Well what a weird year this one has been. Even September feels a little different than usual because we are unable to have people round to the house & with a little one entertaining at home is what we do really so that’s out then. Our fire pit & BBQ haven’t had that much use this year.
I used to love this time of the year being a nerd at school I loved going back for challenging new lessons, my new notebooks & stationery. I try to embrace these old memories of September by learning new things & treating myself to new stationery too.
In recent years September has always been a tough month for us. The beginning of the month saw us saying goodbye to our little rainbow boy Arthur (read more about him here), the middle of September saw us spend a few weeks in the children’s hospital with Violet & then the end of the month was when she sadly died.
Usually at the end of September we try to escape on holiday somewhere to try to take our minds off it but for obvious reasons we won’t be going overseas for sunshine this year. Not because I am fearful of my own safety I should add but more because we aren’t willing to take any risks with the health of our rainbow toddler no matter how slight they may be.
I recently heard something an amazing man called Les Brown said that resonated with me so wanted to share.
He said “I’m not going to let adversity define who I am and how I show up. It shows you who you are. It will either make you or break you.”
I really resonated with this. Yes I have been through adversity but I’m not going to let it define who I am. Yes it has changed me and made me see the world differently but it will not stop me from being me.
What about you? What resonates with you?
It’s a great time for reflection.
Are you back to school? What do you like about September?
Always Violet Skies xxx
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Recently I’ve been beating myself up about putting on weight during lockdown and the fact I’ve not exercised a huge amount. My body isn’t how I’d like it to be. My heart is now fixed so there’s no physical reason for not doing more exercise.
My fixed heart now seems to have slowed my metabolism down because it is working more efficiently so I seem to be burning less calories – typical hey? Anyway I was moaning the other day to a friend and she reminded me that I have actually had 3 pregnancies/babies in 5 years which is quite a lot and a huge impact on your body. Add into that that I’ve also had and recovered from heart surgery after having a titanium device fitted inside it.
Looking back over 5 years
I had a very traumatic birth with my first baby Violet who was undiagnosed breach resulting in me being rushed into surgery shortly after the birth. She was blue lighted to Alder Hey in Liverpool where she underwent heart surgery at 4 days old. She survived that luckily and we took her home 10 days later with major chest wounds weighing less than 5 pounds. Anyone who has had a prem baby will understand the additional challenges with caring for a baby so small.
Childloss x 2
Then I’ve also had the trauma of losing two children. First Violet at 15 months old then my second baby Arthur. With Arthur we had to face the near impossible decision of a termination for medical reasons after hearing at his 20 week scan that his brain hadn’t developed at all and in fact was just fluid. We said goodbye to him at 22 weeks and he was stillborn.
We’ve then undergone a horrendous inquest hearing for Violets loss almost 2 years after she died having to relive every moment of it and I did that whilst heavily pregnant with Aurora my third baby.
I faced the additional stress of a rainbow pregnancy following those two losses whilst rehabilitating a German Shepherd and project managing a home extension that we lived in throughout too. All while still working as a PR consultant too.
Child with special needs
After Aurora was born we discovered she was deaf and so are now adjusting to raising a deaf child. She also doesn’t sleep so 2 years in we’ve had to adapt to only 4-5hours sleep maximum a night on a good day.
Other minor things
In the last 5 years of my life I’ve also gotten married, travelled round the planet twice, raised over £50k for Alder Hey hospital, had heart surgery and most recently a cancer scare (luckily now confirmed as nothing to worry about).
I also started this child loss blog to help others out there and to try to raise more awareness of the issues faced. I’ve started lecturing in marketing at university, launched a new travel business and also made more of my love for photography by studying for a diploma in it. Now with covid changing the landscape of my career in travel and hospitality PR too. Grounding airlines and closing bars/restaurants. The working me has seen a huge shift in my outlook and what I do.
