Author Archives: Melody's Mummy

#togetherforchange

Relationship Changes

I had never seen my husband cry before, for me that was the most powerful thing I saw in the hours and days after she died. When I looked at the twisted pain in his face, I knew it mirrored my own feelings. I knew I must have looked the same to him. But one of the hardest things I watched was watching him not only be strong for all of us; but that I couldn’t take his pain away, there was nothing I could do.

As we returned to the hospital the next day, he sat with his eyes closed, exhausted because sleep had failed us. I’ll ever forget the silence in the room, the pure exhaustion over his face, I felt so unbelievably helpless.

From that day it struck me how men are expected to keep strong, be the tea makers and the rocks of the family. I couldn’t let him face it alone or deal with the heaviness. We had to do it together, both of us lost our daughter; both of us had broken hearts.

 

What Impact Did Your Experience Have On Your Relationship?

I am not sure how it was possible but we became even closer than we ever did. After finding out that support services were absolutely shocking and almost non-existent. Family and friends didn’t truly understand what we were going through, we understood each other. Our pain we helped pull each other through. Lit each other up when the other was in the dark. I’d never have gotten through the early raw days without him.

 

What Did You Talk About With Your Partner To Overcome The Difficulties Experienced By The Loss?

We tried to be as open as we could with each other; asking ourselves on a fair few occasions, “Will we get through this together?” From very early on we did our best to make sure we would always be there for each other, even if we weren’t on the same page – because as perfect as me saying this sounds we didn’t always have our bad days together or had the same good days either.

We’d both lost her, although grandparents, friends had lost her too, we were (are) her parents, understanding each other has been an important key to keeping together.

 

How Does It Affect Your Relationship?

There are cliché quotes about not truly knowing someone until you live with them; this may be true. But this I think goes for grieving too, for the person who isn’t grieving at that moment in time can find it difficult to watch the pain that someone else is going through. This in turn causes distance and isolation.

For both of you to grieve together, we formed our own bubble; our children were included in that too. People distanced themselves from us, and in return, we isolated ourselves from the world. We held each other up, we kept each other going. Giving up on our marriage, our family has never been an option.

Turning off our daughter’s life support left us and her siblings broken hearted; we needed each other more than ever, more than anyone else in the world. There was no reason for us to give up. Melody brought us together as a family. We couldn’t let her death consume our relationship.

 

Challenging Taboos

Opening Questions

Understanding Emotions

Coping and Sharing

Tommy’s Together For Change

#togetherforchange

Becoming Pregnant Again.

My head was all over the place in the days after she died, I can just about remember asking if we could have another baby just the day after she died.

It must have sounded cold-hearted like I had tossed her aside. I guess it was a (strange) reaction to the situation. I needed to know I could make sure my body worked. We wanted her so much, wanted a baby so much too. There was nothing about a replacement.

 

What Emotions Did You Feel?

We made the decision to have another baby fairly soon, but we weren’t going to try, but we weren’t going to protect either. It happened a lot sooner than we were expecting. When the positive pregnancy test came clear, the first question was “What have we done?” We were happy, of course we were happy, but it wasn’t the happy we had felt before.

It was fake and real all at the same time. Fear settled in very quickly; you see not only do you have the fear of living through another death of our own baby, of losing another baby the way we did. But weeks of seeking support on forums brought you to a whole new world of reasons for why babies die – some with no reason at all. There was absolutely no innocence, no ignorant bliss; with both the viable pregnancies after Melody I knew very quickly I would never be able to enjoy a pregnancy again.

That enjoyment was stolen from me, from both of us.

We were absolutely terrified; we had a wonderful consultant (actually both of the consultants for each of the two after babies were great). I couldn’t let my bumps rest for too long, I felt myself poking and prodding all the time; I could barely sleep through fear of rolling on them. I suffered Hyperemesis during pregnancy anyway, but the stress of these pregnancies made it worse, making it unbearable.

Having a pregnancy after a loss needs a lot more support than what is provided currently. The support is very hit and miss, that isn’t fair. Our worries didn’t stop once they were born, actually they didn’t stop even at the five-week milestone; for this reason I don’t call our girls rainbows, or at least not because of being after a loss, more for the difficult pregnancies.

