Hope #44

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Today’s blog is dedicated to hope. My hope came in the form of little Vinnie. Today my Rainbow baby is 3. Not so little anymore! We are so blessed to have this little rocket in our lives but the journey with him has not been easy.

There is no denying having another baby after the death of another not only restores hope but for me it provided a renewed purpose. It has however also added an additional layer to my grief.

Firstly I must explain that Betty was to be our Rainbow baby after suffering a miscarriage 2 years before her. After we lost that baby we were so rocked and in shock we just weren’t expecting it (not that we were the next time) but it really shook us and we didn’t try for several years for another baby because we were so scared. The first baby was a ‘missed miscarriage’ at the 12 week scan it was found that at around 9 weeks the baby had died.

We decided to start trying for Betty in the January of 2015 and were very fortunate to get pregnant on the first try. Once I got to 20 weeks I really did feel ‘out of the woods’ if you like and I never even contemplated that I would loose her. At no point, it just wasn’t in my thoughts at all – I was so naive.

After Betty died it was strange, you would of thought it would be worse or similar to the scared feelings of the first time, but this was different. Both myself and Scott knew instantly we had to try for another baby. We knew it wouldn’t replace her no baby could do that, but our arms were so empty, the house was empty we decided that we would wait for my period to return if it did (I wasn’t sure if my body would work at all after everything that had happened) and then we would try but not put any pressure on ourselves, if it took a year or longer so be it we just needed to try. To our shock and absolute delight and I guess terror we were so lucky to fall pregnant on the first try again (I don’t even know how this happened) I thought it would take months after all my body had been through.

I was so scared but we had to try this. I needed to give myself hope again. I felt like I had let so many people down this was going to be my chance to restore faith, of course it was so much more than that. I had to blinker my thoughts, Scott would frequently give me pep talks and tell me they wouldn’t let this happen to us again, they simply wouldn’t. We were under a top consultant and from early on we were under the care of the hospital, we had an early scan, then more frequent ones with the consultant. I was tested for gestational diabetes more than once as there had been a suggestion with Betty that some of the results from our post mortem pointed towards gestational diabetes (the test they missed out was the one that would of confirmed this either way which was why it was so frustrating) when we had the 20 week scan me and Archie went together as Scott was working away, when they said it was a boy he said he wanted a sister and I cried because I wasn’t sure how I felt! Deep down I was relieved because I had never thought I would have a daughter and I never thought we would so this just confirmed my intuition. I knew this boy would be strong, although I was anxious deep down I had to believe we were going to take him home.

In a twist of fate the hospital had planned to induce me if I wished at 38 weeks but this was going to fall on Betty’s birthday I explained that I just didn’t think I could cope with going in on or just before or after her birthday, I hadn’t been back in the maternity unit since the day we left her and it was a huge fear of mine. I just felt like it would all be too much and there was no way I could risk taking this pregnancy to 39 weeks. It was agreed I could go in just after 37 weeks and it was a comfort to have an induction date along with going in for monitoring twice weekly from 30 weeks, my midwife would see me mid week every week so I never had to go longer than a few days without seeing anyone and of course if I wanted to I could go as much as I wanted to be monitored.

As much as I found all the extra monitoring a comfort the thing I found most stressful was the extra scans, because they are looking in so much more than with a low risk pregnancy I felt things were being discussed or brought up that wouldn’t normally be discussed the fluid levels were a huge stress for me. I constantly looked at the diamond on the fluid line and it stressed me out every single time I got the piece of paper, I studied every one afraid they had missed something or I had. I didn’t take hardly any pictures of my bump, with Archie I took 1 photo of me right at the end and I wished I had taken more pictures, with Betty I decided that once a month I would do a bump pic but then with Vinnie I was too scared to document my bump incase I jinxed it – so I have this one which was taken on the 11th October the day before he was born!

