I was sat melting in a traffic jam earlier today and found myself reminiscing about past Holidays. My gap year where I travelled to Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Exploring Europe with my now husband and last minute deals to New York. They were all just so fantastic. Not being ones to just sit on a beach and sunbathe, we explored, we island hopped, we learnt about the culture and we absorbed as much out of our holidays as we possibly could.
Then we had a baby. Our first born, our little Eleni. We couldn't afford to go exploring in our carefree ways anymore and our daughter was on so many medications for her reflux disease that we decided to make the most of my parents holiday home in Cornwall. Having spent family holidays in Cornwall since the age of 2, it was already a place close to my heart. A place where my husband and I would end up saying our forever vows.
So with Eleni being just the tender age of 4 months and stocked up with all her prescription milk and various medications we headed down to the Cornish countryside. Just the three of us, our little family, for a week of welcoming our little girl to my second home.
We had sleepless nights filled with alarms to remind us to 'dream feed' our girl and give her the right medications. We learnt why it was important to take out a fully stocked changing bag for the day. We dealt with tears in the car and having to put our daughter before what we wanted to do. It was a far cry from our previous 'responsibility free' holidays.
But to this day, it has been my best ever holiday.
There is something so magical about taking your baby away for the first time. Learning how to do this holiday business as a family. Being seen as a family. The harder parts of parenting had just washed away that week. Eleni hadn't long come out of hospital for her bottle aversion and we finally felt like we could enjoy being a family. Eleni saw the sea for the first time, she felt the sand between her toes and most importantly we were all happy. It was beautiful, it was blissful and I felt so in love.
So as I said earlier, I was driving in my car reminiscing about all of this. Beautiful holiday memories which will never fade. But the sad thing is, that when you lose a baby your life splits into a 'before and after'. The wonderful, dare I say it but easy before life and then the after where even past memories before losing Holly are now tinged with sadness and regret.
Sadness and regret that I will never experience this with Holly. Never experience a first holiday together and that feeling of bliss, despite being sleep deprived and covered with baby sick. I will never be able to welcome Holly to Cornwall, the place which means so much and the place which has the power to make everything always feel a little bit lighter.
Out of a lot of missing experiences we will have through not having Holly here, this is one of the most painful. The reality of losing a baby is that you also lose a lifetime of making memories and a lifetime of opportunities.
Grief isn't a linear line. It is unexpected, painful and very hard work. It doesn't just change you, or your present and future but also your past too. It changes your perception, your beliefs and what life means to you. I think it must be one of the most powerful 'changes' that a human must learn to live with.
As we prepare to go on our family holiday to Cornwall this week, I'll try so very hard to not have something else tainted with the ugliness of bitterness. The memories that I have will always be beautiful but I will always wonder what our memories with Holly would have been like. I will always wonder and always wish that she could be here too.
The week before last I found myself in a rather uncomfortable situation. Having turned up at the dentist for a routine appointment, I found myself in somewhat of a 'Spanish Inquisition.'
The receptionist (rightly doing her job) commented on the fact that I had missed a previous appointment. I apologised and used the words 'family bereavement' to give reason to my non attendance. The receptionist (not rightly so) dismissed my claims of a family bereavement and continued to press as to why I hadn't attended and rather horribly began to have a go at me.
I found myself in a really difficult situation. It was just past 9am and to be honest I had started the day on a really positive note. I hadn't expected to (in a queue full of people) feel compelled to explain that 'actually it was my daughter who died and cancelling appointments was not my priority.' After I said those words, the mood shifted. It was clear I had made her very uncomfortable and what followed was a quick ushering to finish our conversation quietly. I left the dentist in tears.
It's not that I don't want to talk about Holly because I actually love to talk about her. But talking about Holly is on my terms. By that I don't mean that you can't talk to me about Holly or ask me questions. I mean that no one should ever force and press you to explain yourself, least of all a complete stranger. I felt violated and forced into explaining Holly's death when actually, it was none of her business.
The days that followed were a struggle. I can't explain exactly WHY but what had happened with that receptionist had really affected me. I felt depressed and angry. I shouldn't have had to even had use those words because my daughter should never had died. I felt angry that some stranger had made me feel like this. Sure, she wasn't to know but why can't people just leave things be? After all, you would think a reason given of 'family bereavement' would be more than enough to explain a missed appointment.
