Category Archives: What Heals Your Heart

Family Holiday Minus One

We always knew that anything we would ever do as a family, would be filled with bitter-sweet emotions that come with knowing that there is a tiny human missing; nothing will ever fill that gap, I guess that part we didn’t really expect, but there is and we cope with that permanent void.

I’m not really wanting to talk gaps, I’m wanting to share a little moment whilst on holiday, which had us all chuckling.

I’ve begun taking a collection of photos to use when I write for Still Standing and for this blog too, something for Melody but without using her photos all the time. Whilst I am “lucky” (definitely wanting a better word), to have so many of them, I worry about repeating them too frequently, especially with the two areas I write in. I don’t have aging photos, so I’ve a prop in the hope I can include her a little more.

We went camping in Oxfordshire, days out – making memories, what better way to begin this project than to start while on holiday.

This one in particular I had placed my prop, ‘M’ onto this rather pretty looking Wishing Well, I have spent many times wishing that things were different, I know nothing will change, wishing is all I have.

I took a step back to capture this frame, as I looked into my camera my youngest daughter – Melody’s sister runs into the shot, she grabs the ‘M’ and throws it straight into the Well, fortunately it wasn’t deep, there was a grate covering the bottom, all the children yelled baby’s name, the prop was retrieved but it made us all laugh, it got me thinking; imagining this prop was replaced with her (I don’t think this by the way, ‘M’ is not Melody, I know I don’t have to justify myself – but still).

I closed my eyes and everything was different.

I imagined this five year old strawberry blonde haired girl, sitting on the wall of the well waiting for her siblings to crowd around her for yet another photo opportunity, only for her little sister to push her in the well. She wouldn’t have been hurt, she’d have been embarrassed, and annoyed for a few minutes, would have shouted at her sister, then the laughing would have begun, the whole picture would have been different, five laughing children, no props just them. It would have been a moment that would have been brought up in conversation about our break away.

But of course, I am here Day Dreaming, it isn’t okay, it is what it is, a day dream. While there is no changing what has happened, and that Melody isn’t here; but I can share this moment of laughter that included all of my children, for the very first time in 5 years 4 months and 23 days I actually felt her with us, I felt like I had five children that day.

I always say I have five children, I have never shied away from having five but the truth in my head has always felt there to be just the four of them, which to anyone looking at us can see. It felt so wonderful, to feel her there with us, it has been something I thought would never come; it is strange trying to bond with someone who isn’t here, to bond with a child who never properly felt like ours in life or even in death over the years. Very difficult to explain fully, because even I can’t quite understand that part.

DSCF3473

Not only was a new memory made but I finally feel like Melody’s Mummy.

 

Melody and Me.

xx

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/19059075/?claim=5vvsux4jvvk”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Day Of Hope 2017

Day of Hope

Since 2012 I have always had a try at joining in with the Day of Hope project. A day of thought towards Melody, hope for the future of my grief. A peaceful and gentle way to acknowledge little lives lost.

I’m not religious, and I am most definitely not artistic or creative to be able to make such beautiful flags, but I have enjoyed joining in.

This year, as you can see I am late with my efforts, we were away but even in previous years I have at least attempted something for this healing project. But I felt distant towards it, may be even towards my grief.

 

Phases

I go through them every now and again, particularly as I’d felt very emotional last week. This fifth year has really knocked me on my arse; at this point, I am not even sure it’ll get better,  it isn’t constant, like the every day rawness or anything like it was in the beginning, but there is an obvious gap, that is making hurt just that little bit more.

I wasn’t going to join in with the project at all, in all fairness I wasn’t sure the project was even going ahead; so I guess in my head I had already made my mind up that I wouldn’t do it.  Then the event release came, which was good as I know it really does help many, many families, it’s certainly helped me.

I hadn’t given much thought into what I would do; I’d brought something to iron on and some fabric.

DSC_2139

I chucked it on my desk and forgot about it, lost the iron on patch and was left with this fabric, thought I am not going to do it this year, I don’t need to be doing this now, I am in a place where I am comfortable in my grieving skin.

But then the date remained in the back of my mind, we headed towards it, then passed through it, I had a sudden guilt, a feeling of something I had missed, something I needed to do.

I felt really bad for not doing this project, for Melody; it really hasn’t felt right not doing it as I have the previous years, this year has made me feel very torn. I guess I am so used to doing these little things for her, I just can’t bring myself to no not do them.

So this is my 2017 attempt at a prayer flag. Nothing greatly artistic, I used a blank canvas bag, wrote things which remind us of her.

 

Melody and Me

Melody – Remembering Our Daughter.

