Based on my personal observation, there are two types of people in the world: those who feel and show empathy and those who do not.
It is my main goal in life to always attempt to put myself in the shoes of others and try to be understanding about things I have not experienced myself. To me, empathy is the most important attribute to attain as a human being, especially in today’s world. In 2017 my world, became the baby Loss world and I am so grateful to have come into contact with people who have graced my life with their empathy and compassion. They have not felt the all encompassing pain of losing a child but they’ve made a damn well effort to try and understand what that must be like. There are however, the few who don’t and as a result THEY. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT. This is for those people.
To those who don’t understand,
We all have strengths and weaknesses and I’m sorry that empathy has fallen under the latter for you. I’m sorry that you don’t get what it’s all about. Miscarriage. Baby Loss. It’s not all your fault, society has failed you - society has failed women and their lost babies. We live in a world where the painful parts of our lives aren’t supposed to be discussed. But that is something I will NEVER adhere to. 30th March 2019 will be 2 years since my ears were filled with those dreadful words ‘I can’t find a heartbeat.’ Those words and the chaos they created in my life have consumed me everyday since, so let me explain to you what it’s all about.
It’s about potential. Did you know that a baby’s heart starts to beat as early as 24 days? If you’re reading this put your hand on your heart and feel it. That heart you feel beating inside of you, started beating when you were 24 days grown inside your mother’s womb. You were the size of a tadpole but you were life, with an overwhelming amount of potential. Everyday I look at my intelligent, beautiful 1 year old and I remember the first time I saw her. She was a 7 week old baby on an ultrasound monitor with a huge heartbeat that we could see so clearly. Now she can crawl and stand and almost walk. She can say ‘daddy’ and ‘hiya.’ She laughs and she smiles and she cuddles me. Everything that she is, is everything that I lost.
It’s about love. There are no rules with love and especially when it comes to a mothers love. Where in the baby books does it tell you which week you’re supposed to start loving your baby? Week 5? Week 12? When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I was devastated. I did not feel ready to be a mother and I did not want to have a baby. But even in those first few days where I couldn’t stop throwing up and felt miserable, there was this automatic instinct to protect the life growing inside of me. It was love, a new love I had never felt before. Now, I am not a perfect mother. In fact, I have days where I hate myself and I don’t feel good enough and I truly believe I am the worst mother in the world. But grieving my baby everyday since I lost her is good for one thing and that is to remind me that I am a damn good mother. I am a mother who loves her children to death and more importantly, in spite of it.
It’s about my bathroom. Can you imagine sitting on your toilet for hours whilst blood pours out of you? All the while knowing that there is a tiny human somewhere in amongst all that too? I’m sure many reading this will be female and therefore will have experienced a period. I’ve had heavy, painful periods in the past. Losing a baby is NOT a heavy period. I do not wish to ever read or hear of a miscarriage being compared to it ever again. My baby was 6 weeks when she died and that’s very early on in a pregnancy. I had never seen so much blood before in my life and keep in mind I had already birthed two children previously. The pain was agonising both physically and emotionally. The sight of it all was traumatic. And the knowledge of knowing that my baby was dead and alone and lost in there, as we flushed it all away, will haunt me (and my husband) for the rest of our lives.
Can you imagine what it has been like to sit on that same toilet everyday since? It was tolerable. Up until I had my first period in December 2018. It was like I was re-living the whole thing, looking down at the tissue, covered in blood - the instant panic. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t pregnant. Sometimes, even now when I take my period, my hands shake and my stomach churns as I remember that terrible moment in my past, where everything the sonographer had said was confirmed - my baby was dead. Can you imagine re-living that terrible moment over and over again? Can you imagine re-styling your bathroom so that you can actually bare to sit in it without crying? Changing the colour scheme and adding new items to make it look like a different place because the old place held such terrible memories? This has been my reality. This is what it’s all about.
