Monday, 31 December 2012

As 2012 draws to a close...

At first when I was thinking about the year 2012, I was thinking along the lines that it has been, without doubt, the worst year of my life.  However, I got into the way of thinking that, although the worst experience of my life happened in 2012, there were other things that happened this year which weren't bad at all.  I've written many, many times about the crushing pain that followed Daisy's death; the overwhelming grief and sadness which, although not as sharp and searing hot these days, remains there - every day.  So instead, for my final post of 2012, I'm going to focus on the positive experiences I've had as a way of drawing the year to a close.

Firstly, my pregnancy with Daisy was a definite highlight of the year.  I thoroughly enjoyed the final months leading up to Daisy's birth, my bump blossomed and grew, I delighted in every change in my body and I really felt I had the chance to bond with my unborn baby.  No pregnancy will ever be the same for me; so I will always look back on my special time carrying Daisy with fond memories.

Maternity leave has given me the chance to spend some quality time with my oldest daughter, Lizzie.  Having worked full-time since she was a baby, the opportunity to spend some time just focusing on being "mum" has been very special indeed.  I've loved our walks to school and back each day, chatting about this and that, and everything in between.  Life has taken a much slower pace and we've had the chance to spend many happy hours together.  Lizzie needed it, especially after Daisy died - and so did I.  It's been a special time for us and one I'll miss when I return to work in the new year.

My marriage continues to be full of love, affection and support.  My husband really is the most amazing, wonderful man and we have managed to pull even closer together since Daisy's death.  Without him I wouldn't have pulled through the dark days.  I remember saying to him one day, "I'll never, ever be happy again".  He helped me to see that I would - and he was right.

It's true that, when the going gets tough, you realise who your true friends are.  Support came from those I expected and some that surprised me with their level of compassion and understanding.  Either way, to know that you have a support network around you that will be there to wipe your tears and to listen on the days you need it most, is very comforting indeed.

I've met some amazing, inspirational women since losing Daisy.  Other mothers, who have endured the pain of losing a child, who have picked up the pieces of their shattered lives and pulled their families together again.  These women have supported me and helped me to cope, and given me hope for my own future.

Finally, I've changed - and hopefully for the better.  I like to think that losing Daisy has taught me about kindness, compassion and understanding.  I hope that when one of my friends or loved ones needs support, I will be able to offer them a level of comfort that I otherwise wouldn't have known how to do.

Family Life continues.  There are smiles and happiness despite the sadness.  Daisy will never be forgotten; she will always remain in our hearts and in our thoughts.

Thank you for sharing 2012 with me.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

An evening with Gary Barlow

Last week I was lucky enough to see Gary Barlow in Concert at Edinburgh Playhouse, thanks to my wonderful husband who bought them as a Christmas present for me.  As I'm in my (very early!) thirties, the music of Take That has been in my life for many, many years and I was a fan from the early days - I danced to Could it be Magic on repeat and my bedroom walls were covered in Take That posters.  Back then, I had the album Take that and Party on cassette, and now I have it on my iPod along with the greatest hits and all the albums from the years since the group re-formed.  I also have all of Robbie's albums too!

I had an absolutely brilliant night out - Gary sang songs from throughout his career, including Take That songs, his own songs from his solo career, as well as songs he's written for others.  The band were fantastic, and the crowd were on their feet, dancing the night away.  I saw Take That in concert last year and by comparison this was a much smaller show in the more intimate venue of Edinburgh Playhouse.  Even though we had balcony seats, we could still see perfectly and it felt great to be part of something so special.

For me, the song of the night was Rule the World.  Some of you may remember that this was the song that Take That sang at the closing ceremony of the Olympics.  What you won't know, is that this song is also the song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding, and it is very special to us.  I, like millions of others, watched Take That's performance at the closing ceremony - and I had tears streaming down my cheeks.  Not only was this the beautiful song that reminds me of my wedding day, it was also Gary's performance after losing his daughter, Poppy.

The Barlows' daughter, Poppy, was stillborn just a few weeks after our daughter Daisy died.  My heart broke for Gary and his wife when I heard the news - being a celebrity doesn't protect you from the possibility of losing a child and to have to deal with your grief being such a public figure must have been very, very hard for Gary and his family.  On the night of the closing ceremony I couldn't believe that Gary was able to sing that song - the words are so, so moving and I think of Daisy now too whenever I hear it.   Now, I look back and I realise he was probably just doing all he could do - singing with Take That, making his family and his children proud.

Grief is a journey and it is individual and it is unique.  For me, just putting one foot in front of the other, keeping going, was all I could do it those early weeks when the pain was sharp and searing and almost more than I could bear.  I look back on Gary's performance at the Olympics and see that as his way of keeping going - as it's all you can do.  I recognised that haunted, pained look in his eyes - I've seen it in my husband's eyes too.

Listening to Gary sing this song again at the Concert last week reminded me of the journey of grief we are both travelling along.  Our daughters will always be in our hearts and will never be forgotten.  But we are moving forward, taking each day a step at a time, doing what we can for our loved ones around us.

All the stars are coming out tonight, they're lighting up the sky tonight - for you.

Best Wishes
Debbie


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Craft Projects

My absolute worst habit is starting a new craft project before I've finished the last.  At any one time, I've got several cross stitch projects on the go, as well as a quilting project or two (or three).  I've made jewellery, I bake, I like to take photos of pretty things... there's always a new idea for a new project and I'm always keen to jump in and start something new before wrapping up the last one.

I recognise this in myself but I cannot seem to change this habit!  This is only likely to get worse now that I have discovered Pinterest; I keep finding lots of fabulous, creative ideas that I'd love to try.

Despite the fact that Lizzie's quilt remains unfinished, I've started another - my stepson has been asking me to make one for him, too, and I wanted to have made some progress on this before the weekend.  I decided to go for a simple patchwork design to keep it easy and speedy - here's where I'm up to so far!


Are you methodical when it comes to crafting projects - or any projects around the home, for that matter?  Do you manage to finish off one before moving on to another?  Or are you like me - easily tempted by the thought of starting something fresh and new?!

Thanks for reading!

Best Wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Mini Naan Breads

Ever since I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease back in 2009, I've spent a lot of time mastering gluten-free cooking and baking.  I make a LOT of gluten-free cake; but of course, everything else I make is gluten-free too - I just don't blog about it as often!  Gluten-free options are available in supermarkets but these tend to be expensive, so I prefer to have a go at making my own.  This week, I've made naan breads (twice!) and I managed to photograph this batch (the last lot were demolished before I could get my camera out!).  These naan breads got the thumbs-up from the non-Coeliac members of my family, too.


