So today in 2018 was our son Arthur’s due date but he was born sleeping on 1stSeptember 2017. I don’t therefore know what you call today “a scheduled birthday that should have been”??? A Due Date Anniversary?
It feels odd being sad today because if all had gone to plan and he had been born today happy and healthy then we wouldn’t have our little girl Aurora as she was also born later on in 2018.
It is a confused situation entirely. Arthur doesn’t even legally exist as he was born sleeping at 22 weeks old so 2 weeks earlier than the legal requirement for human life however if he had drawn a breath at birth than he would have lived so then would have a birth and death certificate. He never drew breath so he has neither certificate.
Legally he never lived
Even though in the eyes of the law he didn’t exist to us he did. I felt him moving constantly inside me kicking over and over. We saw him somersaulting on scans and constantly moving even if no one else did. We knew him a little and met him whilst he was sleeping. He looked like a miniature version of my hubby with a thick head of dark brown hair. His name sits now underneath his big sisters name on their headstone at her grave. We interred his ashes with his sister Violet so she can look after her baby brother.
Their baby sister is continuing to light up our lives here living up to her name “Goddess of the Dawn” and certainly keeps us on our toes.
Rest in peace my little rocket man; keep kicking those legs making those rainbows up high.
November is here at last and I say that not because it is a favourite month but just because October is finally over. This year it was particularly tough.
I was supposed to be visiting Lisbon last week for my mum’s birthday treat but had to pull out and left her with my sister as my little rainbow baby was poorly so I couldn’t leave her at all. The illness of my daughter combined with Baby Loss Awareness Month was the main reason October was super stressful and a tough month for us.
A poorly rainbow
Our rainbow baby was the same age as Violet was when she died and she contracted pneumonia twice, which was exactly what happened to Violet before she was admitted to hospital never to return. This is why this past month has been so fraught for us resulting in hardly any sleep; stress levels beyond belief, emotional meltdowns on a frequent basis and the consumption of a vast amount of comfort food/drink on a regular basis.
We also managed to still juggle work commitments, the organisation of a surprise birthday party for my mum and even had a drink out baby free for an hour or so for a friends birthday before hot footing it back to soothe a poorly baby.
Health wise my daughter is luckily recovering well but we’ve decided to keep her away from nursery until the new year at the earliest to allow her lungs to fully recover and to ensure her immune system is back to full strength too. We will continue to juggle work commitments and childcare thanks to the support from family and friends. There’s no way we will risk losing this little girl too.
New parenting territory
It sounds strange but today I feel a little relieved because yesterday our rainbow reached the exact same age Violet was when she died so today she has surpassed her sister’s age by one day. It makes no logical sense why I feel relief at this but my stress has lifted slightly.
Is this normal with rainbow babies? Anyone else feel this way too? Or am I just odd? Please let me know.
So now we’re on totally new parenting territory as we have the oldest living child we have ever had and it’s all fresh new sailing for us from now on.
These last few weeks have been especially difficult for us as our rainbow baby is sick. We had to take her into hospital where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, which is what her sister died from. Back at home now luckily and she’s responding well to antibiotics but it is unbelievably stressful anyway without our history with her sister.
Lack of control
I realised a key reason for the stress of having a poorly child or loved one or heaven forbid their loss is the lack of control over the situation (unless you’re a murderer of course but that’s a different story!).
The fact you had no control in the end over whether they survived or not. You did everything you could possibly do but even that wasn’t enough and it is the acceptance that at the end of the day we really don’t have control over these things.
When our children are sick, again, it is the control issue that makes us super stressed. We can do everything we can possibly do to look after them. Give them antibiotics, fluid, pain relief, and take them to the doctors or to hospital. Listen to the “experts” and follow their guidance. Other than that there isn’t much more we can do. We are powerless and have to do our best then simply hope.
Regaining control on life
I think that is why after the loss of Violet and then Arthur doing things I have control over helped me to regain a little of my sanity.
Managing a house renovation and extension project was something I could control. Rehabilitating a German Shepherd from being a working dog into a family household pet again I could do and get some comfort from. Setting up a fund in Violet’s memory and organising a charity ball again was something I could control and work at organising. We have now raised a total of £42,860 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
More of a control freak
Yes I admit I am probably more of a control freak in some respects than perhaps other people but after speaking to a few others who have had to endure looking after sick children or unfortunately baby or child loss it is this loss of control that is a tricky one to deal with.
My advice is to try to do other things you can control to try to balance out those things that you simply can’t.
Big hugs and lots of love
Always Violet Skies xx
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So our little rainbow baby had her one-year inoculations the other day so we had a few days of high temperatures, a distressed clingy baby, waking every half an hour over night and whimpering in her sleep. It can be tough as a parent with a sick or teething child anytime but if you’re a parent who has experienced child loss then this can feel like a sick version of Groundhog Day.
Our first born Violet died suddenly at 15 months old and looking back her health slowly deteriorated over her final months so slowly we didn’t really notice it until it was almost too late and then it was too late.
