Category Archives: What Heals Your Heart

Melody and Me

A Photograph. Infant Loss

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 photographs 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” photographs 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 photographs, these photos like I said others may not have.
When the first photograph was taken, not by me but some random nurse, I’d not even met her, I didn’t know that the photograph that arrived in my room was the only photograph 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 photographs and even a video.
They’re precious to me.  The first few photographs 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 photographs 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 photographs, 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 photographs”.
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 photographs 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 photograph, (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.

 

 melody and me
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 photograph 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 photograph was going to be the final one of our then normality.
We had no idea that this photograph would turn into a part of a memorial.
We had no idea that LESS than 24 hours after this photograph 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 photographs,
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.

#captureyourgrief Relationships

The difference between the relationships before she died to now are huge. Some have broken beyond repair. But the fractures began to appear whilst she was alive. These could have gone two ways, closer, stronger bond. Or as I say broken beyond repair.

I know,that talking of baby loss, being around the families are terribly difficult. But there are people you genuinely expect better of. Because they don’t realise what they’ve done,it isn’t osomething that can be easily fixed.
I wish I could elaborate further. Cryptic words,isn’t something I do,that’s why I’m here,but this subject I can’t get my head around.
It has made my grief heavier and rather than concentrate on healing the death of our daughter, I was more concerned about justifying how I felt, how different behaviours were.
I find that is pushes me back in my grief. It shouldn’t.

I still have some of the same friendships, but dynamics have definitely changed over time.
Friends turned into acquaintances. And acquaintances turned into friends.
I met my husband online, never did I ever think that some of my new closest friends are part of an online community. Two of who are god mums to Melody’s little sisters.
The friends who I’ve made along the way who have stayed are liquid gold.
Allowed me to be open,yet still not walk away. Not allowing their own fears to take over and avoid me,which has happened.

When people suddenly stop talking, without explanation it is damaging,of course have lasting effects.

This is why I’m so lucky to have the people who are around. Who make me laugh and cry.

(Not included all photos as I’ve not many on my tablet)
Xx

#captureyourgrief Gratitude

Tough one, because I’m no way thankful that Melody died. Nor do I believe that any thing amazing that has occurred after she died was that reason. Because no,everything doesn’t happen for a reason.

I’d much rather have come into contact with the people I have because of a hobby or because they’re the same age. Not because they died.
I’m grateful I get to wake up each morning, that she gave me some kind of strength oo be able to leave my bed in the morning.
I’m grateful to the children I can cuddle,because they were the reason I did get out of bed,to keep breathing, keep smiling and to laugh again. I have no guilt over that.
She has taught us so much about the world. The beauty in Nature, the ugly in the human race. How people can be cruel,but the unexpected are warm gentle front runners.

I’m grateful to her legacy for giving us the knowledge of having two healthy sisters, and also that one day keep all of her siblings safe when they have children.

She may not be with us but we’re incredibly lucky to have her as part of out lives.

#captureyourgrief Grief Rituals

Only rituals I can think of would be to still celebrate her birthday. To include her in all occasions, Christmas, Easter,Halloween. We even include her for carnival celebrations.
We always eat cake on her birthday,and go for lunch,we try and buy her something too. Her anniversary we try and visit the beach,but that’s the more difficult date, one I still cannot cope with particularly well.

We’d like to visit places on her birthday,but as it’s February and usually cold,(apart from the year she was born), we tend just to do lunch. She always has daffodils. And finances dependent, we try and give £35 to charity or buy something for the children.

We also try and get people to write her name,which I shared in Heart work.

#captureyourgrief Healing Therapies

Talking,writing and friendships have been the best form  therapy for me.
I talk far too much,I know I piss people off,I used to care but for most people who are annoyed by my speaking out have no idea, nnd have no right to judge on how I put myself back together.

When I couldn’t talk face to face writing became my number one form of therapy. It was a release, a way of letting go of things that were bothering me. To tell the world what was hurting me,without the need to see the pity,the head tilts.
To keep her memory alive.

Friendships, including my husband and of course my children.
Brought smiles,laughter. They helped pulled me through,we helped each other to pull us all through.

Here is Melody’s story begun in NICU rounded off with our journey of her little sister’s pregnancy, and first birthday.