Love, Empowerment and Strength through Loss – Part 1 (3 part series)

This is my story of birthing Alex, my Stillborn first baby and birthing my two subsequent children.

I also share the what happened on the day we discovered he had died and the events leading up to his birth.

Part Two and Part Three to follow

Source: Love, Empowerment and Strength through Loss – Part 1 (3 part series)

Goodbye September, Hello October

Wow, another week has gone by and tomorrow will be October. Lots happening next month, I have a ball to go too and a wedding, fun times! Plus the other day I found out one of dear friends in England is expecting a baby soon, I love a bit of baby shopping!!!

I don’t work again until Sunday so I had planned to have a day to myself. Poor Mr Happy is not so happy though, he’s sick poor guy. It’s not even lunchtime and he is on his second nap for the day. So a lazy day ahead for us, gives me a chance to do some writing and watch TV. I really enjoy Mr Selfridge, so I’m catching up with that. I just love the clothes, the way they talk and its history. Believe or not I find some history quite interesting. Any other secret Mr Selfridge fans out there????

I’ve always been a bit of a TV watcher, I mean who isn’t?  I find these days I have to be quite selective about what I watch. I will admit though I still watch Eastenders, (much to my husbands annoyance!). For those of you who don’t know it’s a soap set in the East end of London and its been on U.K television since 1985. I have probably watched it from the beginning on/off. We are fortunate to have Sky and I follow it on UKTV. Anyway, I found out that would be covering the storyline of Stillbirth. As someone who has unfortunately experienced one I was keen to see how they would portray it. The U.K. is several weeks ahead of the episodes here in NZ so I was quite prepared for when it would be screened here.

I’m glad they have chosen to portray such a taboo subject. 1 in 4 pregnancies result in a loss and sadly I am one of those four. I read quite a few stories and watched a few clips before the Eastenders episodes were available here to watch, I wanted to mentally prepare myself. And they did a great job. It made me feel like my experience was normalised and I’m not alone. It took me back to how I had felt at the time, and it was ok. I embrace it, I awknowledge I feel sad and it brings me comfort, if that makes sense. Eastenders had a lot to do with Sands in the U.K whilst they were researching the topic and filming. And I really think the actors who portray the Mother and the Father to the baby did a great job. If you feel you want too, I have selected a couple of the scenes from the recent storyline which I found powerful and what I could relate too.

 

I have been working on some other projects alongside my blog which I’m pretty excited about. Unfortunately I’m not going to share too much right now, hopefully I will be able to tell more soon!!!!! I have approached a couple of online Mum type websites and other blogs, so watch this space.

I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with Instagram, actually who am I kidding I am obsesses with Instagram. It’s been great and putting me in touch with other bloggers and just seeing what others get up too. I actually applied to be a Brand Representative for a couple of businesses I saw via Instagram, sadly I wasn’t picked. I wasn’t really expecting to be but I was gutted. I’m ok now, I’m just too sensitive for my own good. I’m just really keen to help out any small businesses by helping them promote what they have. I guess I will have to see what else comes along.

October also marks babyloss awareness week which is the 9th-15th October. I’m working with my local Sands group to organise some events for this week. We will do a balloon release on the 11th and there will be the ‘Wave of Light’ service on the 15th. I might save how the events of this week go for another blog post.

CarlyMarie, (a bereaved mother who I have mentioned before in previous blog Sands Conference Wellington 19-21 June 2015),  is doing her fourth year of Capture Your Grief. This is a monthly photo challenge for the month of October. I only found out about this year at the Sands conference and when I heard about it, I was immediately keen to take part. The prompts were shared a few days ago. Looking at some of them I’m wondering how I can photograph some of the prompts, I will have to get thinking. I did also think it would be nice to maybe write a few words each day. I will have to let you know how I get on.

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The journal I will use to document Capture your Grief 2015

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I actually wrote the beginning of this post several days ago before Mr Happy had to go into hospital. I thought it was best to get him checked out by our GP, who quickly rang the hospital as he felt he should be seen by the doctors there. His respiration rate was 60, normal range is 35-45 and his heart was beating faster than usually. Plus watching him breath, he was sucking in his chest where he shouldn’t of been. This poor Mumma, wanted her Mumma but couldn’t, several times I almost burst into tears but managed to push them away. I had to be strong for my boy, plus he was still reasonably happy in himself. By doing this though I have been left feeling overwhelmed and low in mood, how I wish I had let myself cry at the time, as any mother knows seeing you child unwell and distressed at times is just awful. He is doing well now though. We were given an inhaler which helps with his wheeze, we were told it was viral wheeze, quite common in small kids. I have asthma and it is in my family, so could be a sign of that, we are also dealing with a small amount of eczema as well…… The joys of parenting huh? 

