Dear Betty, I never imagined I would have a daughter but the moment I was told you were a girl I had our whole lives mapped out. The adventures, outfits, the bedroom, the hair styles,… More
Despair – definition: the complete loss or absence of hope.
After the initial shock of the news of what had happened came the despair. In fact despair mixed with fraught and irrational feelings. At the start I wanted her to be born and see if we could save her, once she arrived I wanted time to turn back time so I could do something differently. Afterwards I always struggled to find my place in amongst the charities and people doing amazing and wonderful things for their babies. My daughter was stillborn but I didn’t notice a reduction in movements that I could recall, she didn’t have a medical condition which contributed to her death in fact she didn’t have anything wrong with her at all. There was no cause of death found.
At her funeral we asked people to give a monetary donation should they wish rather than flowers to SPRING which was the charity that funded the bereavement suite we stayed in at the hospital. As much I didn’t like the hospital as a whole for what had happened I was very thankful to have a room away from the main maternity unit to have Betty and then spend time with her. I know many do not have these facilities at the hospitals where their babies were born.
Once home, despair came in a different form. Firstly, telling Archie. It was such a sad moment in my life, to tell my little boy that his sister couldn’t come home with us and that she was now living amongst the stars. To this day he has not seen or ever asked to see a picture of his sister. I have to be honest I was too scared to show him, I worried so much that he would take it badly. If he had asked I would of shown him but he never did. This year on her birthday I hope that we will show him and Vinnie her picture. He is already counting down the days to her birthday and now he is 8 I feel it is time.
One of the worst things imminently after her death was deciding if we wanted her to have a post mortem, the thought her little body would essentially be taken apart and dissected made me feel ill. But if we didn’t do it we would forever wonder ‘why’ which is ironic as it was ‘inconclusive’ so we will infact still always wonder this. Another thing which I felt prolonged our suffering was the length of time it took to receive these results. She was born on the 17th October 2015 and the PM was done promptly that week in Southampton, but we waited until the end of January 2016 to have a meeting to discuss the findings. We were told time was needed for certain tissue samples to culture and Christmas and New Year also held up the process but I just felt this was far too long. The wait was agonising, as if you aren’t going over it in your head enough, what you did wrong, the wait, the wait was cruel and unessarary in my opinion.
One of the absolute worst encounters in the formal process of Betty’s death was receiving those results. We had most harrowing experience with the rudest consultant who may have had intelligence but his compassion and common sense was that of a flea and had I been more mentally unstable that day and didn’t have my families support I genuinely think I would of thought about committing suicide. He was so rude, he was dismissive of our child and the medical information he was supposed to be explaining and he ended our meeting telling me that I have a nice family and a son I should be grateful for them and go home to them and ‘get on with things’. If only I had thought to ask him which one of his children he would be happy to loose in light of the fact he had others anyway! It was one of my lowest points after losing Betty.
As she died under the hospitals care a serious incident report was also conducted. We got the results of this in February sometime I don’t remember the date. For months in my despair I trawled medical journals and guidelines, I spoke to a few other loss parents who gave me further knowledge of the questions I should be asking. I was desperately searching for answers. My research ended with me finding out that there was a test missing and the way we found out felt underhand and I was very paranoid as a result. I asked the medical professionals who were apparently doing a ‘through investigation’ what the result of this test was at our meeting, it may have been a key indicator in our case and it was not done. A panel of experts allegedly sat round a table and went through our case step by step, doctors, consultants and experts, yet none of them asked each other for the results of this tests or choose to highlight it had not been done. I am certain they would of talked about it but I also think they decided they would not write it into their findings in the hope that having no medical knowledge we would be none the wiser. Little did they know the journalist in me was busy researching and looking for answers. However, this really knocked me and even now I can’t think or talk about this much as it still feels like a conspiracy but I often wonder if it is despair that makes me feel like this. Maybe it was just a genuine error. But to me there can’t have been that many babies that died that day so in theory they should have been able to go through their guidelines and check list methodically and accurately. What it really highlighted I think, was that they were too busy dealing with ‘live babies’ they were understaffed and over populated the night I went in which is why we waited in the first place.
When I asked them about the test the ‘risk manager’ went to the page of results and there was a big circle on the page where this result would/should be. Myself, Scott and my dad all saw it, she promptly closed the page and said she would have to go back to the unit and ask them about this! It left me paranoid and deeply disturbed. A few weeks later we got a letter apologising and letting us know after investigating ‘the test was omitted in error’. It may have been negative but either way we were denied the knowledge for this careless error. There are a lot of blood tests done after you have a stillborn baby, it felt odd to me that every other test was done on the numerous tubes of blood they took from me, but this one, this particular one was not there.
The consultant thought it would be helpful to provide the analogy that if they had tried to get her out in time if they had noticed a deterioration then there is no guaranteeing what condition she would of been in, she would likely of been brain damaged. There is no consolation in this situation and I feel comments like this to bereaved parents are both unnecessary and mentally scaring.
So much of my despair and mental torture came from health care professionals, it appeared to me and still does from other stories of loss that I read that there is a serious lack of education and compassion in the process of baby death. I know the situation is harrowing for all involved, and I don’t like to criticise midwives, doctors or consultants as they do such a wonderful job everyday at bringing babies alive and healthy into this world. But there are people like me who seemingly fall through the cracks in the system and drown in the unorthodox comments, the substandard treatment and the backward way these things are investigated and conducted all whilst trying to process the trauma of what has just happened. I hope that one day maybe I can make a difference to this. But not now, not over the last 4 years, it’s still too raw, too sad and it damaged me.
For the last 4 years since Betty died I have been concentrating on having another child which I will talk about in tomorrow’s blog post but also re-building mine, Scott and Archie’s family unit. Our little world previously untouched by grief and terror had to be restructured and rearranged all whilst trying to continue with all of everyday ‘life’ that carries on around you. The biggest being paying the bills, going to school, going to work, keeping a house and trying to keep sane.
