Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Capture your grief 2014. Day 1; Sunrise

I watched this project last year, but it was all still too raw for me to participate. I promised I would take part this year, one year on, when I'm in the position to truly reflect on what has happened, how it has sculpted me as a person and in memory of Harry.

I live in a beautiful place, people take it for granted, myself included. I've lived here for the whole of my almost 28 years of life and this is the first time I've visited the beach at this hour or just sat to watch the sun rise. It was quite mesmerising and so peaceful. I felt so connected to Harry.

When I got back in the car to drive away "Wind beneath my wings" played on the radio and the DJ remarked how beautiful the sun rise had been today.

So here it is, day 1 of what I know will be an emotional yet fulfilling project. Sun Rise at South Shields Beach, 6:50am, Wednesday 1st October 2014.

Happy 1st Birthday Harry James

HAPPY BIRTHDAY my beautiful baby boy. How much I wish you could be here to celebrate this day with me. I'm spending the day with my family and friends, they all send you their love and best wishes on this special day, you#re a lucky little boy that so many people think of you with such love. The house is filled with cards and balloons and flowers just for you, watch out for the ones we will send up to you tonight! I can't believe a year has gone by, where does time go? I hope you are celebrating with your grandad and angel friends. Today I am not filled with sadness as I expected to be. I am filled with pride that I had you and over whelming love as always.

Blow out your candles, and make a wish.

All my love always

Your Mammy


One year on.....

It has been 9 months since I last logged on to update the blog. Life took a sudden turn and I felt I needed to step away. I don't want to go into detail. The events are way behind me now. Purely for the purposes of peoples understanding I will say that myself and Harry's dad decided to no longer continue our relationship and move on with our lives in separate directions. This being said, one year on I am in a much happier place as I will go on to explain.

As you can imagine Christmas last year was difficult. Beyond difficult. Not only was this the first Christmas I had to endure without my baby, but I was also dealing with the relationship breaking down and my dad's ill health. I did not feel like celebrating at all, in fact if it wasn't for my friends and family's persistence I would have wrote it off altogether. I didn't want the tree up, I didn't want to watch Christmas films, all I wanted was to curl up and disappear. 

I ordered a beautiful glass bauble for Harry to hang up. I placed it pride of place on the tree that eventually was erected.......only for the whole thing to fall over, smashing my prized bauble in the midst. As you can imagine, I was distraught. I suddenly felt so overwhelmed with everything, and the tree took the brunt of it. After a while of kicking and screaming I sat there sobbing with my broken parts of the once perfect ornament. And that's exactly how I felt, Broken. I was very lucky the lady who made it for me immediately got to work on another. I was so grateful too her. And yes,, the tree did eventually go up and stayed up!

Christmas came and went in a blur, as did New Year. Looking back now I don't remember much of it. I don't remember happiness. I don't remember sadness. I don't particularly want to remember it. 

In January I threw myself into getting fit, at the time it felt like this was the only thing I could control.... I ate well and trained hard and was eventually beginning to feel ok again. I had a sense of achievement, set goals for myself and all the exercise was helping my mental health no end. Life was starting to get back on track felt like a fresh start.

I was back to working full time, my dance school was going from strength to strength. I felt human again.

As the months progressed, it  pained me to see my dad falling deeper into his illness. We knew it was only a matter of time and it fills me with deep sadness to report that on 10th August 2014 my daddy, Malcolm James Beaton. passed away with his family beside him. He was a strong man and fought so long, it was also a small grain of relief to know he was no longer suffering. I know he is up there with his grandson, caring for him and being the brilliant grandad I always knew he'd be. I dedicate this post to him. Rest now daddy, give Harry a big kiss and cuddle from his mammy.....always be with me.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Talking therapy, results and a rainbow

Wednesday 21st November 2013

As I wandered around the shops in town I was feeling subdued....I had been to counselling that morning, the second session of six in total, and my mind was on Harry (nothing new there....) A busker began singing one of Harry's funeral songs and I could feel the tears begin to brim. We were still waiting for the results of Harry's post mortem and our own genetic testing and it felt like a life time of anxiety and doubt. I was having nightmares that I was told there was no problem with Harry and if I'd gone to full term he would have been perfectly fine. These dreams crush me. I knew of course this was not the case, you could see the problems that he so unfairly had.

I headed home and just as I was pulling into my street a huge rainbow filled the sky. Harry sending a smile down to his mammy.

I opened the front door and I saw the letter, post marked from the RVI hospital. My heart stopped for a moment, I was terrified to open it. Reading those words a huge wave of relief and grief overcome me and I broke down.

"The genetic tests have identified an abnormality on a gene called COL1A1 and this abnormality is consistent with a diagnosis of type 2 (severe) osteogenesis imperfecta. I think it is likely that this abnormality occurred for the first time in your baby's development and it is unlikely that it has been inherited from one of you."

Some closure at last. We still needed to attend the genetics clinic for completeness where blood samples were taken from us both to confirm we weren't carriers of the gene. We waited 3 long weeks before we had our final abnormality found. Dr AH went onto explain this suggests it happened within Harry's own development and the chance of recurrence in future pregnancies is small. A bitter sweet sentiment. Of course this came as a relief, but it doesn't take away the gut wrenching feeling that it has already happened to Harry. Future pregnancies are going to be hugely difficult, constant doubt and worry that something bad will happen, but we have been assured I will be well looked after with more detailed and frequent scans and genetics testing early in the pregnancy. 

