Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sam: Tiny Wings

Hi my name is Sam Barlow, I am 38 years old, a teacher living in the market town of Bungay in Suffolk.

The  4th August  2012 was to be the moment in time when my life changed completely. My longed for second child, a daughter Isabella, was stillborn at 41 weeks, taken so tragically by the cord wrapped around her neck three times. Words can’t really express what this event did to my husband, my 8 year old daughter and me but somehow we are here, a year on, still standing. Of course I don’t really need to say how ‘this’ feels, what it is to live with ‘this’ every day or how you just somehow get on with life, you know, you have been here too and you understand. My heart goes out to all of you who have had to know this other life, this other you, this emptiness and shockingly overwhelming force that is grief.

Not long after losing Isabella I became involved with an online support group called Angel Mummies (www.angelmummies.co.uk) and realised that this new community I belonged to was to be my life saver, my haven and my best friends in the whole world, albeit virtual. It is so true that through grief friends become strangers and strangers become friends and so it was that I wanted to give something back, I wanted to bring a smile to a face that had forgotten how to do this, I wanted to warm a heart that at times forgets to beat.

So I set up Tiny Wings (www.facebook.com/beachnames), a Facebook page that offers bereaved parents a chance to request their baby’s name written in sand or painted stones, to somehow validate their existence and give them a keepsake to cherish. I do this for free and all I ask is that if they have money to spare they donate to one of two chosen charities that have supported me in my heart breaking journey, Aching Arms and EACH – East Anglia Children’s Hospice.

Soon I hope to be able to offer a gift service of a framed A4 or A5 photo for a small fee but again to raise money for these charities that have been so invaluable to me.

Each time I do a baby's name, I think of these precious little ones who sadly cannot be here with their family, I send a little prayer and a floaty kiss and hope that wherever they are, they are looking down and seeing their name shining out for all to see, hoping a little smile appears for them too.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Gemma: Right Where I Am 2013: 2 years

I’ve found this post harder to write than I thought I would, 2 years has been both an eternity of minutes, hours, days, weeks and months and now I am into counting years and yet at the same time it seems like such a very short time ago that they took away my hope and told me my baby had died.

In truth I’m still in mourning, the loss of my first born child and my first chance at motherhood.  I have accepted the fact that I am a different person to the one I was before Isaac died but I still feel bad; I’ll never really get over the fact that my baby died while he was supposed to be safe in my belly – I have accepted this, but it is still with me.

Where am I now? I am struggling at the moment; I’m anxious, torn, hopeful, excited, guilt ridden.

I am anxious, torn, excited and guilt ridden because I am expecting my rainbow baby. I am 22 weeks pregnant and I’m delighted to be pregnant; it has taken me longer than I hoped it would to conceive again and I thought it would be easier than it is, but I am terrified that this baby will be born sleeping too, I simply don’t think that I could survive the loss of another baby – I don’t have it in me to pull myself through another loss and so I try to enjoy being pregnant and step away from the thoughts of what could go wrong that stream through my head; I try to find hope again and sometimes I succeed. When I hope though; this brings a new raft of emotions I wasn’t prepared for – the guilt that I am pregnant again when my son is gone, I feel guilty about having another baby in case people forget about Isaac; people seem to think this makes it better and it will never make it better.

I watch my husband and possibly for the first time I can really see how much the loss has affected him – its etched on his face and yet he has never faltered when I have needed him, even now he is my rock as we get through each day at a time without our little man. I am so grateful to him, and our marriage is stronger for our loss – I’ve allowed myself to depend on him so much that I have moments of panic where I worry about something happening to him.

To be honest I am tired too, I am so tired of being strong. Over the last year so many people have told me how strong I am, and I try to explain that I am not strong, there was no choice for me but to survive – to put one foot in front of the other and try to remember how to breathe in and out, try to wait out the painful initial throws of grief and get through to where I am now – the quiet grief that slips in and grabs me when I am least prepared.

I want to tell people it’s still hard, each day is still hard – I still don’t like to speak on the phone, I don’t like to go to parties and if I don’t consciously leave the house then I’d stay at home indefinitely.

I get through on the weight of other people’s expectations of this so called strength, this is how I cope. I get up every day and go to work even though some days like today my first thoughts were of Isaac and his approaching birthday and I wanted to pull the duvet over my head and cry; I pretend that I’m OK so that my husband doesn’t worry about me, and because I know that weeping and wailing won’t bring Isaac back though I can’t say how much I wish it would.

I am still sad, I am sad every day that he isn’t here with me – I should have sticky fingers on my walls and toys littering my floor and instead I still have emptiness; I still wish I had heard him cry – just once, or had the chance to feed him but I hope that he will watch over me as I have the chance to do all of that with his brother or sister.  I sometimes feel he is with me in those quiet moments when I am alone and thinking of what might have been.

