Monthly Archives: August 2015

Sedation, Balloons and Cakes 

A few days ago we had to go into hospital with our little Leo, don’t worry all is fine and it was a routine procedure but it did mean that Leo had to be sedated. 

Traumatic? No, I’ll never use that word again in relation to anything in my life because losing Millie was traumatic. Testing? Difficult? Scary? Yes – I’ll tick all of the above please. 

We knew a couple of weeks ago after a consultant appointment that Leo was going to have go in and we were in pieces because we did not know how to deal with this. 

Putting our baby boy in the care of someone else? The last time we did this, our baby girl never came home. Trust is a major issue for us, even if he was to be in the hands of a consultant, anaesthetist and nurses – it still didn’t put our minds at ease, not one bit.

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I have felt like the worst mum in the world for the past few weeks because I knew as soon as we were told that Leo was to be sedated that I could not cope being in the room with him when this happened, Dan knew what was going through my mind without even having to discuss it and he said straight away that he would be with Leo when he was given the anaesthetic. 

Why couldn’t I be in there? Believe me, I really wanted to be but I knew that I couldn’t, I have thought about it lots over the past two weeks and I genuinely thought that when it came to it that I would be able to be there with him, but the time came and I couldn’t, so Dan went in there with Leo whilst he was being sedated. 

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You see, I saw Millie like that when I shouldn’t have done. I saw Millie on a hospital bed after she had passed away and, well I’m not even going to describe it to you, I don’t want you to cry right now, I’ll tell you about it another day. 

My experiences of the hospital that day when Millie passed away has affected the way that I am when I am in hospitals and this was just another thing I had to deal with.

The funny thing though, that all the doctors and nurses talked to me as though I was going to go in with Leo, it must be that normally mums do go in with baby/child in most circumstances. I broke down though when the word “cannular” was used during the conversation and the poor anaesthetist thought that she had done something wrong. Dan quickly explained what was going on and she apologised very quickly. I didn’t need an apology though, she wasn’t to know and to be honest, she was in quite a bit of shock when Dan explained what had happened to Millie and I think that she dealt with the whole situation superbly, she really was a lovely lady. 

Someone said to me today in our “inner circle” that we sometimes forget how easy it is to forget how much Millie’s story shocks people and I think what she said is right. We talk about Millie everyday and we do a lot of interviews about what happened to her so we are so used to talking about our situation normally, but she is right it is shockable and most new people who we meet don’t expect to hear this when they meet us. 

So, back to Leo. He is absolutely fine and here he is after coming around and wanting a cuddle from daddy. (Check out his new trick, he loves sticking his tongue out at the moment) 

 
It was awful sat waiting in the hospital for Leo to come back to us whilst he was sedated. We sat there feet tapping, playing with hands, crying, holding each other, twitching … The list is endless. We have never left Leo with anyone before so this was doubly as hard for us. 

I would just like to use my blog to take the opportunity to thank the staff at Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital who dealt with us as everyone was so lovely and this really did help us to get through the day. 
  (Recovering after his procedure)

Phew, so that was the hardest part of this week and then we could move on to the nicer bit of the week 😀

A couple of months ago, we had decided that we were going to hold a Naming Ceremony for Leo and today was the day. 

We really wanted Leo to have his day like Millie had hers but we were really struggling with the idea of a Christening. In fact, a Christening wasn’t even an option for us as we didn’t want anything religious at all.

I did some research and found out that a “Naming” would be an option and I liked this idea because we could make it such more personal, so this is want we decided to go with and began to put ideas together for the ceremony. 

We made the decision to hold the ceremony ourselves with the help of some friends, this made it so much more personal for us and we didn’t think that bringing an outsider in to host the ceremony would work for us.

We spent a while choosing poems and writing the correct words to get across why we were doing it this way and you know what; it worked, it worked really well. 

We had tears and laughter and lots of smiles which is exactly how we wanted it to be. Check out Leo in his first fancy get up 😀

I was even brave enough to use one of my own poems that I had previously written in the naming ceremony. Isn’t it strange? I don’t mind putting them out there online and thousands of people reading them, but put me in front of 50 friends and family and I was a little nervous. It’s easy to read someone else’s writing but your own, wow, well that’s another thing altogether. But I did it and I’m proud I did. Here it is;

I kinda got this feeling that I’m a little bit in love,

With a little gentle coaxing from my angel high above, 

I feel her presence here and it makes me feel alright,

That I can love her little bro and just squeeze him oh so tight. 