 

What To Do When Your Friends Become Pregnant?

As much as you don’t want to hurt the feelings of your friends, as their baby is as important to them as your child is to them. But if you need to distance yourself a little, then do so protecting yourself is a massive part of self-care, looking after your mental health. Being around babies isn’t often easy, but there is also a strange stigma surrounding bereaved parents and taking children.

No idea why, but we don’t want your child, we just want ours.

It is okay not to be happy for your friend, speak to them but make sure not to create too big a wall between you and your people.

I still struggle a little bit with holding other people’s babies, and I know people take offence to that. But I was never a play “pass the newborn” type of girl anyway.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Anxious About Becoming Pregnant Again?

We went into our pregnancy fairly quickly after her death. I have to admit that I wish we had left it a little bit longer. Grieving whilst trying to keep your baby alive, the stress was unbearable. Those two pregnancies after her had to have been the most challenging times outside losing her I have ever been through.

It sounds very cliché, but it really is not for the faint-hearted. As I explained earlier, you do know a lot more of the negative sides of pregnancy. You need to make sure you have decent health care support, which includes every single person you meet throughout – from the consultants to the sonographers and midwives. Having misery caused by a lack of empathy can just add to the stress of an already difficult pregnancy.

Talk to your partner, have friends, family or even an online network to support you, you really cannot do a pregnancy after loss alone.

 

 

Coping and Sharing #togetherforchange

Coping And Sharing

I think we all cope differently, we can empathise with each other’s stories but the way react can be completely different to the next person. I think that is why child loss is so difficult to understand.

 

When Did You Tell People?

Death was no longer in our daughter’s plan, we had been given a discharge date to go home – we were given hope. So, the morning of her death when we phoned over to them, as we did every day we were told to make our way over to the hospital as she wasn’t feeling very well; we assumed they were considering transferring her to a bigger hospital. We never expected what we walked into that morning.

I used Facebook a lot throughout her pregnancy, I was poorly they helped, so we placed a status asking for positive vibes as they were putting her back on a ventilator. When she died at 9:30 we came outside to inform our close friends and family, but were still receiving get well soon messages; so by 11:30 we decided to announce our daughter’s death on Facebook – basically hit and run just to stop the positive messages coming through.

 

How To Deal With The Return To Work?

I chose not to. I chose to completely walk away from the profession that I had done since I had left school. I couldn’t face doing that job any more, I knew this quite early on; I loved the profession but I was done.

Unfortunately employers aren’t always very sympathetic when it comes to needing time to grieve the loss of a baby, especially if you’re outside of the maternity timescales (either too soon or too late); even more so for Fathers.

Ideally having good communication is a must with management, to ensure that you aren’t rushed back to work or that you lose wages, being in debt can be the final straw when something so devastating happens. Going back too soon could have an effect on your mental health and being able to concentrate on your job role. But also leaving it too late can have the same effect, through avoidance. It is trying to find the right balance, or like me it could be the step to make a big change, for me was to change my career.

 

How To Talk To Family And Friends After Loss

As hard as it is, try to lead them through it. Let them know how much or how little you want to talk. Showing them that crying is okay; that you’re not sick that you are grieving. And at the same time, if you don’t talk or want to show emotion that is perfectly okay too. The people close to you often fear of making your pain worse by mentioning your loss, but often by not mentioning can hurt just as much.

Friends and family can both find it incredibly difficult, and often leave you feeling alone. This often ends up being a secondary loss and can be just as difficult to deal with as the actual loss of a loved one; leaving you questioning whether you’ve done something wrong.

But finding that right support network, will come to mean everything to you, it’ll be something you’ll not forget.

 

What Part Did Social Media Play?

As mentioned before, we announced her death via Facebook. But afterwards the online support for me became invaluable. There is no way I would have gotten to where I am today without them. Finding the right support has been unbelievably difficult because of our situation not fitting the right criteria for the right support. So, turning to online forums (one being a pregnancy and parenting forum) was for me the next best thing. I could avoid people’s avoidances in the street, I made friends.

