Category Archives: Angel Baby

My Missing Piece

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My Missing Piece

Time goes on but doesn’t alter,
I try my hardest not to falter,
My missing piece you’ll always be,
A massive hole inside of me.

Life continues passing by,
I try so hard to stop the cry,
To brush away the falling tears,
To hide away from all my fears.

But the pain will never go,
I’ve suffered such a mortal blow,
You should have been baby boy,
That filled my life with so much joy.

Instead you left me far too early,
And my world was numb and blurry,
Blinded by the constant pain,
Cant see past unswerving rain.

It broke my heart to lose you so,
Before you had the chance to grow,
So many memories left unmade,
To many adventures left unplayed.

Until that day we meet once more,
As you hold open heavens door,
My missing piece you’ll always be,
Until the day you set me free.

For Harry 💙

Abi Woodhouse

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The First “Harry’s Day”

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The 16th July 2014 was the first anniversary of my Angel baby Harry’s birth and passing.

The first anniversary was always going to be hard and I was anticipating a tough day.

We started with a trip up to Beacon Hill- a local beauty spot- where we scattered Harry’s ashes.

I’m sure you would agree, we could hardly have picked a more stunningly beautiful spot for our boy…

 

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I havent managed to get up there since the day we spread his ashes, what with being pregnant with Connie and the hill being a rather steep climb. It was calm and tranquil and I felt completely at peace.

Throughout the day, I asked my friends via social media to upload pictures of anything beautiful with the hashtag #HarrysDay in tribute to him.

I wasn’t expecting much, maybe 5 or 6.

We had over 70 pictures.

I was completely overwhelmed! It’s truly heartwarming to know how many people care and it was lovely to see all of that beauty dedicated to him…

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I was touched by the volume of messages of condolence we received from friends and family, it was incredible to see the number of people who care. One of my friends even wrote me a poem from her to H:

“Harry, even though we never met you still lay deep within my heart,

to express my sadness, I wouldn’t know where to start.

The many times I’ve shed my tears in memory of your soul,

was only in which heaven prematurely stole.

With your wings, fly high above the rest,

just so you know, your parents are the best!

Still today this is not goodbye,

for every time we want to see you, we know you’re in the sky.”

We finished the day by letting off some Chinese Lanterns which I personalised with a some words…

 

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“Death leaves a heartache difficult to heal,

Love leaves sweet memories no one can steal.”

“An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth,

then whispered as she closed the book too beautiful for earth.”

“Gone yet not forgotten,

although we are apart,

your spirit lives within me,

forever in my heart.”

❤ ❤ ❤

As far as firsts go, it went well. I knew it wasnt going to be easy, but instead of spending the day low we were quite positive- celebrating the memories we have of him and putting aside the pain.

I wanted to do something positive in his memory and I think that’s what I accomplished with the help of my very loving and supportive friends and family.

Harry’s Day

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Today, 16th July 2014, is the first anniversary of my baby boys birth and passing. In tribute to him, I have decided to upload pictures of anything beautiful that I see today to my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts along with the hashtag #HarrysDay.

Please feel free to join in if you feel able. You can find me on Facebook (Abii Woodhouse (McCready)) Instagram (@abiiwoodhouse) and Twitter (@AbiWoodhouse) or simply follow the links to my accounts through the menu on the right of my blog.

I cannot think of a better way to honour my son, and all the other babies gone to soon, than to help break the silence of child loss with beauty.
Xx

8 Ways Losing My Baby Has Changed Me

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If you’re a regular reader you’ll know about Harry. Harry was my first pregnancy, my first baby and my first introduction to proper grief.

Losing Harry has changed me in so many ways; it’s altered my views on life, my personality, and my relationships. It’s made me look at the world differently and probably not in ways you would expect! It’s made me want to change how I behave and what kind of person I am.

