Monday, 29 August 2016

Lilian Agnes

Lilian Agnes Davies, born at 9.48pm on 20th August 2016. 
Our beautiful girl; the perfect little sister, the brightest rainbow. 

More to come soon!


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

One Year

I wrote this a year to the day we went into hospital to be induced with Aneurin. I wasn't sure I wanted to publish it because I wanted Aneurin's anniversary week to be positive, which is why I wrote his birth story. However, grief isn't positive and that week was incredibly emotional, raw and difficult. This post reminds me of the early ones I wrote in the weeks after Aneurin died and I realised that's why I want to share it. It might be a year later, but this grief that lives with me never goes away. I will carry it forever and no matter how much time passes, it will always take my breath away. 

A year ago today we walked onto the labour ward clutching onto eachother for dear life feeling so overwhelmed with what was about to happen.

I don't really know how it's been an entire year. Time in grief is very strange. It goes incredibly quickly when all you're doing day to day is surviving with no real purpose inbetween. We're both very aware of how despite the enormous anxiety of being pregnant again, it has given us a reason to put one foot infront of the other. In some ways it's made this year go even quicker because we are constantly looking to the next day. Another day that we've survived without Aneurin, another day our Poglet has survived. 

How has it been a year? How have we survived? How has it been that long since our lives changed so drastically? It makes no sense to me. I know time is irrelevant really but when it comes to your child, it isn't. Parents measure everything in time. Weeks pregnant, length of labour, sleeping times, feeding times, milestones. Birthdays.  

We should be planning a first birthday with our beautiful little boy at the centre and it is so incredibly unfair that we aren't. We are planning a pleasant day with things to make us feel close to him but it isn't the same. I want to buy toys I know he'll like, clothes in his size, things with his favourite characters on. I want to spend hours perfecting his birthday cake, planning a party for our family and friends, wrapping presents excitedly. But I'm not. And I don't even know what size clothes he would be wearing. Would his growth have slowed like the doctors told me babies with Down's syndrome would? Or would he be on target with his birth weight and full of rolls and dimples. What milestones would he have reached by now? Would he only just be sitting up or would he be taking his first steps? Would he be able to gurgle mama and dada at us yet? I hate not knowing these things. A mum should know. 

Nothing will ever be as bad as those first few weeks in the after part of our lives but these last few weeks come close. My grief feels so fresh, so raw and so unbearable. I cry at the drop of a hat, sometimes not even realising I am. I want to hibernate because the effort of having to make conversation that isn't about my baby seems so insignificant. I have that lead weight in my chest again, the permanent sting of emotion in my throat and physical ache in my heart. 

I feel guilty for feeling the way I do when my second child, my daughter, wriggles and stretches inside me. Mr D says he loves watching me when she's moving because I look so content. She is the only thing that makes my heart feel lighter at the minute but I'm sad that I feel so bereft, so broken at the same time. We went to the seaside last weekend and watched a dad dangle his child's feet in the sea. I cried. Half with heartbreak because we will never do that with Aneurin and half with joy because I cannot wait to do that with Poglet. This is what it will be like now, half in one world and half in another. Another confusing, conflicting emotion to adjust to. 

This renewed grief has made me realise how strong my gratitude is. How blessed I feel to be feeling it because it's real and fierce. I can live with the grief when it's echoed with so much love. I would live it all again for the time we had with him. I would choose him again and again no matter how broken I feel. 

What I wouldn't give to wake up on Sunday, hear our son gurgling and chattering away in the next room and see his beautiful big smile greeting us on his first birthday. 

I miss you, Aneurin. You are missing from me. 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Aneurin's Birth Story

For Aneurin's first birthday I knew I wanted to write something special but whatever I wrote would be sad because no matter how much joy and pride he brought and continues to bring to our lives, celebrating this day without him is so incredibly wrong and painful. Instead, I thought I would share his birth story. I toyed with the idea of publishing the events surrounding his death on another day because for me, his death and his birth are such completely separate events. His death is without a doubt the worst day of my life, a day that brings me nothing but trauma and pain. His birth is a series of beautiful, positive memories that make me smile and bring me an enormous amount of comfort. However, it makes sense for the two to be together but I hope that the difficulty of reading the first part is easier knowing that at the end of it, we got to meet our son. Our beautiful, soft-as-clouds, sweet baby boy.


Friday, 22 July 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy - 33 Week Update

This update is long overdue! I missed my 28, 30 and 32 week updates and now all of a sudden I am 33 weeks pregnant and a mere five weeks away from meeting our little girl. This is going to be a long one and probably not the most well written as my brain is feeling quite woolly so grab a cup of tea and be forgiving!