But at the same time, as much as the online network played a massive part in the healing process, it can make you feel incredibly lonely in your own home community that can slow things down.

 

How Do You Cope With Announcements From Friends And Family Who Are Expecting?

In the very early days, I shut myself away, hiding any pregnancy announcements and updates that I came across, it often felt painful. There were days where I found people expecting girls harder, often boys going home was equally as difficult, as we had been told that because she was a girl, she had a better chance.

Over the years the announcements have gotten easier, but I always have the (silent) niggling worries for all the negative reasons. What I do find more difficult are those who are eager to bring their pregnancies to an end; wishing for earlier babies, trying hard to bring labour on before they’re ready. Even babies who are born when they are ready can be born poorly, and need time in special care. Even after losing Melody, as quick as a few weeks later, I remember people wanting their babies before their time – for me that hurt, as although she was very early, it means her story isn’t teaching enough.

My eldest daughter was born just a few weeks early and needed to go into special care, my son born 5 days early, just about got away with going in.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Finding It Difficult To Cope And Share Others News?

Find someone to talk to, even if it online. Write your feelings down, get them out that way. You are allowed to feel anger and sadness, but you are also allowed to be happy too. It doesn’t mean you are over your loss, or people see you think you’re all okay not. That balance can be found.

Definitely take one day at a time, there is no rush and it isn’t a race.

Challenging taboos

Challenging Taboos

Taboos surrounding baby loss will I think always be difficult to break, as generations change people’s attitudes differ too. When someone in their 80’s tells you they lost a baby but have no idea where they are; or people of the next generation telling us how they wished they could have spoken more about their losses. It is not only sad for these parents, these families who have gone through such losses only to be silenced; but for the babies too, buried alone or with strangers even placed in mass graves.

They’re simply forgotten only to be spoken about via secret journals, family trees even parents who suffer from ageing conditions like dementia will bring up babies they once carried but never got to keep. The stigma surrounding baby loss, has changed somewhat but still not enough to remove all taboos.

 

Why Is Baby Loss Silenced?

As much as we want to be able to speak about baby loss should we want to, people have a great fear of sadness, from themselves and within a conversation.

There’s a fear of having an innocence taken, or that the bereaved are contagious and will in some way infect infant death upon someone else. This is where it becomes lonely. It becomes a life split between knowing when to talk about your child, and when to hide them away, purely to save ourselves from being hurt further.

 

Why Do You Feel That People Are Unable To Talk About Their Experiences?

Firstly, nobody should ever feel they HAVE to share their experiences, not everyone is happy or comfortable with sharing about their loss – that is just as okay as being open. I have gone through many motions of sharing our story, from being very open to hiding her. I have to admit I have also felt some kind of shame, having a baby who died just changes everyone around you, so sometimes it is easier to just not say anything.

In fact, since losing Melody I very, very rarely mention the miscarriages, which is definitely down to shame, because I guess I blame my body for letting these babies down somehow, so many times too.

Because of the taboo, it is the fear of avoidance or upsetting the person you are talking to.

 

How Do You Deal With Uncomfortable Reactions?

They used to bother me, hurt me. But I have slowly learned that most people really don’t know how to react, or know what to say. You then find yourself telling them that it’s okay, which can be difficult, when you’re trying hard to keep yourself together. Over time, you do learn who you can talk to more about your loss, and who you can only brush over; this is more about protecting yourself from their tears, sighs and eye rolls. These expressions are the last things you want to see when you’re talking about your child.

It is hard not to get angry BUT if you need to, then do. Ask why they find it so uncomfortable, you could maybe find a way of helping each other. This is definitely something I wish I had done or at least had the courage to do.

 

How Do You Break The Silence?

For me, it’s talking or writing; sharing our little girl, this has been incredibly important to me to get her story out there. I have never felt as lonely as I have being a bereaved mother, especially for the type of loss. The conversation can discuss miscarriage and losses through pregnancy, but as soon as I mentioned that she died at a month old, the conversation stops. The support networks shrink. Doors closed in our faces; I wanted to change this, to speak out for these babies, for these parents because they matter too!

Breaking the silence to me means giving her a voice, and making her known. I can’t hide her away, I can’t let her death mean nothing, and this is why I am here writing this.

 

How Do you Answer The Question How Many Children Do You Have?

It depends on who is asking. If it is a stranger passing the time of day, then I tell them just of the children I have with me. I have once or twice twisted the truth and said the full amount of children, but not stated any deaths.

But now, mostly if I think they are going to be lifelong friends then I will be truthful, I admit I do brush over it a little to soften the blow a little; to protect me and them I guess. I have been bitten so many times, where I have let out the full story only for people to use it as gossip, or an ice breaker for other conversations. That’s not pleasant.

There is a lot of guilt with this question too, about sharing your child’s memory and protecting future friendships.  I am definitely more aware of the question and tend not to ask, simply because you don’t always know the full story.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Struggling With These Feeling And Feels That They Have To Keep Things To Themselves?

I think once you can find the confidence to talk about your loss, then it does get a bit easier to share, it just comes naturally. But again nobody should ever feel that they HAVE to share anything.

I did find social media a great help, it helped me to get things out without being face to face with people; at the same time it helped people to understand more about how I was feeling and why. Writing became my saviour.

I would suggest even if you write things down and never show anyone; getting things out of your system will help a lot. It will give you a release; to help you breathe.

Having such a loss can be suffocating, you can feel trapped; if you can seek support find what is out there, what is right for you.

Never be afraid of talking about your child.

Opening Questions 

Understanding Emotions

Tommy’s #togetherforchange

Understanding Emotions. Exploring Grief.

Grief affects people in many ways, each in a unique way to themselves. There isn’t any right or wrong way to grieve the life you have lost. This includes losing a child; we all know it isn’t the right order of life, this is what makes child loss so complex; it is the unimaginable, the unthinkable. No two people’s experiences are the same.

 

What kinds of emotions might you feel after loss, and how do you deal with them?

I think it is hard to fully explain what emotions you feel. I could say I was sad and devastated, but I have felt sadness and what I thought was devastation during my lifetime, neither of them could be associated with the aftermath of our daughter’s death. Neither seemed to match up with the pain that rips through your entire body; yet at the same time leaves you barely standing, but somehow you find the strength to leave the hospital and begin to figure out what the hell happened, and what would be next. You just keep on breathing.

You have to deal with it; there isn’t a right or a wrong way of dealing with such a loss. Many people assume that bereaved parents curl up in a ball and cry all day – so what if they do, if trying to sleep away the pain is a way of making the early days easier, then let them be. This wasn’t something we did, we had to grieve not only for ourselves but for my older two children too; we weren’t free to break in the way people expected to, we had their feelings, their grief to take into consideration.

I know people expected us to hide our loss away, but they had met and spent time with their sister, she wasn’t going to just disappear one day.

Everything about the early days are raw and overwhelming.

 

What are the common triggers for these emotions?

In the beginning, the sheer thoughts and memories of what has happened can be a hard trigger. Going over and over the hours which led to her death and knowing that no matter what thoughts enter your head; there’s nothing that will ever change the outcome. That part takes your breath away – every time.

The milestones which followed her death, especially within the first year but even more so the second year dates too. These are hopes and dreams which had been taken away; a missing child from events or birthdays. Not knowing who they could have become, or how they’d have fitted in within the family setting.

 

How Do You Deal With Grief?

It is kind of like learning to walk again, I am a completely different person to how I was before. It has been the most difficult times I have ever experienced, and hope to never experience such things again. As mentioned before, having the older two children, I had to learn to deal with my grief very early on. I couldn’t break the way I truly felt I needed, even the funeral there was no real room to collapse in a heap and sob loud sobs, to let myself go. I wanted to be strong for them. But at the very same time, we have always followed their lead; allowed their tears, (don’t get me wrong, they have seen me cry on occasions too) allowing them to feel their grief for their sister.

Giving up was never an option.

 

What Effect Did Social Media Have On You?

