Emotional is probably the only constant state at the moment, as with the majority of new mums, never mind those who have gone through child loss. I’m facing a wave of different emotions everyday but unlike most new mums mine include sadness, feeling angry, confused (how can you feel immense pain & pleasure at same time) & devastated that my older children aren’t here too. I am a mother of three not one.
The midwife service would ordinarily have signed me and baby off by now and passed our care onto the health visitors but given the extreme circumstances (loss of two children) they are keeping a close eye on me alongside the health visitors, which is nice in a way, as it is a total contradiction to the care we had 3 years ago where we were forgotten about for the first few weeks after we left hospital. We complained at the time to Manchester’s NHS trust and it resulted in a full restructure of procedures for new mum care in Greater Manchester, hopefully meaning high risk babies that have undergone surgery shortly after birth won’t now fall down the cracks as we did.
In a way this is probably also now the reason why both departments are now OTT with our care.
Midwives and health visitors ask me how I’m doing then look at me carefully to observe my facial expressions & body language to see when I say that “I’m ok” if I’m being honest. They all looked surprised when I explained after Aurora was born healthy that for the first time in 9 months a lot of my anxiety and worry had lifted. I actually felt a huge sense of relief and was also in slight shock that at last the ordeal of waiting and wondering was over. She was finally here and was healthy. Sometimes it still feels surreal so I have to pinch myself to check I’m not just dreaming and other times I still find myself because of sleep deprivation accidentally calling Aurora Violet as though my brain has regressed in time. Although I’m led to believe this also happens often when you have multiple children who are alive too.
Anyway got to dash baby waking for a feed…thanks for reading.
Unless people have been through something similar themselves, they don’t really understand that when you’re grieving, yes you go through waves of sadness, anger and frustration at the world but there’s a huge element of anxiety too.
The anxiety affects every aspect of your life. Almost as though because the worst thing ever actually did happen, then what’s to say something else bad isn’t possible too. This heightened sense of danger makes you nervous and afraid of things that previously you wouldn’t have been concerned about.
Like this week the road outside our house was very icy and there was a time I wouldn’t have cared but I was reluctant to go outside, as I know how accident-prone I am. The thought of falling and injuring myself was too scary to contemplate.
I find myself constantly trying to avoid risk, whereas as an entrepreneur for many years, risk and calculated odds was something I excelled in. I could easily identify what to take a chance on and what to avoid based on pure instinct. I no longer trust my own instincts.
The morning my little girl died the hospital said she was doing really well and I could see with my own eyes she was better than she had been for weeks. We were all so very happy. I messaged everyone with photos showing how well she was doing. I thanked every single God that she had turned a corner. That evening she died suddenly and I realised that my eyes and instincts could lie. Also that medical specialists don’t know everything. That deeply affects everything else in your life. It makes me question it all. All of a sudden is “green” really green?
Not only do I question my instincts more but I also worry about things I never used to. I constantly question everything…
Am I doing a good job for my client? (even when they give me positive feedback!) Am I still a nice person? Have I turned bitter because of losing my child? Have I offended someone somehow because they didn’t phone me back? Does xxx still like me? What if xxx is just trying to be kind because they feel sorry for me? Have I made that person uncomfortable with my honesty? Did xxx feel awkward because I brought up a story about my daughter and they didn’t know how to react? Am I any good at my job? Can I even write? Do I actually know what I’m doing? Does anyone care about what I think? What if I burst into tears how embarrassing? What if no one wants to speak to me as they think I’ll be miserable & I’ll depress them because bad things always happen to me? Maybe xxxx is avoiding seeing me because she thinks her baby/pregnancy/kids will upset me? Perhaps xxxx doesn’t want to have to deal with any negativity as she’s all about positive thinking & I have issues? xxxx clearly doesn’t speak to me anymore or contact me because I make them sad or feel awkward? What if I drive other friends away in the same way? Am I acting odd in social situations? Am I stuttering? what if…what about…Why did that bad thing happen was it because of me?
These constant niggles and questions I now ask myself all the time. They started when Violet died and they aren’t going away. They increased even more after Arthur died, as he gave us so much hope for the future and then our world became doomed once again. These thoughts now chip chip chip away at my confidence in every area of my life, so some days I almost feel like I shouldn’t even bother. I find it a real challenge to drive myself onwards, often having to give myself evidence as to why certain things aren’t true. Why some things aren’t the case.
I’m seeing a great counsellor, finally (as I have been through a few, some who I made cry & others that ended up being aggressive with me but that’s a post for the future!). They are trying to help me to work through these issues. You don’t usually hear people talk about confidence and anxiety when they’re grieving but I’m learning now that it is far more common than you think. Quite a few people I have spoken to who have lost a loved one have said that it also really affected their self-confidence.
