Dream-maker

Effy-Maes headstone was finally fitted on Christmas Eve 2015, 2 1/2 years after losing her.

After 2 years of deciding on the wording, and six months searching for a stonemason able to source the granite I wanted it had been a long time coming, but as I walked into the cemetery on Christmas morning it was the best Christmas present I could ever have wished for. There, stood perfectly on my baby’s grave was a real life version of the sketch I threw together on ‘paint’ all those months ago.
Choosing a design was hard, well, who expects to be choosing a headstone for their baby?

I had it in my mind that I wanted the classic headstone shape with the rounded top, but it no longer seems to be a standard shape. Looking through the catalogue the funeral director gave me I was throughly uninspired and completely disheartened. I didn’t want to get her something that wasn’t perfect!

I also struggled with stone choice. Even from the first meeting with the funeral director I’d said that I wanted a light stone. Black was too heavy and dark for the tiny little mite she was. I initially, when faced with black, dark grey or light grey as my 3 granite options opted for light grey, but quickly after seeing other headstones at the cemetery decided that even that was too dark for what I wanted. I then decided maybe I should choose marble, but a baby’s headstone at the cemetery that has been there only 25 years is already overgrown with lichen and I couldn’t bare the thought of that. So that lead me to white granite. This isn’t a common stone as I came to discover when I started emailing stonemasons and getting back different responses varying from they couldn’t find it to it doesn’t exist!

Then there was what to write. I spent hours upon hours searching for quotes, throwing things together, trying and failing to find something. I regularly settled on something, sent it to friends and family for opinions and then a day later read it to myself and decided it wasn’t quite right, but after about a year of this I picked out all the different mock ups I’d done and pieced together the bits I liked from each and finally I had the perfect words.

Lastly what design to put on the stone. I initially thought about a trail of flowers up the side, but I couldn’t decide on an image or even a type of flower, then I thought maybe a pink bow at the top. Finally I came up with maybe they could put her tiny footprints on the top. A permanent reminder or how tiny and perfect she was, and also her footprints permanently imprinted on this earth.

I never really hesitated on the font I wanted used. I knew I wanted it more swirly that your standard block capitals, and having seen stones with the Disney font on I knew this was possible, so I picked out a scripty font for her name, which had to be in pink and a lowercase italic for the rest.
With all this settled in my mind I sketched it up in paint and emailed what felt like hundreds but in reality was probably about 20 stonemasons the image. Some ignored me, some said it wasn’t possible, some said the stone didn’t exist, some started replying then just stopped, but finally I found a local company and after his initial email said it was totally possible I finally felt that maybe this was going to happen after all!

He invited us to his office to see a stone sample before he special ordered it for is, and from then on it was all plain sailing. It cost £910 which in the grand scheme of things is no more than that fancy pram I had my eye on for her. Heck I’ll never get to buy her a cot or even a coat, so to me that wasn’t a lot to spend on the perfect memorial for her.

And after perhaps the longest 3 months of my life I finally got an email on Christmas Eve to say they had just fitted it.

And my dreams had come true.

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Cutting myself off

A few months ago I left a group I was in on Facebook which was support for those who’ve lost babies.
I’m not healed, I still need support, but I couldn’t look and every day see another baby lost.

The one that ended it for me was a baby the same age as my rainbow dying of SIDS. I fear that happening every day and I can’t keep reading about it happening. It made me worry even more and I’m already a nervous ninny, I don’t need to add to it!

At around the same time I stopped reading all the blogs regularly about babyloss. I was making myself feel worse not better. I found that I was wallowing by reading them, it was making me worry about my Rainbow and realising how common baby loss is making me panick about one day giving Jackson a brother or sister. I now look at these on occasion and skip through and pick the posts I feel I can read at the time.

I wish I could still read those things and support the women going through it, I hope I do in a way through my blog, and talking to people on Twitter, but I cannot look through posts and posts of babies lost years before they should be.

I miss my daughter every day, and those groups helped me in the beginning, making me feel not so alone, but now I need to throw myself into parenting my son and missing my daughter in my own way.

Letters To My Daughter

I wrote letters to my daughter 2 years ago today, the day after I delivered her, before I started this blog. Even back then I chose to use writing as my therapy through the hardest thing I’d ever been through.