(the only picture we have as a family of 4 with Betty in my tummy)
It has taken everything I have ever had to keep going. Everyday I survived I felt stronger, some days now I feel invincible, I know surviving this has made me more resilient than I could ever imagine. Some days I feel like wonder woman, other days I feel like a limp leaf blowing frantically in the wind falling down and blowing back up, just desperately trying to find a place to ground myself, I think that is just what happens when you are going through grief and despair.
I have had to learn to compartmentalise certain aspects of what happened, especially after falling pregnant with vinnie a matter of months after Betty died. I had to let certain things go even tho I wanted so badly to fixate and pursue them but I had a new focus I had to keep this new baby alive, I had to show myself and everyone else that I could do it, that I wasn’t a complete failure and in doing this I couldn’t fight for Betty like I wish I had, wish I could of. It is my hope that one day I can better understand it all and look at the facts and decide if they were right or wrong. But I don’t know if I will ever be able to do it without bias because that raw emotion will always be there. I will always be angry with someone wether that be myself or the NHS for the death of my daughter. But in order for it not to eat me up and completely destroy me I have had to tuck those feelings away for they do not change the situation, they do not help anyone. She will always be dead now, she will always be gone and once the despair subsided I had to start learning to deal with that realisation and start to ‘accept’ (I hate that word because I am stubborn and accepting things is not in my nature) but this is where ‘hope’ came into play and that my friends I will talk about tomorrow when I tell you all about my little Vinnie.
In order to find hope I feel despair is necessary. Riding the storm of emotions is essential to get to where you are going even if you don’t know where that is at the time. Just like crying can be healing and a release, experiencing despair, fear and frustration are all natural feelings and emotions that will guide you to your next stage in your grief, these are the hardest emotions in my opinion but for me they have led to better days even tho at the time I didn’t know where I would end up.
But I am here and able to tell you all our story and for that I am so lucky.
Loss – definition: the fact or process of losing something or someone.
This week is bringing us ever so quickly to Betty’s 4th birthday. 4 years is a long time but in some ways it has flown, I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember the 16th October, nearly every detail, I can remember how I felt, how I cried all night the night my daughter died. The afternoon of the 16th, it was a Friday, I was booked in for a scan , I had been for a midwife appointment on the Wednesday and I was measuring over (not unusual I guess as it had happened about a month prior to this) and Archie was 9lb 2oz this was probably going to be a big baby too! The hospital couldn’t fit me in any earlier than the Friday, I was due that week – they said I would probably of had the baby by then and wouldn’t make the scan! I made the scan, I was diagnosed with Polyhdramois (excess fluid) and they were estimating the baby to be well over 10lbs! I was asked to go to the maternity unit across town for 7pm that night, they said as I was already due and given these new risks I would be induced. I wasn’t worried, they weren’t worried, I was excited we were going to meet our baby girl at last!
We went home, I had a bath, we told Archie we would next be home with his sister that weekend. This still hurts so badly to write, I promised him, I will always feel like I let him down. We headed off to the hospital, left Archie in the safe hands of Scott’s mum and got put in a side room on the day assessment ward. The midwife came in and asked if we would like to listen to the babies heartbeat (we said no because we didn’t think there was a need to, we had seen her just a few hours ago and she was moving about and happy) this will of course always be a regret, although I am certain she was still alive at this point.
After a little wait we got taken to the maternity ward, we were ‘checked in’ they were waiting to speak to a consultant who was in with an emergency, they said they would not be starting the induction that evening because they were too busy and as this was a second baby she could arrive quickly. She told us to go and get some food, eat and come back when we were ready. We went and got a take away pizza, the midwife phoned whilst we were out and said not to rush back as they definitely wouldn’t be doing anything until the early hours – I asked if I could pop home and get my dressing gown as I had forgotten it, she said that would be fine and to not rush back. We didn’t take long as even tho she had said this I didn’t feel comfortable being gone from the hospital for too long.
We returned and they told me to get ready for bed, they told Scott that he could go home and get some sleep and they would call him when it was time to come back, they still weren’t sure when they would start the induction it could be the early hours. He stayed while I got into bed and the midwife said she would listen to the babies heartbeat before I went to sleep. She put the machine on – nothing, she could only find my heartbeat – I wasn’t concerned at this point. She went to get another machine and had some troubles with the plug, still nothing. They then wheeled a portable scan machine in, their faces said it all and then I saw the grainy image on the screen her little hand was limp, I knew she was gone.
We were whisked off the ward and taken to a side room, I kept asking them to do a c-section get her out quickly, they could save her. Their answer was no, she was gone. 4pm we had seen her in a scan, 10pm she was dead, how does this happen? We would have to wait until morning for a consultant to come and do a second scan to confirm she was dead. They pulled a ropey uncomfortable double bed out of the wall. My mum and dad were on holiday in Thailand, they were returning the following day, my mum had said the baby would wait for Nanny to come home before she arrived none of us could ever have imagined this. I phoned my Aunty because I just didn’t know what to do, her and my Uncle came to the hospital we told them what had happened we all sat in shock, I don’t know what time they went but I just remember laying on that bed all night I cried all night, I didn’t sleep, Scott didn’t either. I went in with a living baby and now I was lying in hospital with a dead one inside me. I was in hell. We laid there all night crying and just saying ‘why’ out loud, neither of us knew the answer, we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t even understand what had happened.
