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The Royal Baby…

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The Royal Baby…

The 22nd July 2013 is a date that will always stick in my memory.
It was the date the world, or the majority of it at least, was waiting for; the birth of The Royal Baby.

I still remember hearing the news report- “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted into the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s; she is reportedly in the early stages of labour”

The press were already camped outside St Mary’s Hospital, all cramming to get that all important shot; the footage of the royals emerging from the hospital for the first time holding their precious bundle of joy. The Future King or Queen of England- as we’d heard recently the accession rules were to be changed to make females equal to males. This was a marker in history. This could be the first female born that would succeed the throne regardless or not whether her younger sibling was male.

Speculation was rife…

Who will Kate’s birth partners be?

Will William be there they whole way through?

Is her mother, Carole Middleton on route? Or Pippa? They’re a very close family.

The doctor said to deliver the baby is to be Marcus Stechell- no less than the Queens former gynaecologist.

Will she have an epidural? Or try eu naturale?

Around 6pm, the buzzing grew louder- unconfirmed reports that The Duchess has been delivered safe of a child.

We didn’t have much longer to wait until officials confirmed the birth- another marker in history- traditionally the birth is confirmed by an easel placed outside the palace, this time palace officials issued a statement before hand. The easel was still revealed, however, in front of Buckingham Palace to keep with tradition…

“Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”

Gun salutes in London, Bermuda, New Zealand and Canada signalled the birth, while across the 15 Commonwealth realms, landmarks were illuminated, mostly in blue, to signal the birth. The bells of Westminster Abbey and various other churches rang in celebration.

We saw news flashes every time someone visited the hospital; we saw Carole Middleton, the proud grandma of The Future King. Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Pippa Middleton. All but the 3 most important people in the world, at that time; Prince William, Kate Middleton & Baby George.

The speculation continued…

When the child is brought out; how will they show the world?

Would William hold the baby? Surely Kate would?

Would he be already strapped in his car seat?

It’s not like the last time a royal was born, now a days, by law, baby’s have to go in a car seat when travelling in a car unlike when William was born Diana held him in her arms as they drove away…

And the speculation went on.

Finally, the next day, Kate emerged holding George; William proudly at their side. Kate looked fabulous in a blue dress (naturally) with her hair perfectly coiffed and makeup subtly applied (if only we all had world class hairdressers and make up artists on hand to assist after we’ve given birth!) One thing to note though, the new mum did little to conceal the remains of her beautiful baby bump- we’re used to seeing the rich and famous appear with no signs of ever even being pregnant after giving birth- it was refreshing to see such a high profile person not attempting to look unnaturally and amazingly back to a size 8, hours after giving birth.

George was reported to weigh 8 pounds 6 ounces- a nice healthy weight for a future monarch- and William confirmed he would be taking the full 2 weeks paternity leave, he was entitled too, from his job as an RAF Search and Rescue Pilot.

They showed the worlds press little George wrapped up in a blanket (that promptly sold out- signalling the start of The-George-Effect) then disappeared and reappeared with William holding George in a car seat. William efficiently buckled the car seat in the car and the happy little family drove off to start the rest of their life together.

Why do I remember all of this is in such detail? Because the 23rd June 2013, the day after Prince George was born, marked one week since I had given birth to my first baby and one week since my baby had died.

I remember it all in such clarity because I was sat at home with nothing more to do than stare at the four walls of my lounge. I was numb. Overwhelmed with crushing grief; I felt my life was over. That I couldn’t continue.

Weirdly, I had some kind of fascination watching the birth of Prince George play out. Like I was trying to prove to myself and everyone else that I was ok with looking at other babies, that I wouldn’t just break down upon seeing a baby, that I was strong and happy for the royal couple.

You see I was STILL supposed to be pregnant with my boy- he wasn’t due yet. He would have been born the same year as The Future King of England. I probably would have gone out, like the other hordes of new mothers, and dressed him in replica outfits of Prince George’s.