I believe these changes are permanent. I believe I am not and will never be the person I was before I had him. Here are the 8 ways losing my baby has changed me…

My Relationship is Stronger

Luckily for me and Mr. W our sadness only brought us closer; unfortunately for a lot of people that is not the case. After losing Harry we experienced a whole new level of “sad”. Sadness I have never and hope to never experience again; but if any good can be pulled from a heartbreaking situation then it’s that we grew even closer than I would have imagined possible for two people to be.

I always felt I had to be my own “rock” before but I’ve learnt that I don’t have to be strong all the time and that’s a wonderful feeling. I have this amazing person to fall back on and, frankly, I don’t think I’d be a functioning human again if it wasn’t for him! He truly is the most special person in the world to me.

“Love isn’t who you see yourself with, it’s who you can’t see yourself without”– Unknown

I’m More Thankful

There’s always someone out there who has it worse than you- Full stop. In a situation like what we experienced, it would have been easy for us to fall into that cycle of “Why me? Why us? Poor me! No one understands! The world hates me! What did we do to deserve this?!” but we didn’t. It’s been tough, it’s still tough, and it will always be tough- but- people have it worse, A LOT worse.

What do I have? Well, I have a stable happy marriage; me, my husband, family and friends have our health, I have a home, my husband and I have jobs, we make money, we live well, we have friends and family in abundance, we have another baby on the way. I am thankful for what I have because it’s far more than what a lot of people have. When all is said and done; I’m still one of the lucky ones.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.”– Oprah Winfrey

I’m More Mature

I’ve aged; emotionally, mentally and probably physically. I was lucky enough, before this, to never have experienced what I would call true sadness. So it’s probably not a surprise that once I found myself dealing with premature labour, postmortems and baby funerals at the age of 23; I grew up. I wasn’t prepared for what happened; the thought had never crossed my mind that something like that would happen to me- it always happens to someone else right?

Grief definitely ages you. I’ve grown up a lot in a short space of time.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, your heart will be badly broken and the bad news is you will never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also good news. They live forever in you broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you’ve come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly- that still hurts whenever the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”– Anne Lamott.

I Hate Negativity

I was never a massive fan of pessimistic, gloomy people before having Harry, but I’ve noticed recently that I’m even more adverse to those “My life is so hard! Poor me” -people. I’ve always found negative people a real drain and do now more than ever. I’ve started to notice how often people moan about stupid little things of no consequence and I find it so frustrating!

There are people out there with genuine problems, genuine worries, genuine tragedies going on in their lives and most of the time they find the strength to solider on and even muster up a smile and kind word for someone else going through a hard time. So the fact that the worst thing that’s happened you this week is that you had to wait 10 minutes in a queue at the post office is of no significance to me.

“If you keep telling the same sad story, you will keep living the same sad life”– Jean Houston

I’m More Emotional

I’ve always been quite emotionally stunted where my own feelings are concerned. I hate seeing others upset and immediately what to comfort someone whose down, but when it comes to me I would rather anything than cry or be sad in front of another human. It would have been a rarity for anyone to see me cry before.

I haven’t done a complete U-Turn and turned into the sort of person who gets teary daily, but I’m definitely more in tuned with my emotions. I still don’t see myself being one of those people who cries regularly- there’s nothing wrong with these people it’s just not for me- but I’m more comfortable now with the idea that it’s ok to cry and feel sad from time to time, and that’s a big change.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”– Sigmund Freud

I Value My Friends & Family More

I love my friends and family more; of course, I’ve always loved my friends and family but when something terrible happens it makes you realise who is truly there for you.

I don’t know what I would have done in the days, weeks and months after having Harry if I didn’t have such good friends and family. The best thing is they all knew exactly what to say. I can honestly say that none of my friends upset me by saying something accidentally insensitive (I wish the same could be said for everyone else but unfortunately the truth is far from it!) it’s something I will never forget and will be eternally thankful for.