What happened that day got me thinking. I know that no one can read a person's mind and know what has happened. But I do think that there is a way of going about things;
If you have a job to do, that's great but please be nice. You never know what someone is dealing with in their private lives. It takes very little effort to be kind.
If you don't have anything nice to say then please, don't say anything. For many people the topic of death (let alone infant death) brings about awkwardness. It is fine to just acknowledge our loss and tell us you are sorry. If you don't 'agree' with us talking or sharing pictures about our babies then please just leave. Our children will always come before you.
If you can't deal with the reality of our situation and our answers to your questions then please, don't ask us. We know that often people don't know what to say but the last thing we need is to have you make us feel uncomfortable when talking about our babies. The uncomfortable feeling that you may feel for a few minutes is an everyday part of our lives.
I never want people to have to worry about what they say to me when talking about Holly because I understand it is difficult. I just wish that people would think a little before they speak and most importantly just be kind. I would never be angry at someone's good intentions and I don't think many others would either. We all have our struggles, demons or broken hearts but wouldn't the world be a much nicer place if we all just gave a little more consideration to others?
We all have our own notions of grief. Prior to losing Holly, I can honestly say that I had never experienced it. Grief isn't something which is talked about much, until it happens. I expected sadness and pain but I didn't expect the silence.
My grief feels like silence and it has done ever since this all began. Scans filled with silence and silent car journeys between my husband and I. Silent tears as my gut instinct told me Holly would never survive upon hearing her diagnosis.
Silence when Holly was born. Where were her cries? Where was the excitement? Where were the cries of joy? Silence when I cradled her in my arms and cocooned my body around her basket when I was no longer able to hold her. Silence when we left the hospital with just a memory box.
Silence when we registered her birth and death, silence when we sat in the funeral home picking out her coffin and silence when I kissed her goodbye for the last time. Silence at the crematorium and silence where there should be two babies in the house, not one. Memories of Holly filled with silence.
Just so much silence.
There can be as much love around you as you could possibly ask for when you lose a baby. There can be so much love, sympathies and well wishes but it doesn't stop the silence. It's a silence which you so desperately want to be filled but it cant, so instead the empty silence travels through your universe with no destination and no signs of halting. Just a constant hurtling comet of silence.
Some days the silence is so loud. It is so loud that it is consuming and exhausting. Its an ear shrieking, high pitched silence with nowhere to go and so it just reverberates inside you, aching and hurting. An unwanted silence, a much present emptiness.
Some days the silence likes to play. It will hide and hide well. Your day is filled with much welcomed noise and distractions. And then you pause and wonder where this relief has come from but block out that thought as if scared you might suddenly jinx it into showing itself. But you needn't worry because it does, eventually.
People can tell you that you aren't alone. After all, you are not the first to lose a baby and you wont be the last. And whilst it can bring some comfort to hear the support, every loss is different as is the grief. I have learn't that there can be no expectations in grief as my silence wont reflect someone else's loss. There quite simply, is no normal.
I don't like my silence but it is my personal reminder of Holly, as if I could ever forget. And I would always chose having it over having never 'had' my Holly. I think my silence is really just my love for her after all.
But I do wish I could chose to have Holly here and banish the silence all together.
Rewind to 2003. I am 12 with no idea of what I want to do when I get older. I am still young, so that's okay but when we receive the exciting news that my sister is pregnant, suddenly that 'no idea' turns into a spiraling desire and interest into the world of midwifery. I am fascinated by her pregnancy and by the welcoming of my (now not so little) nephew into the world.
Anyone who know's me will know that once I put my mind to something then that is it. I will set out, work hard and achieve my goal. And so it began, GCSE choices based on midwifery, A-Level choices based on midwifery, shadowing at the local maternity ward, watching my baby brother being born and doing anything that I could to best 'prepare' me.
A gap year and three years later, I had somehow made it through the difficult degree. I was a midwife. It was suppose to be everything I wanted but yet it started to go wrong. I was poorly, ALL the time. I felt sick, my tummy hurt, I couldn't sleep. I started taking sleeping tablets and setting myself strict bedtime routines but nothing helped. My immune system was forever letting me down. I didn't understand how I could do such an important job based on only a few hours sleep. I was terrified of missing something and being responsible for something serious. I just wasn't coping.