The next morning it was confirmed she was gone. That night Betty was born. For a brief moment I thought she would cry, as the room fell silent I forgot for a minute she was gone. She just looked so perfect, so peaceful, this wasn’t how it was meant to be. She quickly became cold, her skin was clammy and she felt empty. I can’t explain it properly that’s the only word I can think to describe it. She was so beautiful, I was so sad I couldn’t see her eyes – I know they would of been huge like her big brothers, I think they would of been green I don’t know why. These are the silly things I just won’t ever know. We took some photos but we definitely didn’t take enough, I wanted to capture her but I almost didn’t feel like I could take photos like we would of done if she was alive it didn’t feel right. But I knew this was all we would have. The nurses kindly took her feet and hand prints and did little imprints in clay, I wish it would of been possible to get a proper cast of her hands and feet. Nothing was rushed, we could stay as long as we wanted. But I felt so conflicted, I needed to see Archie but I wanted to be with Betty. I didn’t know how we were going to tell him but we needed to be with him. We made the decision he would not meet Betty. I think it was the right one for us. He was 4, I don’t think he would of been able to understand that she wouldn’t be coming home I didn’t think it would be easy for him to process seeing her dead as she looked so normal.
My mum and dad found out what had happened in their airport car on the way home from Thailand – I couldn’t say the words, Scott had to tell them. They came straight from the airport to the hospital with my brother and his now wife, they all saw Betty I’m so glad they did. My mum stayed with me all night and Scott went home to Archie. Mum bathed and changed her and spoke to her all night. I’m glad we had that time. By morning she had already changed her lips had changed colour and there was fluid leaking from her nose, I didn’t like it, she was so different to just a few hours before. They brought us a cold cot to keep her in when we weren’t holding her. I wanted to cuddle her but the more she warmed up the more she deteriorated. Every time I picked her up she was cold from where she had been on the mat in the cot, it was such a contradiction from what should be the snuggly hot water bottle newborn we were supposed to have.
We had to decide if we wanted a post mortem, the priest came and christened her, he said prayers and lit a candle in a little star shaped holder for her which we still have. He was so kind and caring and lovely. I don’t have a picture of me and Scott together with her, I wish I did. We decided although invasive a post mortem had to be done, we had to know how our perfect child was off to the morgue rather than our home.
We had more visitors that afternoon (which I will talk about in another post this week) we then got ready to go, I knew this was going to be the worst moment, the last time we would ever see her. We asked the nurses to take her as we didn’t want to walk away and leave her on her own in the room. So we kissed her, told her we loved her, tucked her up and they wheeled our baby away. 9 months of growing, excitement, love, plans for the future. Our whole life with our son and daughter were mapped out in our heads. Our life lay ahead a blessing to have one of each child, a son, a daughter. Our new life was about to begin without our longed for baby girl. At that moment our loss felt so great it might aswel have been the end of the world. We left hand in hand to embark on a new journey, a journey of loss, grief and pain. If only I could of told that mama that left that hospital that day that she would be ok, where she would be in 4 years time, that she would feel happiness and have hope again I probably wouldn’t have believed her. That was something I had to find out for myself. I had limited resources and people to reassure me of this at the time but I am so proud of how far we have come now.
It was clear from day 1 that I had no choice in this, the decision was firmly taken out of my hands. However unfair it did and still continues to feel it couldn’t be changed. But I did have a choice of how I would move forward, it could break me or it could make me. It could make me stronger, it could make me more resilient, it could make me see the good and it could make me see the bad. It could make me appreciate the small things and it could make me put perspective on every aspect of life. And it did. I was and continue to be sad and upset because my daughter died but I am lucky that I am here. I have so much in my life that I am to be thankful for and I live everyday feeling so thankful that she was ours. I would NEVER change her, because it could of been different and just because she didn’t survive doesn’t mean I have a regret her. In life we have to take risks because if we don’t then nothing wonderful would ever happen. Sometimes, like in our case things do go wrong and it’s hard but we have to learn to adapt to our ‘new normal’ and simply keep putting one foot in front of the other.
If today you are crippled with grief or loss and you stayed in bed all day, it’s ok. You can try tomorrow, if all you do is move from the bed to the sofa you still moved, small steps will turn into big ones and the days you have been wishing by will somehow turn into months and then into years, although you will always ‘feel’ your loss it will naturally become less raw and you will learn your own way of dealing with everything that encompasses the death of your child.
Everything we do in life often derives from love and life after loss is no different to this. If you have love you will get there, I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but love will guide you. For anyone feeling their loss today please know I understand and am here for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I am so proud to share my words and my Betty with you all. I wish she was here but this is the next best thing to sharing our wonderful little girl with as many people who want to know about her.
Grief – definition: intense sorrow, especially caused my someone’s death.
I have been grieving for 1384 days. My journey began on the 16th October 2015, the day my daughter died. She was a full term baby, she weighed 9lb 7oz. Her name is Betty Dora Burborough. I have 2 sons, one who came before her and one who came after. I will only ever know what it is like to raise a daughter in my heart, never in my arms. Betty was stillborn, on October 17th 2015 she became 1 of the 15 babies that died in the UK that day. Betty was that statistic, I am part of that statistic. And here begins my journey, my journey of grief, loss, tragedy but ultimately love.
Nearly four years on I am used to how it feels now, I can deal with it, I can control it. Sometimes I feel worse, sometimes I feel ok. I will never feel ‘better’ I will never feel the same. I have just learnt to live and navigate it all. It 100% doesn’t feel as raw as it did in those first few weeks, months, but it’s still there, she is still gone. I have HAD to deal with it, I have HAD to live without her BUT I will NEVER accept and have peace with what happened to me, to us, to my family. Whoever said ‘everything happens for a reason’ – whilst I appreciate so many more things have happened that probably would not had she lived I doubt that person had experienced the loss of their child. I have said this so many times before but a parent should NEVER have to bury their child. It is not the way life was intended, it should be the other way round. I know it’s not always the case, I have done it – so many others I know now have also done it. We are the statistic, but we each have a story, we each have a child who we are desperate to tell you about, share with you, we want you to see them, admire them, tell us how beautiful they are, just like you would with everyone’s living children. The difference is, we only have a handful of images, we don’t have carefully curated photos of them with balloons on their birthdays, laid on a mat with a cute caption each month when they are babies. Their ‘firsts’ were their ‘lasts’. They will forever be ‘our babies’ because for them life went no further.