It became my saviour; I was very poorly during pregnancy and had made friends with people who were due the same time. They supported me throughout the pregnancy, and then continued to do so when she died. Online loss forums were also a lifeline too, it helped me to feel less alone. I felt more comfortable being at home, it was easier than watching friends cross the street or people just completely ignoring you. Social media, made the early days a tiny bit more bearable.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Experiencing The Complex Range Of Emotions?

Please remember your baby, infant, child has died, there is no at least. Such a loss simply cannot be belittled or swept away.

There is no rush to find the new normal; there is also no pressure to lose your old self either. Take one day at a time, take one hour at a time if you need to; rushing through the grief process can at times set you back. Sadly your baby will always be gone, but self-care is incredibly important to recover enough to function.

Don’t be ashamed to cry, let it out – scream; sob if you need to. It isn’t fair and it should never have happened, babies and children shouldn’t be dying. So, letting yourself go to the emotions is more than allowed.

Don’t give up, you will find peace. One day, maybe not straight away, but you will learn how to cope, you won’t heal; you’ll just know how to make the grief comfortable.

 

There is no timescale.

 

Opening Questions

Tommy’s Together For Change

Tommy's #togetherforchange

Opening Questions

 

 

In March 2018, I had the great honour of being invited to be part of a major charity campaign; involving baby loss awareness. We had lots of snow at the time, so we weren’t even sure we would be able to go ahead with it. But the charity helped to accommodate us for the night and we were able to complete a series of questions.

July 10th Kicks off the campaign put together by Tommy’s – Together For Change (hashtag); to overcome the taboo and to break the silence of baby loss, to show there is support out there. The more awareness that is raised, the more it will hopefully get people talking.

To compliment my part of the campaign, I will be sharing a few of the questions for which I was asked, and the answers. The campaign includes several well-known faces, I am almost like a duck out of water, but if it means I can share our daughter a little bit more; then I am proud to be part of what will hopefully be Tommy’s biggest campaign yet.

 

Can You Tell Me A Little Bit About Your Experience?

I’d sadly had miscarriages, and I knew of babies dying after birth. But I only had heard of the babies who’d died with a poor prognosis, either during or after birth. I’d naively thought that once you had passed through the twenty week scan, which the chances of fatalities reduced to almost nothing. I assumed that we would be okay, especially as I had already had two living children.

How could I have been so wrong? When she was born at 26+6 weeks, I again felt confident that all would be well, that she’d get through everything that she needed to; after all when babies hit 24 weeks, it is a magic number, right? She had survived the first few days of her life, not only did she survive it, she sailed through it mashing all the expectations of a micro-preemie; she did everything that she was meant to, and more.

She lived until she was exactly five weeks old, as quick as that, she was gone. Sepsis took a hold of her tiny little body, and stole her from us. Not just her but our innocence, hopes for her future. Everything just stopped; plans and future thoughts were over. Memories which were made were turned into remembrances.

This baby who had plans for going home to her family, died. Life changed.

 

How Did That Make You Feel?

 

We were heartbroken; we had absolutely no idea how we were going to move forward from that moment. We didn’t know what would happen to us as a couple, as a family. It is the most difficult thing we have ever had to cope with. But because each loss is unique and individual to the parents involved, there is no real way to explain exactly how it feels to watch the life of your child drain from them.

There are no words. With this in mind, it can be incredibly lonely too. The death of our baby is fairly unique too, with the many, many baby loss campaigns out there; at times our type of loss doesn’t get mentioned or is placed as an afterthought. Which then follows the loneliness, and the questions about whether our daughter ever really mattered?

For me, sharing her story and assisting with Tommy’s I hope, that this will break taboos around infant death.

 

Tommy’s Together For Change Campaign

planning music for your baby's funeral

Planning Music For A Baby’s Funeral

Music can be such an important part of life. We have a soundtrack of our childhood; remembering the moments we had with friends or the memories of songs when big things like our exams happened.

When we fall in love we have a song to remind us of our love, the songs which become the soundtrack to our weddings. Music has a way of bringing every emotion, just by sound.

I used to love rock music – I still do, but it was my go to genre of music. Marilyn Manson was one of them. In 2011 we were picking songs for our wedding, and then again for our blessing a few months later.

