Author Archives: Melody's Mummy

October guest post submissions

October Guest Post Submissions

Once again I am opening up a corner here for October Guest  Post Submissions. I am running a series of posts throughout October – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

Last year I opened it just for Neo and post-neonatal deaths.

This year I would like to open it up to anyone who has lost an infant; included during and shortly after birth. You may not want to specifically share your baby, your story but maybe raising awareness of how you come to lose your little one. I, for one never knew babies could die of sepsis even before leaving the hospital; I had always thought it was an infection you pick up going about your daily business.

Maybe you have a letter to your little one or something you want to say to the world.

I would like to run a mini-series to run alongside to include grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings of children lost. Looking at a different perspective of losing such a young relative; or watching your family member go through such pain and maybe feeling helpless.

 

Special Information

  • Submissions are open from 14th August 2018 – 14th September 2018.
  • Posts should be a minimum of 300 words
  • You can add a photo if you wish
  • All gestations welcome
  • All ages welcome
  • I will link back to any blog if requested.
  • I will share on my social media outlets
  • If you wish to stay anonymous then please let me know.
  • I will schedule the posts from October 1st

Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Siblings, Aunts/Uncles who have lost a child, grandchild, brother/sister, niece/nephew.

Having an understanding of such a complex type of grief can be so difficult, leading to feelings of loneliness.

For one month, I am aiming to bring not only awareness of baby loss in general, but to bring people together in their grief. It is incredibly hard to understand something when you’ve not been through it.

 

If you would like to add something then please email me

melodyandme35@gmail.com

We’re in this together.

Little Daffodils

Little Daffodils – In Memory

Little Daffodils
When we first lost our daughter, there was virtually nothing to support us. Cruse came out and were brilliant – but only for me.
Other places, we found had set policies and how people are supported. Which meant that her age put a barrier, too old, too young or didn’t die the “right way”.
It made us all the more isolated, which is the opposite of how we should have been treated.

Setting up little daffodils was my way of trying to bring awareness that all losses needed to be supported in the way they deserve.

Now it is the last thing I have to do with Melody. The last thing I can do to change things in her memory. I’ve thought many times of giving up, doing this sort of thing alone is bloody hard work

The thing I find incredibly difficult is that I have to fight to get melody recognised, she’s official in the eyes of the law; birth and death certificates, but when it comes to baby loss awareness Post-Neonatal gets lost. It feels like a fight to get little-daffodils out there. It wasn’t meant to be this hard. That said, I can’t just give up little-daffodils, it is literally the only thing I have left to remind me that she existed. It is the only thing that I HAVE to do.

The blog I can take a break from whenever I want to, but the group is something I need to keep going to. It is incredibly painful when her type of death doesn’t get mentioned, over and over I have to wonder about her being as important as all the other babies who die. She mattered too. It’s the last thing I can do for her.

I started this in 2015 to make sure she and other babies are recognised and their families get the support we never did. I can’t turn my back on that, I can’t let her fade away if I stop little daffodils I think that is what will happen. Because I fear I may just forget. That is not what I want. In her memory, I wanted to raise awareness, and change the way families are treated. Nobody should ever be left in the dark…

ALL BABIES MATTER.

Sibling memory boxes

Sibling Memory Boxes – Little Daffodils.

I recently shared with you a birthday package which Little Daffodils are now offering, now I share with you another package we will be offering.

 

Her Siblings

 

When we left the hospital our 4-year-old at the time received a key ring to remember his sister and her sister a tiny bracelet.  As lovely as they are, it’s a little ‘old’ for such a small child. As the years have passed Melody’s older siblings have each (of their own accord) put a memory box together for themselves, with little bits of their sister and things that remind them of her. This inspired me to give something to these siblings who lose a brother or sister.

 

Sibling Memory Box

 

So we’ve put a special sibling box together, which will be available to all siblings who lose a brother or sister.
They will contain,

  • Some colouring sheets and crayons to help de-stress.
  • A dream catcher to help filter their dreams.
  • A natural bubble bath to aid a peaceful sleep in the early days of confusion.
  • A cuddly toy (designs of these will vary).
  • A butterfly.
  • Waterbugs and Dragonflies book. This is a lovely story, which explains death in a more gentle way.
  • Finally a scrapbook (not pictured), this can be used to collect memories and thoughts. Even as adults it’s hard to get our feelings out in the open, to question why babies and children die, so having a space for a sibling to collect their thoughts about the world after losing their much-wanted brother and sister.

The box can be decorated to how they would like, and keep any special items which they collect in there.