I’d say that’s quite a lot in 5 years wouldn’t you? So you know what? I’m going to give myself a bloody break and a pat on the back for still being relatively sane. So what if I’ve put some weight on. I’m not going to stress about that at all and in the grand scheme of things now with covid challenges too who cares?
Make a list people
So my word of advice to anyone out there is to make a list of all the things you have faced, overcome, survived and achieved in the last 5 years. I bet like me you’ll be surprised and so try to recognise what you have actually done rather than beat yourself up because of a saggy tummy, grey hairs and wrinkles. See how amazing you actually are to have got to where you are today. What have you done, over come and experienced in the last 5 years?
Appreciate the now
I did think about doing a list for the last 18 years but that just made me feel very old and exhausted 😂maybe I will write a memoir someday to share the full story and it’ll be perfect bedtime reading (to send you all to sleep or you will think it is fiction).
Big love to you all and thanks for reading
Always violet skies xx
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I’ve not written a blog post for a fair few weeks (well over a month!) because to be honest I just couldn’t be bothered.
I wondered if anyone was actually reading these and so whether I should continue or not.
Then I did a few extremely honest captions on instagram and got a fair few comments back from people telling me thank you, as what I said really resonated with them too. Someone also thanked me for making them feel less alone and that they reached out to find my blog when they were at their lowest ebb. That my blog showed them they could move on too and that there was a glimmer of hope at the end of the apocalypse that is child loss.
I’m back… did you miss me? (don’t answer that!)
So I am back again with my ramblings and I hope you will find them insightful. I’m also going to re-jig my website a little over the coming months so posts are easier to search for and to find.
I know a fair few of us have found the last 3 months especially difficult as we adjust to a new way of life, perhaps facing new financial pressures leading to a change of outlook, lifestyle or having to rethink career or business goals.
I have tried my hardest to be positive about the situation even though work dried up, my birthday was in lockdown and we spent the majority of 3 months isolating to keep our toddler safe.
I volunteered my time to help the lonely elderly by making regular phone calls to them to give them a caring ear and someone who cared. I also gave some of my PR assistance for free to help charities out including setting up one to help benefit those struggling from lockdown who are self-employed missing out on government support.
Missing family and friends I found hard along with valuable social interaction for the greater good.
Now as lockdown eases a little, we have decided to venture out more to open spaces, parks and to meet friends and family, observing social distancing of course. This I find really does help my mood and improves perspective too.
I do feel as though I’ve also been a crap friend too over the last 3 months as I’ve been struggling somewhat but hope to make it up to you all during the rest of the year.
I’m thankful that lockdown had eased as this week it was Violet’s 5thbirthday, meaning that we could visit her grave and even more lovely was the fact that Chester Zoo reopened on her birthday. We sponsor the elephants there in her memory so like to visit them to remember her and this we got to do yesterday. It helped to make a very painful day a little brighter.
Gorgeous violet flowers at Chester zoo
Visiting Arthur’s Giraffes at Chester Zoo
Violet’s elephants at Chester Zoo
I still find I have a great deal of anger at the world because of Violet’s loss and my soul aches as though part of it has been ripped away.
I often think about what she would have been like as a 5 year old. What would she look like and sound like? What would she enjoy doing? How would she be?
I try to focus on the positives and doing good deeds for others to try to spread the joy that Violet embodied. She brought a calm stillness to those she met like a master of Zen, pretty rare in a baby.
We are paying for a 5 year olds school uniform in Violet’s memory to help a family who are struggling. I have also made up little party bags that will be delivered to friends this week to hopefully make them smile and spread some joy. Once again we have renewed sponsorship of the elephants at the zoo too. Some kind people have also donated to her fund so Alder Hey will once again benefit from Violet’s legacy.
It was lovely that quite a few friends and family remembered Violet on her birthday, surprisingly lots of people who never met her sent messages of support and even flowers.