On the 18th July I will be 2 years from the day that they told me that my baby had died and I’m still here, I’m still standing.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Claire: Right Where I Am 2013: 1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days

The world has moved on a quite a pace since we lost Laura. I’ve grown a lot, as has my older daughter Georgia, who in 2 months time will be a teenager. A year ago I feared that the heartache we suffered as a family when we lost Laura would mould her and shape her, but a year on I accept that it has already done this but in a positive way. As a family, we are closer than ever, stronger than ever. The tragedies Georgia has witnessed in the last few years are shaping her into the most wonderful human being (kind, considerate, loving and thoughtful).

Laura touched the lives of family and friends in her short time with us. Yet, no matter what anyone says, nobody will love her as much as I do. From the moment I knew she was inside me, I willed her to be healthy and strong, to arrive safely. Now I know that as much as I want things to happen, that’s not always possible. What I would give, to have the time over again, to hold and kiss her more than I did in the precious few hours we shared. I guess I’m beginning to accept that I can’t control this crazy universe. No matter how much bargaining I do, it won’t bring her back. No matter how much guilt I load on myself, it won’t change what happened. I’m coming to terms with being the mum of a dead baby.

Each and every day, as accepting as I’ve had to become, I mourn for Laura. I miss that I wasn’t able to care for her. I am so aware of what developmental stage she should be at, and also aware that she may not have even reached it if she had lived because of her birth problem. Every night, when I sneak a kiss from Georgia on my way to bed, I think of Laura and whisper a goodnight, I love you to her too. I mourn that Georgia could not be the wonderful big sister I know she would be.

The mum of a lost baby - it’s not a club I wanted to join, but I’m here nevertheless. In some strange, twisted way, it actually has perks. I am thankful for the friendship of the other Mums I have met that are in the same club as me. They always know what to say, they never judge and only offer support. I savour every moment I spend with Georgia. I hear the news of every safe delivery of a baby with such relief. I see the smiles of the parents of newborns and will them to realise how lucky they actually are. 8 months after losing Laura we were delighted to become pregnant again, but this happiness was short-lived as I miscarried at 8 weeks. Had that baby survived, I would be 35 weeks pregnant at the moment, but life isn’t always simple and clear cut. I know how fragile life can be. I am grateful that I was given the privilege of becoming a mother to two beautiful girls, although in the bottom of my heart, I wish that things could have been different. That I could have been talking about my two girls and seeing them both flourish and grow. I’ll never forget my lovely little Laura 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Victoria: Right Where I Am 2013: 20 weeks 1 day

Today, I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

Today, I am weaker than I ever knew.

I am thankful and blessed for what was... almost.

I am broken and sad for what it now isn't.

In those first hours and days I felt numb.  It was hard to fully accept that going forward our lives would not include Joshua in the way that we had hoped.  Sure, we would always carry him with us in our hearts, but it was our arms that longed to hold him.  Those first few days were such a blur.  There were lots of tears, little sleep, and so much pain - physically, mentally, emotionally.  Everything thing hurt including my soul.  After everything we went through, for this to be how it ended just seemed so very wrong.  We were devastated in the worst possible way.  We were prepared for a baby not for this.

The numbness wore off and gave way to anger.  Anger that this was our life now.  Anger that we knew mistakes were made by the hospital, by doctors.  Anger that we couldn't stop it.  Anger that God let us down.  Anger that all the thousands of prayers that were spoken for Joshua just weren't enough.  Anger that we were being forced to plan a funeral instead of a baby shower.

Today, I still have moments and days where I feel nothing but anger.  Anger has been such a new emotion for me.  I've always been positive, encouraging, optimistic - never angry and bitter.  I'm still trying to navigate these new waters.  Anger is not my friend - that much I know for sure.  Anger is like a giant wave pulling me under, consuming me.  When it hits, it makes it hard to breathe.  It's hard to think.  It's hard to keep swimming forward.  It pulls me back into that darkness of those first minutes and days and I have to fight hard to keep my head above the water.

Right now, I'm still swimming.

Today, I am still often completely overcome with tears.  There doesn't have to be a trigger - the flood of tears can come at any moment. Sunday, I had a fairly good day.  To-do lists were tackled, creativity happened, games were played, and yet as soon as my head hit the pillow the tears flowed freely.  The painful memories of those days spent in the hospital all came roaring into my head and I could not silence them.  I could not stop them.  I let my husband hold me, his desperate attempt to calm my pain.  One of the worst parts of this grief is its unpredictability.  There really is no warning of when it is going to come and knock you off your feet.

This grief has settled in and made it's home among us.  It lives in our 3-bedroom house.  It fills the quiet room that was supposed to belong to him.   Grief is in the stacks of boxes in the basement containing carefully chosen onesies, diapers, stuffed bears, and toys that will never be his.  The crib he will never sleep in.  The swing where he will never play.  Grief is now a member of our family.

