Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Lynsey: Five years ago...

Five years ago today we were bursting with happiness for you

Five years ago today we had so many hopes and dreams of what you would be and become

Five years ago today we saw you for the first time so small and perfect on the screen

Five years ago today we found out you were 12 weeks and due on 5th July

Now five years on everything is so different we wonder who you would be what you would look like

Now five years on we miss you more than ever but over time it's more gentle, your name like a melody flowing through me

Five years on I hope you know you were worth all the pain to be able to get the chance to hold you and kiss you even though it was goodbye

Now five years on I hope you know you took a piece of me when you went, you completely changed our life's for the better

I hope you know that I won't let death win, it won't shatter me and hold me down forever, I promise to keep standing

I wish so much to be able to hold you and have just a minute with you

Now five years on we carry you and all our hopes and dreams for you in our hearts.

I love you so much to the moon and back
Forever and ever

Friday, 30 October 2015

Stacey: A Second Chance at a First Birthday

Birthdays: they should be full of cake, balloons, presents, laughter and nostalgia as to how another year has passed by so quickly.

What happens if you are invited to two birthdays and both are very different?

One is full of all these beautiful things. Friends, family, gifts, cards, a new party dress and a time that so many happy memories are created.

The other; gifts were a headstone and flowers. The birthday party is only attended by 2 people, the mother and father, who are desperately trying to make sense of how it could have been an entire year since they last held their baby who died.

What if the mother or father was you? What if there was no option to choose which party you go to, which birthday you want to be involved in? Both events must happen, for one child cannot live if the other survives.

However hard you may try, you desperately want to wish it wasn’t true, it is. One of your children would always have failed to live.  If your first child was alive and well you would never have had your second child. You only have your second child because your first child died. You cannot ever have both of your children.

But the latest party was a happy one, our rainbow turned One. An entire year of happiness and joy because she lived. Regardless of the circumstances, what we had to endure for her to exist and how different things could have been, we are forever thankful to have her in our lives.

To those who are currently travelling the lonely road in search of their rainbow, keep going. It’s hard, but they are worth every moment of pain.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Stacey: Right Where I Am 2015: 2 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days

Well firstly I am late, by almost a month, my sincerest apologies but hopefully by then end of this blog you will all understand why.

So it has been a long time since I last blogged for Loss Through The Looking Glass, my last post was just after my rainbow daughter Florence was born, after writing every week about my pregnancy I definitely used blogging as an outlet for my hope, fears and darkest thoughts. That is what I love about this page it is a safe place for those who have lost a child to write and read thoughts shared by those who are years on from having last held their child inside them and some who are only days on from this life changing event. The death of your child.

Where am I right now then?

Rambling I guess as I am not entirely sure. My life is so different now to how it used to be, I see myself as many different people; before Maisie, after Maisie, during my rainbow pregnancy and after. These events have changed me into a different person each time and I can never go back. I cannot be the person that I was before I lost Maisie because I know too much now. My innocence and naivety is gone. I can never be that person who doesn’t know about pregnancy and infant loss, I can never be that person who looks forward to announcing a pregnancy as soon as possible, I can never innocently go through life thinking that nothing will go wrong and that only good things will happen to me. After all child loss isn’t something that happens to you it happens to someone else…

Until it does happen to you.

So I am a different person now, am I a better person? The big question is has the death of my first daughter somehow enriched my life, made me a better person and in some sick way am I ‘glad’ that it happened?

Yes, no and sort of to all those things. She enriched my life because she taught me true love, the love a mother feels when she holds her child in her arms; this love is no less just because I never got to hold her alive. She lived for such a short time and there was such panic to get the placenta delivered that I never held her during her short life but the time I did hold her I will cherish in my memories forever. She taught me patience, she taught me understanding, she taught me forgiveness, she taught me not to allow others to hurt me so easily, she has made me a better mum. She showed me the strength of the bond my husband and I have that we can survive something so awful and become closer and stronger together. Because of her I don’t take anything for granted, I cherish every second of happiness in my life because I now know what true heartbreak is. Not the small meaningless upset but the true, deep, dark, monstrosity of horrendous heartbreak that comes from seeing your child die in your husbands arms, planning a funeral for your baby who never really lived, buying an outfit in a shop full of happy pregnant women to bury your daughter in and watching your husband lower a tiny white coffin into the ground with your child inside. That is true heartbreak. That has made me a better and stronger person.

So no I am not glad that my daughter died, but I am glad that she lived. I am glad that she chose me to be her mum, although it was only for a short time that I carried her inside of me and held her in my arms, I will carry her in my heart for the rest of my life. And I am glad that for the rest of my life I get the chance to honour her memory and make sure that the rest of the world doesn’t forget that she, Maisie Rose Davis, is my first child.

For those of you who have managed to read this far through my ramblings well done! I said at the beginning of this blog that I would share why this post is a month late. For those of you who followed my pregnancy blogs last year you will know that there is a certain point in any pregnancy that we have to reach before we know whether the pregnancy is 80% likely to have a positive or negative outcome. Well, I’ll let you work it out yourselves…


You can read Stacey's previous posts for the blog here:

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Nicole: Right Where I Am 2015: 4 years exactly

Where am I right now?  I’m in what feels like a really odd place.  I am mum to a boy who never lived outside my body, and who would have been turning four on 16th August.  I am mum to a boy who is coming up for 2 and a half, who fills my life with joy and frustrations as only toddlers can do.  And I am mum to a third boy who – if we are really, really lucky – will be born next month, a last addition to our little family.