A year later we were deciding songs for a funeral. We decided almost straight away that we didn’t want her to have hymns; although I do wish I had sung her at least one lullaby. We felt that hymns were for older people.

Songs for her funeral

We took a little time to think and to decide; we didn’t really know what would be right, but we also knew that planning a baby’s funeral wasn’t right either. We just went with how we felt as her parents.

Amazing Grace via Bag Pipes (sadly not real ones)

My Love by Sia

Every Breath You Take – By Sting and the Police

Each were perfect for her.

 

Music Changed for Me

I still enjoy rock music, but I have opened myself up to a whole world of different genres. I deleted a lot of my Marilyn Manson collection. I won’t go into details but if you know his music, you will probably understand why.

Other songs I began to hate, while other songs reminded me of the split life – the before and the after. Like Paramore Decode; it reminded me of such an innocent time in our life. Before everything changed.

 

Songs Which Remind Me of Her

Coldplay – Yellow. ‘Her’ colour is yellow, being a spring baby and the yellow flowers.

Bruno Mars – It Will Rain. We had amazing weather during the time she was alive, glorious sunshine in March. But the afternoon of her wake it began to rain and it didn’t stop, making it one of the wettest summers on record!

Joshua Radin – Winter. This song was on a television show I was watching when I was pregnant, of course it was winter we had snow that year too.

The Wanted – Gold Forever. Back to the colour, but the lyrics too.

Ed Sheeran – Photograph.

Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill

Kate Havnevik – Grace

Ben Cocks – So Cold

Aron Wright – In the Sun

KT Tunstall – The Universe and U

Avril Lavigne – Slipped Away

Pink Floyd – Wish you were here.

 

 

 

Discovering Different Music.

Since her death, I have discovered the most amazing pieces of music. Some to bring the first smiles whilst some sends shivers through your whole body.

Lissie – Everywhere I go

Sia – Rainbow (Not because of rainbows after a storm, but community)

Adaline – Say Goodbye

Ingrid Michaelson – Without You

Anna Nalick – Breathe

One Two – Without You

Great Big World – Say Something

Ed Sheeran – Small Bump

Sia – Angel by the wings

P!nk – Beam Me Up

Nick Cave – O’ Children

Sara Jackson Holman – Freight Train

 

Finding any joy in music isn’t easy, because it has such an impact on our lives, some songs which are loved and reminded of wonderful memories can never be heard again.

Planning music for a baby’s funeral is not right. But it is one of the few things we have left to do for them.

melody and me

Nobody’s Army

There has been so much in the media about saving poorly children, the fight for their survival, the fight to do anything but have to bury them. I can’t imagine what these families have to go through; our daughter was only here for five weeks.

As I see the scores of angry messages, the protests, the army of people fighting for their very last rights. The media, social and otherwise are filled with these stories.

Makes me question… Did WE love our daughter enough? Did we fight or try hard enough?

We have always had questions surrounding her death – our baby had the best odds, death wasn’t in her plans, she WAS coming home, no brain damage, breathing without a ventilator, she burped, she even smiled; she had cuddles, she was fed via a tube simply because she was too tiny to have the sucking reflex, which she was fast learning.

She STILL died.

There was no time for an army, a brief message on Facebook asking for thoughts, no options of fighting when we arrived. Just the words “She won’t survive.”

I’ll always question and blame MYSELF about whether I did something wrong in my pregnancy, or had eaten something that may not have agrees with her expressed milk.

I don’t know if I loved her enough, it was hard to love someone through an incubator, did she know that we loved her?

Did we fight and beg hard enough that morning? Maybe I wasn’t strong enough to fight, I wanted to believe me, I needed them to tell me that it was just an April fool’s joke. I needed them to tell me they were wrong, but once those words had been said, like a dagger to the side, it killed me yet kept me alive at the same time. Why wasn’t I strong enough to fight for her? To keep her safe? She wasn’t meant to die.

When those fateful words of death came, the only thing I could think of doing was to hold her. To know that we loved her in her final minutes, it really was minutes, from the broken news to her final breath.

I just wish I’d held her longer, kissed her forehead. I wish I hadn’t taken our time together for granted, and took in her beauty, to remember her soft skin, the warmth of her breath, her fuzzy hair.