IMG_0893(One of the very few pics of my Vinnie bump)

We had our induction and everything was pretty straight forward, I had been induced with Betty so I knew what to expect, I had a lot of worries about going back to the ward where we were with Betty, luckily we weren’t in the same bay as we were with her. When we eventually went through to delivery the lovely midwife who delivered Betty and looked after her came in to see us, she had seen we were in and wanted to come and say hello. She told us that she often thought of Betty – this was such a lovely thing for her to do and it strangely put me at ease – I’m sure her name was Jo I just can’t remember. But she told us she is now dealing with a lot more of the bereavement side of midwifery and she was so kind and caring with us I know she will be a great help to others who sadly have to meet her. We were in hospital for a day and a half waiting for the induction to work but once my waters were broken Vinnie didn’t take long to arrive. I cuddled him as soon as he was born but it was clear to us there was something wrong, he was breathing strangely, I knew straight away he wasn’t right he was breathing strangely the midwife said it would just be some mucus but within a few minutes someone from NICU had come down and in an instant they took him away, Scott went with him and I was left alone.

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I think I was too tired to cry, I called my mum and dad and told them what happened and they came straight to the hospital and sat with me whilst I had a shower and waited to go and see him. Scott was with Vinnie and he said they were so amazing in the NICU, they had to put a cannula in his tiny hand and they did it effortlessly. It seemed almost unbelievable that we had waited this long for our baby and now he was poorly too. I was wheeled up to see him and I couldn’t touch or move him I just had to peer into his little incubator and hope he would survive. No one really knew what was wrong with him, he was 7lb 10oz so he was by far the biggest baby in there. Things weren’t meant to be like this, the staff were amazing. They gave me a side room so I didn’t have to sleep in with all the mothers who had their babies and I visited all day everyday. It was on day 3 that I finally held our baby boy. I couldn’t believe it when I went down that morning and they asked me if I would like a cuddle with him! I had been longing for this moment. It was wonderful. The next day I was able to try and feed him as up until that point they had been giving him expressed breast milk through a tube, I had been asking to feed him as I just knew the milk would make him stronger and get him out!

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Sure enough he started to turn a corner – I knew he was going to make it. He was such a fighter. Unbelievably we were nearing Betty’s birthday, I had never wanted to be here on that date and it was looking like the hospital wanted me to go home now and just come back to visit. They asked if I could go the next day, the 17th I explained to them that there was just no way I could walk out of that hospital on October 17th on what would of been my daughters 1st birthday and leave another child behind I just couldn’t. They were very understanding and they agreed I could stay a few more days, they would find a way! The 17th arrived, one of the midwives came to see me in the morning, she said she knew what a special day it was and she gave me 2 little knitted characters, a bunny and and bear. Vinnie still has them in his room, I will cherish them forever.

Scott arrived and we walked the corridor to see Vinnie for the day, as we arrived the nurses announced they had a surprise for us, as we walked round the corner Vinnie was out of his incubator and he was laid in a little cot, he had made such an improvement over night. His eyes were the widest we had ever seen them and he was looking at us as if to say, mum, dad I’ve been waiting for you in here. He was going to be able to come back to the ward with us that day. We were on cloud 9 of all the things that could of happened that day it was a sign from our gorgeous girl if nothing else, she was looking after her little brother and he was getting better and he was coming with us where he belonged. If I could ever describe a moment when I had such hope it would be this single moment in time. I can’t explain it properly it was just simply amazing.

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(this was who greeted us)

We wheeled his little cot back to our room – we felt like we were stealing him, it was so strange to have him with us. He was jaundice so we had to stay a few more days and we were moved into the main ward (which was an experience) but it didn’t matter we had him our little rainbow and then the most magical thing happened Archie met Vinnie properly for the first time, he held him and he smiled so much! He was so proud to finally have his little brother in his arms not just peering through his plastic cot. He was so happy because we could tell him we would be coming home, he had missed me and was worried after loosing his sister.

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So a week longer than we expected but we finally took our little Vinnie home to our family, our friends. Home with us where he belonged to start living our lives again. Having a baby after loosing one was never going to be easy, it hasn’t and isn’t easy even now. But as this little bean turns a whole 3 years old today I am so grateful that we got to keep him, he has such a spirit and the last 3 years for so many reasons have been hard but I wouldn’t change any of it. To have this little boy our sunshine in amongst all the darkness. It doesn’t make your loss easier to have another child but it gives you a chance. A chance to give them all your hopes, your dreams and ultimately be a family.