Our rainbow baby, Aurora Violet’s baby sister is now approaching 13 months old so we are ultra sensitive to any slight change in her behaviour, routinely checking her temperature and we whisk her to see the GP as soon as she coughs more than a few times. Over protective parents have nothing on us!
Violet in her final months started sleeping a lot worse than she did before and we assumed she was waking because of hunger but discovered on admission into hospital that it was because her oxygen levels were plummeting. Aurora is displaying similar sleeping patterns so we’re awaiting sleep study equipment to monitor and check her oxygen levels while she sleeps.
Our rainbow baby has an appointment with a top lung specialist too, even though as yet she currently doesn’t have anything wrong with her chest (that we can tell). It makes us feel better that she will be double-checked. You may think “what a waste of that consultants time if there’s nothing wrong with her” and someone expressed that to me.
Well her sister saw countless GPs, several paediatricians at two different hospitals, several accident and emergency consultants, a variety of different registrars at Manchester Children’s Hospital, with varying levels of qualification and experience. Yet not one of them managed to accurately diagnose Violet while she was alive. It wasn’t until after a full coroners inquest nearly 2 years after her death that we even found out what the issue had been. This top lung specialist was supposed to see Violet when she was in hospital but she died before he got around to seeing her and perhaps he may have diagnosed her or not we will never know.
So I’m not sorry in the slightest if by now playing the “my dead baby” card means that my rainbow gets the best specialist healthcare because you know what she and we bloody well deserve it. I have paid my taxes (as have my family all our lives) and we fully support funding the NHS which yes needs more funding today so babies like Violet don’t die in hospital while waiting to see a specialist.
Until you have been in our shoes and watched your child deteriorate, suffer and then die in front of you whilst no one has an explanation as to why. Then come object to me but until then I will stand and scream if I have to until I know my child is safe, healthy and happy.
If your child is ill too let me know as I’m happy to advise or scream for them too.
Maybe we didn’t shout loud enough with Violet? Maybe we didn’t kick up enough of a stink? Maybe I should have bundled her into my car when I decided Manchester Children’s Hospital weren’t doing a good enough job and driven her to Alder Hey hospital?
Well you know what this time if I need to then I bloody well will and god help any healthcare admin person who dares stand in my way!
Have you ever had to question healthcare professionals? During Violet’s short lifetime we experienced the very best of the NHS and the very worst too. What are your experiences?
Always Violet Skies x
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I was quite shocked by a conversation I had with an elderly lady when out and about with my rainbow baby. Perhaps she didn’t like the name Aurora but what do you think?
This lady stopped me in a supermarket to coo and ahhh over her asking as most people do whether she was my only one or not. I said no she is my third baby but unfortunately her sister and brother died.
The lady said she was sorry to hear that and what was her sister called. When I said Violet she remarked about how pretty that name was. Then she said “so is that what this little one is called then Violet”. I said no she was called Aurora but she did have her sister’s name as a middle name thinking maybe the lady had gotten confused or misheard me perhaps.
She then said “what was Violet’s middle name”. I said Elizabeth and she said “oh that’s a shame as Violet Elizabeth is such a beautiful name I’d have used it again”. I was stunned. Why on earth would I name my second daughter exactly the same as my first as though she’s a replacement? I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say and just smiled then walked off.
Where has this come from?
Then I decided to do some research into why she even had this belief and discovered during the Victorian era when child mortality was very high then giving a child the same name as a deceased older sibling was in fact quite common, especially if the child had been named after a parent. If you look through archives you’ll often see multiple children with the same Christian name in a family. I assume perhaps this elderly lady came from a family that had done just this so she felt it was a normal practise.
Some people are weird
I also think that some people are just weird. I remember someone telling me that as a child her family’s dog was called “Ben” and today her family’s dog is still called “Ben”. There have in fact been 6 Ben’s altogether. To me that is very strange but even more so to do that with a child.
What do you think? Would you give all your pets the same name? Would you use the same name again and again for a baby?
Always Violet Skies x
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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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A few days ago I visited Prague with my 11 month old rainbow baby. Ordinarily I wouldn’t go away in the heat of the summer as we prefer to holiday in autumn, winter or spring but hubby was on a conference for work so rather than staying home alone with baby for a week I opted to go over too.
Unfortunately we chose the hottest summer days on record for the Czech Republic for our visit which was stifling especially when lots of places there didn’t have air conditioning. Keeping baby cool was a challenge so I thought I’d share my top tips in case they’re useful for the rest of you.
Ice cubes for play time
If you’re out and about it can be hard to both entertain and keep an active baby cool. My top tip for this is to order a glass of ice cubes whenever you stop for a drink or food then baby can play and suck the ice. Having fun and cooling down at the same time.
Chew toys in fridge
If your baby like mine is teething then keep their teething toys in the fridge over night then they will be nice and cold for chewing in the daytime. A cool bag is a good investment for when you’re travelling as you can not only use it to store food and drink but also teething toys and cloths (see my next tip!).