“A true friend sees the first tear, catches the second and stops the third”– Angelique

I’m More Positive

After living in unbearable sadness and negativity for a large part of a year I have come out the other side with the realisation that it’s an unawful and draining way to live. I think the more positive you are, the more chance you have of positive things happening to you- this is my karmic side emerging! People like optimistic people, and happiness and positivity (like negativity and sadness!) are infectious. Would you rather be the bearer of misery and gloom or the bringer of smiles and laughter? Not a hard choice for me really.

“There are two ways of looking at the world, one as if everything is a miracle, and second, as if nothing is.”– Albert Einstein

I’m Becoming a Better Person

I honestly believe these changes have made and are making me into a better person. I’ve learnt I can overcome harsh challenges in my life. I’ve learnt how strong I am. I’ve learnt how strong my relationship with my husband is. I know how great my friends and family are. I’ve learnt to value what I have. I’ve learnt its ok to lean on someone. I’ve grown up. I’ve realized life isn’t worth wasting your time with negativity.

Time does not heal. Time does not make the pain disappear. Time does not make you forget. But as time goes on you get stronger and can deal with the pain differently. I will always be a different person now but that person is a better version of who I was before. Hopefully all the things I’ve learnt from this experience will go some way to making me a better mum, wife, friend, daughter and person.

Maybe that was Harry’s gift to me. Maybe that was the purpose of his very short but very significant life. Maybe that’s why he will always be in my heart and never forgotten.

7 Things You Should Never Say To Someone Suffering Child Loss…

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Now, try to picture yourself in this position, if you please. Your plans for the future have just crumbled away. You’re devastated. You (irrationally) feel responsible; you can’t really believe it’s happened. You’ve just lost your baby.

You’re emotional, you’re grieving, you’re in a lot of pain; but, more than not, you’re unbelievably angry. Angrier than you’ve ever been in your life, angrier than you ever imagined you could be. You’re angry that this thing has happened, confused and numb; angry at yourself… And then, some prick says the wrong thing.

As a parent suffering the loss of a baby, trust me, I know these feelings all too well. The last thing you need when you’re in such a vulnerable state is to then have someone make an off-hand comment that cuts you down to the bone. Not biting back takes the utmost restraint. I lost my baby almost a year ago and I still find myself on the receiving end of some almighty clangers from ill-informed “well-wishers”.

And I’m not alone; which is why I decided to do a little research into the worst things people could possibly say to a parent suffering a loss. Between drawing from my own experiences, combing the web and with the help of lots of Angel Parents, I’ve managed to put together 7 things you should never say to someone suffering a loss; in the hope that people will take note and think twice before they inadvertently say something harmful to the next suffering parent whose paths they cross…

 

7. “Mysterious” Comments

“Everything happens for a reason”, “It wasn’t meant to be”, “Its God’s plan”, “It was probably for the best” etc etc etc. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! I’m in the middle of grieving for my baby and the last thing I want to hear is your bullshit theories on how it will be ok in the end and my baby was supposed to die because there’s some big other plan out there for me and him?

Everything does NOT happen for a reason, sometimes life is just cruel.

The premature death of my child was not meant to be.

If “God’s Plan” for me is to make me suffer abominably for no reason, then I want no part of his plan.

And my baby dying was not “for the best”, you can not relate the word “best” to this pain in any way shape or form.

 

6. Time Heals
Guess what? It doesn’t. I have spoken to women who range from losing their baby’s last week to losing them over 30 years ago and not one of them agrees with the “time heals” phrase. As time passes we find ways to cope with what we’ve been through and after a while find ways to start functioning normally again but not a day ever goes by where we don’t think of our loss and crave one more cuddle from that baby. So by insinuating that after a few years everything will be hunky dory is a really bad move.

 

5. Tough Love
I’ve been lucky enough not to have been on the receiving end of much of these; most of the hurtful comments I’ve received I’m sure were not intended to be hurtful at the time, but there are some people out there who are genuinely tack-less. Firstly, if you’re lucky enough to have never experienced a loss you truly have no idea how it feels and are, therefore, in no way qualified to advise someone to “move on” with their grief.