Four years on from losing Xander – from his death and birth (always, forever, the wrong way round) - my grief is manageable in a way that both pleases and angers me.  Day to day, the grief lies under the surface of my heart - barely noticeable, ultimately manageable.  It’s like a vague, dull ache – an awareness that something isn’t quite right in the world, something isn’t as it should be.  It is simply there, a fact that I accept and doesn’t hugely hinder my life.  I think of my first son every single day in some way.  It isn’t always heart-wrenching, it doesn’t always make me cry. 

But there are times – less frequent than they were, but still there – when the grief overwhelms me.  Sometimes it hits me by surprise – something reminds me of him, and the pain is so sudden it takes my breath away.  Other times I do it intentionally.  I take the pain of my loss, the utter hopelessness of it all, and focus on it. I know some people would wonder why I would do that to myself.  Well, simply because I need to.  Sometimes, in amongst this incredibly busy, rushed life of mine, I need to take the time out to focus on him.  On the desolation I feel at his death, the anger I feel at the lack of care we received, and - most of all - the love I feel for him. 

My second son, Barney, gets most of my time.  My love, my affection, my attention.   And, hopefully, my third son will share in that when he arrives.   But Xander?  My first, beloved boy, who would have been going off to school in a matter of weeks?   He gets so little of me.  He gets a few snatched moments where I can focus on him.  He gets our ‘week of new things’ which we do in the lead up to his birthday.  He gets a tattoo on my arm. He gets a plaque at the cemetery that we visit once a year on his birthday.  It’s not much when you think about it.  A mother likes to treat all her children equally, and in reality I can’t really do that.  So I feel like I can’t give much to him. 

But as for what he gave to me – it’s huge.  My children have been the best gift I could ever ask for.  Xander taught me so much.  He gave me a sense of renewed hope when I needed it most.  He made me treasure the people I have in my life.  He showed me what I am here for and gave me a purpose.  I don’t think I can ever really repay him for what he gave me.  But if taking time to think about him, to value him, and to give thanks for his little life is all I can do…well maybe, in time, I can learn to make that enough.  I really hope so.

Happy birthday my beautiful boy xxx   

Monday, 10 August 2015

BlopMamma: Making memories to last a lifetime

BlopMamma blogs about her life as a NICU nurse and mummy on her own blog 23 week socks. Her blogs have made an interesting addition to Loss Through the Looking Glass, looking at loss from a different perspective to that of the bereaved parent.


As neonatal nurses we deal with death on a regular basis. We don’t see it every day or even every week but it is something we are always aware of. Each and every time a baby dies our hushed voices, expressions of pain and words of sadness are completely real. We each deal with these deaths in our own way, taking some harder than others but being marked by them all the same.

I am someone who reacts to death with tears, unable to stop this very physical manifestation of grief from showing itself. At first glance it may seem as though this is a hugely unhelpful thing for me to be doing when parents need my support but I truly believe that my tears show them how much I care far more than any words ever could.

I know from my own experience that going into premature term labour is one of the most terrifying things that can happen. In the space of a few hours I went from being six months pregnant to having to face the very real possibility that Squidge might be born very sick and far too soon. As frightening as the whole experience was, had the doctors not been able to stop my labour the Northern One and I would have had some warning that things were likely to be bad and a little time to decide what we wanted to do. It wouldn’t have made things any easier for us but at least we would have had some time to try and prepare ourselves.

However, there are some babies whose parents have no warning, either because things go wrong at the very last minute or because they have already safely delivered their baby and tragedy strikes seemingly out of nowhere. The loss of each and every baby is a tragedy but it is the babies who die unexpectedly that, for me, cut the deepest.

The first time I ever cared for a baby on the last day of their far too short life came as a complete shock to me. I knew the little boy was very sick; so sick that he required my undivided attention for the entire shift but I didn’t realise that by the end of the day he would be gone. Just a few days ago he had been pink and healthy and full of life; feeding and growing and getting ready to go home with his parents to start their new life as a family.

Now he lay silent and still, tubes and wires snaking all over his little body, his skin grey and his eyes closed.

The only sounds came from the insistent beeps of the monitors and the click and hiss of the ventilator as it moved air in and out of his tiny lungs; breathing for him because he was too sick to be able to breathe for himself.

By early afternoon it became clear that no matter what we tried, nothing was working. Despite the tireless mechanical breaths of the ventilator we were unable to get enough oxygen into his bloodstream and the effects were beginning to show.

No longer was he just still, instead his little face had taken on an almost mask-like quality that was the truest sign that although we had fought hard, battling for his life with all the medications and technology available to us, we had still lost.

The parents had barely left his cot side, silently watching him as though they could fight the very thing that was taking him from them with sheer force of will alone. The spoke occasionally but otherwise they stayed quiet, as though they were afraid to ask any questions because deep down they knew what the answers would be.

But even the strongest will or the greatest love cannot hold death at bay and we have to tell the parents that there is nothing more we can do to save their little boy.

Mum bows her head and tries to choke back the sobs that threaten to engulf her.

Dad turns his back on us and marches out of the room, unable to stay and listen to us a moment longer. When he returns a few minutes later he is calmer and he and Mum ask to hold their baby for a little while. I tell them that they can hold him for as long as they need; that he is still their baby and that it is more important than ever that he knows they are there.

I sat beside the parents, camera in my hands, taking photograph after photograph of the little boy as they carefully hold him on a pillow. I am acutely, painfully aware that these are the last memories these parents will ever have of their son and that somehow I have been entrusted with making them.