It’s about the after-care, or lack of it in my case. I was told by a midwife to come back for another scan in a weeks time but if I did start to bleed to call gynaecology. That was it. The extent of my education and preparation for miscarriage. No leaflet or anything. And when I called gynaecology? They asked me how many pads I had been through and when I didn’t give them their magic number they told me they couldn’t bring me into the hospital but to keep an eye on it. They gave me no advice. And when I went back the following week they told me someone would call me about counselling. I’m still waiting for that call. I had a baby after my loss and I did not return to the same hospital.
It’s about breast cancer. Random I know, but everyone has their own stories and a breast cancer scare is part of mines. When I found out I was pregnant I took my health a lot more seriously. There was a lump on my head I needed to get checked as well as an issue with one of my breasts. I was referred to the breast clinic to have scans. My appointment came after we lost our baby and I was an emotional wreck. In the weeks leading up to the appointment I had convinced myself that I must have breast cancer. Some people do that when they have a symptom and they’re really worried about it. But for me, it was about the fact that my baby had just died for no known reason. It wasn’t fair and I was sad and angry and frustrated. The only way I could make sense of it was that I must have breast cancer and that’s why I lost her. Breast cancer would be devastating and awful but at least then I’d have a reason why my baby couldn’t live and why I wouldn’t one day be holding her in my arms.
I had the scans and I did not, thankfully, have breast cancer. And here’s the twisted, screwed up part of it. I was sad. I was sad that I once again didn’t have a reason for my baby dying. I was sad I didn’t have cancer. And I’ve never told anyone, other than my husband, that before. So losing a baby, it’s about being....fucked up. And sorry mum, that was the only adequate way to describe that.
It’s about the dates. 14th February. 30th March. 31st March. 14th October. Not to mention Mother’s Day and Christmas. They may seem like any other day but to me they are filled with all sorts of happy and painful memories. I dread each and every one of them. The build up is usually the worst and the actual day isn’t so bad. Walking around knowing you’re one of the, if not the only person who remembers is heart-wrenching. Having people invite you to things on said dates is truly heart-breaking, especially when you feel like you have to decline without being honest about why to spare their feelings. Baby Loss makes you uncomfortable my dear? Gosh, losing it was terribly uncomfortable I must say.
It’s about never wanting to have a baby again. I became pregnant very quickly after my loss, despite several uses of contraception. It was an upsetting, painful and worrying pregnancy. It was obviously worth it to have my beautiful, healthy daughter who has brought me so much peace. But it mentally, it was a massive struggle. PND is something I have struggled with after the birth of my rainbow last year. My husband and I have decided to have no more children and eliminating the risk of ever having to experience losing a baby in pregnancy again, was a huge factor in making that decision.
It’s about being the dead baby lady. It’s about feeling like an inconvenience, a broken record, a negative nelly, ungrateful and selfish. It’s about the world constantly belittling your experience. It’s about the mental gymnastics that baby Loss and pregnancy after baby Loss entails. It’s about not being heard. It’s about post-natal depression and mental health. It’s about the guilt and the shame and the constant ‘what ifs.’ It’s about the longing to be understood and accepted and acknowledged. It’s about having our babies acknowledged. It’s about changing minds. It’s about education and the lack of it. It’s about feeling like you’ve been failed. It’s about loneliness. It’s about deep heartache that you never imagined was possible. It’s about trauma and painful memories and reliving them. It’s about giving up the greatest thing in the world without even having a reason to show for it. It’s about being broken and damaged and searching for healing. It’s about taking a step forward and being knocked three steps back.
It’s. About. EVERYTHING. There is not one part of my life unaffected by the loss of my baby. It’s all about her and it will always be all about her.
Dahlia Theresa Nicholson.
30th March 2017.
So, it’s the last week of the holidays - can I get a hallelujah?! The Christmas decorations are slowly disappearing, the last of the cardboard and toy packaging is being thrown out, the kids have you at your wits end with their sugar rushes and constant fighting....and FINALLY, January has arrived. A new year and a fresh start (boooo all you new year Scrooge’s who spew negativity over our reflection and commitment to change moments). But wait! There’s still 5 more days until the kids go back to school - damn. And maybe you’re like me, stuck at home whilst your partner heads back to work today?