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Liebster Award

I began my blogging journey in April this year and I ask myself ‘Why didn’t I start it sooner?” I don’t really know the answer but I have found blogging to be extremely therapeutic. Plus, I have been able to discover more blogs that I love and form friendships with other  bloggers, even though we have never met.

I am so honoured and excited to announce that my blog, CraftyOrganisedMe has earned its very first award the Newbie Blogging Liebster Award.

Thanks to Facebook I discovered a great bloggers group that I joined. One day a fellow blogger shared that she had also been nominated for a blogger award and she was looking for other bloggers to nominate. I suggested myself, (as you do!) I didn’t think I would get chosen…… then one day I received a lovely message telling me I had, so thank you to  Iyanna @Yannivlovely. Her blog features articles based on lifestyle, personal finance and everything creative, check it out!

What is the Newbie Blogging Liebster Award

The Newbie Blogging Liebster Award is an award given to new bloggers, usually for those who have less than 200 followers, by other bloggers as a way to support each other in our journey to growing and building our blogs.

What are the rules?

  1. Post your award to your blog
  2. Answer the questions you were given by the person who nominated you
  3. Nominate a small group of other new bloggers you’ve discovered (I’m doing 9!)
  4. Create 10 new questions for the nominees
  5. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog.

Here’s the questions I was asked to answer:

Why did you start your blog?

I have thought about it briefly on/off for years but always quickly dismissed it.  Then in April this year I was driving to my in-laws (just under an hours drive from our home), my Son was sleeping and I was listening to a CD.  I was thinking about certain things that I would love to share and talk about but didn’t have any way of doing so. I then thought, why not start a blog? At first I dismissed the idea, ‘who would want to read about my life?’ I then thought, ‘who cares, I’m going to do it’. When I arrived at my in-laws I shared with my husband what I had been thinking about and asked what he thought. He didn’t say much, but most of that day I spent time researching which host I would use to start my blog and coming up with a name.

 

Who are some of your favourite bloggers and why?

One of my favourite bloggers has to be Bec at twodaysgirl. When I started to lose a bit of faith about launching my blog, I sought out help and her blogs Facebook page appeared on my newsfeed. I got in touch and lets say, the rest is history. I love her blog, her humour and her honest tales about her life.

I also love Maria at Happy Mum Happy Child, a lovely, honest kiwi Mum. Her Sunday Stalker videos are hilarious. She is another honest Mumma who is very cool. And is also honest about her journey with postnatal depression.

Yvette at she.is.sacred a beautiful Mother who is sharing her story with postnatal depression. Thanks to blogging we have found each other, hopefully one day we will meet.

I read quite a few blogs I enjoy, I can’t list them all. If there is anyone you know who’s blog I should be reading, let me know.

 

What are your short-term and long term goals for your blog?

I think I will continue blogging for as long as I enjoy it, which I hope is a long time to come. I find writing extremely therapeutic and I’ve always liked writing. I would of course like to find more followers who I hope would find my blog useful and entertaining. I would like to be considered to do reviews for local or international businesses. I actually don’t want anything in return, I would just like the opportunity to help promote their business and/or their talent. There are so many individuals out there and to help them spread the word about themselves and what they do, would be an honour.

 

What is your ideal morning routine

Ha I would love to be able to wake when I want! But doesn’t everyone. I guess I just like being able to wake, not to rush, have a cup of tea, shower and eat my breakfast in peace. This doesn’t happen very often as all, but as long as I get my morning cuppa I’m generally happy.

 

How do you incorporate blogging in your schedule?

I don’t have a schedule as such, but the majority of my blogging would be done when I have a little time to myself and one or both of my kids are napping. I find I will get inspired or think of something I want to write about at various times of the day, so I will often jot down a few notes in my notebook.

 

What’s your favourite city and why?