I do find it additionally upsetting & heartbreaking though that lots of people who did know her very well didn’t remember or acknowledge her birthday. This makes it all the more painful for us.
At the end of the day the greatest comfort you can give to the parent of loss is to remember and talk about their child especially on their birthday.
Failing as a mum of loss
My mission as a mum of loss is to try to keep her memory alive and when those who were close to her fail to remember she existed I feel as though I am failing as her mother.
Please remember this with anyone in your life that has suffered the loss of a child or a spouse or sibling. A simple text message can mean the world to them. They want more than anything to bring their loved one back and one way to do this is via memories so help them to remember the positives.
I’ve been watching comedy to take my mind off things and this I thought was quite poignant by Jason Manford
“Just because you’re struggling it doesn’t mean you are failing” I will try to remember this.
Take care and spread the love if you can
Always Violet Skies
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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”.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
Always Violet Skies xx
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So at the start of this week I was supposed to be attending a family funeral in support of a close family member but we had a dreaded bug that floored all of us including my poor mum who had come to try to help. That was the first of two funerals for this week, the second was earlier today for a dear friend and business mentor.
In light of these I thought I’d write something about grief and try to give some advice to anyone who is trying to support a loved one through their heart ache. I hope this might help at least one person.
Grief initially is all consuming and you can literally feel as though you are drowning (read more about the shipwreck analogy here). It is like you are on a sinking ship so you might panic (panic attacks are common), you may have great despair and feel as though you have to fight just to keep your head above water. The feelings can be very different and unique to everyone especially depending on who it is who has passed and their relationship to the one grieving. Also timing plays a huge part in how severe grief can be too, whether it is how someone died (was there time for a goodbye), did they die far too soon or if the passing coincided with an anniversary or special occasion then that can heighten painful feelings.
Seven pieces of advice
My seven pieces of advice for anyone with a friend or loved one who is grieving is this –
Listen – always listen to what they are telling you. If they say they don’t want something then listen, regardless as to whether you think what you are suggesting would benefit them. They know what is best for them at that moment in time.
Check in – regularly check in with them so they know you care about them and tell them to let you know if you can do anything. Often the person is so consumed by grief that they can’t think of what to say and may answer, “I don’t know” so maybe suggest to them what you would like to do for them. For example “would you like to go for a walk?”, “would you like me to bring you dinner?”, “can I take you our for a drink somewhere?” or “would you like a spa day?”. All yes or no answers these closed questions are the best ones to use.
Ask first – If you’d like to drop them a meal round or call to see them ask first as it might not be a good time for them. Don’t just drop in.
One week – Ideally make a note to contact them a week after the funeral as this is the period after which many others will have been in touch and now the person is truly on their own. It is at this time the grief stricken one feels forgotten and as though the entire world has just returned to normal while they are still in pain.
Flowers – If you would like to buy flowers for the service then please check with your loved one as they may just want donations to charity instead. If you feel you’d like to buy them flowers personally then ask them first if this would be ok or take them a plant instead or if not suggest you bring them wine or chocolates instead. Some people when grieving hate flowers.
Change of mind – remember at the moment they are not thinking straight at all and their emotions are everywhere so give them leeway to change their minds. That’s why continuing to check in with them is so important as one day they might say they are fine and don’t need anything but on another day they might just need someone to go for a walk with or have a cup of tea and a chat.
Fresh air – don’t forget the benefits of exercise in the fresh air if your loved one has been cooped up inside then suggest you get wrapped up and go out somewhere for a walk.
So there you are my top tips for you for trying to navigate support for someone during the early stages of grief.
Please remember that with everything everyone is different and so grieves in a very unique way. They also will grieve differently depending on the person who has passed and their relationship to that individual.
I hope this is helpful to some of you out there. I hope so anyway.
Back in 2016 I felt the worst pain I have ever felt when I lost my beloved daughter Violet and then the following year I lost her brother Arthur at 22 weeks of pregnancy too. I knew then exactly what people meant when they described a broken heart. I have never felt a pain like it.