Whatever your situation, I’m here to share one of our family traditions that I started a few years back. It’s fun, cheesy and sometimes messy but it’s a great activity to help keep the little ones occupied and help you have 10 more minutes of sanity. Every January we attempt to have ‘Family Unity Day.’ I read about it in a book named ‘Family Traditions’ by Meg Cox. I LOVE this book and highly recommend it - it’s packed full of so many beautiful rituals as activities to use in your family. I bought it before I even had kids and I get a little choked up everytime I think back to that newly married gal and now I’m actually getting to do this stuff with my beautiful children. It’s available to buy via this link but i found it in America so there may be a hefty shipping fee:
Now, family unity day can involve many things. First of all you need to get into the mindset that imagines your family as a sort of tribe or team. What would your family song or chant be? Two years ago Mark invented a rap for us all which we posted online. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/198074325
As well as inventing a family chant, we also create our yearly family banner. This includes our last name stretched across a huge poster in bright colours and then everyone picks a corner or space to make their own! We write our names, our goals, draw pictures of our favourite things and use paint to put our handprint next to it!
It’s a great activity because everyone of all ages can join in. Even the youngest family members can get help leaving a hand or footprint. My kids love participating in this activity and this is how we spent the 2nd of January 2019. My oldest girl chose to draw a unicorn & a mermaid as well as trying to write her own name which she has been practicing a lot over the past few months. My son drew a lot of scribbles and helped me draw a spiderman since that is his obsession at the moment! I drew a rainbow for my youngest since she is our ‘rainbow baby’ and a horse because she is obsessed with the Netflix tv show ‘spirit.’ I drew a Dahlia because she is the centre of my universe as well as a method spray bottle which comes at a close second haha! As hubby is working he will do his this evening but you can count on there being something batman or football related.
The last thing we do is decide on a family motto or goal for the new year. Our 2019 motto is ‘Our Family matters most.’ Hubby and I have decided on this particular motto because we know that life can be so busy and stressful and as a result, we sometimes we forget to focus on what’s most important and to us that’s our family - every member living under our roof. We love and care for others but our family here at home should be our main priority and focus. And so we’re both going to work hard to remember that this year.
And once everything is complete, the kids have finished throwing glitter and scribbling over all the writing, all that’s left to do is hang our banner on a wall - loud and proud for all to see who visits, but most importantly for each of us to walk past everyday and be reminded of our goals, the things that make us happy and each other.
Happy new year for 2019 & have a go at having your own family unity day!
2nd October 2018
Why am I doing 'capture your grief' this year? To help get me through the month, to give me something to focus on everyday, to talk about something that's really important to me. I guess really I'm hoping to feel just a little bit better by taking part in it. Things have been tough recently and you could say I've reached an all time low so I'm hoping that by taking part in 'capture your grief' that I'll be able to lift myself out of the hole I'm in even if it's just temporary. I guess my purpose is really all about self-care and actually trying to take care of myself for once.
#captureyourgrief #captureyourgrief2018 #whathealsyou
This month is Baby Loss Awareness Week and I am taking part in a grief project every day in October. I've decided with each prompt that the facilitator has offered, I am going to share (someone else's with permission) or take my own photo as well as share a piece of writing (long or short) with my feelings about said prompt. I'll be sharing my posts on both Facebook and Instagram as a therapeutic experience for me but also to raise awareness this month for baby loss. Thousands of baby are lost every year in the UK - it affects too many people - so many families and family members. Yet why is it such a taboo? It's time to break the silence and raise our voices so that we can grieve and heal without the added burden of having to hide our loss - our child like it's something to be ashamed of!