The photographs that I take will be one of the few physical reminders that their little boy lived; photographs that will be stored in a box of precious keepsakes to be taken out when the grief becomes overwhelming and the images that they keep in their minds just aren’t enough.

In my mind I can see these broken, grieving parents opening their box of memories; taking out the items one by one and turning them over in their hands as they have done so many times before.

The little plastic name bands, inscribed with his name and date of birth, that circled his hands and feet. The biro letters are clear but the writing is slightly scribbled, as though someone wrote them in a hurry, not knowing how valuable those few words would become.

The stocking hat that was put on his head almost as soon as he was born that may yet still bear the faintest trace of his baby smell.

The knitted blanket that kept him warm during that last, bitter sweet cuddle.

I carry on taking photographs; of his little hands and feet, his face, zooming in so that he fills the camera frame. My hands shake so badly that I have to rest the camera on my knee so that I don’t blur these precious pictures of their last minutes together as a family.

The parents are adamant that they don’t want their baby to suffer and so they have already agreed with the consultant that she will remove the breathing tube when they tell her it’s time. Mum and Dad ask if I’ll stay with them until it’s over and I promise that I won’t leave their side for even a moment until they want me to go.

I put the camera down and help the consultant to gently remove the breathing tube, being so careful not to tug at the little boy’s skin or to distress him in any way. I talk to him softly, calling him sweetheart and telling him not to be scared; that his Mummy and Daddy are here with him and that they love him so very much.

The consultant waits quietly until Mum asks her if her baby has gone and she listens for his heartbeat with her stethoscope. His heart is still beating, slowly and faintly, waiting a few minutes more before quietly slipping away.

The tears that I’ve tried so hard to keep at bay start to run down my cheeks but they are silent and for this I am grateful. I try to discreetly wipe them away but they keep falling unbidden and there’s nothing I can do to stop them but at least I can keep the sobs inside until I am alone.

Somehow the end of the shift has arrived and as I step out of the room and into the corridor a noisy sob rises and escapes before I have time to choke it back. I quickly look around but no one else is there and so I manage to keep my emotions in check until I’m safely sat inside my car and I know no one can hear or see me as I cry.

After a few minutes my eyes are swollen and my head aches and I would have given almost anything to be home already. But I know it’s nothing compared to the pain those parents are feeling; whose arms are empty and whose baby boy now lives only in photographs.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Courteney: My Story

I'm Courteney and today I am telling my story.

In August 2013 I decided I was ready for a baby. In October I found out I was pregnant. I was overjoyed, excited and happy. I started to think about names and looking at what I could buy my baby. It didn't even cross my mind what was to happen next. It was the following month and it was time for my first scan. I went into the room and got ready. It took about five minutes and then I was sent into another room to speak to another midwife, she told me maybe I got the dates slightly wrong, she said that happens all the time.

I remember her telling me to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

She booked me in for a week later for another scan. The next week came and I went for my second scan... my baby wasn't growing, there was no change from last week. I was sent into a waiting room and I was left there for what felt like forever. Finally a nurse came and I followed into her room, she explained everything to me and told me what would happen, she told me there was several things I could do.

I was blank. I was then simply sent home, I was going to have my baby naturally as the other two options just weren't right for me. It was now December, Christmas was going to be here soon... one night this excruciating pain just came over me and I couldn't move. I was rushed to hospital. I had no idea what was going on, the nurse I seen at the end told me there wouldn't be much pain so I was terrified. I was having my baby.

The rest was such a blur as I was given morphine for the pain. I was in the hospital for about 7 hours. Before I left the hospital a nurse came to talk to me and all she had to say to me was that I could now get on with my life and I was still young. I was shocked and heartbroken. I was in a small room by myself and I came across these two very small baby hats in a cupboard next to me and I kept one and took it home with me, I don't know why but I did and it kind of helped looking at it and holding it because I didn't have my baby to hold.

I am so happy to have shared my story, I hope many other women can do the same. I want to break the silence on this taboo there is with pregnancy loss. I want to change this and I hope in the future no one will have to feel ashamed, guilty or anything like that, it is something we should be able to talk about. Thank you for letting me share my story.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Courteney currently has a petition running asking parliament to recognise October 15th as an official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. You can sign the petition here:


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Joanne: So many angels, too little reason

Earlier this week I was told some old acquaintances of mine from many moons ago have unfortunately lost their first born baby with no reason.

I wish that I could say that this was an irregular occurrence in our world… But it isn’t. It happens all too often and it isn’t talked about enough at all.

I know this new mum and dad will be devastated. They won’t be sleeping or eating. They won’t be functioning as normal human beings should. They won’t be showering, they won’t be answering the door, they won’t feel like they are living. They will be having nightmares and right now; they are living a nightmare.

People will be trying to help them and all they will want to do is scream at them. Their friends and family will be hoping that they are saying and doing the right things; who knows, they might be … Chances are, is that these newly grieving parents won’t think anyone around them is doing or saying the right thing.

(Mummy and Millie’s hands)

Coming to terms with a sudden and devastating loss such as this does not take hours or days, or weeks or months; it takes a lifetime. A lifetime of “maybe if I’d have just done this differently” or “what if I’d have taken that advice instead”. My own personal ones are “If only we hadn’t have chosen that nursery” and “Why didn’t I just take an extra few weeks maternity leave and then Millie wouldn’t have even been there”.  There are so many ifs and buts and unanswered questions and unfortunately a lot of these will remain just that, unanswered. Even though I still think these thoughts, I know that there is nothing that I could have physically done that day to stop this happening to my baby girl, this really has been one of the hardest things for me to accept and I don’t think that I will ever fully accept it, just like most parents who lose a child.

