Monday, 24 December 2012

It's been so long...

I'm not over all this, if that's what you're wondering. Is that even possible?! To be over the death of your child? I don't believe I'll ever be 'over it'.

My mum said it a certain way the other day... Saying you're over something isn't recognising it enough. 'Getting beyond' something implies manouvering around it, rather than it not being there at all; getting beyond it but knowing it's still there and will never go away!  But still putting distance between it and you.

Mum was referring to this poem:

Starlings In Winter

“Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

- Mary Oliver

I like that idea of getting past something that I am still very much aware of. It's still there and always will be. I'm not 'over it' in the traditional sense but still...

I don't think I'm explaining myself very well.

I miss my amazingly beautiful daughter. I always will. But I can find happiness in my days now. I explain to people I no longer have bad days. Just sad moments in otherwise happy / normal / busy days. And those moments sometimes hit me like a sledgehammer. But I can cope with them now.

I will never be so far from this that I can no longer turn and still see it. I walk past it, tripping and stumbling as I go and it's always there. But I have to be able to carry on.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Day of the Dead

I am still in Croatia on the island of Korcula. Today is Day of the Dead, which is celebrated here by going to the graves of those you have loved and laying down elaborate flower displays. They keep the graves beautiful and today the priest will say a few words to remember them. When Gemma, my friend here, and I went to pick the flowers up for their family graves, I bought a single flower to represent little Isla. I had thought I would go along with them, but I didn't have funeral clothes appropriate to the occasion, so I have stayed behind. Which is fine by me, because I went down from Gemma's house onto the rocks with my single white flower and had some moments alone.
I think I probably spent too much time thinking about catching a good photo while the light was good and which setting to have the camera on, but did end up taking some time to think of her properly too. I threw the flower initially and it caught the wind and landed just on the rocks below me, so I threw it again, much further this time, which worked better. As I remembered my little girl, I found some peace there on the rocks, with the wind blowing and the waves crashing. She is gone in body, and gone from my body, but remains forever in my heart.




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Day 31 Capture Your Grief - Sunset

So that's the end of baby loss awareness month. Though obviously not the end of our grief.

The weather here in Croatia was not good today so I prepared by taking a photo last night when the sky was beautiful.

I have found this project healing in a way. I have found it therapeutic to be able to share my grief with others. I apologise to those who have not shared in this experience and found it useful in some way. Thank you so much to those of you who have.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Monday, 29 October 2012

Day 29 Capture Your Grief - Music

At the Exeter Cathedral service by Saying Goodbye, Lara Martin sang a beautiful song called Soothe, which was about her own baby loss. It was beautiful and very poignant. She doesn't have a YouTube video for it however, so I had to make my own up with her song ion the background - Lara kindly offered it for free after the service.
I also love this song, which we had at Dad's funeral. We sang the traditional Amazing Grace at the crematorium but this version at the church service afterwards. I have it on my phone, so when I play the music on shuffle, it sometimes pops up. It came up twice today!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Day 28 Capture Your Grief - Memories

I have put my pregnancy tests as my memory. My VERY first memories of Isla. I have every single one of them still. Only the digital ones have worn off. I have about 6 still. 2 are in her memory box and the others are in a basket in the bathroom. Blimey, it hurts to see them when I open that basket up. But it's a pain I need, almost. I need to remember that happiness. I need to remember how to feel that happy. I need to look at them and feel hope about seeing something so amazing again. That disbelief that we had got pregnant became the most immense happiness I have ever felt, only to end in such an intense depth of sadness, I'm still not sure how to get out of it. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Day 27 Capture Your Grief - Artwork

Two pieces of art I have put in my picture today.

1. Night and Her Train of Stars by Edward Robert Hughes.The priest at the Saying Goodbye service in Exeter Cathedral explained how his wife loves this painting following her own baby losses. He didn't necessarily explain why, but I love it. I have thought of it as all the lost babies being comforted in the sky by the beautiful night. They are safe and shine brightly.