Whilst cooking in my belly, I had these pangs of awful guilt, 

That I’d never be able to love and my feelings they’d just wilt. 

But the inevitable it happened when I saw his little eyes, 

And now I can’t bare to let him go when I hear his unique cries. 

His lovely little smile as I tickle his small feet,

But it gets me every time that my kids, they will not meet. 

I swear that she has been here when Leo lies awake night, 

It’s a feeling of security and never one of fright. 

The fear of love it scared me, that I wouldn’t want him here, 

But now he is so real, I always want him near.

You can’t predict the future and you cannot change the past. 

Life is here for living, so let’s live it with a blast xxx

Love mummy x 
See, that was easy 😀 copy and paste and poof! You read it on your smartphones/laptops and I can’t see your face when you’ve read it! Much less nerve racking than this morning. 

We’ve managed to grab some lovely family photos today though. Since having Leo, I’ve definitely got a thing for family photos, having both parents in the photos because so many of Millie’s only have one or the other of us in. I think people are getting used to me throwing my phone at them and saying “please take a photo of us”.

 
  
  
Today was made so special by a lot of our close friends and family being there, it was just lovely to have everyone in the same room for once and of course, I made sure Millie was included too.  

 

I have to say a HUGE thank you to Jay from B for Balloons in Hazel Grove who did all Leo’s balloons for today, she did the most amazing biggest balloon I have ever seen with Leo’s name on and he absolutely loved it as he is currently loving balloons whenever he sees them.

 

And the cake, well that was just so much better than I ever could have imagined! It had a little baby on the top to represent Leo and I loved it’s little mouth AND not only that, it also had ROLO on too! 

The best bit though, is that we couldn’t decide which flavour cake to have, we were stuck on Red Velvet or Lemon, so … Victoria, she used both in the cake!!! Very impressed.

  

Victoria Queen of Cakes, Stockport 

I find cake makers such fabulous people, I envy their patience to make the cakes and the intricate details that they put in them. I have the complete patience of a Gnat, I would end up throwing the cake at the wall! 

So what’s the next big thing for us? 

WEANING. 

Hmmmm. 

Still not going well.

We are going to attempt the first step tomorrow, putting Leo’s Highchair up. I need to get over my Highchair issues, this being that I suffered many flashbacks and nightmares of Millie being in the Highchair that day and I’m not sure what I’m going to be like when we put Leo in it. 

So, to deal with this, I’ve turned back to something that my Psychologist taught me to do. Break things up into little stages and you’ll eventually get through them all.

1) Buy a new Highchair – DONE

2) Set the Highchair up

3) Let Leo play in the Highchair with his toys

4) Attempt to feed Leo in his Highchair 

As you can see, number 1 is complete. We are planning on completing number 2 tomorrow and then we’ll see how quickly we can get to number 3 and number 4. 

I spoke to Alison (our NZ friend who lost her gorgeous little boy Kory in a similar situation to Millie) and she has helped me a bit with regards to starting to wean Leo.

We will get there. Soon. Wish us luck. xxx

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Happy Half Birthday 

Today Leo is 6 months old … How did that happen? This year has flown by so fast. The past 6 months have been so hard, but we are getting there and believe it or not, having some fun along the way.

 
If you would have told me when I was pregnant that I would feel like this, I would have told you that you were so wrong. 
If you would have told me how strong we were going to be, I would have told you that you must be a little delusional.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been so so hard in the past 6 months. You have all the “Normal” mummy and daddy worries and then we have a million extra worries and  extra paranoia because of what happened to Millie.

With Millie, she was in her own room (next door to ours) at around 7 weeks because she was rocking the Moses basket so hard that we were frightened that she was going to rock herself out of it and we felt safer with her in her own cot. At the time and with Millie that is what suited us. 

With Leo, it’s been different. We moved Leo into his own room towards the end of May, so around 4 months old – except we made the decision to sleep in his room with him. So work schedules have dictated who has slept in Leo’s room with him. Being in there with him has just made us feel safer, we’ve followed the “6 month advisory guidelines” with newborns this time – we wouldn’t have felt ok without doing so. 

This is completely a parental choice and you do whatever is best for you – as you can see, we have used two different options as to what suited us for each situation.

So today is 6 months. Which is the date we decided that it is time for him to be in his room alone. 

So scary. 

So tonight, back in my own bed, I am probably going to sleep worse than I have ever done on the fold out uncomfy bed in Leo’s room that I have slept on for the majority of 2 months! 

