Low risk isn’t no risk

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.

colshawhall-lake-cheshire-violet-skies
Calm and still yet stormy – The lake at Colshaw Hall, Cheshire

Medical “experts”

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.

Aurora-sleeping-21months-violet-skies
A Sleeping Aurora at 21 months

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.

Big hugs

Sarah xx

Always Violet Skies

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Lonely child

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.

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At the door with her nursery bag wanting to leave to see her friends

Waves excitedly

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.

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Two of Aurora’s four cousins who she is missing at the moment.

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.

Facetime

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.

Adverse affects?

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.

Fun-in-garden-violet-skies
Playing in the garden

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.

Bottomlip-violet-skies
Sad in her pushchair as she watches siblings play and is told she can’t join them

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.

Not alone

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.

 

Big love

 

Sarah

Always Violet Skies

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Curve balls

If you’ve ever lost anyone and especially if you’ve lost a baby or child then you will know more than most that life can give you almighty curve balls.

These sudden changes in circumstance if it involves the loss of a significant other or a child can feel like the curve ball is an asteroid sent for total destruction. If you have somehow managed to survive this mother of all apocalyptic curve balls then you will understand now why the curve ball of a virus leaves me shrugging saying “meh”.

Cemetery-tombstones-spring-flowers-violet-skies
Spring has sprung in Southern Cemetery – Violet Skies

Yes I’m in a high risk category because of my heart op recovery and if I catch the dreaded COVID-19 then could be very poorly. I’m self employed and my business is travel and hospitality. These industries are currently in free fall and I have mortgages to pay. I also have a house overseas again with a mortgage that I rent out to holiday makers, again that will be hit by this epidemic. People I’ve spoken to expect me to be far more stressed out and panic stricken than i actually am.

I think I’m so calm about it because you know what I’ve already been to hell and I lived there for a while. I’ve already had the very worst thing happen to me. This virus isn’t the very worst thing. I’ve lost 2 children and still I’m clawing my way back into a new reality.

Wine-bubble-bath-violet-skies
Make the most of little things – Wine & bubble bath

I’m not overly worried because you know what? I’m a survivor. My family are survivors. We will get through this new challenge the way we have gotten through all the other sh*t that’s been thrown our way, over the years, and yes we’ve had a lot.

We will get through this new challenge with as always compassion for others, the adaptability to be able to seize every opportunity and by looking after ourselves to ensure we avoid taking unnecessary risks to our health.

This too eventually will pass and then people will be travelling, shopping and partying again until then please be kind to others.

In the words of the poet Bon Jovi “keep the faith” and wash your hands people!

Big love,

Sarah xx

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Don’t survive thrive

So I have spent the last few years writing this blog about how to survive child loss and I’m pleased to say I have survived so far but then I saw the interview that HRH Meghan did when she was in Africa and still an HRH.  Something she said in that interview really resonated with me and don’t get me wrong I’m not a huge royalist fan at all although I did love Suits!

Meghan said in that interview –

“it is not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. “You have got to thrive”

This resonated with me as I suddenly realised that I owe it to my daughters (one an angel and one very much alive and thriving) and son’s memory to not just survive but to thrive.

Over the past few years the notion of enjoying something or loving life felt abhorrent to me. How could I do that when my daughter and son are dead?  This abhorrent feeling has now been challenged by my rainbow baby who, as anyone who has met her will tell you, is larger than life and lights up a room as soon as she enters it; truly as her name means a Goddess of Light.  How can we not strive to now enjoy life with her? I know Violet would want her sister to have a wonderful life and for us to enjoy our time with her too.

Mummy-selfie-john-lewis-violet-skies
My why in John Lewis giving me the look that says “what are you doing mum”

Now my heart is finally fixed it is surely not enough for me to just survive life?

It made me think that the last few years have been about me working hard to continue on with life, to go through the motions and to try to rebuild my confidence, by to a certain extent, doing the same things I used to enjoy and have always loved doing.

I’ve re-evaluated a little now and thought about the things in my life that despite childloss I actually enjoy.  I love photography.  My hubby bought me a camera for Christmas after we lost Violet to try to encourage me to take photos of landscapes and architecture, which were something I enjoyed. Check out some of my photos in my gallery here.