2. Mewstone and Rainbow by Toby Ray. I grew up in the same village as Toby and have bought a couple of his pieces in the last couple of years. The Mewstone is a rock in the sea by the village of Wembury in Devon. We scattered Dad's ashes from a yacht there last Easter, as he wished for us to do. The rainbow is significant to all angel mums as a sign of hope amidst the grey, miserable storm. It is beautiful ~ though it cannot take away the storm itself, it is a sign that it will end and sunshine shall return. To have both those things in one piece of art really touched me when I saw Toby post this picture just the other day. I have bought 4 cards of the print and have put the A4 print on my Christmas list!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Day 26 Capture Your Grief - Her Age

Day 25 Capture Your Grief - Baby shower / blessing

We didn't have a baby shower, though they're not really something we do amongst us. Or maybe we do. I don't know. My sister gave me some lovely bits but I don't have them to photograph as they're now in storage. Dan's Aunty Jane sent stuff almost every week it seemed, which was so lovely. I know some people were making quilts or bibs and I'm sure others were planning stuff that they haven't told us about to save us the tears. I'd love to know if there were other little things people were planning to give Isla. I don't think I'd necessarily want them because I have nowhere to put them but to know she had belongings already seems quite important. 

We hadn't bought much really, because we were supposed to be moving house and didn't think it was sensible to buy loads only to have to move it. I had whole folders on my computer of stuff I was going to buy as soon as possible though. However, I did get the odd few bits which again I didn't really photograph - why photograph them empty when soon they'd be full of baby? I found a rocking Moses basket in a charity shop and called Dan to ask if I could buy it. It was so cute seeing it sitting there waiting for her. She never got to lay in it. The shoes in the photo were in a little box of stuff I bought from a lady at school, barely used seconds, though these seemed brand new. I adored them and took photos of them resting on my growing bump. Such happiness. 

To have a baby shower for a future baby, if we are lucky enough, is not something I think I'd want to do. Until I'm home and safe with a happy little baby, I don't think I'll be able to enjoy such an expectant event. But then, I guess I don't know for sure how I'd be if we were so lucky again. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Day 24 Capture Your Grief - Siblings

Well Isla doesn't have any. And that is what makes me go all faint-feeling and nauseous these days. Was Isla our only child? Will I only ever be mummy to an angel? Will our story only ever be 4 years of IVF and a stillbirth? Will Isla ever be a big sister? She seems to have potentially kick-started something in me but we've got plenty of other issues working against us, as we always have. Plus Dan is away now, basically until Christmas with the odd days in between. I guess I won't be pregnant again in 2012. 

It breaks my heart to think of never being a mummy to a living baby. To think of never being pregnant again. Never feeling a baby inside me again. Never seeing another baby on an ultrasound screen. Never being able to get that beautiful Moses basket and cute little clothes out of our friend's garage. Never needing to open that box of maternity clothes again. To never feel that unconditional love for a little person who has grown inside of me again. 

My picture shows the glimmer of hope I sometimes feel about our future. Some days it's all black - we will never know that happiness again. Other days I feel more positive and can find hope of a happy future, but the glimmer is so small still. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Day 23 Capture Your Grief - Isla's Name / photo

I took ages trying to find the way I wanted to present my baby girl's beautiful name and am so pleased I found a way and could just about follow the instructions!

We took a while choosing names and think Isla is just perfect. It's such a pretty name and fits with our surname so perfectly. We would have given her a middle name had she been born crying, but it seemed fitting just to have a perfectly wonderful, solo first name. 
____________________________________________A close up of the photo...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Day 22 Capture Your Grief - Place of Birth

Isla was born sleeping in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, almost exactly 48 hours after we were told she had died in me. 48 hours from that awful moment that the consultant looked at me and reached towards me. Since we screamed and cried and sobbed some more. Since my heart broke into a million pieces. Hence the mosaic of the maternity entrance placed upon a typical view of Plymouth. 

I am broken. My heart is in a million pieces. I will never be the same again. Fault lines run through me. They can be 'grouted' or repaired but you will still see them. Forever. Some people may think I am complete, but this is just not the case. I pray that one day I may feel whole again, have a purpose again and feel less pain every single day.

Brecons 'Walk' - roughly!

Find more Hike in Brecon, United Kingdom

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Day 21 Capture Your Grief - Sacred Place

This weekend Dan and I joined 10 other people from our bootcamp to go to the Brecon Beacons in Wales and climb a mountain or two. We climbed the mountain on Saturday. I was, of course, the most unfit and slowest but darn it, I was determined! 