This is a tough question for me, I would love to say New York (but I haven’t been there yet!), I have been to Paris but I was there for long enough to judge it as a city. I was desperate to leave my hometown Bournemouth in England when I was growing up but now I am not there, I have a lot of love for the place. It always brings a smile to my face when people tell me they have been or are going to Bournemouth. Melbourne is fab! If I had to move to there I would be more than happy. I would love to visit there again one day, maybe I could meet my Australian blogger friends there one day?!

 

What’s the easiest and hardest part about blogging for you?

The easiest part of blogging would be the writing, I find the words will often pour out as I type. Ideas for posts come quite freely to me as well. The hardest part would be the time, I wish I had more time to write. But I think I will forever wish for more time to do everything. I’m not very tech savvy, so I have trouble from time to time uploading or moving things around on the blog as I would like it.

 

What is your favourite leisure activity to do?

I  love to scrapbook. It takes up quite a bit of time though. I always plan to do some at home but I prefer visiting Craft Haven, my favourite craft shop. It is definitely like my second home, I could go there everyday and I would always find something crafty to do.

 

What motivates you to continue blogging?

I think being a Mother to my two children and my angel baby will always be my motivation to write. I am always thinking of more ways I can remember my dear Alex and honour his memory. Being a Mum after losing a baby is something I think of ALOT and I’m thinking of and wanting ways to incorporate his memory into their lives. Having depression is something I am not afraid to share and I would be honoured to feel my stories help someone else who us really struggling.

 

Relationship status? Any kids (2 or 4 legged)?

I’m happily married, five years in November. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. We had Alex in 2011 who was stillborn during pregnancy and Little Miss who is three and Mr Happy who is almost 17 months. I would love a dog but we are busy enough at the moment, we plan to get a family dog one day though.

Liebster Newbie Bloggers Award

Liebster Newbie Bloggers Award

 

Bloggers I nominate

Yvette at she.is.sacred

Jasmine at Mummy and her mini

Shannon at Some Shananagins

CindyLynn at Hometown Queen Bee

Patri at Visual Sociology NUIG

LaQuinda at Sister Lady Girl

Beth at The She Suite Blog

Amber at Culture and Greens

Tudor at My Studio Blog

 

My questions for you

  1. How did you come up with your blogs name?
  2. Why did you start your blog?
  3. What are your future plans for your blog?
  4. What are your two favourite blog posts you have written?
  5. Suggest five other blogs I should follow.
  6. Where do you live in the world and who do you live with?
  7. What do you enjoy to do when you get some time to yourself?
  8. Place you would most like to visit?
  9. What do you think is the best thing you have discovered through blogging?
  10. Do you have a job, outside of blogging. If so what do you do?

I look forward to reading your responses and happy blogging!

 

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Family time. Good times, Emotional times.

The past weekend was a BIG deal for me, I think the only people who knew this were my parents and my husband. Why did I only share this with them? For me it was something private and I knew it would only be me who would ‘feel’ it.

This weekend was the first weekend Mr Happy and Little Miss would spend some time with their cousins. My hubby’s brother and sister don’t live locally so this was the first weekend everyone was getting together. I always knew this day would come, I hoped and hope the first time would be the worst. I was looking forward to it, as it would be the first time we would be able to get a photo of the five kiddies under the age of four.

My husbands sister has two girls and his brother has one daughter. And myself and my hubby have our daughter and son. Mr Happy is definitely outnumbered. Seeing all the children together, made me think of Alex, our firstborn who was stillborn at 27 weeks in June 2011. He was the first grandchild and grandson to be born on both sides of our families. I know his absence is always felt by me more than others. And this weekend seeing all the children together, made me miss him even more.

I had discussed the prospect of a photograph being taken with my husband, in the weeks leading up to the family get together. I knew a photo would be taken and I fully supported it and looked forward to obtaining one myself. I have a blue teddy which is referred to as ‘Alex Bear’ in our house. It is a cuddly toy I received when he died and after talking to other bereaved mothers, I felt this teddy should be kept to represent Alex in family photos. He sits out of sight in our bedroom, next to a framed photo of Alex. Little Miss is aware of our Alex bear, has some understanding it is special and isn’t to be played with.

We first used ‘Alex bear’ when Little Miss was three months old. We had professional photos taken of her and us as a family. I explained to the photographer at the time, that I had a special toy I wanted in some photos. We had some family shots with ‘Alex’ as well as Little Miss. The photos of her and ‘Alex’ are really special to me and something special for her to look back on as she grows older. We did the same again last year in November, we had professional family photos taken again and have some great photos of Little Miss and Mr Happy with ‘Alex’. The photos make my heart swell with love for my children and gently remind me I am a mother to three.

