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

You might also be interested in reading these blog posts –

Four years a mother

Party girl

Grief is like being shipwrecked

What Mother’s Day Really Means

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

The original story

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

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

Now a day of torture…

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

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

I’m a mum of three

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

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

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

Message for everyone

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

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

Reach out

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

Big love & hugs, Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

Have you read some of my other posts –

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

Why grief is like being shipwrecked

New Year Learning and Growth

The Challenge of Pregnancy when it’s a rainbow baby

Lonely

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There’s a lot out there about new mums being lonely and how as a new mum you can suddenly feel lonely as your world changes overnight when your new baby is born. People talk about how important it is to make new friends and to build support networks so you don’t feel isolated. I’ve been there and get why some mums feel that way so can champion the importance of joining groups or courses to meet other new parents perhaps NCT classes or pregnancy yoga (as long as you’re not a rainbow mum read my earlier post about my experience with this here) before the birth or a baby class afterwards.

Lonely walk through the cemetery

Loneliness as a mother of loss

What no one really talks about though is how lonely it is when your baby or child dies. As a mum of a living baby yes it might be lonely but you only have to go into a cafe or shop or walk down the street with a pram before someone stops to talk to you, to coo and fuss over your baby. It’s more than acceptable in society to be a new parent and to have a baby. If anything society celebrates it as this great achievement, which it isn’t, and miracle, which it is. But what happens if your child or baby dies? What then?

Ostracised

Well I can say from experience that society ostracises you. The support networks you had as a new or expectant mum suddenly disappear and aren’t there anymore. You can’t go along to a mother and baby group minus a baby can you?  Or a post-pregnancy yoga session when that baby didn’t survive even though perhaps you’re more in need of that session than others. Well why can’t you? Because society makes you feel like an outcast.

You should be able to attend these groups and classes but you’re made to feel unwelcome.  I phoned one yoga school after I lost my rainbow baby Arthur at 22 weeks (read about it my experience with Arthur here) and asked could I switch my paid for maternity yoga sessions to a post-pregnancy class but she advised that it wouldn’t be suitable for me and gave me a refund instead. All of a sudden your mummy membership has been revoked. You aren’t welcome anymore. Suddenly you’re pushed out to the fringes of society.

Suddenly you’re in a cafe all alone without the need for a baby bottle

Violet

When my daughter Violet was alive I was celebrated by that same society, who exclaimed, “Oh you’re doing such a good and thankless tiring job as a Mummy”, “wow you’re a working mummy too” and even though motherhood is stressful at least it is acceptable.

Then your child dies and you’re pushed out, ignored and no one knows what to say or do with you anymore, so it is easier for him or her to simply ignore you or your situation. It is as though your mummy label has fallen off, when in fact you are still a mummy but just not of a living child. You’ve had the sleepless nights and are still having them just now they are because of your tears not a baby’s. 

Even the darkest night will end and you will remember those friends who were there

The invitations cease

No one wants to invite you out anymore. Well we don’t want to risk upsetting you, they may say, if we talk about our children. Suddenly if you do see any of your old friends by accident they deliberately avoid talking about their children and mentioning yours for this reason, when actually having only discussed parenting and each other’s children for the past year or more that line of discussion might actually be a great comfort and more the “normal” you’ve been used to.  It is actually lovely for someone to mention your child’s name as it shows they still remember them and that their memory lives on, as one of the fears a grieving parent has is that their child will be forgotten.

“If you see somebody that is hurting, don’t look away”. Lady Gaga

A few years before I became a mother I was a singleton for years and I was subject to a different kind of societal taboo.  I actually found myself longing to be in that outcast group again as it was more familiar to me!

So what to do about it?

If you’re the parent of loss then don’t feel alone there’s a huge community of us out there who can relate to what you’re going through. There are some links on my site here and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends to invite them out for coffee/lunch even if you don’t feel like it you’ll feel better for it as often they just don’t know what you need so tell them.

Remember just to be kind when dealing with those who are grieving

Advice

If you’re a friend or family member of someone who has suffered loss please do the following-

1. Ask

People used to ask me what they could do for me & sometimes I knew but often I didn’t know or couldn’t think about what I needed. So instead perhaps say I’d really like to be here for you. Would you like to come out for lunch with me or would you prefer me to drop some food round to you? Do you fancy a walk & a coffee somewhere or the cinema or I can pop round to you? By giving them choices it makes it easier for them to say what they’d prefer.  Multiple-choice questions are always easier.

