My authentic self?

A fellow blogger recently launched her own hashtag challenge #julyyourway and the first day was entitled “your authentic self”. I realised I no longer knew exactly who I was anymore and decided I needed to write this post in case some of you loss mums or parents are the same.

Who am I?

I don’t actually recognise myself anymore. I can tell you all about the old me in great detail as I spent 39 years with her.

The old me

The old me was strong, determined, unwavering and a great calculated risk taker.  Her instincts about people and situations were nearly always right. The type of person you could drop into a room of total strangers and she’d be fine chatting to them making friends pretty quickly. If someone told her she couldn’t do something she’d make it her mission to prove them wrong.  One of life’s dreamers believing in positive thinking and that with the right mindset you can achieve anything. Always working towards a vision of the future and undertaking the next challenge. Underneath the confidence she genuinely cared about all those she met, worked with and spent time with. It took me a long time to get to know, appreciate and love the old me.

The original me pre babies – happy go lucky (most of the time)

Where did she go?

What happened you might ask that would fundamentally change your personality permanently well like most new mums four years ago I lost myself a little after the birth of Violet.  All new mums will relate to the fact that usually you immediately become more risk adverse as your instincts to protect kick in and your self-confidence takes a knock too as your body shape changes. However most mums will tell you that maybe a year or two later they rediscover themselves again building up that old confidence. Their core self is fundamentally unchanged.

That happened to me too.  I was starting to rediscover the old me again in September 2016 then the unthinkable happened.

Mummy me in NZ with Aurora

Child loss

When you lose a child they say your world changes, life is completely altered and things will never be the same again. 

The air is completely knocked out of you but what you don’t realise is with the air goes your personality, as you knew it.  All your hopes and dreams, your confidence, trust in yourself and others, All the things you’ve literally spent a lifetime developing, building & honing are wiped away in a moment. All the negative things cling on such as self-doubt, negativity, criticism, depression but the good things…

Me 1.0

The old me was confident, fun and had a wicked sense of humour.  She was lovely to her core because she genuinely believed there was more love in the world than bad.  She truly believed in positivity and only saw the good in people. She believed in what her gut or core instinct told her about people and situations.  She actually believed that eventually life will come good and that good things happen to good people.  Work hard try your best and believe in others then good things will happen.  She always looked for the silver lining in every black cloud. It never failed her until the day her daughter died.

Try a reboot

At first you think these stronger qualities are still there just diminished like they were post-child birth. Just like when you’ve had set backs or heartbreak in the past? Like a hard drive that just needs a reboot. You try to do that to reboot yourself by trying similar things you’ve done in the past to recover like rest, holidays and seeing loved ones.  Over and over you try in vain to recover.  Eventually you discover that these qualities aren’t dormant any more.  They aren’t still there to be rebooted they’ve been completely wiped out. It’s like you’ve had a computer virus in your brain that’s wiped out the useful things leaving only that photo of you from a beach holiday 10 years ago that you didn’t even like and the only email messages that have been retained are spam ones about PPI.

A reboot for us often involves travel but we’ve been round the world again and still no sign of the old me

Memories

You have a vague memory of the old you but it’s hard to imagine now you were ever that person.  I can only explain it by saying that it’s as though I’m viewing an old movie about someone else. I miss her. I’d spent years trying to learn to love myself, to be confident in my own skin. This confident me enabled me to be very good at what I did career wise, especially as I was able to juggle twice as much work as anyone else and easily did 16 hour days regularly. I was a caring considerate person who loved life and loved having fun. I really did work hard play hard and excelled at it.

A shell

Now that person is gone. Yes physically I look the same. I still have the same cognitive abilities (sleep deprivation affected maybe but I can still ace an IQ test or two). I even the same memories but I feel as though I’m looking in at someone else.  I miss the old me but after over 2 years of trying to get her back I’ve realised that she’s “left the building” never to return. I’ve accepted that I need to build up these qualities in myself from the beginning again, to build the new me. 

I still look like the old me just with a few more lines and wrinkles (and bags from no sleep!)

Still a central core

I’d forgotten how I used to be really strong.  There’s a central core of that original strength left that’s hardened up, so much that it takes a lot for me to cry now but every so often a bit of it crumbles. This core is still surrounded by kindness and compassion just not the huge volume I used to have. This has been coloured by grief and the realisation that really bad things can happen to good people.  Karma doesn’t exist and positive thinking will only get you so far.  