Having just had Isla's due date on Thursday, we had made this weekend quite special, saying we were climbing the mountain for Isla. We chose to lay an engraved pebble at the top once we got there! We climbed Pen y Fan on Saturday. I love the thought that she represents an achievement of ours and that other people will see her pebble and not know who it's for or what happened to her, but they will know it means someone special has been lost to the world. As we were up there, having laid the pebble with another memorial stone, other people were having their photos taken at the summit. That means that their photos will have Isla in them. Other people from now on will have Isla in their photos. Our group leader, Tick, said he'll tell the military guys he knows to keep an eye out for Isla's pebble when they train up there. I love that. This is my sacred place now - one day we will go back ... though maybe climb the easier, gentler route!!

We climbed another peak that day and went up some more mighty big hills! Roughly 20km I think we walked, up hill and down. Slightly achy today for sure! Here are some more photos of our weekend!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Day 20 Capture Your Grief - Charities

There are a few charities who have touched my heart throughout this painful journey. When you're faced with such awfully deep sadness as we have been through, you find all these wonderful people who've not only been there before but are using their own grief to try to make things that little bit better for us all. Many heartfelt thanks to them all.

Snowdrop Appeal - Raised money for the cold cot Isla lay upon in hospital, that allowed us such precious time with our beautiful daughter. Now raising money for a separate room at Derriford for bereaved parents, which we are hoping to raise a lot of money for!
Saying Goodbye - the Exeter cathedral service which was just so very beautiful
Aching Arms - What a beautiful sentiment, to receive a bear from another grieving mother to let you know you're not alone at such a sad time
Upon Butterfly Wings - Lovely gifts for bereaved parents from Bobby's Beanies
Fifth Disease - An Irish charity dedicated to raising awareness of Slapped Cheek / Parvovirus B19 / Fifth Disease. They sent me a load of fliers which I have given to the head of midwifery at Derriford hospital and will be sending to all child centres, GP offices and play groups in the city hopefully. Awareness will hopefully mean no other babies need die from this little-known but deadly virus.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Day 19 Capture Your Grief - Project

Brief post today as I'm off to the Brecons in a moment to climb a week mountain!

I'm doing 2 projects at the moment. Christmas fayres and the assault course challenge. Busy busy but loving it so far! All to raise money for the Snowdrop Appeal who are just amazing.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Day 18 Capture Your Grief - Family Portrait

I can't take a family portrait today because Dan had to go to Scotland to work. Today is our due date and both of us were dreading being apart. However, thanks to great friends I know that I have certainly found more peace today than I thought I would. He is meeting me tomorrow in the Brecon Beacons to prepare for our mountain climb on Saturday!

Today I went for lunch at the Ship Inn, Noss Mayo

Then laid some flowers on Isla's grave.

Then we had a lovely riverside walk with Fudge and my friend Jess. A very lovely way to spend the day. I do hope Dan managed to find some peace today amongst his hard work. 

But because Dan was away, I have chosen a photo of us the week after Isla's funeral, when we were in France. I have this photo up in our living room. I don't have any photos of Isla up at all but this photo reminds me of that time. Of the week we escaped to the middle of nowhere and spent lots of time talking, crying and eating. 

Of course, Fudge is missing from this photo, so here's an old one from summer 2010 of all 3 of us!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Day 17 Capture Your Grief - Due Date

Today is not my due date. Tomorrow is. 

So it was marked on my calendar when I was pregnant. As was every weekly number. But when we lost Isla I scribbled them all out with marker pen. I put 'Due Date' back up there the other day because it's still important. 

Of course it's important. But it's just a day. Who really has their baby on their due date?! We have made the coming weekend more important, as we go to the Brecons to climb a mountain and lay an engraved pebble and some flowers at the top for Isla. Dan has had to go away to work as someone let him down, so tomorrow I'm seeing a friend for lunch, laying flowers for Isla and going for a walk, and then going to choir in the evening. Should be busy enough but peaceful too. 

Speaking of peace, I don't have much today. Or for the last few days really. Here are some things that are making me angry at the moment...