Secondly, we are all different, individual humans; it may take some people longer than others to get to a functioning state again and by telling that person “to get back to some sort of normality” you are actually most likely causing them to regress into their grief instead of encouraging them to move out of it!!

“Don’t you think its time to move on with your life?”
“Cheer up!”
“Don’t you think you should get back to some sort of normality?”
“You can’t change what’s happened, so move on”

Do I need to spell out why these are hurtful? Do I need to explain why telling someone, who’s in possibly the most vulnerable state they have ever been in their life, to “Cheer up” is not very nice? Compassion is key.

 

4. At Least You Have Another Child
You cannot compare children. End of. So statements such as “At least you already have one”, or “You’ve already got one baby why do you want another anyway?” are entirely unhelpful.

Some parents with other children may draw from them a feeling of comfort, yes. But that doesn’t mean to say their pain is any less than a childless couples.

 

3. Ignorance on the Subject
Child loss is not a favourite topic of conversation for anyone to speak about, but the fact that people are so afraid to talk about it and don’t talk about it is why people end up so ignorant on the subject. Something I really struggled with after losing Harry was the insane amount of ignorance people had. For the most part, they didn’t have a CLUE what had happened.

Some people didn’t seem to realise Harry was even a baby. That made me so angry and upset, not because I wanted their sympathy just because somehow I felt it made Harry “less” of a baby; a nonentity almost, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a wealth of information out there- if you are unsure what has happened do some research, ask someone. Get the terminology right!

 

2. You’ll be Pregnant Again in No Time!
Only with child loss do people ever suggest, insinuate or assume that having another baby will make everything better and this, in particular, is guaranteed to get you daggers at the very best or a punch in the face at the very worst from a grieving parent. At no time when a parent, grandparent or friend has passed does anyone ever suggest getting another grandparent might be the answer to their grief; so why the hell do people assume another child will make it all better again?!

Be careful how you tread. Not everyone is easily able to get pregnant again after losing their child. It may have been their one and only chance at IVF that failed or for numerous other reasons they may feel unable or be physically unable to ever get pregnant again.

Let me assure you, having another baby does not “make everything better” and assuming that it does is not only disrespectful to the parent, but also to the child that died and the child that succeeded if the parents have chosen to have another. I cannot stress enough how offensive this misconception is. It reminds me of a family getting a new pet after their old one has been put to sleep. Essentially you are comparing my child with something as easily replaceable as a goldfish!

 

1. Failing to Acknowledge
We all know that child loss is a difficult subject for most to talk about. You might be worried you’ll put your foot in it and say the wrong thing; you might be worried that by mentioning it the parent will break down in floods of tears and you’ll feel responsible, or you might not really understand what’s happened.

Whatever the case, every woman I have spoken to (and I include myself in this) has said that the worst things people can do is ignore and fail to acknowledge what has happened. In fact a few people have told me that not only have people seemingly ignored the elephant in the room, they’ve actually had people cross the street to avoid talking to them. Not only is this is extremely hurtful it’s entirely unnecessary.

So what should you say and do?

Address The Subject
Firstly, it’s important that you address the elephant in the room. As mentioned earlier, it’s WORSE to say nothing. If you’re really worried you’re going to put your foot in it or you’re really uncomfortable with the subject, a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” will suffice to any grieving parent.

One parent told me one of the nicest things said to her by a friend was “I’m sorry we never got the chance to know him, we’ll never forget him though”, another said “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, I’m so sorry. If you need to talk I’m here for you.”

Understand What’s Happened
If you’re completely clueless on what’s happened but want to offer your friend or relative some support and understanding during this most difficult of times, do some research. There is so much information out there! Child loss is more common than you might think! And get the terminology right for Christ Sake, the next person to refer to H as a miscarriage will live to regret it.

If you have questions its ok to ask! “Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions about your baby, as I don’t really understand what’s happened?”- This is perfect, it allows the person on the receiving end to then prepare themselves for some prying questions or to turn around and say “Actually I’m not ready to talk to about it yet, sorry.”