I HATED letting people down but almost every day was a struggle. I lost my confidence and became withdrawn. Almost every week another illness followed by a further lack of sleep and exhaustion. I felt like an absolute failure, the worst midwife. I loved looking after the couples at work but somewhere in my brain and immunity there was a deep block and how do you explain to someone what's wrong when you don't even really know yourself? Was it the long shifts or the naturally stressful environment? Was I just being pathetic and not 'getting on' with it? Was it the short staff shifts (of which I was partially to blame) or was I just rubbish? I really didn't know.
It wasn't until I had my eldest daughter that it started to come out. Anxiety. Was it caused by the job or just a chemical imbalance in my brain? I didn't know but cue the anti anxiety medication that not only started to help my professional life but also my personal life too. Brilliant, I thought, fresh start, maybe I can actually do this now.
Then my world crashed as I had Holly and the final part to the puzzle was solved. Sjogren's syndrome, the reason for my compromised immunity. It was bittersweet that I could now understand my body better and understand how to manage it. I understood why I had struggled previously.
But there was a new problem. How can I go back to being a midwife and caring for other couples and babies when my own little Holly is no longer here? Every day would be a reminder. Every day would be hard. Every day would be a slap in the face. How do you cope when people complain that they haven't been discharged yet or haven't yet been seen by a doctor when they have their healthy baby? How do you stop yourself from screaming at them 'AT LEAST YOU HAVE YOUR BABY?'
I don't know. I still don't know that answer. It feels bittersweet that I finally understand how to best look after my body, be a better midwife, colleague and what medications will help to be replaced by the reality of 'can I even do this now?' I don't know if I will ever be ready.
For those of you who have read my past blogs, you will know that back in February I was honoured to ask to speak at a baby loss conference at Bradford University, as a midwife and as Holly's mummy (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NPESa7vHBcA) Following on from that I have been asked to speak at Surrey University in July on baby loss too. It is an absolute pleasure to tell Holly's story to anyone and equally this unexpected path has lead me to a new passion, baby loss. A topic (which requires its own post as I can't go on about it enough) which is just so bloody important.
I know where I 'belong' in this midwifery world now. Despite the stress, anxieties and hours spent crying over why am I doing this, I now know why. This path (albeit bittersweet) has lead me to my passion and my midwifery degree will no doubt help me in doing what I need to do (whether it be bereavement midwifery or something related). There was no 'reason' for my daughter to have to die but there was a reason I chose midwifery and a reason why I didn't give up.
In Holly's memory, out of my love for her and from this burning desire in my heart, I WILL support bereavement care. I WILL help bereaved parents and I WILL do what needs to be done to improve the services.
And anyone who know's me will know that once I put my mind to something then that is it.
When I first started my midwifery career I struggled massively with looking after fathers during times of loss. I wasn't 'qualified' (I had my midwifery degree but not the real knowledge needed for bereavement) to look after mothers losing their babies, let alone the fathers. It was far easier to focus on the practical aspects of looking after the mother than try to understand how the father needed support too.
I was awkward. I made sure the fathers were comfortable but did I really include them in the care of their baby, so very loved and so very still? I didn't. It wasn't because I didn't think they mattered or that they were not sad, I just didn't have enough experience or understanding of how loss affects them too.
But loss does affects them too.
From the very start of Holly's existence my husband has been there. From the big smile he gave when we found out we were expecting, to holding my hand through every heartbreaking scan, to watching our daughter peacefully pass away when I could not watch the screen. He was there when I was induced, he was there when the contractions started and he was there when I was screaming as Holly was being delivered. He was there when we spent time with Holly, he was there when we said goodbye, he was there at the funeral and he has been there every day since.
He was there.
How could loss not affect him? Holly was his blood, his hopes and dreams, his daughter and his heartbreak, just as much as she was mine. There is so much focus is on mothers that I fear father's are somewhat left behind. I remember when the Catholic Priest came to bless Holly at the hospital which was my husbands wish as I am not religious. The priest barely spoke to him. It was all about me and that was awkward and uncomfortable.
People ask how I am doing but yet I wonder how many ask how my husband is doing? Does he get messages from people checking in to see how he is? I may have had to walk around with a pregnant tummy and a lifeless baby and I may have had to endured the pain of labour but he would have taken this pain, had he been able. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him, watching me in pain knowing that there is nothing he can really do to take it away. And while I can take my maternity leave to mourn, my husband was back at work two weeks after his daughters death.
