Living In Hope, Coping Through Fear.

Six months have passed since I last wrote a blog post . My darling Rebecca should now be 18 months old. When I started this blog last year I didn’t know what it was going to be used for and whether I would be writing weekly, monthly or just whenever I felt like it – turned out I wrote whenever I felt like it and it worked for me.

I feel like writing today.

Writing this blog helps me to rabble on and release thoughts and feelings. That way they’re out, no one needs to read it, but it’s out there for anyone who chooses to. It’s quite therapeutic.

I last wrote when Rebecca turned 1 years old. That was a difficult time, the last of the ‘firsts’ had come; We had our first week, first month, first Halloween, first Christmas, first New Year, first anniversary of death and finally first birthday. Our first year without our daughter had passed.

One of my favourite films, Notting Hill, has a scene whereby the heartbroken character William Thacker, played by Hugh Grant, walks through a market place. Whilst walking the seasons change around him, from spring through to winter then back to spring. That’s how I feel; Rebecca was buried amongst the bright golden daffodils in the cemetery, then before I knew it those same daffodils were blooming once again. Life has just carried on around me. Sometimes I’d pop my head up, look around then sink back down unbeknown what’s really going on up there. Suppose that’s living in grief. That suited me fine, I was content being below the goings on of the world lying in the depths of grief.

That was until October 2015 came. Suddenly I was forced above ground whether I was ready or not.

My husband and I agreed rather quickly after Rebecca’s birth that we should try again, let me re-phrase that – Empty Arms Syndrome was consuming me, I was desperate to hold a baby once again. Obviously, I was desperate to hold Rebecca, but after those sacred 6 weeks with her I knew I could hold her no more, I had to do what was best for her – I had to lay her to rest. But the grief was so strong, my aching arms were killing me. I quickly realised I couldn’t go near, let alone hold, another baby other then my own. My pregnacy with Rebecca was me wanting a baby, this soon turned to needing a baby.

My husband agreed that he too wanted to give Rebecca a younger sibling, but he was so worried about jeopardising my journey through grief – I was so vulnerable. I persuaded him otherwise.

I found myself obsessed with becoming pregnant. I was constantly scrolling through websites and support groups. Spending a fortune on ovulation kits, checking temperatures, timing everything. Sex became something that just needed to be done.

There is so much that goes into trying for a baby after loss, the feelings are amplified. The obsession. The desperation. The heartbreak . The anger. The disappointment.  The feeling of being a failure. The fear… But mostly the guilt – guilt towards being disloyal to Rebecca.

October 2015 brought a positive pregnancy test.

I would be lying if I said I was happy about it. This is what I thought I needed. But the realisation came that I not only did I want Rebecca, I needed her too. I stared at the test and cried. What had I done?

Now the new feelings started – which also seemed amplified. The obsession. The fear. The panic. The uncertainty. The paranoia. The confusion. The anger…. But again, mostly the guilt – guilt towards being disloyal to Rebecca.

The first trimester sent me spiralling into a frenzy. I couldn’t bond with this pregnancy – I couldn’t even admit to it. I felt so stupid for taking this risk again. Risking losing another child. Breaking my family’s hearts once again. The anxiety got too much. I needed help.

By Christmas I had started counselling. Thankfully this was with a familiar face who knew me and knew Rebecca (The Bereavement Midwife who looked after me Rebecca and my family during our stay at hospital) I cannot thank this wonderful lady enough for helping me getthrough each week. The amount tears and fears shared in those four walls were obscene. Slowly she neutered me, teaching me to bond, opening my eyes to the new life growing inside of me.  The fears didn’t go away, but I was able to realise my fears were valid and so was this new life.

I soon found myself obsessed by the term Rainbow Baby and of any stories of them.

I tried to hide from the baby’s first movements. I was going to bed early to avoid feeling them start. Once I had felt them that was it, the almighty fear of one day feeling it no more consumed me.

