Perception of loss in the worst possible way 

I’m angry right now. I really need to stop reading magazines and watching TV. 
I’m angry at the media and their portrayal of mother’s in particular that have lost children and the storylines that these programmes give them. 
In recent years we have seen for example, Ronnie Mitchell “lose it” after she lost her son to Cot Death a few years ago … What did the writers do? They made her swap her baby with a neighbour and attempt to bring up the child as her own …. So basically mum gone nuts. 

For the past few weeks , I’ve been closely watching a storyline in Coronation Street with a character called Jenny … A few weeks ago, I said to Dan, I know where this is going … It’s going to turn out that she is about to pretend another character’s son is her own and it’s going to turn out that she has had a son that as died … lo and behold, I’ve just read a spoiler alert from TV Times and I was completely right …. This is where the storyline is going … I’m not impressed, a) because of the way they send these characters personalities b) because it is focused yet again on the mother of a grieving child.

…. I know unfortunately thousands of people lose children and it is so wrong that it happens but the media really do not help the way in which grieving mothers in particular are perceived … No wonder people in general don’t know how to talk to grieving parents, what to say and what not to say … 

The media in these two storylines in particular have portrayed the grieving mums as that they have completely lost it, that they have gone mad!
Yes it hurts, it hurts so bloody much to lose a child but did it make me want to take someone else’s child? No it did not. Did it make me want to jump to my death with someone else’s child? No it did not. Did it make me want to pretend that someone else’s child was my own ? No it did not. 
Why for once , can the media not portray something real, something positive to come from a grieving parent losing their child. Dan and I are not the only parents to do something positive in the memory of their child. 
We know of many parents that successfully run charities as legacies for the angel children. 
We know lots of people that have fundraised in memory of their children. 
Do we know anyone that has lost a child and tried to swap it for another ? No, we do not.
Do we know anyone that has lost a child and tried to kidnap another and jump to their death with him/her? No, we do not.
Do we know anyone that has lost a child and likes to pretend A.N.OTHER is their child? No, we do not. 

Do we know parents who have made amazing legacies following losing their child? Yes, we do

Do we know parents who have gone on to have normal healthy relationships with people following losing a child? Yes we do. 
Do we know people that have/are dealing with their grief in a completely normal way after losing a child and at no point tried to impersonate being another child’s parent? Yes, we do. 
Can you see where I’m going with this? 
I apologise to any script writers/media people that may have been involved in writing these storylines if they are offended by what I am writing here… In fact, no hang on, I’m lying here .. I’m not sorry at all. I am not sorry at all that I have just told you that you’ve made me angry, that I am offended by the way that you have portrayed these grieving parents. Can you honestly sit there and say you consider grieving mums when building these storylines? I’m not too sure that you did. 
And yes I know it’s just a TV programme

It has made me wonder whether people have actually done their research into these storylines properly, whether it has actually been considered by these people the effect that they would have on a mum who has lost a child. If this has made me mad, I’m pretty sure there are lots of mums out there that feel the same … Particular as I don’t get mad that easily at things on TV. 
When you lose a child, you do feel like you are going mad, you do feel like you are in your own world, you do feel like no one understands and you do feel completely and utterly alone. And do storylines like this help? Not in the slightest at all. 

No wonder that baby loss is such a huge taboo within our society when this is the best type of storyline that a “talented” writer- and I use that word loosely there in this context, can come up with about a grieving mum.

Where are the storylines that show the parents dealing with the grief together? Where are the storylines showing how strong the grieving parents are? Where are the storylines showing legacies and changes being made from the loss of children in soap families? 

It’s clear that some people genuinely think that there must now be something not quite right about someone who has lost a child – how can they ever be “normal” again I know some people think. 

It’s not like that. It’s not like that at all. 
Life doesn’t end when you lose a child. It feels like it does for a while but ultimately it doesn’t. Albeit, there are some very dark places you go when you genuinely think that it would be easier to join them, but the majority of people manage to successfully pull themselves out of these what seem to be never ending dark holes …. and continue with their life. 
Life does continue, it never quite feels 100% right again , but it does continue. Without the kidnappings, without the swaps, without the bonkers mums and without the need to want to pretend that someone else’s child is their own. 