We definitely know it’s time though because Leo is sleeping through all night and it’s us that he is waking up by kicking the slats on his cot. So little Leo has been having long comfy leisurely sleeps during the night for the past few weeks and we’ve been like Yo Yos in and out of bed moving him away from the slats all night and to be honest I think every time I turn over in bed, it’s me waking him up now not the other way around. 

He is a completely fully established belly sleeper now! About a month or so ago, he started to turn over during his sleep and it has definitely become his preferred position to sleep in, just like Millie. 😀 .

  
(Millie asleep)

 
(Leo asleep)

Every day is still a constant battle and I think it always will be. I know, well actually, I don’t know, I hope, that it’s going to get better as Leo gets older. There’s still a few big milestones to get through over the next few months with Leo, 

Passing Millie’s age when she left us

Our first anniversary of Millie’s passing where we have had Leo with us 

His first Christmas

His first birthday

First steps, first words – it’s all going to be tough but we know that we have been through so much that we will get through it. 

This week, Leo has graduated to his new car seat 😀. Following the new Isize Guidelines has meant that we were able to move Leo into a new seat – he so needed this.

Check out his test drive on the sofa!

 
Now, as you may be able to see in the photograph below, we have actually been able to get Leo a car seat that can stay rear facing until he is 15 months old; which is exactly what we wanted. Being as safety conscious as we are, even more so after Millie’s passing, we opted for one of this style. We wanted to keep him rear facing for as long as possible – and this car seat will enable us to do that, which has not necessarily been the case in the past. I am not going to discuss previous standard guidelines as new standard guidelines have been released which currently run alongside the existing R44/04 Standards but will eventually replace it in the forseeable future, in my opinion (obviously you may think differently) it’s probably better to buy an I-sizing seat if you can on your next purchase. They can be used in most cars the have IsoFix Fittings, which have been standard in most cars since 2007.  

(Looks a little grumpy here doesn’t he? I promise that he like his new car seat really)

For more information on I-sizing click here 

Source:  http://www.maxi-cosi.com/car-seats/car-seat-safety/car-seat-laws-and-regulations/what-is-i-size.aspx

A lot of people still get confused with regards to child car seats and safety belts, the Think Direct website is a great place to start looking for information. 

And then we have the weaning issue. 

We just aren’t ready yet, we’ve still got a few issues to deal with in relation to that and until we are 100% comfortable with everything, we just can’t do it.

It’s surprising how many people are still shocked when we get asked if Leo is being weaned yet and we say no, most people assume that he is. 

We don’t think we are far off starting to wean him and again 6 months for weaning is just a guideline. With Millie, we began her weaning at 14 weeks as that’s what we decided on, this time, for obvious reasons things are different.

I am under absolutely no impression at all  that starting to wean Leo later than usual is going to hinder his development at all – he’ll catch up when he is good and ready. I’m not worrying about things like that – I’ve got other things to worry about right now and that isn’t one of them.

We’ve got things on our mind at the moment, something in particular that I’m not ready to discuss but I will when it’s over in a couple of weeks time. At the moment, distraction is the biggest key for us, as distraction keeps our minds from wandering. 

As mentioned in a previous blog, we are soon to be in that period of year that we don’t deal with very well, so we need to keep busy, to have a lot of distraction and September is certainly a busy month for us and that’s a good thing. A huge thing happening is that I turn 30 in September – that’s enough distraction in itself for anyone. 😀 Some people dread turning 30, I’m not, I’m going to embrace it and look forward to the future.

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Constant Miss, Organ Donor List & Christmas … Talk about a mix bag of topics

Sometimes it just hits you like a ton of bricks and over the past few  weeks, I feel like I have been hit by a hundred ton of them. Some days, I just feel like I’m walking round in a daze, others I find myself doing a million things to distract myself so bedtime can come quicker. 

I miss my daughter so much, when I feel like this nothing feels right at all. It’s not just emotional reactions, it’s physical. My body feels like a lead weight, my shoulders are tight, my jaw feels stiff, the tears won’t stop falling (normally at bedtime) and my hands get so jittery that I can’t stop moving them.


This photo above is one of the last ones that I took of Millie, about a week before we lost her. I was going to London for the night on my first day back at work and I hated the fact that I had to leave her, I didn’t want to – so daddy put her in my case to pack so I could take her with me 😀

They came to the train station with me and I remember standing there with them on the platform not wanting the train to pull in then I wouldn’t have to leave her – but it did and I cried most of the way to London. Just over a week later, we lost our little girl and I was never going to get to see her again. I could never have predicted this when I was crying over the fact that I wasn’t going to see her for one night when I took this photo. 