Counselling has been a god send for me through all of this. It's the one place I can sit and talk about everything openly, no judgement, no hiding my feelings....just open, honest discussion. I was a little sceptical at first, I've never had counselling before and had images of lying on a sofa being asked a million questions, of which I probably wouldn't know the answers to. But sitting with my counsellor, I spend an hour a week releasing all my thoughts and it's difficult, but such a relief. She interjects advice but mostly allows me to just talk, a lot of the time everything comes out in a jumble and after a session I am exhausted! I have 2 sessions left, and not sure if I will continue to have more following this. 

My next challenge is facing Christmas and the new year.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

A wave of light

"To all my friends and family. Today is a "wave of light" in honour of all the angel babies no longer with us. At 7pm for 1 hour if you could light a candle and spare a thought for not only Harry James but all the babies taken too soon and their grieving parents you will be joining in a world wide event where there will be a continuous wave of light for 24 hours. If you would like to post a pic too for me to include in Harry's memory box that would be great. Thanks!"

Thank you to all who spent a moment to remember our loss and took time to send me your pictures. xxxxx

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

My girls.

As I mentioned in my first post, I own and run a dance school. We're a relatively small school, but ever expanding, and my business means the world to me. I've built it up from when we opened the doors in December 2011, I've seen people come and people go, but I have my little dancers who are devoted to the progression of the school and have that spark inside them to be dedicated to their dancing studies. They're my little extended family, I love these children and I am continually proud of their achievements and watching them grow.

When I found out I was pregnant everyone was so excited, parents included. I was supported when I was struggling with sickness and had to take time out (an extremely rare occurrence, I never take time out from my business!) and the girls were intrigued by Harry's scan pictures and my protruding bump! I laughed when they asked me questions such as "what does it feel like to have a baby in your tummy?" and they laughed at me when my bump started making it difficult to get up from the splits. They were so happy at the prospect of a little baby joining our dancing family. I was so touched when I received a picture drawn by one of my 6 year olds of me with bubs in my tummy.

Following our scan I obviously had to take time off, I was extremely lucky to have close friends who were able to take over for a short while. I worried for my girls, how would they react to this? Would they understand? I explained to the parents what the circumstances were and left it in their hands to tell their own children the news in a way they felt appropriate. I was scared to go back in case one of them mentioned anything and I broke down, I didn't want to let them see me so broken.

Returning and seeing them all actually came so much easier than I expected, it was actually a relief. Children get over situations remarkably quickly. Getting back to the studio and watching them dance and laugh and chatter, I couldn't help but feel content. Dancing is such a release and for those few hours a week I spend with my girls and dancing, my mind is distracted and I'm almost happy. They keep me busy and I'm throwing myself back into running my school, it's keeping me sane.

So many people offer support and guidance....these children send me a life line and a huge hope for the future. I know how fond they would be of Harry had they met, I know he is with us in that studio giggling at their childish antics and enjoying the music and dancing. How I wish Harry could have had this life too, but he is always in my heart, I dedicate my dancing work to him.

A phased return.

Returning to work was never going to be easy. I took 6 weeks off in total from finding out Harry had problems at the 20 week scan. I am so appreciative that I was allowed this time off, yet so annoyed that I was not entitled to maternity leave. If I had given birth just 3 weeks later I would have been entitled to the full 12 months (although I probably wouldn't have taken all this time!), why was 3 weeks earlier any different? I still had to spend time in hospital. I still went through labour and delivery and the physical and emotional aspects following this. I am well aware this time is for new mothers to settle into motherhood and look after their little bundles of joy, but I am a new mother as well, a grieving one....I need time too. There is no time limit on grief.

I was not ready by any means to return to my job. Without saying too much, I work in a department where I am faced with parents who could be described as "unappreciative" for what they have and have to hear some, quite frankly, awful things with regards to children. Not at all what I want to hear at the best of times, let alone after my recent difficult loss. But due to financial reasons, I had no option other than to return.

I was extremely nervous and anxious and spoke to my manager about my concerns. She has been a huge help and offered support. I knew the 20 minute bus journey to my workplace would be sorrowful, how many hours had I spent on that bus looking at cute baby outfits on my phone and planning the nursery whilst commuting? Sitting at the same desk where I'd spent time discussing my plans for the future with my friends and displayed my scan pictures with pride. Seeing colleagues who were currently pregnant, tummies ever swelling and leaving one by one for maternity leave.

It was agreed that I could do a phased return....3 hours per day for the first week, 4 the next and so on. Standing at the bus stop I felt so heavy. As I predicted, I sat and let a few tears flow as I travelled. The last time I'd done this journey I had a 20 week bump and was excited about my imminent scan. Walking into the office I was not sure what to expect. Would everyone make a fuss? A few hellos and friendly smiles, a couple of welcome backs and I was settled into my new desk (we'd agreed it may help for a change of view in the office...) and logged into my computer. It felt strange, as though nothing had ever happened.

I coped remarkably well for the first 2 hours until I saw one of my pregnant colleagues. I was caught of guard and instinctively asked how she was doing (pregnancy wise) although she didn't delve into great detail, there was no mistaking the rounded belly. She left and I broke. Of course I wish her well, we spent many a conversation previously about how our pregnancies were progressing, comparing bumps and discussing when we would be leaving (which would have been around the same time in December) but seeing how well she was doing and looking down to my almost flat stomach now my heart stung. Why me? It is so incredibly difficult seeing pregnant ladies and I don't want them to think they are upsetting me, it's not their fault, but right now I can't bear it. I left early.

I'm into my second week back now, at the moment it still doesn't quite feel like I should be there. I well up on occasion but fight back the tears, my mind is elsewhere meaning I can't concentrate, I'm watching the clock for the time I can escape. I'm uncertain if and when it will get easier to be there, but for now I'm just trying to ride out the storm.