So peeps, what am I really saying here? 

Yes I lost my daughter and it rocked all of my senses,

But I didn’t lose my marbles and have the urge to commit offences. 

I didn’t want your child to hug and perceive just as my own,

I just wanted MY child in arms again, the one that I saw born. 

I promise I’m not crazy and I promise I’m not my mad,

And I really do appreciate all the genuine support that I have had. 

It can be hard for you to understand that I am just the same old me, 

Don’t be afraid to ask me questions, I don’t mind, really, feel free. 
Love one ( still sane ) mum to an angel xxx

Smiling and Crying in unison 

I thought the hardest part of having another baby after losing Millie would be the first few weeks and getting used to being a mum again. Before I had Leo, I still couldn’t stand babies crying, children laughing and parents hugging their children – it all just hurt too much. I was wrong about the hardest part though. 

I think now is the hardest part, don’t get me wrong, up until now, it has been awfully hard but things are hard now in a different way. Things are hard now because Leo is turning into a “proper little person”. He has started to smile back and react to us talking to him, his face is turning into a little boy’s face, he’s getting stronger every day,  he’s getting ready to roll over and he kicks like a newly training footballer! And I love every minute of it, even though it is heart wrenching sometimes. I watch him smiling and I see Millie in his face. I watch him kicking and remember Millie finding her legs. I see his eyes light up when he realises mummy or daddy are there, just like Millie used to do when we walked into a room. ( Leo discovered the mirror yesterday )  

I love seeing Leo turn into this perfect little person, he really is a little treasure. But every time he does something new or reacts to a new noise I find it so tough not to burst out crying. Seeing your child develop is one of the proudest things that a parent can go through. Until I had Millie, I never understood this but as soon as your baby is born and gives you that first look through their eyes, grips your hand for the first time or reacts to your voice and looks at you, your heart falls in love again and again which means it can be broken over and over again. 

I’m not sure what it’s going to be like in the future, I can never know that, no one can and I know now that there is no point in worrying about it because the future is coming whether  I like it or not. 

Right now I feel like the first 9 months is going to be the toughest for us – this development period is going to be heart wrenching for us every time Leo does something new – I can’t wait for him to do new things and I love it when he does but it is so painful as well as such proud moments when Leo achieves his new development milestones.

Then once we get passed Millie’s age, I know it’s going to be tough again. I don’t know whether it’s going to be tougher or the same kind of toughness we have/are already experiencing. Ask me again after Leo turns 9 months and 12 days old, well , 9 months and 13 days old as he will officially be past Millie’s age when she passed away on that date. I know when that date is, I worked it out the night that Leo was born … 

      Once this date has passed, that’s when we will experience new things that we never got to experience with Millie. 

We never got to see Millie take her steps unaided.

We will get to see Leo takes his first unaided steps. 

We never got to hear her first word.

We will get to hear Leo’s first word 

We never got to see her open her Christmas or Birthday presents. 

We will get to see Leo open his Christmas and birthday presents. 

We never got to see her ride a bike for the first time

We will get to see Leo ride his bike 

The list is endless for Millie but I know in my heart that we will get to see all this with Leo. We will get to experience all the things you should as a parent, we will get to be the proud parents when he passes his driving test, sits his exams, gets engaged, gets married , has babies of his own – I know it’s all coming. 

I do live in fear. I really do. I live in fear that it is all going to come crashing down around us all over again. I live in fear that I couldn’t live if my heart was broken again like that. I live in fear that I am cursed , that’s what it feels like sometimes , because what are the odds on losing a child in the way that we did, they’re actually about a million to one … But we were that one in a million and we wish so much that we weren’t. 

Even though I live in fear, I am not going to let the fear take over me. I am not going to let the fear take over us or to take over Leo’s life. 

Leo is going to go to school and not be hime educated because I’m scared to let him out of my sight. 

Leo will go on school trips with his friends, so he isn’t the odd one out because his mum is scared. 

