positive failure.

Admitting things arent perfect is okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t the best person you can be at that particular time.

Since my “breakdown” I’ve felt better. Something in me may have snapped but I’ve found I can make it even stronger. Positive failure.

I’ve made an effort to be calmer, I’ve made an effort to do more things with friends, simple things like talking more but it’s a start and I celebrated my birthday with the most amazing people I could wish for and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have people who care enough to tell me Im not myself.

That was a hard one to hear, I could sense it in myself but no one has ever said it so plainly as someone I have known pretty much my whole life. I’ve spent so long pretending I am okay, smiling as is I’m not broken inside and hoping others accept it that actually I’d forgotten how to show my true feelings when I needed help.

In the past few weeks I really have noticed a huge change in the way I feel. I feel happier, I’m not as stressed out over slight things. Ellie’s tantrums aren’t taking me to breaking point when actually they aren’t that bad and in return Ellie has been happier. We’ve had more good days than bad days and was able to enjoy our half term off as a family. We made memories that I hope I will never forget and my heart is full of complete love and happiness.

I know this feeling may not last as long as I would like, saying Goodbye to a lovely February means saying Hello to March. To a month that starts off so happy with Hubby’s birthday celebrations but once the 4th is over it turns in to a countdown until Jason’s birthday. The day we should be celebrating his 4th birthday and yet a day where I am reminded of everything I gained and lost within moments. The day he died and I had to say goodbye.

Please be mindful that if I seem distant and off, it is not intentional. I am just grieving for the life of my son who I can’t hug and who I miss so much every day. My heart breaks with every memory we make as a family because he will always be missing but I am also grateful we can make these memories with Ellie, she saved me in ways she will never know and I will always try to be better for her. She is the reason I breathe and for her I will try and make March as gentle as I can.

Posted in 2 years old, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, rainbow baby, Rainbow Mummy, telford

Fiesty Redhead

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.

God parenting is a minefield!

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Neonatal Loss, parenting, parenting after loss

Breakdown

Do you ever feel like the world is spinning so fast and you start to feel so dizzy and there’s no way of slowly it down?

As much as I am putting in to life and being present, my own mental health is taking a huge bashing. I am constantly worried about everyone else, about work, about everything that my head feels like it is going to explode. I am usually quite good at sensing when I need to try and rest, I can feel my body become exhausted and drained. I know that carrying around so much extra baggage isn’t good and for my own sake and my families sake I should take a step back, let someone else deal with it for a change but that’s not who I am. I have spent my entire life focusing on someone else and I am a parent and focusing on someone else is so much more important.

I am not proud of myself, I am not really sure how I feel or even who I am sometimes. Today I had a meltdown, a screaming, toddler-like tantrum over a pair of trousers. I could see the wrong; I wanted to stop, hug E and take a step back but I couldn’t. I could see the rage inside me and I hated myself. I would NEVER hurt her, I know that much, but in that moment I really scared myself. There were lots of tears, mostly from me and it wasn’t even 7:30am!

I don’t want to be that parent, the one of shouts at the smallest things. I don’t want E growing up to resent/hate me. I don’t want her to feel like I have failed as her mum but right now that is exactly how I feel. I am so scared of losing her, of something happening to her that the guilt is immense. I should be more easy-going, able to just be in the moment and remember the heartache we went through to have a living child but this is so difficult sometimes. I often wonder whether I get like this because of Jason’s death, could it be linked to grief, PTSD, losing a baby fucks things up, or am I really this bad of a mum? Would I be struggling this much if Jason had lived? His needs would have been much more demanding, I’d have needed far more patience and I wonder whether I’d have coped with him. I just don’t know. I hate thinking I’d be better for Jason because that makes it sound like Ellie isnt as important but that couldn’t be further than the truth. Everything I do is for her, I want her to grow up with the childhood I never had, to choose who she wants to be and to have the relationship with her to spend time together and have fun.

I have no idea what’s going on right now, hormones, grief, I’ve even questioned whether I have PTSD or postnatal depression, I am unsure of whether after 4 years of trying to be strong and hold it all together that Jason’s death is actually hitting me like a tonne of bricks and I am finally feeling like Luke does. I’m scared that if I talk to someone they are going to prescribe and that’s it. I don’t want to forget the pain or never feel it again because that’s the only way I know to be his mum and parent him. The grief and the sadness is a huge part of remembering him and as horrible as that is to endure that is parenting a baby who isn’t here.

I’m not sure whether I’m looking for clues or answers here just hope that in time I will reread this and see how far I have come.

Posted in life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss

The Step.

Ellie’s behaviour has been a true description of the terrible twos lately; she is quickly becoming more independent and as a result of this she is definitely testing the boundaries (and our patience!) on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  

Both myself and hubby work with children/young adults with extra needs and deal with the same sorts of toddler-like behaviour at work, so it feels like such a challenge to stay calm and composed at home when we’ve had to do it all day at work. I would say my patience is much shorter at home than at work and I wish it wasn’t. It isn’t Ellie’s fault at all and I know she is just learning how to deal with her emotions and her new found desire to be independent and her behaviour is quite normal.

But how do you try to nip it in the bud before it gets too difficult?

I’ve never been good at the cry-it-out method, I can’t sit and listen to her cry no matter how many people tell me “it’s worth it in the long run”. If she is crying I know there is a reason for it and I won’t let her grow up thinking I’m not there for her when she needs me. 

We started counting to three when she does something she shouldn’t do and then when she carried on we would carry her up to her bedroom and close the stair gate, sometimes I would leave her and come downstairs for two minutes and sometimes I would sit in her room while she screamed it out of her. However I don’t think this is really the best way to teach her that her behaviour isn’t good and I don’t want it to have a counter effect and she learns that her bedroom is a punishment, she barely sleeps in there as it is so I want her room to be her calm space, HERS, where we read stories, play and hopefully one day sleep through the night in her own bed. 

This is where “the step” comes in to play. I HATE the phrase “naughty step” as I feel the word naughty describes the child and not the behaviour, Ellie is not naughty, she is exploring the boundaries and seeing how far she can go, she is learning and I don’t want her to believe she is a naughty child. I know that this is thinking too deeply and a 2 year old isn’t going to be thinking this but I am always thinking of her future too. I’ve started calling it “the step” and putting her on it whenever counting to three doesn’t work. We seem to be using it more at tea times as Ellie doesn’t sit at a table or high chair and can be a little madam. I have found having the step keeps me calm, I put her on the bottom step, explain to her why she is there (she doesn’t really understand but I tell her anyway) and tell her to come back in when she is ready. Usually she waits for me to sit down and strides in with a big smile on her face (rolls eyes!!) and we end up repeating the process at least three times before she says sorry and we move on.  

I know there are lots of pros and cons to using a time out like the step or a corner and I realise there are more cons than pros but for now it seems to be helping defuse the situation before it becomes a full on tantrum. I must say Ellie has had less tantrums in the past few days than she’s had in months.

Has the “naughty” step ever worked or not worked for you? Do you have another way of dealing with this type of behaviour in toddlers? I’d love to hear what you guys think too.

Posted in motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss

Reality Vs Instagram

Instagram

On Wednesday, I had a wonderful afternoon with Ellie. I’m doing some extra hours at work at the minute and it was lovely having time just the two of us. We went to our weekly Hartbeeps session and had lots of fun. Ellie was full of smiles (even though I woke her up) and loved singing the songs and dancing. It was Party week after all. I love our sessions because she becomes more confident with every week we go and Ellie loves our Hartbeeps leader too. Emma is amazing with her and Ellie feels comfortable around her. What a perfect way to spend our afternoon off together ❤ #perfect #mummydaughtertime

 

Reality

Of cause, life isn’t always Instagram friendly and there are certain things you don’t share on there to be seen to the world. Nobody wants reality on IG do they? Well in reality our Wednesday afternoon wasn’t quite as perfect as I wanted it to be, we really did have a lovely Hartbeeps session and I really did love spending that time with Ellie seeing as I have been doing extra afternoons.

After Hartbeeps I wanted to pop to the supermarket to grab Ellie some milk, we didn’t need much so I knew we wouldn’t be long. We went to B&M’s because Ellie was in such a good mood and was enjoying the walk around; she pushed the basket around happily and even helped put the few bits on to the conveyor belt to be paid for. Ellie then decided she wasn’t ready to leave the shop and threw herself to the floor in protest. I picked her up screaming and took her outside where lots of people starting looking over. When this girl wants to scream she does it VERY loudly. We didn’t make it to Sainsburys before I decided Ellie was not going to play ball and took her back to the car. Our afternoon just got worse from there, Ellie was NOT going to sit in her car seat, she decided to cry and scream and throw tantrum after tantrum for nearly 45 minutes. I was stook in Sainsbury’s car park with a Community Support Officer who appeared to be circling my car making sure I wasn’t trying to kill her. She just wouldn’t stop. I contemplated driving home with her sitting in the foot-well of the backseat (obviously I would NEVER do this but I thought about it!) I was tired, sweaty and really wanted to be at home where I wasn’t being stared at by people who obviously thought I was a terrible mother.

Life isn’t always perfect and children really do test your patience so much. I never imagined I would find parenting so difficult at times but the messages of support I received proved that we are not alone and despite the glaring stares, Ellie is not the first toddler to have such a public display of emotion in the way that she did and she probably won’t be the last. I’m 100% sure we’ll end up having more times like this. She is ginger haired and has a temper to match.

And I love her for her fiesty attitude and her wonderful personality.

Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, Uncategorized

My Journey To Elsie with an Incompetent Cervix

I am so incredibly honoured to share a post written by a wonderful Mummy to her two children. Lauren is one of the Mummy’s I found over on IG who unfortunately is part of our baby loss community. Lauren reached out to me as she felt that sharing her story may help others who might find themselves in the same situation she did.

October is Elsie’s month and to start off her celebrations here is her story ❤

Elsie was born sleeping at 23 weeks. I was told the reason for her being born early was because I have “an incompetent cervix.” And that’s exactly how I felt “incompetent.” My body couldnt even keep my own child safe. Elsie was growing perfectly she had beautiful blonde hairs and even though she weighed just over a pound she was fully formed.

Incompetent cervix means that your cervix has started to efface and dilate too soon. This can cause you to give birth too early, typically between 16 and 24 weeks.

Where did that diagnosis leave me? Feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. Guilt that she was growing perfectly but it was my body that had let her down, my body that had pushed her out when she wasn’t ready, my body was the reason she wasn’t here and it was the reason I was watching Karl, my partner and best friend fall apart.

I became pregnant with Elsie in May 2015, my pregnancy was straight forward except for hypermeresis gravidrum an extreme form of sickness. At 23 weeks and 4 days on the 29th October 2015 I had just had dinner and settled down to watch tv. I started having period like cramps, within an hour I was on my hands and knees in agony. We rang the maternity ward and they said to come straight down. I managed to get into the back of karls car to lay down and that’s when I knew she was on her way as i felt the over whelming urge to push. I knew it was 3 days too soon to try and save her, I knew that was it.
We were seen straight away at the maternity assessment ward, at first the consultant told us I wasnt in labour, Karl and I looked at each in complete relief. Seconds later she examined me for the second time and she said the words which replay in my mind ever since ” I’m so sorry shes on her way, and she’s 3 days too soon for us to try and save her, we will let the delivery bereavement suite know we are coming.” I couldn’t believe I was being told I had to give birth to my daughter who I could still feel moving and kicking safe inside me, but I knew she would die during labour or soon after.

Elsies labour was 27 hours from that point so i had alot of time to think of the outcome, and guilt was a strong factor throughout. When the time came to push, how could i? How could i push my daughter out knowing when i did it would mean she would take her last breath and my world would end?
The guilt when Elsie was born went through every part of my body. I pushed and screamed and screamed for someone to take her away as I felt I didn’t deserve to hold her, I didnt deserve to be called her Mummy, I couldn’t bare to look at her knowing she would never grow up because of me. I felt like it was all was my fault. After a while I decided it was time to see her, and at that minute I knew i would go through the last 27 hours of torture to see her again. My beautiful little girl, dressed in a lilac knitted dress, a colour that would always remain as hers. For two days we got to hold her, read to her, tell her all about her family and our friends and that we loved her very much.

I struggled for a long time blaming myself, I researched incompetent cervix again and again trying to find something that could have pre warned me or find something that meant I could blame this on. I had so much anger inside.

Planning a funeral brought more feelings of guilt. Planning a funeral for my little girl was something I never imagined I would ever have to do. All the little worries you’ve ever had in your life seem so irrelevant when your handed over the ” children and baby coffin guide” when just the week before you were picking out your push chair. The day we went to the funeral home to say our final goodbyes was the the day when I cried like I have never cried before, a sound I didn’t even know your body could produce, a sound that actually scared me. It’s as if your entire body and soul have been utterly broken, shattered and you can’t see any way that this heartbreak can ever feel better. Your completly stripped of everything you once were and everything you have ever known. Your facing a reality that is most peoples worse nightmare. I remember begging for someone to take me with her, what was life now if I didnt have her with me? For the weeks and months after life became so hard. Both myself and Karl couldn’t listen to the radio in the car, couldn’t watch TV, how can life go on when this has happened? How can I listen to happy music? We had to sleep with a lamp on as the darkness reminded us that out little girl was buried in complete darkness. Was she scared? Every feeling and thought we had was so raw and hurt like hell.

After a while we attended counselling together at a centre which specialises in parents losing babies/children at any gestation or age. We worked through how we both felt and slowly I began to realise this wasnt my fault, it was my body but I couldn’t have ever predicated this would happen and I couldn’t have done anything to stop it. It all happened so fast.

We now have Elsies brother with us, who to us is a miracle from his sister. The feelings of guilt have slowly come back this year whilst I’ve watched Finley grow up, watching all the things he can do that Elsie never can. Watching Finley watch other siblings play together at the park, knowing he has no idea his sister should be there beside him holding his hand.

We try and think that Elsies purpose of life was to bring her little brother safely into the world, we speak about her because we love her just as much as we love Finley.

With Finley I had a cervical stitch placed at 15 weeks and removed at 36 weeks. It wasn’t straight forward at all, my anxiety and panic attacks were pretty much constant all throughout my pregnancy and even now some days when hes poorly I really believe he will be taken from me but this is something I have recently started working on with counselling again.

For anyone who’s going through a diagnoses of incompetent cervix I would say keep going, its not your fault, there’s help out there and in future pregnancies keep pushing to be seen by a premature consultant as without ours I dont know if I ever could have gone through pregnancy again! Make your voice heard as to what you want.

Finley has healed our hearts in so many ways and taken away so many very dark days, but Elsie left a hole that will never ever be filled, her absence is felt in everything we do and I will never stop wishing that my babies were here together doing all the things a brother and sister should do. xx

Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss

How You Know You’re A Parent…

I read an article this morning on how you know you are a parent and I realised how insensitive these types of articles can be. There are so many posts similar to this and I have read a few over the last few months and although the intention of these is never to cause upset for those parents without their babies it really is like a kick in the teeth.

Yes, it is quite obvious that there are certain things that happen when you are a conventional parent that makes you realise you are responsible for a small child; yes you usually end up leaving the house with food/sick/bodily fluids over your clothes and you are so tired you forget to put coffee in your coffee but these arent the signs of parenting a baby from afar. Those signs are very different.

Before Ellie my way of parenting was so different to the average parent. Instead of walking around with a pushchair I watched my sons coffin being carried into the crematoriam for a funeral I had to plan. Instead of registering his birth we sat in a waiting room waiting to register his death. Parenting comes in many different forms and there is no rule book, especially in regards to baby loss. Nobody can tell you the right way to parent a child who isnt with you because it shouldnt happen.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, telford

Nursery

I have finally given in our interest form to put Ellie’s name down for nursery. I found it such a stressful task, I have said from the start I wanted Ellie to attend the nursery linked to the primary school I work at mainly because the staff are amazing, I know them and I know it will fit around me being at work too.

It was only an interest form, Ellie won’t actually be starting nursery until the term after she is 3, making it January 2020 which is ages away right? I know it will come creeping up and I know by then she will be ready for nursery and that preparation for school! I’m not one of these parents who is bothered, i’m actually quite excited to see what she will be like at school, I was always very quiet, got on with it and liked being at school and learning. I imagine Ellie will be the complete opposite and a little bit of a nightmare.

Due to me and Luke both working, Ellie is only entitled to the 30 hours free funding once she is 3 otherwise we’d have made the decision to put her into nursery for those 15 hours at 2. I hate the fact that to the outside world she is an only child and don’t want her growing up with that “only-child syndrome” people talk about. At nearly 19 months she is happy to share with her toys and she shares with us but she isn’t great at playing around other children and I know nursery will help develop that skill.

Because I like to be organised and prepared for EVERYTHING; I would love to hear your thoughts on what is necessary for children starting nursery at 3. Obviously I would want her to be toilet-trained by then but what else would people recommend? I’ve worked in Primary schools for nearly 10 years now and have seen the starters in reception classes be at very different levels in their maturity and abilities but I’ve never seen them start at nursery and what they can/can’t do so it intrigues me.


It was only after filling in Ellie’s forms that it reminded me I should have another little person starting nursery; Jason would have started nursery the term after his third birthday which would have been after Easter. That is assuming he could have started nursery then, I will never know for sure due to his DS and tissue on the brain however I do like to think we would have everything in place and a fantastic support network in place to have his education started as early as possible. It’s simple tasks I do with Ellie that makes me think about everything I missed out on with Jason. The milestones she has hit and continues to tackle, the firsts we have shared, I even wonder whether he’d have been a restless sleeper like she is and I’d have currently been on 3 years and 3 months (to the day!). I can imagine how irritable I would be!