2. Listen

When you do see them just listen and give them a hug if appropriate. Feel free to say – “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” or if you’ve suffered child loss yourself then “I’ve been there I’m so sorry I understand what you’re going through” (please note: don’t say this if the closest loss you’ve suffered is losing a pet, as hard as that to you is it really isn’t comparable to losing a child nor is saying everyone has bad times then comparing it to money worries or a sick parent). Don’t say “at least he/she didn’t suffer”, “it wasn’t meant to be” or “at least you’re young enough to have another”. Remember silence is golden.

3. Timing

The period leading up to & straight after the funeral is when lots of people will be fussing over the grieving parents but that will end one or two weeks afterwards, then everyone outside the family will go back to their normal lives as if nothing happened. Contact your friend then, as this is when the loneliness begins. Good friends of mine dropped in food, insisted on cooking for us in our home & dropped in alcohol. One bought us a voucher card for a meal out that encouraged us to leave the house.   Others sent flowers to show they were thinking of us if they lived far away. Remember even something small like a card or text message can make them feel less alone.

Love & hope

Sarah

Always Violet Skies

My rainbow baby Aurora on Valentine’s Day – proof the sun does shine again

Have you read these other posts about child loss?

Meeting an old friend

Tommy’s Angels

When mother nature has other ideas

Grief is like being shipwrecked

Mothering after loss

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

Sick baby

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

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

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

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Poorly little girl but check out that fabulous curl!

Sleepless in Manchester

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

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

Holding baby while she sleeps

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

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

Rainbow baby’s are difficult

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

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

What are the chances?

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

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

Living nightmare

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

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

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

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

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

Big love

Sarah – Violet Skies

Have you read these other posts about Rainbow babies?

When you finally get your rainbow what then?

Distraction number 1

Luck, God or just random shit

Meeting an old friend

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

Catch up

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

He brought the coffee and tea back.

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

My story

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

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

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

Avoidance

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

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

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

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

All suggestions welcome!

Love

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

You might find these blog posts interesting –

Lonely

When you finally get your rainbow what then?

Making over Motherhood

Tommy’s Angels

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

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

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Tommy’s Afternoon tea party for 2018 Rainbow Babies

About Tommy’s

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

Leonardo Di Vinci

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

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

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

Our experience

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

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

Afternoon tea

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

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Aurora with one of our “Tommy’s Angels”

Tommy’s is a charity

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

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

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

Love

Sarah xx

Always Violet Skies

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

The challenge of a rainbow pregnancy

Blue Monday?  I have a blue kitchen…

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There’s been lots of talk this week about people having a “blue Monday” or a “blue week” as apparently people are skint from Christmas/New Year/Sale shopping and have fallen off the wagon when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.  Well if those are your major problems in life to be upset over well boo f*cking hoo or at least that’s what I want to say to people.

Of course I don’t wish to belittle anyone who is genuinely suffering from depression, as it is an awful illness but those people who are sad because of minor issues like the weather I just want to grab and violently shake.

Feeling blue everyday

I wake up and every day is a blue Monday, as the first thing I think of when I open my eyes in the morning, like most parents, is my children.  I’m then slapped in the face by reality and the fact only one of them is alive.  My little girl Aurora makes me smile despite the blue start and proves there is always a little sunshine in the darkness if you focus on the light no matter how hard that can be.   I’m so used to feeling “blue” that it has become just another part of me.

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The face that makes me smile every morning

Dark abyss

On the positive side because of this sadness within me other things going wrong seem to just be absorbed into the same abyss that’s already there, so I don’t feel anymore sad but exactly the same as I did before.  For example our washing machine just gave up the ghost and a few years ago it’d have meant maximum stress about the cost but we simply ordered a new one on our credit card, to be paid for later all sorted.  Minimum drama and less fuss as my mum says “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

So to those of you who think you have issues this week then….