I tried to hide my growing bump as long as possible, but it finally had to be exposed. Suddenly I was surrounded by many ‘congratulations’ and soon realised people who avoided me before were able to speak to me again. Sadly I quickly became aware that some thought that a new pregnancy meant I was soon to be ‘all better’, ‘healed’ or ‘over it’ – this hurt immensely. I hated the idea that people may think I was replacing Rebecca. Others were quick to tell me that ‘things would be better this time’, that ‘nothing would go wrong’ – this angered me, how could they possibly know that?

Time was slowly moving forward and my pregnancy was progressing. I was under the care of a fantastic consultant who catered to my every need. I was scanned at least once a week for foetal developments, monitored whenever I felt I needed it (which was sometimes everyday) soon the hospital became my second home. By my request, induction was set for the 38th week. Trusting the staff in this hospital was always going to be difficult. My dear midwife friend who delivered Rebecca was on 24/7 standby via telephone for any of my weak moments or crazy questions. The doctor who performed Rebecca’s ECV was clearly told to stay well away.

There are so many diffetences I personally realised about a pregnancy after loss, other than the extreme emotions I’ve already mentioned. Little things like; not wanting to take photos of my growing bump, not wanting to write a pregnancy diary, not wanting to buy anything for baby, not wanting to plan ahead or prepare for their birth. I was still unable to be around other expectant mothers, I was still so very jealous – jealous of their innocence and excitement. Dare I say it but I found myself constantly planning the death of this baby, discussing burial, headstones, the birth and memory making – I couldn’t let myself imagine this baby being born alive. I really struggled to bond, I had to keep reminding myself that whether I bonded or not the pain of losing this child would still hurt – so surely I should cherish with each day with them? This battle was exhausting. My counsellor tried so hard to break down these barriers.

Towards the end of pregnancy the anxiety and fear were getting intense, I was constantly on a yo-yo of emotions. Forever waiting for the next foetal movement, all whilst trying to stay calm.

My induction date was two weeks away – I found myself at 36+4 weeks, the same gestation Rebecca died. This day was immensely difficult, I spent the morning being monitored and the rest of the day crying with Rebecca. Begging her to come back and allow me to wake up from this bad dream. Preying she bring her little sibling safe to me. I spent the next day in appointmens; at hospital being monitored out of fear of something going wrong, seeing my counsellor and meeting my midwife friend.

The following day I woke to find myself having intense Braxton hicks. Luckily I was already booked in that morning with my consultant. The baby was fine on the scan, irregular contractions were monitored and although I was dilating, it was diagnosed as false labour. As I returned home from hospital I found myself bleeding, heavily – it was happening again, I thought my baby was dying. I rushed straight back to hospital. I was quickly assured my baby was alive but I was told to prepare for labour.

I suddenly realised I wasn’t prepared. I was scared.

My birth plan didn’t exist, it was a stillbirth plan… So I insisted to be monitored constantly throughout labour and my husband was ordered to keep a close eye on the monitor. With my husband and friend (midwife) by my side our baby quickly arrived a few hours later. There are no words to describe this moment. I won’t even try. To have this breathing, moving and crying bundle placed upon me was surreal. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.

Rebecca had sent us a beautiful little girl.

Ella Rebecca Wilson arrived 10th June 2016 at 20.01. 36+6 weeks weighing 7lb 12oz.

Twelve weeks on and Ella has thrived beautifully. She has settled in well and has acquired her own special place in our family. She is absolutely gorgeous. We love her so much. We are so grateful.

This isn’t our happy ending, what we deserve nor something given back to us. Our Rebecca still died, we still live each day without her knowing she should be with us. How can we be happy now, just like that? We deserve our baby who was taken, she hasn’t been given back. I still have my bad days, we are still grieving, we always will be. Rebecca knows each and every day how much we miss and love her.

But we can now let love back in again, Ella has been given to us to bring some colour back into our lives, to shine a bright rainbow through our hearts. I savour each and every moment with Ella, every night feed, every smile. At times it is comforting to see how Rebecca would have been, at times painful to see, but this will follow me throughout the rest of my life – it’s not Ella’s fault. She has engraved her own beautiful Ella shape into my heart, but in no way does this shape try to fill Rebecca’s. Each of my children have their own shape. Ella is no different.

