When you finally get your rainbow baby what then…

Most people I meet now, after they’ve recoiled from the shock of hearing I’m a mother of three but only one child is alive, say things like “oh third time lucky then” or “at least it’s all worked out in the end”  Urmmm no it clearly hasn’t all worked out in the end has it? Has my daughter Violet suddenly sprung back to life?

When I was pregnant with Aurora people could understand why I might have been anxious and there’s even a term for it PAL or pregnancy after loss but once your rainbow baby is here then people assume that’s it and you must be feeling better now. The grief over child loss must be over now you have another baby surely? You can move on and avoid dwelling in the past.

Well unfortunately it’s not that simple you see, yes I may have another living baby now but I still had two other children before her and just like those with more than one child, when you have a new one you don’t throw your old one away and forget about them do you? Or you shouldn’t.  If you do then social services rightly get involved. So why should it be different for angel babies? Why forget about them? How can we forget about them?

I don’t blame people who think I must have moved on though, as suddenly they see me out and about with my new baby actually smiling and resembling someone who’s happy. I guess I am happy fleetingly which is an improvement but it’s now as though I’m on a permanent roller coaster. Aurora smiles or babbles at me equals on a high then she looks at me in a certain way & I see her sister Violet in her equals unimaginable high & then immediate low.

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I still get side swiped daily by emotions but different ones from before. Seeing a mother cooing over a baby no longer makes me want to cry for the loss of Arthur although I admit seeing mums with little boys gives me a pang of pain. Now it happens when I see parents of multiple children walking with them all to the park. Brother and sisters playing and arguing together. Family lifestyle photo shoots of the whole family looking happy together in autumnal leaves (yes I do live in Chorlton! Lol). Even at Halloween cute sibling photos of older ones taking their toddler brother or sister trick or treating for the first time pour salt onto my wound.

Autumn photoshoot - Ian Scott Photography
Credit ianscottphotography.co.uk

I find myself trying to imagine what Violet would look like now aged 3.5 and what she’d think of her little sister. How would they interact? When Aurora is bigger what arguments would they have about minor things? I find it hard to imagine and to think of Violet as anything more than a baby, almost toddler. I find that upsetting too. Her sister will never know her. I can’t imagine life without my sister so now I feel a new level of grief for Aurora for the big sister she will never know or experience.

The hallway of family photos we have where the sisters may sit side by side in different frames but never actually occupy the same one. There will be photos of Aurora getting older, fingers crossed, next to the same photos of her big sister who will eternally be a toddler.  That will be a concept I’m sure Aurora when she’s older will struggle to get her head around, how can a baby be her big sister?

Family photoshoot - Manchester Photography courses
Family photoshoot – credit Manchester Photography courses

I wonder what Violet would have been like today and what she’d have thought of her baby sister?  Do you ever wonder what if?  I do every moment of every day.

Love Sarah x

A Magical Woodland

When I heard about this magical woodland event I was excited to attend with my family, including my 4-year-old niece and baby nephew too.  I hoped it would live up to expectations and we weren’t disappointed.

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Some of the girls in my family

The lighting was breathtaking with different themes in various areas of the woodland. Special LED effects, changing colours, laser lights and hanging orbs made the park a sensory experience.  The musical choice made it feel as though you were entering a Harry Potter-esque world so felt truly magical as we entered the wood.

Several paths wound their way through different sensory experiences to a central campfire area where you could purchase marshmallows on sticks to toast around the fire and there were a few food stalls there too selling hotdogs, mulled wine and sweets.  The gooey toasted marshmallows certainly went down well with my niece Evelyn.

One of the highlights in the woodland was the Aqua Rhythm water fountain.   Jets of water danced to along to music and a laser light show accompanied it.  Evelyn and other children stood transfixed in front of it for quite some time.  My baby nephew, 8 months old, watched it from his pram wide eyed so this proved a sensory hit for babies too.

Just beyond the “Heart of the Woodland” there was an owl marquee so children can find out about and see owls up close, including a Little Owl that proved a hit with Evelyn who wanted to take it home.

