Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Saying Goodbye

"Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved" - Iris Murdoch

William and Noah are never far from my mind. Their presence lingers with me always. I carry them in my heart, an integral part of my being. In the first year after their death, grief overwhelmed me and I embraced it, knowing that I needed to feel the intensity of the pain to help me towards healing. But since Henry was born, grief has taken a back seat. It's not that my grief is being hidden, but rather, it has become a part of everyday life. It is always with me, but it's no longer at the forefront of my day. Being a mother to a ten-month-old means it isn't possible to look through William and Noah's memory box and photos regularly. When a wave of debilitating grief rides in, I can't curl up in bed and stay there for the day. I have to set it aside for the time being so I can be the mother Henry needs.

Even though life is better now, and we're at a place where we never imagined we could be again, there is still that hole that is left by the absence of our sons. Even in the happiest, purest moment, our family will never be complete, there will always be two missing. As Elizabeth McCracken writes, "It's a happy life, but someone is missing.But grieving and taking time to think about the boys is still something I need to do. I want and need to create space and time for them, to focus on our time together and love and grieve them. 

The magnitude of losing a child is immense - it is a devastating, life changing event, and whilst a few bereaved parents may be blessed with a strong support network around them, they can never truly understand. Often there can be an awkwardness when you talk about your child, your grief, and eventually you stop. And in this way, the grief of losing your child can be so very isolating. 

And that is how Saying Goodbye helped us. Attending one of their remembrance services (open to anyone who has lost a child - during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy) allowed us to honour William and Noah in a special and significant way, alongside other bereaved parents who know the pain of losing a child. 

We gathered in a cathedral for the service, in all its ethereal splendour, to rejoice, remember and grieve our children's lives, with others who knew. Here, we didn't need to describe the raw, primal pain that resides within our chest, it was already felt by those around us. We stood beside those who knew that there is no expiration date or time limit on grief, that a bereaved parent never moves on, they only become more accustomed to the pain. A beautiful unspoken bond between strangers. 

Seated in the pews, we listened as the majestic expanse was filled with moving words, poignant lyrics, reverent poetry. Each bereaved parent stood to light a candle for their child, the flickering flames creating a wave of light. The delicate chime of bells resonated and rose through the air, each one signifying the loss of a baby. A bittersweet melody of melancholy. Such touching tributes for the precious lives who mean so much to those who love them. In this sacred space, tears fell freely, each one symbolising the eternal love and pain that is felt. 

No awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences. 

Just purity, love and understanding.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Henry's 9 Month Update

This past month, Henry has been an absolute joy. Whereas I noted in his 8 Month Update that it was a difficult month with him being extremely clingy and having a fair amount of tantrums, his ninth month couldn't have been more different. He has been so lovely and I feel as though we're now closer than ever and I cherish the bond we have developed. He is such an affectionate and loving little boy and there is nothing better than feeling his chubby little hands grasp my face as he comes in for a big, wet, open-mouthed kiss. 

Henry is a busy bundle of energy and doesn't sit still for a moment. He's interested in EVERYTHING and constantly wants to explore. He has no interest in crawling so he toddles about whilst I hold onto his hands and he walks about the house investigating things that have taken his fancy. He's always making me laugh, the other day he was rummaging through his toy box on tippytoes and delved so deep in an attempt to reach a toy at the bottom that his little feet finally lifted off the floor and he tipped right into the toy box - head first! He is such a delight and we love him more than we ever thought possible.

Weight: We didn't officially got Henry weighed at 9 months, but our mother and baby scales suggested he was around 19lbs 7oz.

Health: Still no cough or cold, much to my disbelief. Teething is the only thing giving him trouble - he dribbles an unbelievable amount and soaks through four or five bibs per day.

Sleep: Henry sleeps from 7pm - 6.30am and has now dropped from three to two naps per day. The transition was a little tricky, but after reading some online forums for advice,  I tried the 2-3-4 hour nap pattern and it's worked a treat. 

Diet: Henry is eating like a little boy now - no more purees or mashes, all kinds of lumps and bumps and he loves little pasta shells.

Clothes: Henry is starting to fill out his 9-12 month clothing so I suspect it won't be long until he's onto 12-18 month clothing. Official toddler territory!

Dislikes: Trying to cut Henry's nails is a constant battle and I usually only manage one or two before a tantrum ensues and he shakes his hands to stop me doing it. He cries if I try and wipe his hands clean after a meal, but loves dipping his hands in water, so now after he's finished eating I bring him a little bowl of water, he pops his hands in and I give them a wash. The little prince!

Likes: Our little bookworm still adores his collection of books, and will crawl over and pick out his favourites and flick through them on his own. Where's Spot? and Where's Baby's Bellybutton? are his current favourite lift-the-flap books, it's so sweet to see him opening each flap and discovering what's underneath. He's learned how to bang on a xylophone and you can see the delight on his face when he does it. Bubbles are a new favourite. Henry loves to open and close cupboards and drawers - or anything with a hinge. Taking DVDs out of the cupboard is a favourite pastime of his. He still adores laptops - if we've forgotten to hide it under a cushion, he spots it and makes  beeline for it, panting in excitement the closer the gets! 