I strongly believe that Rebecca sent Ella to fulfil my days, to ease my aching arms and to allow me to see the world in colour again.

To prove to me that through all my fears there can always be hope.

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Ella with her angel big sister Rebecca

To read my Rebecca’s story, please Click Here

Our Baby is 1!

Well, as the title reads, our amazing daughter Rebecca has celebrated her first birthday in Heaven.

Since I came out of the purest depths of grief I wondered how this occasion would pass – Would I find myself back to the depths, in my bed, crying and wearing the pain on my sleeve – Or would I find the strength to enjoy the day and focus on where Rebecca is rather then where she isn’t. I went through a very long stage of wanting a huge celebration and charitable event to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Society) but then I backed down not knowing how I would feel and whether I would have the capacity to deal with the added pressure?

Before I knew it March 2016 was fast approaching and I thought it was just best to accept the way I felt about the day when the day actually arrived.

Two days prior Rebecca’s ‘Angelversary’ we had her headstone erected. This was something I was incredibly excited about. It was like an early birthday present from my husband and I. I insisted to be there to watch the whole process, knowing it was the last thing I could do for her i wanted to be part of it and make sure Rebecca was ok. It was perfect, the stonemason was perfect and her headstone was perfect. Half of me was relieved that she could now lay in total peace but another half was devastated that the possibility that I could dig her back up for a cuddle was now pretty slim…Yes, i know, completely crazy thing to want to do but I am sure other mothers in my position can relate to it – when you’re in those dark moments or having a ‘bad day’, all you want is your baby, you are fully aware with who/what/where they are, but you need to hold them, to feel their skin, to feel the weight of your baby in your arms once more… how will I cope in those moments now when I know there is definitely no way I can sneak a quick cuddle?

So her headstone is up and it’s just lush. She looks so different.

Thursday 3rd March arrived. A beautiful cold, crisp sunny morning greeted us at the cemetry.

We moved on to the hospital where Rebecca was born, at the exact time one year later I was walking through the main entrance, but this time for another reason. My husband and I visited the Chaplinacy to see Rebecca’s name in the Book of Rememberance, this was when the realization hit. Seeing her beautiful name written alongside other babies who were taken the same day (but different years) was too much… we sat, we cried, we prayed for Rebecca. We left.

The rest of the day past quiet casually, fairly normally. We sat together as a family for dinner and I held my living children just that little bit closer whilst saying goodnight.

Saturday 5th March was Rebecca’s birthday. Another beautiful sunny day greeted us. We all started the day bright and early by seeing Rebecca in the morning, taking a big balloon and pure white roses to her grave. We then headed to hospital again, this time to visit the Children’s Unit….

Since Rebecca passed away I have missed out on so much, I can’t even begin to list the things/moments/memories/dreams I have missed. Whilst buying a Christmas present for my neice, who is now soon turning one herself, I found it hard looking at all the toys I could/should be buying for Rebecca. I carried the pain of that moment into the new year. Until I realised that it doesn’t have to be that hard, why can’t I buy Rebecca toys/gifts/teddies? So I decided I would from now on. 

So we headed up to the hospital and donated the gifts we had chosen for Rebecca as a family and donated them to the Children’s Unit – they won’t be played with by Rebecca, but they will be played with. I released the overpowering need to buy Rebecca gifts and I know that they will be played with and bring joy to others. We will do this every year.

We then had a lovely pub lunch with Rebecca’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We cut Rebecca’s birthday cake and made a wish…

We finished the day by wishing Rebecca one more happy birthday with her at her grave, the children released their balloons and I gave Rebecca a slice of her birthday cake.

All in all, the day went as well as it could.

We celebrated Rebecca for who, what and where she is, rather then the opposite.

This past year has taught me so much, I have grown to accept my ‘bad days’ and to embrace my ‘good days’. I never know what tomorrow might bring or whether it’ll be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day, but I know I love Rebecca the same regardless.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart x

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Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I’m writing this letter as I’m feeling a little blue. I hope you don’t think I’m asking too much of you. You visit every year and leave us such wonderful things, but I’m wondering if you visit all the children who have wings?

