I have delayed posting or commenting anything about the heartbreaking story of the loss of Meghan and Harry’s baby.
Was it royal?
There is a lot of debate as always in the media and online about whether it was or wasn’t a “Royal baby”. Well to be frank who cares if it was royal or not it was still the loss of a poor baby; someone’s baby; Meghan and Harry’s baby and Archie’s kid brother or sister. It is sad to hear of the loss of any child and it is equally sad to see they haven’t had any family support (that we can see publicly) from the Windsor side anyway.
The lack of support and understanding for child loss is palpable. It is a shame that the official stance from the Royal family was to refuse comment and to keep it as a private matter, when clearly the taboo of child loss does need to be spoken about rather than a continued adoption of the English way of pretending nothing has happened and simply moving on.
I am hoping that privately the Windsor’s have reached out, especially to Harry. For a dad it can often be even worse support wise than it can for mothers of loss. I would imagine Harry could really use some support from his father and brother at this time. I hope privately that they have reached out to him and that he has had this.
MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK
Meghan said in the eloquent column she wrote for the New York Times.
“I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
‘She asks “Are we ok?” This is the question that all child loss sufferers need to be asked and we need to feel we can escape from the traditional English response of “I’m fine” or “I’m OK” to be more honest with our feelings in order to encourage others that it is ok to do so too.
FIRST CHRISSY THEN MEGHAN
Meghan and indeed Chrissy Teigen earlier in the year were both criticized for their honesty and openness around the loss of their children when in fact they should be praised for it (as well as given love and support). They are doing a great service to the child loss community. It is an exclusive club that no one wants membership of and lots don’t feel they can admit they are members of it either so the more celebrities open up discussions about the subject then the better the fuel to help rid us of this awful taboo. By enabling people to talk about Meghan or Chrissy rather than themselves it enables greater dialogue around the subject avoiding the fear of offending a friend or loved one.
NEW YORK TIMES
If you want to read Meghan’s article in the New York Times here’s a link to it. Thank you to Meghan and Chrissy for sharing their pain with us to help others to speak out too.
I had a new business meeting today and mentioned Violet Skies in it. The lady I was chatting to then opened up that she had lost two children herself too and praised the fact collectively we are helping to encourage dialogue around the subject.
So let’s get talking about it. Why not be open about it? Let’s ask “How are you today?” and “Are you ok?” genuinely ready for an answer that doesn’t include the word “fine”.
Please let me know what you think as always and if you can share that would be amazing too.
Lots of love
Always Violet Skies
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Lots of Aurora’s friends are now getting to the age where little brothers and sisters are arriving. She has been obsessed with babies for the last 6 months but now seems to notice and comment on photographs more than before.
The photographs she comments on are those of her big sister who technically should be older than she is now at age 5 but of course she died at 15 months so will be a baby forever. Aurora is finding it a hard concept to understand. She understands when she points at photos of my niece as a baby and I can say that was what she was like as a baby because she knows her as an older girl now.
When she points to say “my baby” at photos of Violet, because in the photos she is indeed a baby compared to 2 year old Aurora, and we say that’s your big sister Violet she looks very confused.
Today in the park she met her nursery friend Erin who was there with her new baby sister & on the way home she said my baby sister & I said yes you have a big sister who’s a baby. Even I’m confused goodness help a 2 year old!
Any advice as to what we say to her so she understands better?
The unknown challenges you face with a rainbow toddler. Please let me know if you’ve been through anything similar.
Always Violet Skies,
Love Sarah xx
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Well what a weird year this one has been. Even September feels a little different than usual because we are unable to have people round to the house & with a little one entertaining at home is what we do really so that’s out then. Our fire pit & BBQ haven’t had that much use this year.
I used to love this time of the year being a nerd at school I loved going back for challenging new lessons, my new notebooks & stationery. I try to embrace these old memories of September by learning new things & treating myself to new stationery too.
In recent years September has always been a tough month for us. The beginning of the month saw us saying goodbye to our little rainbow boy Arthur (read more about him here), the middle of September saw us spend a few weeks in the children’s hospital with Violet & then the end of the month was when she sadly died.
Usually at the end of September we try to escape on holiday somewhere to try to take our minds off it but for obvious reasons we won’t be going overseas for sunshine this year. Not because I am fearful of my own safety I should add but more because we aren’t willing to take any risks with the health of our rainbow toddler no matter how slight they may be.
I recently heard something an amazing man called Les Brown said that resonated with me so wanted to share.
He said “I’m not going to let adversity define who I am and how I show up. It shows you who you are. It will either make you or break you.”