After reading through them I decided to publish some of my words:

“Ever since I found out I was pregnant all thoughts of my future involved you, then for all of that to be snatched away in a few hours; I didn’t know what to do.”

“You truly are gorgeous, and I am one very proud mum.”

“After what felt like a lifetime, and a second in one, I knew I had to say goodbye to you which felt awful. After giving birth you are meant to keep your child with you and protect them forever, but here I was letting a stranger take you away to do horrible tests and I would never get the future I dreamed for us.”

“Hopefully you are going to be buried in the local cemetery-it’s not quite my arms, but it’s the best place we could find for you to sleep forever.”

“It’s not fair that you came into my life and completed me. The thing missing from my life was a child-you, and then suddenly and irreversibly you have been taken from it again leaving a bigger hole than I had before.”

“I can’t believe that I have to say goodbye to my little daughter, it’s not right!”

“I love you, Jellybean. Now, forever and always. Mummy xxx”

How do you Celebrate a Life That Never Got to be lived?

It may seem weird to you, heck it would have seemed weird to me before my life took its horrible and unexpected turn, but today, my daughters birthday, nothing seemed more natural than spending it with her, at her grave, eating cake.

I had been thinking about Effy-Maes birthday since Christmas. I chose her present and since then I’ve been waiting until I could take it to her! Her birthday seemed ages away then, but it’s really snuck up on me recently. 

I hadn’t planned anything for her birthday, what can you do really? She’s not here to shower with presents and dress in a party dress. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to mark it though. I’ve talked before about not celebrating her birthday, after all, it’s another year since a terrible experience, instead I chose to celebrate the life I carried for those precious 21 weeks. 

So how do you celebrate a life? To me it seemed obvious it had to be at her grave, and it had to involve cake, it is her birthday after all! And of course, with the most important people in my life, my parents and my son.

So yes, to you, maybe eating cake around a grave seems odd, but how else do you celebrate a life that never got to be lived?

2nd Birthday in the Clouds

Happy 2nd birthday in the clouds my girl.
Birthdays are meant to be happy and full of cake and partys and family,
but your birthday just reminds me of what happened,
of what isn’t,
of the member of my family whos missing,
of what will never be.
Your birthday is in June,
4 1/2 months too early.
Your birthday should have been another day,
2nd June shouldn’t be a special day,
I should have been feeling you kick,
just halfway through my pregnancy.
If you’d been born alive you couldn’t have survived.
It was too early.
I can’t bring myself to celebrate the day I gave birth to you.
it wasn’t a happy day,
I didn’t get to meet you that day,
you were already gone.
I didnt get to bring you home.
But all that said it is still your birthday,
still the day my body tested itself and went through labour – a labour of love so I could see you.
A labour it had to be forced into to let go of you.
But I can’t celebrate that I had to give birth to you 4 1/2 months early.
I shall instead celebrate the life I carried for those special, precious 21 weeks.
I shall make a cake,
I shall buy you balloons,
I shall bring you presents.
I will make it a proper second birthday for you.
To show you how much I love and miss you everyday, but especially on your birthday.
The day that shouldn’t be.

Birthday Cake

Tomorrow is my daughters second birthday.
Sadly she isn’t here to celebrate with me.
She didn’t even make it to the day she was born.

Last year I couldn’t bring myself to make her a cake.
I couldnt bare to eat it without her.
I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate.
I took her balloons, but that was all I could face doing.
This year I’m more at peace with how things are, that she will never celebrate a birthday with me.
So this year I made her a cake.
It matches her present – a little Jellycat rabbit.

We will give her presents and take her balloons and eat cake.
We will celebrate her life.
Her 21 weeks inside me.
With family.
My little family.
My parents and my Rainbow, Jackson.