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, I don’t need sympathy. I just want you to understand my story so that if you or one of your friends or family find themselves in this position you can help them, be there for them. The death of a child will always be a shock, it will always be in my opinion one of the worst things you can go through or see anyone else go through. But, perhaps myself and others talking about what we’ve been through can help you to guide a loved one or yourself should it god forbid ever happen to you.
I’m not here to try and scare you. If you are currently pregnant or grieving yourself then you may not feel you have a place here right now and that’s ok. I understand. But this week I want to try and help, try and educate. I’m not an expert, but I have been through it. There’s no tool kit for loss, but there are some things I would of done differently had I known more about baby loss. That doesn’t mean to say that if you are pregnant you need to read and educate yourself, I don’t want people to go through what should be a wonderful time in your life in fear. I am not here to breed fear. But at least if today or tomorrow or anytime from the moment these words are published you or someone you know find yourself in this position you may be able to help them, this may be able to help them. They might be able to capture the photos I wish I had, or avoid the situations I wish I had.
If you have read this far, thank you. If you havn’t lost a baby but have read this, thank you. Thank you for trying to understand and thank you for allowing yourself to be open to this topic. If you have lost a baby, I am so sorry, I am sorry you have had to come here, I am sorry they died. But please know you are not alone, please know you are going to be ok, please know there is no sugar coating it, life will not be easy from this point, but it will get better. Please don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel isolated, and don’t suffer alone or in silence. In order to grieve we must re-live and talk about our experiences so that we can understand and move forward (not on).
So welcome, my name is Jen and my daughter was stillborn, my daughter died.
My happy place… #40
It feels like for so long I have been stuck in a big fat parenting funk. It’s difficult to explain but the enormity of the changes in our life recently have just left me quite literally trying and struggling to keep my head above water. Parenting itself is difficult at the best of times but parenting after loss is and has been really hard for me. I think it’s important to be honest and upfront and I don’t want to allude you to the fact that sometimes I struggle, I think we all do. Social media can play a huge part in providing a smoke screen for real life, whilst often we share the hard days generally we show little snippets of the nice things we do which are only a snapshot of maybe one hour or less of our days.
I think as a parent there is huge pressure to conform and ‘perform’ if you will, when for most of us each day we are literally just trying to survive. I know that all stages pass and I am continually reminding myself of this, but bloody hell its hard. I haven’t published a huge amount on this in the past as I am always very conscious of who is reading and following my blog. Aside from my wonderfully supportive friends and family who I know avidly read and always comment and touch base with me there is another branch of people, those who like me, lost their babies.
I am always conscious that by truly admitting how I feel about motherhood and parenting it could make me sound ungrateful and could upset those who have experienced the loss of their baby. But, I have decided that my blog needs to move with my family and our journey and so whatever stage someone may pick us up at it is important to be honest, because, at some point they may find themselves here and need to know these feelings are ok. And of course as I have done myself before if you feel you can’t read or follow this stage it’s completely ok to unfollow or stop reading.
So my point, I think I have found myself wondering if my feelings of frustration and sadness are normal – I know what this stage of parenting is like having been through it with Archie and I know the struggles and experiences are normal but what I find myself constantly questioning is if I should feel like this about Vinnie after loosing Betty? Should parenting a child after loosing one feel better because you are so relieved to have the chance to do the one thing that felt like it was never going to be possible to do again??
I know the answer, even writing it now I know how absurd I sound, of course not. If anything parenting after loss is 100 times harder as you struggle to differentiate between grief, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and the everyday trials and tribulations of family life. This week as Vinnie turns 18 Months I finally feel like we are beginning to turn a corner. With a mixture of our hectic daily lives, a 7 year olds demanding school and after school club schedule and a boob obsessed sleep hating toddler I have rarely felt like I throughly enjoy many of the things we do.
Now please don’t think I am sat here in a depressed, sloth-like state – not at all, but much like a swan on the top I may elude a calm serene like composure but underneath I am frantically flapping my feet trying to keep the house up-together, keep on top of the washing/drying/ironing cycle, provide nice home cooked meals for everyone whilst getting everyone from A to B with a little one who hates being contained in a car seat or buggy for more than 5 minutes and don’t even get me started on putting him in a trolley it simply doesn’t happen! But I suppose what I have learnt even from writing this post is that I am doing all these things, just about, I am still smiling (most days) but I don’t think it’s unreasonable of me to want to have fun and enjoy my children?
This week I took the boys to our local Osborne House and I can honestly say for the first time in a long time I enjoyed them both, wholeheartedly, we had fun, it wasn’t stressful they were both so good and we truly had a lovely day. I don’t know if it was the sunshine, the open space or a combination of the two but I loved our day out together and I got home and just felt happy at what a fantastic time we had had.
I think I am slowly learning that as a habitually impatient person I need to learn not to keep rushing life, my children’s development or the grief process. I know it will all happen. I am in recovery, the rest of my life will be spent ‘recovering’ the loss of Betty and some days will be harder than others. I am really trying to be kinder to myself and constantly reminding myself that I am not alone in this – other parents are feeling like me too. The other night I looked at Betty’s pictures something I hadn’t done for sometime, and I was shocked almost at how gorgeous she was. That sounds like such a strange thing to say I know, but I think most days I spend a lot of time with the thought of her being gone, dead, in my head I forget that she was a real life baby, she was ready for life so she didn’t look dead, she just looked asleep, in fact after looking at her this week she looked so much like Vinnie but just in a girly form.