How were we supposed to say goodbye? We DID – DO love her. Always.

Wishes are all we have. Guarding the dreams that should have been. EVERYTHING should have been different.

Melody’s Memories – Keepsake Box

memory box

There are four different boxes on our house. My older two children have one each, which they chose to put together; they chose what was going into them. They look at them rarely, but when they do they always try to include their little sisters, the girls who never met Melody.

Days after her funeral we were very kindly gifted a wooden memory box, personalised to her to replace the hospitals offering. It is one of my favourite things. Although I love it, I have also hated it; it isn’t something we open often, but it has been made easier by splitting the box into two. Having a shoe box with the photos of her after we lost her and painful documents have been easier to look through her “main” memory box. Both boxes remain tucked away in our wardrobe.

I wanted to share with you her memory box; because it is one of my favourite things of her.

Picture One

memory box

  • In Loving Memory of Our Darling Daughter poetry card, this was one of the few items in the box we were given at the hospital.
  • Child’s Health Record – the famous Red Book; it has one or two entries inside. I’m glad she has one.
  • Inside the little box was a gift from the Mayflowers (the mums who gifted us the box), there is a locket that came in the box too with Melody’s picture inside.

 

Picture Two

memory box

This was her ‘thumby’. Basically it is a dummy which is shaped like a thumb. She wasn’t supposed to have had it at the age that she did due to not having the right sucking reflexes, but she found hers a little sooner than expected was given this as a comforter and a way to teach her to suck ready for when she could take milk orally.

 

Picture Three

memory box

Apologies for the DVD in the pictures, it just gives you an idea of the sizes of some of her items.

  • These are baby grows, each are from 3lb upwards so they each were still too big for her, but they did make her look cosy.
  • The nappy at the top, you can’t buy in the shops, they’re specially made for micro preemies, even this swamped her but she certainly filled them well!!
  • Her first ever hat. So tiny and a little bit stained she didn’t wear it for long.

 

Picture Four

Her siblings, especially her older sister would always write to her, or draw her pictures; this one was on the side of her cot.

“Dear Melody come home soon”

Picture Five

Little Miss Star was a Christmas gift, when her first Christmas was missed. The Goblet of Fire; I was reading this when I had my hospital stay(s) before she was born. The morning she was finally born, my consultant came in and said all he had to say, just before her left her said to us that he wouldn’t be delivering the baby until I had read The Deathly Hallows (the final book if you weren’t aware). I think it was his way of trying to reassure us of such a scary time. A few hours later she was born. I never finished that book.

 

Picture Six

The pink blanket is one she managed to use all the time she was there, it was one of the unit’s blankets. She always looked so snuggly underneath it. Also in this picture is another of her vests, and a teddy which had been attached to one of her balloons, yellow as always.

 

Picture Seven

The one of her certificates she received while in the unit. They give them to all micros who hit 1kg; she had just hit it during the week leading up to her death. Born 670g she struggled to gain weight, simply because she would burn more calories fidgeting than she took in, her weight went up and down a lot; until one day she finally hit her first kilo. In the top corner, I was very pleased to have received a Mother’s Day card from her, complete with her photo and a foot print. I wasn’t allowed to visit on the day of Mother’s Day that year; being told “there’s always next year”. I just wish now that I had visited her.

And finally a dress. This dress is identical to the one which she was buried in. A couple of years ago, as I was putting away my youngest daughter’s newborn clothes which included a coming home outfit. It occurred to me that we couldn’t have Melody’s; so I placed a Facebook message and within a matter of days one of my friends said she had the dress. It may never have been worn by our daughter, but it is just a reminder of what she will wear forever.

 

Picture Eight

Includes all of the above but also.

  • Booties we brought in the hospital while we waited for her arrival.
  • Congratulations cards (her sympathy ones are in the shoe box)
  • Order of Service
  • A baby made of icing
  • A muslin square
  • A baby-grow with monkeys on it, she never wore it but we couldn’t let her sisters wear it.
  • Hats from Australia – her uncle spent the whole time she was alive over there travelling and brought her hats.
  • A nursing bra – crazy I know but she always pouched in there when we had kangaroo care.
  • A baby loss brooch.
  • A gifted personalised keyring
  • Christmas decoration that her older sister made for her.
  • Name wristband, it was attached to her cot, ready for when she was big enough to wear it.
  • Number One Candle from the first missed birthday
  • Finally a PE top and tie, from the first year she should have started school.