1st October 2018
I woke up at 7am to watch the sunrise from North East Fife in Scotland. It was quite poignant for me, watching the sunrise as the first part of the grief project, when during my grief there have been so many dark days where I wasn't sure if I would live to see the next sunrise. October has always been a special month for me - I love autumn & Halloween and the whole build up to Christmas. But it's even more precious now that it's a time to remember our baby and how we should have been celebrating her 1st birthday this month. As Anne of Green Gables said 'I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.'
Last week our family took a 7 day holiday to one of my favourite places - Whitby, Yorkshire. My dad has been going on holiday here since he was a boy and brought my siblings and I as we were growing up. So it was quite amazing to take my own children and watch them enjoy all the same things I did as a kid.
Prior to leaving I had told my husband that I really wanted us to take a break from our phones this holiday so that we could just focus on being together and take advantage of that time. Mark is often on his phone for work and we both use our phones for social media so I wanted us to get rid of any of those apps and try to keep off our phones as much as possible. It turned into a bit of a social media fast and we've now been back from the holiday a couple of days and I still haven't been back on my Facebook or Instagram.
I'm someone who uses social media a lot - too much. I do the 'I'm bored scrolling' and I post a lot on my 'stories' of what we're up to as a family whilst watching everyone else's. I love social media - I think it's got so many positives. It's kept me connected to friends far and wide and it's a great platform for sharing the things I want to write about.
But social media can be so negative at the same time. It can take up all your time, it ruins your ability to communicate properly in the real world, it can have a bad affect on mental health and it's a place full of cyber bullying and criminals! For me I thought that it would be hard to go without using it for a full week and that I would feel this want to go online but I was really surprised that I did not feel that way at all. I didn't feel bored or isolated from what was going on! I felt in tune with myself, my family and my time was filled with everything we were doing.
Instead of standing at the cafe counter scrolling through Instagram whilst waiting on my hot chocolate, I was looking up and seeing everything around me. Instead of sitting on the sofa late at night scrolling through memes and click bait on Facebook, I was chatting to my husband or watching a favourite tv programme with him. Instead of lying in bed at 11pm flicking through people's stories, I was closing my eyes and going straight to sleep! I didn't miss it at all.
The main thing for me when I decided to do this was that Mark and I would be giving our children 100% of our attention. We very rarely have all of marks attention - he has a very high pressure job that keeps him very busy even when he's at home. Mark didn't use his phone for work once the entire trip and with our social media gone we were really just using our phones to take pictures or message family members. Major Truth bomb: a while ago Lillie asked me why I was on my phone all of the time! Ouch. Important lesson for mummy. On this holiday the kids had so much more of our attention and it has been one of my favourite trips.
I don't know if these were coincidences but this is my take on it. The kids were really well behaved for the most part of the week. Could this be because their parents were really present for most of the day and not taking 10 minutes here and there staring at their screens? I felt like we had so much more time to do everything we wanted and when it was time to leave I wasn't even sad because I felt so content with how we had spent our time. Could this be because none of it was sucked up by social media use?
I felt happier and focused - my mind was clearer and junk free. I know for certain that's because I was not using social media every day. Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't use social media! I love it and I'll continue to share and be a part of it. But this has definitely taught me a lesson on how taking time away from it can have so many benefits for me. And it's also about setting a good example for my children - because they won't stay children forever and I don't want them to be addicted to things like this where it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and problems with real life communication!
It has become apparent to me that there is now an expectation when it comes to sharing things on social media. We expect people to post about things going on in their lives and equally people expect you to now what's going on in their lives by seeing what they post. We need to focus more on having real conversations and sharing information and news instead of being shocked when Sally down the road doesn't know you have a new dog when you previously posted dozens of photos of said dog AND tagged her.
Going forward I've decided to try using social media only in the evenings. There can be days during the week where there isn't a lot going on (besides the three crazy kids needing kept alive) and I'm stuck at home so I do have a tendency to use my phone more. But I do think that if I make a conscious effort to not use it that I'll concentrate on more important things - things I'm perhaps procrastinating. It also means that my children will have more of my attention and we'll probably have a much more enjoyable day like we did with our holiday!