Grief shows it’s face in more ways than one and newly grieving parents experience every single state of grief possible. I personally believe that acceptance is the hardest one.

Parents should not have to accept that their child is gone, they shouldn’t have to accept that this happened to them for a reason – because it didn’t, it just happened. They should not have to accept that they are never going to see their child grown up.

There is no pain in this world that comes anywhere near to the pain in having to bury your own child. You don’t just bury your child, you bury all the hopes and dreams that you had for them, you bury part of yourself and you bury a piece of your life’s jigsaw that you will never find again. You can live without this piece, but it will always be missing.

Grieving parents act in very different ways, you cannot put them all in a box together as they don’t belong together in a box. Grief is as individual as the person experiencing it. I can only tell you about our grief,what happened to us after we loss our little Mills but I can’t tell you about anyone else’s – here is a small insight …


We went into complete and utter shock and felt like zombies for a long time after Millie passed away. There is still now, quite a lot of the period of those few months when we were at our worst that I don’t remember, for example; moving to a new house because we couldn’t cope living where we lived as it was too close to where Millie passed away. I don’t remember viewing the houses or moving in,   my mind has chosen to blank it out. Yet on the other hand, those first few horrendous hours are ingrained in my mind and the things I can remember from that day are unreal – these are the things that I want to forget, but my mind won’t let me.


Denial about losing a child is like smashing your head on a brick wall and nothing happening. I personally went into a world where some days I would expect Millie to be there waiting for me when I got home or that someone would come round a corner pushing her in a pram and I was about to hear her giggle. Of course, this never happened and when it didn’t happen, the grief hit me all over again. This still happens to me now and I’m not sure whether this one will ever go away, I think this one stays with you because even though practically I know my Millie isn’t with us anymore, a part of my brain still lives in hope that this could happen. I’m not mad or naive, I know that this is never going to happen, but it doesn’t stop me wanting it to.


I seemed to develop a whole new level of hatred that I didn’t know I had in me.

I hated everyone. I hated everyone who tried to help me, especially if they had children. I hated people who seemed to have the perfect life and tried to understand when I knew that they couldn’t possibly understand at all. I hated the mums pushing prams down the street, I hated seeing pregnant women or new parents with newborn babies. I hated hospitals, I hated prams, I hated cemeteries, I hated funeral homes, I hated nurseries, I hated people. I hated everything and everyone in my life, except for my husband as he was the only one person in my life that knew what I was feeling.

These few things are just a small snippet of what we really went though, the rest I could write a book about.

The one thing we were adamant about though, was that we were going to get through this. We were going to stay together and fight this nightmare as husband and wife. Not long after Millie passed away, someone told us that around 80% of couples who lose a child split up in the first year afterwards – we decided there and then that we didn’t want to be a statistic. Yet it could’ve been so easy to become one and believe me on some days we thought we were about to join that statistic and we completely understand how so many couples split up whilst going through this traumatic time.

We argued, we fought, sometimes for a few days and a lot of the time it was over nothing in particular. I think we argued like this because we were grieving in two completely different ways sometimes. A mother’s grief is different from a father’s grief and mix that in with how you grieve in general, it can ultimately lead to an awful lot of clashing and fighting and tears. Then you realise that no one else understands you like this person who loved this child as much as you do, and things begin to fall back into place again.

This next bit may be a little controversial for some of you, but remember this is my opinion and I totally respect yours.

Looking back through our experience there are some things that I am absolutely certain that I couldn’t stand people saying to me and I know that I probably got, well, what’s a polite word? “Ratty” – and that’s being mild. A few things in particular I got fed up of hearing included “God took her for a reason” “She was too good for this Earth” and “She’s in a better place now”

I know people think they are saying the right thing talking about God and heaven etc but when a parent loses a child it is very hard to accept that you could be given something so precious for it then to be ripped away so soon – it really does make you question religion. I personally, after losing Millie have no belief in God or religion whatsoever as I don’t think Millie is in a better place, how could she be? The best place for her is with her parents not without them. I struggle to understand the concept of how people can say “God took her for a reason”  because I believe it is cruel and nasty for this to happen to any parent and if there really is a god then why would he send this terrible act to take place so many times on our earth and put so many people through this pain?

I don’t want you to read this and think I’m preaching about God and trying to force an opinion on you because I’m not, I’m just explaining from one grieving parent’s perspective – my perspective. Some other parents I know get great peace believing that their child is now with God and in a better place and that is completely their prerogative to have this view, the same way it is for me to be a non-believer. I respect all people’s views on religion the same way that I hope they would respect my views. I know religion is a touchy subject but there’s no reason why I cannot be honest about my views as I really do struggle with it and I want other grieving parents to know it’s ok if you struggle when people say things like this to you, it’s ok to get angry and mad because you have a completely valid reason to start to question life and all it’s happenings. I like to believe Millie is here with us every day, she sees and hears everything that we do and I imagine her smiling and laughing at us, I don’t need to put her in heaven to be comfortable with the fact she isn’t physically with us anymore, I believe she wanders alongside us and is helping us to get through every day that she isn’t physically with us.

I can’t tell you what not to say to a grieving parent because everyone has their own opinion but I will soon do a blog on situations after a child loss to give you more of an understanding.

I hold Leo so tight every day and give him millions of hugs and kisses and I always will but even I over this past couple of days have given him even more whilst thinking about this couple and I really didn’t think it was possible for me to give him more than I already do. No wonder he keeps trying to wriggle away from me.