Ingredients

13oz gluten-free plain flour
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1oz melted butter
80ml warm milk
150ml natural yoghurt
1 egg

Add all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Melt the butter and warm the milk - I add these together in a microwaveable bowl and heat for a few seconds or so until the butter is melted.  Then beat the egg and add this and the butter/milk mixture to the dry ingredients.  Mix with a fork to start with and then use floured hands to bring the mixture together into a dough.  Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes then divide the dough into balls - I aim for around 8-10 balls.  Flatten the balls into teardrop shapes and leave to rest on sheets of tin foil (the size of a baking tray) in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

To cook, simply slide the sheet of foil holding the naan breads onto a baking tray, and cook for a few minutes under the grill on it's highest setting.  Turn over once one side is done and give the naan breads a few minutes on the other side too.  Keep an eye on them the whole time whilst they're cooking - they cook quickly, and you don't want them to burn!


Once cooked, brush the naan breads with melted butter and add a sprinking of salt and pepper, then leave on a wire rack to cool slightly.  Eat whilst still warm, or leave to cool completely then freeze in food bags.  These can be re-heated from frozen under the grill - although I tend to pop mine in the toaster!  These naan breads go great with curry, but are also delicious with homemade soup for lunch.

I make mini naan breads so they are the perfect size for one person, but you could make larger ones to tear and share.  You could add flavours to the naan bread - garlic, mushroom, herbs and spices - please do share the varieties you come up with!

Enjoy these - they are very tasty and so easy to make!

Best Wishes
Debbie


Family Life

I found this quote on my travels and I thought it was so nice, I had to share it.

Family can have so many different meanings; for some, it's the people they are related to, for others, it includes close friends.  Some people have children in their family - be it their own, or nephews, nieces, cousins or children of family friends.  In some families, pets become members of the family too.  It's those that we are close to, that are there for us, and we're there for them.  It's the ones we love, unconditionally.  It's a bond, a close relationship, the ones who are there through thick and thin, the people there through highs and lows.  Every family is different, with a unique set of connections that tie people together.

I love this quote.  How nice to know that you will always be loved.  Sometimes it's worth taking a moment to reflect on how nice it is to be a part of a family, to be part of something special.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Monday, 12 November 2012

Birthday Cupcakes

I love making homemade cakes as a gift.  On Saturday I went to a friend's house to celebrate her 40th, so I made cupcakes to take with me.  Pink sparkly cupcakes, of course!


I used fairy cake cases rather than cupcake cases, to keep the cakes a reasonable size - sometimes I find that cupcakes made in larger papers, although they look impressive, are really too much to eat in one go!


I used a standard vanilla sponge mix to make my cakes, and baked them for around 15 minutes or so until golden.  I only half-filled the cases so I would have a reasonably level surface at the top of the papers.


I made 20 cupcakes in total and spent a lot of time adding sparkles, hearts and stars.


My latest toy is this set of star-shaped cutters!  I used these to stamp out stars from white and pink coloured fondant icing.  I'm sure these cute little stars will be popping up frequently in my baking in the run-up to the festive period!  I'm planning on covering my Christmas cake in red and green stars.

I had great fun making these cupcakes - can you tell?!

Best Wishes
Debbie

Friday, 9 November 2012

Quilting Progress

I've been spending a bit of time at my sewing machine lately, working on a new quilt.  I got the quilt blocks finished and arranged, and spent an afternoon assembling them as carefully as I could.  My technique is far from perfect, but I'm getting better at lining up my blocks and making the squares sit as neatly as possible!


This little quilt will be for Lizzie once it is finished.  I love the girly colours in the fabrics - although they've not shown up as vibrantly in these photographs as I would have liked!


That's the quilt top almost finished - I'll be adding a border around the edges when I have determined what the finished size needs to be.  Next is to find some suitable fabric for the reverse of the quilt!

I've also spent a bit of time working on this quilt I started for Lizzie way back earlier on in the year.  At the time, I thought it would be a good idea to make a quilt that was single-bed size; it probably was a good idea, although I underestimated just how long it would take me to finish!  I am so nearly finished it - all that remains is to finish off the corners of the binding and complete some diagonal lines across the quilt - it seems to have taken me an age and I think it will be a while before I attempt a bed-size quilt again!

Assembling the quilt top is definitely the most inspiring part of a quilt project!

Thanks for reading!

Best Wishes
Debbie

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Cherry Bakewell Cake

Recently I have been experimenting with cake flavours (not a banana in sight!) and my latest obsession has turned to almonds and cherries.  I love cherry bakewells, and there is a gluten-free version available to buy in the supermarkets - but £2 for four little bakewell tarts is very expensive and I always prefer to make things at home!  I've yet to try making bakewell tarts (although they're on my list!) so in the meantime here's my adaptation - Cherry Bakewell Cake.


Cherry Bakewell Cake

Ingredients

4oz self-raising flour
4oz butter
4 oz sugar
2 eggs
1tsp baking powder
almond essence
strawberry jam
icing sugar
glace cherries

This is so easy to make!  In a large bowl, beat the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder and almond essence using a hand mixer until light and smooth.  Add a little milk if necessary.  Pour the mixture into a lined 2lb loaf tin and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (I used 160c fan).  When cooked, transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Slice in half and spread generously with jam.  Re-assemble, and decorate with glace icing and glace cherries.


A delicious cake that has all the flavour of cherry bakewells in a light, fluffy sponge.

Enjoy!

Best Wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The beach in November

I love spending time at the beach, particularly out of season when it's quiet.  There's hardly anyone about, and I find listening to the waves and breathing in the fresh sea air very therapeutic.  We're lucky in that we have lots of lovely beaches on our doorstep in our part of the world and this is one of my favourites - Silver Sands in Aberdour.

In the summertime - which usually lasts a matter of days in Scotland! - this beach is always bustling, with loads of families making the most of the sunshine and the warmer weather.  Some days you'll struggle to find a spot on the sand.  After the temperature drops though, it's possible to spend time on the beach without seeing a single other person.  It's idyllic, looking out over the water, watching boats go by, and taking in the view.


An early start, wrapped up warmly, not a breath of wind and we had the beach to ourselves.


Not another soul on the beach.  The children could run around and enjoy the fresh air.


I thought of my darling baby girl who should have been with us.  I wrote her name in the sand.



Unfortunately the stillness was not a great help when it came to kite-flying.  We'll need to go back another time!

Great fun, fresh air and total cost = free!

Thanks for reading.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fireworks Display

Last night we took Lizzie to her first fireworks display.  She was so excited about going - she bounced around in the car all the way there, she didn't complain at all about the walk to the Glen from where we managed to park, and she danced about in the half hour we waited on the fireworks starting.  I captured this photograph shortly before the display started - I took this picture with my mobile phone, and although the picture is blurry and too bright, I love Lizzie's grin and obvious excitement!


The local radio station were on hand to provide music and entertainment to the waiting crowds in the run-up to the display, so although we had quite a bit to wait after finding our "spot", the time passed quickly.  We were so lucky with the weather this year, too; although it was really cold, it was a beautiful, still night and there wasn't a cloud in sight.  Perfect for fireworks!