Confidence loss is real after child loss.  A friend a few years ago suggested my photos were good enough to be exhibited (I laughed it off), another friend offered to display my photography for sale in a boutique hotel (again I laughed it off as felt it was certainly not that good) and then more recently another close friend and client suggested I really need to do something with my amazing photos.  Even just typing this now a little voice of the old me (pre-child loss) is screaming in my head “take every opportunity” as the old confident me used to seize every moment and opportunity that passed her way.

I suddenly realized and recognise that I need more confidence in my abilities again.  That I should invest more time in this hobby that I enjoy and that people seem to think I have a talent for.  I’m now doing a Diploma in Photography to improve my technique and confidence. Another friend has now offered to feature my work on the front covers of his magazines.  Wow just wow I’m blown away and for the first time I’m going to seize this opportunity rather than just brush it away as I have in the past.

Travel is another biggie for me.  I’m a travel PR at heart and I have a real passion for this industry.  A friend told me about a new type of business where you can qualify as an Independent Travel Agent working from home and fit the training in around your current lifestyle and work.  So I decided in my new “thrive” mindset to go for it so I have now qualified as an Independent Travel Agent and this I feel will be a game changer to my family’s long-term happiness.  We love to travel.  We don’t travel anywhere near as much as we did but I love travel.  I love talking about it.  I love planning it so why not utilize my passion to help others?

Mummy-Mangwhai-NZ-Violet-Skies lowres

We have family and friends all over the world so why should we not be able to earn commission whenever we travel to see them.  I love travel and have been to nearly every continent on earth so why should I not share my passion with others.  If I can help them to plan and book their dream trip then this is amazing.  If I can help them to do start this business too so they earn commission from their own travel also amazing. This is a business that neatly weaves in with my PR career and my photography passion too plus I get to take the family along for the ride.

I’m going to try to write a little more in my blog about motivation and health too as now my heart is fixed as I need to get active and back into shape again.  Don’t get me wrong I won’t be running any marathons anytime soon but would be good to get healthier.

Also going to continue to renovate our home hopefully to make it a nicer place for my daughter as she grows and my hubby.

I plan to work further on charitable causes too to build a legacy in my son’s memory so watch out for something happening Spring 2021!

Thought I’d post this cute video just because….

I’ve now had a spring clean of my life.  How about you what do you hope to change or build more of now spring is here?

If you want any advice or to share your hopes then I’d love for you to get in touch or post on here.

Big love

Sarah,

Always Violet Skies xx

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Failing as a mum? 

So these past few weeks I’ve really struggled to feel anything but confident about my parenting skills. I know from speaking to other parents out there that this is a common feeling to have at times.

Your baby died

You see the struggle for me is when the rational voice in my head tries to change my mood by telling me that I’m a good mum. Another voice reminds me that my first baby died didn’t she and maybe it was because she wasn’t looked after well enough. Perhaps I should have tried harder or done something differently?

Christmas-grave-violet-skies
Violet & Arthur’s grave

Whenever my rainbow baby is ill all these feelings get dredged up from deep down. All these fears and bad memories or nightmares from hell (also known as Manchester Children’s Hospital) as I call them.

Pneumonia

If my rainbow baby is diagnosed with a chest infection or heavens forbid pneumonia then even more negative memories and emotions appear as that’s what Violet died from.

When I took our toddler to the GP a last week we saw a different doctor than usual and she looked at the on screen records looking puzzled asking does she have a lung disorder as she’s here a lot to get her chest checked. Our usual doctor insists we bring her to be checked whenever we are remotely concerned but obviously this lady didn’t get the memo. I really think they need to have something that flashes up on screen to say “her sister died of pneumonia” as I then had to explain no she doesn’t have any lung disorder we are aware of and to rationalise why we’re so over cautious bordering on paranoid. When I said her sister died of pneumonia I didn’t even get the usual “I’m sorry to hear about that” instead I think she was a bit embarrassed as I think she initially thought I was just a paranoid over protective mother.  She listened to baby’s chest and agreed it sounded crackly so prescribed some antibiotic.

Nursery

Roll on a few days and baby seemed much better thankfully so we sent her back to nursery.  Around lunchtime I got a phone call to say she was breathing rapidly and sucking in below her ribs so really serious for a little one.