I suppose I would have to class myself as a royalist, but in my opinion anyone who dares to call themselves a patriot just has to class themselves as a royalist for what is more English than The Royal Family? Stop! I hear the arguments building already- The Royal Family are Greek, German etc, and are not completely pure blooded English. Bollocks to it, I say. They’re as English as fish and chips and afternoon tea.

Going back as far as the Plantagenets, royals were married to royals of other countries. They did this to create allies, to bond countries to their causes and most importantly, to keep the royal line royal. To keep the blood blue. So of course, donuts of the world, they would have to have married outside of England unless they were willing to interbreed and create a race of webbed fingered, slobbering royals- I can’t really see this happening, can you?

It was a moment in history when it was announced Prince William was to marry Kate Middleton; a commoner. Now may I interject? Commoner is a funny word. You hear it and you think of Dick Van Dyke, covered in soot, tap dancing his way along the rooftops of London singing Chim-Chimney. Kate is a far cry from that.

Her parents weren’t, by any accounts, super rich or powerful. She was born in Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading and raised in Chapel Row, Newbury Berkshire (just round the corner from me as it happens and I was born in the same hospital *claim to fame*) she did, however, attend The University of St Andrews which was good enough for Prince William himself so she can’t be too common in my books.

My point, however, is this. A pretence has now been set so you can marry out of the “high born” circles. I think this does the royal family the world of good popularity wise- just look at Diana- she always wanted as close to a normal upbringing as possible for William and Harry and we, the commoners, loved her for it. Now the royals can chose who they want to marry (to a degree) and we aren’t in times of land/power-struggle wars (think Henry VIII times) we have no need to marry outside of England to form allies. There is no pressure to give birth to boy after boy after boy to ensure the King has a secure male decendent. The last King of England to die in battle was Richard III (“A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”) The royals are set to get more English.

More over, they bring us in a hell of a lot more money than they actually cost us. They do tons of work for charity. They generate millions in tourism. And this is why I love the royals. But I digress.

This time round, when news broke that Kate was expecting her 2nd child and that again they were announcing the pregnancy early because she was yet again suffering from the debilitating condition Hyperemesis Gravidarum- acute morning sickness some call it- it brought all those memories of losing Harry back to the front of my mind.

I remember a friend of mine saying to me “Do you ever think; why me? Where’s my baby? Why did I loose mine and they got to keep there’s?”

Yes. I have had dark moments where I’ve sat and brooded at the unfairness of it all. How unfair it was that I lost Harry. However, when Kate had George something in me changed.

I remember my husband and my mother saying how they hated it all and wished they would stop televising it as it was upsetting them and it made me think- it’s not Kate’s fault she’s had a baby, it’s not her fault I lost mine.

Even if this wasn’t The Royal Baby they would still be rejoicing all be it on a smaller family scale. Every new parent has the right to celebrate their child’s birth- to them this is the best news ever and rightly so.

I think one way that I may differ now from other women who have suffered a similar loss, is that the news of another woman being pregnant or giving birth does not made me jealous or angry in the slightest. In my opinion, those baby’s are not mine- they are not Harry- therefore I feel no anger or jealously directed at the mother.

This was the realisation I had when watching the drama unfold. They do not know that I and other women are sat at home feeling so empty and bitter, they’re not televising this to make me feel worse, it’s everywhere because the world is celebrating the wonderful news of the safe arrival of a baby- what kind of person would that make me if I wanted to deny them that joy?

When I had Connie it was all over Facebook, Instagram and my blog (I had not put my pregnancy on social media but as soon as Connie was born the announcement was made) I celebrated with my family and friends and my mum put an announcement in the local paper. Did I think of the other women out there who were where I was a year ago? Yes and no. I knew they were there and I felt pangs of sadness for them but it didn’t stop me celebrating. I had waited anxiously for my baby and now she was here there was no stopping me. Selfish? Perhaps.