Leo will be allowed to visit the cinema when he he old enough alone with his friends. 

Although for now, we have one huge hurdle to get over. Leo is 14 weeks old tomorrow and   in that same time over again, we should really start to thinking about weaning him but right now even the thought makes me feel physically sick. 

We actually weaned Millie at 14 weeks (before the comments start about this being young, it was our personal choice and it worked for Millie) and by the time she passed away, she was a very competent eater – that’s why we will never understand what happened whilst she was eating that day. Dan and I will never know exactly what Millie went through in those final minutes of her life. 

But for now, I just have to concentrate on Leo taking his milk – to be honest, this is hard enough right now … We’ll get through it though, the weaning I mean, that’s the first step. 

But as much as we can, we will enjoy every single minute of Leo developing and experiencing new things and he will never ever lose out on any part of life because of what tragically happened to our daughter, his sister. 

As a lot of you know, every year in October ( Millie’s anniversary month ) we run a “Millie madness” fundraising month where we try and raise as much money as possible in honour of her anniversary. This year will be the 3rd year that we have done this! We are getting started early this and we have been organising a virtual race! The idea is that with this one you register and when you have completed you receive a limited edition Millie’s Trust Medal ( which you can see by clicking below ) 

We are asking you to run, swim or cycle as far as possible and see how many miles we can collect as one massive team! The idea of these is that you can complete at any time in October or do something everyday in October and add your miles up at the end of the month and you don’t have to travel to a start line to do it!!! 

We would love to see your photos throughout Millie’s madness month on how you are completing this challenge. 

For  full details, please have a look at the link below and don’t forget to register so you don’t miss out on a medal! ( I’m already signed up ) x

Anyone want to join our virtual run ! Limited edition medals available and limited places! 
Check out the medal you get too! 
International entries accepted 

Virtual challenge link, only 500 medals available so book soon x

Times are hard when times are different 

Leo and I had a trip to a lovely lady this morning called Sharon in Bramhall who I had arranged to take a picture of Leo for me for his first passport. 

This is one of the things that we never sorted out for Millie before she passed away, but it’s still hurt me over the past couple of days sorting it all out for Leo because we actually did have a holiday booked abroad with Millie when she passed away. We were due to go away to Rome for her daddy’s 40th the following June; her Trunkie was going to be a gift for Christmas off her grandma ( we have it now ready for when Leo is a little older as we had already sorted it out for Millie’s first Christmas, but she never got to use it.)

Check out Leo’s fab passport photo above 😁

We did go on holiday with Millie, in June to Corwall a few months before she passed away. We know that she loved being there with us, we also know that it doesn’t matter where you are or where you take your children, they will always love you. In the photo below, we are in St.Ives – Dan always said that he wanted to retire there but we won’t now because we will never leave this area because it’s where Millie is resting, I know I could never do that, it would be too hard. 

I still visit Millie a few times a week and I often go more if I’m struggling for some reason that day. Like today, I’ve struggled sorting Leo’s passport out so I knew that a visit to my little Mill’s would help me out, so that’s where Leo and I went. We took ourselves off down there, sat in the sun, had a chat and played her favourite song, ( press this link to see what that is ) all with Leo having a little play on the grass next to his sister’s resting place. I know some people might not agree with that, taking Leo to her resting place but honestly, I really don’t care because it is a completely personal choice. 

The first place we visited after we left the hospital after having Leo was born was down to Millie so he could “meet her” – this will always be the case. Leo will grow up with it being completely normal to go and visit Millie and tell her what he has been doing in his day and hopefully when he is older, it will be a place where he can go to talk out his problems with his big sister. 
Another thing about where Millie rests, it might be unusual for you to read this, but it is such a lovely place and such lovely people visit. Today on our visit, one of the friendly cemetery assistants ( I want to write grave digger but I’m pretty sure that isn’t the politically correct term and someone will tell me off ) came over and had a chat. They are all such lovely workers at the cemetery and we know that they all keep an eye on Millie’s place for us. Then there is a lovely lady who visits her dad close to Millie who came over and chats to us all the time, lights candles if we need her to and generally keeps an eye out too, she came over to say hi and meet Leo 😀. The parents of an older disabled man who  lost their son a couple of years ago who always come and say hello when they see us and then today, there was also the lovely elderley lady who came over and asked me if I was Millie’s Mum and then told me she was in a singing group recently that helped to raise some money at a local event and that she had bought a hoodie from our charity, that made me smile. 