These last few weeks have been an enormous struggle. There has been so much on my mind, so much worry, fear and anxiety that has left me feeling like my head is spinning. It's felt as though things have just piled up and I've not really been able to deal with each thing separately, rather they've merged together into this big bundle of horridness.

We are now less than a week away from Aneurin's anniversary and birthday which is obviously proving to be very difficult. If I'm honest I'm struggling more than I thought I would with it and it feels like this enormous darkness on the horizon and it's coming so quickly I don't feel like we can get a proper grasp of it. We have things planned on both the day he died and his birthday which I'm glad of because it gives us space to grieve and to celebrate in a way that feels okay for us. I'm under no illusion though that even when we are celebrating and doing lovely things that we're not going to be feeling broken and bereft too. But, as with the 364 days that came before, we will just take it an hour at a time and do whatever we need to to get through it.

Alongside that is obviously increasing anxiety as we approach the same gestation we lost him with Poglet. Not helped in the slightest by the fact that we've had two fearful hospitals visits in the last few weeks. Once for reduced movements and once with high blood pressure. The reduced movements was completely and utterly awful. It was like reliving what happened with Aneurin all over again and I was so scared to even utter the words to Mr D that I hadn't felt her move for a couple of hours because I just couldn't face going through it all again. Due it to being the evening all other units were closed so we had to go to the labour ward for monitoring which was the first time we had been back there since the day we left Aneurin. That in itself was incredibly traumatic, walking the same corridor petrified and shell-shocked. Fortunately we heard the beautiful, strong thump-thump of Poglet's heartbeat within seconds and the relief was overwhelming. The staff were brilliant with us, so patient and understanding of our fear. They took such good care of us, not letting us leave until we felt reassured that she was moving and everything was okay. She took a couple of hours to start moving again but despite feeling calmer after she did and seeing that her heart rate was fine it was hard to shake the memory of events around Aneurin's death, where we had gone in with reduced movements to be told everything was fine, went home and two days later he died. They were very understanding of this though and told us we could come back whenever we felt we needed that bit of reassurance. We were there during shift change and the second midwife we had was the midwife-in-charge when Aneurin was born. Despite not seeing her very much during that day she remembered us and him which was such a comfort. I cannot praise the staff on that ward enough, they really are fantastic.

A few days after that I had my first diabetic clinic appointment where we met our new consultant. We were a bit apprehensive about it as the one I had previously has been with us for both pregnancies. However, I needn't have worried at all! She was wonderful. One of the first questions she asked us was "what did you name your son?" to which I told her and promptly burst into tears. I explained that it was the first time any healthcare professional has ever asked us that. Infact, the first time a doctor has even acknowledged him as our son over using cold, clinical words and phrases like "the stillbirth" or "your previous situation". When I explained how anxious I was feeling at the minute she was very understanding and simply asked what she could do to help. We agreed that weekly monitoring from now until Poglet arrives will help and so far, it really is. Even though I know all it means is that in that moment she is fine, it gives me that bit of reassurance.

Weekly monitoring is definitely helping!
The high blood pressure came a couple of days ago and has only made my anxiety worse unfortunately. I had a high reading at my second diabetic clinic appointment so the registrar sent us for daycare (where baby is monitored, your BP is taken once every half an hour at least five times and a full blood count is taken). Despite it being in the middle of the day the fetal health unit where it's normally done was full so once again our only option was the labour ward. When we heard the midwife say this to her colleague on the phone Mr D and I looked at eachother and our faces dropped. A place that normally holds fond memories of babies being born holds nothing but trauma, heartbreak and fear for us and it is so very difficult to be there. To make matters even worse we were put on a little ward with a newborn baby. I could literally feel my blood pressure rising when I saw the baby. The midwife could see something was wrong but didn't understand why I was so upset. Newborn baby cries are an enormous trigger for me. I didn't talk about that for a long time but once I did I realised it's not an uncommon thing when you never got to hear your own baby cry. I think it's a combination of the glaring absence of cries when Aneurin was born and the fact that for quite a while afterwards I used to wake up thinking I could hear a baby crying. Either way, I find the sound cuts through my soul and makes me want to peel my skin off. People don't understand that though and make jokes about how I'll have to get used to it when Poglet is here which is both hurtful and dismissive. I cannot wait to hear my daughter cry. It will be the most beautiful sound I've ever heard and I can hand-on-heart say it will be very, very different to hearing a baby cry who is not mine.