The new me comes with a great deal of darkness the old me didn’t have. This has shaped my sense of humour so it is very dark now. I don’t trust my own gut instincts anymore, as these have been proven wrong twice with the very worst results. I also no longer trust others especially those in the medical profession where I now take what they tell me with a pinch of salt.

Imagination

Luckily over the last 2 years that I have been hitting reboot I have seen some of my wacky creativity come back and my ability to speak to total strangers on some days now is almost as good as it was. Although I find it extremely hard to tolerate fools and I seem to have become even less diplomatic than before so I can be quite honest and frank now.  This is of course a work in progress.  Some things like confidence and speaking to strangers just takes practise and stepping out of your comfort zone.  That’s at least one good outcome in that I don’t really have a comfort zone rather a numb achy uncomfortable zone.

Version 2.0: Post child loss

Unfortunately unlike computer software I don’t think “version 2.0: after child loss” will be an upgrade on the one before. Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to patch over some of the holes and maybe even rebuild a few of the qualities the old me had that were great. It will take time though as it took 38 years of hard work to develop the old me.  

Feel free to check in with me again at age 79 and we can see if the old me has returned just a wrinklier version.

On the positive side it has changed my outlook on life instead of planning for and looking to the future I try to live in the present. To enjoy the here and now making the most of every moment as I understand just how short life is.

Do you ever feel you have changed? Is it for the better or worse?

Thanks for reading

Big love,

Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

You might enjoy these other blog posts –

My story

Meeting an old friend

Four years a mother

The founder of #julyyourway is blogger Holly Goes Lightly join in on instagram!

Ten Top tips for flying with a baby

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After travelling over 22,000 miles from UK to New Zealand and back via Singapore and Bali with a 7-month-old baby Violet in 2016. Then doing the same trip again with an 8-month-old baby Aurora this time taking in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong too we now have some top tips for anyone flying with a baby.

Request a bassinet

If your airline is long haul then you should be able to request a bassinet for your baby which will mean you will need bulkhead seats so make sure you select these when checking in and choosing seats online.  A bassinet will prove useful not just for when your baby sleeps but they can be propped up to play with toys too. Noise cancelling headphones are a great idea if your baby wakes easily (as modelled by Aurora in earlier photo!).

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Violet sleeping on the way to New Zealand in 2016

Outfit change

It goes without saying that you will have spare outfits for baby. Make sure you have extra clothes for yourself in your hand luggage near your feet. There’s nothing worse than having to sit covered in baby vomit for the entire of take off/landing plus then 30 minutes of turbulence because the seat belt seat is still on.

Sleep suits and onesies we’d recommend for flying plus a zip up fleece or dressing gown anything snuggly and easy to remove.  Layers and press studs are your friends.

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Violet in her fleece & onesie watching the Snoopy film on the way home from Singapore

Hats

We’d recommend packing a cotton hat for your baby as airline air conditioning can be fierce. Surprisingly the vents seem to be above the bulk head seating so right near the bassinet.

Mini-change bag

If you’re on a long haul flight then a smaller change bag will be handier. We bought one that was a mat that folded out with room for 2 nappies, wipes and change of clothing.  It fitted into the seat pocket so saved time and easy to grab in a rush.

Extra muslin cloths & baby carrier

Take the large ones as these are multi-functional serving as dribble wipers, blankets if baby gets chilly, a stand in change mat, sunshade or a scarf for mummy!

Pack a small sling or baby carrier in your carry on luggage as they are handy for airport transfers. Disembarking down plane steps safely especially if they are slippy without having to worry about holding a wriggly baby is priceless. Also they are helpful if your airline fails to deliver your stroller to the gate as promised.

Lounge access

If you are flying long haul and transferring on your journey then it might be worth investing in the use of an airport lounge. This can make a big difference when it comes to heating milk, food and changing your baby in a relaxed environment.  Often lounge access isn’t too pricey either if you book in advance.

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Violet just chilling on the reception desk in Singapore

On-board dining

Some cabin crew will have the good sense to ask you if you’re travelling with another adult and if you’d like your meals to be staggered so you both get to eat by swapping baby duties.  This is a great idea and why not ask if this is possible when you board the plane.

Hand sanitising gel or spray

These no water needed hand sanitisers are a god send when you are on an airplane and its difficult to access a toilet to clean up before food.

Toys, toys and lots of toys!

Again it goes without saying but the more you have for your little one to do the better. We had a set of toys and books easily accessible for on board the first plane. Then another set in our other carry on so we could swap them over for the second connecting flight so she wouldn’t get bored. The toys you can clip to a pram are best as you can attach them to the bassinet or airline seat belt so they don’t get lost under airline seats.