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Without our losses we wouldn’t have our hope. I can’t even contemplate what may of been. He is my light, he is my dark, now he sleeps he is definitely saving my sanity. I would do it all over again for this chance, the chance to have my children, boy or girl it doesn’t matter they are mine and Scott’s, they come out of our unconditional love for one another, they are ours and we are theirs and we have been so blessed to have 3 beautiful children. We will always be forever heartbroken that Betty couldn’t stay but eternally grateful we got another chance and we have her brothers.

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(the first time he had both his boys together – it was a wonderful moment)

Even tho Betty died I would risk it all again to have that moment in time with her, she did exist, they exist and we are a family. A family of 5.

So as I tuck my little 3 year old into bed tonight after ‘the best day ever’ as he put it. I thank him for letting me be his mummy and I look for my star in the sky, she is always with me in everything I do, everyday and I try my hardest to be the best I can for all of them even on the days when I have to tell them off (most days), on the bad, the good and the calm days. Everyday I try to do my best as in my opinion parenting a child that is no longer here is probably one of the hardest jobs of all.

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To be continued..

Jen x

 

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…

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.

When people say they are sorry but it’s not enough…#13


When Betty died, I know how much everyone’s hearts ached for us – at first I was sad, then I felt numb, then the anger came, then the blame, then the sadness, then the anger again, then I began to realise I had to accept it, it wasn’t going to change. BUT I WANTED HER BACK. But no matter how many times people said, I’m so sorry or they cried for me/with me I just wished they could help me to change what had happened. They couldn’t. There was no bringing her back. EVER. She was gone. I hated that. 

Deep down I just thought they were all just happy it wasn’t them, it began to feel like the only people I could turn to were the ones who had had it happen to them. But there weren’t many that I knew. Who do you turn to? What do you do? The worst thing was it felt like this was going to be just the start of our fight for Betty, it was, it still is. We have a long way to go before I will ever accept what happened to us was an accident. It wasn’t. I will not accept that. Sometimes things do happen – the consultant providing us with the investigation results said it was ‘a tragic accident’. Maybe. Maybe not. She died in October we then had to spend 3 long months waiting to find out the results of her post mortem. It was inconclusive. No answers, just so many more questions. The ones we had spent all that time going over and over were still there, but this time there were more to accompany them. 

I don’t know if I will ever be able to accept that – I am having to fight hard not to think about it, yet I know I have to because it doesn’t help things to dwell on negativity but sometimes you have to. Sometimes it feels like there is no other way and sometimes you need to go through that to help yourself. I think I do. I can honestly say I don’t think there is a day that has gone by since October 17th 2015 that I havn’t thought about what happened to Betty, thought about an area of the investigation in to her death, the night she died, the week leading up to it. In fact it brought into question my whole pregnancy, what did I miss – I would get a sign if my baby was going to die, I would know, I would see it coming, I didn’t, it hit me so hard, I think I might actually still be in shock! Did that actually happen to me? To my family? 

A recent report published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, ‘Each Baby Counts’ (first report) (https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/press-release-over-a-quarter-of-local-investigations-into-stillbirths-neonatal-deaths-and-severe-brain-injuries-are-not-good-enough-says-rcog-report/) has given me more insight and made me realise what I already suspected, that our case was not investigated comprehensively. In my opinion, an investigation after a child has died should be conducted by an external team – it should in no way involve members of staff who had colleagues directly or indirectly involved in the care of a patient who died whilst under the hospitals care, in our case Betty. I cannot and will not accept that my child’s death was ‘a tragic accident’. There were factors that contributed and people were, in my opinion, until I can be shown otherwise, complacent and haphazard when it came to our care. Guidelines are there for a reason, if they are not being adhered to then there is a level of negligence, surely that is clear cut. 

I do not want others to go through what we went through. I know they will, but I want to do my best to prevent other families receiving the poor level of care we did. I want Betty’s case to be used as an example in the hospital to remind people to follow procedure and more importantly the ‘NICE’ guidelines. In 2016 it is not acceptable that 11 babies die a day from being stillborn. We should be able to prevent this. What am I going to do? To be honest right now I am not sure – I feel like a small fish swimming in a big ocean and it’s very daunting, I don’t know who I can turn to, but every day I am getting a little bit closer to helping myself and getting justice for Betty. I won’t let this consume our lives but equally I will not give up. She was our baby girl and a mothers love is not one to be reckoned with. 

I know I might sound crazy, bitter, unreasonable. But, at the end of the day I lost someone I love and if we can’t fight for the ones we love then what is there left to fight for?

Jen 

Feeling complete… #10

On Friday we had the 20 week scan of our little rainbow – Archie has now nicknamed it Sunshine! I didn’t want it to have a nickname as I was worried about it but I feel that we just have to go with it and it’s something he wanted to do, so I think it’s nice for him to have that involement! We did find out what we are going to have! Exciting! But I’m not going to reveal thatjust yet.. 

Having this next baby got me thinking about our family, we have always said we would like 3 children – once this one arrives we will have 3 but obviously we don’t have Betty here with us. It’s strange as I started to think about when your family feels ‘complete’ I have friends who have had all their children I should really ask them this question – once you’ve had the amount of children you envisaged you would have does your family feel complete? 

I had this vision before we lost Betty that once we had a son and a daughter we would either go on to have a third or as we had one of each we would perhaps stop at 2 but I felt that we would know once she was here how we would feel! Obviously for us it didn’t happen so we are back to square one with only our lovely Archie, just the 3 of us. But I can’t help that think no matter how many children we go on to have now will we ever get that feeling? Will our family ever feel complete? And if families do get that, then surely it’s just never going to be possible for us because we will always have someone missing?

It’s a sobering thought not one I think needs to be dwelled on too much, but it’s like when you only have 1 child and people always ask the question will you have more? I will NEVER ask anyone that question again – after what has happened to us I just feel that if someone has 1 child why is that not enough for people? Why do they always ask do you want more? As if you should, maybe we don’t want another (of course in our case we do) but some may only set out to have one and how great is that! We should never be made to feel inadequate with such a simple question but it’s easily done and of course people are not saying it to offend or be malicious. Just like when people ask me if ‘I’m hoping for a girl’ but I have to say (and please don’t be offended if you have already asked me) but no of course I’m not hoping for a bloody girl, I am in fact hoping for a baby that is 1. Alive and 2. Heathy. Boy or girl it will be loved so much it doesn’t matter what it is. 

When you start the journey for a family wether it’s 1 or 10 kids – you don’t really say what you want because you know it’s 50/50! Surely if you wanted to pick what you wanted you wouldn’t bother at all because it’s never a guarantee. But at the end of the day they are your babies and it doesn’t matter what sex they are, they are a part of you and your other half, a representation of a bit of both of you of the love you have for eachother and you are always so happy to have that beautiful child why does it matter if they are a boy or a girl. However it seems to be such a focus for people, I know it’s only normal for people to ask questions like that – I suppose sometimes you don’t really know what to ask and thats the first thing that comes into your head! I’m sure I have done it to people/friends numerous times before. 

Now I really think differently tho – it comes back to one of my other blog posts, that question of is this your first?? I still constantly want to say to people no it’s my third, I want people to know that I have carried two babies to the end, given birth to them, named them, mapped out their lives in my head. But only Archie is ‘living our dream’ right now. I am so grateful for him and to be honest if we never had another child then we had Betty and we have him and I would be content but I would always wonder. I want him to be a big brother – I pray he can be the amazing big brother to our beautiful sunshine, he is so caring, so loving, I just know he would be amazing I want him to have that opportunity in life, that was one of the things I have always envisaged for him. 

I can’t wait for the blog post that can read… Meet sunshine and a picture of our two beautiful children one smiling proudly the other probably asleep looking like a wrinkly little alien. Like every family out there – we all deserve to have that chance, to get the family we desire, no one should ever have to experience the loss of a child. But those who do, maybe we are chosen because we are strong, even if we don’t feel like it at times, it’s not easy (but let’s face it life never is) but it means when we get our rainbows we can love them that little bit more, and if we never get them we can be thankful for our babies in heaven because we feel just as much love for them as we would if they were here with us everyday, it just hurts that little bit more. 