Each experience of loss is unique and whilst mine and my husbands experience are different we also understand each other more than anyone else can. The daily pain, the constant feel of loss and the sadness in our hearts is felt by us both. We both lost Holly and we both miss her, every single day.
I wish I had understood this a little better before Holly. I wish I hadn't neglected the fathers I have looked after in the past. The experience they have in baby loss is so very real and so very raw. They need to love their baby, have the chance to care for their baby and the opportunity to talk too.
It sounds so obvious doesn't it? But in an age where men are told to 'man up' and 'be the strong one' and where death (let alone death of a baby) is viewed as an awkward and 'silent' topic, loss for daddies is on the most part, neglected.
I can't pretend that I know what it is like for a daddy to lose his baby but what I do know is that daddies feel it too.
Daddy matters too.
'There are no words'. I have lost count of the amount of times that has been said to me since losing Holly. And its true, often there are no words as we just don't know what to say. However, this month I was part of something incredibly special. A day dedicated in sharing words, sharing stories and sharing advice on child loss. The charity Our Angels, organised a conference with the Bradford University midwifery society on bringing an understanding of baby loss to midwives and student midwives. It was the first of its kind and I hope the start to other universities and hospitals acknowledging the importance of care for those going through baby loss.
I met Chris Binnie from Our Angels on a facebook site for bereaved parents (Otis and friends - childloss support, set up by Natalie Oldham) and was truly honoured that he asked me to come and speak. I was invited to come and speak as a mother to Holly but also as a midwife. Having experienced both it was felt that I could bring another aspect to the day, two sides to the same coin. Prior to Holly, I wouldn't have dreamed I would have the confidence to speak in front of 400 people but after losing a baby things suddenly don't seem so scary. I spent a month writing up my speech and practicing it over and over to my husband, who by the end of it knew it by heart. As the conference grew closer my nerves set in but I was doing this for Holly and I was never going to let her down.
The conference started with fantastic speeches from the Director of the RCM, a local bereavement midwife and SANDS. It was refreshing and comforting to be surrounded by people who all had the same agenda, understanding baby loss for the better. We watched a heartbreaking documentary, 'Still Loved' and many tears were shed.
Later, Dr. Alex Heazell, clinical director of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre spoke on his work into the prevention of stillbirth and improving care for parents, which left many people inspired. The Saving Babies' Lives Care Bundle was presented by Julia Walker-Brown, the information and knowledge these presenters had was invaluable.
Then there were the parents. My tears started when Chris presented. I knew he had lost his little boy, Henry but hadn't known the full story. I won't share his story, as video's of the conference will soon be available (links will be posted when I have them) and I wouldn't do Henry's story justice but it was emotional. Hearing another bereaved parents loss is just so raw, whether you've gone through it yourself or not. I have no doubt that his story touched the hearts of many students and midwives that day. What he continues to do in Henry's memory with Our Angels is incredibly touching.
Heidi Eldridge, CEO of the Charity MAMA Academy also presented. Another bereaved parent whose loss of her little boy Aidan, inspired her to set up the Charity to promote safer births. Another example of a warrior parent keeping her baby's memory alive every single day.
The tears continued as David Monteith spoke about the loss of his daughter Grace. A truly inspirational man who rightly shows that fathers matter too. You could have heard a pin drop during his speech and his words resonated exactly with how I felt.
Stalls were set up with various charities, proudly showing what they do to support bereaved parents and in honour of their babies. Such charities including 4 Louis, offering precious memory boxes to the parents, Hand on Heart offering precious keepsakes and Otis and Friends providing much needed sibling memory boxes. The care, consideration and honour put in to these charities work is truly inspiring.
Soon it was my turn to speak. In the lead up to the conference, I hadn't worried about getting emotional during my speech, which sounds so silly now. I thought I had learnt how to hide my emotions pretty well. But the day was SO emotional. I had been dealing with my grief privately but suddenly being exposed to grief all around was both comforting and heartbreaking.
Standing up in front of 400 people I realised that sharing Holly's story to strangers was different. These people didn't know Holly's story, they didn't know what happened and how it all ended. I needed to share her story in 20 minutes, from start to end and that was hard. So I was emotional, I had to take pauses and catch my breath. I had moments where I didn't think I could do it but then I would picture Holly's face. If I can birth her and say goodbye to her then I sure as hell can share her story. And I did it, I somehow got through it for my girl.