We did go to Rome,that following June, we nearly didn’t. We didn’t know what to do , we didn’t know how we would feel because that holiday was booked to take Millie with us. We did but it was so hard from the moment we stepped out of our front door until the minute we got back and just for the record, I really wouldn’t advise travelling to such a religious place such as Rome after losing a child, it made me very angry. I was really struggling at the time about religion because every time I saw a nun ( as you can imagine, there are a lot in Rome ) I just wanted to scream at them, I wanted to scream, how can there be a god when he took my perfect child away? I obviously didn’t scream at the nuns but I did in my head . But , it is a beautiful city and I would certainly like to go back again one day and take Leo in the future when we save some pennies. I want to take Leo all over the world, just like I wanted to take Millie. The photo below was taken in Rome and you might not be able to see it, but the smiles are forced and have no emotion in them and if you could see our eyes under the sunglasses you would be able to see that they were hollow and black, dead eyes. We were in a really bad place at this point, things weren’t good and we really couldn’t see us ever being happy again in future; to us, getting through the day was just a motion.

We have lots of photos with forced smiles over the past 2 and a half years .. But things are changing, Leo has changed that. Our eyes are no longer hollow and there is now genuine emotion back in our facial features and that’s all down to our little Rainbow. 

When we lost Millie, we actually lost our perfect little family, we no longer felt like a mummy and daddy, we just felt lost, stuck, useless and betrayed. We didn’t have a reason to get up everyday , we didn’t have another child to keep us going – we felt our lives were over.

Then along came Leo. He is our future; he is making our photographs happier, he is making our smiles … Well , he is making us smile …

If you are reading this and you know where Millie’s resting place is , please do not name it on any public forum as we have never publically stated where Millie’s resting place is. Her place is a private place for us to be with her. Please respect our wishes. 

Thank you

Joanne Millie Thompson 

Drugs, counsellors, psychologists and tears 

So how did I come out the other side of my mental health illness?  What helped me from a medical point of view? 

