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 😉


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. 

Pregnancy Picture

I’ve been pregnant three times, you’d think I have tonnes of pregnancy bump photos but I don’t. 

With Toby I was petrified things would go wrong, I didn’t allow myself to record my growing bump with photos as I was frightend about having them if the worst happened. I have one bump photo taken at about 8 months pregnant. I did it as I thought I’d better have at least one record of his bump. I’m in our old lounge, I look a bit embarrassed but also excited and happy. I don’t have the photo to hand but it is lurking on the laptop – a picture of me and my small neat Toby bump. The bump that made it. 
With Rory there are some photos taken at Toby’s birthday party where you can see my 16ish week bump. In the photo I’m wearing a grey Next maternity top. I don’t have any other photos. I didn’t have time and my bump wasn’t big enough to do a proper bump shot. 

With Henry I hid my bump, I wore baggy clothes and scarfs to hide my increasing tummy size. A handful of times with friends who knew I wore a tighter top, but still a scarf to disguise the bump that was starting to form. I don’t have any photos where you can see that I was pregnant. 

I wish I’d taken more photos. 

Before Loss Selfie

Pictures record a moment, they speak volumes. This isn’t strictly a selfie but it is one of my favourite photos of me, it was taken about a month before we had our ‘Rory IVF’ cycle. Rory’s loss was pivotal, but us choosing to take the sibling route also weighs heavily on me. We were happy with Toby but we got complacent and we made a choice that changed everything. I worried about how I’d cope if the cycle didn’t work, I wondered if we were doing the right thing, I questioned whether I was a good enough mum to cope with two children. 

You can see the sparkle of a new life being planned in my eyes in that photo. I remember thinking that this was one of the last opportunities to do fun stuff as 2015 might bring a new baby. It felt like one last hurrah spending the day in London with a good friend. I think that was the last ‘fun’ day out I’ve had in London – 20 September 2014. 

Life changed little over a month later. I was pregnant, unbeknownst to me I’d set our family walking down a dark and scary path. 

Looking at this photo is more traumatic for me than photos where you can glimpse my Rory bump. This photo shows the end of my happy content life as a mum of one.

Favourite Grief Quote

There are so many amazing and inspiring quotes about grief, too many to mention in fact. The one that immediately popped into my head is this:

When Rory died it felt like I was drowning, the weight on my chest was heavy and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. 

I don’t like the water much and I’m not a strong swimmer, drowning scares me and losing Rory scared me just as much. 
Grief does indeed come in waves, it ebbs and flows and most of the time you can paddle in the cold water and you are absolutely fine. Other days the waves crash, you can see them coming and you can brace yourself against their force. You hold on so tight and you ride it out until the sun warms your face again and you can breathe. Then unexpectedly a tidal wave comes and it sweeps you up without warning, you fight and you struggle and you can’t break free, then it spits you out on the shore battered and bruised and gasping for breath. I’m not sure what’s worst – being swallowed up with no warning or seeing the storm about it hit from miles away. 

I’m not a strong swimmer in water but I have learned to ride the waves of grief. I’ve realised it is safer, easier and kinder to move with the waves rather than fight them. Being on top of the waves and bobbing up and down is far nicer than being under water fighting against the tide.