I led in bed last night thinking about this couple and when I closed my eyes I could see exactly what they are going through, I could feel that ache I had when we lost Millie, I cried for our loss and I cried for them having to go through this pain because I know what thoughts are going through their mind. If you haven’t lost a child; I can only describe this to you but if you have lost a child, right now you are probably feeling exactly that. No matter how hard you try; if you haven’t personally gone through this pain, your imagination will get you nowhere near to these feelings.

According to the National Office of statistics, there were 2912 infant deaths (under 1 year) in England and Wales in 2012, the year that our Millie passed away. This equates to an average of approximately 8 infant deaths per day or 56 a week or over 200 a month, whichever way you look at it, that is an awful lot of pain.  It gets worse. In 2012 alone, over another 2000 children (classed between the ages of 1 and 19) died too. So in total, not far from 5000 child losses happened in 2012 in just these areas alone. That’s 10,000 parents grieving for their child. So why still is it a taboo subject?

Child loss should not be a taboo subject in this day and age. We all know so many people in our lifetime, that I promise you, you will come across someone who has lost a child – sometimes without even knowing. People who don’t know me, don’t know that I have lost a child. I don’t walk around with a sign on my head to tell everyone and I don’t introduce myself as Joanne, the mum who lost her baby.

Due to the fact we run Millie’s Trust as our daughter’s legacy, some people do recognise me and others don’t. I might be talking to someone for a couple of hours before they come and say to me, “I know you’re MIllie’s mum” or they might not have a clue and ask me how many children I have. When I have been asked the latter, the reactions I have had when I’ve explained I’ve got 2 children but my daughter passed away or 1 child before we had Leo have been one reaction or another.

Reaction 1 (example)

“I am sorry to hear that. How old was you daughter and what was her name?”

Reaction 2 (example)

(silence.) What are you up to this weekend then?”

Do you see the big difference there? Two completely different reactions.

Shall I let you into a secret?

I have yet to meet a parent who has lost a child who doesn’t want to talk about him/her.

And I’ve met hundreds and talked to thousands.

Many grieving parents want to talk about ALL their children, not just their living children as the child they have lost is and always be a huge part of their life.

Please don’t ever be frightened about talking to a grieving parent (you know what, I wish parents who have lost a child had a name like a “widow/er” – as I’d rather not have to refer to them as “grieving parents” for the rest of our/their lives. You don’t call a widow a grieving widow for the rest of their life do you? Widow tells you enough to know that someone is always grieving”)

Where was I? Yes, don’t ever be frightened about talking to them and please do not avoid the subject of their child. From a simple “how are you?”, you will be able to work out whether they want to talk or not. It’s that simple.

Please don’t ever ignore them. We had people cross roads in front of us to avoid talking to us and we watched people who we thought were friends walk towards us, realise we were sat down and then they’d turn around and walk away. That’s hard, it’s really hard to see that happen.

Talk to them like how you would like to be talked to. Treat them how you would like to be treated.

Since losing Millie we have really found out who our friends are and in some aspects, our friendship circle has completely u-turned. Some friends who we thought would be there for us are no longer in our lives and yet we have friends who we have met since Millie passed away who have become some of our best friends. Friendships can be a strange thing.

I lost some of my friends because some of them decided to make decisions for me and decided to not invite me to nights out or didn’t want me around because someone in the group was pregnant – I was upset mostly but also extremely insulted. I do not believe that anyone should be making these decisions for you and it can only hinder your progress in grief because you are not being able to make the choices you need to and other people liked to think that they knew what I needed – no one knew this apart from me, not even my husband and there is no way on this earth that he would have tried to make a decision for me on my behalf.

This blog is getting pretty long now, so I’ll end it there as I know how busy you all are and really appreciate you taking the time to read what I write.

Come back another time and I’ll broach this subject again.

To all the grieving parents on this journey right now, whether you’re at the beginning, the middle or … Well that’s it really as there never is an end… we just want you to know that you are not on this journey alone. If you need help, please speak up. If you need peace and quiet, just speak up. This is your journey and no one else can tell you how to travel it and I promise you that one day you will smile again. Xxx

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do you know a child that has been taken too soon? In conjunction with our lovely friends at B for Balloons in Stockport, we are doing our first ever anniversary balloon release and you can join in too.

Lots of you joined in with our Millie’s madness month over the past couple of years and this year we want to make it even more special for Millie’s anniversary. This year you can have a balloon in our BIG BALLOON RELEASE on Millie’s Anniversary on the 23rd October 2015.

The balloon can be in memory of an angel child that you know, just follow the instructions on the Just Giving Page below.

***Millie’s Madness Month is a whole fundraising month in October in honour of Millie’s anniversary***

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Joanne and her husband Dan established Millie’s Trust when they tragically lost their daughter during a choking incident when she was at nursery at just 9 months old in October 2012.

They didn’t want her passing to be in vain and they wanted to do something long lasting in her memory, this became Millie’s Trust.

Millie's Trust (registered charity number 1151410) provides First Aid courses at the lowest possible cost and FREE First Aid awareness courses if you are pregnant, have a child under the age of 12 months or are struggling to find the funds to attend. They also provide a Paediatric course for nurseries to ensure more nursery staff become trained.

Joanne also writes on her own blog Same Person, Different Me which is where this blog post was originally published.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Julz: Right Where I Am 2015: 3 years 3 months 26 days

I have been very lost for words this year, here goes…

I sit here with Melody's new little sister, a sister who this time last year was no where near in existence.
I say little, of course she's not, not really, the baby is now 6 weeks, a week OLDER than Melody will ever be.
She's having a growth spurt, the growth spurt that could well have helped Melody's recovery.
The growth spurt that she never had the chance to have.
Another sister who will only ever recognise Melody as a headstone or a photo in a frame.
"The girl in the photo, that's my sister" is how Melody will ever be introduced.