September 2012 Little Miss with Alex bear

September 2012 Little Miss with Alex bear

September 2012 Little Miss with Alex bear

September 2012 Little Miss with Alex bear

When the time came at the weekend to gather the cousins for a photo, we made sure their faces were clean  and bribed a couple to come and sit for a photo (as they were too busy playing!). I went to retrieve ‘Alex’ from my bag. I explained to Little Miss and my eldest niece (aged 3.5) that this was special ‘Alex bear’ and he would be part of the photo. They both took turns holding him, very cute I thought. When it came time to take photos, we had to be quick, five children aged under four you can imagine the chaos! I only heard one person mention “Oh that’s a nice idea” when I went to get ‘Alex bear’, otherwise I felt the bear was not acknowledged.

While the photo was being taken and afterwards, I was desperate for someone, anyone to ask about, or to look at the bear or make a general comment. After all he is the eldest grandchild, but no words came. I didn’t say anything, I felt by ensuring ‘Alex’ was part of the photo I had played my part, surely someone would like to say something. But nothing. I don’t know what I wanted to hear but I just wanted someone to say his name.

I shared one of the photos I took on my Instagram and Facebook accounts, I was so happy with the photo. It had the five cousins and the Alex bear. As some people may know getting small children to sit still for a photo is next to impossible, but I think family and friends would agree we achieved what we aimed to do. But the photo also makes me sad, seeing Mr Happy sitting as the only boy, fills me with sadness. Not just because he is the only boy, his big brother is missing. What if he never has a brother he can grow up with or a boy cousin he can play with.

November 2014 Little Miss & Mr Happy with Alex bear

November 2014 Little Miss & Mr Happy with Alex bear

November 2014 Mr Happy with Alex bear

November 2014 Mr Happy with Alex bear

I had a brief discussion with the hubby on our way home from the in-laws, and I cried. I cried because I was sad Alex wasn’t there and I also cried because no-one mentioned him. I am so glad my children got to spend time with their cousins its really important to me. I have memories of spending time with my cousins when I was growing up and remember they were good times.

I don’t know when there will be another get together of cousins, but I am glad we have some photos and memories. Family is important and it is also important to me that Alex is awknowledged from time to time.

If anyone reads this and would like to get in touch about anything I have discussed, I would love to hear from you.

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NB: Photos used with kind permission of Amanda Ritchie photography
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Sands Conference Wellington 19-21st June 2015

I figured it was time that I shared some of things I experienced at the Sands conference in Wellington. I felt I needed a few weeks to let everything ‘digest’ and reflect on it. I have shared some thoughts with people who have asked me about it. I know there are some people who aren’t in a position to ask me or haven’t seen me since I went, but I just want to say I would love to talk about it if you want to listen.

We had an extremely bumpy landing in Wellington, it was my suggestion to fly so I take full responsibility and again I’m sorry to the other 2 ladies I flew with. I usually don’t mind flying but this particular morning I wish we had driven down the night before. On a positive note the weather was fab when we flew home, so it kinda made up for the unenjoyable arrival.

I had the pleasure to hear 4 wonderful keynote speakers. Sherokee Ilse and Suzanne Pullen from the United States and CarlyMarie and Jane Warland from Australia. All four of these ladies shared their babies stories and it was truly an honour to have them share their stories about their losses. It was definitely a weekend where it seemed to appropriate to say your babies name and share your story of babyloss.

There were various workshops to attend, often there were 3 running at the same time so we were able to choose which topic we wanted to be a part of. There were a couple of workshops that were ‘creative’ focused, so I was pretty keen to attend those.

CarlyMarie spoke about Creativity in Babyloss, this was fab. She shared the things she has done to heal herself since the loss of her baby. Another Mum who is also a bereaved parent shared the things she has created and made in her babies memory. This workshop was called Speaking from the Heart and this Mum also has a great blog where she shared the things she creates and provides information for others wanting to do the same. Check out milaandcuatro

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I also attended a workshop which discussed the importantance of sharing your baby loss story and ways you can do this. We were all encouraged to write a letter to our babies and we were given the opportunity to share what we had written with the group, if we wanted too. It was actually the first time in 4 years I had written to Alex. The words flowed easily once I put pen to paper, and it make me question why I had never done it before. I found it very therapeutic and I was happy to read my letter out loud.