A little skelton looking sunshine 

Jen X

First blog post #1

For so long I have wanted to write my own blog, I have never had the confidence to do it, there’s not much I have to say that people would be interested in reading. I spent much time procrastinating over what I would write about: what would people want to hear? What would they want to know about me that they would want to click and read what I had written? Never in a million years did I think this would be the subject of the illustrious ‘blog’ I never thought I would be penning what has happened to me, to my family in the last few months – its not particularly interesting, its morbid more than anything, sad, upsetting, unnerving but its true and its what happened and with a head full of thoughts I suppose this point is as good as any to start. I promise it wont all be doom and gloom I don’t know where I will go with this I may write this and nothing more, but I want to write it all the same and I hope you want to read it.

My name is Jen, I live in Bournemouth with my wonderful husband, and I have two children. My beautiful son is here very much living, gorgeous, witty, funny, confident, loud and caring, my daughter lives among the stars, she too is beautiful but I don’t know much else about her, I don’t know the colour of her eyes, the sound of her laugh or her cry. She was born but she never lived.

Betty Dora, our darling daughter was stillborn at 40 weeks and 3 days. Today exactly 7 months have passed since her due date; 13 ‘unlucky for some’, 13 has always been my lucky number. It feels like only yesterday that she came into our lives, yet it feels like she has been gone forever. In fact it almost feels like she never happened at all – everyone moves on (as do we) people tell you it will get easier with time, it does don’t get me wrong. But I still find myself sat in a quiet house when Archie is at school (not that I sit still for long) thinking I should be feeding a baby or changing a nappy. I stand in the playground trying not to look at the other babies, wondering what Betty would look like now, It feels so unfair that out of all the babies born that night I didn’t get to keep mine.

We will never truly know what happened to our little girl it will be forever a mystery, her post mortem came back ‘unexplained’, the worst part of reading the whole report wasn’t even the thought of what they had to do to get to that conclusion but it was the fact that every organ in her body was perfect, there was nothing wrong with her – how can this be? The awful fact is that 50% of all stillbirth cases are indeed ‘unexplained’. One of life’s mysteries I suppose. It seems so unfair that something so perfect, ready to start their life and live, can be taken so cruelly. The pain of loosing a child is possibly one of the worst things that can happen to any parent. Explaining to your son why their sister is never coming back from heaven is heart breaking, tragic and just damn right unfair. What a godsend that at the age of 4 life is very much what those around you make it and if mummy tells you something, nine times out of ten you listen, process and accept what you are being told. Until the next thing triggers a thought at which point you compose another tear jerking question catching her off guard.

Thank god for our beautiful boy – the dark days in the beginning were made harder and easier all at the same time for having him. Just to have to get up everyday because he was depending on us, he was looking at us for reassurance that everything was going to be ok. It is going to be okay – its life, just right now its not the life we thought we were going to have the life we had dreamed up in our heads, the plans we had made for our expanding family, with 2 children loving each other, fighting with each other, laughing with each other, crying with each other. A family photo that never happened – a bond that was never formed. You will have more children ‘they’ say – we will take even more care of you next time ‘they’ say. What about this time? How can I think of next time? I want the time that just happened, I’ve just had a baby, why would I want to think about having another one now? If my baby was living would you be telling me I can have another one now? I know people try to say the right things – sometimes I feel ok when they test them out on me, sometimes I am screaming in my head “shut – up why have you just said that to me” I never say it to them, I just process and move on.

Loosing our child will not define us, I don’t want to be the mum in the playground ‘that’s baby died’ we wont ever forget what happened to us, we will celebrate a birthday that never has a bouncy little girl in her party dress running around every year, we will wonder what would have been we will always be the family that lost their baby, but we will also be the family that through tremendous heartbreak stuck together, smiled though the tears, laughed and realised it was ok to and moved onwards and upwards never forgetting their beautiful girl who now spends her nights among the stars and her days in the rainbows (maybe cliché but it makes me smile to think this of her) and so this is where we begin…


Jen