I sit here with the thoughts that our family is complete, but not quite; my brain still struggles to know how big our family is, who I tell the truth to.
New people look at me strangely because I have to count in my head how many children I have, not answer straight away.
I lie sometimes.
I have to, because sometimes it’s the feeling of normality I crave. I don't want to be a bereaved mum every day.
To moan about sleepless nights without guilt.
"But one of your babies died."
To say out loud I'd like a break.
"But you should be grateful."
"At least you have healthy children."
I sure do, they don't replace Melody though.
Normality at times is long forgotten.

I used to love The Twilight Saga (I know!), things like Supernatural; now I can barely stomach them.
Before it was easy going things to watch, the romanticism of Twilight, an old fashioned love I guess, even though it should have been impossible. They even had a baby, a baby that was meant to be a monster,  that should never have existed, lived.
Our baby, real life baby, had 80% chance of survival, she died. Now I know it’s not real, but I used to enjoy it, now I can't see past it. I miss watching it, the fairy tale ending of eternity.
We used to watch Supernatural after our full days in NICU, we were fans before, but it was something we could take our minds off the fear of our tiny baby fighting, and fought she did.
Only now Supernatural with demon children, heaven and hell, I know it’s fiction but at the same time it’s our reality, children and babies die,  we know this far too well, the Supernatural horrors are our reality.
I don't believe in heaven.
I don't believe in hell.
I wish I did, to want to believe, that maybe Melody is out there. I am hoping come next entry I'll have found a belief or a sign, that she is safe and still around us, not cold and alone.

Where am I?
I'm building my life again, to not feel so heavy.
To not let Melody's death continue to define me…
To ignore the judgement of those who don't understand.
That if I want to talk I will.
If I want to cry to remember it’s not a bad thing, it doesn't make me weak.
To feel normal, because I am just like any other mum.

"I have five children, yes I have my hands full with four pairs of loving arms and a heart with arms I can no longer touch."

I am a bereaved mother.

I am Melody's mummy.

And I miss her.


You can read Julz's previous posts for the blog here:

Monday, 27 July 2015

Miriam: Right Where I Am 2015: 1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days

So, I left my last blog on 27th July 2014 wondering if there might be a future rainbow. Turns out that there would be, and sooner than I thought with a bfp just three days after writing that.

We visited a local petting farm open day in September. It was a lovely day, though I was anxiously trying to avoid touching any animals and hand washing to OCD levels. While there, we saw a man making objects from weaving willow. Without knowing I was pregnant he made a baby's rattle and gave it to me. I also made a corn dolly - symbol of fertility. They became my good luck and were tucked up safely on Gabriel's shelf.

Of course it goes without saying that the rainbow journey is an emotional one. The inner turmoil of 'what if it all happens again?' is never far away. I just felt so detached I had to force myself to buy baby clothes and took 6 weeks to pack the hospital bag. Whilst I breathed a little easier after reaching certain milestones, I don't think I really felt certain that we'd be bring a baby home until he was in my arms.

Then there are the little digs made by others. The hints that of course, everything will be fine now, because a 'replacement child' will surely make everything right. And there are all the usual antenatal appointments that are now far from that. That innocence of pregnancy before loss now robbed. It's not usual to cry before going for an ultrasound scan, but when you've heard those awful words 'I can't find a heartbeat' each and every scan was met with trepidation and held breath until a heartbeat was found.

I really do think that across the board, maternity services need to be much more aware of and sympathetic to the struggles of a rainbow pregnancy. From the stupid small talk of 'is this your first?' Have you taken a moment to read my notes? Did you not see the large count the kicks loss sticker I put right beside my name? To being told that my concerns about things that had previously happened at the time of Gabriel's birth, that should have happened to no woman, being dismissed as 'irrational' as they 'just don't usually happen'! Err... hello? They happened to me! How do I say 'you'll never get a sensible bp reading off me in that room, because of what happened previously'? Being kept waiting in triage for a ctg bringing on the tears, and when asked to explain why, being told 'Well, it's best not to think about it'. Really? Are you for real?

However, in my case it was my loss of innocence I think that saved my rainbow baby this time. I kept the pressure on my consultant to not let me go over my due date. This resulted in several failed sweeps, which in turn led to a scan the day after my due date to check my fluid levels, placenta function and baby's head position.

As the sonographer placed her probe at the top of my bump, 'Well, there's the head!' she said. My previously supposedly head down baby was now footling breech. This triggered a whole new birth plan. I was kept in for monitoring of my raised bp and plus protein, while they tried to get me on an elcs list - no mean feat the week before the Easter weekend.

A sudden feeling of relief oddly as this meant a whole different birth form Gabriel's. No fighting to get past the mw on the phone, or the woman in the desk at the ward. No sitting in triage! Small things, but they'd been massive concerns.

After my baby, a gorgeous 8lb 13oz boy, was born, the mw told me when I was back in the recovery bay, that as well as being footling breech, there was a true knot in the cord. Gabriel, I truly feel that you were watching over your little brother, and I sincerely thank you.