~ House move not happening any time soon. We're being seriously messed around. And if ONE more person laughs at how long it is taking, I'm going to punch them. It is not funny that it has been 6 and a half months now. Even more not funny that we may not even be in a new place by Christmas. Really not hilarious that we're losing house after house that we really like because we can't confirm moving dates.
~ Emailing people really important things and them not getting back to me
~ Phoning same people about raising a shit load of money for them, and them not being there when they said they would be
~ People driving really slowly and pulling away from green lights at a snail's pace
~ Always being the one at the back, or the one taking the longest, at bootcamp. I actually walked off 20 minutes early today and sat in my car and cried uncontrollably. Have a feeling there may be more to that than just being annoyed at jump squats or whatever they were!
~ Some flowers I was sent being left so long in the box that they're ruined and smell really bad!
~ Parking ticket on my hire car because my permitted car is still in the garage
~ Trying on hats. I hate trying on hats but need one for Brecons! Last time I wore a penguin hat and looked a wally so I've got a new one now!
~ Ridiculous traffic that meant I couldn't get out for tea at my friend's house tonight. Had to just come home and eat both kievs to myself and now I'm stuffed!

On a happier note, that brings me a glimmer of hope, the clinic called today and confirmed I ovulated this month according to 2 blood tests and a scan! 

Yay! Beautiful little Isla has kick-started something in me that could well bring us our rainbow baby. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Day 16 Capture Your Grief - Release

Release is a funny one. It seems wrong to 'release' feelings sometimes. I like to bottle them up and keep schtum about them really. But losing Isla has taught me that I need to talk to people more. So release has become something I've been practising!

The things I have chosen are:

Sewing - I'm doing some craft fairs this Christmas so am putting my love of sewing to good use, putting the profits into the Snowdrop Appeal. 
Big Noise Choir - 2 hours on a Thursday night where I am completely absorbed doing something fun!
Bootcamp - 3 times a week (on a good week!) where I can scream, grunt, cry and sweat - and shout back at someone!
Visiting Isla's grave - I find peace here because it is such a beautiful place. I shall visit there this week on Thursday, as it is my due date on the 18th. 

As time goes on hopefully I will find more things that bring me peace. Talking to friends and family about Isla, about my feelings and about things that frustrate me is probably the biggest release but the things above give me those moments of silence in my brain. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Day 15 Capture Your Grief - Wave of Light

I've had an impossibly miserable today. Feeling incredibly sad, desperate and alone. Lit the candle for Isla while literally arguing with Dan, which felt so very, very wrong. So I post today's photo with a heavy, broken heart. I have no more words tonight.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Day 14 Capture Your Grief - Community

Well this is quite exciting. I wouldn't have had anything to put today really, although I have found the SANDs forums and Babycentre Pregnancy and Infant Loss forums very useful, as well as all the many baby loss blogs I have read and related to.

Until you're IN this community of people who have lost their children, you don't really realise it's there and it's huge. People now tell you about their own losses, recent or from years ago. But still there's a veil of secrecy around it, which is why this project is so good. It's okay to talk about these things, even though talking about a baby dying is one of the most painful things. 

I've recently found out that a number of people have 'unfriended' me or blocked my posts since I lost Isla. Not just since I started this project and posting every day, but since she died 3 months ago. Maybe they find my grief too much to confront. That's fine but I hope those that do read and respond in some way are finding it useful / interesting / fascinating / sad / helpful / inspiring / memorable (delete as appropriate).

Anyway, aside from the huge community of bloggers and forum users, I am organising a community event alongside a friend of mine. We haven't any photos yet but as of yesterday we have a website, sponsorship forms, info pages and safety disclaimers! We are organising a commando-style assault course at Okehampton Camp in Devon in aid of Snowdrop Appeal in memory of Isla and Cure Rett, in celebration of 4 year old Holly who is battling Rett Syndrome. It's going to be such a great day out! 


See our fabulous new website for more details and downloads! My photo for today is our event poster:

Hopefully the first of many fundraising events!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Day 13 Capture Your Grief - Signs

I used to believe in 'signs'. I used to think seeing certain things was a 'sign' from God, or Dad or the cosmos that something was going to happen. 

When we got pregnant 3 days after deciding to give up on trying for a baby and accept our infertility, I took it as a sign that someone up there didn't want us to give up. Blimey, that was a great sign! We had never known such happiness. 

And then Isla died. 

So what is that a sign of? Are we being taught a lesson? Are we supposed to just accept that now? Did we do something wrong that we deserved this?

So now, the only signs I see are bad. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Day 12 Capture Your Grief - Scents

I didn't post yesterday. I had a funny day. Getting ridiculously angry about house move not happening still - it seems to be consuming so much of my emotions. So I didn't feel I could give this the proper attention yesterday. I had a lovely afternoon with a friend and her kids but by the evening just needed to chill out with Homeland and a glass of wine. 