Most parents would much rather people asked questions if they are unsure! I, personally, am much happier when I know everyone in the room completely understands what happened with Harry. It means it’s less likely for someone to upset me with inaccurate information.

Don’t Compare Pregnancies
When dealing with a rainbow pregnancy, a straightforward “Congratulations on your pregnancy” will be a welcome thing to hear to any newly pregnant couple. Avoid saying anything along the lines of “This will be different” or “Now you can move on!” and definitely avoid comparisons with the pregnancies.

If you feel like adding more, “Let me know if you need help with anything” or “I’m so happy for you!” is fine.

Remember Important Dates
Amongst the most touching things friends and family can do to console a grieving parent, is to remember important dates. If you’re not comfortable going into the topic a simple text saying “How are you today?” on the anniversary of the death, birth or due date is welcome.

Anything along the lines of “If you need to talk today, let me know” or “Thinking of you both today” is greatly appreciated.

Listen
There will a point, especially if this person is a close friend or family, where they may open up and have a good rant to you. The most important thing to do here is to listen. Try not to give advice unless they ask. Be compassionate.

Lots of women said that sometimes all they wanted or needed was a hug. It’s the simple gestures that show you care that mean the most to people.

Care
A common response I received when asking what the best things people had said were, was a friend texting or emailing every day to just say “How are you today?” or “ Do you need anything?”

This is something so simple yet so deeply appreciated. People can often get lost in their grief and feel so terribly alone. It’s comforting and reassuring to know that there are people out there who are genuinely upset for you and genuinely want to offer you support. Friendships are really tested at times like these and you really find out who you true friends are when you go through an experience like this.

Don’t Forget The Men
It’s easy for the attention to be on the woman here because the woman is the person experiencing the physical loss as well as the emotional loss but men get affected by child loss too!

Men have a hard time when going through loss. They often get overlooked when not only are they suffering too, but they’re also the people trying to hold their partners together through grief. Never forget to be compassionate to the male in the relationship.

A Final Word…
Please heed this advice and SHARE it. One of the greatest things you can do to support a friend or family member through a time of loss is to help spread the word and put an end to the unnecessary and hurtful comments that are thrown around.

On behalf of Angel Parents across the globe, thank you for reading.

Week 24: Where it all went wrong last time…

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“Your baby’s primitive memory is beginning to develop, implying that music and voices will be leaving an impression in your little ones brain. Her spine has 1000 ligaments, 150 joints and 33 vertebrae. Blood vessels are busy developing inside the lungs and the nostrils are beginning to open. Now that she has fully developed hands, loud noises may even prompt junior to cover her tiny ears to shield them from sounds. Her skin has now changed from translucent to a more opaque appearance. The cerebral cortex, the part of your baby’s brain that’s responsible for emotions, reasoning, planning and ability to solve problems is the most prominent part of the brain at this point.

Your belly is getting larger all the time. headaches leg cramp and even rib pain is normal at this time as your baby is taking up much space cramping your organs. The skin of your belly may become itchy due to stretching from growth spurt. You may begin experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions at this time. They occur due to the tightening of the uterine muscles and are felt for one or two minutes. They are not generally painful. These contractions do not have a pattern like true labour contractions.”

I write my blog updates after completing a week of pregnancy, so when I write “Week 24” you know I’m actually in week 25 of my pregnancy, so it gives me great pleasure to post this blog knowing I’m past the 24th week!
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If you’ve been a regular reader of my posts for a while now, you will have heard me mention my previous pregnancy with my little boy Harry ended when I went into premature labour at 24 weeks, so getting past this week has been a huge milestone for me physically, mentally and emotionally!

