In the run up to Mother's Day I wanted to celebrate mothers and their stories.
One of the most amazing women I heard from was Caroline and here is some of her story. I respect her so much for sharing this here and hope there are lots of happy times ahead for her and her family. I have certainly learned a lot from her blog and highly recommend you pay it a visit. She has very important messages for all of us.
Did you expect to become a mother?
Yes, very much so. I’ve always loved children.
From an early age I said to my parents I was going to be a teacher and that is exactly what I did. Not once did I deviate from this plan of “What I want to be when I grow up”.
Into my later teens I knew if I achieved only three things in life it would be to be a teacher, wife and mother. It won’t please the feminists out there; but I have no ambition beyond being settled in a wifely, motherly role.
Only a couple of weeks ago, in the midst of learning to live without our daughter, our friend said to me “You were born to be a mother.”
After we got engaged I was constantly broody but we decided to wait until after we were married to start our family – it was the longest 2 years waiting to get married!
We started trying for our first baby on our return from honeymoon and 2 months later I got that beautiful BFP. I will be honest – I felt complete – I had been a teacher for over 3 years at this point, we were newlywed, I was a wife and we were expecting, I was going to be mother.
Especially as we got further into the pregnancy and into the “safe” zone. As far as we were concerned our baby was on her way and I feel guilty every day that we took her for granted, but we as a society are lulled into believing that as we go into the 2nd trimester of our pregnancies we can relax and our babies are “safe”. We’ve learnt the hard way that nothing is guaranteed in pregnancy and there is no such thing as “safe” – at 32 weeks and 4 days grown our beautiful daughter, Anabelle, died. She was born sleeping 5 days later on the 21st June 2010.
I’d felt like a mother long before then, Anabelle became who she was after our 20 week scan. We went into that scan with two names and our baby came out with her identity. That was when we started feeling like a family, like parents. http://cazandbelle.blogspot.com/2010/11/twenty-weeks.html Our world fell apart the day Anabelle died but meeting her and holding our precious daughter in our arms was one of the most beautiful days of our lives, despite our heartbreak. Having to give her up and hand her over to a funeral director and bury her was soul destroying. A piece of me died with my girl and it will never come back. You don’t recover or get over your child dying.
So I am a mother without her baby. So do I still feel like a mother? For the most part yes – Anabelle still manages to be included in our lives in every aspect, I often feel like she is near, but there are days when my heart breaks that little bit more and the hurt gets too much, it is then that I feel a fraud to call myself a mother. It is a very difficult (understatement) place to be. Every essence of my being feels like a Mummy, but she is not here. In all honesty, the significant date I’m dreading more than any other is Mother’s Day.
There is a poem that is called “What makes a Mother?” it finishes with the line – so now you see, what makes a mother, it’s the feeling in your heart, it’s the love you had so much of, right from the very start. http://cazandbelle.blogspot.com/2010/10/what-makes-mother.html
How are you like your own mum?
How do you differ from your own mum?
These are very difficult questions to answer. It is difficult to find similarities and differences in how we are Mums because as yet I’ve not had a baby at home with me.
Please tell us about your achievements since becoming a mum (including parenting ones)?
Honestly? I feel my biggest achievement is surviving. I cannot say I’m ok, far from it. Most of the time I feel a little bit like a crazy person. But I’m surviving. Only yesterday I blogged something along the lines of this. http://cazandbelle.blogspot.com/2011/02/to-quote.html
I consider my blog in itself is an achievement also. I started writing it for me; an outlet for my grief – somewhere I could ‘get it all out’ – I find writing therapeutic. But I quickly wanted my blog to raise awareness. Awareness that stillbirth still happens, it isn’t a thing of the past. 17 babies every single day die in this country. Awareness that stillborn babies are real babies, a real death, not something that can be swept under a carpet and never spoken of again. I wanted to give stillbirth a voice, break one of the last taboos.
I hope through my blog I’m achieving that.
Describe your most challenging time in working towards your achievement
About 3 months after Anabelle’s death I realised I wasn’t coping. The 3 month milestone seemed huge. I’d been living up to this point in shock and all of a sudden it hit me full force and everything seem very huge, forever and dark. That week I took a brave step and walked into a counselling centre specialising in baby death and started my blog. These two things have become a huge part of my coping strategy.
Describe the moment that you felt most like an achiever?
Feeling like an achiever comes and goes. Life is quite literally a rollercoaster now. I experience huge lows which I no longer try and fight. I’ve learnt that the longer I fight them the worse it will be when I finally have to give into them. When I feel low I lose all hope and faith and feeling like I’m surviving or achieving completely disappears. But when I’m feeling more upbeat I realise that just by getting out of bed in the morning I’ve achieved something.
Anabelle’s 1st birthday is fast approaching. We decided we couldn’t let it pass without recognition and celebration of the little life she had and everything that she means to us. To this end we are currently organising Anabelle’s Angel Day honouring all angel babies and marking her 1st birthday. Through everything we are doing for this I am hoping to raise £1000 for Sands. If I can pull this off, I will feel like I’ve really achieved something in the year since Anabelle’s birth.
What individuals offered you support?
Jon (Husband) http://cazandbelle.blogspot.com/2010/11/anabelles-daddy.html
Mum, Dad and family.
Friends. It is true that when times are hard your real friends remain by your side. I’ve learnt who my real friends are.
What organisations offered you support?
Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. www.why17.org www.uk-sand.org
Beresford Centre, Newport – counselling service specialising in baby loss.
St Julian’s Baptist Church.
If you could revisit yourself when you doubted yourself, what would you tell yourself?
Being defeated is often a temporary condition, it is giving up that makes it permanent. Marilyn vos Savant.
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saing, “I will try again tomorrow” Mary Anne Radmacher
What would you say to a mum out there who has a dream or something they would like to do?
Don’t take the day, anything or anyone in it for granted. Life and time is short – grasp opportunities and cherish life and the people you love with everything that you have.