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It was also a fun educational experience as there were some great interactive puzzles and games for children and adults alike interspersed around the woodland.   The favourite for Evelyn was a game that distorted your voice and she spent quite some time making various bodily sounds through it finding it hilarious when it returned the noise with added depth!

There was a flamboyant chap in a flashing top hat that my niece described as “clearly a magician”, who introduced himself as a physicist so she was close!  He demonstrated to us the concept of a sonic boom using a giant sized Newton’s Cradle style pendulum, that was lit up so as the balls swung they lit up the sky around them.  The sonic boom you could hear rumble throughout the woodland.  It was an amazingly fun way to introduce children to scientific concepts, it made me think they need to invest in one of these giant Newton’s cradles at the Concorde visitors centre to explain more clearly this concept to children.

The rainforest area had dry ice that emulated mist and bird/insect sound effects to accompany the lighting that transitioned into different colours.  I found this area to be the most relaxing in the woodland, whereas my niece said she found it spooky and when there was a load rumble from the sonic boom she jumped out of her skin, proving this is also a great experience to bring your kids to for Halloween!

We were fortunate to have really beautiful autumn weather, it was pretty mild and dry which was good as we had two prams with us that if it had been wet we would have struggled to push round the site, so if you go when it is wet or after heavy rain I’d suggest taking a baby carrier instead as there are a few hills to maneuver too.

We had planned to spend an hour there but ended up spending just over two hours, as there really was so much to experience we lost all track of time.  It proved a great way to tire out little and big ones, as it was excellent exercise walking them up and down hills. Evelyn also ran off to climb on tree trunks and play with the interactive games too.

We had a wonderful time in the woodland it really was magical and my niece didn’t want to leave. We would highly recommend visiting before the experience finishes.

For more information and tickets which start from £12.50 click here

Our second rainbow

This was the best kept secret until recently as anyone can testify if they have bumped into me, as at 34 weeks pregnant with my third pregnancy I’m now pretty big.

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Those of you who regularly read my blog you will know that I like to write in a very honest and frank way so I apologise if I haven’t been forthcoming about this massive development in my life and hope that after reading this post you can understand why.

We were lucky enough to fall pregnant again pretty soon after the loss of our baby Arthur and unfortunately were told that there would be a 50/50 chance of the new baby having similar brain issues, as it’s older brother and that we wouldn’t know if it had these issues until the 20 week scan.  So we would have to wait 5 months until we knew if our pregnancy would be viable or not.

In the meantime we were of course offered additional scans so we had one at 7 weeks, 12 weeks and another at 16 weeks where they checked baby’s heart.  At the 16-week check we discovered that unlike Violet’s heart the new baby’s heart was perfectly formed and we had received this news about Arthur’s heart at 16-weeks too.  So although it was good news we weren’t celebrating yet.

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Baby at 12 week scan

I remember after our 16-week scan with Arthur we had been so happy that his heart was ok and felt so lucky, relieved and excited we told friends and family we were pregnant.  Everyone of course was delighted for us especially after the loss of Violet. Then after Arthur’s 20-week scan we got the devastating news about his severe brain condition and our entire world collapsed.

For this very reason we refrained from telling our close friends about the new pregnancy until after our 20 week scan.  This scan turned out to be the very first 20 week scan we have ever had that hasn’t resulted in us being pulled into a separate room to be spoken to by specialists and midwife counselors.  The first 20-week scan we have had that hasn’t resulted in us having to have a second follow up scan with a more senior specialist a week later. So when the two specialists that performed our 20-week scan told us that the baby was perfectly healthy we didn’t know what to say.  We were in total shock.  We were asked if we had any questions and all we could think of was “what do we do now?” We were told we could leave and come back for another scan with a specialist at 28 weeks.

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Baby at 20 weeks refusing to have a photo taken turning away!

Since then we have been waiting for a phone call or letter from the hospital to say that they are sorry but they have made a mistake.  We had the second specialist scan at 28 weeks and again we prepared ourselves for the knock out punch but that didn’t come, again we were given positive news.  To anyone reading this we must sound ungrateful but we were just so used to being given bad news whether it was devastating or minor bad news that we almost couldn’t believe what we were hearing.