I definitely don't write this wanting to make anyone who uses or overuses social media feel bad. Please don't! Social media is a wonderful thing that has changed our world dramatically. I do think that taking a break has really benefited me and I feel better for having experienced it!
My last blog was about religion but I had put a poll on my Instagram and a lot of people had voted for something on parenting. I've realised that I can only really blog about what falls into my lap and what I'm experiencing. And a few weeks ago that happened to be some heavy feelings about my faith. This week however, I am going to open up about some parenting stuff and basically share a lot of my insecurities!
A few weeks ago my 4 year old daughter said something to me that cut me really deep. She's just a little thing asking an innocent question with no clue of what the implications could be. She had no idea that what she said would hurt my feelings but mostly because I knew what she said was true.
I was feeding them cereal (for dinner by the way, since we are keeping this real - I did it all the time as a kid it won't kill them) and her younger brother knocked his bowl over with the milk and cereal flying everywhere. This happens every single day no matter how much Mark and I try to prevent it (as I'm sure it does to most 2 year olds). I raised my voice and told little Mark to sit at peace and eat properly - probably because I was tired and it had been a stressful day, it was definitely an over-reaction.
Lillie looked at me with her innocent little eyes and said 'Mummy, why are you angry all of the time?' Ouch. I instantly went on the defensive and said 'I'm not - Why? Do you think I am?' and she nodded. I left the room and cried in my bed. I felt so hurt by the question but so guilty too. Why was I angry all of the time?
Firstly, I'm just going to put something out there that might be quite shocking for some people. Looking after children IS NOT EASY. Giving up your body for 9 months each time you produce another human being? NOT EASY. Keeping said human being(s) alive till they're fully grown? NOT EASY. I mean I know women have been doing it since the beginning of time, churning them out and growing them up, but believe me - definitely NOT EASY.
Don't get me wrong I love all of my children - to death. I love them so much that I squeeze each of them probably a bit too hard and a bit too often every single day. At bedtime I check on each of them 3 separate times as well as the door locks. Spending time with them is wonderful and often so rewarding. But you know what? Sometimes it's crap. Really really crap. Sometimes they drive me crazy. So crazy, that yep you've guessed it - I get angry.
All the parenting books and websites will tell you that getting angry is bad and we should never raise our voices at our children. And you know what? I would love to fulfil that perfect prophecy of parenting. But let's be real - we're human beings and sometimes we get angry about stuff. Sometimes we lose patience, we get frustrated, we feel irritable. It's natural and normal and pretty much inevitable!
One thing I've learned is that to be a parent, you have to be mentally strong. And in my experience being a parent who stays at home with my kids (all day long alone) mental strength is so crucial. There are so many days that I can go hours and hours without interacting with another adult. You'll often find me cleaning poo off the floor that my almost 3 year old has smeared everywhere, whilst my 7 month old screams in her high chair because she is insistent on me holding her every single second of every day, just as my 4 year old has finished screaming 'flips sake' (often repeating things learned from her parents) in her rage over me telling her she could not have another sandwich since dinner is being served in 5!
And yes that is as hectic and stressful as it sounds. Actually no - it's worse. A lot worse. So the parenting job is tough work and sometimes it's so tough I can react in an angry way. But there's other reasons for my anger too. Too often our angry attitudes in life are the results of pain and heartache. And pain is something I've felt a lot of. Pain in loss, in broken relationships, in broken faith and then the pain that comes from reacting to that pain in a way that I don't want to.
You see my primary role right now is to be a parent but I'm still a human being, feeling all of the feelings. I can't switch them off but I can sometimes bury them, although it's definitely not the healthiest approach when I see them bear their ugly heads on a stressful day at home!