Gained weight

You’ve put on a few pounds since Christmas and the diet you started on the 1stJanuary you’ve given up on already, so now you’re depressed.  Think yourself lucky at least you’re not living on the streets homeless and hungry.  At least you’re healthy too and not in hospital battling some horrendous disease or sat beside a loved one who is.

The weather

The weather is a bit grey and miserable so it’s making you feel down.  Well you do live in the UK and it is winter so get over it or look to emigrate.  Change your situation. Remember also that grey and miserable can be pretty too just change your perspective and wear bright colours to compensate.

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Look for the sunshine through the grey clouds

Skint after Christmas

So you spent too much money over Christmas and New Year so you feel a little down.  Why not start a side line business connected to a hobby or dig out some things you don’t want any more and sell them?  Basically stop moping and get moving.  Do something about it and change things.  You have the power!  (Now I sound like He-man I do apologise)  Websites like Ebay have always been popular but also look at selling things through sites and apps such as Depop and Facebook marketplace.  If you’re really struggling then get advice from the Citizens advice bureau they can give impartial advice on debt and other issues.

Put your money to better use

Given up on whatever New Year’s resolutions you started?  If they involved spending money on gym membership, then cancel it and donate the cash to charity, think of the actual good you can do with it instead. The time you’d have spent in the gym you can spend volunteering at a homeless shelter, local dogs home (that’d be great free exercise!) or visiting elderly people? Think of the good you can do for others instead of focussing inwards on how bad you feel personally. Stop being selfish and think of other people instead.  I can honestly tell you that you will start to feel much much better just try it!

You can easily find volunteering opportunities in your community via sites like the Do it Trust

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Grey can sometimes be quite beautiful even in winter

Chin up; keep going and soon it’ll be springtime.

Big love,

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

You might be interested in the following posts too –

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

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

Mothering after loss

Guilt when a mother of loss

Planning travels and adventure

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One thing I find a coping mechanism for my grief is to plan travel and adventures as I feel it gives us something to look forward to and a different focus for the future.  So this weekend I’m spending a little time planning our travels for the first half of the year, which also include two family weddings on opposite sides of the earth!

Round the world with a baby

I’m often asked how we can consider travelling to the other side of the world with an 8-month-old baby well we have done it before with Violet when she was just 7 months old.  I can highly recommend you travel with your baby’s while they are little, as even though they won’t remember the trip believe me the new experiences they will have and people they will meet will shape their personalities.  You can like us take lots of photos to show them when they are older too.

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Violet with one of the many friends she made travelling

Memories

If like us you unfortunately lose your baby at 15 months old then at least you will have more happy rich memories of them from travelling and spending more time together as a family. Priceless!

Anyway for those of you who might be considering taking my advice and travelling with your little ones here’s a blog post I wrote a few years ago after our first long haul trip with a baby Violet to New Zealand.  I hope it inspires you to travel more in 2019!

Ten Top tips for flying with a baby

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 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.

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Violet sleeping on the way to New Zealand in 2016

Outfit change

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

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

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

Hats

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

Mini-change bag

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

Extra muslin cloths

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!

Lounge access

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

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Violet just chilling on the reception desk in Singapore

On-board dining

Some cabin crew will have the good sense to ask you, if you’re travelling with another adult, 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 and another set in our other carry on so we could swap them over for the second connecting flight so she wouldn’t get bored.

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

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, but try your hardest to also make the journey as relaxing and as enjoyable for yourself, as your baby will pick up on your vibes so smile and see it as an adventure.  Experience it through their eyes so the journey is exciting and new!

Happy flying!

Love Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

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Grief is like being Ship wrecked

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This time of year we find a little tricky because this is the week our baby Arthur was due to be born, and although we marked his official first birthday and day he died in September, I still feel a little tug that says we should be having a first birthday party for him in early January.

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Our little boy Arthur

Why is grief harder for a TFMR?

Grieving for Arthur I find harder and more complicated than I do for Violet as the situation is much more complex:

  • We never knew Arthur not properly. Yes I felt him move and kick inside me (a lot) but we never got to met him alive.
  • We were the ones who decided to end his life prematurely based on medical facts and delivered him early sleeping. The hardest decision we’ve ever made.
  • The bittersweet this is that if we hadn’t decided to lose Arthur when we did then we wouldn’t have had Aurora and she wouldn’t be here today. So that is hard to swallow – how can you feel sad about someone who led to the creation of someone else?