Thank you to you all for your patience with me and for helping me to believe in myself again!
I used to be a self-confessed shopaholic before I had Violet I loved nothing more than a shopping spree round town getting a new dress, looking at the sales, maybe some new shoes, new toiletries etc. Now I hardly ever shop.
Instead losing my children has taught me to appreciate the experiences life has to offer, rather than simply buying stuff. So now we’d rather spend our money on dinner out or save for a holiday somewhere or spend time in the outdoors.
Family and friends
It has also made us more grateful for our friends and family who have been so supportive, throughout these last few years. Yes we have had good friends fall by the way side but many more that have stepped right up to the plate to hold our hands during our lowest ebbs. We are so appreciative of these people, as it makes us realise that as cruel and evil as the world sometimes seems there are good, kind people out there.
There have also been near strangers and distant friends who have been so kind and gone out of their way to help us in small ways that mean much more because of the thought that goes with it.
Some people have gone out of their way to remember our daughter by doing Iron Man contests, swimming Windermere, organising events and other challenges to raise money for her fund helping us to create that lasting legacy for Violet we so crave.
There have been lots of moments of kindness from people that have reduced us both to tears and we love you all so thank you!
Love, Sarah x
p.s. if anyone wants to donate to her fund click here and tickets for the Violet ball on 29th September 2018 can be reserved here
It may sound daft but sometimes when I get up in the morning and make a brew then sit down in my ever so quiet house to have breakfast, I like to imagine what the me in a parallel universe would be doing now.
A Parallel Universe
If parallel universes exist that is, and I was never a huge fan of science fiction, but it’s one thing that gives me a strange comfort. I like to think there’s a me out there that’s heavily sleep deprived, complaining to friends about her 2 year old daughter’s tantrums and how her newborn baby who doesn’t sleep keeps getting nappy rash!
The other me will be struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with two children, work, a husband and trying to stay sane. Her life would be crazy, noisy and sleep deprived but it will also be full of love. However she doesn’t realise how truly lucky she is and stresses about how she’s concerned her children aren’t developing at a normal rate. Are they eating enough? Are they growing?
This other parallel universe me has never had to face losing a child so she’s still full of the naive blind optimism I see in other women and people everyday. The way I used to be. When bad things happened to other people not to you, and whilst you were concerned and saddened to hear of others bad luck, even raising money to support these people, never in a million years would you think it’d happen to you. It gives me comfort to think there’s still an innocent me like that out there somewhere.
Anyway then I return back to my reality of being able to eat a quiet breakfast with only the demands on my time from a dog wanting a walk and of course that of my clients at work. So begins another week for me…I hope you all have a good one!
I am a proud and heart-broken mother to two angels.
My first angel
My first born was a beautiful baby girl named Violet who beat all the odds after she had open heart surgery at just 4 days old at Alder Hey Hospital. She lived a full and happy life for 15 months until passing away suddenly at Manchester Children’s Hospital. We didn’t know what happened and the coroner launched an inquest (read about it here)
My second angel
My second angel was our rainbow baby Arthur who was born sleeping at 22 weeks, almost a year after Violet passed away. He was a TFMR and had severe brain abnormalities. He gave us so much hope for the future and when we lost him in September 2017 we felt as though our hope for the future died with him. (read more about it here)
The last few years
It has been an extremely devastating and challenging few years for both me and my husband. Despite all of this devastating news we still strive to make the most of our lives, as we understand how fragile life is and how much our daughter Violet loved life. She wouldn’t want us to mope and suffer. We’ve learnt to be grateful for the 15 wonderful months we spent with her, that we might not have had if it wasn’t for the top NHS heart surgeons and care at Alder Hey Hospital we had in the very beginning. To them and especially top heart surgeon Mr Prem we will be eternally grateful. (link to our fundraising here)
A friend of mine suggested (over a year ago) I try to help others by giving advice and strategies for coping with loss. So this blog has been a long time coming but I have waited until I felt strong enough to share. It will detail the ways in which I have tried to deal with everything in case it might help someone else who has unfortunately found themselves in a similar situation.
It won’t all be heavy or emotional reading though as lots of my coping strategies include travel, eating amazing food and architecture/interior photography. Hopefully it will make enjoyable reading for those out there that are lucky enough not to be in a situation like mine. It will be full of photos showcasing some of the amazing places we have travelled to and the things we do in memory of our beautiful children.
I hope this site can give others inspiration and hope to overcome anything they are currently battling with in their lives.