I often wonder what she would look like now, and then I look at both my boys and give myself a sharp metaphorical slap in the face and remind myself just how fortunate I am, when I’m having a wobble, when it’s hard I need to keep remembering what it feels like to loose one. For them to be gone, being helpless to change a decision that is completely taken out of your hands and I need to give myself a strong talking too. I am strong, I have been through the worst, this is my time now. This is my motherhood here, now, I need to stop waiting for when life will get easier, live in the now, know all this will pass, but enjoy it, enjoy my husband, my two boys, our home, our life and remember her everyday as our beautiful little girl. All of these things are a part of me and I am the only one who can control my own feelings and future. I am one lucky mama to have them all, I am theirs and they are mine and what a wonderful thing that is, that I have that. They all in their own special way make up a piece of my happy place and I will never take that for granted.
My boys, my beautiful Betty, thank you for making me a mummy, however hard any day gets at the end of it we all have each other and there can never be anything better than that.
It’s that New Year again… #39
I know it’s the 28th of January and I’m a little late to the party but Happy New Year one and all, how is it even possible that we survived another year? I know! That sounds a bit dramatic but you know where I’m coming from if you’ve been following us for some time now. I wanted to pop on and say hello and thank you to all the wonderful people who follow my blog. If your reading this then it is likely you have received an e-mail or notification to say I have finally written a blog post again which we all know doesn’t happen that much lately.
In between moving etc I have mainly been doing the one thing I had underestimated and that is parenting after loss. I thought pregnancy after loss was the hard bit but actually it is now clear to me that that was in fact relatively straight forward. I will touch more on this in the months ahead. I am still working on explaining and getting it down in a way that does it justice and doesn’t just make me sound like an ungrateful maniac! I’m sure it will happen soon…
So what does 2018 have in store for Betty Dora? Well, firstly my social media sites have had a name change ‘B is for Betty’ (Facebook) and ‘b_is_for_betty’ (instagram) the blog will remain the same. As always it is my mission to continue to write about our journey and open a channel for people struggling with baby loss wether that be recent or years ago. I think 2017 saw our story help many who were going through a similar thing to us and hopefully I provided you comfort, support or helped you comfort a friend or family member If sadly they went through a stillbirth.
It’s definitely one of my goals to write more this year, Vinnie is becoming more predictable now and sleeping marginally better so I hope I can focus on this. As always I write from the heart, I would like to start to introduce other parts to my blog, not just about Betty, but about the things I love, my home, my interiors, food etc. But still even now I find writing about her is the one thing that comes most naturally, maybe over time more will come, we shal see. I am setting myself a challenge that every Sunday I will publish a new blog post. I want to start writing some small pieces on tips and strategy’s on pregnancy after loss etc. I get asked these questions a lot and thought if I wrote something that those who need it can reference then it could be put to good use! If you have anything you would like me to write about ( it doesn’t have to be baby loss related) then please get in touch).
If you are a social media lover depending on who you follow you will more than likely have been reading about mindfulness and self care this new year. I think this is such an important thing and this is something I will be making a conscious effort to adopt. As well as putting my phone down of an evening and reading (something I really enjoy but rarely make time for) this is going to change!
I am making small plans for myself, again something I will touch on in another post not right now. But I feel I have started the year feeling positive, this time last year I just wasn’t sure what was going to happen – where the end of 2017 would find us and although I would never ever have thought I would be writing to you from my blue house on a teeny island in 2018 I’m so happy that I am!
I hope my PMA continues, there were a few months when I really worried I was becoming depressed and a bit crazy but I honestly think that was just a blip – I mean I think there would be something seriously wrong with me if I didn’t go a little bit cray cray after all the last few years has thrown at me! But on a serious note I am really enjoying life right now, that sounds so cliche, don’t get me wrong it’s not perfect – we would all be kidding ourselves if we thought our lives were perfect. But I am just really embracing what I have, where I am and who I am and trying to put a positive edge on all that comes my way, even problems! I think with this approach it will help me to be calmer and happier.
So, no major life changes but just lots of little things that I know will make me happy. All that is left is for me to say now is thank you, thank you for listening, if you know me, trying to understand and just being there. For every like, every word of support. I’m not always great with my admin (something I am also hoping to work on this year) but thank you, know I read and take on board everything you say. And most importantly to all the mamas who are walking the same path as me, I am sad we had to meet under these circumstances but happy we can be there for one another.
Remember when wrote “I want a boring year” well my friends 2018 could be it! YES!
I’m just the new girl… #38
In a bid to get my ‘blog on’ again I have finally penned a little something I’ve been experiencing recently. Sorry guys it’s a long one… but I’M BACK!
My reason for the lack of content lately has been a mixture of not enough time and not feeling as good about everything as I would like. I know the purpose of my blog is to be honest but not only do I feel like all my thoughts have been jumbled lately I have also been in quite a negative head space and for those who know me you will know that’s not me.
I know I come across as happy, bubbly and ‘ok’ the truth is although I am functioning and of course I am enjoying my life with my boys and my husband and of course having our own home again after moving but the reality is I don’t actually think I will ever be ‘ok’ again!
Death changes you, my experience has changed me, I am not quite the person I was before, I am still here but I have changed. Moving to a completely different place comes with it a new set of challenges. I am now the ‘new girl’ no one knows me, knows my past, knows what happened – well actually a few people do now as Archie seems to think it’s a great conversation starter to tell people he has a dead sister! So I regress back to those awkward conversations, where people don’t know what to say, I find myself saying ‘I’m fine’, ‘don’t worry you haven’t upset me’ and then wondering if they will stop to talk to me next time.
Those awkward weeks after Betty died and Archie had just started primary school where we barely knew anyone and as people passed me by and said hello I wondered if they knew what had happened, or did they wonder where the baby went? In time of course I realised that in fact they all knew and whilst many of those wonderful women at the School gate have gone on to become some of my best friends, they didn’t know what to say, but the fact they were not silent with me, they took the time to ask me how my weekend was or what I was upto the following one meant more than anything.