I love taking photographs; even more so since Melody died. We have few photos of her, but we do have them, but in her albums there are days missing. Days which I can’t piece together what she did, moments of her life missing, memories which have faded for me.

Photographs now are of great importance to me. I try to take them of my growing children as often as I can, but I always try to capture a moment in every day, albeit small or something huge.

I don’t want to miss a thing.

In the weeks which followed the death of our daughter, we began to find comfort in seeing her name. I have always struggled with signs from her, struggled with the thought that “she is all around us”. I have worked on this over the five years, it isn’t something that has really changed, and I don’t think it will.

So, I love seeing her name, it kind of began with our memory box which my online birth group friends brought for us; her name as clear as day on the front of the box, inside the box is a tiny cushion with her name on too, it gave her presence.

Various social media pages began offering personalised graphic pictures, where they put your baby’s name on a picture, so I began “collecting” these, different designs – some were themed like for Christmas or Easter, some just had a nice or meaningful background; each included Melody.  

I can’t quite remember which picture started it off, but I remember we visited a place in Devon the first summer we were without her, there’s a section named “Melody Close”, seeing her name felt like she had been included in our day out. 

From then we began writing her name in the sand. Every beach we visited we wrote her name, close friends began to follow suit, places we had never heard of or would dream of visiting. Having the imagination I have, it is almost like she is having her own adventures, traveling the world, going to places we’d never dream or afford of going.

By our first October, Melody was soon included in the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Wave of Light, her name placed by candles alongside many, many other babies’ names. I was a beautiful thing to know she was remembered in this event. The following summer I placed a status on my Facebook, asking if people would write her name in the sand at the beaches they visited, it was a way of giving her a footprint to walk in the sand; she never had the chance to feel sand between her toes, this would have been the only way.

Many pictures came through; it was touching to see the many places she was being remembered, for the moments her name was being written, she was being thought of. Sad as it is as time as moved forward, the moments of thought can lessen. As her second birthday approached, we didn’t know how we would ‘celebrate’, we found the second birthday harder than the first; from a friend’s idea from her daughter’s birthday the year before, we asked people to write her name, not just in the sand, but in any kind of way they could think of. There would be no cards, no party or her choosing a birthday cake. Our friends and family came up with the most wonderful designs and ideas – there were so many and no two were the same. It meant so much to see people had taken a moment out of their day to do a little something for her.

We are five years into this journey, and over the course of the years the photos don’t come as often. But the ones which arrive mean so much to us. We can’t physically make memories with her, but we can somehow make her memory last. When the days in which is feels all is fading her name appears, someone has taken the time to remember her.

We fill scrap books when we have time, rather than photo albums.

We have several which we love; the children are often the first to want to include her name in a place we were visiting.

She has been taken to Florida, Indiana, France, Cornwall, Australia, Scotland, and Devon to name a few.

She was remembered by a couple we have never met on their wedding day, this one landed a spot on our wall in our living room.

Here are just a few.

We named her after a character in the Doctor Who series, when she was born we knew we had picked the right name. 

We just didn’t know she would end up traveling on her own. 

I don’t want the only place her name is written is on her headstone. 

Her name should be surrounded the beauty she deserves. 

Why I don’t like to Visit

I must admit I have visited her on a weekly basis during the past few weeks, more because I would be walking passed the cemetery, so it wouldn’t have been right if I didn’t pop in to see her.
But generally, it isn’t a place I like to be.

Visiting

We go to visit around her birthday, her anniversary; we give her a carnival theme in September, which changes to Halloween and then Christmas.
We visited her a lot in the beginning, at the time it felt right, it felt like it was something we needed to do; like a guilty feeling for not spending time with our daughter. But as time moved on, the more difficult it became to visit; I’ve never found the spiritual side of this loss, I never felt that she was always around me… I’d completely lost her. To me she had literally moved from one box to another, only her new box was this ugly thing that is now buried 3ft underground.
I don’t like visiting her because I know where she is; I know and can imagine where she is lying. No amount of what people tell me, that she isn’t there, I know she is….I watched them lower her into the ground.

Ugly

It probably is a form of torture, imagining the totally ugly side of death, of her death. But there isn’t anything exactly beautiful about having a funeral, a burial for your child.
I used to feel guilty about so many things, about how I chose to repair myself; not visiting on a daily basis or talking to her for hours on end. She could once hear me, when I spoke to her she would respond to me, now – well you know.
I’d have nightmares in the beginning about her final resting place, awful horrible nightmares; most rarely appear now, I don’t think they will ever go away.