I spent the first 20 minutes in there sobbing on Mr D, both of us feeling so claustraphobic, so scared that something was about to go horribly wrong whilst dealing with a hundred other emotions. The doctor came round and explained what the plan was, that they were checking me for signs of pre-eclampsia because although the only sign I had was raised BP, given my history and the other risk factor of having gestational diabetes, they wanted to be extra cautious. She suggested I stay in for 24 hours to be monitored which again made me more anxious because I knew they would send Mr D home and the idea of being on my own was terrifying. However, the very clever midwife put me on the CTG monitor before she took my first BP reading and once I heard that magical sound, it dropped right down! Thankfully all my bloods came back completely normal. all my consequent BP readings were well within normal range, I had no protein in my urine and Poglet had a lovely time trying to escape the CTG monitor before accepting it wasn't going anywhere and gave us a perfect reading! As there were no signs of pre-eclampsia at all the midwife was happy for us to discharge ourselves despite the doctor's plan on the basis that she had suggested in with the fact that I had pre-eclampsia in mind. I was very apprehensive about doing so because I kept thinking if we got home and something went wrong I would never, ever forgive myself. We talked about it a lot though and decided that actually, everything came back fine, I had no symptoms and that that single high reading was probably down to a combination of the ridiculous heat and my general stress levels. We had a cardiac scan booked in for first thing the next morning (it was 9pm by this time) so I felt okay knowing that they could check my BP there and if it was even slightly up then I could go back to be monitored. I think if we hadn't had that in place for the next day I wouldn't have comfortable going home. As it was all we did was drive home, go to bed where I slept surprisingly well, get up and go straight to the scan where Poglet was again, cleared of any cardiac issues and my blood pressure was fine!

I'm incredibly grateful that despite these scares everything is absolutely fine. Sometimes I wonder if my body is reacting to the anxiety and refreshed grief or whether I'm making problems where there aren't any but it's not something I'm doing consciously and actually, I think for the most part I'm not doing too badly. Pregnancy after loss is really, really trying and I'm not sure people realise just how tough it is sometimes. It's only when I talk to other mums who are going through it or have had their babies that I realise how normal my feelings actually are. I always knew that approaching 34 weeks would be difficult but I don't think I quite anticipated how difficult it would be. If everything was going swimmingly it might be a little easier but with these little scares it makes the what ifs feel a little bit too real.

All I can do over the next five weeks is keep putting one foot infront of the other. I have incredible support around me and things like yoga and hypnobirthing are definitely helping control my anxiety to a degree. It's still very hard to imagine actually bringing Poglet home safe and sound but I'm happy to say we are still managing to enjoy our time with her despite everything. She is such a precious gift and I'm so grateful to have this time to watch my bump grow and feel her move. I feel very lucky to have two children whether they're in my arms or not, we have a beautiful little family and that is something to be celebrated.

29 : 31 : 33 week bumps

Phew, that was long! Well done if you managed to get through all of that, I promise I won't leave it so long for the next one so there won't be so much to talk about! I'm going to leave you on a good note with five positive things from the last few weeks.

A prize to whoever can see squishy cheeks and a little hand on her face!
1. Our 32 week growth scan! Poglet's growth is consistent and she's sitting just under the 90th percentile which is very similar to her big brother. I'm not worried about her being big at all, she'll be whatever size she needs to be. It was lovely to see her kick around again and we got an incredible look at her delightfully chubby cheeks! The sonographer was lovely and printed a photo off for us which is now my favourite thing to look at.

2. We finally felt brave enough to order our Snuzpod. I must have gone to do it about 5 times in the last couple of weeks but never managed to hit the checkout button until a couple of days ago. Everything arrived so quickly and it's now sitting in the nursery ready to put together when we get back from spending a few days at my mum's.

3. I've been writing Aneurin's birth story ready to publish on his 1st birthday next week. I always knew I wanted to do it but it's taken a long time for me to finish. It's emotional but feels like a really lovely thing to do especially for his birthday. I'm also toying with the idea of sharing a photo of him which I've never done before. I'm very apprehensive to do so but the more time that goes on the more I want to share him. If I do I'll make it very clear beforehand so that if people don't want to look (and I completely understand why) they don't have to.