Cold damp muslin cloths
If you’re heading out into hot weather I find chilling damp muslin cloths to take out with you can help to keep baby cool in their buggy. I even wrapped some ice cubes in the cloths and popped two either side of baby in her push chair when I had to venture out in 37 degree heat.
Large muslin cloths are a great investment to take out underneath the pram as when I needed to cool baby down rinsing one under cool water then placing over baby’s legs can help to cool them quickly.
Pram with sun shield factor 50+
It’s worth when you invest in a pram or buggy for travel that you get one that has sun protection built into the sun shade. Ours has factor 50 in the canopy of it which comes in really handy when we travel abroad as we then know even it we can’t find shade baby can sit in the buggy and will be protected from the sun.
Sun shade for snoozing
Another top investment tip is to buy a Snooze shade cover that is SPF 50 that will stretch over a buggy, pram or car set to protect baby safely while they sleep. The one we have folds down into a small pouch you can pop under the pram or into a change bag easily for travel.
Lots of people mistakenly cover their prams with muslin cloths or blankets to shade their babies but inadvertently increase the temperature raising it to dangerous levels that could cause death. Please for the sake of £20 invest in a proper shade cover.
Home made fruit juice lollies
If you’re at home in the heat then you can make fruit and vegetable lollies easily for baby. You can even use ice cube trays for this. If your baby is refusing food because of the heat then this is a great way to encourage them to eat something.
Keep wet wipes in the fridge
This is an easy top tip that when I thought of it I couldn’t believe I hadn’t down it before. A cold wet wipe can be the perfect way to easily cool your baby down after time in the heat again you can keep these in a cool bag when you go out too.
Pop up play tents
A pop up sun tent with SPF50 is a great investment for play time on the beach or even in your garden at home. They fold flat so can easily be popped into a suit case.
Paddling pool DIY
If you’re travelling and baby is hot sometimes you dream of having their paddling pool from home. Recreate this easily in the sink of where you’re staying or even buy a cheap bucket or washing up bowl from a local store you can use as a little paddling pool to cool them down.
Ice cubes in front of a fan
At night without air conditioning it can be hard to keep baby cool. If you have a fan pointed towards them anyway then place a bowl or ice cubes in front of it so the air is chilled before it reaches baby. Or even place the bowl below the open window the breeze is come from. Home made air conditioning!
It goes without saying that sun protection is always a must for baby as are sun hats and protective clothing where best.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now I’m no longer pregnant oh my word work and social events are a million times easier. Yes at a networking event, not looking pregnant, eventually someone will ask if you have kids but they won’t use the topic or babies as their opening line or icebreaker.
When you’re at a networking event, obviously pregnant, people you’ve just met will use the fact you’re carrying a baby as their ice breaker and ask you about it, which if you hadn’t lost children in the past and were enjoying a relatively worry free pregnancy then that might be lovely. However when you’re on your third pregnancy having lost your first child and then lost a second at 22 weeks gestation it’s a topic you don’t really want to chat to a total stranger about.
I avoided events
Lots of work contacts now I’m out and about again after baby have asked recently why they didn’t see me at lots of networking events, launch events, industry gatherings, conferences etc while I was pregnant and this is the main reason why. Yes sometimes I was genuinely busy or grieving but other times I really couldn’t face the fact I knew that strangers would ask me about my pregnancy with a big beaming smile on their faces. Clearly wrongly assuming I’m pregnant and so want to chat babies.
Knowing I’d have to answer the following questions over and over to at least three different people at events filled me with dread:
“How far gone are you?” “Oh so not long now. What’s your due date?”
Then either – “Oh I think you’ll be earlier than that as you’re huge much bigger than you should be” thanks for that I actually have more fluid than normal but I didn’t want to really tell you a total stranger that personal information.
“Oh really but you’re so small. Have you had a sizing scan?” Yes I have actually I’m having scans every two weeks at the Tommy’s clinic but again I don’t really want to go into this with a complete stranger. “Oh what’s the Tommy’s clinic you say?”…
I’ve seriously had both of these opposing size comments at the same event!
Or they ask…
“Is it your first baby?” No my third.
“Oh you’ll be an expert then. Glutton for punishment bet you’ll have your hands full then. What other kids do you have?
Are they excited about their new sibling?” Ah no they aren’t alive unfortunately now that kills a networking event.
Or they say…
“Do you know what you’re having? Is that what you wanted? Are you excited about it?”
“Looking forward to the birth then?” “Baby will definitely take you by surprise by being really early.” Thanks for that I’m having a planned C Section so I hope not but again I don’t really want to go into that with a total stranger.
So folks next time you’re at a social event or networking for business and you see a pregnant lady perhaps instead you’d like to simply pay her a compliment and not think you can use her pregnancy as an icebreaker to ask personal questions or as an excuse to fondle her stomach unnecessarily. Yes strangers seem to think your stomach is suddenly fair game for a good old fondle!