I wonder what ?

There are many things that I struggle with dealing with the loss of my children, in particular Millie. With the baby that we miscarried, I don’t seem to have the same struggles, I have different struggles, like never knowing what they would even look like when they were born or seeing what colour eyes they would have.

I think maybe this is because we didn’t know whether the baby was a boy or girl. We gave the baby a unisex name because of this and it still breaks my heart when I think of our loss with this baby. Don’t get me wrong, I know that all types of baby/pregnancy loss are horrendous because you start to plan your baby’s future as soon as you see that positive line but for me with Millie it’s different because she had been with us here for 9 months and one of the biggest struggles that I have is not seeing her grow up.

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Now I know that seems a really obvious thing to say but it’s the little things that many people take for granted when you have children.

Would she like having plaits in her hair?

What would her voice sound like?

How tall would she be?

Would she like wearing dresses or be a total Tomboy living in jeans and getting covered on dirt like I was?

Would she have her daddy’s smile or would she sleep the same way he does?

Would she like going to the football with him at the weekends?

This seems to hit me the most when it’s around her birthday and not long after her birthday this year, my mum passed me some photos.

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Many of them made me laugh, photos of her on her wedding day, of my Auntie (yes, you Auntie Linz 😀) as a very young girl but then I came across some of me when I was small. What was odd though, is that these random photos that my mum had brought over were of me when I was 6, the same age that Millie would have been this year.

My mum hadn’t even looked on the back of the photos and seen the age, she’d just picked a few up to show me …

Strange isn’t it that this is the one I saw?

Do your children look like you or have the same mannerisms? I would love to know what you have in common, it’s such a beautiful thing that our children look like us and often act like us.

If like us, you have angels, what is it that you imagine them to be like?

x

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It’s here again

I’ve had a cracking headache for three days now, it just won’t go away.

I know why I’ve got it. It’s Millie’s birthday tomorrow. She should be 6…

Sometimes I think that the day before is almost harder than the actual day itself.

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It absolutely breaks my heart to be running around buying things for her birthday, things that we don’t want to buy her but do.

Flowers, so many flowers. I don’t know what else to get. At least we can make her sleeping place extra pretty for her.

Stressing out if people have remembered our baby girl’s birthday or whether she’s become a fading memory to people and nobody will visit her except us tomorrow.

I stood in Clinton’s today for the 6th year running, crying trying to pick her birthday card.

We choose teddies that are wrapped in cellophane to keep the rain out.

I picked up balloons that she’s never going to get to run around playing with in front of us like Leo does, laughing and smiling.

My heart is broken this evening.

I’m broken.

Give your babies an extra hug this evening.

xxx

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Christmas Eve

Twas the night before Christmas …

Presents wrapped, Reindeer dust scattered, vegetables peeled, meat ready for the slow cooker and a key left for Father Christmas to be able to get into our house.

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Candles lit, decorations left and flowers ready for Millie’s resting place tomorrow.

Always two sides to our Christmas…

And Mummy daddy are absolutely shattered and on the Amaretto and Quality Street already!

Merry Christmas everyone 🤣

Let’s see what tomorrow brings, x

Read my last blog, Six, that many? by clicking here

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Six, that many?

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that we are just around the corner from our sixth Christmas without our little girl.

We were at Millie’s resting place yesterday and a lovely lady came to talk to me who recognised me from a newspaper. We got chatting and she told me that she was visiting her son who has in grieving terms, not long been buried, she was so sad. It hurt me to see her in so much pain and knowing that there’s nothing that you can do to take it away. Her son was a lot older than Millie, in his twenties but still no age to lose your life and a parent should never have to go through the indescribable pain of losing a child, no matter how old or young they are or in fact, you are.

Instead of preparing ourselves for Christmas by hunting out the latest gifts that our children want, an extremely large number of us are hunting out flowers or plants that might just last outside over Christmas a little longer than usual, we are placing little Christmas Trees and outdoor lights around our children’s resting places and we are laminating cards to last in the rain or laying them down knowing that within 24 hours they will be destroyed but hoping that our children will have read our words in them, in some strange and mysterious way that they are involved with our lives.