The day Kate stood on those hospital steps holding George was the day I decided not to be a victim anymore. I did not want to be defined as “the lady who lost her baby” but I didn’t want him forgotten either.

That day, was the day I realised there was still happiness in the world.

That day was the day I put on make up for the first time and stepped out of my flat and went to shops.

That day I realised, it doesn’t matter how many weeks, days, years or months pass I will always miss Harry with every fibre of my being, but I realised something else- I must carry on.

That day, I realised I had a terrible and long journey ahead of me- the journey of grieving, but I knew that now I had to start.

Kate and William’s ecstatic expressions, smiling wildly and oozing happiness made me realise how much I wanted that- and what I had to do get it.

How I felt then could not be further than how I feel now. Now I feel happy and content in myself and my child. In my opinion my baby is THE most beautiful and perfect child in existence. As far as I’m concerned Prince George himself would not be worthy of her, ok, maybe, at a push 😉 I will always miss Harry. That will never leave me; but I am in a healthier place now, and that helps.

I remember last time (Dec12) when the palace announced Kate was pregnant and hospitalised with HG, people scoffing-

How pathetic!

She has morning sickness! Most women do!

Get over it!

They’re only bothering to hospitalise her because she’s a royal!

I did not suffer HG. Thank god. But it was bad enough for me. I couldn’t eat anything and as a result actually lost half a stone in the first 3 months of pregnancy. God knows how hard it is for women who go through HG.

I like to think that by Kate suffering this vile pregnancy illness she’s inadvertently raised awareness about the condition. I know a few people who have suffered HG and have heard their accounts of how bad it is. Hopefully now someone so very high profile has suffered with it, the word will get around and people will be a bit more sympathetic to the next lady they meet with HG. I hope she feels better soon. But I digress again.

My main reason for this post started off purely to share how the birth of Prince George helped me so soon after the loss of Harry, but as I type I realise something far more important; another beautiful baby is set to enter the world.

Like George, this little one has no idea the impact they will make on the world. The burdens they will carry on their small shoulders. But unlike George this one will have a slight element of freedom (compare Williams paper exploits to Harry’s and you’ll see what I mean).

The next in line to the throne must be upstanding and respectful always. It would go down very bad indeed to see The Future King of England photographed naked in the papers after a game of strip billiards. With Harry, it’s kind of expected and to a degree he actually gets cheered for his wildness by the public. If William were to do such a thing it would be an “outrage”. How dare a young man relax and enjoy life for even a second…

The birth of Prince George made me realise that no matter how long I hid in my flat grieving I couldn’t escape the happiness that the birth of a child brings. It was inevitable. The world will not stop for me and my loss.

So if I was to hand out any advice to any other childless mothers sat there now with their crushing grief, reading about the conception of another world wide famous figure, it would be this; you cannot run from your grief, no matter how much you want too. You must embrace it.

To the 17 mothers today that have had baby’s born too soon, you have my unwavering sympathy, my heart goes out to you. Be kind to yourself. Cry and be selfish in this moment for soon you MUST start to grieve. You must start to function again. You must start the journey of self healing. And you must be the person to decide when that will be.

Do not be a victim; rejoice in the happiness of others and have the belief in yourself that one day you will be that happy again too- maybe not in the way you want but happiness will catch up with you sooner or later.

I compare how I felt when Prince George was born to how I feel now, hearing about his future brother or sister, and I could not be in a more different place. The grief is still there, it always will be; but instead of crushing me, I use it to spur me on in life.

My goal is to achieve eternal happiness. If, one day, lying on my death bed I can finally say to myself “Yes, I’ve had a happy life, albeit with a few bumps in the road.” I will die peacefully.

I made this goal the day after Prince George was born and so far, I’m on my way to achieving it.

Congratulations William, Kate & George.

Picture from usmagazine.com

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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

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.