We enjoyed twenty minutes or so of spectacular fireworks that illuminated the sky above us.  Lizzie managed to squeeze right to the front next to the fence, beside some other girls around her age, and she had a perfect view.  She ooh-ed and aah-ed all through the display and beamed from ear to ear!  Needless to say she chirped all the way back to the car about what a great time she'd had - it didn't take us too long to get back to the car, although there were thousands of people so progress was slow!  We made it home via a back road and avoided the traffic through the centre of town, so we were home and had hot drinks on the go in no time at all.


Hot chocolate and marshmallows = one happy little lady!

It was such a lovely evening out and the fact that Lizzie was still raving about the display this morning made it all worthwhile!

Thanks for reading!

Best Wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween

We got into the spirit of things over the weekend.  The weather was wet and dreary, so we spent some time making Halloween-themed crafts.


We made chocolate cupcakes and topped them with a circle of fondant icing.  I bought coloured writing icing as I knew these would be easier for the children to use - however, I was disappointed that the effect only lasted a day, and by the next morning the "writing" icing had dissolved into sludge on top of the fondant.  I won't be buying them again!

The children love carving pumpkins every year.  Well, they love making the mess; Dad loves carving the pumpkins.


I have no idea how we ever managed to carve turnips as children - pumpkins are enough work as it is!


These are some of my cupcake efforts.


And this is one of Dad's pumpkin efforts.

I'm glad it's Halloween today; there's a distinct smell of "vegetable" in my living room and I'll be glad when the pumpkins make their way into the compost bin!

Best Wishes
Debbie



Thursday, 25 October 2012

Feeling creative again...

Lately I've been feeling like creating again. 

I pulled out my fabric box from the bottom of the wardrobe and unearthed my sewing machine from the clutter in our spare room.  I sorted out my threads and sewing accessories and I bought myself some lovely new fabrics online.  I went to the library and borrowed some quilting books to give me some fresh inspiration.


I'll use some of these pretty fabrics to make a cute little girl's quilt for Lizzie.


I love the daisies in this fabric.  I love to have reminders of Daisy in my life.


I had a go at creating my first quilting "block".  It's still a fairly basic technique, but for a beginner like me, it's perfect!


For me, sewing is a way of creating something personal and unique.  I find the process of creating the patterns, deciding on colours and combinations, and watching the piece come together very therapeutic.  I'm looking forward to seeing how my next quilt will turn out.

Best wishes
Debbie




Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The changing of the seasons...

It has well and truly shifted into Autumn in our part of the world.

The temperature has dropped, and along with it the leaves have turned from green to gold to brown, and fallen gently all around us.  The branches and twigs on the trees are bare now; everything is shutting down, dying back, hibernating until it is time to re-emerge next spring.


We're embracing the change of seasons.  The garden has been tidied and the shed has been re-organised.  The barbeque has been stashed at the far back corner - we won't be needing that again for some time!  The spring bulbs have been planted, tucked away underground to emerge in all their glory next year - tulips, daffodils and crocuses, all being well.  I look forward to that blaze of colour appearing in my garden when I've almost forgotten about the bulbs I've planted.

Halloween is almost upon us and the children love carving pumpkins and making spooky-themed cupcakes and treats.  Our meals change to comforting stews and warming soups, we eat more hot puddings than normal, and hot chocolate is always on the go.  The gloves and scarves have been brought back out from the suitcase on top of the wardrobe, and they've all been freshly laundered, ready, waiting, for it to get colder.

The car maintenance has been carried out, de-icer spray and scrapers are handy and at the ready (I've already used de-icer once this month, on a particularly frosty morning!).  The mornings and nights are getting darker, and after this weekend when the clocks go back, the darkness seems to hit by mid afternoon.  The quilts have been changed, we've all upped togs - and the blankets are washed and to hand when an extra cover is needed on the beds.

All this preparation and readiness for the cold ahead has left me feeling calm and able to enjoy the now.

The fresh, crisp air outdoors calls for one thing - wrap up warm and head to the park!


Thanks for reading - hope you're keeping cosy too.

Best Wishes
Debbie


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Reflecting on the past year...

I started writing my blog in October 2011.  As I have now reached a year of blogging, I thought I'd spend some time reflecting on the last twelve months.  What a year it has been!

I went back to the very beginning and read through each of the 122 posts I have written, along with every single comment left by others.  It's taken me a good while to get through it all.  I laughed and I cried in equal measure.

At some points, I laughed out loud!

Do you remember the lemons?!  Those of you who have been reading for a while (some of you, from the very beginning!) will remember all too well the huge box of lemons I bought at the start of the year.  I'm STILL working my way through them.  I've lost count of the number of lemon sponges I have made.

I chuckled to myself reading all my banana posts.  I've made a LOT of banana cake!  In many different guises!  In fact, I've recently stopped buying bananas - I'm not sure if it's the bananas I'm fed up with, or the cake that undoubtedly follows when there's over-ripe bananas left to be used up!

Ahhh, the yellow stickers!!  Who could forget my love of the reduced section in the supermarket.  Note: this has not changed!  I still look out for them and base my meals around the bargains I pick up.  Old habits die hard!

Our gardening efforts started off with such promise... sadly the weather seriously affected this year's crop and we ended up with only a few potatoes and some lettuce (much to my husband's disappointment).  Here's to better luck next year!

My lovely friend bought me a food processor after reading my post about making meatballs.  I think she felt sorry for me, making breadcrumbs with a cheese grater!  I now use my food processor often - I'm so glad I have one now, it makes a multitude of preparation tasks so much easier!

I still haven't finished Lizzie's quilt.  It remains on my To Do list, though...

I prepared for winter so much last year, the winter never really amounted to anything, and we hardly had any snow at all.  I'm assured that this year there will be snow like we had two years ago, so my preparations for winter will shortly begin again in earnest!

As my thoughts turn to planning for Christmas, I'm relieved that I bought as much as I did earlier in the year. I'll soon be digging out my Christmas box from the cupboard under the stairs - although I have already got the majority of my gifts bought already.

Oh, how I cried too.

I read all the posts I wrote about preparing for my baby's arrival.  The photograph of the moses basket, ready by my bedside, waiting for a baby that never came home from the hospital.  The last post I wrote before Daisy was born.  How very, very sad.

Re-reading the posts I wrote just after Daisy's death was so emotional.  I poured my heart out - what was left of it - into each and every post I wrote at the time.  My shattered heart and my shattered dreams.  I can re-live the exact feelings of my grief through the words I wrote - thick, palpable, heavy words of grief and despair.  Those were dark and sad days indeed.

The days now are not so dark or heavy.  The light at the end of the tunnel draws closer; we continue to move towards it.  Grief is a journey indeed.  Putting one foot in front of the other, getting through just one day, one moment, at a time, has lead me to where I am now.  The journey is far from over; but the sorrow and sadness is easier to bear.  I am learning to live with losing Daisy.  It still hurts, but I am living with it.