I didn’t know how I would. I didn’t know what to take. I didn’t know how to act. I thought that I was alone. I thought I was going to end my life. 
In the beginning, I mean the real beginning, I was put straight onto Diazepam- they numbed me, they made the pain freeze, they turned me into a zombie. But right there and then I was in shock, I mean real shock and I needed them. I didn’t question it , the doctors said take them, I did. I wasn’t in any position to start an argument – it was the right decision by the doctors at the time.
After a few weeks of Diazepam, I was re-assessed by the doctors and was put onto Sertraline as a more long term anti-depressant to help me deal with the grief we were going through, but unfortunately for me , this drug didn’t agree with me, it genuinely sent me up the wall, it didn’t agree with my system and luckily we realised straight away otherwise, well, I don’t know what would have happened. Dan at the same time was on the anti-depressant too, but he was fine on it, you see it’s like any medication, you never know how your body is going to take to it until you try. 
    So, it was time for a change again… I had to have around 7 days medication free before I was allowed to start on a different one …I remember that week being awful. I was a nervous wreck, jittery, angry, pained, distraught … Absolutely horrendous. 
Cipralex was next … This one did agree with me. This one calmed me, this one relaxed my body enough to be able to get through the minutes, the hours, the days. I was so glad to have found one that I could rely on.
Alongside these anti-depressants, I was also on sleeping tablets. I couldn’t sleep and if I did manage to sleep, I was having nightmares, flashbacks and hallucinations in my sleep and I would soon be awake crying, shaking, shouting …. The sleeping tablets knocked me out enough to be able to get enough sleep to deal with this.
So what next? 
Dan and I began to see a counsellor pretty soon after Millie passed away after taking advice that this would be good for us. It was. Although for just some sessions, I sat there and said nothing or I just cried. But that’s what counselling is for. If you want to go and cry, you can. If you want to go and say nothing, you can. If you want to go and scream, you can. 7 months we saw a counsellor for. People asked why we stopped? The answer is, we just knew. You would just know. In fact, I knew before Dan. I knew that I had gotten everything that I could from counselling. I knew I needed more help, but from someone else. Dan continued to see the counsellor for a few more sessions and he also knew when enough was enough for him. 
In the meantime, I was re-assessed by a second mental health specialist and was diagnosed with severe PTSD, anxiety, depression and complex grief. In one way, it was a relief to finally have some labels for what I was suffering from. On the other hand, it petrified me even more because I didn’t know what was going to happen next or whether I would even be able to get through this diagnosis. 
I remember that first session with my psychologist. I struggled to talk. I cried – I mean I really cried. I couldn’t drive myself to the hospital because I was having flashbacks if I saw blue lights on the road, I could cope with being in a hospital. Dan was there by my side, I needed him so much right then. 
     Mindfulness, CBT and EMDR therapy have made up a huge amount of my sessions – too much to discuss on this blog tonight, but I will in the future ….. 33 sessions later and I am hoping that tomorrow will be my final one. The last time that I see my psychologist in a medical capacity. 
(This picture above was taken in about 2007 – I’m laughing at something, I was in Germany with my brother and his family – thanks to all the help that I have received, I know one day another photo will be taken like this with a genuine smile and laugh.)
And then there is exercise. This has been a natural drug for me. I got back into running after Millie passed away, it really helped to clear my mind. 6 weeks after having Leo , I started again and it really is helping again.
When I was about 6 months pregnant with Leo, I signed up for Tough Mudder, everyone thought that I was mad. I’d done it for a few reasons though ( one was to get fit again after having 2 children for my 30th in September, lol ) seriously though the main reason … Because training for Tough Mudder was going to force me out of the house, it was going to force me to have to leave Leo with Dan. After what happened to Millie I would have every right to spend every single second attached to my son – and believe me, I want to most days, but this wouldn’t have been fair to Dan or to our son because I want Dan to have a normal dad and son relationship and I want Leo to have normality in his life in the future. I can’t let my pain, anguish and fear stop him living the life he wants and the life I want for him, the same one that I wanted for Millie. 
     The tough Mudder training right now is pushing me into leaving Leo with Dan, into spending more time on my own and that on its own is an important thing, the running is my thing, it gives me the time to just be me, to just be Joanne, the girl. 
I honestly could right a hundred times more on this post as there is so much I want to talk to you about – so one day I will sit and right, the full story, the proper insight – but for tonight I hope this is enough. 
Anti-Depresants.Sleeping Tablets.Counsellor.Psychologist.CBT.EMDR.Exercise.Running. 
I’ve tried the lot and the combination of all of them throughout the past 2 and a half years have made me who I am today, the strongest that I have ever been since the minute I was told our daughter had passed. What’s that song? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So true. 
Ooh and if you like to throw a few pennies my way for my Tough Mudder challenge, please use the link below
or TEXT JOEY15 £5 to 70070

It’s true. I suffer with mental Health problems … And I’m ok with it. 

  • I am a patient with diagnosed PTSD. 
  • I am a patient with diagnosed Depression.
  • I am a patient with diagnosed Anxiety. 
  • I am a patient diagnosed with Complex Grief
We all know how the world likes to label things, so If you want to put me in a box and label it with something, I am a mental health patient.