Good bye

When she was alive the word ‘Goodbye’, couldn’t get past my tongue, it was a word in my head that felt so powerful, that I felt scared to use it, every evening when we left the unit, or every tie during the day, I’d say “See you later.” Or “See you tomorrow.” Goodbye always seems so final, her time spent in the unit she was doing well, so I never really knew why I was so frightened to use it.
Then I had to say it, I had to say this final word, as she slipped away I had to say it, amongst the “I love you.” And “please don’t go”. Goodbye had to now roll off the tongue.
When I, we visit her at the cemetery, I now have to say it, I have to say goodbye to her, I have to walk away, to leave her there, to turn my back on her every single time.
It isn’t how it was meant to be, walking away each time, even now still hurts, she’s still dead, she still should have been here.

Love

Visiting her on the surface, it seems okay, I take photos of her flowers, of her new toys…I still like to buy her things. But the inside it kills me. This wasn’t supposed to be our life. But it is – she is where she is. I don’t have to visit her to show that I am her Mum. Doesn’t mean I love her any less, I just have to try and live every day for her, make each day count, even the ones where we have Pyjama days.

A photograph.

In parenting there is such constant competition.  
My baby took their steps before yours.  
My child read a whole book before yours. 
I’ve done so much more as a parent than you. 

It is hard to know that even in the devastating community of baby and child loss that even then there is some kind of competition.  
There shouldn’t be.  

I remember feeling particularly bad because all other baby loss mums had a shelf or something in their home to remember their babies with, I didn’t.. But now I have and I don’t really like it.
Over the course of the years there’s been a lot of mention about the quantity of photos I have for our daughter, the clothes, the memories we were able to build. 
How I’m lucky I got to spend time with her.
How lucky to have a “million” photos of her. 
(of course it isn’t a million, maybe just about 50).
I know it is 50 more than other parents, but it also 50 less than others too. 
I feel sad that I am made to feel less because I have these photos, these photos like I said others may not have. 
When the first photo was taken, not by me but some random nurse, I’d not even met her, I didn’t know that the photo that arrived in my room was the only photo I would have knowing she was alive at that point. 
I was stuck to the bed on drips, body still numb, still really poorly and I was desperate to see her, to know she was OK. 
John went to see her, midwives went to see her EVERYONE went to see her, they returned with photos and even a video. 
They’re precious to me.  The first few photos at that point were the only things keeping me going. 
Once she’d come off the ventilation, I knew then I needed to document everything about her journey. 
Her life, because at one point, she was coming home, these photos were meant to be her story to tell her at her 18th birthday.  They were never meant to be.

“In Memory of.. “

I have empty folders of days I’d not photographed or days where I wasn’t allowed to visit.  To me now that kills me that I don’t have every single day of her short life. 
She was not meant to die. 
I don’t have cuddle cot photos, or bed sharing photos, we didn’t get chance to spend extra time after she died, we didn’t get that option.
So when I share the photos I have it isn’t to hurt anyone else, for attention,  it is because it is all I have, I don’t expect other people to comment on “how lucky I am to have these photos”.
I hear this often, as well as “at least you got time to with her”.  Same with everyone else it was never enough.
Well because if I had a choice, the same choice anyone in our situation would have, I’d swap the photos for her any day. 

Every single baby/child loss parent is in this shitty time together. Nobody’s journey is worth less than someone else’s because of how different the situation is. 
I’m not lucky I got to spend time with her. 
I’m lucky because I GET to be Melody’s Mum, no matter how long she lived.
This photo is her second photo, (her first she is completely naked flat out in her incubator).
Here she is Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes old. There are a few taken close together. 
At these moments I did not know how many more pictures I’d get. 
Whether this would be the only way I’d have seen her alive, 
I didn’t know a thing, apart from she was stable. 
But to me it could have meant anything. 

This is her second from last alive, (her last is with the three of us broken beyond repair, watching the vent being removed from our precious daughter).
When this photo was taken, she was 34 days One Hour and Ten minutes old. 
We had no idea that she would die. 
We had no idea that this photo was going to be the final one of our then normality. 
We had no idea that this photo would turn into a part of a memorial. 
We had no idea that LESS than 24 hours after this photo was taken she’d be dead. 
We have photos of her after her heart stopped beating, and in the chapel of rest, only but a few have seen that one (the hospital ones only myself and John have seen those). 
I cannot bear to look at them, this may sound particularly ungrateful to anyone who hasn’t got photos, 
I can’t imagine that loss, that feeling. 
But to me Melody is so like her sisters, and even her brother at times, seeing her in such a devastating way, only reminds me, not just of the loss of Melody, but the unimaginable anxieties that come with being a bereaved parent. 
I don’t just see her, I see them too. 
I cannot imagine ever not having photos, or for the parents that couldn’t have a footprint…because there are footprints just too small. 
But please don’t make my memories, my pain any less because I do have the photos. 
Because if I could choose to have any of this shit, I’d have chosen not photos and no footprints just to give her one last cuddle and one last kiss. 
I’d have never let go. 