I have changed in a lot of ways; I hope that I am now a more compassionate and loving person than I ever was before.  I hope I can extend kindness to others in the way people did to me.  Reading all the comments from visitors to my blog reminded me of the kindness and support extended to me in my darkest days.  What strength I took from all those comments and emails from that time - all these strangers, stopping by, pausing a moment to offer a supportive word to a woman whose heart was broken.  I will be forever grateful for the kindness sent to me from all over the world - the support gave me strength more than words can ever describe.

Although I will never be the same person I was before, I am starting to find pleasure in the little things again.  In the days and weeks after Daisy's death, I thought I never would.  I remember saying to my husband that I'd never be happy again.  Others assured me that I would; that I would find myself again, my new self.  And I am.

With that, I'm off to start another list.  I am still a planner!

Thanks so much for reading and for staying with me on my journey.

Best Wishes
Debbie





Monday, 8 October 2012

A Day Out - for a Great Cause

Yesterday we packed up the car, armed with lunch boxes and a portable DVD player, and headed off into the Highlands to support a friend of ours who was running in the Glencoe Marathon, to raise money for Sands in memory of Daisy.


The Glencoe Marathon is Scotland's most challenging marathon and is described as "the pinnacle of the trail marathon calendar".  The route includes the Devil’s Staircase, a gruelling 500 metre climb over the eastern edge of the truly fearsome Aonach Eagach Ridge.  That Gareth was prepared to take on this challenge and fundraise in memory of Daisy was so very touching and we were delighted to be there, cheering him on as he crossed the finish line.


We had a great day out; the journey there took us through two and a half hours of idyllic scenery and breathtaking views.  Autumn in Scotland is a gorgeous mix of warm browns, burnt oranges and long shadows created by the low sun.


Afterwards, we went for a meal in Fort William to celebrate with Gareth and his family, before getting into the car and heading for home.  When we got back, we tucked the children up in bed and they were asleep within minutes - exhuasted after a busy, tiring day running around in the fresh air.


So far, almost a thousand pounds has been donated to Sands in Daisy's memory - an amazing amount of money for such a worthwhile charity, supporting parents and their families after the loss of a baby.  You can read more about Sands and the donations made via my JustGiving page from the link in the menu bar above.

Thank you all for reading.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Chocolate Cake

It's not often I make a chocolate cake.  I prefer to make vanilla sponge, as it's my favourite!  But a special request from the children for chocolate cake resulted in this birthday creation.


I made up a sponge mix as normal using 8-8-8-4, but replaced one ounce of flour with one ounce of cocoa powder.

The chocolate frosting recipe came from my Twitter friend Kirsty (@curlyb56) and it was delicious!

Ingredients

350g milk chocolate
225g unsalted butter
1 tbsp milk
250g icing sugar

Beat the butter, milk and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy.  Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl, then add to the butter and icing sugar mixture until thick and creamy.  Use this frosting to sandwich and top the cake.

I used giant chocolate buttons to decorate the top.

Best wishes
Debbie

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Remembering London 2012

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Olympics in London this summer.  It had been a trip a long time in the planning; I'd applied for the tickets in the first round of applications, starting back in February 2011.  The tickets I wanted were for the tae kwon do event - my husband is a 2nd degree black belt in tae kwon do, and I wanted the tickets as a surprise wedding present for him.  In June 2011 I found out I'd managed to get a pair of tickets, and on our wedding day in July 2011 I surprised my husband with the tickets to London 2012.

Fast forward a year in our lives to the Olympics, and a lot had happened - we were lucky enough to fall pregnant with the baby we so wanted, and although the baby was due to arrive in June, we still planned to go to the Olympics.  We changed our plans though and decided to go for only two nights, rather than the four nights we'd thought of originally.  My mum offered to babysit the children for us so we could go on our trip of a lifetime to the Olympics, and everything was planned.

Daisy died, and our lives were thrown upside down.  We weren't sure whether we wanted to go to the Olympics any more; we were sad, we didn't feel like celebrating.  But we decided that this was an opportunity of a lifetime not to be missed, and that some time away together, just the two of us, would be good for us.

So five hours in the train and we were in London. 

This was my first ever visit to London; and I loved it.  I loved the bustle and the diversity; the excitement and the atmosphere.  This may have been attributed to the buzz created by the Olympic games, but everywhere we went there seemed to be smiling, happy people and a friendliness about the place.  Not at all what I had expected from a capital city!

We took some time to breathe.  To sit, to reflect, to talk, to not talk - to spend some precious time just the two of us, enjoying each other's company.  Enjoying a new shared experience; enjoying being part of something global, an opportunity we're unlikely to have again in our lifetime. 

We can say; we were there.  We went to London 2012.

I wanted to create a visual reminder of our time in London, so I used keepsakes from our trip and made up framed collages of our experience.  A tube map, travelcards, our tickets, some photographs.  These will hang on our wall and remind us of our part in something special.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Slow Cooked Chilli Beef

As the weather turns colder my cooking changes and we return to comforting, warming foods in our house.  The slow cooker is brought out from the back of the cupboard and I feel the urge to eat a lot more stews and casseroles.

I make chilli con carne all the time, but I found a recipe in Lisa Faulkner's book Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter that I thought I'd adapt to become Slow Cooked Chilli Beef.

Ingredients

400g diced beef
400g lean steak mince
200g chorizo, sliced
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 dried red chilli, chopped
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tin of kidney beans, drained
1 tin of baked beans, rinsed
salt and pepper

I browned the diced beef and the mince first and added to the slow cooker.  I cooked the chorizo and used the oil from that to soften the onions and garlic.  I added these and all the other ingredients to the slow cooker, gave it all a good mix round and left to cook on the low setting for 10 hours.

We ate the chilli beef with rice and tortilla chips.  Spicy, tasty and warming on a blustery, wet autumn evening!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Remembering Daisy

Yesterday Daisy would have been 3 months old, if she had lived.

Candles were lit by thoughtful people in memory of Daisy and photographs of the candles were shared on Twitter and Facebook.

It really touched me to see so many people taking a moment to share the day with me and remember my beautiful baby.  Nothing can bring Daisy back, but to know that she is still in people's thoughts and hearts  makes her death easier for me to bear.

I spent the afternoon with my lovely friend I met through Sands.  She understands; she knows.  We talked about our baby girls, we shared our thoughts, we spoke about our hopes and our aspirations for the future.

It wasn't a sad day; but it was a thoughtful, reflective one.  Remembering Daisy, bringing small tokens of her into my everyday life, thinking of her often, brings me comfort.  I miss her every day.




Sunday, 30 September 2012

If in doubt, bake a cake...

One of my followers on Twitter saw this picture and thought of me.


How very appropriate - my sentiments exactly!