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Violet sitting playing with toys in the bassinet while I eat breakfast!

Relax

Finally I advise you to relax. Yes it sounds ridiculous to say this when you’re flying with a baby, possibly feeling totally stressed out like all evil eyes are on you the passenger from hell. Try your hardest to also make the journey as relaxing and as enjoyable for yourself. Your baby will pick up on your vibes so smile and see it as an adventure.  Experience it through their eyes so the journey is exciting and new!

Happy flying!

Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

You might enjoy these other posts too –

A weekend in Switzerland

A Barcelona beach break

Top tips for keeping baby cool in the heat

Sleeping like a baby?

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Sleeping like a baby what an ironic phrase considering most babies I know hardly sleep anyway I thought I’d write a little post about when you move your baby into their own room.

Moving baby into their own room

This is something most new parents worry about and then once they do it most say how much both they and their baby’s sleep improves.  This was certainly the case with our first baby Violet.  She actually started sleeping through occasionally once she was in her own bedroom away from daddy’s snoring.

A sleeping Aurora who prefers to be cuddled as she sleeps - Violet Skies
A sleeping Aurora our sleeping beauty in name only – Violet Skies

Well now as a parent of loss I can tell you this is extremely difficult and no now she’s in her own room I don’t sleep better in fact my sleep is worse. 

Monitors

Number one I’d like to say to those people marketing webcams and tablets as being “just as good as a baby monitor”. They are no good for a parent of loss. The fact they repeatedly pause to reset or reload is a nightmare for a mother who subconsciously listens to her baby breathing through the monitor while she sleeps. When it stops to reload my subconscious triggers me to wake with a jolt. My brain telling me my baby has stopped breathing. This happened 10 times during the first night she spent in her own room. Add into that the three times she actually woke up too then I think I got approximately an hours sleep.

This amazing first night triggered the purchase of a proper baby monitor through amazon via same day delivery so night number two was better. Just a shame baby then had a cold so awoke 6 or 7 times in the night and awoke to start her day at 5am.

Here’s hoping it gets easier as we’re very tired parents but you know I don’t like to complain. I know I’d rather zero sleep than zero baby as I’d give anything to have my first baby Violet back.

A sleeping Aurora who prefers to be cuddled as she sleeps - Violet Skies
A sleeping Aurora who prefers to be cuddled as she sleeps – Violet Skies

Anxiety

My counsellor tells me it’s normal for a mother to be anxious and all mums have anxiety, to some extent. It’s just that most haven’t then experienced the worst scenario ever playing out in front of them.  Most mums when someone tells them the odds of something happening to their child are really slim they can rationalise. They can’t then turn round to say well those odds have happened to me in the past.  Unfortunately my experiences now compound my natural mummy anxiety especially at night.

How did you get on with moving your baby to their own room? When did you do it?

Love Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

You might also find the following posts interesting –

When you get your rainbow what then?

Mothering after loss

Making over Motherhood

All about May

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The other day I realised that I have spent the last five May’s with one of my baby’s. I have either been pregnant (for 3 of them including my 40th birthday) and the second one I was organising my first baby girl’s first birthday party. This was the first May bank holiday for 3 years that I have been able to have a glass of vino and weirdly enough I am thinking about a second daughter’s first birthday party (this time in July rather than June).

May 2018

Last year in 2018 we were living in the middle of a building site, I was heavily pregnant and we were going through a very hot summer. I spent most of it in the shade with an electric fan and my feet in cold water.

The building site I was living in last May whilst heavily pregnant

May 2017

The year before that, 2017, I was in the very early stages of pregnancy with Arthur and suffered tummy upsets for a fair few months. It was also my 40th birthday so my hubby threw me a bbq party where we disguised appletiser as Prosecco, as we hadn’t announced our news to anyone.  Despite my tummy upsets, we had hope for the future and it ended up being the only May I would spend with my little boy. Our slither of hope was smashed when September rolled around and we had to say goodbye to Arthur (read about it here).

My gorgeous niece and one of my best friends at my birthday BBQ 2017

May 2016

May 2016 was one of my happiest times as Violet was doing well and was nearly a year old. She was about to be a flower girl at my cousins wedding and she’d gotten a princess dress that she loved. We were planning her birthday party that was a joint belated wedding reception too. We made so many very happy memories that summer before the horrendous September came along.  I was lucky enough to spend two May’s with Violet.