So, is there a scent I associate with Isla? Not really, I guess. The only thing I 'smell' is her little hat, dress, muslin and blanket that she was in while in hospital with me. The funeral home washed them for me and gave them to me after her burial and they are so precious to me. I bury my face in them and although I can only smell washing powder now, I can imagine the wonderful scent of a newborn baby or talcum powder or even a dirty nappy. Scents I never got to smell with Isla. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Day 11 Capture Your Grief - Supportive Friends and Family

Wow, we are so blessed to have so many around us. We have the most amazing friends and family.

My family surrounded Dan and I from the moment they found out Isla had died in me. They cried with us, made us laugh through the tears and have provided immense love when we needed it most. 

Friends have rallied around us and made us feel like we're not going through this alone. I'm sorry if your photo is not in the photo - it doesn't mean you're not supportive, I just ran out of room! Thank you for the invites out to coffee or drinks, thank you for stopping in, thank you for coming to Isla's funeral, thank you for the texts just to check on me. You are all stars!

The larger photos in the collage are of course Dan, my wonderful husband. There is no way on Earth I could have gotten through the last 3 months without Dan. He has been my rock but also someone to cry with. He is amazing. I'm sorry I can be such a pain, Dan!

Then there's my mum. What a fantastic mum I have. Both Dan and I have been blown away by how supportive, loving and caring she has been. She has cried with us, hugged us, screamed with us and driven 400 miles to be with us over and over. Thank you, mum. Neither Dan nor I could have done any of this without you by our side and we shall be forever grateful. xxx
(click to enlarge photo)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Day 10 Capture Your Grief - Symbol

Symbols aren't something I usually associate with. Lots of things remind me of Isla but not necessarily 'Symbols'. But I do find significance for Isla in beautiful things. Such as flowers. 

The Snowdrop Appeal are an amazing charity who I will mention properly later on in this project. They raised money initially for two cold cots to go into Derriford Hospital. That meant I was able to spend 2 precious days with Isla and be her mummy in the only sense of the word I now know. They are now raising money for a separate wing for bereaved parents at the hospital, which would save us the pain of delivering and staying on the main labour ward. So there's a snowdrop in my collage. 

There is also:

~ A Forget-Me-Not heart shape - obvious reasons for that one and one of the flowers in my tattoo. 
~ Some wildflowers - we will plant these at Isla's grave to keep her 'alive'. 
~ Dandelion seeds - The literature I was sent home from hospital used these as a symbol of new life, new hope and new dreams. Also a symbol of time passing. 
~ Crab apple blossoms - we will be planting a crab apple tree for Isla in December and I have blossoms tattooed on my side too. 
~ A view of the wildflowers (with the rock) that are at Yealmpton Woodland Burial Ground, where Isla lays.
~ The large pink flower and the flowers on the beach were photographed for me by the wonderful Catherine of Gabriel's Garden. Catherine chooses a photo for each baby and then takes the flowers to the beach to be released into the wind. She specially chose this one for Isla. 

So maybe I do do symbolism after all?!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Day 9 Capture Your Grief - Special Place

You never imagine that you will go into hospital pregnant and full of hope but come out with a bunch of information about funerals for babies. It's not right. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children, no matter the age. 

Dan and I didn't really think about the practicalities of organising a funeral too much but since I had a few days in hospital after having Isla, I started to consider the options. Baby garden with the other babies, a grave yard plot or something else. Driving out to see Dad in the beautiful South Hams, we had driven past a sign for the Woodland Burial Ground a hundred times at least. It had caught my eye a few times over the years as somewhere I thought was a lovely idea, but I'd want to be cremated so it never really registered properly. 

But it popped into my head in that hospital room and just felt right. Close to Dad's home, near our favourite dog walks, and somewhere we would feel comfortable visiting Isla. For me, the big selling point was that she would be surrounded by nature. Beautiful flowers and trees growing around her forever, creatures thriving in the earth and butterflies loving being around her. She would be surrounded by beauty and growth - she never got to grow up but could be amongst life. The idea is that eventually the plots will return to nature and the whole site will be a wild woodland once again. 

I think it's perfect.                                                            (click to enlarge)

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining. It was a quick 'service' by a minister we know well, Andy Caldwell - very simple but all we needed. For us, it was about having our loved ones around us. We had originally wanted it to be small, just the 2 of us and direct family. But more and more people asked to come, wanted to be with us and support us, recognising our daughter. She touched more people than we could have fathomed and that became clear on the 30th July 2012. 