Strangely, this week I was fairly calm and collected- no panic attacks, no nightmares, no sleepless nights. Just a clear head. As D-Day arrived I was nervous but not overly so. You may have heard me mention before my little theory about rainbows and my guardian angel/god/Harry/harmless coincidence? Well let me explain anyway…

I haven’t seen a rainbow in about 2/3 years and all of a sudden, during this pregnancy, I have seen no less than 15. They spring up every time I have a particularly bad day. For people who don’t know, this baby is referred to as a “Rainbow Baby” for definition, click here.

Of course this all could be (and all logical thinking points to it being) a huge coincidence; but I prefer to think of it as a little message from Harry or whoever that my rainbow baby is fine and everything will be ok, and I’m not hurting anyone by taking comfort in that. Keeping this theory going, as D-Day arrived so did a wooping, brighter than bright rainbow. The biggest and brightest one I’ve seen yet.

So week 24 went pretty much panic free, it was really week 22 that was the worst. I suppose it’s like anything your dreading really- the build up to the day is always an anxiety ridden horror but when the day actually arrives it’s not half as bad as you think.

Don’t get me wrong, just because I’ve passed this particular hurdle does not mean I now feel confident in my pregnancy- but it has helped! My next milestone is 28 weeks- the start of the third trimester. The survival rate at 28 weeks goes up 95% with only a 5-10% chance of neurological defects- fairly strong statistics in my book!

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This week has been a busy one. Trying to keep my mind off things, no doubt, the husband suggested we start the baby’s room at the weekend- something he knows full well is going to plug my mind with nothing other than pink paint, wall murals, sewing bunting and designing toy chests- yes this was the perfect thing to say to take my mind off the worry.

Although I have to say, I was sad to say goodbye to my little blue room. A friend once said to me, “You don’t need pictures, toys or clothes to remember Harry. You have memories that will last forever and he will always be your first baby.” True words, my rainbow isn’t replacing Harry, she’s a new and different baby that’s all.

You may have seen from my previous post, on day 1 of week 24 I took my course of steroid tablets. I noticed a few things; a headache, trouble getting off to sleep for 2 nights after and decreased movements from princess around 24-48 hours after taking the tablets. All of which are noted as side effects from the steroids and are completely normal- phew.

I now feel slightly guilty for downing 2 pints of ice cold water, lying on my left hand side and systematically poking where I knew princess was lying until I had roused her enough to feel 10 kicks in 20 mins (still a reduced movement for princess believe or not but docs say that as long as you’re feeling 10 movements in an hour everything is ok) but hopefully if she knew how worried I get she’d forgive me 🙂

My consultant appointment on Thursday went well. Everyone is happy with baby’s progress! She was measuring about the size of a 23 week baby so slightly small, although nothing to worry about as I’m only 4’11’’ so she’s hardly going to be a biggun!

My consultant was happy enough to postpone my next appointment slightly to 3 weeks time instead of the normal 2 weeks time, with a view to hopefully keeping them at around every 3-4 weeks from the 3rd tri, as my midwife appointments start to pick up more.

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I’m happy to report that I’m fairly symptom free at this stage! My PGP seems to have eased which is weird! If anything I thought it was bound to get worse but *touch wood* so far it’s ok!

The only “symptom” I really have is that I’m still quite tired- not as tired as I was in the 1st tri but I definitely haven’t experienced that surge in energy that most mums-to-be report in the 2nd tri and I’ve lost all hope of getting it seeing, as I write this, I only actually 3 full weeks of the 2nd tri left! How exciting and terrifying is that?! Other than that my indigestion has died down and now only pops up after certain foods- boiled eggs and cheese & onion crisps being the main culprits likely to set me off!

If you knew me well, you’d know this is quite unwelcome news as cheese & onion crisps are practically the only crisps I eat and eggs, well, being a fish-only-meat-eater sees me eat A LOT of eggs. These are, however, minor inconveniences- if princess doesn’t like cheese and onion crisps and boiled eggs I will forgo them for the foreseeable! She is the boss after all 🙂

Highlight of the week? Passing D-Day!!
Low of the week? The ban on cheese & onion crisps and boiled eggs commences!