Violet at her first birthday party. She loved balloons! www.violet-skies.com
Violet at her first birthday party that was also our belated wedding reception with her friend Abby. She loved balloons! www.violet-skies.com

May 2015

May 2015 I remember being heavily pregnant with Violet having so much hope for the future. Despite getting negative news about Violet’s heart we were convinced we were in the right specialist hands and thinking positively we told ourselves everything would be ok. Violet survived in 2015, and that was the main thing, all thanks to Alder hey children’s hospital.  I remember it rained a lot in May but then we had hot weather as soon as I went into hospital in the June typical!

Not about Theresa May

Anyway I just wanted to write an article that wasn’t about the other May and one that highlights how vastly different one year can be from another. I would like for those of you struggling to get pregnant or to get a rainbow or just to cope with grief to recognise how different one year can be from the last.  I hope it gives some strength and encourages people to remember happier times too.  Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.

Violet's always bloom in May so pretty these are in our back garden
Violet’s always bloom in May so pretty these are in our back garden

Not all May’s are bad.

Big love

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

You might be interested in these blog posts too –

When you get your rainbow what then?

Mothering after loss

Making over Motherhood

Party girl…

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At this time of the year my sleep (when I get any as my rainbow isn’t sleeping well and yes I get the irony given her name Aurora!) is peppered with a variety of different dreams all following the same subject.

Dream parties

It is always planning and arranging a birthday party. This year it’s one for a 4 year old as Violet would have turned four this June.

Violet’s 1st & only birthday – she loved it!

So far I’ve dreamt about lots of party themes including flower fairy tea party, puppy and kitten party, sleepover pamper party, Disney strictly dancing party, trolls theme, unicorn sparkles…

I think Violet would have loved Unicorns!

The dreams are all enjoyable in the main as I usually wake when the party is all set up ready before any guests arrive but I become upset when I actually wake realising that Violet isn’t here and I dreamt the whole thing.

Nightmares

Occasionally the dreams turn into a nightmare like last night when her little friends all started arriving with presents and balloons excited for the party to come. They were all asking where Violet the birthday girl was and we searched and searched shouting but she was nowhere to be seen. All her friends broke down crying and screaming then I woke up.

When I finally fell back to sleep again I started to organise a pool party in a hired swimming pool and so my dream party cycle began again.

Birthday balloons

Party girl to the core

I am a party girl at heart after all.  I guess it’s a way my PR brain tries to be proactive in processing things and it could be worse I could keep writing the same press release over and over!  

If anyone needs a kids party planning and arranging then just let me know, especially if it’s for a four year old as I can literally do one for you in my sleep! Violet would have had the best parties and I can assure you so will her sister.

Last year planning the Violet ball helped to halt these dreams, so I may have to start up plans for the Violet ball 2020, anyone fancy coming?

Love

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies 

Here are some other blog posts you might find interesting –

When you get your rainbow what then?

Mothering after loss

Making over Motherhood

Making over Motherhood

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week and I have to be honest that I’ve struggled with what exactly to write. Although I am a mother and sometimes have struggled with mental health, I’m not what you would call a “normal” mother but then I guess no one is truly “normal”.  So for the last day of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week here is my story of motherhood.

Me with rainbow baby Aurora in Mangawhai New Zealand - Violet Skies
Me with rainbow baby Aurora in Mangawhai New Zealand – Violet Skies

Post-natal depression

I have friends who have struggled with post-natal depression. I know friends whose mother’s have had it 40 years ago when it was dismissed as minor and called the “baby blues”. The difficulty I have is that motherhood for me has been a real rollercoaster.  The struggle for me is writing about my own experience without seeming to diminish anyone else’s experience of post-natal depression.  I have had friends tell me that they feel they can no longer share their tales of depression or worries as they think they seem minor compared to what I have been through. They have said that actually I make them feel worse about themselves because they should be happy when they compare their lives to mine.  Well that doesn’t make me feel guilty, bad or worse at all for sharing!

So apologies in advance if my story of Motherhood makes any of you out there feel worse about your own situations. I don’t want to diminish anyone but hope that by sharing my story some of you who feel alone might feel less so.  

Normal motherhood

I have never had a “normal” motherhood experience.  I have not known what it is like to go into a baby scan at 20 weeks full of excitement and to come out elated with happy news afterwards.  Our first baby Violet was diagnosed with a heart condition at her 20-week scan.  Second baby Arthur was diagnosed with a serious brain condition at his 20-week scan resulting in a TFMR at 22 weeks of pregnancy.  Third baby Aurora luckily had clear baby scans all the way through pregnancy but we never entered a scan room full of excitement or even left elated afterwards. More we left smiling with relief that we hadn’t yet had any bad news.  Those were my three motherhood beginnings already a little different from the majority of mothers out there. You can read more about stress with a rainbow pregnancy here.

