A year later

Last year I wrote this blog post about sunshine, storms and rainbows.

A year later my thinking has shifted. Rory wasn’t a storm and neither was Henry. Storms are violent, scary, and destructive, my boys weren’t that, how can an innocent baby cause all that? My reaction to their arrival and quick departure was stormy and destructive but that was all down to me and not them.

Henry should have been our rainbow, our full stop, our happy ever after, our new chapter but it didn’t work out that way. Rainbow babies will always be hard, partly because of the language around them as it doesn’t sit well with me. I can’t change the language but that doesn’t mean I can’t challenge it.

On rainbows, I have realised that perhaps I am my own rainbow, my own happy ending and my own new chapter. I don’t know where this year will take me but I’m excited to be here.

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There must be a better way…

…to describe children in the loss world.

So, I’m scrolling through Instagram and I’ve just read a really emotive post by a friend about Rainbow babies (these are the holy grail in the loss world – a living baby after loss). I scroll further down and come across this from #mamaacademy:

My blood is boiling, Rory and Henry were not a bloody storm, yes they nearly broke me but this sort of language implies that as we don’t have a rainbow baby we must still be living in a storm – this is not the case. It is absolutely possible to be happy after you have lost a baby and you don’t need a holy grail baby to help with the process. Some people have the strength and awesomeness to find their own happy ending. I do not live in a storm.

I posted this reply:

I await their reply.

The loss world needs to address how we label children and what the labels mean. Not everyone sees their baby as a storm, not everyone gets a rainbow. It’s short-sighted, it’s isolating, it’s offensive.

Just a normal day

As Toby was writing our names on his pencil case (it’s wipe clean, it’s allowed!) he said Mummy, what are Rory and Henry’s favourite colours?

I explained that Rory had a green hat so perhaps his is green and Henry had yellow ducks on his outfit so his must be yellow. Toby got excited as Matt’s favourite colour is also yellow and they both have the same birthday.

I love my little 6 year old and the lovely times he asks normal questions about his baby brother’s or chooses to write their names. We never ever force Toby to involve his brothers in things, it’s always his choice if he wants to include them or talk about them. I realised this morning that this is our normal and it’s nice that we can have these conversations without feeling sad.

People may find it odd that we talk freely about what the boys might like or what they might be up to but that’s our normal and it isn’t going to change.

Don’t be upset for us or feel awkward, it’s just us 😊

A normal Christmas

I started this post between Christmas and new year and then things were so busy I forgot about it. Actually, I didn’t forget, more there was no time…

The boys are still asleep after a full on Christmas Day (and an early start yesterday). I’m sat here reflecting on yesterday and the run up to Christmas.

A few days ago I was feeling nothing, not a festive feeling to had. I was surprised as this is the first Christmas since Rory (and then Henry) died that I’ve felt like I can cope. I expected to be a teeny bit excited at least but nope, nothing.

Friday I spent the day with my nice and her family for a day out, another recovery milestone ticked off and it felt nice, and it felt normal to be around them. We had a lovely day. A couple of times though, the boys popped into my head. I wondered what it would have been like pushing Henry around in his pushchair, would he have liked the petty lights? Would I be sat in the toddler area of soft play with him rather than sitting just outside drinking coffee. Then my brain switched to Rory, would I have spent the day chasing him as he ran off all the time. I could see two beautiful dark eyed boys and my heart ached. But then I was confused as they wouldn’t have been here together at those ages and I couldn’t choose who I was missing more. I’ve not had those thoughts for a long time and they are not constructive or conducive to being well. My brain ached, so, in the spirit of EMDR, I noticed the feelings and I parked them for later. I got on with having a nice day. Then as we left the age old question popped out of Toby – ‘Mummy, can I have a sister?’ He’s asked it all the way home, all evening and again in the morning.

That, along with the what ifs from the previous day meant that everything is not felt in months came crashing in. The day before Christmas Eve I was in pieces, crying at everything and good for nothing. I had errands to do so off I went hoping they would distract me – wrong! A Mum from School was kind to me in B&Q and I cried. I’ll be honest I felt like a twat. I’m sure the shop assistant thought I was crying at the annoying self checkout voice as she showed me how to switch it down!

When I got home I wrote an apologetic message to my friend and got on with finishing off baubles that I made for Rory and Henry. Something told me I had to visit the baby garden at the crem so off I went with two very obviously hand made by me baubles in my bag.

As soon as I pulled into the car park I felt better, the crematorium always brings peace to my heart. Although we have the boys’ ashes at home, the crem was the last place they were whole in their little white coffins. The baby garden is beautiful and I hung the baubles on the memory tree there.

I realised that I love the boys both the same and it’s ok to think about them, and I don’t have to choose.

Christmas was filled with love and fun and I truly enjoyed it. As we approached new year I was excited about what 2018 would bring.

2017 was a year of making amends, finding the old me again, slotting the boys into my life and challenging myself.

2018 will be a year of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and building on the successes of 2017 – I can’t wait!

Sunshines, Angels and Rainbows

This sums up my issues with loss world terminology far better than I can! The rainbow baby bit especially.

Still Standing Magazine

For the record, I don’t begrudge anyone their baby after loss but I do get a bit cross when people assume that a baby after loss will come and say (well intentioned) words to that effect to a loss parent. I am hurt when people go overboard on the rainbow shit (it’s just a baby people, calm down!) and I feel sad that other loss parents just think I’m being awkward or difficult or want to make people feel guilty about their babies when I raise the issue of babies after loss not materialising. I raise the issue to mange expectations for those new to the loss world, I raise the issue as it happened to me, I raise the issue to clarify that not everyone gets the holy grail. I also raise the point to show that actually you can have a nice life with no baby after loss in your arms.