Thank you Arthur

Anyway I saw my counselor this week and she said we should thank Arthur for giving us Aurora so tonight we will toast our little boy.  She also passed me a really lovely article that was taken from a guy called GSnow’s Reddit account.  Some of the original isn’t really relevant to child loss so I have edited it somewhat and also added some of my own words but you can read the full piece he wrote here.

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The Bay of Kotor

Grief is like being Ship wrecked

“As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating for me luckily it was my husband and we clung to each other. Some of my family and friends also floated nearby providing sustenance for us to carry on. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

At the start

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, seeing another young family similar to yours on the street, the sound of a baby crying. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Eventually…

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or a family gathering. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Occasionally the wave can come from no where and totally overwhelm you but again you rise up, gasp and breathe again.

The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too.”

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Sunset over Auckland

Dianne Oxberry

I started to write and plan this article before I read the sad news today about local BBC newsreader Dianne Oxberry who sadly passed away.  I have lots of friends who were her friends and everyone who met her spoke fondly of her, so this article is dedicated to her friends and family.  May you ride the storm of grief and find some lovely memories from the beautiful ship to cling to.  If you know those close to her please help them to stay afloat.  Do this through kindness and compassion.

Big love and hugs,

Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

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New Year learning and growth

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Starting a New Year can give people much needed motivation to make changes in their lives and lots of people look to make resolutions for what they will do differently this year.  This “new start” can be extra stressful and upsetting for those who have experienced child loss or indeed perhaps the loss of a different close loved one too.

Another year without them

The New Year marks another milestone in your personal journey of loss.  Another year without them.  Another year where you are a year older but they won’t age at all.  Another year where you won’t hear them laugh, celebrate a birthday or just hold them again.  Our loved ones are frozen in time and the changing year reminds us that the rest of the world is moving on without them.

The last two years

The last 2 New Year’s were extremely difficult for us as the one thing we wanted to be able to change – to bring our children back – we just couldn’t do.  The year before that we also found difficult in a different way because that was the year I nearly died in childbirth and Violet had open-heart surgery at the time we thought that was our toughest year but we had no idea what was to come!

How can you make resolutions?

How can you possibly have New Year’s resolutions when the one thing you want to change you simply can’t change or control ever?  Instead I learnt to focus on looking at what I had learned in the past year and what if anything I could grow from.  Was there anything positive I could build upon and develop for the following year?  It really helped me to recognise the negative and bad things but also to then try to move away from them to focus on the good.  To build on those instead.

What I have learnt in last 3 years..

So here in public for the first time are the things I have learnt from the last 3 years forgive the brevity with summaries as otherwise it’d be a novel…

2015

Key experiences were getting married, father-in-law dying suddenly, difficult child-birth (both nearly died, spent weeks in hospital & Violet had open heart surgery to save her at 4 days old)

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Violet in Alder Hey awaiting heart surgery at 2 days old

What I learnt…

  • Sometimes positive thinking can help to get you through.
  • Small can be very mighty indeed.
  • Science is amazing.
  • Even the cleverest most experienced people make mistakes.
  • Always trust your instincts.
  • Children’s heart surgeons really can be miracle workers and are near to God’s. I worship one called Mr Prem and still do.
  • Alder Hey hospital is amazing.
  • Ronald McDonald house charity is amazing.
  • I am very lucky to have such a close family – brother and sister the best in the world
  • My mum is a legend.
  • I made the right decision marrying my soul mate who turned out to be the best father and husband ever.
  • I have fantastic friends.

2016

Key experiences were travelling the world with an infant, belated celebration of our marriage and then daughter dying suddenly at 15 months.