He loves being held my mama or dada and either chasing or being chased by the other one. We have great fun at lunchtime when we dance to The Beach Boys and he giggles at my moves. He laughs and laughs when daddy puts him on top of his head and asks, 'where's Henry?' and he chuckles when we kiss his tummy. He is a darling little cuddle bug and loves to grin at me, toddle over and give me hugs and kisses.

Milestones: Henry now has two little toothy-pegs. After months of being able to see teeth peeking underneath his top gum line, a tooth erupted from the bottom and took us by surprise, shortly followed by its neighbour! By the amount he's continuing to dribble, I suspect more are on their way. He can now clap his hands, give high-fives and roll a ball back and forth to me (which I think I enjoy more than he does!) He cruises along furniture and wants to walk everywhere rather than crawl.

Henry is getting so big, and his personality is getting even bigger. He is loving, spirited, and determined. His energy brightens my days. He communicates so clearly - his feelings are always written all over that sweet face of his. I find myself thinking "I love him so much..." so often throughout our days together. I feel like I am raising my best friend. 

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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Etsy Finds - Pretty Pastels

I love the freshness of pastels - the candy floss colour of baby blue, pale pink, lemon and peppermint always appeals to me and I find there's something quite innocent and whimsical about the soft palette of chalky hues. As always, Etsy has plenty to offer in array of pretty pastel tones, so I picked a few of my favourites. The silk kimono robes are a firm favourite of mine, and I may just have to treat myself to one soon, but how to pick just one shade?

- - -

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Loves Lately

1. I'm currently going through a phase of updating Henry's nursery. Pinterest has been a source of endless inspiration for me and Etsy always has plenty of cute and unique nursery decor. The latest additions to Henry's room are the Mint Chevron BlanketHello Sunshine Cushion and Cloud Cushion. I love the pop of colour the yellow and aqua give against the pale grey walls. 

2. I received this beautiful vintage style bicycle from Matt for my birthday last year. I'm ashamed to admit I've not yet ridden it. Procrastination being as present as always, we've not yet bought a bike rack for the car, so for now, I've filled the basket with a bouquet of silk peonies and roses, and each time I look at it I dream of the time when I will finally ride it down a dusty lane, with sunshine on my face and my hair blowing in the wind. 

3. I adore Olivia Buron watches. They're classic, feminine, chic and look good with any outfit. I've already blogged about my much loved Rose Gold and Mink Watch, and now the latest beauty to adorn my wrist is the new Olivia Burton Big Dial Watch in Rose Gold and Mock Croc, available exclusively from The Dressing Room. I love the textured leather strap paired with the simplistic face of the watch.

4. Matt and I have made an effort to reduce the amount of time we spend watching TV in the evenings, so I've been able to make a start on reading the pile of new books that have accumulated over the year. As well as discovering new books, I've indulged in re-reading some of my favourites, one being The Bell Jar.

Let me know your loves lately...

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Friday, 18 July 2014

California Dreaming

I first fell in love with the USA through books. My collection of hundreds of books that held the secrets of other worlds hidden within their pages, waiting to be devoured and relished. We couldn't afford to go on holiday when I was growing up, so I spent my summers curled up in the shadows of trees, exploring foreign lands through literature. The majestic mountains of Kefalonia in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the haunting landscape of Chile in The House of The Spirits, the intoxicating and ethereal ambiance of Japan in Memoirs of a Geisha

I fell into these other worlds eagerly, longing to be transported to places I could only dream of, where life was bright and opportunities endless. If I shut my eyes and let my thoughts drift away, I could picture myself in the land of the free, I could almost feel the salty sea air on my face, see the palm trees as tall as buildings, swaying in the breeze, the sun full and round, shining brighter than any star I'd ever seen. 

One of our regrets after William and Noah died was that we didn't take the opportunity to go travelling. In the days and weeks afterwards, when grief consumed us and made us heavy and sunken with sorrow, day-to-day life became a battle and it didn't occur to us to do anything but struggle to survive each day. With hindsight, we wished we had packed our bags and flown far from the house which held loneliness and silence within its walls. We should have forgotten Christmas, and the faking of frivolity for the sake of others. We should have left the woe and disappointment behind us, and fled to somewhere new. We should have gone to all the places we'd always dreamed of going, and experienced at least one of our dreams, since life had killed the dream we had of raising our twin sons.

I dream of California and all the things we might experience there. The warmth of the sunshine on our faces as we watch a spectacular sunset over the Pacific, the wind through our hair as we drive a vintage Cadillac convertible on Route 66. Breathing in the tranquility and peace of Yosemite. Marvelling over the beautiful Santa Rosa mountains. Kayaking down the splendour of Lake Tahoe. Feeling small and humbled by giant redwoods at the National Park. Exploring the quaint and picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea. All these things and more. Perhaps it would help us heal, help us believe that life can be good again. And then for the fun. I'd thrill my inner child at Disneyland, take a ubiquitous tourist snapshot underneath the Hollywood sign, be wowed by a trip to Universal Studios. Let go and laugh and forget for a moment the heartache we carry with us.

And my ultimate Californian dream? To make it our home. To live there, in and amongst the wonder and possibility.

Who knows, maybe one day soon my dream may come true...

For more info on the #DreamBig Project - Visit California

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