The conference was unique and inspiring. It has ignited a passion within me for supporting bereavement care and its shown me that people do care. The students who attended that day are truly special. They now have the power to bring a little light in to the worst days of a parents life. Their presence at the conference means that they believe baby loss is just as important as bringing a live baby home. I am so thankful that they attended, they will never know how much it means.
That day will always have a special place in my heart. For the first time since losing Holly, I was surrounded by people who had lost babies. People who I had spoken to over the internet and could finally meet in person. People who I had shared some of my closest and hardest thoughts with were suddenly there in the flesh and it felt like home. No one was offended by what you would say, nothing was too 'in your face'. I was free to say whatever I wanted and for the first time be surrounded by people who absolutely understood and passed no judgement. I 'got' these people and they 'got' me. I met other warriors that day and I am SO proud to call them my friends.
There are no words when you lose a baby. But we created a day full of words, a day full of love to bring hope to future parents suffering loss. And you can create these words too. Share our stories, keep your mind open, be kind to us and listen. Make the words happen and increase awareness for baby loss.
I made firm friendships and my grief was at its most calm that day. No one has to be alone when they lose a baby and no student or midwife has to feel unprepared. The support is out there for us all and I thank Our Angels and University of Bradford midsoc for showing that understanding baby loss can be done and needs to be done. I hope, I really, really hope that this starts a trend as the experience of losing your baby is just too important to not get right.
To all the babies honoured that day and my darling Holly. I know we did you all proud. X
Most people expect you to take some time to grieve when you lose a baby. They expect that for some time you will be sad, you won't reply to messages and will keep yourself to yourself. You will be silent. But it comes to a point where some people expect that the silences will last less and become less frequent.
I have experienced this expectation from people. In the last month or so I have been called rude for not replying to messages when my daughter died. I have been called self obsessed for not replying to people and I have been called unsupportive and inconsiderate in not replying to friends problems right away.
People seem to expect that you reach a certain amount of time after your daughter has died where you should be able to get back to normal and act as you did before. What people don't understand is that you can never go back to normal. Your normal has changed, and as I recently found out physiologically changed after experiencing trauma. The change is a deep, soul altering change.
It is very hard when your grief comes under attack. I have gone on weekends away, been to parties and had nights out since losing Holly. All which comes with its own level guilt as how can I be doing this whilst my daughter will never do these things? I spent time messaging a 'friend' throughout her labour whilst my own daughter was dying but still in some peoples eyes, all of this is not enough of an acceptable behaviour.
Holly's death has been used against me. I have been 'told off' as people were there for me and yet I can't always be there for them at that precise moment in time. Sometimes it takes a few days to respond to a friends problem. It doesn't mean I don't care, it means I am trying to get through the day. I am trying my best. However, my daughters death is not a weapon. And friendship isn't giving to then be owed something back. It's giving because you care.
After I had received some of these messages, I spent ages going back through every single message on FB, IG and text to check I had replied to everyone who sent me a message when Holly had died. I became paranoid. I became worried that I had upset people and that everyone saw me as this rude, uncaring person. I didn't not reply to people because I wasn't grateful for their messages but quite simply, I had just given birth. I was registering Holly's death and I was planning a funeral whilst trying to be as normal as I could for my eldest daughter. I was trying to hard to just find the strength to get up each day, strength which is still required and will be needed for every day I am living.
Some friends have had their own hard times and sometimes I still can't reply right away. I have always responded though, albeit days later. For most, they understand but for the rest this isn't good enough. This was when I realised that some people 'get it' and some people just don't.
If Holly was alive, would I be attacked for not replying to a friends message if I needed to spend time with my daughter as I was worried about my parenting? I very much doubt it. This should be NO different just because my daughter is dead. At times my grief takes over my entire being. But that grief is Holly's time. And she deserves her own time with me, just as my eldest daughter physically deserves her's. Of course I feel bad that I can't always reply to people right away but its not out of spite and neither is it done on purpose. I have two children and they BOTH need me.
I am not rude. I am not self obsessed. I am not unsupportive and I am not uncaring. I am none of those things and my behaviour does not need to be excused anymore than if I was silent over time due to me spending time with my living child. I am so grateful for the people that understand that. But I am not sorry for those who don't and neither will I try to change anyone's mind.