This week is mental health awareness week, so let’s have a chat.
I am pretty sure that every one of you knows someone with some type of mental health problem, statistics show that 1 in 4 people will have a problem in their lifetime , pretty high that figure isn’t it? 
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, Bi-Polar, eating problems, personality disorders , self harm …
Re-read that list that I’ve just listed, you’ve just thought of someone haven’t you? See, it’s that close, mental health is so much more closer to most people than they think. 
I have mental health problems because I lost my daughter, because I put her in someone else’s care and she never came home, because I saw my daughter before anyone told me that she had passed away, because I am grieving, because I feel guilt … Because we lost our daughter, our baby. 
People develop mental health problems for so many reasons, no one’s stories will ever be the same … They might be similar, but never the same. Suffering comes from
grief, from money worries, abuse,  losing your job or home, addiction problems, the list is endless and there so many different mental health problems out there, no one ever knows what they may suffer from, you don’t get to pick or choose. I thought I was strong, I was, until my daughter passed and then I was broken, I was weak; at least I thought I was. Looking back now, I can see why I would have thought I was weak, why I thought I was broken. I can see why I thought it would be easier to not even be here, why I thought it would be better to end my life. 
I wasn’t diagnosed properly in the beginning, I was told I was suffering “normal grief” – whatever that is. But they were wrong. Luckily Dan saw it, he saw me and he knew something wasn’t right. We were both suffering with grief because we had lost our daughter and Dan could see that I was so much different than him, he knew that it wasn’t just a “mum” thing – it was more serious than we were told. Very quickly I was back at the doctors and being referred to a what I can only described as an amazing Psychologist at Wythenshawe hospital, whom assessed me properly, I was diagnosed with Severe PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and Complex Grief Issues – so a little bit more than again, those silly words “normal grief” ( for the record, I don’t believe there is normal grief,certainly not for someone who has lost a child) As well as the initial private counselling that we had 25 sessions of after Millie passed, I have also had 33 sessions of an hour and a half to 2 hours with my Psychologist in around 18 months , for those of you that don’t know what that figure is, it’s a lot of treatment, the average amount of sessions for PTSD is around 12 , that’s a comparative for you. But it’s not just that, it’s all the work I have had to put in on top of all the “in-house” therapy – it didn’t stop when I walked out of the hospital every week, that was just the beginning, I had to ( and still have to ) work hard at every minute of every day. Some days are harder than others, some days I still feel as though it would be easier not be here. 
I am sitting here now thinking about how easy it would have been to just do it, to commit suicide and be with my daughter. I remember waking up one night and saying to Dan I needed to clear all the pills off my bedside table ( sleeping tablets & anti-depressants ) because it was too easy to wake up from a bad dream where I woke up crying and feel that most horrendous pain all over again, it would have been too easy in a split second to take those pills – that is how quick it could have been over. The amount of times that I have had to stay away from windows, from ledges, anything high because the urge was just sometimes too much to want to throw myself over and be done with all the agony I was suffering from and then there was the time when I nearly ended all in front of a bus … that was the turning point, that’s why I knew something was more wrong with me than the professionals had said, that’s when Dan pushed me to get help and took me back to the doctors … That was the biggest step I needed to take, I needed the help, I wanted the help.
That’s it for tonight guys … Every day for the rest of the week because it is “mental health awareness week” I’ll blog a little bit more about my mental health journey … You’ll get more of an insight than I’ve ever told before
And just in case you are wondering, I know I’m not weak, I can see that now. I know that I am stronger than I have ever been before.
Time to send that text to your friend who might be feeling a bit down at the moment, or that friend you saw a couple of weeks ago that didn’t quite just seem right or seemed that little but quieter than usual. They will appreciate it, I promise , just say “hi” and ask them how they are … They’ll tell you if they want to …
Joanne x

Never Ending Cycle of Life

There are so many special events throughout a lifetime for your children, the day they begin to talk, when they start school, move to high school, graduate university, get engaged, get married, have children; the list is literally endless but for Millie, she was never even given the chance to get started.

I am so proud of my little baby girl, I am so proud that she came into my life and I got to see her smile, I got to hear her laugh, I got to see her wiggle her little bum when she was dancing. I am so proud of everything that she was and I hate saying that as I want to still be saying that I am so proud of everything that she is, but I can’t because she is gone.

I am genuinely sat here in tears whilst I am writing this because as I am writing, I am flicking through video footage of Millie and once again I can her laugh, I can see her gorgeous smile appearing and I am watching her little bum wiggle and I miss every tiny cell of her body, it tears me apart that Dan and I created this amazing little human being and she was ripped from us in an instant and we never even got a chance to say goodbye.