Maybe I need to take a self-care class but let's be honest? As parents, we tend to put our children first and life is so busy that we don't always stop to take care of ourselves and our feelings. We carry all that pain, stress, guilt and self-loathing and we try to keep it locked up inside only to have it spew out all over the kitchen table one day, joining the home cooked meal you spent forever making, thrown in rage by one of your mini humans.
The funny thing about children is that they're so forgiving. Just as we forgive them for their age appropriate tantrums, they forgive us for ours. They love us and love us and love us and love us. A few weeks ago Lillie asked me why I was angry all of the time but just yesterday she told me I was the best mummy ever. This compliment came with a huge hug. And it's in the moments like these that it hits me - I'm not angry ALL of the time. I'm not failing as a parent. I'm not a bad mum! I'm actually a freaking great one! Why else would my little boy constantly tell me in his cute voice that I'm his 'best friend?'
Why else would my oldest daughter stop me outside of the supermarket (after having picked her up from a sleepover) to say wait mummy I didn't hug you yet? Why else would my 7 month old baby kick her legs and smile anytime she sees my face? Ok fair enough I am her source of food at the moment but believe me there is love there too! They all love me and they all think I'm awesome - so I should too! I should love me and think myself awesome and give myself a lot more credit. Because do you know what? I deserve it.
Dear lost sheep,
Hey! How's it going? I hope you are living a happy life and that all is well in the 'lost sheep group.' I'm afraid I didn't realise how painful it is to be a part of the herd until I myself joined it recently. Ignorance is definitely bliss and it's something being re-confirmed to me again and again. So I wanted to take a minute to apologise for a few things.
To begin with, I'm sorry that this herd exists in the first place and that your decision to leave the LDS Church meant that you automatically found yourself here. I hope you were able to find like-minded friends and not feel too alone.
I'm sorry for the way you were judged for the choices you made. I'm sorry that people looked at you with eyes full of pity believing so strongly that you had been led astray by Satan himself. I'm sorry that they despaired for your salvation and believed that your place in eternity was now lost.
I'm sorry that people (including myself) assumed that you just weren't faithful enough, that you didn't read your scriptures enough or pray or invite the Holy Spirit to be with you always. I'm sorry that without even realising it we were conditioned to put those of us that were 'in' on a pedestal above those that were 'out.'
I'm sorry for the way people talked about your children and how sorry they felt for them. They thought you were letting them down and that your actions were unfair on them, as if what you were doing was motivated by anything but pure love for your children & the inherent need to protect them. And as if your children couldn't possibly grow up to be good people with a life full of happiness unless they were raised in the church.
I'm sorry that you may have lost friends. I'm sorry that the church preaches about being inclusive and loving all but if you're not part of the club then you do get treated differently. I hope there were some who truly exemplified Jesus Christ and everything he stood for and stayed your true friends no matter what.
I'm sorry that if you ever chose to share feelings, beliefs or other pieces of information online that you believed in, that there were those that took grave offence, judged you, mocked you or talked about you. I'm sorry that some people felt because you were 'out' that you had no right to share how you felt, that it automatically meant you were being disrespectful even though they felt entitled to share their beliefs and would often do so.
I'm sorry that what was already a difficult time full of torment and heartbreak as the religion you had built your life around crumbled to pieces, was made worse by the fact that you knew that the people you had built relationships with for years were both silently & blatantly judging you.
I hope that you don't hold any grudges and can heal from the difficult experiences that have left you wounded and forever changed. I hope that you can forgive and understand that although they were getting it all wrong, most of the time the way people treated you was usually motivated by a genuine love and concern.
I hope you remember what it felt like to walk in their shoes, to have had faith in something and sorrowed for loved ones who didn't. I hope you remember that everyone's journey is different and often people are just trying to do what they think is right. Your feelings of hurt and patronisation are valid and hopefully some of these cultural ways of thinking will change with time. Hopefully one day they will learn that Mormons aren't the be all and end all of happiness and they will be happy for those that choose differently.