In 2014, my best friend lost one of her little baby girls. It would never have been in my soul to have had such thoughts about her, whether I 'needed' her support or not and whether it was then, now or in 10 years after her daughters death. I quite simply would expect that sometimes, she would need to be alone with her baby and that would ALWAYS be okay. But I guess that's the point isn't it? Some people get it and some people don't. People change when they lose a baby, people's priorities change and people's self care changes. I get that.
I will never excuse my silence. My silence is my time with Holly and so I will embrace it, I will not rush it and neither will I be condemned for it.
They say your phone book changes when you lose a baby, I now know this to be true. Thank you to those who understand that I have changed and sometimes I need time. I wouldn't be a midwife if I didn't care and I wouldn't be trying so hard to share Holly's story to help others if I didn't care but sometimes Holly needs me too.
My silence is Holly's time and that will always be okay.
It has been over a month since I last posted. I had been having a little bit of a wobble. Maybe it was the stress of Christmas and the New Year which at the time I thought I had coped with well but as it is the way with me, the stress always comes out some how.
Of course I am a parent to my firstborn. I know that because she is here and she finds great delight in shouting 'mummy, mummy, mummy' at the top of her lungs. I cook for my firstborn, I cuddle my firstborn, I play with her and I put her to bed every night. She is my little shadow and so there is no doubt that I am her parent.
My wobble was about Holly. I was worried about her. There are no guides or handbooks in how you parent your baby who isn't here but the need to parent doesn't die with them. The innate feeling to mother and to care for Holly is just as strong as if she was here, living and breathing.
I have tried incredibly hard since losing Holly to keep her memory alive. This blog attempts to keep alive, I share her pictures, I talk about her, I fundraise, I increase awareness and in my everyday life I have her all around my home. But I still didn't feel like a parent. I couldn't do all the things with her that I do with her eldest sister. I worried that I didn't do enough.
I started second guessing my parenting of Holly exactly how I did with her sister when she was born. I worried I didn't go to her spot at the crematorium enough. I don't go every day but did that mean I was letting her down? Other than the pictures around my home, I don't actively look at ALL her pictures everyday. Does that mean I wasn't caring enough for her? I don't look at her memory box every day and I don't cuddle the teddy with her ashes in every day either. The truth is, I can't. I don't bottle my grief up, far from it but the moment I hold her ashes I fall apart. And as other grieving parents will know, picking yourself back up when you have a fall in your grief is exhausting, its traumatic and just so bloody hard to do.
Shortly after all these worries started I was approached by a wonderful Dad who lost his little boy, Henry. He asked me to come and be a speaker at a conference discussing bereavement and baby loss support. I am not a public speaker and I knew I would be nervous but after losing Holly, I'm not scared anymore. I have been through one of the worst things and I am still breathing and so I know I could do this.
This last month I have been putting together a speech for the conference which is in 3 days time. It took me a long time to write and a lot of my honesty, heart and soul has been poured into it. That's when I realised I was parenting Holly. The time I was spending sharing her story was parenting her. The time I've spent practicing the speech, is parenting her. My dedication in increasing the awareness and support for baby loss is parenting her.
As with my firstborn, I have realised that there is no rules on how to parent your baby, whether they are here or not. It doesn't matter how you spend your time or how you chose to honour them. It doesn't matter if you do a lot or if you do a little. What matters is that we keep going and we say their names. We keep them alive within us but we don't have to prove ourselves to anyone.
I have realised that I AM Holly's parent and as with my firstborn I am learning. Learning every day how to parent on our own special journey.
I love you my little heart
2016. The year that SO many souls left this world. The year that saw the UK divide and shortly be followed by a division with the USA. The year that so many people want to be over. I have seen so much hate and sadness this for year. So much desire to just move into the next and 'write' this year off. I could have alot of hate for 2016 and a desire to just 'forget it' but I dont and I want to tell you why.
I feel honoured for there to have been so many souls on this earth. So many souls who touched others through their music, comedy, sport and acting. We can't prevent death but we can feel appreciative that this year, we remember the beauiful talent our world has. The beautiful souls who we are sad are gone but blessed to have been touched by their work. The souls whose legacies will be remembered and continute to inspire, truly a year of legends.