Now, baking cakes isn't going to solve all of life's problems, by any means.  But in our family, a cake brings us together - we create cakes and bakes with the children, getting them involved in the preparation, selecting of ingredients and the mixing.  We share cakes with our family and friends - we invite them over for a cuppa and a catch up over a slice of homemade cake.  Every birthday is marked with a homemade birthday cake - the variety is made as per the specifications of the person celebrating their birthday.  My husband and the children make a cake for me on my birthday each year! 

I have fond memories of baking with my mum as a child.  Standing on a chair, wearing my apron, helping my mum with the baking of cakes, biscuits, traybakes and other sweet delights.  Getting involved, cracking the eggs, mixing, breaking up the chocolate - and always, always licking the bowl, spoons and any other utensils afterwards!

I'm in my thirties now and I'm creating these types of memories for Lizzie.  She helps me in the kitchen, too - we put on our aprons, wash our hands, and bake.  Very little has changed in the way I bake to the way my mum taught me - even the equipment I use and the techniques I opt for, as well as the recipes I favour, are all very similar to the way my mum and I baked in the 80s.

Lizzie loves to be involved and hands on.  And I love to see the pride on her face when she's made something in the kitchen.  Here she is getting to grips with a piping bag.


If in doubt, bake a cake.

Best wishes
Debbie

My little lady turned 7...

Last week we celebrated Lizzie's 7th birthday.  Wow, 7 years old - how did that happen?!  Blink, and you'll miss it. It's very true indeed; enjoy your children, every day, as they grow up far too quickly.


Last year's birthday cake was probably more technically challenging, but this year's is perhaps more visually impressive!  These are edible rice paper butterflies (I bought them on eBay) and I applied them to the cake using pink royal icing.  Lizzie was certainly impressed - and that was the most important thing.


I made this with vanilla sponge, strawberry jam and buttercream filling, and fondant icing.

Ingredients

6oz self-raising flour (I used gluten-free)
6oz caster sugar
6oz butter
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
vanilla essence

Combine all the ingredients using a hand mixer and add milk as necessary to achieve a smooth, dropping consistency.  Split the mixture between two lined, 8" cake tins and bake for around 25 minutes (I use 160 degrees in my fan-assisted oven).  Once cool, add the filling and then the fondant icing.  Decorate as you wish!

Best Wishes
Debbie

Monday, 24 September 2012

Saying Goodbye

On Saturday I went to a Saying Goodbye remembrance service at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.  These services are taking place across the country, for people who have lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy or in infancy.

"The services will provide an opportunity to join with others who have experienced a loss, and together we will say: our children did exist, and they may have only been on this earth for days, weeks or months, but they were truly loved, and will always be missed!"

The cathedral provided a truly magnificent backdrop for such a service.  The grandeur of this ornate building reflected the beauty and the significance of the occasion.  

St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh

We were there to remember our lost babies. 

I was there to remember my beloved daughter, Daisy.

I wasn't sure what to expect; having been to only a handful of religious services in my life, I didn't know what would happen or how I would feel.  I was scared that the service would be heartbreaking.  I was worried that I would feel overwhelmed.

The service was beautiful. 

Music and singing filled the cathedral.  The sound of handbells resonated; each chime representing a life lost too soon.  I rang my bell twice; once for Daisy, and once for my friend's baby, Catriona. 

I lit a candle for Daisy.  I watched the light flickering and dancing during the service, amongst rows and rows of candles burning, representing all of our babies.

It was a time for reflection.  I thought of my family, my life, my hopes and dreams for the future.

And I felt comforted.

I am not alone.

Families and couples and individuals, sitting together in the grandest of buildings, each remembering a precious life taken from us.  We were united in our loss.

A common understanding between strangers. 

I felt uplifted.  I felt supported.  I remembered Daisy in a bittersweet way - not with sadness.

At times, losing Daisy feels like a stone weighing down my heart.  After the Saying Goodbye service, my heart felt a little lighter. 

Daisy will never be forgotten; the journey of grief is long and at times the pain is more than I can bear.  But having the opportunity to stand with others who have experienced the anguish of losing a baby, to look into their eyes and see understanding and compassion reflected there, reminded me that I am not alone.


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Family Life in Fife continues...

As we progress through our journey of grief, family life continues - and invariably with that, a new routine emerges - and life goes on.  That's not to say that we are forgetting Daisy; far from it.  In fact, I think I may even allow myself to think of Daisy more these days, as it hurts less.  But life does go on, the days and the weeks pass, and life must be lived.  So, Family Life in Fife continues.

I dusted off my cookery books and put my apron on, and did some baking and cooking.  I'm starting to find pleasure in these things again.  I ordered some cheap fabric on eBay and when this arrives, I'll dig out my sewing machine and start work on a new quilt.  The recent drop in temperature signals the change of season and as we move into autumn, my thoughts turn to preparing for winter and Christmas preparations.

I've blogged about these things in the past; it's how the blog started.  It reflects me, it reflects my personality and the things that bring contentment to my life.  My family life continues, and I want to blog about these things again.  My day-to-day antics and ramblings may seem trivial and insignificant in comparison to the sorrow and pain of losing Daisy.  But I don't just want to write about the sad things - I want to write about the happy things too.  And running my home, living my life, being organised and thrifty are the things that make me happy.  If anything, these "trivial" things are more important to me than ever.  Family life, making a comfortable and happy home for my family, spending time with my husband and the children, is more important to me than ever.  One thing that Daisy's death has reinforced in me is how important family life is and how much it matters to me.

So blogging about making fairy cakes with Lizzie may seem like a dull and uninteresting topic - but to me, it's the centre of my world - Family Life.

Best Wishes
Debbie




My first Sands meeting

Last week I went along to our local Sands support group meeting.  The meetings are held monthly and are there for anyone affected by the loss of a baby to go along and have a chat, to meet other bereaved parents and to obtain support from trained Sands befrienders.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from the meeting, so I went with an open mind.  Almost three hours later, I left with my shoulders feeling a little less heavy and my heart a little lighter.

These were people who knew.  These people, mums and dads, knew and understood the pain and heartbreak of losing a baby.  No explanation was needed - there was a mutual understanding amongst the group.  A collective feeling of "I know how you feel".  Eyes not full of pity - but full of compassion.  How refreshing to feel not quite so alone and to be with people who really did appreciate just what it feels like to lose a baby.

I made a connection with one of the other mums at the meeting and we met up during the week for a coffee. We talked, we cried, we shared the stories of our babies.  Our beautiful baby girls who we miss every day.  I wish I could explain how helpful I found it, to be in the company of another mother who felt the same as me - the same regrets, longing, heartache, fears, hope.  I felt supported.  I felt less alone.

The support I am taking, from all around me gives me strength.  The strength is what I need to move forward - to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Bit by bit, we're picking up the pieces of the life that was shattered, and re-fashioning them into the life we'll live from now on.