2 Years

It has been 2 years since that fateful day that I heard the words ‘no heartbeat’

2 years since that night that I couldn’t sleep and so started watching the Apprentice on iplayer.
2 years since I tried to find a heartbeat on my home Doppler and failed.
2 years since the morning I received a parcel from my friend that contained a maternity tshirt with Jellybeans on (Bumps nickname) and I said to my mum ‘ I just hope everything is ok’
2 years since my mum told me to book in with my midwife but she was full.
2 years since the receptionist told me to ring the midwife number.
2 years since the midwife I talked to on the phone told me that it was common to stop feeling movement at 21 weeks and that I shouldn’t worry.
2 years since she dismissed the fact I couldn’t find a heartbeat on my home Doppler ‘because I didn’t know how to use it’
2 years since I cried on the phone and told her I was really worried.
2 years since she told me that I could ring and get an appointment at a midwife clinic ‘if I was really that worried’
2 years since I decided to drive my new family car that I’d bought for my impending arrival that I had picked up the day before.
2 years since I sat in that waiting room telling my mum and myself that it would all be ok.
2 years since the midwife started doing all the normal checks before asking why I had gone in.
2 years since she tried to find a heartbeat but her Doppler was low battery and it kept hissing.
2 years since she sent her trainee into sainsburys next door to buy some more.
2 years since I lay there begging my baby to move.
2 years since with a fresh battery the Doppler couldn’t find anything.
2 years since she called the gynae ward and booked me in immediately at the hospital.
2 years since I went to the loo trying to calm down and tell myself it would all be fine.
2 years since I came out and found the midwife telling my mum she could normally find a heartbeat so it didnt look good.
2 years since I still believed it would still all be fine.
2 years since my mums face told me it wasn’t all fine.
2 years since I phoned my fiancé whilst walking to the car telling him to get to the hospital NOW because ‘I think I’ve lost the baby’
2 years since my mum kept telling me to drive home so she could get her car and drive.
2 years since I realised that I was less shaken by this because I still believed it would all be ok so I should drive.
2 years since we sat in a waiting room for what seemed FOREVER waiting for a doctor.
2 years since the doctor called me into scan me and told me he never liked to hear of no movement this late on.
2 years since I thought about what the midwife on the phone had told me about it being normal. THIS COULD STILL BE OK.
2 years since I looked at the screen waiting to see movement like there had been at the 20 week scan less than a week before.
2 years since the silence and stillness told me what I’d been denying myself to believe.
2 years since the doctor told me there was no heartbeat.
2 years since I screamed.
2 years since they left us alone.
2 years since I cried on my mum harder than I’d ever cried before.
2 years since my mum told me my fiancé was hurting too.
2 years since I hugged him and felt him crumple on me.
2 years since I realised I had to be strong.
2 years since they came in and discussed next steps.
2 years since they told me I had to deliver my baby.
2 years since i asked if the doctor could check if i was having a boy or a girl as they had kept their legs crossed at the scan the week earlier.
2 years since he still couldnt tell but assured me that they would find out one way or another.
2 years since he told me that the evidence showed my baby had been dead for about 3 days which was how long i thought i hadnt felt any movement.
2 years since I texted my dad from the hospital bed.
2 years since I texted my brothers and told them their niece or nephew had died.
2 years since I texted my friends and told them I’d lost my baby.
2 years since I was given a tablet and sent home.
2 years since I drove home still totally together because I still didn’t believe it had happened.
2 years since we stopped for fish and chips.
2 years since we got home and I saw my dad and he crumpled.
2 years since I gave him a hug and though he was comforting me I felt like i was comforting him.
2 years since I had to be strong because my world was collapsing around me.
2 years since I wrote a facebook status saying what had happened.
2 years since I sent my fiance home.
2 years since my mum spent the night in my bed with my for the first time since I was a child.
2 years since I sobbed and sobbed because it was finally dawning on me.
2 years since the world as I knew it ended and I had to be strong.

2 years may have gone by but that day will be etched in my memory forever. The day I found out my body had failed me and that my baby had died.

 

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Is Raising a Rainbow the Same as a Sunshine Baby?

A Sunshine baby is one born before a loss. Most babies are Sunshine babies, pure happiness and joy after a normal pregnancy and birth. You don’t, however tend to call them a Sunshine baby until after you suffer a loss – before then they’re just a normal baby after all! 

I never got to have a Sunshine baby. I lost my first born, my Cloud baby (regularly called an Angel baby) losing me the chance to ever have a Sunshine baby. Any future babies will also be Rainbow babies, they are also after the storm of suffering baby loss, the pregnancy is a different experience, no longer carefree, you KNOW what can happen. 