Supporting the children too

Children are often forgotten when supporting family members, they are labeled as being resilient, yes this may be true, but they too need to be supported. After all, they had their hopes and hearts broken too.

 

For more information on receiving one, please contact the Facebook page or via email.

 

There is no charge for these.

Little Daffodils

 

international friendship day

International Friendship Day – Community

Today is international friendship day, friends are an important part of human relationships. When something so devastating happens like the death of a baby, you fully expect to have the support of your friends around you. To lift you up when all you see is a heavy darkness. But what happens when that expectation isn’t met, and all you hoped for in a friend turns out to be quite the opposite.

Dark Days

There were many, many messages of sympathy from friends, from family and acquaintances. But when the real support of friends was needed, these turned into empty offers. As we walked down the street, we watched as people who had just offered “support” cross the street. It was obvious, as there have been times where they’d cross back after passing. What had we ever done, to not only lose our child but have people avoid us as if we were contagious. It all felt incredibly unfair.

 

Online

Many, many years ago it was believed that anyone you met on the internet would be weirdos, murderers or just generally hideous people. That attitude for me lessened when I met my husband through online. When pregnant with Melody I was poorly with Hyperemesis and suffered from Ante-natal depression; both making it difficult for me to leave the house. It isolated me completely, it certainly wasn’t an ideal situation. I found solace on a birth board – May 12, and then eventually Facebook splinter groups; they became my home, my safe place to post and be. We would all speak most days, and always check in after appointments, share the good, the bad and the ugly. It was lovely. Other Mums before me lost babies too, everyone came together; it was what we did. Lit candles, and held each other up.

When Melody was born early, there were a couple of us with premature babies, we would each share our fears, and share how well our babies were doing, it was a real community. I do miss it.

Then just like that, she was gone.

 

Different Corner

Their love and support continued, and I will always, always be so grateful to the Mayflowers (I named my book after them) and Baby Talk. They will never understand how much their friendship and support meant to me, in the weeks after she died; I really will never forget that. They were kind enough to club together and got us a memory box. One lady is my children’s God Mum, having lost her own baby, she became my rock.

As posting on the birth boards became more and more harder, I stepped back and found the corner of Babycentre nobody ever wanted to see; dark and ugly – yet with so many joining each day there was never a chance to build cobwebs. And that’s the painful thing, that baby loss is not rare.

I found support on PAIL, and have ‘met’ some incredible people, who have helped me, and in return, I hope I have helped them too, by helping them it inspired me to set up Little Daffodils.

Through PAIL I met another close friend – my internet weirdo..

 

International Friendship Day

I want to celebrate and thank all the people mentioned above for carrying some light, for helping to make the early days more bearable. Because without you all, I don’t know where I would be, I may never have met some of you, but please know you mean the world to me, and you are all Melody’s aunties – her family. Thank you for never letting her down.

Albus Dumbledore Quote

 

 

Little Daffodils

Little Daffodils – Birthday Packages

Birthdays are happy occasions; days to treat the ones you love to a special day. A celebration of love and a new age, watching their faces on their very first birthday as they watch the balloons float around the room. Piles of presents, with beautiful wrapping paper which will be torn in seconds.

The first birthdays of adulthood, 18th birthdays, 21st even as you get to the later birthdays they are a celebration worth having – especially when you have children.

Un-Birthday

Then there are the babies and children who never get to grow up, some never take a breath while others stopped growing when their hearts stopped. Some may have reached a birthday or two, while others just miss them. Even after their hearts stop, they still have birthdays most have registered dates. They are still very much remembered on these dates; by family and friends birthdays are significant for almost everyone.

With this in mind, the babies and children won’t get to receive birthday presents, some are silently remembered. Little Daffodils I set up isn’t just a face to face support group, it now offers a special package to all families who have lost a baby and child with a special birthday.

These children deserve to have acknowledgement.

The package is only small but is a little gesture to let families know they aren’t alone.

There is a little card, a tea light for missing candles on a cake; a little butterfly and a crystal rainbow maker, to give some colour on the darker days. All inside a little box.

You can add your birthday details to the little daffodils email address.

 

We will also roll these out to parents who have lost much older and adult children too. It is just a small gesture to know that you are being thought of, around such a difficult time.

Little Daffodils Birthday Packages

Little Daffodils

#togetherforchange

Remembering Your Baby

Remembering her is easy; her life isn’t something we as her family will ever forget. She may have only been with us five weeks; but she has made a huge impact in our lives. For me personally, she has changed the way we think, the way we behave. We can’t just forget.