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For the first three years after we lost Millie, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. We didn’t put a tree up, we didn’t see any family or friends or exchange gifts or cards. We didn’t acknowledge it, it was just another day to Dan and I.

I don’t ever think Christmas will be a huge thing for us, it hurts too much. It’s hard to make plans with other people as I can’t predict how many times each of us will break down and cry and many people (thankfully) cannot understand why this happens. We’re more comfortable just having our own little Christmas in our own home.

The fourth year was different, we put a tree up and did a little bit of Christmas because we now had Leo. We couldn’t not do it for him. We’ve always said that we don’t want Leo’s (and now Asher’s) lives to be any different or miss out on on things because of what happened to Millie.

Christmas is something that Leo and Asher’s friends will celebrate and take part in and we don’t want our children to feel left out and not to be able to enjoy this time of year, especially as they get older.

I’m not religious, not at all. I did wonder,like many of us do and we had Millie christened but once she passed away, that was it for me. I couldn’t believe in something so cruel, something that could take away a child from loving parents, so as you can imagine Christmas will never be associated with religion in our house.

There will never be any Christmas scenes, any prayers and certainly no bibles. It will always just be a fun day for our children where they get some presents and are allowed to eat more chocolate than usual!

It’s extremely hard that first Christmas after you lose a child. Everything you see or hear, tears your heart out. Children getting excited looking at toys or coming out from visiting Santa, families enjoying big family Christmas meals and songs on the radio that can make you spontaneously burst out crying in the middle of a supermarket after playing just a few notes or words.

Waking up on Christmas morning, there are lots of tears before any of the fun. The tears fall as soon as we wake up for the missing part of our family, our precious daughter. We cannot help but think about how we won’t see her face running smiling into our bedroom, or the shock on her face when she sees that Father Christmas has been or how happy she realises she can be when she can have chocolate for breakfast. None of it. We never got to see it, we never will and we still miss it like it’s an existing memory. That’s the thing with us though, we don’t have any Christmas memories with Millie because we never got to see her first one. All we know, is everything that she will miss out on, everything she will never get to see or experience and although these thoughts are with us every day in everything that we do, they became ever so more prominent at special times of the year.

We’ll visit Millie a couple of times on Christmas Day, normally in the morning and then in the evening to light some candles. She’ll be left a card and lots of gorgeous flowers from us and at home, she’ll have a Christmas Stocking, just like we all will. Although it won’t be filled with special treats like all the other ones, it’s still hers and it will still be there.

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We’ve also got our other little star, the baby I miscarried in November 2016. I love my family so much, but it’s hard not to see what should have been, that we should have 4 children all laughing around the table with us, that there should be twice as many presents in our living room from Father Christmas and that there should be twice as much mess as there will be. I’d love to see twice as much mess and twice as much chaos in our home at any time because that would mean that we wouldn’t have any sad memories from the past and that all our children would be here with us.

If you are lucky enough to be able to celebrate Christmas with all your children around you, send a little love to the people that can’t. Christmas is an emotional time for anyone who has lost a loved one but a Christmas without a child that should be there is unbearable as you think about all the missing futures that they should have and even just the missing smile from around the table.

As much as we will laugh, smile and play with our little ones on the day, a piece of us will be with our missing children and there’ll always be a part of us that can’t quite get to that happy place that we all crave to get to, that perfect life that we all want.

I sign Christmas cards (any cards) off with Millie’s name in them, she’s a huge part of our family and always will be. Some people might find that odd and think that we shouldn’t do it, but I don’t care. Unless you have lost a child, I don’t care for your opinion when it comes to how we should we grieve or how we should act. Losing a child, is not the same as any other type of loss or any other type of grief, far from it.

Six Christmases down the line since we lost Millie and we are still trying to figure out what and how we want to do things without Millie here.