#captureyourgrief My Promise To You

I was going to go, all inspirational, how I want to change the state of the taboo, promise to help others.
But I hope I do help others, so many wonderful things in her memory.

But actually, here’s something a little different.
I have always loved Christmas. The magic, the run up, the smells, the lights…everything.
The year before she was born, we were making plans of how much our lives would change with a new baby, had she’d been born in the May like she was meant to, we’d have had a 7 month old.
The usual questions; How would she have reacted? Would she have pulled down the tree? Would she have enjoyed Brussel Sprouts? We were all so terribly excited.

Only the following year I was pregnant again, desperately hoping we could have that “First Christmas” the following year, I was sick, I was angry, sad, hormonal I wanted it all to be over. Our cards which were signed from bump, were now carefully chosen, on who we’d include our special “M” cloud.
How was I ever supposed to love Christmas again? In the beginning I hated it, when I desperately wanted to love it, if not for me, but my children..that’s who they are, children.
Christmas had, and needed to be magical, the idea they had their hearts broken, a little bit of innocence stolen from them I couldn’t take that magic away from them.

So as we’ve gone through the years, I have tried my best to make it the most magical time for them.
We’ve had Christmas Characters come to stay (much like Elf on the shelf, but Elves aren’t the only ones part of the Christmas story). First one I turned into a book. (Ralph’s Christmas Adventure).
We do Bookmas,24 books for advent to open daily, brought by our Christmas Helper.

We give them magic for the whole of December (to the best of our abilities and finances).
Of course we want to give them magic the whole year round.
But for most people, Christmas during their childhood is the most remembered. I want them to remember, love,fun, laughter…magic.

It is unbelievably difficult knowing we do have her missing, we include her in our celebrations..candles, she has decorations for the tree and a Christmas Village, illuminated houses we add to each year since she died.

She was alive Christmas 2011, she may have been in utero but she was alive, a heartbeat, hands, feet. We picked her name at Christmas too, thanks to Dr Who Christmas episodes.

My Promise would be to give them the magical childhood they deserve.
If it means going crazy at Christmas, spoiling them for birthdays, days out when we can. Then that is what it takes.
I hate I couldn’t protect them from losing her, but I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to them.

Believing in the magic.

#captureyourgrief #WHATHEALSYOU

Sharing her story, it is only a short one, but it is her story. I know I repeat it over and over, and talk way too much. But it is all I have of her.
Helping other people, parents who have just started the journey, parents who have been on this journey longer.
At least I hope I help. I had moments where I felt lost and lonely. I want to achieve the opposite, it is hell enough without having nowhere to turn to.
I wish for nobody to feel the pain of saying goodbye to their child.

But not just in the baby loss community, but giving my time, it keeps me busy, my mind and body busy.
If I can I will help anyone.

Of course writing is my big comforter. Not just writing about Melody, but I occasionally blog about family life, but also I am having a go at a bit of fiction. I procrastinate a fair bit, I’m frightened of failure, of being a laughing stock,  but I do adore writing, not a lot makes any sense, but it is a huge release, it helps me.

#captureyourgrief I AM

Today we are given the task to finish these five sentences.

I Wish
I Remember
I Could Not Believe
If Only 
I Am 

I WISH  I had held her longer, once she died. I felt like as her mum I had abandoned her, I was too scared to hold her, too scared to bath her. Once she was returned to us after her bath, I didn’t pick her up, I didn’t know if I was allowed to disturb her, would I hurt her. Of course I wouldn’t have hurt her. That we had spent more time with just me, her and her dad, nobody else. We thought we did the right thing by inviting people to say goodbye, but it should have been just us.  That we had co-slept with her, or had the equipment to have allowed us more time. I know I sound ungrateful, as we had longer than most, we had her whole life. But we didn’t know it was going to be her whole life, we weren’t supposed to say goodbye. I wish I’d sung her a lullaby, or read her a story.
I wish she hadn’t died, she should have been still here.