 

How Do You Remember Your Baby?

Saying and writing her name; talking about her and our experience. I could never have imagined not speaking about her…Believe me, I have tried. For me, it doesn’t feel natural to not talk about her, I speak about my children all the time; she is one of them.

Do You Feel You Can Share Your Grief?

 

When it felt like the whole world was turning their backs writing became my haven, starting the blog – although this one is only a year old, I have written since July 2012. It helped me so much to be able to get out my feelings especially when I found it hard to talk face to face. Because I found writing I found it easier to share my grief, to make people aware of how I was feeling. But it became my therapy too; it was a way for me to get things out in the open rather than bottle things up and hide away.

 

What Are Common Triggers For These Emotions?

Aside from the usual, like places of death, or even places of life too can be triggers. Saying her name, bringing her up is NOT a trigger, she is my daughter. After six years I am okay just dropping her into conversation without a tear being shed. But just occasionally I may be hit by the overwhelming sadness of how unfair this whole situation is. This overwhelming feeling, when it hits, it hits you hard, there isn’t really a lot that can take that sadness away; it doesn’t last very long.

Some people believe that these short outbursts of emotion are our babies wanting a little attention for a moment, which is an incredibly nice way to think of it like that. I believe that simply, it is so unimaginable, that the death of babies and children is so wrong; you just can’t get your heads around any of it.

Yet there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop those thoughts, or worse to change the outcome.

 

I’ll always remember and speak of her. That is my job as her Mum, to be her eyes, her ears and above all her voice.

 

Tommy’s Together For Change Campaign

Relationship Changes

Opening Questions

Baby-Loss

End of the school year

The further away from the initial death you go, the less milestones you think you will come across. But truth be told, I think there will always be something which will connect your baby and the things they should have been doing. September 2016 should have been the year she started school, out of all the milestones to reach; I had assumed that would have been the last one – at least until secondary school starts. But there will always be something.

Sports Day

These next few weeks up and down the country (UK), parents are heading out to watch sports days, or eagerly waiting for the day to finish learning how the day went. The children from Reception classes excitedly taking to the field; looking out for their Mummies and Daddies, in the hope to catch a wave.  Fresh yellow P.E kits, tiny bean bags and hoops are spread around the area, ready for the games to begin, lines painted perfectly ready for the young runners to begin their races.
Children’s names being called around the field, cheers echoing across as their child nears the finishing line, louder squeals for the ones who come first, encouraging voices for the ones who come last.
It dawns on me, that some of these children are at the age of which Melody should have been, the friends she could have made, the Sports Day she was meant to be at.
Another ‘first’ that she has not done; another event from which she is missing.
Another day where life just goes on, a day for quiet reflection, thoughts to how she would have been during the day.
Would she have been sporty? Which part would she have enjoyed? She was feisty during her time she was with us; would that have led her to be a determined winner in the field?
Would she have struggled with the courses?
Would she have been embarrassed by her parents calling her name?
Or would she have loved the attention?

Another missed photo opportunity, as she would have returned to her class room all wet from sweat, hair falling out of her hair band, happy to have finished or happy to have competed.

I never thought it would be such a big deal.

 

School Report

As the school year draws to a close, parents evenings are to be had, school plays performed, end of term parties, new teachers to be met, school work brought home, reports to read.

I have kept all of their reports and as many of their pictures as I have space for, there have been a lot over the years. No use to anyone but sentimental, in the hope that one day when they get to adulthood, they can giggle over the work they produced during their childhood, you know the pictures of their parents with huge heads and stick men bodies.

This has been another thing that has dawned on me. A missing school report; a document to prove that she would have been at school this year, a story of who she would have been at school. Information about what subjects she may have been good at, or ones that maybe she’d not really enjoyed. To know how much the prematurity would have affected her. As with all very premature babies there’s a risk of slow development, at least slower than their peers, but she never did follow any text book.

All the reports and meetings with professionals; a bit like parents evenings I guess but in the NICU were all great; she was doing above and beyond expectations. I’ll always wonder, or at least this time of year, whether her school reports would have followed suit.

“Melody is a lovely addition to the class; a little headstrong.”

As I wrote about my living children in their fantastic reports and end of term plans, I realise the only new photos of her I can share are of a headstone with new flowers; with the words.

Nothing to report.

Lost celebratory words.
No acknowledgement of a girl who should have been here.
Of a girl who should have almost completed her year in Primary School.

 

Absent – Unauthorised. 
#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.