Ironically after I had lost Violet in early 2017, before Arthur, I sought medical advice for dizziness and lethargy that I’d had on and off since I had had Violet. When she was alive I was told it was probably because I was sleep deprived with a new baby and being a busy mum but when these symptoms continued after she had gone I got it checked out again. I was diagnosed with having an ASD or hole in my heart that will have been there since birth but possibly enlarged during the pregnancy and birth of Violet.
The hole it turned out was pretty large nearly 2cm in diameter and without a repair my symptoms would probably have got worse and I was at higher risk of clots and stroke too. So I have been waiting for a repair since early 2017.
I still remember that first diagnosis of a broken heart and laughing saying “well I know this already as my daughter has just died”.
So now it feels odd when I tell people I had a broken heart but now it’s fixed as though it means I am over the grief of using my children. I find myself having to say physically my heart is now repaired but of course emotionally it isn’t.
What’s great is that when I came round from the anesthetic I asked was there a window open as the air felt so fresh, like it does at the seaside or in the country when it’s full of oxygen. Of course there was no window open I just now have the ability to absorb more oxygen from the air so even today when I breathe in the air feels clean and fresh (yes even in Manchester).
I can’t wait to visit the seaside or countryside as I feel it will blow my mind the amount of oxygen I will have.
The other major difference already is that I don’t get out of breath as easily just walking down the road and my muscles don’t burn after even slight exercise either. I felt like the bionic woman initially!
It will take a few months hopefully before I feel the full affects of the operation as one side of my heart is still very enlarged so will take time for the pressure to dissipate but I’m hopeful that by spring I will certainly have a new lease of life.
I will never run a marathon but looking forward to having more energy to spend quality time with my rainbow baby and family alongside of course juggle work, charity and this blog too.
So at a time when lots of people have resolutions about losing weight or stopping smoking I am trying to remain as healthy and stress free as possible in order to give my heart a fighting chance to heal and recover properly.
What are you hopeful for this year?
Do you have resolutions or hopes for the decade ahead?
Someone asked me recently what my plans were for the next 5 years. I laughed and said ideally I still want to be alive and I hope my family are all still alive too. Then I’d like us all to be healthy and happy. That’s about it.
A 5 year plan?
Not sure that was the answer he was after as he said I meant professionally and for your business. Well it’s not much use wanting anything work wise if I’m not here is it was my answer?
Maybe they shouldn’t ask parents of loss who have a heart defect that will hopefully be repaired before Christmas that question?
I used to be a planner
I used to be into forward planning years ahead at least as far as work, holidays and home went but these last few years have taught me that there’s no point putting too much effort into future plans when something could happen unexpected at any time that can change your world in a heartbeat.
Now I try to live in the present
It much better to live in the present as much as you can and also to try not to dwell too much in the past either as there’s nothing that can be done with that now.
Don’t get me wrong I still plan a little because I have to with work or family plans but i only tend to plan a few months ahead at a time.
How about you? Are you a planner?
Always Violet Skies
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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.
Never mind Halloween please light candles on 1stNovember to mark the first All Saints day today “Día de los Inocentes,” a Mexican catholic tradition that honours deceased children and infants. They are remembered on this day when the veil between worlds is thought to be the finest.
All Hallows Day
In Mexico, All Saint’s Day also known as the Feast of All Saints, All Hallows’ Day or Hallowmas is celebrated with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) known as “Día de los Inocentes,” honoring deceased children and infants. The 2nd November marks a second day for all deceased. Some religions and cultures call November 2nd All Souls’ Day and this is the day that is often chosen for the Day of the Dead parades and celebrations.
Catholics traditionally take flowers to the graves of loved ones and Saints who are innocents on these days. Perhaps you’d like to light a candle at home instead to remember those babies or children who have died on the 1stNovember and then again for any adults on 2ndNovember too.
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