There should never be any pressure to keep a memory box or special space within your home. I know I struggled not having a shelf in our house that is for her, but now I have one – I don’t like it, but I can’t take it down because I think I’d have some kind of guilt feeling. For now it will stay.

Having the options for these keepsakes are so important to families, some hospitals provide them it is such a lottery as to whether or not a family will receive one. I was lucky to have met some wonderful online friends who clubbed together to buy us one. We’ll never forget their kindness.

This box isn’t a shrine, just little pieces of her.

 

melody and me

The Lasting Goodbye…Part Two.

13th April 2012.

The alarm bounded out.

But we were already awake; sleep wasn’t one of the options.

We had been dreading this day.
The children were restless, chatting at breakfast eyes wide with wonder.
My husband and I paced silently.

Numb.
What would this day bring?
Flowers were arriving, was this really all for us?
The sun was shining exactly as it did on the day she arrived; now it shone for the day she would be…leaving.
Set on auto pilot, we washed we dressed.

We remained calm, following the children’s examples. How were we going to get through this day? Any day really?
We made our way to our car hand in hand, brightly dressed so she could see us clearly, desperately hoped she could now open her eyes without pain.
We were still too early, clock watching to the last moment, the final second time stood still.
We arrived at the church to a small line of people, I can’t remember the order but there were people.
My legs felt like jelly, like my bones had been removed, my chest felt tight and heavy; yet somehow I managed to keep up right to keep breathing. I wasn’t sure if I needed to be sick or not.

Again we had no choice.
We followed the smartly dressed man into the church. Hands tightly held the four of us, too scared to let go unless we lost one another.

I could just recall the haunting sound of Bagpipes playing Amazing Grace,

I could feel myself detaching.

We were here for someone else. This wasn’t our story.
We continued to walk closer to the front of the church, when we looked forward, there she was a little pink box on another little table.

Only now we wanted more than anything for it to be the big clear box that she had been in 2 weeks before.
One last chance, one last hope that this had all been a horrible mistake, her final chance to let us know everyone was wrong.

The book “Dragonflies and Water bugs” was read to us all, the children concentrated on every word.

My son clung to every word.

My daughter nervously waited to do her part.

She wanted to do something for her sister.
A picture she had drawn, a story she had written. She had a love for her sister that would grow with her forever.
Another song was played, instead of hymns, she was far too young to have hymns, the song had far more meaning.
“My Love” By Sia

The tears hit, the pain knocked like waves smashing into my already broken self.

Would they ever stop?

Would I ever be able to stand from this seat again?
We blew her a kiss and followed her as the smartly dressed man carried her out of the church, to her final journey to the song of Every Breath You Take.

We felt too weak to carry her; we were still too scared we would hurt her.

The blessing was a private moment between my husband, the children and I.

A candle lit as the blessing took place, when all we could think of was her baptism should never have been like this.
We knelt beside her, and gave her a blanket of daffodils, some extra warmth because we didn’t want her to get cold.
The rest of our guests came forward so they could say good bye, and send her some pink balloons.
We had prepared 35 balloons and 35 daffodils.

One per day she was with us, never enough days.

A decision we could never change.

The chance had gone.
11am we released the balloons watching them fly high some together, some drifted; the drifters would be as Melody is now.

We thought this was going to be the worst day of our lives, but really how could it have been. We had already done that part on the 1st.
Flying solo, while we as a family carry her in our hearts.

People may wonder why we continue to remember and share these dates.

Can you remember the age your child said their first word?

Melody never did that.

Can you remember when your child first walked?

Melody never did that either.

The dates of final moments, final memories are all we have of her.

We had no choice in how happy the memories would be this is what we have; we shall continue to build a lasting memory.

Because that is all we have.

We never wanted to say goodbye.

Xxxxx