Another workshop I found beneficial was Parenting After Loss; a workshop for Bereaved parents. Since I have been fortunate to have 2 children after baby loss I felt this appealed to me. I found it really good. Jane Warland was the speaker and she discussed parenting after loss with and without living children. I often worry that I will mess up my children due to the loss of their big brother but there is actual research out there which states the opposite. This is a great relief to me. It is important that my children grow up knowing there have an older brother and why he isn’t here.

I managed to go to a session which discussed Natural therapies for grief and loss. We were all given a gratitude journal (which I’ll save for another blog post) and did a deep breathing/mediation exercise which was very beneficial.

I also attended the conference dinner on the Saturday night which was a lot of fun. I was feeling pretty tired though and didn’t party too hard as I was keen to get back to my hotel room and sleep.

I’m going to end this blog post, I feel I have summed up my weekend. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and hear their stories on baby loss. I feel I came home healed, refreshed and more positive about my grief. It was a great experience to attend the conference and I look forward to the next one in 2017.

Travelling home

Travelling home

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Remembering Alex

10:18am on Friday 3rd June 2011, is a day forever etched in my mind. It is the day we welcomed Alex Michael Smith into the world. He couldn’t stay though, he was stillborn. He was 27 weeks gestation, a perfect bundle of 2lb 2oz and 37cm long. There was nothing wrong with our dear boy. My husband was holding my hands as I birthed Alex and I remember looking to my left hand side and my Mum was holding onto my Mother-in-law, both were crying. Tears of sadness? Or maybe tears of joy. Or maybe both. I remember being asked by the midwife before he was born if I wanted him placed on my stomach. “I don’t know”, I replied, “let’s just get him out first”. My first instinct was to grab him and pull him close, which I did. I looked at my Mum and said “He looks so familiar” and she said “Of course he does, he yours”. He sure was, is, my first born Son and baby.


We spent most of that day with Alex at the hospital in the room in which he were born. The things I remember most about that day are holding him, staring him and loving every one of those previous moments. Only a few family members got the privilege to see him and hold him, we decided it wasn’t a time for friends to visit. We took as many photos as we could. I had left my camera at home, but luckily the others who were there took photos. I couldn’t bring myself to have a photo with Alex, I felt I had to smile in the photo and I didn’t feel like smiling. That is something now I wish I had done. I think we always look back at pivotal moments in our life and think about how we could of changed them to make it better. I do love the photos we have, they are very special. Leaving the hospital without him was gut wrenching. I’m sure I must of cried the whole way home. I feel a piece of me died that day and that part is with Alex. I hold his memory in my heart and he was buried in mine and Daddy’s love.

Wednesday 3rd June 2015, Happy 4th Birthday to Alex. 🍰🍰🍰🍰🎈🎈🎈🎈

My husband and I decided last year that each year we would use Alex’s birthday as a family day. We would both take the day off work and do something fun with Little Miss and Mr Happy. We are thinking about swimming, since Little Miss has been asking to go to the pool lately. We will visit his grave at the cemetery, take him some flowers and we will release 3 balloons. We released 2 balloons at his funeral and it has always seemed to be something special we can do each year to mark his birthday and to eventually involve his siblings. We chose 3 balloons because we felt one balloon represented us, his parents and siblings, one balloon on behalf of my family and the third balloon symbolises my husbands family.

Last year I made 3 cupcakes, so this year it will be 4. Plus I have the added help of Little Miss to help me decorate the cupcakes. She has already requested we make Alex a pink one! Each year I try to think of something we can do as a present for him, the idea of donating money to a worthy cause is always a good thought. But back at the beginning of April CarlyMarie  was offering a deal on one oh her beach butterfly memorial prints. There were lots to choose from but I’m pleased with the one I picked. We can put the print onto a photo, card or a canvas if we wish.


For those of you that are interested CarlyMarie has a Facebook page and a website. She is a bereavement artist from Perth, Australia and she will be the keynote speaker at the Sands Conference in Wellington on 19-21st of June, so I’m looking forward to hearing her speak.


Thank you if you have read this, it means a lot to me to be able to share my journey.