Led in front of me right now, is our newest little addition, little Leo and he is fast asleep and I can hear him breathing and every breath I hear come from him is a treasure to me, only a parent who has lost a child will understand that. I want all the things for Leo that I wanted for Millie, that has not changed, what has changed is how I think. I try not to imagine Leo growing up and experiencing all these things that Millie missed out on because , for my own sanity, I have to concentrate on one day at a time and cherish whatever Leo is doing on each and every separate day.

For 2 years, Dan and I haven’t done birthdays or Christmas, we couldn’t face it. I couldn’t face going out and looking for presents for my family and friends, especially the children. The pull from my heart to my eyes strengthened so much if I even thought about trying to shop for child; my heart made my thoughts turn into tears. This wasn’t just for the younger children, this was for the older ones too – I couldn’t face looking at things that I was never going to be able to buy for my daughter, toys that I would never be able to see my daughter play with or clothes that she could never wear.

This year though, we are attempting it, for Leo’s sake – to ensure his normality of life is there as he grows up. We seem to be doing ok so far. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy, I still cry, I still come home with headaches because I have tried to buy someone something and it has stressed me out so much because my head has been in a totally different place. This week it has been a set of twin relatives eighteenth birthday , two absolutely gorgeous, articulate and intelligent girls and we went to their 18th birthday party. Looking at them hurts, it hurts that I will never ever see my little girl turn into this beautiful woman who is so excited for her 18th birthday party, a party that I can never throw for her. It hurts that I can’t see her get excited about passing her driving test or take her to look around universities (that’s if she wanted to go), see that’s the thing , I will never know if she wanted to go into further academia, she might have just wanted to throw a rucksack on an go travelling and to be honest , she could have done exactly as she had pleased and I wouldn’t have tried to stop her, because all I wanted for her was to be happy and enjoy her life.

Then it comes to the dad’s to look so proud – hearing their dad talk about them with so much pride in his voice , so ecstatic that his daughter’s have grown up to be polite, stunning and amazing human beings. You don’t know how much that hurts me as a mum, it hurts me because I know it hurts Millie’s daddy, I can see the pain in his eyes when he sees things like this, I know that his heart is breaking and all he wants to do is stand there and cry, just like I do. I detest the fact that I cannot do anything to ease my husband’s broken heart, to stop him feeling this excruciating pain. We have sadly learnt how to keep our poker face on now in the moment, the tears stay put until we get home. Mine came in the shower later.

Just over 12 months ago, one of my truly best friend’s got married, I’ve known her for close to 20 years and when I have needed her, she has been there supporting me every step of the way. At her wedding I was one of her bridesmaids and I was genuinely honoured to have been asked by her, as (I don’t actually know if she knows this) I have never been a bridesmaid before. When she asked me, of course I said yes, there was nothing to even think about. Later that night, I cried, I cried so many tears because I knew that my daughter would have taken my place if she was still here, I know she would have been a little flower girl/bridesmaid tottering down the aisle, stealing my place of a bridesmaid from me, but that would have been OK, she would have been entitled to steal it from me and I would gladly have let her. It was me though as a bridesmaid that day, it was I that was the bridesmaid because my little girl had left us way before her time, before her mummy. It hurt that day, it really did.

HB Wedding Me as a bridesmaid with Dan, (the eyes say more than the smile here)

But back to proud dads. My friend kept completely to tradition that day and kept her dad away until she was ready, until she was ready to show him what a beautiful bride she was (she really was).