Violet’s birth

When Violet was born we had a natural induced labour as that was deemed the safest for her but she ended up being undiagnosed breach so I had a breach birth naturally with no pain relief.  I am still having counselling for that experience alone, never mind the on going medical treatment because of the wounds I sustained.  Violet was also transferred to Alder Hey hospital shortly after birth without me and at 4 days old she had open-heart surgery. It had only a 30% chance of success but she survived and the operation was a 100% fix.   

It was, at that point, the most stressful time of our lives and we were relieved it was over. We finally took a 2-week-old baby home from hospital with serious health needs. She needed specialist round the clock care, whilst her heart and rib cage healed up.  You can read more about Violet here. Despite her start she was a healthy little girl who had mild developmental problems because of her surgery and also issues eating solid food. We found that a challenge and extremely frustrating.  However she was extremely clever, musical and a happy little soul considering her start in life.  She was a joy to be around and made everyone who met her happy.  This summarises my first year of motherhood started off extremely stressful and finished happy.

WHAT MOTHER’S DAY REALLY MEANS
Me with my angel baby Violet in Cyprus. Violet Skies.

The loss of Violet

My second year of motherhood wasn’t anywhere near as good as my first!  Violet got sick and was admitted to Manchester Children’s Hospital. We sat by her bed for weeks where she finally died, suddenly from a rare form of pneumonia aged 15 months.  We had to wait nearly 2 years to find out why she died, as the autopsy was inconclusive. We had to endure a coroners inquest too.  You can read more on this here.

First rainbow baby

My third year of motherhood I think was possibly the most challenging as this year we enjoyed a second pregnancy. Until the fateful 20 week scan and then, whilst still grieving the loss of our beloved daughter, we lost our son Arthur too.  You can read about it here.

36 weeks pregnant with Aurora at my friends wedding. Violet Skies.
36 weeks pregnant with Aurora at my friends wedding. Violet Skies.

Second rainbow baby

My fourth year of motherhood is still in full swing and I have to say it is by far the best yet as we have our gorgeous rainbow baby Aurora. Named after the goddess of the dawn she has brought light back into our darkness. She certainly does this as she’s a bright, cheerful, smiley little girl.  

People looking at our social media feed might be forgiven for thinking our lives are pure happiness now but as anyone who has suffered child loss will know they aren’t.  The happy days are still tinged with sadness, as to what should be and what we are missing. 

For example the other day I was “subjected” to a conversation by other mothers talking about how lovely it is that their three year olds and their babies play together. They interact now all the time. Well that’s what we should have Violet as a big sister playing with her younger siblings. Instead Aurora will probably grow up alone.  Having grown up with a brother and sister that thought alone makes me want to cry. My siblings are still close to me and we remain an important part of each other’s lives.

Brother & sister – Violet & Aurora’s gorgeous cousins

Counselling

I still have regular counselling to help me to try to deal with everything as I have horrendous nightmares on a regular basis. Sometimes extreme anxiety and times when I feel sad.  I also have PTSD (read more here) caused by my first birth experience, my daughter having open-heart surgery and also from watching her die. I am told all this is “normal” for a grieving parent but it does draw parallels with how other mums say they feel who have post-natal depression. Whilst I don’t know what it is like to have a relatively normal experience of motherhood and still feel depressed, I do understand and have lived through all these feelings on a fairly regular basis.

Support needed

I feel that lots of health visitors also need more training and guidance for how to deal with mothers who perhaps are slightly more fragile mentally than others.  This is in light of a recent experience I had with a health visitor who reduced me from a confident mum of a rainbow baby to a crying anxious mess in the space of one baby weigh in session.

I also feel that more support should also be given to fathers as often they have no support at all, especially after the loss of a child or after they have witnessed a horrendous birth.  They can suffer PTSD too.

Sending all mothers (and fathers) out there lots of love as parenthood can be tough whether it is simply sleepless nights. Or sitting by a sick child in a hospital bed or crying at a graveside.  At the end of the day everything is relative to your previous experiences too.  I thought the toughest thing I had to endure was watching my child sick in hospital that was until they died. Motherhood can be beautiful and wonderful but it can also be extremely cruel. 

Big love,

Always Violet Skies x

You might enjoy these blog posts –

More of a mother – does a natural birth make you more of a mother?

Somewhere after the rainbow – what happens if you lose your rainbow?