I know you are very busy, so much to do in one night, but could you please make an extra trip to the stars that shine so bright? You see my baby lives up there, just too perfect for life on earth, no presents I could send to truly show their worth.

Please leave them a gift and put a stocking on their cloud, filled full of precious presents from their family on the ground. Please stroke their sleepy head and tell my baby I love them so, that my heart aches with sadness and my tears just seem to flow.

If you could do this for me Santa, I may even be able to smile, even if it is just for a little while. So thank you very much Santa for all that you do, after all it is Christmas in heaven too xx

Facing my fears

The title of this post may seem a bit exaggerated but due to the way I have been feeling these past few days, I deem it to be fit.

I swore I would never again trust the hospital that took Rebecca’s life. Never again would I place one of my children’s lives into someone else’s care. I’ve been so angry.

But Saturday 26th September I found myself in a very scary predicament. My elder daughter needed medical assistance, I believed it to be serious.

As I drove to the same hospital in a panic, disturbing memories of my last panic drive to hospital filled my head. I was so scared. Scared of my daughters condition and scared to enter this hospital again.

My daughter has since been admitted into hospital and I must say the doctors and nurses have done an amazing job, after worrying speculations of meningitis, a diagnosis of pneumonia was ascertained, my daughter is now regaining her health.

What I have regained goes deeper then health.

Walking into any hospital is a risk to me now, risk of the unknown and risk of seeing lots of bumps and babies. This particular hospital has been so difficult to enter, relying on another doctor here has been even more difficult. To makw matters worse, ironically the Childrens Ward is located on the same floor as Maternity Services – so balloons, bumps and babies are everywhere. As I travelled from my daughters ward to x-ray I passed their Delivery Suite. I found myself just staring at the door to the Delivery Suite. My head was divided; a sheer gut-wrenching pain of the memories of the last time I entered that door, the last time I walked out of that door and the horrific moments inbetween. Another half was that of wishful thinking, a fantasy that I was still one of these unsuspecting mothers again, the mothers who enter that door with an excited knot in their stomachs, the hospital bag that has been on stand-by can now be used and the baby that has been grown can soon be heard and held. A fantasy fills my head that I am still one of those unsuspecting mothers who walk out of that door with a baby in a car seat, one who takes their baby home.

Whilst my elder daughter sleeps I cry here for Rebecca. Flash backs and memories keep me awake.

I cry for my elder daughter, who thankfully is recovering, but the fear of losing another child was just too much. I’m emotionally drained.

Nearly 7 months later, I am here again, regaining some of the trust I lost.

The fears that I have will never go away, these past few days and nights don’t repair any damage that was caused by Rebecca’s death. These past few days and nights have just been another hurdle in my new life. I have faced a fear.

I cry here for my daughter who has been helped. But I also cry for my daughter who wasn’t.

Heaven seems so far away

I miss you so much Rebecca, you would now be 6 months old. Smiling at me with your bright beautiful eyes, holding your arms out to me to hold you close.

The pain in my heart still screams out so loud inside my body for you.

Six months have passed, does not seem long for most, but for me; a lifetime. The world has carried on without me. The flowers died long ago, the cards have been gently placed inside a box, inside your draw, inside your bedroom. The messages of condolences have stopped. The hugs and gentle looks have slowly dimised.

Life has carried on, but I am still here. Grieving.

I am still here grieving but I am still here.

Life is pushing me forward, the sun shines, a smile has been returning to my face, I can sing along to music again – to your music. You have given me the strength to return to back to work this week, to my office, to fimilar faces who watched you grow. Memories are painful, but for some reason I feel so close to you there.

Six months have passed since you changed my life, my heart breaks and aches each day for you. I will forever long to hold you once more. But I know you are still here, helping me – guiding me through my new life. You’ll always be here. You’re never far away.

I love you,

x Mummy x

Just one little peek into heaven, 
Is all I’m asking for today. 
I just want to know how she’s doing, 
As heaven seems so far away. 

Is she playing on the clouds with angels? 
Is she laughing and running today? 
Does she miss me? 
I guess only she knows. 