I really resonated with this. Yes I have been through adversity but I’m not going to let it define who I am. Yes it has changed me and made me see the world differently but it will not stop me from being me.
What about you? What resonates with you?
It’s a great time for reflection.
Are you back to school? What do you like about September?
Always Violet Skies xxx
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Recently I’ve been beating myself up about putting on weight during lockdown and the fact I’ve not exercised a huge amount. My body isn’t how I’d like it to be. My heart is now fixed so there’s no physical reason for not doing more exercise.
My fixed heart now seems to have slowed my metabolism down because it is working more efficiently so I seem to be burning less calories – typical hey? Anyway I was moaning the other day to a friend and she reminded me that I have actually had 3 pregnancies/babies in 5 years which is quite a lot and a huge impact on your body. Add into that that I’ve also had and recovered from heart surgery after having a titanium device fitted inside it.
Looking back over 5 years
I had a very traumatic birth with my first baby Violet who was undiagnosed breach resulting in me being rushed into surgery shortly after the birth. She was blue lighted to Alder Hey in Liverpool where she underwent heart surgery at 4 days old. She survived that luckily and we took her home 10 days later with major chest wounds weighing less than 5 pounds. Anyone who has had a prem baby will understand the additional challenges with caring for a baby so small.
Childloss x 2
Then I’ve also had the trauma of losing two children. First Violet at 15 months old then my second baby Arthur. With Arthur we had to face the near impossible decision of a termination for medical reasons after hearing at his 20 week scan that his brain hadn’t developed at all and in fact was just fluid. We said goodbye to him at 22 weeks and he was stillborn.
We’ve then undergone a horrendous inquest hearing for Violets loss almost 2 years after she died having to relive every moment of it and I did that whilst heavily pregnant with Aurora my third baby.
I faced the additional stress of a rainbow pregnancy following those two losses whilst rehabilitating a German Shepherd and project managing a home extension that we lived in throughout too. All while still working as a PR consultant too.
Child with special needs
After Aurora was born we discovered she was deaf and so are now adjusting to raising a deaf child. She also doesn’t sleep so 2 years in we’ve had to adapt to only 4-5hours sleep maximum a night on a good day.
Other minor things
In the last 5 years of my life I’ve also gotten married, travelled round the planet twice, raised over £50k for Alder Hey hospital, had heart surgery and most recently a cancer scare (luckily now confirmed as nothing to worry about).
I also started this child loss blog to help others out there and to try to raise more awareness of the issues faced. I’ve started lecturing in marketing at university, launched a new travel business and also made more of my love for photography by studying for a diploma in it. Now with covid changing the landscape of my career in travel and hospitality PR too. Grounding airlines and closing bars/restaurants. The working me has seen a huge shift in my outlook and what I do.
I’d say that’s quite a lot in 5 years wouldn’t you? So you know what? I’m going to give myself a bloody break and a pat on the back for still being relatively sane. So what if I’ve put some weight on. I’m not going to stress about that at all and in the grand scheme of things now with covid challenges too who cares?
Make a list people
So my word of advice to anyone out there is to make a list of all the things you have faced, overcome, survived and achieved in the last 5 years. I bet like me you’ll be surprised and so try to recognise what you have actually done rather than beat yourself up because of a saggy tummy, grey hairs and wrinkles. See how amazing you actually are to have got to where you are today. What have you done, over come and experienced in the last 5 years?
Appreciate the now
I did think about doing a list for the last 18 years but that just made me feel very old and exhausted 😂maybe I will write a memoir someday to share the full story and it’ll be perfect bedtime reading (to send you all to sleep or you will think it is fiction).
Big love to you all and thanks for reading
Always violet skies xx
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I’ve not written a blog post for a fair few weeks (well over a month!) because to be honest I just couldn’t be bothered.
I wondered if anyone was actually reading these and so whether I should continue or not.
Then I did a few extremely honest captions on instagram and got a fair few comments back from people telling me thank you, as what I said really resonated with them too. Someone also thanked me for making them feel less alone and that they reached out to find my blog when they were at their lowest ebb. That my blog showed them they could move on too and that there was a glimmer of hope at the end of the apocalypse that is child loss.
I’m back… did you miss me? (don’t answer that!)
So I am back again with my ramblings and I hope you will find them insightful. I’m also going to re-jig my website a little over the coming months so posts are easier to search for and to find.
I know a fair few of us have found the last 3 months especially difficult as we adjust to a new way of life, perhaps facing new financial pressures leading to a change of outlook, lifestyle or having to rethink career or business goals.
I have tried my hardest to be positive about the situation even though work dried up, my birthday was in lockdown and we spent the majority of 3 months isolating to keep our toddler safe.