Today, my faith has been shaken to its very core, but it is still strong.  It is a weird place to be in when you feel like you've never been more let down by God in your life, and yet you feel like you have never been closer to Him, because you've never needed Him more.

Now, I look for signs from Joshua wherever we go.  The rainbow in the stormy sky, the butterfly fluttering around, the bird at my window - I will continue to believe that they are signs from him.  We have seen small miracles happen around us in these last few months - things that cannot be explained any other way.  He is with us.  We believe that.  We have to believe that.

Today, I am still lost.  I am still broken.  I am still very much in disbelief that this is what our life looks like now.  But I am also learning that I am stronger than I ever knew.  My love for my husband has grown more than I could have ever imagined.  His strength is what holds me together.  My hope that I will get to see our sweet boy again someday and that my husband and I will get to spend an eternity being Joshua's mom and dad is what keeps me pressing forward.

Joshua Patrick Denney

Born: February 20, 2013 at 7:09 p.m.

Weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces, 15 inches long

Went into the arms of angels on February 22, 2013 shortly after 8:30 a.m.

My name is Victoria and I am head over heals in love with my husband (Patrick), deeply grieving the loss of our son (Joshua), and clinging to the Cross with all that I’ve got left.  I blog over at Rooted in Faith.  You can also find me on TwitterPinterestFacebook, and Instagram.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Julz: Right Where I Am 2013: 1 year 3 months 4 days

Right where I am.

I have simply lost my words…

Why has this gotten harder?

I would like to jump off this hideous awful ride

But I can’t… It’s no good telling me to move on…

Imagine moving on without your child?

You can’t imagine? Then don’t tell me the impossible…

Dear Melody,

It’s been 15 months since that dreadful day.

Right where I am…

Where the hell is that?

Still wondering, still wishing.


What exactly did we do to have you taken?

To have us meet you, love you then ripped away from us.

5 weeks so precious, at least that can’t be taken away.

15 months we had to say goodbye to you.

The top of my things to tell you is how sorry I am we don’t come to visit, as much anymore, it’s not because we don’t love you, it’s because we DO love you, the pain every time I visit you is paralysing, the sick deep in the pit of my stomach, knowing how cold you must be how you’re there but I can’t touch you, makes me feel sick. I know this will be full of judgement, but I really hope you understand.

Because you know I’ll always feel guilty.

I hate this is how it is with you.

I’m sorry…

Happier note

We are though making a start in making you a pretty garden in our new back garden, a place where we can give you pretty toys without the fear of them being destroyed and your brother and sisters getting upset as they love to spoil you!

A way you can be part of their outdoor play.

I’ve found a way to live like this, to laugh and giggle.

Though I wish people wouldn’t use your name, or our story for their personal gain…sad.

Mummy has just signed up to raise money in your memory for an amazing charity to help families just like us, to help get the support they need.

I can’t change your clothes or buy you toys so this is what I have to do, for you.

I want to make a difference.

I miss you Melody, why couldn’t things have been different?

Thank you

Thank you for guiding your new baby sister, to help bring her home, to not only put a smile on mummy and daddy’s faces but your brother and sister’s too, so amazing.

I wish you could have met your sister…

After a hurricane comes a rainbow.

I’m having a moment where I am having a good couple of days, it’s difficult but I am grateful to you to helping me be a better person, albeit I need more confidence.

The bad days are few and far between now, but I need to control them, but I know it is only you giving mummy a poke to say

“Don’t forget me”

Love you darling…


I truly am so stumped for words at the moment, there are no understandable sentences out there to explain exactly where I am…

For now

I exist


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Nicole: Right Where I Am 2013: 1 year, 10 months and 25 days

Xander’s  death and silent birth are the worst moments of my life.  Those two days, in August 2011, and the weeks and months that followed, were pure hell.  Writing about him, about my feelings and my grief, became so important to me, and a year ago I wrote one of these posts as we launched this blog.  A year on, some things are still the same, and others are very, very different. 

So what hasn’t changed? My son is still dead.  That looks bald, harsh on the page.  But my grief is harsh, it’s bald fact that never changes.  He’ll always have died, I’ll always have lost him.  I said in my first post that life goes on, but so does death, and this still rings true for me.  Although I can now think of him and smile, and reflect how blessed I was to have him at all, sometimes my grief is so deep, so all-encompassing that I feel like I’m drowning in it. The missing him, the longing for my boy  can never be satisfied, can never stop.   

But what has changed?  I am so grateful to be able to say that I sit typing this with my beautiful rainbow baby Barney sitting next to me, on his dad’s knee.  He was born, safely, on the 6th March this year.  He is beautiful, and crazy, and hard work, and just the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen.  Sometimes I look at him and can’t believe we created something so amazing.