Today, my little rainbow isn't so little. He's rapidly approaching 4 months already. His babyhood is passing by far too quickly and I'm fighting against accepting the reality that he probably will be my last baby. I'm not a young parent and I've had truly awful SPD with all three pregnancies. I just don't think I can put me or my family through it again. And yet, I'd really love another. I'd love another baby. I'd love a little girl. I'd love.... But there's also the feeling that it wouldn't matter how many children I had: there'll always be one missing and so our family will just never feel complete.

Where am I right now?

Once again I'm wrapping birthday presents and feeling blessed. How many children do I have? I have three - I have my Sunshine, my Angel and my Rainbow. I consider myself a very lucky mummy to have each of these three.


You can read Miriam's previous post here:

Right Where I Am 2014: 9 months 3 weeks 2 days

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Jennifer: Right Where I Am 2015: 6 weeks

Today I got out of bed just before midday, which isn't too bad for me at the moment. I don't feel any need to get up, whats the point? It's been 6 weeks since I gave birth to my precious, perfect sleeping beauty Beth at 39+3 weeks. She is my first born, my little lady I had been keeping comfortable and safe for 39 weeks. My little angel who liked bath times where I played her my cheesy music in exchange for her kung fu kicks, my little plum who I told stories to and whose nursery was filled to bursting with all the little dresses, baby grows and items I would need to keep her warm and happy, and bath stuff that would make her smell delicious enough to eat. I couldn't wait to meet her. I was scared though. I am 30 and work as a paediatric nurse, so I knew how sick and poorly babies could potentially be. Even if I had to stay awake for the first week or so I would make sure she was safe and watch her every breath. That was my plan. But all that changed.

I went in with reduced movements at exactly 39 weeks .. Beth was more of an evening wriggler, whilst I was watching TV she would let me know she was there. But that evening my partner and I tried all we could and she would not move, so we called and went to labour ward as advised. I thought my girl was quiet as it might be the start of labour or maybe she had turned or something. I had a scan and was told her heart had stopped beating.. I'm sure mine did too at that moment. I wanted my baby out there and then... Maybe they could resuscitate her, I could help. But no. She was gone. There was nothing, no pain no bleeding... Just reduced movements and it was already too late. The hospital was only 5 mins from us I couldn't have got there any quicker.

A few days later I did it, I gave birth to my baby, my daughter, my Beth. One of the many worse days of my life but also one of the happiest. I finally got to meet her. To see her. Her beauty was astounding. Family and friends came to see her and said how much she looked like her daddy and how stunning she was. We stayed with her for 2 days, it would never be enough.

Fast forward and here I am 6 weeks later. We have an album full of pictures, two picture frames hung in the living room, three picture frames on the sideboard and three canvasses above our bed. We have a memory box and Beth's ashes. Her body home at last. I take her ashes up to bed with me every night, I promised her I'd never leave her alone again at night. I had her for all of her life and she will have me for the rest of mine.

The crying continues everyday, the sadness, taking over my whole body at any given moment. I try and stop these tears but I can't. I can't control the endless grief that has consumed my life. The endless forums and groups I've joined are now my life. Like many bereaved mums have said… A part of me died with Beth. I want to tell all these expectant mums to be careful - they might not get to take their baby home - not to get too happy. I can't see anything positive ever happening. I want to scream and shout, I want people to ask if I have children so I can say yes and tell them about Beth. I want everyone to know she was here and she will always be my life and my baby but I will never hold her again. I will never hold my Beth, her body is gone. I still can't accept it. I still don't want to believe it I wish I could be with her. I would swap places anytime if it was possible.

I was always scared of death, but now if that means I'll be with my baby then I'm not scared. To hear Beth laugh or cry, to see her eyes open and to watch her grow is all I want. I just want to be normal again.

That's where I am...

I want to change the past. I want Beth alive and snuggled into me. I want to kiss her nose and her cheeks and never let her go. I want her body to be warm against mine and her cheeks rosy and pink. I want her so badly.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lindsay: Right Where I Am 2015: 1 year 11 months 18 days followed by 14 weeks 1 day

As I'm writing this it's been 14 weeks and 1 day since I lost my daughter, Esmae. I'm sure it's the same for everyone, but I shouldn't be here right now. I should be on maternity leave getting ready for my baby's arrival. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It's as if everyone else around us has moved on and has already forgotten about our little girl. Meanwhile those who were pregnant alongside us are still the centre of attention. But that's just life I suppose.

I seem to be moving forward through my grief much quicker than last time. You see it's been 1 year, 11 months and 18 days since I lost my son, Hunter. Three months on from losing Hunter we still didn't quite believe what had happened, we still don't believe what happened with Esmae, but it's different this time. Grief doesn't have a set path you can follow. You just take each day as it comes and you have to accept there will be some really dark days, when you feel as if everything has just hit you all over again. There will be good days too however, and you need to learn not to feel guilty about having a good day.

This time round my grief hasn't taken me on the same path, but it's a familiar one, it's easier to navigate. I'm not suggesting for a second losing my daughter has been easier than losing my son, in many ways I feel more cheated this time. What I mean is I generally do find it easier to get through each day, to find my way. I think this is true only because I know better how to cope. I've been learning how to cope each day for almost two years now, but at least this time around I already know how I'm feeling is 'normal'. The new 'normal'. In all honesty I don't remember what it feels like to be the old me. I'm not the person I was two years ago, I'm not the person I was fifteen weeks ago, before I found out my pregnancy would not go full term. I sometimes feel I'm just a shell of the person I used to be. I'm nearly always anxious about the most stupid of things, I've become extremely paranoid and I have lost nearly all my confidence.