I volunteered my time to help the lonely elderly by making regular phone calls to them to give them a caring ear and someone who cared. I also gave some of my PR assistance for free to help charities out including setting up one to help benefit those struggling from lockdown who are self-employed missing out on government support.
Missing family and friends I found hard along with valuable social interaction for the greater good.
Now as lockdown eases a little, we have decided to venture out more to open spaces, parks and to meet friends and family, observing social distancing of course. This I find really does help my mood and improves perspective too.
I do feel as though I’ve also been a crap friend too over the last 3 months as I’ve been struggling somewhat but hope to make it up to you all during the rest of the year.
I’m thankful that lockdown had eased as this week it was Violet’s 5thbirthday, meaning that we could visit her grave and even more lovely was the fact that Chester Zoo reopened on her birthday. We sponsor the elephants there in her memory so like to visit them to remember her and this we got to do yesterday. It helped to make a very painful day a little brighter.
I still find I have a great deal of anger at the world because of Violet’s loss and my soul aches as though part of it has been ripped away.
I often think about what she would have been like as a 5 year old. What would she look like and sound like? What would she enjoy doing? How would she be?
I try to focus on the positives and doing good deeds for others to try to spread the joy that Violet embodied. She brought a calm stillness to those she met like a master of Zen, pretty rare in a baby.
We are paying for a 5 year olds school uniform in Violet’s memory to help a family who are struggling. I have also made up little party bags that will be delivered to friends this week to hopefully make them smile and spread some joy. Once again we have renewed sponsorship of the elephants at the zoo too. Some kind people have also donated to her fund so Alder Hey will once again benefit from Violet’s legacy.
It was lovely that quite a few friends and family remembered Violet on her birthday, surprisingly lots of people who never met her sent messages of support and even flowers.
I do find it additionally upsetting & heartbreaking though that lots of people who did know her very well didn’t remember or acknowledge her birthday. This makes it all the more painful for us.
At the end of the day the greatest comfort you can give to the parent of loss is to remember and talk about their child especially on their birthday.
Failing as a mum of loss
My mission as a mum of loss is to try to keep her memory alive and when those who were close to her fail to remember she existed I feel as though I am failing as her mother.
Please remember this with anyone in your life that has suffered the loss of a child or a spouse or sibling. A simple text message can mean the world to them. They want more than anything to bring their loved one back and one way to do this is via memories so help them to remember the positives.
I’ve been watching comedy to take my mind off things and this I thought was quite poignant by Jason Manford
“Just because you’re struggling it doesn’t mean you are failing” I will try to remember this.
Take care and spread the love if you can
Always Violet Skies
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A friend of mine recently asked if I had been sent a letter saying I was high risk because I was self isolating from the start 5 weeks ago. I haven’t. Officially I am classed as low risk despite having a heart operation at the end of last year. My daughter who also has a congenital heart issues is classed as low risk too.
Regardless we have been isolating to the maximum for the last 5 weeks and will continue to do so.
I was told once before by medical “experts” that a daughter of mine should be treated as normal and wasn’t at increased risk of anything. She wouldn’t have any more reason to die than anyone else. She died of the very thing they said not to worry about and the coroner said she has been at a greater compounded risk, so forgive me if I don’t trust the medical “experts” now especially given this is a new situation and a new virus they don’t really understand.
Make a mistake once…
and it becomes a lesson. Make the same mistake twice and it becomes a choice.
My mistake was believing the medical experts when they said to treat my heart baby as a normal child. She wasn’t a normal child.
Not no risk
I’ve suffered the pain of losing not one but two children, so forgive me if I don’t want to risk losing another even if that risk is a low one.
Low risk means there is still a risk it’s not a no risk situation. No one is at no risk of the corona virus remember that.
Is any risk worth it really?
What do you think?
Are you willing to gamble with these very high stakes? I am not.
Stay safe everyone. Hold your nearest and dearest close.
Always Violet Skies
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It makes me sad during this time of isolation that my little bubbly outgoing sociable girl often seems lonely desperate for the company of other children. Yes she has me and her dad with her but it isn’t the same as someone a similar age.
When she sees other children going passed our house on their bikes on the way to the park for their exercise or animatedly chatting holding hands she bangs on the window waving to them shouting hello. She wonders why these children are allowed to play together but she cannot join them.
It’s hard to explain to an almost two year old that those children are siblings so they are allowed to play together and visit the park with each other.
She should have a big sister
It makes me so sad because by rights she should have an older sister to play with. A big sister to run around the garden with and who would be able to relate a little more to her, rather than the two adults she finds herself spending 100% of her time with.