The photo shows me standing aside her grave to show the size of it really. I was taken aback by how tiny she looked compared to other adult-sized mounds of earth. You can also see the little butterfly I made for her.  The other photo is a poem I tied to the tree that is at the head of her grave. It flew away into the wind over the next few days, which I liked - she took it for herself! The ribbons are still there and I've added more to her grave since. 

These last photos are how it currently looks:

Monday, 8 October 2012

Day 8 Capture Your Grief - Jewellery

What a lovely subject today. Certainly less painful but nonetheless poignant than the other days so far.

I love having significant treasures around my neck. For instance, when Dad got ill, Dan bought me a cross saying "Every little helps" although he doesn't believe in 'all that stuff' really! I wore it solidly for at least 2 years, through Dad dying and IVF treatments. Then mum gave me a different cross which Dad had given her when she was younger. So then I wore that one. That's the cross in the middle in the photo below. I then wore that one for about a year solidly too!

The day we vowed to stop 'trying' for a baby was the day of the cancelled Ireland 6-Nations game last February. So in addition to the cross from mum/dad, I had put a shamrock pendant on the chain too. It's one of those ones where it has a real flower inside the resin. I was still wearing it when we got the positive pregnancy test, so wore it the whole pregnancy. I took it off the day we found out Isla had died. I'm not sure I'll be able to wear that one again, and didn't photograph it today.

When Isla was born sleeping, I realised I needed another piece of jewellery that I could buy myself and wear daily. So I found a real-flower in resin one, shaped like a heart with little forget-me-nots inside. It's beautiful and is the one on the right in the photo. 

My birthday was 1 month exactly after Isla was born, on 13th August. A day I didn't really feel like celebrating and I was lucky enough to have a lot of my family around me. My mum sent me a beautiful necklace (on the left) with a card that read:

.... I don't want to overwork things or be morbid or anything, but I chose this necklace for lots of reasons.  I wanted something in Rose Quartz as it stands for Hope, Love and Healing, which I want for you. When I saw this particular design, I knew it was the one I wanted because the description on the Hot Diamonds website described it as being 'cradled' in the silver flowers. I thought that was a lovely image and made me think of wee Isla being cradled in her natural surroundings, especially when we get some flowers planted. And, then, the 'Hot Diamonds' bit is a bit of a link to your Dad as he and I bought you Hot Diamond things for your graduation [and my 21st birthday]. So, lots of symbolism and nice thoughts! I hope you like it.

Well, I love it. It's very special and gets worn on very special occasions!

All these necklaces are so special to me. I remember Dan phoning me from town as he was looking for my birthday present. I've always wound him up that he would have to buy me a full eternity ring on the birth of our first child. Well, Dan was in the jewellers when he rang to ask if I wanted one, having had Isla. What a difficult question to ask and even more difficult to answer. I said No, as it turns out. I have the necklaces to remind me of Isla and I'd love to have an eternity ring on the birth of a living child. I've got enough memories of Isla and I'm running out of space on my fingers!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Day 7 Capture Your Grief - What To Say

I'm still reeling from reading everyone's 'What Not to Say' comments on Facebook from yesterday, Day 6. I have to say in summary, the most hurtful thing is NOTHING. Agreed by many people in the group. I know it's hard for people but literally ignoring the fact that I had a daughter called Isla at all is the most incredibly painful thing from people I know. To be fair, it hasn't happened a great deal amongst close friends. Work colleagues, yes. But not close friends and family who know and love us. 

So, after a hard one yesterday, it was also really difficult to think of things that have been especially good to hear. I picked 4 phrases I wish people would say more often actually. Thank you to those people who say these things in all genuineness.  
(Click on pic to enlarge)

1. How are you, Sara? I really want to know. What lovely words. Not just an empty 'How are you?' but a simple prompt that means you really want to know. You actually care and want to hear whether I'm having a good day, a bad day or a so-so day. If I'm having a bad day, you are going to listen. If I'm having a so-so day, I may not want to go into it, and that's fine with you. If I'm having a good day, you won't assume I'm over Isla and can laugh and joke guilt-free, because that's not the case. If I'm having a 'good' day it just means I'm coping better that day. It means I'll probably go home and have a cry and feel terrible that I managed to have some fun for a while. 