The divide within the UK and the USA has shown me how lost we all are. Regardless of anyone's political beliefs, the results this year paint a picture of anger and the despearation for people to search for something better. The results won't change and we can't force people in to a different way of thinking but we can pull together and put our differences aside. We can show the world that having a difference of an opinion is 'okay', it's what you chose to do from there on that matters. Do you chose to fight or work together to create something beautiful?
Positivity doesn't change the past and it might not change the future but I know that in a world full of alot of hate, sadness and regret, sometimes a positive mind is the only control we have. I don't want to be surrounded by a 'cloud' of 2016 when actually there is still SO much to be thankful for.
My baby died but I am happy to have met her and I wouldn't change her existence or swap her for a living baby. Out of something so hard and so destructing, I have been shown a deepness to life and the roots of where love come from. I wish Holly was here but I don't think she was ever suppose to be 'here'. My daughter was meant for other things, she was meant to spread love and share kindness. She was meant to show that life isn't a darkness and life needn't be full of hate. I will ALWAYS wish that she was here BUT she isn't. I will miss her for always, my heart will always be broken and my life always incomplete but I refuse to let the idea of a hated 2016 break me. I refuse to let her legacy die with her.
In 2016, I married my best friend, my soul mate with both of my babies present. In 2016, I met my second daughter and my heart exploded with love. In 2016, I have been surrounded by so much kindness from friends and famiy. In 2016, I watched my first daughter grow in to the most beautiful toddler. In 2016, I remember the famous souls who inspired us and the not so famous souls who inspired us too. In 2016, I chose to believe that it's what we do with a situation not the situation itself that defines us. In 2016, I feel pain but I turn it into kindness.
There is still SO much to be thankful for and so much love to be given.
Holly Dao, in 2016 you chose me to be your mummy. I am SO thankful and I wouldn't change that for the world. Thank you for showing me how to turn darkness into light and thank you for showing me that 2016 needn't be remembered with hate.
How will you remember this year?
I have seen that so many bereaved parents often have a symbol that represents their baby. For me, one of Holly's symbols is the holly plant. It sounds silly, as its obvious that the holly plant is around at this time of year but seeing so much of it is helping me get through Christmas. When I see a holly plant I know that my Holly is with me and for that moment it makes me stop and smile. Holly is all around me right now.
The prospect of Christmas without one of your babies is unimaginable and unthinkable. There is a massive gaping hole that should be filled with the life of my little Holly. There are millions of these gaping holes where so many little lives should be this Christmas. Many of us are decorating our babies graves, buying them presents and hanging their stockings, all in a bid to try to keep them very much with us. Many of us simply can't bring ourselves to celebrate Christmas this year, so instead are simply focusing on just getting through the day.
I have always loved Christmas. It has always felt special and magical. A day to be spent with the ones you love. But the idea of spending it without one of your loved ones just adds to another surreal moment and flash of the reality that this is my life. I feel robbed that my daughter isn't here. I feel robbed that she will never experience the joy of christmas, the pure excitement, the love of family coming together and the magic of Father Christmas. This year I should be having Christmas with a very newborn baby and my toddler, not taking a visit down to Holly's 'spot' at the crematorium on Christmas morning.
I am trying to keep busy. That's part of the reason why I created the Remembrance Tree as I needed something to do for our babies, something to mother and something positive. I am so very fortunate that I have become part of (sadly) a growing community on IG who have included Holly in their Christmas's this year. Holly has literally been remembered all over the world which means just so much. She has recieved Christmas cards, taken part in balloon releases and also been on some truly wonderful gifts from special friends. It means so much to have people think of her and think of me.
I have lost the 'festive cheer' this year, it was inevitable but the love that people has shown me reminds me of why this time of year is important. It is the kindness, the consideration and the empathy which is helping me to get through it. When alot the world feels dark and Christmas feels full of 'what's the point' the love of others shows me why it is important for me. It is to keep going for my eldest and it is to keep going for my youngest, to continue Holly's legacy and hope that it reaches out to someone else struggling this Christmas.
Christmas doesn't stop when you lose a baby. I wish it would, I really wish it would but as with everything, life keeps on going. But I have realised that the support of those who love you keeps on going too. The support is quite literally holding me up, embracing me and showing me that I can get through next weekend. I am so grateful for those who have been including Holly this Christmas, it means more than I can ever explain.
I hope that when you see some holly it reminds you of my little Holly and how much love and kindness go such a very, very long way.
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.