Why am I feeling like this at the moment? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s just coming to that time of year again that we hate. October to January is so hard for us, Millie’s anniversary of her passing and funeral, my father in law passed a month later and his funeral, Christmas without our daughter, New Year without her and then mid January it’s her birthday. All this heartache in such a condensed period is not good for the soul.

Maybe it’s because a few weeks ago, we got Leo’s letter through saying that he was officially on the Organ Donor List and that brought back memories for me about when we tried to donate Millie’s organs and I know this is still in my mind at the moment (but because she had to have an autopsy we couldn’t donate Millie’s ) – I’ll go into this more one day. I know this has been playing on my mind since we got the letter – stirred up too many memories I think. 

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Or maybe it’s because it’s coming to the period that we should be weaning Leo. And honestly, I can’t face it. I’m not comfortable doing, it knocks me sick at even the thought of it. We bought a new High Chair for him and it’s still in the box – I don’t want it up, I don’t want to look at it. To be honest, I’m very surprised that we even bought it. I must’ve been having a good day. One of the flashbacks/nightmares I suffered an awful lot with was seeing Millie in my nightmares sat in that highchair that it happened to her in. I know I never physically saw her but your mind is good at playing tricks on you and I see the pain, hurt and struggle on her face in my head and it absolutely breaks my heart that I wasn’t there to help her, that I wasn’t there for her when she needed me the most. 

Of course, we will eventually wean Leo, he’s just on the verge of turning 6 months and we obviously know that this age it is suggested you wean. He’s already trying to grab food and staring at it when he sees any. We haven’t waited because of the recommend guidelines, we’ve waited because after what happened to Millie, we just aren’t comfortable yet. Millie was such a competent eater when she passed away, we started to wean her at 14 weeks, so by the time we lost her, she was a great eater. This is part of the reason that we struggle so much, she never struggled eating when she was with us – which is why we will never understand what happened to her that day. She was 100% medically fit and had absolutely no medical issues at all, yet we lost her. This is why we, I myself in particular, are struggling with the concept of weaning Leo. 

It could be because Leo is currently giving me heart palpitations when I look at him in his cot as he has developed the same habit as Millie and it seems that he likes to sleep on his front at night – we are currently still sleeping in his room with him and believe me , it’s giving me sleepless nights listening to him turn over! 

  
 
Or maybe it’s because I’m about to turn 30 next month and I feel like I’ve been through more than I should have done at this age. I never expected to suffer through a trauma like we have. To be grieving over my child. I wanted the perfect little life, the perfect family and I had it and then it all got screwed up in a matter of seconds and this has aged us both tremendously.

We’ve been married for 5 years next month too and we were talking about it tonight and Dan said feels like we have been married for 50 – and he’s right. We had only been married for 2 years when we lost Millie, we were still relatively newlyweds but we lost that so quickly when grief took over. 

  

I look back at these photos and it feels like a lifetime ago, not 5 years. I look at how happy we were on that day and I wish that we had a bottle with that happiness in it, along with the happiness that we had the day Millie was born – just so that when we have sad days, like I’m having at the moment – we could open it up and let a little out and just feel like that again for 2 minutes – that perfect happiness. 

Everything is always tainted with grief in our lives and it always will be. When we had Leo earlier this year, we of course were so amazed by our little son and we loved him straight away so much – which was a complete relief to me as I had struggled a lot through my pregnancy thinking I wasn’t going to be able to bond with him because I was so scared – but although we were happy , it was also tainted with so much loss for Millie. Maybe it’s a different type of happiness we experience now – it’s certainly not “normal” happiness. I don’t know, maybe it needs a new name “Grief happiness” “Tough Love Happiness” (feel free to suggest a name here) 

At least nowadays we can laugh and smile – for a long time after losing Millie we couldn’t and if we did , we immediately felt guilty and stopped. Every new experience we took on we felt guilty for, we didn’t enjoy birthdays and we haven’t celebrated Christmas since we lost Millie – in our minds, we were programmed to think “If Millie isn’t here to enjoy this, then we shouldn’t either.” – I’ve since learnt that this is known as Survivor’s Guilt, which I learnt through my Pyschology treatment  was actually one of my symptoms of the PTSD that I was diagnosed with.

We’re not sure how we are going to do Christmas this year, we of course are going to do it for the first time in 4 Christmases but we know whatever we do, it won’t be big or fancy or spent with anyone but ourselves, it will of course include our Chrismas Day visit to Millie and will just be enough for Leo. I’ve even bought Leo a couple of Christmas presents already – which has been hard in itself as Millie’s are still here untouched – the ones that  we had bought her that she never got to have.  