2. How is Dan? Dan has been my rock but he is grieving deeply too. Again though, please don't ask if you don't want to actually hear how he's doing! 

3. Please tell me about Isla. I'm afraid my brain is completely obsessed with Isla. I could talk about her all day every day. I spend a huge majority of my day thinking about her. She has impacted my life like I never believed possible. Thing is, when I get going, I might not be able to stop. I have to try to hold myself back when I realise people may have heard enough. But, if you are brave enough to ask and are genuine in that, please do. I even have photos!

4. I don't know what to say. This is so much better than Nothing. I respect this response to my grief. Who on Earth really knows what exactly to say to someone whose baby has died? How can you really have the words for someone who gave birth to a sleeping baby, heard deafening silence in that moment, cried as she held her newborn baby girl and buried her amongst the meadow flowers?

I think what it boils down to is HONESTY. Please don't say Nothing, just be HONEST. 

A simple text, an invite for lunch or drinks, a quick phone call or even stop in. All these things I crave. I don't want to have to call you for these things. I will never feel ready to do that and if I do, it's because I'm desperate for company. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Day 6 Capture Your Grief - What Not to Say

There are lots of things people have said that have been amazingly supportive. More of them tomorrow! 

But there are, of course, lots of things people say that do not help, I'm sorry to say. That is what today's picture is about. I thought of 3 things that hurt when I hear them. They are said with all good intentions I know, but they really sting.

  1. "She's in a better place" - My faith would have to be pretty strong to truly believe that Isla is better off not with me and Dan. Yes, being with Jesus in Heaven must be pretty cool but we would have given her the most amazing life and already had so much love for her that we didn't get a chance to show her.
  2. "Some things aren't meant to be" - If some things are not meant to be, then why could Dan and I not just be left in our little infertile world which, after 4 years, we'd finally accepted? She wasn't destined to be a "sick" baby - she caught a bug from me, her life-support and protector, which I didn't know I had caught and therefore died. She didn't even have the disease very badly, just enough to take her from us. 
  3. "At least you know you can get pregnant" - Yes, it's great we got pregnant at all, but what if Isla really was our only chance at a family? Assuming we will get pregnant again just because we had Isla, can only lead to more heartache. I'm not naive any more. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Day 5 Capture Your Grief - Memorial

I'm really 'into' memorial things. When Dad died, I bought art work by my friend who paints Wembury and my sister and I designed these prints which represent the coordinates for where we scattered Dad's ashes by the Mewstone in Wembury. 
I ran the Race for Life for Dad too
Was booked in to run it this year, but it was the day after having Isla, so couldn't do it. Definitely be doing it next year. 

For Isla, I've done a few things already and more to come. I have chosen the tattoo as the most current memorial thing I've done for her. 

 Forget-me-nots, crab apple blossoms in pink and a star at the top for dad. 
Her casket - I made the burial gown after getting out of hospital and made the teddy the day she was born - it stayed with us in Dan's pocket throughout labour and stayed with Isla at the hospital, the mortuary and the funeral home, to be buried with her in her beautiful resting place. 

Her resting place. We will plant a Crab Apple tree specially for Isla on December 1st. For now, I tied ribbon around the tree that is already at her grave. 
 I was up visiting her grave when she was first buried and there was nothing to mark it. I found some little stones and made a butterfly. Kept me busy for a while but it's still there and looks 'part of' the grave now. 
 I've added more bits to her grave since, including an artificial blossom branch and a little statue of a baby cradled in hands. I wanted people to recognise it was a baby's grave, but you can actually already tell because they leave a 'mound' where the person lays, to encourage it to return to nature. 
 I made more teddies (4 so far) like the one I made Isla and donated them to the delivery suite because they were just so unprepared for a mother going through a loss. Hopefully going to start working with someone on getting some proper memory boxes into Derriford Hospital. 
 The prayer flag I sent to Australia for Carly's Prayer Flag project. So proud of it!
So what's to come in memory of Isla? Well, the weekend of her due date we are climbing a mountain in the Brecon Beacons. Got to think of something to place at the top for her - probably a flower.
A friend of my mum is planning to host a dinner dance for the Snowdrop Appeal and my school are donating money and holding a 'Mufti day' for that charity too. 
Stay tuned!

If you want to donate to the Snowdrop Appeal, visit their JustGiving page here: