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Due Dates

Due Dates are never set in stone, they’re estimated, a rough idea of when you get to meet your baby.

A countdown to meeting a brand new person, fresh and new, a person to watch and grow into their own. Made by you. It is I guess a blind date, you know you’re meeting your child, but have no idea on what they will look like, you may not even know the gender, a complete blind love. 
The date that could change your life. 
Not everyone remembers their baby’s due date years down the line, others use it a conversation starter, an ice breaker or something to giggle about at their son’s 18th birthday, when he is late for a party and he was 13 days over due, “He’s always been late, he’s never changed with his poor time keeping.”
I remember all of my children’s Due Dates, my eldest born 12 years ago, was due 29th April, but due to pregnancy issues, we made it to the 8th with an induction. My son had a due date of 19th January, but I had a c-section on the 14th, he was born on my husband’s due date, my husband born on his due date – they had switched.  Baby four, her due date was 1st April, but that too was changed for a c-section 15th March, baby five was due 4th July was born 15th June. The dates are all special, and a part of their life beginnings. 
Melody’s first Due date was 20th May, this is actually our wedding anniversary, but the date was put back to 28th May, a date which became our official due date, as the pregnancy progressed we were then given a c-section date. She was due to be evicted on the 22nd May, a Monday. 
We had everything planned, even a lift to the hospital as my husband wasn’t driving at the time, we wanted to keep the date secret to people around us, to keep it a surprise. 
Her life, her journey had begun and ended long before we ever reached May. 
We’ve hit that day today, yet it seems so long ago since we had her birthday, of course it is, nearly 13 weeks ago.
For me it is the last of the dates, where I feel I can remember her in her own right, it is a date I hold tightly on to, a day which is connected to her. 
Another date that in an ideal world should have been so very different, as with the other dates I hold on to dearly. 
Her birthday. 
Her Anniversary. 
Her burial date,
Her discharge date,
Her due date.

They’re so significant, and are what make her feel to me like she existed. 
These dates are somewhat official.
They’re recorded, they’re on paper, even in stone, they all prove that she existed. 
Because sometimes, very rarely, I am scared I am forgetting her, that she is just a part of my imagination, that sometimes aside from our family unit and occasionally other people who remember and speak of her, it can feel like she was never here. 
Forgotten.
These are the bad days, the days when it hits like I have lost her all over again. 
As if it was all just a dream. 
It has been far too long since I have seen her, and cuddled her. 
Since I breathed in her smell, stroked her soft hair and kissed her tiny head. 
Since I felt the warmth of her body against my skin, since I last told her I loved her. 
Since I said goodbye. 
Today is another of those, should have been days. 
Yet instead today is just another day. 
Another day without our little girl.
She was perfect, 
her tiny little fingers, 
her gorgeous little toes, 
she had strawberry blonde hair, 
and the cutest button nose.
She was so feisty during her 35 days, 
my only wish is
that she could have stayed and played.

Our little Mayflower

Please don’t forget her. 

When Your NICU Baby Doesn’t Come Home.

As I walk away from the cemetery once again, the place I have visited many, many times since 2012. As I look over to her resting place, saying goodbye to a baby who never grew; waving to a daughter who never had a chance to wave.
We don’t visit very often, it has never gotten easier, I don’t think it ever will, it isn’t something I will ever get used to.  I wouldn’t stop visiting either, it wouldn’t be right not to.
There are times as I walk away, it gets me thinking – about the bigger picture, so many what ifs and the whys. All these years have gone by, yet these feelings aren’t just something that has goes away.
Technology has come such a long way, in the news we’re told of the fantastic breakthroughs of babies surviving against the odds, more and more babies go home to lead normal lives, of course there are those who don’t quite sail through, but they do still get to go home and be with their families, to make the best of their memories, their lives together, which is fantastic.
I’d been aware of miscarriages (having had my own) and babies who die during or just before child birth, I had assumed once past certain stages of pregnancy and birth, hearing a tiny squeak from beneath the curtain I was free to breathe a sigh of relief, it was the start of our hopes building.
My first baby went into NICU for just over a week, she’d been a little early and on the small side, it was such a scary thing, pieces of machinery everywhere, these clear plastic boxes everywhere.  At nine days old we went home, our NICU journey was far behind us, it remains as part of her birth story, the beginning of her life it was how it was meant to be. Because of this amazing outcome, we were positive in our thoughts when baby number three was born just under 14 weeks early, given 80% odds in her favour. Everything looked so encouraging. I’d walked out of NICU before with a baby, for me there was no other option…
0From the moment Melody was born, she was on a journey to recovery, a journey that was going to take her home. Surpassing all expectations of what was expected of a Micro Preemie. Her heart lost its murmur, her brain showed nothing of the injuries we had been warned about, which can be common in babies of her size, she was active and mischievous. The worst case scenario for her, for us as her family was for her to come home with Home Oxygen, even then they said she may have come off of it on discharge day, we had that date set too. Everything was set; all she had to do was to put on weight.
 I had done everything I was told was right in my pregnancy, I trusted the professionals, I reported low movement, I reported the swelling (although I was told off for that), I stayed in the hospital to rest leaving my two other children at home, I tried to eat the best I could with HG. Once she was born I put her first, expressed around the clock, whilst the children were at school we visited and sat by her, talked to her, loved her. Watch her become the character in the NICU we expected her to be. I didn’t rest post HELLP, resulting in infections and severe headaches. I was terrified to say goodbye each evening. I did everything I could.

But she died.

Could I not have done more? Or kept her safe?
We discovered very painfully that not all premature or NICU babies get to go home. Sepsis similar to Meningitis took her, she never took a step outside, yet she contracted something I had only ever associated with being contagious in school children, not for our baby who had never felt the rain or ever took a step. She wasn’t even old enough to have vaccinations. Yet somehow we still lost her.  No amount of amazing new medical breakthroughs or training can bring all neonates home to their families.
We had allowed ourselves to love her, to make plans. The love and grief for a baby who had only lived for such a short time, who had never come home is so misunderstood, the confusion from people as to why we still love and continue to grieve for this baby. For someone so small, and we had only known for a short while, she turned our whole world upside down.
The hopes and dreams taken, everything changed.
I don’t really understand, even now how our daughter, our seemingly strong, premature baby who fought so hard to be here could just die. I don’t think it is something we will ever understand. Generally Post-Neonatal death isn’t spoken of a lot. Babies who stayed for a while but died, nobody wants to really make a connection, conversations or subjects changed to something else, maybe even to talks of miscarriage, it seems easier for people looking in to relate to sometimes; if it hasn’t affected them personally, they have most likely known someone who has been affected; sometime it can be easier for the listener to brush over our loss in such a way, maybe  it makes it easier on them, or because it isn’t something one can fully understand.
This is where it falls painfully hard for us, for me. I am incredibly open about the loss of our daughter, and will answer any question I am given if I can.
There are no comparison memories to look on. So many years ago this happened, or that happened, there are no tube photos and ones without – well there is but I can’t share those. Having photos doesn’t make it hurt any less. Having other children doesn’t make it better either.
The death of a baby was never ever part of the plan, bringing home our baby that was the deal.  
Instead you’re left with guilt, the flashbacks, the constant questioning. I am honestly not torturing myself; I am still trying to work out how it is possible that we ended up being parents to a baby who didn’t make it.
Barely a statistic.
Whilst we remember and speak about the babies lost in the womb, the ones who died just before they are born or shortly after birth. Never forget the older ones. Where hope was given but snatched away.
May should have been her due date. Middle of May then should have been her discharge date.

I still cannot believe it happened to us.