Mothering after loss

Guilt when a mother of loss

What Mother’s Day Really Means

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I discovered last year that, whilst Mothering Sunday as a concept in the UK came from an 16th century English religious tradition (read my original post here), the more widely known Mother’s Day was founded in America in 1907 by a lady called Anna Jarvis. Anna wanted to do something to honour her mother who had lost 7 babies.  This original version of Mother’s Day, that rapidly became the commercial juggernaut it is today, was in fact created to remember and honour a grieving mother.

The original story

Anna wanted to create a day where people could honour and reach out to grieving mothers to actually recognise their pain and suffering in a day of remembrance. Rather than society continuing to ignore and pretend that babies don’t die. That grieving mothers don’t exist, they would be one day a year when people are kind to them. She wanted to change things for those grieving mothers everywhere to help them to feel less alone and less isolated.

It took only a few years before this day, that was associated with deep emotions and grieving mothers, was hijacked by commercial organisations. In the US they saw it as an opportunity to sell gifts and greetings cards to all mothers. It was then that the commercial money making Mother’s Day as we currently know it was born.

Now a day of torture…

Now it is with deep irony that those women who are suffering the grief of losing a child or perhaps not being able to conceive one are no longer recognised by this day. Instead they often feel even more isolated and upset by the commercialisation and celebration of motherhood. A motherhood they are grieving the loss of and maybe struggling to come to terms with not having.

WHAT MOTHER’S DAY REALLY MEANS
WHAT MOTHER’S DAY REALLY MEANS Me with my angel baby Violet in Cyprus. Violet Skies.

I’m a mum of three

Someone said to me the first Mother’s Day after Violet died that I wasn’t to let the day upset me. She was sure I would no doubt become a mum again in the future. I was devastated and not strong enough to reply that I will always be a mother. It’s just my child is no longer here with us. I still think like a mother, feel like a mother and to a certain extent act like a mother because deep down I am one!

This year I have my rainbow baby Aurora so some strangers may say “oh you’re a mum again congratulations” but actually I became a mum in 2015 and even though you can’t see all of them. I am in fact a mum of three.

Happy Mother's Day What Mother's Day Really Means. Mother’s Day was founded in America in 1907 by a lady called Anna Jarvis, who wanted to do something to honour her mother who had lost 7 babies.
Happy Mother’s Day. My rainbow baby Aurora loving life & living up to her name.

Message for everyone

Anyway to all those grieving mums out there please remember this day was created exactly for women like us. Those who have to deal with the pain of losing or not having their babies with them every day, so don’t let other people make that pain worse. Or commercial organisations make you feel bad, as they’re just doing it to make money.

To all the mother’s out there who have living babies please remember why this day was created. That it is for grieving mothers, who are exactly like you, but who through no fault of their own unfortunately lost their children. Please do us grieving mothers or “wish we were mothers” all a favour, celebrate Mother’s Day and your wonderful children. Hug them close, love them and appreciate all the little moments. Remember that some of us aren’t as lucky. You are blessed not because of the gifts of flowers, chocolates and handmade cards but because of the little people you have in your lives. That others would happily give anything to have.

Reach out

If you have a friend or family member who’s suffered child loss maybe use this weekend as a reason to go out of your way to reach out to them. Send them a message, drop off some flowers or invite them for a coffee just be nice people. Remember this weekend is really for them. I’m sure Anna will be smiling down if she sees people embracing the day as she intended. Spread the love.

Big love & hugs, Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

Have you read some of my other posts –

Lonely -about how isolating child loss can be & what to do about it or to help

Why grief is like being shipwrecked

New Year Learning and Growth

The Challenge of Pregnancy when it’s a rainbow baby

Mothering after loss

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This week has been a really challenging one for me because my baby has been properly poorly for the first time.  Yes we’ve had teething pain, the odd tummy bug and reflux issues but this time she has a very nasty cold bug that’s affected her chest too.

Sick baby

Now you might be thinking having to look after a sick baby is hard for any mother or parent and yes it is but when you’ve previously had a baby get sick and die it makes the experience all the more stressful.  Especially when your other baby died of lung problems and now your new baby is choking and coughing in her sleep.

The doctor has said it’s just a cold so you’d think just give the child some calpol and vapour rub and get on with it.

Well just getting on with it is easier said than done. My hubby was also away so I was flying solo too (hats off to all those single parents out there you deserve medals!).

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Poorly little girl but check out that fabulous curl!