We’ve still got plenty of time to work Christmas out… (although not according to Facebook with all the statuses I keep seeing that include how many Saturdays there are until Christmas 😀) 

I just think there is a lot going on around us at the minute and it’ll be good to get a break at some point in the next few months when we can fit one in. It’s all the little things that affect me that start to mount up and that’s when I crash and burn… But I see it coming now, so I know when to stop and re-evaluate things.

My mum sent me a photo earlier today, think it sums me up perfectly.

  

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Love to read 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been introducing Leo to books, reading to him and letting him play with the books, our current one that he likes is Five Little Ducklings (at the moment, he likes to put his fingers through the holes in the pages, but he does sit and listen intently as I’m reading to him).  

I was the same with Millie, I have always wanted my kids to read as much as I did and still do and even after Millie passed away, we still carried on reading to her down at her resting place. 

As a kid growing up I would read anything. I remember my grandad Arthur laughing at me when I was about 6 or 7 years old because I used to go in their house and pick up a newspaper to read and lie in front of the fire reading it whilst all the adults talked. Not long after, my Grandad introduce me to Readers Digest and I couldn’t get enough of them, haha. Sounds kind of funny writing about that now, a 7 year old child with a like for Readers Digest – not exactly the normal target market for them. 

I’ve always loved reading and writing and read through everything possible at my old primary school, I was always one of the first children to hit the higher reading awards that they had going on within the school.

When I was younger I was in the book club at the library where I grew up and I actually used to enjoy picking a book and then writing a review on it! I won reviewer of the month there quite a few times. I hope Leo enjoys doing things like this as he gets older.

I’m as bad for it now, this week I have bought another three to read; I went in for just the one … Whoops (see photo below). One of them I have read in just a day – once I start to read I can’t stop.   

My three this week were a varied choice but did include a survivor memoir and the new Harper Lee book, which I’m quite excited to read ( for those of you that don’t know, Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mocking Bird) – some schools have it on their reading list – I read it for fun. This one in particular, I am looking forward to reading to find out what happened to the characters from To Kill a Mocking Bird. 

 
I am a complete sucker for a good old book though. You know what I mean, a real paper book that ends up in tatters because it’s been read so often. Mine normally end up like this because I read in the bath and they often get wet and ….  I’m also a page folder, I know, I know, some of you absolutely hate that, but I’m not a bookmark fan as it’s just something else for me to lose … And then I lose my page… And then I get annoyed. Much easier to fold the page 😁

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do have a kindle and it does come on holiday with me. In fact, the reason that Dan bought it me was because he was trying to stop me going over our luggage limit for our honeymoon by taking mountains of books with me – but it still hasn’t replaced my “real book” fetish. 

This is going to disappoint some of you, but I do have a totally bad habit, I do, quite often, read the last chapter of the book before the first 🙈. I do not know how or when I developed this awful habit but my head likes to know the ending and then likes to see how we end up there. I know. Awful of me. 

Hopefully I won’t pass this bad habit onto Leo. 

Reading has always been something I can do on my own, sit in a corner, read on a bus, train or plane, under the covers … I can be a bit of a loner sometimes and I don’t mind that, I never have. I quite like my own company, even better with a good book.

Reading (along with writing) helped me get through our tough times after we lost Millie. Sometimes it would be a choice of fiction to put me in another, easier world other times it would be a self help book or memoir to help me try to understand what we were going through, to know that we weren’t alone. I never actually found a book that I can say really helped us, I actually struggled to find one to help us as there just didn’t seem to be anything out there that we fit into. 

Leo will always have books around him, just like Millie would have had. Some will be educational but most I hope will be fun, as I want it to become a pastime that he can enjoy, not one that he would rather forget. I don’t want him to grow up thinking that reading is just something you do at/for school because he’ll miss out on so many wonderful books. 

If you have any recommendations of books that I myself could read or any that you could recommend for us to read to Leo, please do feel free to leave us a comment 😀

Over at Millie’s Trust, we are actually giving a very special book away. It is a copy of the brand new KATY by Jacqueline Wilson and it is signed by her. To be in with a chance of winning, head on over to the Millie’s Trust Facebook page to enter and be quick before Leo claims it.😀

 Competition closes 1st August 2015 at 7pm

Thank you to Simply Books in Bramhall for donating the prize.

Click here for my latest blog So many angels, to little reason