My blog is about remembering my Cloud baby, Effy-Mae, and raising a Rainbow, Jackson, however I find myself writing posts that wouldn’t look out of place on a normal parenting blog. So is raising a Rainbow really that different to raising a Sunshine baby?

Yes, it is, but of course they overlap. They’re children and you’re a parent after all. You face the same issues, lack of sleep, mess, worries about losing friends, and people sticking their ore in, but as a Rainbow baby they come with their own set of worries, you know how it feels to lose a baby so you’re overprotective and nervous

Looking back through my blog now I see the majority of my recent posts are about Jackson. This has become more apparent with Effy-Mae’s birthday looming and my sudden desire to write about her, it now stands out that I have been neglecting writing about her recently, wrapped up in Jackson. He’s hard work and time consuming and always hanging off my leg making it easy to write about him, however I find it hard and emotionally draining to write about Effy-Mae. I tend to end up in tears and I don’t like letting Jackson see me like that. 

There will be a flurry of posts about Effy-Mae around her anniversary and her birthday, some written a while ago as I have to write about her when I feel I can, but make no mistake, the after effects of baby loss are far reaching and long lasting and I will continue writing about it. 

Looming

The second anniversary of Effy-Mae’s death and subsequent birth are looming.
They’re written on my calendar.
Circled in pink.
Imprinted on my mind.
Looming.
Creeping up on me.
I wish I could rewind time and for it to not happen.
For there to be no anniversary to celebrate mourn.
What is the right word?
I can’t celebrate her birthday like I will celebrate Jacksons in 2 months.
Her birthday should be in October.
There should be cake and balloons and dresses and a toddler running around, excited to be 2!
In October!
There will be balloons and presents…
and a grave.
In June.
How do you survive a birthday that shouldn’t be?
For a baby who isn’t here.
With a baby who is.
With a baby who made it through.
A baby who was born when they should be,
alive.
A baby who is himself approaching his 1st birthday.
Who will get the balloons and the cake and the party that she should have.
I don’t want to mourn on her birthday.
I don’t want to mourn her at all.
But especially not on what should be a happy day.
Infront of her brother who knows no sadness.
So we will celebrate.
Celebrate the life I carried.
The life that should have been.
We will honour her.
My daughter.
His big sister.
Our baby in the clouds.

Cloud Baby

I’ve pondered for a while on what to tell Jackson about his sister.

I’m not religious so telling him she was an ‘Angel Baby’ never really fitted in with my beliefs or what I want him to think, but it’s the most common way of explaining the death of a baby so I went along with it.
Some people say their baby is among the stars, but I couldn’t work out how to describe that to him very well either.

Then I watched CBeebies!
On there there is a program called Cloudbabies, which the title in itself intrigued me, but as I watched I was overwhelmed by how perfect it was!
These babies live in the clouds and they dust cobwebs off the moon and paint the rainbows and put the sun to bed. They play around in the clouds with their cloud baby friends.

It’s not religious, it’s not anything, but it’s nice. It gives me something to say, and it seems right.
When we see a rainbow I can tell him that his sister and the other cloud babies painted a rainbow for us because he’s a Rainbow Baby. I see it as a way to include her in every day life.

It’s not so far removed from the ‘Angel’ idea, so if he does talk about her to other people they won’t think he’s crazy, but the main difference is that I don’t believe it. I know it’s a story made up as a preemptive answer to inquisitive questions.

Maybe I am wrong and she is an angel, but I’ve never been religious, we didn’t give her a religious funeral, and we won’t raise Jackson to be religious so it didn’t seem right to use this religious reference.

Things have a funny way of jumping out at you as ‘right’ when something fits, and this did just that.

Our little Babba Pink is playing in the clouds right now, putting the sun to bed and waking up the moon for bedtime, and who knows, maybe she will paint us a rainbow tomorrow!

 

 

  • An 'Angel Baby' is a baby lost during pregnancy or early childhood, who sleeps in the clouds instead of our arms.

    A 'Rainbow Baby' is a baby born following the loss of an 'Angel Baby', a beacon of hope after a storm, while not denying the storm happened.

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