He walked through the door; the look on his face when he looked at her, the look that he couldn’t believe that this stunning bride was his daughter, his little girl – that it probably didn’t feel like two minutes ago that he was teaching her to read, to ride a bike and to tie her shoelaces. But here she was, all grown up, ready to create this whole little new family and become someone’s wife.  It’s really funny because this was such a lovely moment, it really was and I will never forget that split second look on his face as he beamed his “proud dad” smile for the first time at seeing his daughter in her wedding dress. The reason it’s funny? Because this was like a dagger to my heart for Dan, it didn’t affect me as much when the mother of the bride was in the room, it was the dad. All I could think about was how Dan was never ever going to get this moment with his precious daughter, how he was never ever going to do that “proud dad” smile as he saw his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time. It hurts me more when I know Dan is suffering because we lost Millie. I blame myself, I know I shouldn’t because it wasn’t my fault but your head does crazy things to you, my head makes me think, well if Dan had never met me or married me then he would never have had to go through this pain. I know, it’s stupid because we could never in our wildest nightmares have predicted what happened to Millie but it doesn’t stop your brain thinking it.

The closest we ever got to seeing Millie in anything remotely similar to a wedding dress was at her christening and I am so glad that her great-granny bought her this amazing gown, she looked absolutely gorgeous in it, I am sure that you will agree.


I know that this is going to be a never ending cycle, there will always be something that will be coming up that Millie should be involved in or that Millie should be doing. People like to say that “it must get easier” – for your information it doesn’t get easier in the slightest, you just learn to live with it. The pain is still exactly the same, the same as what is was on 23rd October 2012, just after 1pm when I found out Millie had passed but there are tricks that you learn, tricks that you learn to use to in front of other people and to be honest, a lot of the time, the tricks are to benefit you, not us …..

Follow Joanne on Twitter: @joannet1985

Unphotographable baby smiles – v – Unforgettable baby smiles

What a deceiving title … 

      Baby smiles… The most gorgeous thing in the world … Millie and Leo have smiled around the same time in their development, from around 6 weeks. We have so many photos of our gorgeous little girlie smiling … and I love every single one of them … Leo up until now ( he is now 10 weeks ) has been   “unphotographable” ( I don’t actually know if that is actually a real word )  not because I haven’t wanted to take his photo and not because I can’t take his photo … Then why ??? It’s because every time he has smiled in the past 4 weeks, we have been so busy smiling back at our gorgeous little man Leo that we haven’t had time to pick a camera up before his smile has gone … Tonight he was smiling a lot and I managed to grab a camera in between his twenty odd smiles and take a few pics … So precious …

People used to laugh at me because I took so many photos of Millie but now I am so glad that I did as we have so many to look back on and every day I look back on an old-new photo, if that makes sense. I love to see my little girlie smile, I really miss that. 

Technology is such an amazing thing, to be able to capture those moments like smiles , first crawl, first walk … But sometimes you miss being in the moment because you are too busy grabbing for your phone or camera to record it all , to get on Facebook or Twitter or whatever other social media you just happen to use. It’s the same when we walk around , head in our phones reading texts or googling those song lyrics that we have forgotten the name of when we were doing the quiz on the TV.
We need to learn how to be in the moment again, like people were many years ago. We need to smell the trees again, feel the sand beneath our feet and watch our children playing through our own eyes, not through a technological device. 
This is why I love to go on holiday, because when I do, I really do go on holiday. No phone, no texts, no emails, no Facebook, no Twitter , just me and the people I love the most in our own little world. ❤️❤️❤️
It’s kind of a double edged sword isn’t it because on one hand you want to be in the moment and on the other you want to know that you have captured a moment forever.
The truth though, you can always capture the moment in your head, you don’t always need a camera. I can sit and close my eyes and an image of Millie will come to be me from something that has triggered that specific thought; a baby girl with a Lamaze dolly,  a new baby wrapped in the same blanket that Millie had or the smell of baby milk that will conjure an image of Millie so content falling asleep after her milk. Although I love to look at photos of my daughter, I really do, the memories in my own head that come back when I need them to come back with smells, with feelings, with sounds … A lot of the time, as hard as this is, it’s what I need. I need to feel her, to smell her, to hear her.  I find it bizarre that your brain can do this,  but it’s magical … The human mind is a simply amazing thing.
So it’s a tricky one isn’t it … I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. 
Either way, whether it is a physical photograph or a memory that has come back to me, both my baby’s smiles – they are most gorgeous things in the world. 
( ooh and an update, unphotographable is a word – see definition below 😀 )