It takes strength to parent a baby who couldn’t stay, it takes strength to try again, it takes strength to parent a baby after loss, it takes a different kind of strength to carry on without a baby in your arms knowing it will never happen.

I wish they could see me now

I’ve not posted for a while as I’ve been busy; not just busy in the usual sense of the word but also busy giving my brain time to heal after therapy sessions, busy challenging myself, busy noticing my feelings and reactions. Just busy.

Therapy is one part of my recovery jigsaw. Alongside the sessions and the noticing what I think and feel I’ve been pushing myself to deal with situations that even a couple of months ago seemed unachievable. In the past few weeks I have put myself in situations that have involved significant triggers, it has been hard but it has been ok and I have survived. It suddenly feels like everything is coming together and I’m consolidating what I am gaining from therapy, my newfound outlook, a boost in strength and courage and it is giving me a solid foundation for the future. 

I started a photo blog challenge at the start of October as it was baby loss awareness month, I lost focus and interest in it quickly and felt guilty for not doing it but upon reflection my brain didn’t have time as it was busy healing. I also realised I don’t need a photo challenge to think about and share Rory and Henry as I do it most days without even thinking. 

I’m exhausted but I am proud of what I have achieved in a fairly short time. Every little thing I’ve done in the past few weeks has been a small part of the puzzle – a session here, a play date there, looking at a baby in the supermarket, driving past a mum and pushchair and feeling ok about what I see, following a previously unfollowed friend on social media. These small things have come together and make me almost want to roar with pride. 

I still can’t do bumps, they still make my skin crawl and I panic it will touch me. It is on the list though and I will work hard to reduce the impact of this trigger.

I said to a friend recently that EMDR was life changing, and it is. I feel like the old me is returning. I know the old me won’t fully come back, but two and a half years after our first loss I’m starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.

I’m proud of the achievements I have made, Matt is proud, my family are proud and my friends are proud. I even think Toby is proud of me, as proud as a 5 year old can be anyway!

To my amazing friends and family – thank you for your patience, love and kindness. I couldn’t have done any of this without you.

To Matt, Toby, Rory and Henry – thank you for making me who I am today. 

Before I finish, one thing makes me sad, I wish I could go back to all the ‘friends’ we’ve lost since Rory died and tell them what I’ve written here. 

To the ones who think I don’t like them because they had a baby, to the ones who think I’m bitter and resentful, to the ones who communicate only via Matt, to the ones who chose not to tell us their baby news, to the ones who were insensitive and got offended when called out, to the ones who just don’t get us – I am doing really well thanks (not that you asked how I was doing) and it’s your loss not having me in your life. 


This photo sort of sums me (old and new) up – a giggling crazy cat lady 😉

Notice

I’ve given up on the October prompts. Nothing was grabbing me and it was a chore, I didn’t care that I’d missed one a few days ago I cared even less when I missed the next one and the one after that. At first I panicked that it was because I didn’t care about my babies, or that I didn’t care about baby loss awareness month. But then I sat and noticed the feelings and the reason for not caring. It was simply that I was not engaged with the prompts and I had different things that I wanted to write about. I’ve become impatient since March 2015, if something feels like it is wasting my time or I’m feeling constrained I switch off. I can’t waste time on things I don’t enjoy, life is too short. 

The ‘noticing’ thing has come from EMDR, during the wavy fingers bit an image or feelings will pop into my head, I’ll tell the therapist what is was or how I felt, we’ll discuss it and she will simply finish with ‘just notice’ and the finger waving starts again. 

A couple of weeks ago I walked past a massive bump in Sainsbury’s. I felt the usual jolt in my chest and an immediate need to be as far away as possible. But rather than walking away (like usual), I stood there by the pastries and the bump and I just noticed. I noticed how my body felt, what my feelings were. Physically I felt dizzy, my chest was heavy, I was nauseous. Feelings wise, I felt repulsion. Yes repulsion. I was shocked. For months, years possibly I thought the feeling about bumps was jealousy but in that moment I noticed that it wasn’t that at all. 

I mentioned it to my therapist at the next session. She was pleased that I had ‘noticed’ she was as surprised as me about the repulsion. Neither of had an answer, we still don’t have an answer but it’s on the list of things to tackle.

I’ve been noticing more lately. 

Babies are an interesting one. I’ve noticed that I can stand near a baby if it is just in its pram, detached from other people. But as soon as it is held, or cradled or cooed over I feel the usual dizziness, pounding heart and nausea. Again, I noticed that it is not jealousy, I don’t want a baby, I don’t want that particular baby.  When I look at a baby I don’t feel broody or a pull of longing for a new life. I don’t really feel anything other than uncomfortable. I noticed and tried to unpackage the uncomfortableness. I realised that nobody had the chance to get excited over Rory and Henry. I didn’t get to parade them around in a pram, take them into work, be asked how old they were, how big they’d grown.  I noticed the feelings related to this were really just sadness that my babies never had the chance to be celebrated in the way a new life usually is. 

The baby thing of course finally explains why I can stand in Paultons Park and be surrounded by babies, it’s because they are passing by and nobody is conversing about their age, how they sleep, the colour of their eyes. The school playground is a completely different dynamic. Parents compare notes, they share in the excitement of yet another new arrival. I can’t join in, I just feel sad and awkward. I thought it was just a case that I can cope when I’m outside as it’s easy to hide or run but it seems to be more complex than a simple location issue. 

Babies are on the list too, of course they are.

Forcing myself to evaluate my physical responses and my feelings has meant I am trying to expose myself to the bumps and babies more often. I can feel that things are changing, becoming softer and less frightening. We’ve still got a lot of work to do in the few remaining sessions. In the meantime I’ll keep noticing.