I know my limits, I know what I can and cannot manage. There are times though when I think I'm being silly by not being able to lead a full and 'normal' life – going shopping in town on a whim, being around large groups of people I may not know well, going out for drinks to a busy bar. These are things I took for granted before and now the thought of putting myself through situations like those can bring me out in a cold sweat, sometimes it can even feel as if I'm paralysed with anxiety.

Surprisingly though things actually improved a bit whilst I was pregnant with Esmae. My husband even said he was beginning to see the old me again, but since losing her I feel like I'm back to square one – some days I don't even think I'm on the board! I sometimes feel as if I'll only fully get that confidence back when I'm proudly pushing a pram in front of me. Maybe that's because I'll finally feel like I have a purpose in life, something to live for.

I have spent all the time since losing Hunter building an emotional wall. Since Esmae I've had to build it a little higher, but it is helping me get through this all over again. I both love and hate my wall. It shelters me from most of the things in the world that I suddenly started noticing – baby adverts on TV, pregnant women, prams, toddlers, baby aisles in supermarkets, the list goes on...but it also blocks out a lot of the rest of my (old) world. I sometimes feel as if I'm only half living. My more recent memories all seem a little dull, they're all in the dark shadow of the wall. It's as if everything has lost it's colour since the wall went up. I don't dare take it down though.

My wall is not impenetrable however, there are some things such as seeing/hearing new born babies which it cannot protect me against – they filter their way through the cracks. At the same time it's not so high and solid that it doesn't let people in, or my emotions out.

I find it easy to talk to most people about my babies. I want to talk to anyone who asks and wants to listen about my babies. That there is the key point – I will talk to anyone who asks and is willing to listen. It's not a subject everyone is thankful you bring up and then there is the odd time when I don't want to talk.

I thought after losing Esmae that I might be able to open up more to my parents about how I feel, but up until now this hasn't been the case. This time I tried to tell them straight out that it helps me to talk about my babies, their grandchildren. At first this didn't seem to work, they were still looking for my lead all the time, but I had long since given up as my previous attempts to let them in had failed. I assumed they wanted to protect me, but by not mentioning my babies at all they left me doubting how they felt about their grandchildren. Hopefully since writing them a letter and sending them an earlier draft of this blog, which sparked a very tearful (on my part) conversation with my mum, things will become easier for all of us.

It had got to the point where my wall was always up around them, blocking them out, and I couldn't work out how to let them in. I didn't think they truly wanted to see what was the other side of my wall and although I thought I'd tried various ways to let them in, nothing worked, perhaps I was being too subtle. I was trying to find a way of letting them know I needed more from them without causing them unnecessary pain. (I say unnecessary pain, because there's no magic pill that will make this painless for any of us.) I think I still need to help them realise that pain is a natural part of the grieving process though and it can be cathartic. Exhausting, but cathartic. I don't see feeling pain/showing your emotions as a weakness, it just demonstrates you are strong enough to endure each day, strong enough to get out of bed and try to get on with what's left of your life. For the last couple of years I've really needed my parents to realise this. They've been trying so hard not to upset me, but they never fully understood that there is nothing they can do or say that will make me feel any worse. Saying nothing at all is the only thing (for me) which makes it worse.

I'm hopeful after talking openly with my mum that things will change. I still need to work on showing my true emotions in front of her and my dad, but I need them to not feel as if they are walking on eggshells around me and my husband all the time. Saying my babies names might bring tears to my eyes, but I love hearing people talk about them, it reminds me that they mattered. I still need to help my parents realise that it's ok for me to cry, it's ok for me to breakdown, to not be able to breathe because there's a pain in my chest which takes up all the space for air. These are all natural parts of grieving, it's not something I can suddenly switch off and get over. All those things are normal to me now.

Although they'll already know, from this blog, we've started trying again, I think it'll still take some time before my mum will feel comfortable discussing that with me. I want to be able to confide in my mum if I take a test and it shows up negative or tell her how depressing it feels when you don't even get as far as taking a test. I think she feels a bit useless though because she can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything. She has no frame of reference as she never experienced any problems during her pregnancies (although my birth was pretty traumatic, but she took that in her stride!) Sometimes I just need someone to listen, even if they can't tell me everything will work out fine in the end.

Trying to conceive again after a loss is so tough. It can consume your life. We felt last month that we were ready. I think we both sometimes feel the months ticking away and although I feel guilty saying this, I do feel as if we're another year down the line and many more months have been wasted. Unfortunately our first month of trying again didn't work and I thought I'd be ok with it, but during those few days last week I just felt in limbo and it brought back memories of how desperate I felt all those months after Hunter, trying without success. It just hits home again that I should be heavily pregnant right now with Esmae and getting her nursery together.

Perhaps some would say if I feel this way then maybe I'm not ready to start trying again, but it's hard to explain the overwhelming urge to keep on trying to someone who hasn't suffered the loss of a baby, the loss of three babies. We started trying again about three months after losing Hunter and to be honest I sometimes felt a little relieved when we didn't conceive (just for those first couple of months though). I realise now this was probably because we were still so deep in our grief that we weren't quite ready. When we eventually did get pregnant it unfortunately didn't last long. Finding no heartbeat at 7 weeks and then passing the baby three weeks later. The 'Little One', as we refer to her (we feel she would've been a girl), had given us the hope we needed, a definite sign not to give up. We were then lucky enough to conceive Esmae almost straight-away – it was like she was meant to be…

We are now two and a half years further down the line from where we began and although I don't know what the future has in store for us, I do know I'm ready to try again. I'm ready to let it consume me again, to become my life again. It's the only way I can keep getting out of bed each morning trying to move forward.