Oh why does heaven seem so far away? 
If you just let me look for a moment, 
To catch a glimpse of her sweet smiling face, 
I promise I won’t try to take her, 
For I know she’s in a better place. 

Just one little peek into heaven, 
Is all I’m asking for today. 
I just want to know how she’s doing, 
As heaven seems so far away…

http://www.justgiving.com/justiceforrebeccaflorence

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104329

When my reality becomes a drama – When the drama IS my reality.

As those first days without Rebecca turned into weeks and months, I was unaware of the world, I was in a thick, dark foggy bubble of grief and shock, I was completely numb. I couldn’t breathe – only cry. I would lay in bed just staring at photos of Rebecca. Thinking about Rebecca. Longing for Rebecca.

As the first month turned into the second I found myself moving forward, not far forward mind. I’m not sure how but I moved, I got dressed, I washed, I ate, I cared for my living children and I started to smile again. Life was pushing me forward. The guilt I felt whilst doing these things started to lift. Heaven knows how much I wanted to stay in that thick, dark foggy bubble, surrounded by my angel. But my ‘new life’ had other plans. It cleared the thick fog, but whilst remaining in my bubble, I was starting to see through it clearer. Life pushed me forward without me having a chance to stop it. I allowed myself to start watching one programme… Only one, our family staple – Eastenders.

A few weeks ago I was given the ‘heads up’ of an upcoming storyline in Eastenders. The storyline being that of two parents-to-be were to endure the devastating news their baby had died inside the womb.

Ironically only a week or so before this news was given, two pregnancies were announced on Eastenders and each time I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breathe how I doubted their baby would meet the same fate our Rebecca did. Soapland babies always come into the world perfectly.

I was wrong. Eastenders will be airing a stillbirth storyline and I don’t know how to feel. Or whether I have the strength to watch.

On one hand I’m so scared how they will portray this subject. I have no idea how much they will show, how their baby will pass nor how long they will follow these parents in the aftermath. So scared of what my feelings will be whlist watching, scared of flashbacks, triggers and memories being brought up. Scared of reliving those first few days. No doubt I will be watching behind a tear soaked pillow.

I hope people are kind and gentle. I hope people understand this isn’t just a soapline, for parents like me and my husband this is real life. This is what we’re up against for the rest of our lives.

My husband and I are not alone, a staggering 17 babies are stillborn each day in the UK, 17 families torn apart, 17 babies who don’t come home.

On another hand I’m so glad to hear that BBC are having the ‘balls’ to show such a tragic story, glad to hear producers and the actors involved have been in very close contact with Sands (Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Charity) speaking to parents who have lived through this ordeal for real.

With a bit of luck Eastenders will help lift the taboo that surrounds Stillbirth. I firmly believe parents should be allowed to talk about their babies openly, if they wish, without dampening an atmosphere. Without awkward silences. Without strange looks. Our babies were much wanted and are still so loved. These are our children. We are proud of them. They needn’t be ignored or hidden.

I read somewhere that this world needs to learn alot about the differences between sympathy and empathy. I agree. When Rebecca left us I was surrounded by two types of comments,

“At least you have 2 at home already”

“We’ll,  you’re still young, I’m sure you can try again”

“Everything happens for a reason”

“At least you got to meet your baby”

These comments may seem innocent to the person saying them but they hurt. There are no “At least…”

Thankfully other comments were easier to hear, they helped.

So sorry your baby couldn’t stay, what was her name” 

“Did you manage to make precious memories with your daughter?

“She will always be with you – in your heart”

The difference in what is said can really make a difference.

If you watch Eastenders, I’m aware this will be a hard watch, but please hold a thought for all the parents who have to go through this every day. Thankfully most you can turn off after 30 minutes, we cannot turn off, our drama is real. I hope Eastenders do well, I’m aware entertainment programmes can have the power to gain awareness for a topic and to generate reactions. I hope this can be the start of a change on the public perception of the babies who are taken so soon.

Please help lift this taboo that surrounds Stillbirth.

Our babies are Stillborn but they are Still Born x

http://www.justgiving.com/justiceforrebeccaflorence

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104329