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Violet watching the Snoopy film on Singapore Airlines on way back from Bali

What I learnt…

  • Always give back to those who have helped you – we raised £1,000 for Ronald McDonald at our wedding reception.
  • Travelling with a baby is amazing everyone should do it, although only visit places where you can drink the tap water until your child is old enough to know not to swallow water in showers or bath.
  • Your life can change in a heartbeat.
  • I would willingly give my life to save my child but I wasn’t given that choice.
  • There’s nothing more precious than family.
  • Sometimes doctors & specialists don’t have all the answers
  • All the positive thinking and prayers in the world sometimes can’t help you.
  • You only know your true friends when your world ends.
  • Child loss is a pain like nothing else.
  • You think you knew pain and misery before but you were wrong oh so very wrong.
  • My husband is the most amazing person in the world.
  • Focusing on helping others can help you to relieve your own pain.
  • Setting up fundraising can help you to try to take back some kind of control.
  • Knowledge really is power. It’s very hard not knowing all the answers or information or why’s
  • Some friends go out of their way to support you they are worth their weight in gold & others crumble by the wayside.
  • Family is everything.
  • Time is the most valuable commodity there is so make the most of every day.
  • Love never dies

2017

Key experiences were a rainbow pregnancy, loss of our son through TMR, being told I probably have a genetic defect; having a hole in my heart diagnosed & then a second surprise rainbow pregnancy at the end of the year.

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Arthur

What I learnt…

  • You should value your health more than anything.
  • Never count your chickens before they’ve hatched or celebrate your baby before it is born.
  • Hope can come in many forms.
  • Child Bereavement UK are amazing.
  • Rainbows can reappear as fast as they disappear.
  • A dog can bring you so much joy and unconditional love when you really need it.
  • Child loss changes you as a person and that change is a permanent one for better or worse.
  • The old me died and was buried with my daughter in September 2016 no amount of trying will bring her back.
  • You have to put loved ones before everything else but not before your own health.
  • Kindness is everything.
  • Just because a baby is small doesn’t make it any easier to birth.
  • Saying goodbye to a baby you never really knew and that gave you so much hope for the future is very hard.  Choosing to say goodbye early is even harder.
  • Distractions are invaluable.
  • Sometimes you can’t understand or fight genetics
  • You can try hard to plan things but often nature finds a way to surprise you
  • Pregnancy is stressful but even more so when you’ve experienced child loss
  • You are not alone others out there have experienced the same thing
  • Always stand up for those who are unable to fight.
  • Always do the right thing for you and other people even if it is the hardest choice

2018

Key experiences were a successful rainbow pregnancy, finally answers in inquest from the coroner about Violet’s death, birth of our third child a baby girl, a house renovation/extension, the first Violet ball for charity & my Nan passing.

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Me and a tiny Aurora

What I learnt…

  • Seize control of what you can control and smile and breathe with those things you can’t.
  • If you feel part of your life is uncontrollable then begin a new project or task you can control.
  • What will be will be
  • Go with the flow those hippies knew something
  • Tommy’s baby charity is amazing.
  • Stand up and fight for those who cannot
  • Sometimes the best decision isn’t the easiest
  • Helping to advise and support others who are also suffering in a similar way can help yourself too
  • Sharing is caring
  • Sometimes there are no answers or explanations as to why
  • Sometimes all you need as a listening ear and some chocolate
  • Caesarean sections aren’t the easy childbirth option but it was the best option for me
  • Breast isn’t always best when your baby has other ideas. Alive and feeding is best no matter how they are fed.
  • Being a mum of three when you only have one child to hold and nurse is hard.
  • Tiredness has a whole new meaning when you’re the mum of a new-born and have experienced child loss too
  • Being a new mum is difficult. Being a new mum who has watched her first child die and had to feel her second one die inside her is near impossible stress wise but at least I finally have a child who is alive and healthy
  • To live a long, happy, healthy life is the best we can ask for. I hope I’m as lucky as my Nan who was in her nineties.

Focus on your learnings

You can see here clearly that when unimaginably stressful events happen in a year the number of “learnings” or developments increase, so try to remember this if only once a year.  There is something constructive that comes from the most upsetting and distressing of situations if you really look closely.  Remember and recognise what an achievement it is to be a survivor and what you have been through.

It is also possible to squeeze out a tiny bit of happiness from it all too.  As the legend that is JK Rowling wrote for Dumbledore ““Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”  So flick that switch or light that flame even if it is on a very tiny candle your baby or babies will thank you.

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Light that flame

If you only take one thing away from this and repeat it as a mantra in the mirror every morning throughout January it should be this…”You are amazing”.

Love Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

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