Annual Parish Meeting – Community Fund

On Tuesday 25th April, we were invited to attend our town’s Annual Parish Meeting. We applied for the local community fund, to enable Little Daffodils through Towards Tomorrow Together to provide a service locally for people who have experienced the loss of a baby during and after pregnancy.
We were very thrilled with the offer of this fund and the amount in which we have received. It will go towards much needed awareness raising for the charity, the group and of course to break the taboo barrier that is baby loss.
There were other community groups there too to receive funds, for their groups, it was nice to hear of other organisations which may not always get the awareness.
After the Mayor handed out outstanding awards, it as the turn of the community fund awards, I was first up. I am an incredibly nervous public speaker, and in all honesty was hoping I wouldn’t have had to speak…but I wasn’t that lucky. Mayor Dave Bulmer asked if I could do a short talk about what we do. This time, for the first time in all the times I have recently publicly spoken, I had no piece of paper to read instead I had to stumble my way through making a good impression. I think I may have pulled it off. I love talking about the charity and of course Little Daffodils and how it was born, I am incredibly passionate about trying to make a change in this community. People even came up to us and said what a wonderful thing to have put together; I was able to give our details to Chard First Responders too.
I thanked the Mayor and the people in the room for the opportunity for Little Daffodils to shine, told all those who listened that we support families who have lost their beloved baby through pregnancy and in infancy.
I must add that all through the existence of Little Daffodils (which began life as Melody’s Voices), the Mayor has been incredibly supportive when he can, attending our launch of our first group, donating the use of the guildhall for an event; Thank you.
I really hope the next Mayor whoever that may be will give us the same support, it has been slow, maybe even hard at times to get the backing needed for this local group, but it has been incredibly worthwhile. Even if we only help 1-2 people a year, it is 1-2 people who will feel less alone.  
A huge thank you to everyone involved in letting us have the community fund, because without these funds the community would end up lacking far more resources than they already do.
If you’re not already aware Little Daffodils meet on the first Tuesday of the month, from 730pm, upstairs of Eleos Café in the centre of Chard. Our Facebook Group is here.
Thank you for reading; I will keep you updated with our up and coming projects.

Now, to learn Public Speaking Confidence…

I Miss Her.

March is always a weird, limbo month which brings ups and downs. Waiting for that next anniversary, the date we’d love to miss, then the date that should have been, dates which mean nothing to anyone else, but to us who feel them, who feel lost and confused, these dates are at times hard to breathe through. 

It is all feeling particularly surreal this year. There have been moments where none of this is our story, unconnected to the whole thing. Then the days where it feels like new, the raw emotions as we joined this world; this I’ve hit this week, I found myself sobbing in the car on route to our weekly shop, something I hadn’t done for a long time, you know that cry where you can’t breathe tears roll down your cheeks, feeling broken and weak, feeling unsure on how the hell it has been five years since we last saw her, our daughter.

The thoughts of disbelief, which never seem to go away.

Most of the time it can feel as though no-one understands the way I feel; confused because I still get emotional over these weeks, avoidance is the key; at least that is how it feels.

There are times where I have no idea who I am any more.

We’re at the half way point of her living weeks. In less than two weeks it’ll be the anniversary, no more “on this day posts” for another year. 
Five years ago this week we’d been given a discharge date, all set to count down the days to come home, waiting for that all important weight gain. She was never meant to die. 



 Five years on I still cannot understand why. 
I can’t understand any of it. I don’t know where the time has gone, yet I stopped clock watching at the two year mark, it should come as no surprise that we’re here.
No matter how many posts I write, I will still wish that things were different, wish for her to be with us, adding to the chaos that is our house.

I cannot believe she is gone.

It is ok, not to be ok

We had a visitor..

Short, but exciting one from me this evening. 
I’d told my children we were expecting a visitor, but I didn’t tell them who this visitor would be lots of guessing, although my son hit the spot at one point, I slyly avoided his questions.
With just over a month to go, we had a form of seasonal celebrity pop in to see the children. And what a lovely experience it was too. 
The children’s faces lit up when he arrived, 

Well, the older two loved him. Our three year old hated him, and the one year old really was not sure in the slightest. 

My son even gave him a tune.

Now, this blog isn’t the place I normally speak too much about Melody’s siblings, but there is a reason. 
Our magical experience, has been thanks to local charity Towards Tomorrow Together; where they provide Santa home visits to children who have lost a sibling, along with everything else they provide throughout the year. 
Giving the children some well deserved magic, whilst us as parents watch with such Joy the smiling faces the Santa has caused. 