Violet would have been able to look at books with her, play on the slide in the garden and they could have sat together to create sculptural masterpieces from play doh. Even just lounged together on their giant unicorn to watch TV.
Don’t get me wrong I grew up with siblings myself so understand all about the arguments but you know what I would like to have to break up those fights and solve the disputes rather than try to cure lone tantrums about wanting to see others.
Until now whenever I’ve gotten upset about her not having her sister here to play with I’ve taken comfort from the fact she has cousins she’s close to that she can grow up with. This current situation that stops her from seeing her cousins and indeed her friends reminds me how alone she really is. I was lucky enough to grow up with a brother and a sister.
Yes we can video call but she’s not overly interested in that. If we show her videos of her friends and cousins she watches them over and over finally tantruming when we stop her watching for the 100th time.
After seeing friends from a distance waving & chatting to them from the end of the driveway or over the fence she then has a tantrum because she’s not allowed to play with them. She’s even gotten her nursery bag taking it to the front door in an attempt to leave to go play with other children.
I fear that when this is all over our vivacious little girl might be a shy and reserved wallflower who has forgotten how to interact with her peers or other children.
A close friend of mine who grew up as an only child once told me she wanted to have more than one child as growing up as she dreamed of having a sibling to play with. She said she used to feel envious watching me with my brother and sister wishing she could have the same. I never really understood what she meant until now.
A new kind of grief
Watching my little girl cry and sob and tantrum because she wants to play with the children going passed our house breaks my heart. Even more so that by rights she should have at least a big sister with her right now and actually she is the youngest of three.
It breaks my heart it really does. It also reminds me of the difficult conversations that are coming in the future when she wants to know why she’s an only child and what happened to her older sister and brother.
I recently came across someone else on instagram who is going through a very similar thing with their daughter and the isolation situation so I thought it was important to share this in case it might help even more out there to know they aren’t alone in this.
Always Violet Skies
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Well this Easter is certainly a very different one for all of us.
A few years ago I wrote a blog post about why Easter is often one of the hardest times of the year for anyone who has lost a child (read it here).
One of the reasons I highlighted is that if you’re a parent of loss it can be hard to watch other families and their children getting out and about enjoying the weekend. Well this year hopefully it will be a little easier for those who have lost a child, as no one can go out anywhere, so you don’t have to see all the farm visit photos or pictures of picnics in national trust estates or cute Easter bonnet competition photos.
Last Easter we were lucky enough to spend it on the other side of the world at my brother-in-law’s beautiful wedding in New Zealand and visited friends in Australia before enjoying a few days in Hong Kong and Singapore. How lucky are we that we did all of that last year and not this year?
Count your blessings
This time of the year I like to remember just how lucky we are. Yes I work in travel so have lost all my work for now but I have a lovely little family and a home with garden we can isolate in. Life is good for me and I’m lucky (I’ve also worked very hard for the last 20 years too!).
Remember people you haven’t lost your freedom you are just staying safe at home. Soon you will be able to do anything you wish again and go anywhere you please. I for one am looking forward to travelling again and have already started to daydream about it.
If I can help you plan your escape and your next adventure then please let me know as it helps to keep my passion burning and my travel addiction satisfied. You can register for updates about travel bargains via my website here https://sarahstephens.inteletravel.uk
Whatever you’re up to this Easter weekend make the most of it. Relax spend time with your family, eat all the chocolate and just enjoy the now.
Always Violet Skies
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So some of you will be aware that before Christmas I finally got the heart operation I have been waiting for and had my huge hole repaired.
Night before my operation
The night before my operation I had a conversation with my husband that no one wants to have but really we all should. We spoke about that if things should go wrong in the operation what my dying and last wishes would be. I told him what I would like for my funeral and that I would like to be cremated with my ashes interred with our daughter in her grave.
We then spoke about what I would like for him and our daughter in terms of the future if I wasn’t to be in it anymore.
It was a huge and emotional conversation but one I realised that we all should really have today with our partners or close family as you really don’t know what tomorrow will bring, without meaning to depress you, we could be run over in the street tomorrow.
Do you have your will sorted too? We wrote ours back before Violet died so we are going to double-check our wishes are still current too.
So my advice to you all is if you haven’t written a will or told a close loved one your last wishes and how you would like your funeral to be, should something happen, then please do this.
Think about the ones you love
Make this conversation your priority if not for your benefit but for that of your loved ones. It is something that needs to happen. If unfortunately the worst should suddenly happen then it will be tough enough on your loved ones without them having to second guess whether you want your organs donated or flowers at your funeral.
Thanks for reading and stay safe.
Always Violet Skies
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