Thank you for reading.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Monday, 27 August 2012

Letter to Daisy: Hope

Dear Daisy

Two months ago life was bathed in light.  It was shiny and happy; full of anticipation for your impending arrival.

Right now we're in a dark place.  There's no sunshine and the laughter isn't heartfelt.  There's tears and sadness, sorrow and an emptiness that words cannot adequately describe.

But I'm starting to see a glimmer of light away in the distance and I have realised: it's the light at the end of the tunnel.

It's only a speck of light.  It's not even a ray of light - just a shard of light peeking through.  But it's there, I can see it.

These dark days are the tunnel.  The sliver of light ahead in the distance is the brightness of days to come.

The light may not be as bright as it was two months ago; the luminosity might not be as it was.  Things will never be as they were.  But there is light there.

It is hope.

Hope for our future, hope that my heart will feel less heavy.  Hope that I can think of you without the stabbing feeling in my chest and tears stinging my eyes.

Although the darkness is all around, when it starts to feel like too much to bear, when it feels thick and dense and palpable around me, I remind myself that this is a tunnel.  We are cloaked by it now; but we are travelling through it.  We will reach the brighter place trickling through at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes it's faint; it's barely there.  Sometimes I wonder if I am imagining it and if it's even there at all.  Sometimes I have to look really, really hard to see it.  It's so out of focus at times, I wonder whether I'm even going in the right direction.

But even when the darkness of the tunnel threatens to consume me and the light seems nothing more than a figment of my imagination, I tell myself that it is still there.  I need to believe it is.  I have hope; hope for me, hope for us as a family - hope that there is a brighter life ahead for us than our life right now.

I miss you every day, my beautiful girl.

Love from
Mummy

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Connecting with other Mums

Two months ago, whilst I was still pregnant, I had no idea that just a short while later I would be connecting with mothers from all over the world who have one thing in common - the loss of a baby.  Daisy's death was so sudden; so unexpected.  The shock ripped our lives apart.

After Daisy died I felt very isolated; I felt like no-one could possibly understand the stabbing pain in my heart, the broken feeling inside me, the raw, aching grief at losing a child.

But I found a support network online and started to connect with other mothers - through my blog, their blogs, and Twitter.  The support from other bereaved mums has given me a lot of strength.  Their own strength, sharing their stories, their feelings, their hopes for the future, has been a great source of comfort to me in my dark days.

One of the lovely mums I have connected with is Lisa Sissons.  Lisa's beloved son Finley died in March 2012, aged just three days old.  Lisa writes so honestly on her blog, Dear Finley, about her son, her experiences, her sorrow and her heartbreak.  Last week Finley would have turned 5 months old and to mark this, Lisa has arranged a Blog Hop to allow bereaved mothers the chance to connect with other mums.

Dear Finley

Thank you Lisa for arranging the blog hop and for helping us to build connections.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Friendship and Support

Sometimes it's in the darkest of hours that you realise what friendship and support really means.  People often comment that I am being so strong whilst coming to terms with Daisy's death.  I don't feel strong; but here's where I get some of my strength.

After Daisy died, so many people reached out to me in different ways.

There was support I had expected.  Firstly, from my family of course.  My family weren't scared to see me, despite my anguish and despair.  We are so lucky - we have a caring family and they love us very much.

Secondly, from my best friends - the type of friends who have seen me through thick and thin, in both the happy times and sad times.  In this, the darkest time of my life, my best friends were there.  Sometimes I didn't want to see them, or speak to them; but they continued to offer a kind word, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear when I needed to talk.  These are the friendships that last a lifetime.

But the circle of support reached far wider and support came from places I hadn't expected.

An old friend who I haven't seen in many years, sent flowers, a card, kind words by text.  She continues to text me to let me know she's thinking of me.

The lovely couple who drove for 5 hours to be at Daisy's funeral, and had to return back home the same day afterwards.

The email from a work colleague expressing her sadness.  Her lovely comment, "So sad, Debbie - I would have loved to have met little Daisy.  I felt like I knew her because she was with you every day at work."

The friends who stepped up to the challenge of comforting a grieving mother, not afraid to reach out to me and see me despite my tears, my ramblings, trying to make sense of the pain and sadness.

An old friend who I've known for many years - who doesn't expect me to smile and to pretend to be happy when I'm not - who accepts my pain and wants to spend time with me anyway.

The friend who asked to see Daisy's photographs.  That meant so much to me that she asked; she was acknowledging that Daisy was real, she was my daughter - Daisy was only with us for a day but she was here. I was so touched that she did that.

The emails and comments from readers of my blog.  The support from complete strangers during these dark days has been such a comfort.  So many women have emailed me to share their own experiences of baby loss - through miscarriage, stillbirth or death in the early days and months.  It helps to know that I am not alone, no matter how isolated I feel sometimes.

The other mums, further down their own journeys of grief, who made contact via Twitter and share their experiences.

The comment from "Epiphany" on one of my blog posts who wrote "I lost my little baby boy in 2009 and it has been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I felt as though I was living behind a glass wall watching everyone else living whilst my world stopped. My reason for posting was to put my hand on the glass to you and to wish you the strength to find your own path."  How beautifully put.

Thank you to you all for pausing and putting your hands on the glass.

Debbie

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Not how it was meant to be...

This week has seen the start of the new school term here in our part of the world.  In the run-up to this I'd been thinking that Lizzie going back to school would give us a welcome return to a routine and help us on the road to finding our feet again.  What I hadn't thought of, or prepared myself for, was the sadness I would feel this week.  The return to school just reminded me of how it was meant to be - Daisy was meant to be with us.

I was meant to be taking Lizzie to school and going for a walk with my baby in the pram.  Instead, once I've dropped Lizzie off, I am walking home alone.  Back home to our house to consider ways to fill my days.

I was meant to be proudly showing off our new baby, with all the mums at school gathering round the pram for a peek at our newborn.  Instead, some mums avert their eyes, looking the other way - avoiding eye contact with the woman whose baby died.  Other mums are full of pity and condolences - and I cry.  I cannot help the tears - this is not how it was meant to be.

I was meant to be happy for all the other pregnant women, sharing that knowing look that passes between mothers.  Instead, I need to look away.  It hurts to see their glowing baby bumps.  Daisy was safe when she was tucked up inside of me.

Lizzie was meant to be showing off her baby brother or sister to her classmates and her teachers, excitedly sharing the news that the baby had arrived and telling everyone how she was helping me.  Instead, she has to tell her friends that her little sister, Daisy, was born - but she died.  That hurts a lot.  My heart aches for Lizzie and all that she has lost too.

My heart is heavy and there's a lump in my throat.  Sometimes it's hard to swallow it down.

Accepting that this is not how it was meant to be, but that this is how it now is, is very difficult indeed.

Thank you for reading.