It is such a wonderful thing they offer, and I am so pleased that we gave it ago. 
They all each received gifts, a candle making kit, a mini skate board set, inflatable Olafs a book and a stuffed squid (not real!)
He certainly has put me in the Christmas visit, I hope all his other visits are as successful.
Thank you .
Christmas is always a bittersweet time for us. 
But it was one of my promises to Melody, 
which was to make Christmas as magical for the children as I can. 

Table Top Sale Success!


After months of preparations, we held a Table Top Sale in aid of Towards Tomorrow Together, who support our group, newly named Little Daffodils. (previously named Melody’s Voices).

Held at Chard Baptist Church
We had plenty of tables, with a variety things on offer, from cakes (Run by Gemma Green) and toys to clothes and bric-a-brac. 


Little Daffodils’ pot plant stall, alongside Merriott Majorettes for people to try their luck on their Lucky Jars stall. 
(Not sure what my daughter was doing here, she doesn’t get her craziness from me..)


We had a steady flow of people, from all ages, although I think the chill in the air stopped people from venturing out much. 
We had Splat the Rat going on outside which gave the children some fun too. 
Amongst the every day stalls, we had a raffle with the Main Prize of a Tea Hamper, which was won by Kath Trott of Chard.
As well as a brilliant Tombola run by Tracy Coath, donations from stall holders and the Tiger Shop.
All in all it was a successful day raising a wonderful 
£280!

Alongside our Sale preparations we also ran a Children’s Design A Poster Competition.
Unfortunately we were unable to announce at the sale. 
We have a Winner 
Leah Smith, who wins £15 Book Voucher, thanks to Chard Bookshop, she will also get to see her poster being used as part of our Barn Dance Promotion.
With a Runner-up 
of Neve Palmer. 
Huge Thank you to everyone who had a stall today
Our next Big Event is even bigger, we’re hosting a Barn Dance
For more information, see our events page over on Facebook


#captureyourgrief Sunset Refection

Here we are,the final day of the Capture Your Grief project. A month that has been able to give awareness, let people,friends old and new how it is to be Melody’s Mum. Of course it is never “just one month”. But it is a snippet to just some of the emotions, that can be presented after losing a baby. I’m aware I am incredibly open, but I am also very aware on how people question (not always to my face) my openness, aware of how uncomfortable people also are too.
I wanted to teach the world about the child, I don’t even know. To tell you how hard it is to love someone, you barely had chance to meet, the regrets surrounding her death and how we dealt with things after that we cannot change. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, just as much as I don’t want to be the mum with a dead baby.

I speak about her often, not only because she is our little girl, but at times I get scared I’ll forget her, sometimes my head builds a wall between my memories of her, and her not existing.
Sometimes I wonder whether she did at all, then I see the pictures.
I’m supposed to think about her every day, you know exactly as you do with your living children, exactly as I do her siblings; you know their whereabouts, what they had for tea, when they’ll have a bath.
Honestly, I don’t think of her every day, I don’t talk about her often either, although I am sure you think even that is too much…but not as much as I should, had she been alive, but I have nothing new to share.
I can’t even share my four early losses any more because my brain can’t focus or concentrate on them. My heart has shut away from them. Because my head only sees Melody.

Today whilst everyone made their gardens into cemeteries, fake headstones and dressed their children as skeletons, I, we visited a real cemetery, dressed a real headstone and well…

Today is one of those days I didn’t want to think of Melody. 



There are days, many days where I believe Melody’s story is not ours; when I tell people I have four children it is easier, it is quick and painless.

This year, I’ve been detached from the project, I know from previous years readers have also been detached, due to numbers dropping, when I use this project to heal, but nobody is listening.
It is boring, it is sad. But I am your friend, your family member, she is our child.

Reflecting on baby bereavement as a whole not just this month. Life really does move on.
Time does heal provided you’re not the bereaved, provided it isn’t your story.
I put my trust into people after she died, when I shouldn’t have.
I expected far too much from people to understand and be kind, not use her death for their own gains or against me. When on reflection the only people who truly understand are those who are walking this path.