I REMEMBER Wanting the pain to stop, I cannot even describe what it felt like to have the doctor tell us that she wouldn’t survive. The same woman only five weeks before had told us she was doing well in the NICU. She’d wheeled her away after showing her her beautiful pink warm face.
How I couldn’t control any of it. Her birth, her life, her death. My knees were weak from the sickening blow. I remember not knowing how the hell I was going to breathe again, how we were going to move forward in life. The Pain has never gone away, it still remains, but I can live with it. I have to live with it.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE It happened to  us. That not only could I not save our beautiful girl, but I could not save my children from the heartache of having their baby sister die. I admit when I’d had my miscarriages in earlier years, I never mentioned them, I needed to protect them, I still haven’t told them. I didn’t want them to know that babies can die.
I still feel like a shit mum for being unable to protect any of them, my one job..

IF ONLY Things were different, not my life, we may have had five living children, but the day she died everything the surrounds her death, the lead up to it. If only things were done differently, there was a chance there could have been a better outcome. I do go over and over, I know I shouldn’t, but the strength that baby had, the hope we were given, the babies after her with less chances who have survived, it pinches. If Only.

I AM a Mum to FIVE children. A Mum who makes mistakes, who finds things hard, who laughs hard, screams the loudest, and cry until I can no longer breathe.

I AM HUMAN.

(Google)


I cannot believe that sometimes; I wish I didn’t have to remember who I am. 
If Only 

#captureyourgrief Consciously Becoming

Day 24
Consciously Becoming

Who was I before she died?
I can’t remember much. I remember my children’s lives,how they grew, what they did.
I used to work in care. I had worked in care from the age of 16,give or take short breaks when I thought I wanted to be a hair dresser,or when I had my babies. I couldn’t cope with looking after other people’s loved ones,when our little girl never got a chance. Of course this was the raw pain talking. But at the same time it was the best decision I’d ever made.
I don’t really know who I’ve become either.
I wear my heart of my sleeve a lot,I’m more sensitive to certain situations.
I question the person I am. I question if I’m a good person. So many people have walked away during this journey,that I end up wondering whether or not I’m not a person people want to be around.

I find myself feeling hurt, I try so hard to be the person I want to be,the approachable woman who is like anyone else.
I’m told I’m an inspiration, an amazing woman.
But I cannot see it. Particularly when I do wear my heart on my sleeve, and let the people or things bother me when it shouldn’t.

What I would like to do is change the taboo,end the silence. Allows parents to speak freely about their losses.
To offer kindness and support to families,with no exclusions.

I’m not the same person I was on the 31st March 2012. Life was so incredibly different.
But at the same time when we were reborn at 9:30am on the 1st April,I’d have never imagined we would be where we are now. But then,I’m not sure where that would have been anyway.

I’m growing.. I just hope it is the right way.

#captureyourgrief Sounds, Seasons and Scents

Sounds
The songs played at her funeral, would have to be the biggest of triggers when it comes to sounds and songs.
Which is Amazing Grace by Bag pipes. Every Breathe You Take by Police,it had to be the original, not Puff Daddy’s Version. Of course my personal trigger is Sia My Love.
But over the years,I’ve fallen in love with other songs which remind me of her but not in such a gut wrenching way. Other Sia songs included. Bird Set Free and Photograph by Ed Sheeran are two which make me think of her.

Seasons
Of course would be Spring. It is her season. The day she was born,Spring arrived early, it was hot the weather was beautiful the whole time she was here. Everything about Spring reminds me of her,the colours, the flowers, most particularly Daffodils. Hold significance, they’re not here for long,but when they are they brighten the world around them. Much like preemies who don’t make it.

Scents
I’ve mentioned it in previous years,but it isn’t something I pay huge attention to,unless it hits me. (Makes sense in my head).
But if I’m honest I’m not sure if it is a post Melody trigger or post Hyperemesis trigger.
For instance, the alleyway which leads to the place we used to live, (it wasn’t home, I hate it). We moved out 13 months later,the smell,the shadows the alley gives, I can manage it once a year if I have to,the property was attached to a bakery,another place I cannot handle going in to. Maybe twice I have been in since.

The biggest trigger I have discovered just recently, I’m guessing it will of course always be there. Is the smell of the hospital,the sounds the echoes,everything,takes me back to the life I used to know.
I causes me great deal of anxiety being there, I didn’t realise just how obvious it is. One I definitely hate.

I cannot remember what she smells like. I can just about remember the two huge differences iin temperatures, but her smell.
We’ve a pink blanket in a memory box,we’d hoped would have the smell locked away,but sadly it’s gone.
I wish there was a way to bottle the smells,the baby smell. May be there is,but it’s not something I have. I wish I did.
Her smell wasn’t the same as the typical baby smell,she also had the scent of her incubator and the vapotherm,which made her scent so unique.
I wish I could remember.
Everything is fading.
I don’t like it.

The Sun Shines behind her.
Now she lights our way.