Debbie




Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Keeping busy... and forward planning

As the school holidays in our part of the world will be drawing to a close very soon, I've been fitting in as many activities as possible for Lizzie before she returns to school.  Keeping busy has been good for me, to be honest - getting out and about, seeing people, doing lots of "normal" things.  Yesterday Lizzie and I went swimming at the leisure centre.  Today we're going to the cinema.  And tomorrow we're off to the museum.  Just little things, little plans, small steps - but these are all, I hope, steps in the right direction, and helping us move forward as a family.

Forward planning is a big thing for me.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I am a planner - I'm one of those people who is always armed with a list and a plan, a focus for the future, every eventuality covered.  I plan for the day ahead; the current week; the upcoming month; and beyond.  When Daisy died, I didn't have a plan for that.  I hadn't ever considered that my baby might die after being brought safely into the world.  Suddenly everything I had planned for had completely changed and my life as I'd seen it panning out was unsure and a blur ahead of me.

At first I felt like I would never plan anything again.  "What's the point of making plans, only to have your life shattered and everything thrown in the air?"

But who I am, the planner in me, the need to organise and be in control, is still there.  Perhaps I am more cautious now; there's more worry, anxiety, doubt.  But the planning will still be done - that is who I am.

So I am tentatively making new forward plans in my mind.  Most of these plans are only a few days or weeks into the future; no grand imaginings of our lives as they will pan out, no in-depth musings over the years to come.  Just the coming days and weeks.  But I feel that is a positive step, for me - for my own recovery into the new me as I will be from this point onwards.

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes
Debbie

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Getting away from it all

Last week we took the opportunity to stay in a cottage up in the Highlands with the children, for a change of scenery and some time away from it all.

We did lots of "normal" family things: we went for walks; we went to the park; we had water fights.  We had picnics in the garden; we went fishing; we played football.

We picked daisies.  Lots of daisies. 


Daisy was never far from my thoughts. 

I hid my sadness from the children as best I could.  It wasn't quite so easy to hide the sadness from my husband; he knows me better than I know myself.

It was good to get away.  It was good to breathe different air, to focus on different things.

But the saddest part of all, was coming home.  And realising that the grief is still there, as painful as ever, and getting away from it all won't make the grief go away.  The only thing I can do, is live through the grief - live it, bear it - one day at a time.

Debbie




Wednesday, 25 July 2012

An opportunity to raise awareness...

Last week our local paper ran a story about Daisy and about my blog.  They gave me the opportunity to thank all my readers for their support and kindness during what has been a very sorrowful time for myself and my family.

Following on from that article, to my surprise the story about Daisy popped up everywhere in all the major newspapers, from The Sun, to the Daily Record, to the Scotsman.  I was bewildered by all the media attention that the story was getting.

The next thing I knew, I was being inundated with media requests for interviews; one reporter even arrived at my front door to try to talk to me about Daisy and the story of my blog.  The story was everywhere and I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed by all this attention from the media.

I decided to contact Sands, the stillbirth & neonatal death charity, for some advice on how to handle the situation.

The Press Officer at Sands couldn't have been more helpful and was a great support to me, taking care of all enquiries on my behalf and giving me advice on how best to take things forward.

We had no interest in "selling our story" to a newspaper or magazine; but we did see that there was an opportunity here, on the back of the attention that Daisy's story was getting, to highlight the very important issue of stillbirth and neonatal death and the work carried out by Sands.  As well as providing support to parents and families affected by the loss of a baby, Sands is also campaigning for more research to be carried out into the cause of these deaths, so that the numbers of babies' lives lost each year in the UK can be reduced.

Grazia magazine work closely with Sands to highlight the Why 17? campaign and to raise awareness of the number of babies who die every year in the UK as a result of stillbirth or neonatal death.  Grazia are urging the government to put more funding into researching the cause of these baby losses and how they might be reduced. 

Grazia was one of the magazines to contact me to see if I would consider sharing my experience with them, to pay tribute to Daisy and to share my ordeal with a view to helping others.  As I was already aware of the work they do with Sands, we decided that this was an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of stillbirth and neonatal death and the work of the charity.  Grazia had also offered to make a financial donation to Sands in return for publishing the story about Daisy. 

My husband and I discussed this, and we spoke at length with the press office at Sands.  We decided that this opportunity to raise awareness was one we wanted to make the most of.  So this week Grazia will be carrying out a telephone interview with me to find out more about Daisy's story, about me and about my blog, in order to feature the story in a future issue of Grazia magazine.

We cannot bring Daisy back; but hopefully by sharing her story, I can do as much as I can to raise awareness of the issues and of the support available to parents and their families after the loss of a baby.  When Daisy died we felt so alone, so isolated - like we were the only family to ever go through this.  I now know that sadly 17 families, in the UK alone, go through the same traumatic experience every day.

From this point forward I am to commited to doing everything I can to support the work of the Sands charity, in memory of my beautiful little baby girl, Daisy.

Thank you for reading and for your continued support.

Best Wishes
Debbie



Monday, 23 July 2012

Thank you for your support and kindness...

I have been blown away by all the messages of support and kindness that have been sent to me in the days since Daisy's death.  It is so touching that you have taken the time to leave comments here on my blog, to send messages via Twitter and to send emails to me.  I'd love to be able to reply to each one of you individually.  It means a lot to me that you have passed on your condolences at such a heartbreaking time for us.  Thank you.

For all of the readers of my blog who have recently visited from Brazil - muito obrigado.  I don't speak Portuguese but I translated each of your comments so I could read them.  Your heartfelt messages of kindness were so nice to read and meant a lot to me.

When Daisy died, we felt so alone.  We felt that no-one understood what we were going through; we didn't know anyone, hadn't heard of anyone, who had been affected by the loss of a baby.  Now, through the comments and messages we have received, I know that we are not alone.  It is heartbreaking to read that so many other families have experienced similar loss in their lives.

I was reading on the Sands (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity) website - http://www.uk-sands.org/ - that 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every day in the UK.  Every day.  I was astounded.  Until our recent experience I had no idea that stillbirth and neonatal loss figures were so high.  In the UK alone, 17 families will have their lives shattered in the same way as we have - every single day.  This shocked me to the core.  That's the loss of 6,500 babies every year in the UK.  And these heartbreaking figures don't take into account the number of babies who are lost through miscarriage.
Did you know that stillbirth in the UK is 10 times more common than cot death?  I couldn't believe it either.  I was unaware that so many babies still died in our modern times. 

Sands have launched a campaign to raise awareness of this devastating loss called the Why 17? campaign.  You can read more about this campaign here - http://www.why17.org/.  Sands are working hard to raise awareness of stillbirth and neonatal loss - here's a summary of the Campaign Aims from the website:
Through the Why17? campaign all of us here at Sands hope to raise awareness of the issues surrounding baby loss and to initiate a public debate about stillbirth and neonatal death. We will be urging all those interested parties to join with us to develop a national strategy to reduce the rates of baby loss.