Recently I am so frequently reading about other baby loss mummies who are constantly facing the awkward conversations and ‘twatish’ comments from strangers or maybe friends who forgot to engage their brains or have a think about what they should say before they open their mouths, and whilst I am all for saying something rather than crossing the road but at the same time if you say something that afterwards you think may have been misconstrued or not right correct yourself or apologise next time. If your not sure what to say, just make some nice conversation, we aren’t all doom and gloom we can have a fun conversation and it doesn’t always have to revolve around what happened to us.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want any friends or people who have spoken to me reading this racking their brains and start apologising for things they think may not have been appropriate, rest assured if I’m still talking to you then we are all good!
I think to date one of the worst things someone said to me at the school gate whilst telling me her brother died around the same time as Betty was that she wanted to say something to me she just couldn’t as she didn’t know me that well and she feels that everyone has their own crap to deal with and they don’t want to hear about yours (i.e mine) which is why people probably avoid me! I know this comment came out of her mouth so rapidly she wasn’t even thinking about it, but it took her nearly 2 years to talk to me again anyway and then she said that. Not cool. You are a twat. (Not that she will read this – or realise she said something so awful)
So the point I’m trying to make, we need to educate more people about grief, child loss and conversations associated with both. Maybe just by reading this, in some way it can help you next time you experience a friend or even a stranger who has been through something similar and you have that awkward conversation, just a simple how are you, it’s so lovely to see you, I would love a cuppa sometime so we can have a proper chat. There’s no need to be afraid of us, Nine times out of ten if you ask us if we are ok we will say ‘yes’ we aren’t going to break down on you and start crying uncontrollably and if we do, take it as a compliment that we feel comfortable enough with you to do so.
I don’t profess to be any type of expert, I even find myself re-reading things before I send them to other baby loss mummies that I know, even tho I know how they feel I still worry I might upset them with things I say. But I am more conscious to try and think carefully about what I say before I send it, we all make mistakes, it’s not easy for anyone, but most of us are conditioned to make small talk and have a conversation with someone be it a stranger or friend. There are certain conversation starters we, as humans use to engage with each other, if we all took a little time to think about how we can adapt these in social situations where we encounter people who have experienced the death of a child or a loved one then more people will be going home every night on a brighter foot not having been floored by a silly comment or conversation. What may seem innocent or ‘normal’ to most can actually be very damaging to someone who is dealing with grief after a loss.
Be kind, be there, don’t mention ‘you’ve got your boys’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’ we all know it could be true – but how can we justify the death of a child? You can’t, ultimately you need to take your lead off the person your talking to, don’t press them for information but listen and try to agree without judgement, whilst in an ideal world we should all look at the positives, I am healthy, I have other children, I have a beautiful home and family, ultimately I know all these things but my daughter will always be dead. So whilst I grow out of being the new girl in this playground, sadly I left being the new girl in the playground of grief some time ago and everyday multiple women take my place starting their journey through this rocky path.
If you encounter one of us, be thoughtful, don’t ignore us, think of me and what you would ask or tell me, and try to be there for them wether they want you or not. If all else fails just say ‘I’m so sorry to hear that, I don’t know what to say, but if you ever need a listening ear, I can be here for you with cake and a cuppa’ let’s face it everything seems better after cake and sometimes just knowing people are there for you when your the new girl is all you need.
Love vs Hate… #37
As the world woke up this morning to news of another senseless terrorist attack – once again not too far from home, Manchester. That feeling of panic and anxiety gripped. None of us want to live in a world where these atrocious acts of terror happen, yet at the same time we know they do and we can’t live our lives in fear.
But how can you not? Be fearful I mean. How do you take your children to school, visit capital cities, take them abroad all in an effort to cultivate them, show them there is more out there, past our front door there is a wealth of experience, opportunity, culture to be experienced. How can you do it if you are constantly fearful that harm will come to them? When we know there’s hatred, terror, disgusting people out there who do atrocious things, wrap it up in the bow of ‘religion’ and try to kid themselves that they are doing it in the name of Allah. No god could be that cruel surely?
I don’t pretend to be religious, before Betty died I loosely had a belief in god in something, I still don’t know what and after we lost her I believed even less that there could be this ‘god’ if this awful thing could happen to me. Religion aside as that is a whole other kettle of fish so to speak. Unfortunately what I do believe and have harshly come to learn is that this is life, some of us get a rough ride and others get a smoother one.
I can only liken what the victims may have been through, to my own experience – when that life changing event happens you almost feel like it’s not happening to you. But you know it is (it’s hard to explain) but it’s life changing and after it happens you are never quite the same again. One moment in time that shapes and changes your life forever, remember that word, I use it a lot, forever. It doesn’t just change your life, it has a domino effect to all those around you – family members, friends, siblings, grandparents, everyone. So many lives can change in an instant. Forever. It cannot be reversed there is no turning back time, and that is what is so barbaric about life.
Some of us get dealt these hands, we have to navigate the shit storm – it’s hard, there’s a lot of shit, sometimes you struggle to find love, respect, peace. Other times you know you have to because hate is like a cancer, it eats you up, it consumes you. It makes you ugly on the inside, it begins to show on the outside. These people are ugly. They are trying to scare us, when things like this happen it scares us, we are afraid, we don’t feel we can go out again, continue, live. But we do. How? Well, it’s life, we have to live, we have to enjoy, we have to savour, experience and drink in everything we have available to us. We cannot succumb to fear, hatred and rage, it gets you no where.
But when something bad happens , what else happens? We see the good in so many other people. When someone dies all those around you rally round, to show you they care, they try to help in anyway they can. You can feel love, warmth, support. Those people don’t show hate towards you. Last night there were people helping, doing their best to do what they could to help and make everyone involved feel safe. So how do we navigate this world which is becoming what I can only describe as out of control, dangerous and daunting to live in. I can do the only thing I know, live, love and nurture.