Sleepless in Manchester

The reality was that I didn’t get any sleep at all. Part of the night she was awake distressed after coughing and wanting cuddles. The rest of the night she slept in fits and starts repeatedly coughing and choking in her sleep. Cue mummy leaping out of bed every time. Sprinting across the room to lift her head and rub her back trying to ensure she didn’t breathe any phlegm back into her lungs.

Of course I also put a folded blanket under her mattress to ensure she was tilted to help with congested breathing, a tip we learnt from caring for her sister.

Holding baby while she sleeps

The following day aurora was still not herself so whilst most mummy’s might have tried to nap whilst baby did. I held her propped up while she slept so preventing her from choking on any phlegm and ensuring when she did cough that she definitely coughed or vomited outwards. Her sister they think breathed vomit into her lungs so this is now our worst nightmare for Aurora.

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After a loooong 24 hours of hardly any sleep and at last she sleeps!

Rainbow baby’s are difficult

You might wonder why I’m even taking the time to tell you all this. Whilst I don’t want to over share or make anyone feel sorry for me. I’m thankful for my baby and don’t want to complain. Lots of people think once you finally get your rainbow baby then that’s it job done. Well it’s only just begun really.

The stress and worry now Aurora is ill is unbearable as when I do manage sleep I get flashbacks of her sister, Violet, in hospital and immediately after she died.

What are the chances?

Most parents will stress and worry about their babies for their entire lives, that bit isn’t a new phenomena, but I guess most believe their child dying won’t happen to them. These things always happen to other people. Well when the unthinkable has happened to you already then you’re more likely to worry that it will happen again.

I’ve seen what hell looks like and I’ve experienced unspeakable pain.  I have sat by the side of a hospital bed for days and nights on end.  I have had to hold my screaming baby down while she is tortured by doctors with needles and tubes all trying to do their jobs.  I’ve stifled back my own crying and sobs so as not to distress my poorly child.  I’ve told my crying child that all of this is to make them better and lied that they will be ok.  I’ve begged and pleaded with emergency intensive care teams not to give up on resuscitation but nothing is worse than the nightmare of your baby actually dying.

Living nightmare

You can’t un-see or forget your dead baby’s face. How their cold lifeless body felt? How clammy the skin? How soulless their eyes? Almost like a doll has been made of them. They don’t seem real somehow.  I can tell you that hell is watching your child in pain, being tortured and then them die.  Then you have to arrange their funeral before somehow going on with your life.

I never ever want to go back there again thank you.  If to ensure that doesn’t happen it takes staying awake to check Aurora throughout the night then so be it.  If I have to hold her while she sleeps then I will do.  Anything I need to do I will do it.

I also keep having to repeat the same mantra over and over in my head.

“This is a different baby. A different person. She isn’t the same. ”

To all those parents out there with rainbow babies or those caring for children who are sick my hat goes off to you too.  Sometimes it’s tough being a parent.

Big love

Sarah – Violet Skies

Have you read these other posts about Rainbow babies?

When you finally get your rainbow what then?

Distraction number 1

Luck, God or just random shit

Meeting an old friend

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Like most people I love bumping into people I haven’t seen for a while.  Someone I used to speak to or deal with all the time perhaps through work or a project and who has simply drifted away.  Now in these modern times, thanks to social media, quite a lot of these people are still kept up to date on the happenings in my life. They are aware of the sadness of recent times, however there are occasionally still a few that slip through the net.

Catch up

I met up with someone recently who I hadn’t seen for 5 years and initially I was so pleased to have ran into them, eagerly accepting the offer of a coffee in a nearby café.  Then as I waited for them to get served with our brews my heart sank, as I realized the conversation I was about to have with them. I could forecast the surprised look then sadness before there would be pity and sorrow for my loss.  Yes they would be sympathetic and the usual comments of “I’m so sorry” and “how have you coped” would be expressed.  They would mention their kids and how they couldn’t imagine the pain of ever losing them. Then our entire conversation would take a different turn.

He brought the coffee and tea back.

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I secretly challenged myself to see how long I could last before I would have to deliver the bad news to him. I asked him lots of questions, first about what had happened in the past 5 years in his life. He told me about his children growing up and how they were doing at school. About their different personalities with so much joy and passion proud of the people they were becoming.

My story

Then he asked “what about me” and I told him first about the happy things; our house, getting married, travelling the world and our three children. About Violet, Arthur and Aurora, then about the loss of two of them. I finished on a happy note talking about Violet’s fund, Aurora and our hope for the future.

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Me and Aurora upset as she had to have her coat on.

I’m now adept at delivering the proverbial sandwich with the shitty grief filling in the middle.