My heart is with all those parents right now who are experiencing their first Christmas without their child. The pain of all those firsts is a pain that will never leave me and will always hurt. I wish that I could tell these parents that the pain will go away but it doesn’t,not at all.

You learn to live with the pain and your life is built around it. You learn how to deal with your pain to get you through these special days and you will discover what is the right thing for you to do on these days and whatever you decide that is, is perfect – for you and always will be.

If I could line you all up and give each and every one of you a hug this Christmas, I would … I feel your pain, I feel your miss.

From one grieving parent to another xxx

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Sleep On Your Side Campaign

This is going to be yet again one of those controversial issues, some people will agree with and some won’t. It shouldn’t be controversial or be questioned, but it will be. It happens every time new research is released.

#sleeponside campaign

I’ve lost two children, one aged 9 months through a choking incident and one during pregnancy, a miscarriage; but I support a lot of campaigns regarding the loss of children because at the end of the day, no one should suffer child loss if it can be prevented in any way.

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Today the fabulous charity Tommy’s released new research that suggests that sleeping on your side is better than sleeping on you back during pregnancy and the new research shows that sleeping on your side helps to prevent stillbirth.

I’m sharing this so that you all see this video clip and it may one day help you or help someone you know.

This is obviously not the only reason Stillbirth can happen and we’ll never know all the reasons but it is A reason and something that is so simple and something that may just prevent it happening to you.

I know, as I write this and as your reading it, you will either be thinking that it’s great to have found some reasoning behind some still births or you’re thinking that you don’t believe it but why risk not listening to the most up to date advice about something so sad?

Personally, I couldn’t sleep on my back during pregnancy anyway, especially during the last 3 months as the weight of my bump put pressure on my back and I could hardly move if I fell asleep like that, so my body practically forced me to sleep on my side.

An important thing to remember is DON’T PANIC if you do wake up on your side, your body naturally moves in your sleep and you can’t help that, but if you do wake up on your back – re-position yourself to your side.

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So, take a look at this video clip and pass the message on. Click here to view

” Although researchers cannot say for certain why the risk is increased, there are several theories. In the third trimester, when the woman is lying on her back, the combined weight of baby and uterus (womb) puts pressure on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus, and this can restrict blood flow/oxygen to the baby. Other possible explanations include disturbed breathing during sleep, which is worse when a woman sleeps on her back and in overweight or obese women, who also have an increased risk of stillbirth.

The advice to pregnant women is to go to sleep on their side for any episode of sleep in the third trimester, including:

• going to sleep at night

• returning to sleep after any night wakenings

• day time naps

As the going-to-sleep position is the one held longest during the night, women should not be concerned if they wake up on their back, but should simply roll back onto their side.

The MiNESS study did not find a difference in risk between sleeping on the right or left side. One of the previous studies did show that sleeping on the right increased the risk, but as this was not found in the other three studies, the Tommy’s campaign recommends that women can go to sleep on either side.”

Source (Tommy’s) and for further information, click here

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Remembering

A year ago today, I realised that I thought we were losing our baby that I was about 10 weeks pregnant with.

We were having a lovely family day out when I had the tiniest of bleeds and thought I’d better get myself checked as I’d never had this before in pregnancy.

A few days later, I found out that it was definite, that we were losing our baby.

I had had a missed miscarriage which meant I just had to wait to fully miscarry for up to 2 weeks, it fully happened pretty much 2 weeks later.

Today I’m remembering.

Leo is our rainbow baby following our loss of Millie and Asher who is led here in my arms at just 3 weeks old, is a rainbow baby too following the loss of Millie and the baby that I miscarried. I might not of held the baby in my arms that I miscarried, but they’ll always be in my heart. xxx

Read Diary of a missed miscarriage from my blog last year

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What is a Rainbow Baby?

A rainbow baby is a baby born shortly after the loss of child. They are called the because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what’s to come

What’s a missed miscarriage? Why does it happen?