How can we make sure that this is not the future for our children? The next generation of Prime Ministers, politicians, doctors, nurses, teachers, shop workers, chefs, dancers, actors, gardeners, cleaners. Every walk of life. We have to bring them up with love and respect for one another, show them it is not right to hate, do wrong, we must not have hate for these terrorists, we must pity them. Where are their parents? The wider circles, these men and women who plot and execute these barbaric acts of terror. Will they win? NO because out of the handful of those who plot and then the few that slip through the net of our amazing security services who I can only imagine struggle to sleep knowing there is such evil. We out number those people, there will always be more good than evil. We know right from wrong, and without getting into the politics and religion of it all, we know one simple thing. Love, love conquers all? Maybe not always but it’s what keeps us going (well I know it does me)
When Betty died, if I had no one to love, I wouldn’t be here now. If there were not people around me who loved, needed me I would have probably wanted to be with her. But I couldn’t do that. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. So as a little speck on this big world, I will do my little bit. I will bring my sons up to respect one another first off, their parents, their teachers and then those around them. I will teach them right from wrong and when they make their own way in to this world on their own I will be there behind them and pray that their foundations have been solid enough to make them good men, men who can do good and then one day when they have children that cycle will continue. Like with everyday, we can only do our best and as long as we can go to bed at night and know we have tried to be the best version of ourselves for that day that is all we can do.
As the families of those dead in last nights attack wake up, those that wake up with what I suspect will be life changing injuries. As today began and all these people’s lives changed forever and the domino effect started again with them, sending them down a new path that at this stage they won’t be truly starting yet. As the families mourn those who have tragically died and try to begin understanding (which they will never be able to) and start their new lives without their loved one. We must look to our children, hold their hands, re-assure them that they are safe with us, we must try and have some hope that the majority have kindness in their hearts and that our precious little people will never have to meet evil. And, if any of us do we can navigate a new path, we can risk something bad happening in the quest to live our lives, for every bad thing that happens somehow, someway there will always be good somewhere, waiting to show us that for the handful of bad (that one man in that arena last night) there were thousands of good people, dominoes, that can be picked up again to start a new game.
I cherish my life, I love my children, I will not let evil and terror consume me. Manchester my heart goes out to every single person today, the good, the bad, the ugly. May those who passed rest in peace in the knowledge those left will do all they can to make the future better. We can only try.. every day try and make it better – one person at a time.
Starting again.. again.. #36
19 months ago today I woke up and prepared to spend my first day without my daughter. I started the journey of a lifetime without her. A lifetime, it is so hard to explain this undefined amount of time, without the one thing you dreamed of the most. Everyday I wish I could turn back the hands of time that move so quickly leaving her further in our past. To explain a love and loss that is so fierce some days you can’t breath for it consumes you, others your ok, this is grief I guess!
It’s been 3 months but I’m finally getting my blog on again. I’m ready to write and share our journey once more. It feels right, but it hasn’t for a while which is why I’ve not been posting anything. In the depths of a night of getting up and down with my beautiful rainbow baby boy I wrote this poem… I hope if you can’t relate to it you can appreciate the words. Thank you as always lovely people for supporting, encouraging and helping us through everyday.
A breath never drawn
A birthday never sung
A life gone in an instant
A childhood never begun
A family that lost one
A space never filled
A lifetime of missed out memories
They said nothing could be done
Parents without their little girl
A brother without his sister
A picture never taken
A lifetime thinking how much we miss her
A rainbow came after
A light after our storm
A reminder good things happen
A gift in the bluest form
A family once more
A birthday with a baby
A life that starts to move again
A second chance, just maybe
As sunlight dawns we look for signs
A robin, the whitest feather
When darkness falls we look for stars
A reminder my darling, one day
A time will come
A time when we will all be together.
For Betty. Until that time. My beautiful girl.
Walk the walk… #35
When I saw the words Sprint for Stillbirth they instantly caught my eye! A subject we still don’t hear a huge amount about, why would we? Why would we want to hear about dead babies when most our friends and families have live ones, why would anyone want to know that it could go wrong? Well I am someone’s daughter, sister, niece, grand-daughter, friend, mummy. It happened to me, I’m a normal person (I think), I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke, I only drink occasionally, I probably eat too much chocolate but on the whole I am healthy. I have had 3 healthy pregnancies, but one ended in the worse possible way. A way that hit us 100 miles per hour, a way we could never have imagined. Our baby died, she was a real person, she was fully formed she was healthy, she was Betty.
When we told Archie we would be doing a walk for Betty to raise money for babies that were poorly like her, he thought it meant if we raised enough it would bring her back from heaven. Trying to explain this concept to a 5 year old is both heartbreaking and almost impossible.
There are some things in life we can never articulate, some things we will just never, how ever how hard we try they just don’t have a reason. This was one of those life events. An event that has changed the path of ours forever, things will never quite be the same again. We have our rainbow Vinnie now – some element of faith has been restored in our health system especially after he spent a week in intensive care, in fact after this experience I couldn’t talk more highly of them, after Betty died my biggest fear was returning to the place she was born and died, even tho technically it wasn’t their fault I had to blame someone. Faith in my body has been restored, I kept Vinnie safe. For so long, even now, some days I think I let Betty down, after all, my one job was to keep her safe and it didn’t happen. How, as a mother can you not blame yourself when your baby dies inside you? How can you, even tho everyone tells you it wasn’t your fault believe that it’s true? I thought for so many months I did something wrong. But this year I have given myself new hope, I didn’t let anyone down this time.