This project is insightful, even to me. It is an education. Learning from mums who have lost their babies but not in the same way, to know that we’re not alone but our losses, our pain is all individual and unique.
Nothing is wrong, nothing is right in how we, as bereaved parents (dads matter too) choose to pick up the Cellotape and fix our broken hearts.
Nobody has the right to tell us either.

Melody she lived for 35 days almost five years ago. 
I may not think about her every day, 
but I will never stop loving her. 
Forever Our Baby She’ll Be. 
(I pick these due to the Sun on her face)

I actually went out and took a sunset picture tonight. 
Not a complete sunset, but I tried. 
We have had a thick mist all day, 
which for me personally right now, 
the fog reflects a little on how I am feeling just now. 

A huge thank you to every single person who has followed this project, 
left comments, 
listened to my thoughts daily. 
It goes a long way. 

#captureyourgrief Give Away Your Love

Day 29.
Today was about performing an act of kindness. To give away a bit of love.
I failed. I’ve barely left the house in days. So random acts of kindness hasn’t been always possible.

I do like to think since this journey has begun,that I have successfully given love and shown kindness where I can. Sometimes planned,others spontaneous.

People need to be kind, no prompts,no subject pieces. Kindness goes a long way,particularly in this journey.

I’ve not been feeling myself this last week. So a healing,loving self care is how today for me went.

Every single person I have come in to contact on this path have given nothing but kindness, maybe it is a way of our babies living through us. 
I may have failed today’s task. 
But I try to be kind everyday.

#captureyourgrief Self Compassion

Even almost five years since she died, I still beat myself up over so much. I over think too much.
I feel at times suffocated by the way I can’t trust anyone or anything.

I do remind myself that our daughter died, but I always the think there are people worse off than me, then the brief compassion I may have for myself goes. When I speak about her, in raw form I always assume people think I am out to get sympathy, but actually I find it incredibly difficult to break the walls down to accept any form of sympathy. I don’t think it is a deserving thing. It is protection maybe, if I give in to compassion, I may just crumble. I don’t know.
I’m not sure where I am going with this.

How can I show compassion, when the people who do leave? There are so many times where I feel I simply don’t deserve it. My baby died. I left her with people I could trust.

I need to learn how to self care, how to give myself a break.

I’m really lost for words today…sorry.

#captureyourgrief Lemons and Lemonade.

Right from the word go I wanted to make a difference somehow.
There has been fundraising to some degree, it has been hard at times to gather the interest for people to support such a subject.

It has set me back within my grief,effects me in unexpected ways. I got to a point where I hated fundraising, that I was dishonouring Melody; her name,her life her death. Aside from people who wanted to help, it felt like the world just didn’t care.

I wanted to give up.
But.
I can’t, I’m stubborn..
When we walked out of that hospital, no baby,no hope a bunch of leaflets a butter box and broken hearts. There was the odd card,the odd phone call. But eventually told we’d been bumped down the list. Told late losses,miscarriage,stillbirth and babies up to 5 days were who they usually dealt with.

I was angry and hurt that no one wanted to help us,after all our baby was here.
I wanted to offer that support to other parents,to break the silence to let no other family feel isolated.
There was nothing in my town.
I voiced my plans over and over, was offered an opportunity in 2014 to be part of a community project.
Venues were being sought after, it wasn’t until 2015 that it was found,the ball began to roll.

It has been a slow process, due to funding for the venue.
But in 2016,thanks to charity Towards Tomorrow Together, we teamed up and Melody’s Voices was born.

Again this has been slow,but we’ll get there, I am determined.
When we left the hospital,there should have been the support set up.
But now,my aim is to not let another family feel the way we did.

We are currently working on a fundraiser, a fundraiser I know I said I wouldn’t do. But our Mayor offered the local guildhall. And I have a couple of crazy friends,a mad husband and even madder town councillor on board.

I may not be able to save babies,to stop them dying.
I know Melody will help in our particular hospital.
But I want to make sure no other family,mum,dad feels alone.

We’re in this shit together.
I will sit and hold your hand,wipe away your tears,stand next to you in the silent darkness.
But I won’t let you feel alone.

Xxx