A missed miscarriage (also called silent or delayed miscarriage) is where the baby has died or failed to develop but your body has not actually miscarried him or her. The scan picture shows a pregnancy sac with a baby (or fetus or embryo) inside, but there is no heartbeat and the pregnancy looks smaller than it should be at this stage. Pregnancy hormone levels may still be high, so you may have had no idea that anything was wrong, still feel pregnant and have a positive pregnancy test.

It’s not clear if there is a particular reason for this kind of miscarriage. Some people think it’s just the downside of early pregnancy tests and ultrasound: if the miscarriage wasn’t diagnosed on, say, a booking scan, you would only know you had miscarried when that physical process started.

Source: Miscarriage Association

Hi, My name is

Hello.

My name is Joanne.

And I have mental health problems.

Seems easy that doesn’t it?

It’s not. It’s hard. It’s really hard.

It’s one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to admit to myself.

That I had problems and I needed help.

That I needed help more than I could ever have imagined.

The trigger of my illness? My daughter suddenly passing so unexpectedly. Things I saw on that day. Things I didn’t want to see. Things I didn’t want to hear. Things that I had no control over. Things that I couldn’t stop. Things I couldn’t change.

Of course I was grieving for my daughter but I thought I was normal. I thought everyone grieved like I was.

Turns out that I wasn’t though.

I was one of the lucky ones. If you can call me that. I didn’t feel lucky after losing our daughter. Although I was lucky. Lucky to get quick access to an amazing NHS psychologist – because if I hadn’t have done, I know that I wouldn’t be here today.

That might sound dramatic. It’s not though, it’s the truth.

My darling husband realised that I wasn’t functioning as I should be. That I wasn’t grieving like he was. That I was different. That something was wrong.

I didn’t want to believe it. I’m glad he made me go to the doctors though. It saved me.

I was diagnosed with

Severe Anxiety

Severe Depression

Severe PTSD

Panic attacks

Complex Grief

So, as you can see. It turns out that I wasn’t just grieving.

It’s roughly 4 years down the line now since my first psychologist session, when I didn’t really say much,I just sat and cried and then got angry. It’s a little different nowadays I talk more, I pour my heart out sometimes. I was there just last week. It’s not an easy fix to deal with mental health problems.

It’s hard work.

Its emotional.

It’s heartbreaking.

It’s torturous.

But as the old saying goes, “it’s good to talk”. It truly is.

Some days I can’t function. I feel like I’m failure as a wife, as a Mum, as friend … as everything.

These illnesses nearly cost us our marriage, nearly cost us the chance of having more children. I could’ve ran away. I wanted Dan to be with someone who could make him happy. Not to be with someone who cried herself to sleep most nights, that woke up and didn’t want to speak to him, that didn’t want to socialise. I wanted to leave so he could be happy. But he loves me more than I could ever have imagined and he stood by me and he’s my rock.

Social media is full of all these fabulous photographs that are photoshopped, edited, filtered – often we only see what people want us to see. They want you to see that their life is perfect and oh so happy.

So here is an unfiltered, unedited, unattractive photograph of what I looked like after a very recent anxiety attack and this is after nearly 5 years of having them. I took this 3 weeks go, not knowing if or when I was going to show it – but today seems right to do so, on World Mental Health Day. There was a trigger for this attack, I’ll talk about it in another blog when I’m ready …

After this attack, I was burnt out for a couple of days. It’s not like this just for a few minutes, the after effects always last a few days and it takes a while to piece me back together – but Dan and Leo always do this for me and help me through it.

So now you’ve read this, I’ve said this before.

Time to text that friend who you might not have heard from in a while, that might have been distant, that might have seemed rude last time that you spoke to them.

They could need that text more than you could imagine tonight. Offer them a brew. It might take them 3 months to take you up on the offer, but they will, when they’re ready. Let them know you’ll wait.

Mental Health does scare people, that’s not a surprise at all.

But the person it scares the most, is the person who is suffering and they might not even know it.

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Read one of my recent blogs here, Unexpected Reminders

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