What we at Sands want to see:
  • Increased public awareness of how many stillbirths and neonatal deaths there are in the UK.
  • Recognition that stillbirth and neonatal death is a national problem and not just one of those things.
  • A national strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the UK.
  • Funding for more research to improve understanding of why stillbirths and neonatal deaths happen and to identify high risk pregnancies and develop effective interventions.
Through the Why17? campaign, we are working with government and health bodies to create a national strategy for reducing the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the UK.
Thank you for sharing your stories of your own baby losses, whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss.  Or indeed loss of a baby or child at any age.  It has given me comfort that we are not alone in this.  Many of you have suggested links to helpful and supportive websites which may be of use to other families going through a similar pain and loss.  If you have found any sites on your travels that you found useful and would like to share them, please leave a comment below and I will compile a "Links" page on the menu above, keeping everything together.  I haven't had the time to look through all your suggestions as yet but from my own viewpoint I have found other blogs written by bereaved parents to be supportive at this devastating time.

Best Wishes
Debbie

Friday, 20 July 2012

Saying goodbye to Daisy

Yesterday our family and friends gathered together with us to say our goodbyes to our beautiful baby, Daisy.

I had been dreading the day of the funeral; all morning yesterday I felt sick and unwell.  I didn't want to go.  I didn't want to see the tiny coffin holding Daisy's little body.  I didn't want to feel the anguish and pain as we said our goodbyes.  I wanted to hide at home.

But I knew I had to go and my husband assured me, "we'll get through it together.  I'll be right by your side".

And get through it, we did.  The service was beautiful; the words meant so much to us.  We'd chosen the songs to play and the readings.  During the moment of reflection we listened to "Somewhere over the Rainbow".  I hope that's where little Daisy is now.

Everyone we know and love had gathered to support us in this sad, sad occasion.  We are so lucky to have such a supportive network of family and friends around us.  We cried; we talked about Daisy.  We shared her little life with others.

There's some relief now that the formalities of the funeral are behind us after waiting over two weeks for it to happen.

Now we can remember Daisy in our hearts; she will never be forgotten.  Our darling baby girl.

Debbie

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Letter to Daisy: A little bit of normal

Dear Daisy

Two weeks ago today you were born.  I've already written about the moment you came into the world.  I want to write about the day you were here; the 29 hours you spent with us.  But I'm not ready yet.  I want to tell your story; to make it real, tangible, for everyone who reads my blog and my letters to you.  But I'm not ready to do it today.  The pain of the memory is too fresh and too raw right now.  We'll talk about it another time.

Yesterday I tried to bring a little bit of normal into our day.

For the first time in what seems like weeks, we had a dry day.  It wasn't sunny or warm, but at least it was dry.  So, Lizzie and I went to the park.  A little bit of normal.

She took her scooter and whizzed along the pavement.  When we got there, she ran around.  She went on the swings.  I pushed her on the roundabout.  She climbed up the tower and flew down the slide - again and again.  She made friends with the other girls there.  A little bit of normal.

I sat on a bench and watched her play.  My little girl, Lizzie.  Your big sister.

She's growing up so fast.

We got home and Lizzie played outside in the garden.  She blew bubbles and I got my camera out to take pictures.  She posed and smiled and pulled crazy faces.  A little bit of normal.


There wasn't a breath of wind.  It was so still, the bubbles hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity.  I thought at the time that the bubbles reminded me of myself as I am feeling right now.  Moving - just.  Moving, but in slow motion.  Suspended in time, like time has been slowed down almost to a stop.


In the afternoon we did some baking.  Baking is normal in our house.  Lizzie licked the spoon, the bowl and the beaters.  Another little bit of normal.

(Well, admittedly it was Dad who did the baking.  I simply supervised.  Not quite normal!)

We had homemade pizza for tea - another little bit of normal.

Maybe that's how things need to be from now on, Daisy.  We start by introducing little bits of normal into our day, and then more bits of normal, until our days are the normal again.  I'm not sure that normal will ever be the same as the normal it was before; life has been irrevocably changed as a result of what has happened. But maybe we can accept the new normal in our lives and find ways to enjoy these normal moments.

I hope so, Daisy.

Lots of Love
Mummy






Monday, 16 July 2012

Letter to Daisy: Nine months with you

Dear Daisy

You only had one day together with us all in this world; but I had nine months with you.

During our honeymoon last year Dad and I decided we would have a baby together.  When we got home, we started trying soon after and we were so lucky - I fell pregnant straight away!  That positive pregnancy test after just a few weeks was so exciting.  Dad said, "it's meant to be".  He was excited too.

We didn't tell anyone; it was our secret for now.  I remember when the date came for the first scan and we saw you on the monitor for the first time; you were real!  A grainy image on the screen of the growing life inside of me.  Dad and I were holding hands as the sonographer ran the device over my tummy.  You were bobbing around in there and just starting to take shape.  Our little baby.

We shared the news with family and friends and everyone was delighted for us.  The days and weeks flew by and my body changed shape to accommodate you growing inside of me.  At my check ups I heard your heartbeat; strong.  You were healthy and growing and changing rapidly in your safe cocoon.

By the time we reached the halfway point, 20 weeks, I had started to feel you moving inside me.  Tiny, fluttering feelings of movement.  A daily reminder of the life I was growing, the baby that Dad and I had created.  You.

You got stronger and stronger and I grew and grew.  I delighted in the movements you made.  I'd lie for hours with my hands on my belly and feel your movements through the skin.  I felt like I was connecting with you.  Dad would ask, "what are you doing?!" and I would answer, "oh, just feeling the baby!" - in bed at night I'd lie still and smile as I felt you wriggling around.  Dad would place his hand on my tummy too and feel your movements.

I stroked my belly absent-mindedly throughout the day.  I always had my hands on my tummy, feeling you move.  I loved that feeling.  You were always very active and strong inside me.  As I sat at my desk at work, or in meetings, I loved to feel you move around.  I was so aware of you, all the time - my little baby, growing each day.

When my maternity leave started my routine changed.  I indulged in all my favourite things; I pottered around at home, I walked Lizzie to school, I cooked and I baked, I spent time with friends, I wandered round the shops.   All this time you were there, with me.  I carried you around in my belly and knew it wouldn't be for much longer - we'd meet you soon.  These were such happy days.  Full of life, anticipation, excitement, happiness.  I was so happy.

I told Dad that when you arrived and I'd no longer have you inside me, I'd miss having you in there.  I'd feel empty without a baby in my belly after nine months of growing and nurturing you.  Oh, how right I'd turn out to be but for all the saddest of reasons.

I miss you, Daisy.  You were only here in this world for a day; but you were here for nine months for me.  You were real to me for the nine months before you arrived in the world.  You were a part of me for nine months; and now you're gone.  I feel empty, literally.  There's a space inside of me where you once were and now you're not.  And you're not here with us either.

I miss you, Daisy.  I'm empty without you.

Lots of Love
Mummy