4. Spending last weekend with my mum after having not seen eachother for weeks. We normally see eachother once a week but she's been having a really tough time lately and hasn't been able to drive. I was quite happy to drive the 90 miles to her but in true mama-bear fashion, she didn't want me to drive whilst heavily pregnant! It was so lovely to just sit on the sofa with her, talk and watch films. She had some precious Poglet time and felt her do her nightly rave which was wonderful to share with her.

5. My clever hairy husband got accepted into university to study Learning Disability Nursing! He's been working with children and young adults with autism in an educational setting for the last ten years but he's been needing a slight change of direction for a while. Everything that happened last year has made him see life a bit differently and it's pushed him to make a change which I'm incredibly proud of him for because it's a big step to take. It's not going to be easy with a newborn baby and our sole income being swapped for student loans and bursaries but we'll make it work and I know he is going to be fantastic at this.

Mrs D x

ps. After much umming and ahhing I've finally merged my plus size fashion blog with this one hence there suddenly being a lot more posts that go back to 2012!

Monday, 27 June 2016

This Body Of Mine

body positive baby bump

My stretch marks have never bothered me too much, I think when you grow up with self harm scars on your body the ones you know everyone has become the ones you like the most. They just are what they are but these little marks here, I love. I am so in love with these few red wriggly lines that have appeared in the last few days. These are Poglet's. 

My squishy tummy accommodated Aneurin quite nicely, only really stretching further in his last two weeks with me. I didn't notice those marks until my tummy had deflated after he left my body and by then I was so bereft, so angry and betrayed by my body that I couldn't see them as anything other than a heartbreaking reminder of what had been taken away from me. For weeks I couldn't look at my tummy, softer than ever with these tiny silvery, white ripples where my skin had grown to fit my beautiful baby. I couldn't stand it and I was convinced that Mr D couldn't either which somehow made it worse. Despite knowing how poorly Aneurin was, I thought he might blame my body for not being able to keep our son alive but I could not have been more wrong. When I couldn't bear to look at my body, changed and empty, he just loved it that little bit more. When I hid my new and unfamiliar tummy from him he found it and kissed it. He was wonderful.

As someone who had spent a long time learning to love their body, a body that society constantly and aggressively tells me is ugly and wrong, to suddenly feel like it is the enemy again is really difficult. I lost myself completely. Every single part of me that I felt so fiercely about disappeared. I suppose that's why my plus size fashion blog stopped being so important to me. Even when I felt like I was ready to find my new normal, it didn't feel like it was a part of me anymore. Clothes were just a necessity for a long time and even though I'm finding the joy in my appearance again, it feels like that part of me has gone. 

When I fell pregnant with Poglet my body changed almost overnight. The waist I had once loved so much that had reappeared cruelly within days of giving birth expanded rapidly. The upper part of my tummy hardened which had never happened with Aneurin because I carried him so low. My body knew what to do because it had done it so recently and I popped back into being pregnant so quickly. And yet, that incredible love I had for my pregnant body the first time didn't reappear for a long time. 

I felt guilty about it, I wanted to love my body in the same way but I was scared. It was different to me now, both physically and emotionally. I have a little pouch round the bottom of my tummy where my skin never had time to snap back, nor was I in any position to even care enough to want it to. As much as I cringed looking at that squishy roll for weeks, it has actually served me very well because it is the only area when I can 'pinch an inch' for my Clexane injections which help keep my little love safe. It is slowly filling out again but it is a part of me that wasn't there before. Emotionally, it's really hard to trust your body to do the thing that broke your heart and shattered your world. 

But, as with everything, it just took a little time and a little patience. As my belly has swelled, so has my heart. From quite early on in this pregnancy I started wearing fitted tops and leggings, something I never did even at the height of accepting my body, purely so I could show the world my bump. I don't care if it's not perfectly rounded or that I'm as wide as a bus this time, my body is doing something I never expected it to for the second time and that is magic. I am proud of my body for what it has done and is doing. 

Poglet nestled so neatly into her big brother's home, taking advantage of the cosy space he had left, swooshing around and spreading out. Now she's making her own mark. These new red stretch marks which I love so dearly. I waddled naked from the bathroom into the bedroom last week and showed them proudly and excitedly to Mr D who grinned at me and gave them a kiss. These marks that will not erase no matter how many children I hold in my arms, that prove my body grew more than you can see. And one day I will be able to look at my body (and no doubt wince at it on the bad days because it is so different the one I once knew) and know exactly which mark belongs to which of my children and which ones they shared. 

My body isn't perfect, in fact, it's far from it but it grew a magic little boy and it is continuing to grow a very special little girl and it deserves to be loved. 

Mrs D x
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