But of course my love for Barney doesn’t stop my grief for Xander – in many ways, having him makes me realise even more what I missed with my first boy.  And people really don’t get it.  Like the woman who said ‘yes, but you’ve got Barney now, so everything’s okay, isn’t it?’ or the card we got that said ‘congratulations, now your family is complete!’.  I don’t know whether this is ignorance, or innocence, or both.  It’s certainly a lack of understanding - brushing our loss under the carpet, like my son never existed. And as wonderful as having my lovely second boy is, lots of things still trouble me.

Like I think: Barney will never know his older brother.  But is Xander his older brother? Barney was older than Xander will ever be from the moment he was born.  Xander was my first, but he isn’t the elder, is he?

Then: How do I show my love for my boys equally?   Putting photos up of Barney was wonderful but tough – how could I do it when I didn’t have pictures of Xander to go up?

Also: Barney was born by caesarean section.  This was planned – I couldn’t face the thought of a lengthy induction, and the medical team agreed that it wasn’t wise to let me go past my due date.  When he was born, it was discovered that he had a true knot in his cord, as well as the cord wrapped round his neck.  A vaginal delivery could have meant a very different outcome.  I found this really hard to handle, and very few people understand why, saying I should forget it.  But why did Xander (perfectly healthy with no reason for him to die) leave us, but Barney (with two complications that could have killed him) survive? 

And: If Xander had been alive, would we have still had Barney?  Is wishing Xander was here like wishing Barney wasn’t (a thought I can’t even contemplate).

So, where am I right now?  I am unlucky, and lucky.  I am a bereaved mother, and a mother to a living boy.  I am the saddest I could possibly be, and the happiest I’ve ever been.  Part of me died the day we lost Xander,  and I am learning to live again.      

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Leanne V: Right Where I Am 2013: 2 years 4 months

I guess where I am is understanding. Understanding you are and will be with me every moment of every day. Taking more comfort and warmth from you than tears and despair. You still make me cry silent tears every time I imagine you here, playing, giving snuggles. But, I smile at the thought of you being by my side, watching over us all and causing mischief. I guess the following is the only way I can sum it up.

The impossible beat.

It started when it ended, mine and your impossible beat. When it stopped, your beat, mine tried to stop too. They fixed it, the doctors, they fixed my constant beat but couldn't fix yours. My constant beat. Always there, always pounding, always beating. In the moments, days and weeks that followed I didn't understand how. How it continued, how it could carry on when a hole had been ripped in its very fabric, the fabric of my constant beat. Slowly over time, I felt it, another beat. When the sun shone bright and when the storm raged hard, it was there, a different beat, separate but bound forever in unison with my constant beat. It was your beat. Your impossible beat, impossible because you had left me, impossible because whether the doctors could hear it or not, you could never truly leave me.

As life continues, sometimes racing at disorientating speeds, it becomes louder and stronger. Your impossible beat, the heart that beats loudest once it stops, in unison with my impossible beat, the heart that continues to beat when it is broken. I know now that they are one, never to be separated, mine and your impossible beat.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Natalie: Right Where I Am 2013: 8 weeks 5 days

Where I am today I never expected myself to be. There are two 'should be' outcomes; one before I got pregnant and the other once I'd got pregnant.

If you had asked me on 19th February 2013 where I should be today I would tell you I would be finishing my first year of my nursing degree eagerly anticipating the start of my second year.

If you had asked me on 20th February 2013 my answer would have been finishing my first year of my nursing degree weighing a couple of pounds heavier due to the 25 week old baby in my belly eagerly anticipating the arrival of my baby in October.

Sadly neither of these are true. Unfortunately life never goes quite how you expect it, sometimes for the better and sometimes for worse.

I had never planned on getting pregnant. I'd wanted to be married first, have a nice house, get a degree and a good job etc first but when the second line appeared on the pregnancy test I couldn't have been any happier.

Fast forward 7 weeks to the 12 week scan and my world came tumbling down. I was told my baby had a large cystic hygroma which occurred in babies with chromosome anomalies and I should have a CVS. I was terrified of the outcome and did research into what T13 T18 T21 and turners syndrome was. It's safe to say I was devastated at what Dr Google said. One way or another my baby was very poorly.

The CVS result came back negative for the 4 above problems but discovered a deletion from chromosome 7 which revealed I had something called a balanced translocation.

I had to make the heart wrenching decision to carry on with a baby with the possibility my daughter wouldn't survive to full term and if she did would have a life with no quality to it or to save my baby from pain and to terminate for medical reasons. Deep down I knew already what I had to do.

Friday 3rd May 2013 at 16wks+3 days at 19.44 my much wanted daughter Angelica-May was born sleeping weighing 110g measuring 17cm.

Today it has been 8 weeks & 5 days since she was born and 7 weeks 2 days since she was buried but there hasn't been a day I haven't thought about her.

So where am I today? I am sat in grieving unable to finish my first year of Uni facing the possibility of having to restart my first year if I can pull myself together. Cuddling the build a bear teddy I got with her heartbeat in it.

Not only am I grieving my daughter that never lived but I am also having to deal with the fact I have a chromosome formation that means this could happen again so easily. My only option is to have IVF PGD and if that fails ill never have my own children.

I may have made the decision to end my pregnancy but that doesn't make it any less painful.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Clara: Right Where I Am 2013: 2 years 2 months 2 weeks followed by 1 year 2 months

Technically, if I was being really honest with myself, the title to this Right Where I Am should be a little different...

Truly Right Where I Am: 2 years 8 months followed by 2 years 2 months 2 weeks followed by 2 years followed by 1 year 2 months followed by 7 months

A ridiculously long title and a stark, sad reminder of 5 little babies taken from us far too soon.

So where am I right at this moment in time? Desperately clinging on to hope that someday we just might, might, might have our earth family. Massive perivillous fibrinoid deposition just about has us beaten. There are no treatment plans left to try. I have punished my body enough. I am relieved that my last pregnancy ended in December at 11 weeks... I could not have coped with another stillbirth and that is the way it would have gone. Even at that point, my placenta was a mess.

So I am clinging on to the hope of a family and wondering how on bloody earth I got to this point. When did this become my life? I am exploring options beyond options beyond options. Seeing specialist after specialist after specialist and generally leaving them shrugging their shoulders and scratching their heads. We have a positive way forward we think, although it is not something I want to talk about yet. I just need to keep believing I guess.

At the same time as all the continuing heartache though, I am counting my blessings. The amazing support network we have around us which continues to keep us going. My wonderful husband - he is my rock. My beautiful niece - my little ray of sunshine. I am also eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new niece or nephew in October. It just can't come quickly enough, I want them safely here. It has surprised me just how much I am looking forward to this little person coming into our lives, it has surprised me how well I have coped with the news of a new baby. I am so delighted I can feel this way and I am lucky because my sister in law has done everything she can to make it easier on me. I just want her to enjoy it, I just want everything to be okay for her, I am very much looking forward to being an auntie again.

I am also trying to live life again at the moment - an attempt to claw back some of the girl I used to be. I am losing weight (2 stones so far), cycling again and have also signed up for sea kayaking classes this Summer. Life is too short and I have enough to feel miserable about without feeling miserable about myself too.

Reading this post back, it sounds to me to be all over the place which is probably a true reflection of where I am at the moment. Despite this, I am trying to keep going, trying to live a life that will make my girls (and all my babies) proud of me. Still determined that I will never give up.

You can read my post for Right Where I Am 2012 here:

You can read my girls' story here:

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Stacey: Right Where I Am 2013: 15 weeks

I have found during my short journey through child loss that this is often posed as a question; ‘how are you?’ My answer is, as always, with a smile on my face; ‘I’m fine.’ How can I say this? Well because I am, I am fine.

I no longer wait for my husband to roll over and fall asleep before silently crying myself to sleep for hours, I no longer wake up in the mornings thinking it has all just been a bad dream and I’m going to find that I am still pregnant with a healthy baby. I am no longer a prisoner in my own home afraid to leave the house, afraid to look at people, afraid to talk to them, afraid to answer the phone or open the front door to the postman. I am no longer unable to eat, to make decisions, to function, to laugh, smile, talk about my daughter, to see pregnant women or newborn babies.

I can go to work everyday with a smile on my face, I can serve my customers, manage my staff and make business plans. I can hold normal conversations without wanting to scream ‘how can you talk about such stupid things when my child is dead.’ I can laugh and joke like I used to.

I can do my crafting, walk my dog, clean my house, sleep alone when my husband works away, focus on something on the TV or a book I am reading, do the food shop alone, I can do all the ‘normal things’ that I used to do before I was even pregnant. In fact if you didn’t know me or spot the hand and footprint necklace I wear everyday you would never even know  that I had given birth to my beautiful little girl and then watched her die in her daddy's arms; that’s how fine I am.

Sometimes even I believe this. But when I am alone with my thoughts and I dare to scratch below the surface of how I am feeling, I know that I am anything but fine. Fine is the last thing I am feeling. I am wearing fine like a mask to protect me. Like if I don’t I will fall back down in those depths of hell and never get back out again.

If I am fine then why do I not dream at night, why do I touch my belly every morning when I wake, why do I have a desire to warn pregnant women of the dangers, why do I look at people who have newborns and wonder if they have ever had a miscarriage, interrupted a pregnancy, still birth or neonatal death. If I am fine why do I need my job so much like a pillar of strength, stability, self worth and routine but why do I hate it so much. I see no point to it anymore I am putting money in someone else’s pocket just to go home to an empty, silent house every night. A house once so filled with hopes and dreams now an empty shell, the silence so deafening, that room with all the baby things. If I am fine why when I craft can I not use pink wool anymore, why am I afraid to use it is it because I know it will make me cry. Why can I not write in my pregnancy journal, it still says that I am 18 weeks my last post was about how nervous and excited I was for the 20 week scan. Why can I not bring myself to write what happened during that scan, the news, the research, the decision, the birth, the after math. If I am fine why can I not bring myself to order my daughters’ headstone. Is it because I know it will make this real? Seeing my baby's name on a headstone there really is no denying it. If I am fine why do I look at my body in the mirror everyday and hate who I have become, how big I am, never have I been this big. But why do I not want to do anything about it? Is it because this is how pregnancy has shaped me and I don’t want to lose that, like it might be another part of my daughter that I have lost? The stomach, the thick glossy pregnancy hair, large breasts; I hate it but I need it. Why do I hide these thoughts and feelings. From myself, my husband, my family, my friends, my councillor, my colleagues and even other people who have lost babies. Why can I not just be honest.

When you ask me how I am why can I not just look you in the eyes and say ‘actually I am really sad, guilty, angry, lost I have no words to describe the pain that I feel.’

Is it because you have told me that I have to stop being sad now, I can always have another, it was for the best, at least she won’t live a half life in pain. Is it because you think I am insane, you move me to another workplace, demote me, take half my pay from me, tell me I am ill, that I need to get over this. You counsel me, you're meant to help me, but I know that you're paid by my company and that I cannot truly trust you. Is it because you just don’t understand and telling you the truth has already cost me too much.

You see your question of ‘how are you’ has damaged me even more, has made me become a liar, forced me to push my feelings aside and cost me my job. So how can you expect me to answer in any other way? This is the only way to protect myself so I will put my mask back on and tomorrow if you ask me ‘how are you’ my answer will be as always with a smile on my face ‘I’m fine.’

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Carla: Right Where I Am 2013: 4 weeks and 4 days

My name is Carla and on 31st May 2013 my world fell apart and my heart broke into a thousand pieces when my little girl Seren Evelyn was born sleeping at 41 weeks. We chose her name as it's an olde worlde Welsh name meaning Star and we wanted her to have something a little different.

It hadn't been the easiest pregnancy, there had been hiccups along the way. She had patches of echogenic bowel at our 20 week scan but all further tests suggested that all was fine and she should have no problems.

So where I am now? I can tell you where I should be, I should be tired from being woken several times a night by my newborn baby, not tired because I cannot sleep. Every time I do sleep the pain is so fresh and raw when I wake that I wish I hadn't. I should be holding my little girl not a beautiful box of star dust. I should have sore, cracked nipples and full, aching breasts from continuing to nourish my baby; not breasts that continue to produce milk that will never feed little Seren. I should have friends visiting to meet her and coo over her, not friends terrified to come for fear of saying the wrong thing. I should have a house full of pink cards and flowers, not sombre sympathy cards and white 'funeral' flowers. In short, I should be a mummy.

Where I actually am right now is probably the hardest question to answer… I am lost, empty, devastated and heart broken. And still disbelieving. Almost 5 weeks down the line and I still can't believe my baby girl isn't coming home, that I will never get to hold her close or do her hair or teach her to write her beautiful name.

Right now I am in Hell.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Fiona: Right Where I Am 2013: 1 year 2 months 3 days

Right where I am is in the scariest place I have been for a long time.  Tomorrow I will be induced with my rainbow baby boy and the nearer that hour gets the more I miss Max.  Max was my firstborn and always will be and somehow it feels like going through birth again will be another step away from that great and terrible day when he was born, it makes me acknowledge that time doesn’t move on for him, the photograph of him in our living room will never change, we will never have to choose his school or buy him shoes.

Marking Max’s first anniversary felt like a momentous event, we let a sky lantern go at the time he was born, bought a new memory box and had a slap up meal (including a glass of champagne despite being pregnant.)  It felt so good to have a day that was all about Max and we both felt that it was a good opportunity to release our feelings about him.  It also felt like a huge milestone, we had survived a year, we had had birthdays, Christmas, our first wedding anniversary and survived.  But my grief is never far from the surface.  A couple of days ago I was taken unawares by a song that we had at his funeral, fortunately being at home by myself I could let the tears flood out and take some time to remember him.

Max he taught me so much that I am already a different parent to this little boy.  In this pregnancy I have found out everything I can about this person, his gender and had a 4D scan to see his face.  He has a name that we use all the time when we talk to him – which I do non-stop, including telling him about his big brother.  I used to think that if you didn’t know those things it wouldn’t be as bad if something went wrong, but now I regret that Max died before I knew he was a boy, before he’d heard his name and I know now that nothing could make losing a child worse so I’m enjoying all the kicks and wiggles and the way he gets cross when he has hiccups and the strange positions he always seems to be in at a scan!

I am scared about tomorrow, about today...  that something will go wrong and this baby will stop moving, I suspect that I will be scared for his whole life however long it is, but I will also be grateful, so, so grateful for every minute that he lives, and I’ll be happy, and hopeful..... hopeful that he will plan my funeral and not the other way around.  I’m determined that Max’s memory will live on and be part of family life and story, he was my firstborn and nothing will ever change that.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Emma: Right Where I Am 2013: 1 month

At our 38 week regular check up, Oscar’s heartbeat couldn’t be found. I gave birth to Oscar two days later. My pregnancy had been completely normal and I had never in a million years imagined that my baby would be born asleep.

The month since Oscar was born has been spent arranging his funeral which took place three days ago. We decided to have a post mortem which takes three weeks/ For my husband, it felt like a long time before he could lay our son to rest but, for me, the time seemed right. I dreaded the thought of Oscar’s funeral even though we had promised Oscar to give him the best funeral ever, I just didn’t see how I would cope.

Oscar’s funeral, although extremely difficult, gave us the opportunity to give Oscar a resting place but for me it also made me feel like I had really had a baby. Although family and friends all knew of Oscar it was only by holding his funeral that I felt his birth was truly recognised and I could really be his mother.

The day after Oscar’s funeral I felt so much relief and peace that we had done him as much justice as possible in his funeral but by 10pm that night my thinking had changed. Yesterday was one of the hardest days so far because the feeling of emptiness just seems to be growing. What am I supposed to do now? Who and what is supposed to fill my time, my energy, and my love? I want to completely throw myself into something but yet my head is so scrambled that I can barely watch a tv programme.

So one month on and we’ve done the major hurdles, but the pain seems to get stronger as I realise I will never be able to hold my Oscar again.  I feel that I am waiting for someone to tell me some wisdom that will take the pain away but my head knows that won’t happen, I have to learn to survive.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Jess: Right Where I Am 2013: 10 weeks 6 days

Eleven weeks ago today, I was putting the last minute things into my hospital bag, ready to head in to be induced at term.  This induction plan was to minimise the risk of things going wrong by not letting me go over my due date, which was so important given my wee girl was a little IVF miracle, the result of 8 attempts and 4 years of trying and trying and trying to conceive.  And the irony is that one of the possible reasons for her heart stopping during labour is as a direct result of the induction medication.

And that is right where I am today.  Still wondering what happened.  Still asking why.  Still finding it hard to breathe through the pain.  Still in disbelief it all went wrong after 40 weeks of worrying every single day and only tentatively taking a little breath at each stage we successfully passed: the positive pregnancy test, the first scan at 6 weeks, bleeding at 8 weeks, our 12-week scan and booking appointment, the first time we heard a heartbeat, the first little flutter of movement, a 20-week scan and all looked well, 28 weeks and she had a chance of survival if born too soon, 30 weeks and we had moved into our dream house, a 32-week growth scan and all looked perfect, and again at 36 weeks, stopping work at 37 weeks and embracing mat leave, a painted and fully stocked nursery by 38 weeks, 39 weeks and all of her clothes and towels were washed and put away, the moses basket was made up and ready by our bed, I had even opened the pack of nappies for easy access when we got home.  I was so ready, although still didn't quite believe it was actually going to happen.  I still ended every sentence with "all being well...".  I didn't want to "tempt fate" or take anything for granted.

But we got in the car 11 weeks ago and felt a spark of excitement… “let’s go have a baby!”.  We had done it.  We had got to 40 weeks and we had made it.  My baby girl was fully cooked and beautifully healthy.  We handed ourselves over to the doctors and midwives to take over and get her out safely.  Why didn’t that happen?

I know that was where I was 11 weeks ago, but it is where I am right now too.  Re-living what happened, asking over and over if there was something else I could have done, if I should have known what was happening to my beautiful girl?  Could I have shouted louder when I was bleeding?  Should we have been more persistent in looking for help when the pain became unmanageable, so we didn’t have to wait 25 minutes to be seen.  Questions upon question upon questions.  Right where I am is still not knowing, still not understanding how this could have happened.

We have been given three hypotheses: a cord prolapse? Placental abruption? Uterine hyperstimulation?  It could have been one, two or all of these.  Or none of them at all.  We have been waiting patiently for our appointment with the consultant, for the post mortem results and some answers.  The letter came a few weeks ago… “you are invited to attend the pre-pregnancy clinic…”.  This makes no sense.  We are not “pre-pregnancy”, our hearts and minds are still in the depths of our first pregnancy.  The memories so fresh and real. My bump, my baby, the hope.  Do they not understand that she was it?  All we had ever wanted, all our dreams in one little bundle.

Another pregnancy for us is a mountain we might never have the energy, funds or time to climb again.  We can’t just try again the natural way and cross our fingers.  That doesn’t work for us.  And I had accepted that.  I had taken the challenge of infertility, grabbed it with both hands and met it head on.  And we beat it!  We did it!  We made a baby.  So why isn’t she here?

If you had asked me before I started writing where I am right now, I would have said I was sad, missing my baby girl, but hopeful and finding things are getting a little easier each day.  I thought I was feeling more positive about life, a gentle acceptance that this is the path we have been given to follow and we need to make the best of it.  But it turns out that is just what I tell the people around me.  And try desperately to tell myself too.  But writing from my heart shows this isn’t me right now.  I want to be good at this, to be the best “bereaved mummy” I can.  To make people feel proud of how well I am coping.  But that’s not being true to where I really am right now.

Writing this is allowing my anger to come out, my bitterness.  It is giving me permission to shout out loud that IT ISN’T FAIR! Why the f*** did this happen to me?  To my beautiful baby girl?  That’s right where I am now and it’s not a place I want to be.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Francesca: Right Where I Am 2013: 8 weeks 2 days

I am grieving the loss of normal. Normal was something I took for granted - I knew what a normal day looked like, I knew when something wasn't normal, and recognised when normality resumed. I looked forward to getting back to normal after moving house, to resuming normal activity after a busy week at work, to having a normal night in with my husband and the takeaway we normally had on a normal Friday night.

I had a normal day at work that day before coming home with my husband to enjoy a normal evening in. But the realisation that something wasn't right, the stillness in my tummy as I sat on our sofa and desperately felt every inch of my body for a kick or hiccup wasn't normal. The growing panic in my husband's face wasn't normal as he searched my stomach with his hands and face to hear her heartbeat, or feel the flutters and gurgles he could normally find. The emergency scan, on which we would normally see our  somersaulting, kicking and hiccuping little girl,  displaying a grainy black and white image of an unmoving, heartbreakingly still baby....wasn't normal.

In that moment, normal disappears.  Such a huge, heart-shaped hole appears the second you find out your precious bundle has died in your tummy, and normal can't exist around it, or fill it in, or cover it up. Normal slips through it and disappears, and you are left staring into the void, wondering how to find it again.

For now, we have to find our peace with this. In the early days my husband and I talked about 'getting back to normal eventually' but as the days trickle by, it's clear that normal doesn't exist anymore in the way we once knew it to.

So instead we tick off major milestones -  the birth, leaving the house together after getting back from hospital, telling someone that we lost our little girl for the first time, registering her stillbirth, the funeral, the due date when we should have held her in our arms - and rejoice that each one comes and goes and we are still here, still standing, still coping. And we talk about the things that might help us to find some sort of new normal -  changing our jobs, trying to conceive again, finding the courage to see friends and go places together.

Perhaps one day a new normal will emerge - one that enables us to find a balance and look further ahead than just to the end of each day. Hopefully our family will grow and we will be blessed with second child that we get to look after and love for a much longer time. But the shadow of that heart-shaped hole will always be there, that grainy black and white image will always overlay whatever new normal emerges. For now we learn to grieve - for the loss of our little girl, and the loss of normal.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Bianca: Right Where I Am 2013: 11 years 3 weeks

My daughter Kayleigh was born sleeping on the 9th of June 2002 at 21 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. It had taken me many years to conceive her and then it was so suddenly taken away.

Now 11 years on we have just had her 11th birthday a few weeks ago. It gets easier, hard as that may be to believe when you are only at the beginning of this journey. It never goes away. Every day I still think about her at some point. She is part of me, my family. I was lucky and have had 3 more children since losing her. They help me in my grief but at the same time make the hole that she left bigger because through my living children I get to see every day what I missed out on with her.

I have many regrets about how things were done after her death. I don't have good pictures, don't have ashes… just a plaque at a cemetery. Thinking back I would have liked it all different but, at the time, I was incapable of making these decisions.

Losing Kayleigh has, in the long run, been part of why my relationship with her dad broke up. It's made me so much more appreciative of every cuddle, kiss or smile off my others. It's made me so much more angry with parents that do wrong to their kids or don't appreciate them.

It's made me want more and more kids, desperately trying to fill the emptiness that she left, yet knowing that that hole can not be filled.

After 11 years, I can see it's made me who I am today. A different person to who I was. Still choking up when talking about her, still crying when visiting the cemetery but also knowing I got through the very dark days and manage to enjoy life again.