Hospital

I collected her from nursery and we drove straight to hospital A & E, where the triage nurse said she thought we looked familiar.  When we explained that our other daughter died in the hospital she immediately said “oh my god you’re Violet’s parents”.  It turned out the reason we recognised each other was that 3 years ago she worked on the ward where Violet died and she had looked after her the night before.  She welled up and I started crying so it was a great start to a possible hospital admission.

Aurora-reading-hospital-violet-skies
Reading books in A & E

 

Violet

Thankfully because the nurse remembered Violet it was then an easy job for me to insist she asks for the on call respiratory specialist to consult and she obliged immediately paging them for us. Anyway they did an x ray of her lungs and saw she had a possible viral and bacterial infection on them.  They gave us more antibiotics and said as long as we monitored her for any further changes then we could take her home.

We were only home for a few hours when we noticed her breathing had gotten rapid again, around double what it should be, so we knew she was getting worse and phoned an ambulance, which is what we’d been instructed to do if she got that bad.  The operator explained that the ambulance would take 3 hours to arrive so given our proximity to the hospital we would be better driving her there ourselves.

Back again

We arrived back in A & E and were told they would be admitting her for monitoring overnight, as her oxygen levels were erratic.  It felt like I was at the gates of hell and having to enter it once again.  I explained this to the hubby and he laughed saying “pleased to see you’re not being over dramatic then” lightening the mood as always!

There are no words to describe how it felt being back in that hospital again sitting and sleeping (who are we kidding more lying with one eye open and jumping up every time she coughed!) at the side of my baby’s cot bed. All the memories I had suppressed of my time there with Violet came back along with my scepticism about what we were being told.  Luckily this time we had the top respiratory consultants looking at her x ray and examining her too so I felt more confident with what we were told.

Aurora-asleep-hospital-violet-skies
Sleeping like a baby 

Valentine’s Day

I got the best Valentine’s Day present in that we were discharged from the hospital and once again told to monitor her.  Fingers crossed she seems much better now but it’s always tough with little ones when they can’t tell you how they feel.

Here’s hoping she recovers quickly and we never have to return to that A & E again.  Although I plan once she’s better to take some more books in for the children in A & E as quite a few we looked at reading with her were ripped and damaged.

We’re still exhausted and reeling from the adrenaline here and hoping she’s better soon.  I take my hat off to those people, especially a dear friend of mine, who have children with long term illnesses who are often in and out of hospital. It is really tough to have to try to parent while doctors and nurses torture your child trying to make them better.

Thanks for reading.

Big love

Sarah

Always Violet Skies

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Due Date Anniversary

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?

Confused situation

Rianbow-image-Violet-Skies.png

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.

Love,

Sarah

Always Violet Skies xx

Here's to all those Rainbow parents

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November at last!

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.

October

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.

For-the-rest-of-my-life-I-will-search-for-moments-of-you4-violet-skies.png

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.

Violet-in-manchester-childrens-hospital-on-26th-Sept-2016-violet-skies
Our fear – this was Violet the morning she died.

Expert jugglers

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.

Update

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.

Hope you’re having a great start to your month!

Love

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

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Once you’ve got your rainbow

Mothering after loss

Control freak

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.

Cloudy-Violet-Sunset-Violet-Skies.jpg
A beautiful cloudy Violet sunset over our house last night

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.

Poorly child

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.

Violet-in-manchester-childrens-hospital-on-26th-Sept-2016-violet-skies
Violet in hospital the day she later died suddenly

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.

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Photo of our house during the renovation with Dexter our GSD in shot too

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

Sarah

Always Violet Skies xx

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A Sick Groundhog day

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.

Violet

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.

The last photo ever taken of our gorgeous Violet the morning of the day she died in Manchester Children’s Hospital playing with a balloon.

Rainbow baby

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!

A sleeping Aurora – our rainbow baby

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.

The Why

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.

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. Violet-Skies.com
Violet in Manchester Children’s Hospital aged 15 months old.

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.  

The Maybes

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!

The NHS

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?

Big love,

Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

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What’s in a name?

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?

The conversation

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.

Our rainbow has her sister’s middle name in memory

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.

Violet – a wonderful friend bought me this illustration

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?

Love Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

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