We currently have a minimum of one baby or pregnancy related appointment each week either to monitor my heart (as I have an ASD see my post about a broken heart), to check baby’s growth (the amazing Tommy’s clinic gives us a scan every 3 weeks), child loss counseling or midwife appointments.  I’m under so many different departments and teams that we have gone from having an horrendous level of obstetric care when we had Violet to now having lots of specialists who all know who we are and will give us priority level care.  The NHS now feels like it is working for us!

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With my sister at the baby shower she & my sister-in-law kindly organised for me

I’ve recently been to a few different Manchester events and I’ve bumped into so many people now that I think most know about our impending arrival.  People constantly ask me whether I’m excited about the new baby and the truthful answer is simply that I will be relieved when baby is here safe and well, when I can see with my own eyes.  Until then I can only try to be hopeful for the future.

Thanks for reading.

Sarah x

A Literal Broken Heart


When I was a teenager and even throughout my twenties I would talk about having a broken heart over an unrequited love or a relationship break up. Later on once I hit my thirties my parents 38-year marriage came to a sudden end and again I was “heart broken”. The world as I knew it ceased to exist. Then my beloved dog Max died suddenly that Christmas Eve and I was “heart broken” again.

It seems heartache and being “heart broken” is a familiar feeling that us humans often talk about but what I have experienced in the last few years shows that everything is relative and you can only compare the experiences you have been through personally. If you are fortunate to have only ever suffered the break up of a relationship then you will know this to be your worst emotional pain. If you have lost a relative or pet then this might be the worst pain imaginable.

Max
Max

After I lost my amazing dog Max I decided that I probably wouldn’t have another as the pain and grief after losing him I felt was unbearable, so I couldn’t face ever putting myself through that again.

Six years later I became a mother to Violet who was born with a heart defect and had to be rushed into open heart surgery at four days old, the stress and anxiety during those nine hours she was under the knife was at the time I thought unbearable, so we were relieved afterwards when we were told her heart was a perfect fix.

Me & Violet at Alder Hey
Reunited for the first time in several days after she was transferred to Alder Hey in Liverpool & I was still at St Mary’s in Manchester.  Cuddles before heart surgery.

Every time she had to go to hospital for a heart check up of course we were stressed again praying all would be ok and it always was, until she was rushed into hospital with suspected pneumonia in September 2016. The anxiety during those ten days in hospital was again almost unbearable and I think I even told friends that there was nothing worse than watching your child poorly, being tortured whilst doctors inject them/take samples and attach them to drips and there being nothing you can do to take the pain away from them.

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Violet during her time in Manchester Children’s Hospital in the days before she died

Then suddenly she died. Our precious daughter died. We then discovered a totally new level of pain and heartache that we had never even come close to before. Every other type of “heartache” I had experienced in my life until this moment paled into comparison. I actually felt my world had truly come to an end and the pain then and now is still sometimes unbearable but bear it we do, as we have no choice in the matter.  It is indescribable to anyone who hasn’t gone through it and an unimaginably scary though to those of you who have children who are alive.

Anyway within six months of Violet’s death I discovered that not only do I have a metaphorical “broken heart” but I was diagnosed with an actual physical broken heart too. It was discovered that I have what they call an ASD or hole in between the top two chambers of my heart so I now have truly broken heart both physically and emotionally. How ironic?

So life wise I guess the positive take on all of this is that it has helped us (my family) to put things into perspective. We no longer stress about the small things in life anymore and I tell myself that, at the end of the day, I have been through the worst thing imaginable, so everything else, including possible open heart surgery on myself is easy in comparison.

Dexter
Dexter

Nine years after the loss of my beloved dog Max we adopted a two-year-old German Shepherd, as I now realise that I can cope with the loss of a pet if I can somehow survive the loss of two children. So we welcomed Dexter to our family and we now have a giant fur baby to look after who gives us unconditional love. What’s not to love about that, even if it only lasts for 8 years? It is relative after all and we have chosen to live in the present moment, as who knows if a bus will hit us tomorrow, so make the most of today folks always.

Love Sarah x