So the ‘Sprint for Stillbirth’ last year it was important for me to focus on having a baby, a healthy, breathing baby that I could bring home to my son, a baby that I could look after this time, keep safe, nurture and protect. Until I had done that everything else was immaterial to me. 2016 was spent fulfilling this task and I did it. October 12th 2016 marked the birth of Vinnie Ray Burborough, our Rainbow boy who showed us we could be happy again, showed us there was hope in even the darkest of days. He will continue to remind us how precious life is, in just under a year since his sister left, he arrived, not a replacement just a beautiful gift, he has his own place in our hearts and family. Our Sunshine boy.
2017, this year, is dedicated to other things, this years goals are to move, get a new family home and most importantly raise money for the charities that mean something to us. It is too late for Betty, for us, but there is no doubt that with fundraising and awareness we can help other families. I want to grow my blog so it can reach out and help as many people and families as possible and I will continue to write and share our journey because it is important for those who may be going through something similar or have been in the past to see that there are more of us out there, there is support, no one is alone. And if I’m honest it helps me. It helps me to get all the crap off my mind and on to the page, and I also think it helps those close to me understand what I’m feeling, understand what I’m thinking, because sometimes I find it hard to tell them or there simply isn’t the time.
Another year has passed and the bond between me and Scott has grown stronger once more. I have held my husband so tight we have both cried silent tears, no words need to be said, we know the pain one another feels, for everyday we have lived after we walked through our front door without our baby girl, for the day he carried her for the last time in a tiny box and placed her in the ground forever, a permanent reminder that she was not ours to keep. For the day we found out we were going to have another son, from the day we walked through our front door with him, for everyday we struggle at the moment with this thing called life that is bloody hard, I am proud to have him by my side, I would be nothing without him and ultimately he is the only person who feels the pain I do – we lost the same thing, a part of each of us, we feel the same deep feeling of sometimes despair, more than often love but most frequently thankfulness that we have two healthy beautiful sons to call our own.
So today we walked, we walked for all we have lost, all we have gained and all we will achieve in the future. Betty, life without you will never quite be the same but it will be the closest to normal that we can make it, everyday we live our lives thinking of you, remembering the day we met and the day we said goodbye to you. Your little life will mean something we will make sure of that and your brothers will grow up knowing just how special you and they are to us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who walked, donated and has taken the time to wish us luck today. It may not mean much to some, but those who walk beside us in person and in thought know your support and love not only got us through today but has continued to get us through everyday since October 17th 2015 and everyday that lies ahead and we can never put into words how much it means to us.
So thank you, just thank you. And remember where there is love there is always hope. We have the love, the hope and good things I’m beginning to learn do happen. Just look at today, we did it, we have done it, we are still here, still smiling. And today a few more people know about Betty than yesterday, my one wish is that that continues to happen every single day.
Peace out 👊🏼
Where there is Love there is hope… #34
Throughout our journey towards our rainbow the thing I was most excited about was Archie becoming a big brother. Having spent the first 5 years of his life with just mummy and daddy and not having to share us, although I knew it would be a big change for him, for us all, I also knew the splendour he would bring to that role was going to be amazing!
In the beginning he was to be a big brother to a little sister, do you like the name ‘Betsy’ I asked him one day long before we knew she was actually going to be a sister, “yes, I love the name Betty, let’s call the baby Betty mummy” and to that she got her name – I still think that if she had in fact been a boy her nickname would still have been Betty, not quite sure how that one would of panned out tho with our end result!
And then there was Vinnie, those who have been following my blog for some time will remember the days when he was our Sunshine! Another great story! I took archie to the 20 week scan, just me and him. I wasn’t sure what to feel, I was scared if this baby was a girl would they share the same fate as Betty, or would I actually get the daughter I still dreamed of or if they were a boy would I feel disappointment or sadness because of what I had already lost. I knew that having Archie with me would help, when the little willy popped up on the screen (there was no mistaking it) I told Archie, your going to have a brother – “but I wanted a sister” he told us, I told him he had a sister to which his reply was “yes but she’s in heaven” cue my tears. So.. Sunshine, how did it come about? We went for a cheeky Nando’s lunch after the scan and I asked him if he would like to give his brother a nickname like he had with Betty. At the beginning of my pregnancy I had decided we wouldn’t give this baby a name or nickname just incase, but that would of been ok if it was just me and Scott, but I felt Archie needed this – he needed to be involved, he was going through this too – he needed to be included in decisions and know that this time it was going to be ok (even tho in my mind I still wasn’t sure it was going to be) so he looked outside, saw a car with a sun air freshener hanging in the window and said “mummy, let’s call him Sunshine” and thus he became our sunshine, to be honest it couldn’t have been a more apt name for our little rainbow.
Regardless of the gender brother or sister, I knew Archie was going to be the best big bro! To date he had always been so good with friends babies and they always seem to be drawn to him, and he is so loving and patient with them. He has a little cousin who he absolutely adores and is already like his little bro so I knew this was going to be special, having a little person of his own.
Nothing could have prepared me for what this was going to be like, the bond between 2 siblings, I don’t think I realised just how beautiful it would really be. The first person Vinnie will smile for in the morning is Archie, they sit in the back of the car and even if Vinnie is screaming, Archie will hold his hand to make him feel safe. When they lie on the bed together and Archie is watching his iPad Vinnie’s eyes will alternate between the screen and looking at his big brother, the bond is there, naturally, it was almost instant. I still have to pinch myself when I look at these two little people that we made, with their beautiful big eyes that could melt a thousand hearts, little men in the making who are looking to us for direction as they grow everyday, brothers, who I hope will have a bond for a lifetime, long after we have gone they will have each other, always.
My one wish for my boys is that they never have to have heartache (I know they will) but I hope I can be there always to protect and love them, my biggest fear is something happening to either of them, as I’m sure is every parents. Since loosing Betty these boys are even more important to me, along with their daddy they are the 3 people who keep me going everyday, get me up out of bed to face the world and live.
My wonderful Sunshine boys, you make me happy when skies are grey, you will never know my darlings how much I love you, mummy will always be there for you every single day.