Avoidance

It’s very easy for me to simply avoid catching up with people and avoid setting dates to meet up for fear that I’ll have to have the awkward conversation about what has happened in my life.   Don’t get me wrong I’m getting better at delivering it now but somedays it is still very hard for me having to relive it over again along with the associated emotion.

I hate being thought of as “that girl” and “oh poor Sarah” as that’s certainly not me.  My loss doesn’t define me as a person.  Yes it may have shaped me into the person I am today and yes I feel the affects of that change every second of every minute but I’m still me.

I just wish I could hand that old friend an overview of what’s happened instead and say “here’s an update on me please read it and then we will grab a coffee to catch up”.  That way I don’t have to relive anything repeating myself and having to observe their reactions too.  It’s a little weird though and cold I guess so not me.

What do you think?  How would you tell people if you were me?

All suggestions welcome!

Love

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

You might find these blog posts interesting –

Lonely

When you finally get your rainbow what then?

Making over Motherhood

Tommy’s Angels

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A few weeks ago we were invited into St Mary’s hospital for a pleasant reason for a change.  We were one of 180 sets of parents to be invited to attend Tommy’s the Baby Charity’s afternoon tea party for all the rainbow babies born in their care in 2018.

The parents and families (some siblings came along too) and 180 little rainbow babies all born in 2018 gathered together for the first time to celebrate life. It was so magical seeing all the people that had been helped by the charity.

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Tommy’s Afternoon tea party for 2018 Rainbow Babies

About Tommy’s

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the charity it was set up to initially help those who had suffered stillbirth and multiple miscarriages.  The charity spearheads research into the conditions and looks at preventative measures to try to safeguard pregnancy ensuring a healthy outcome for mother and baby.

Leonardo Di Vinci

This weekend I visited the Leonardo Di Vinci exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery and highly recommend it, as it is amazing.  I always knew Leonardo was a genius but I discovered in this exhibition that his work actually led to changing the perception of how babies develop in the womb. He was the one that figured out that the umbilical cord feeds them too.  He also discovered that the heart circulates blood around the body in the 1480’s and looked at how it feeds the main organs.

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Leonardo’s study of human anatomy and specifically the circulatory system

Without Leonardo we wouldn’t have had the foundation for midwifery and then institutions like Tommy’s.  What is a surprise I found is how little we have actually progressed since his discovery in the 1500s as the questions as to why babies die or why women miscarry are still needing to be answered today. Those answers are being discovered thanks to Tommy’s.

Our experience

Tommy’s Manchester clinic offered me careful monitoring during my pregnancy with Aurora, after our 20 week scan. To closely keep an eye on her but also to help me to manage my stress levels too. The aim is for those child loss victims, who have lost several babies, to get reassurance that any issues or changes can be spotted by regular scans.  They also checked things like blood flow through the umbilical cord, that the placenta was working ok and checked the Aurora’s growth. Fluid levels in the womb and in my case, because of my broken heart, the blood supply into the womb too.

All of these checks helped to give me peace of mind during what was an extremely stressful and worrying time.  I lived life while I was pregnant from one milestone to the next so each 3 weeks until my next scan was a mini countdown. We celebrated after each one gave us positive news.  Although it still didn’t make me worry less as of course we had been told previously by experts during Arthur’s pregnancy in early scans that things were ok. We were also told by Violet’s cardiologist that her heart was ok “nothing to worry about” and then it contributed to her death.  So to say I was skeptical about what “experts” told me was an understatement but you know what?  The Tommy’s experts or as I like to call them Angels were right!

Afternoon tea

So the afternoon tea enabled the midwives, who had taken good care of us, and the head of the Tommy’s clinic Doctor Alex to finally meet Aurora in the flesh.  The last time they had seen her she was on a black and white screen during ultra sound scans.  It was great for then to finally get to hold and meet her. To find out that the little hyperactive baby on their screens was a fidget in real life too.

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Aurora with one of our “Tommy’s Angels”

Tommy’s is a charity

Tommy’s also have places in the Manchester 10k so if any of you out there would like to run for them and raise some money to help others like us then we would be very grateful you can get more information to register here.

Unfortunately with my poor heart health we’re not in a position to be able to take part so we have pledged to raise funds for them after we hit our Alder Hey fund target in some other way instead.  Would you come to a tea party in the summer perhaps and help us to thank our Tommy’s angels?

Also make sure you visit the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition more details click here.

Love

Sarah xx

Always Violet Skies

You might enjoy these other blog posts –
Somewhere after the rainbow – what happens if you lose your rainbow?

The challenge of a rainbow pregnancy