Until then, I hope you'll welcome me with open arms into the herd as I lick my wounds and buckle down for whatever else comes my way.
A lost Sheep.
Today is national midwife day and I wanted to write a little something for the blog since I have been cared for by many midwives over the past five years! Throughout my pregnancies with both Lillie & Mark I would say that the healthcare I received was brilliant but it was really the care I received after my third pregnancy and during my fourth that really was above and beyond wonderful. First, a little back-story to illustrate how special the care was for me.
Firstly I would like to say that I love the NHS and I am a huge believer in the health care system we have here in the UK. We are super fortunate to not only have the free healthcare that we have but also outstanding services from NHS staff that do go the extra mile within their roles. However, there are a lot of cutbacks, staff are stretched and sometimes (and especially within baby loss and bereavement) it really can be pot luck on the type of care one will receive depending on the area you are in.
So almost a year ago to the date I was in a really difficult place in my life. It had only been 3 months since we had gone to our hospital for our 12 week scan only to find out that our precious baby Dahlia had died 6 weeks prior and I had suffered a missed miscarriage. This was a truly devastating ordeal for both myself and Mark and the memories we have from losing or third child have left a lot of trauma and scars.
Weeks went by and life went on (despite the difficult days and heartache behind the smiles) and we found ourselves in a hotel in Perthshire having a night away from the kids. It was here that I decided to take a pregnancy test. I had been experiencing headaches for a few days now which had been a tell-tale sign of my previous pregnancy.
Now, after losing Dahlia I really just couldn't imagine having another baby ever again. I knew that with time this feeling would probably ease and that I would hopefully go on to have another beautiful baby but at this particular time it just felt far too soon. So mark and I were obviously doing our best to be careful and prevent another pregnancy. Unfortunately the very FIRST time we were 'intimate' together after losing Dahlia, we had an altercation with contraception which resulted in me having to go to my GP the following day for the morning after pill. I was so upset and felt it was so unfair the bad luck that we were having. It was even more traumatic having to sit with my Dr, sobbing as I tried to explain what had happened.
So there we were the morning after our hotel stay a few weeks later and I took my test. The second line came up rapidly and clear as day - I was pregnant: my heart was confused. I was happy and sad. One minute I felt contented and at peace and the next I felt angry and empty.
What followed was a lot of conversations with various friends and family, probably way too much googling and a whole lot of worrying that perhaps the positive test was a result of leftover hormones from the previous pregnancy. It was truly AWFUL. I went to my local surgery to meet with a dr in the hopes that I could have a test or ultrasound to confirm it. I was so elated to find out I'd be meeting with a female dr, convinced that she would be more sympathetic to my situation. Her blazay attitude still makes me feel sick to my stomach. She said that if I wasn't considering terminating then it didn't really matter whether I was pregnant or not and that I should wait 2 more weeks and take another test.
By this point the nausea had started and I was struggling to eat or drink and look after my two young children. I went to stay with family who could help take care of us. Now for yet another twist in this horrid tale. I took a second pregnancy test which was positive and the very next morning I went to the toilet and started bleeding. My heart sunk to my toes, I almost considered ignoring it. This brought back so much, along with new feelings and I felt like my head might explode. I called NHS 24 but I knew that the help I so badly needed would not be there as I had learned before that it's completely inconvenient to lose a baby on a weekend!
The nurse I spoke to was very helpful and assured me that someone from my hospital would call me either that night or the next day. I am still to this day waiting on that phone call.
My heart was broken. I desperately needed answers about what was going on with my body. By this point I had completely forgotten about the email I had sent a few weeks previously to a different hospital about moving all my care to there. I had a lot of different reasons for wanting to change to a different hospital and the day after I started bleeding, I received an email telling me that I could and that I had already been assigned a midwife: enter Rebecca.
And this is really what I wanted this post to be about: Rebecca. This midwife really was my saving grace, more than once throughout my pregnancy with Willow. As soon as I made that very first phone call to her, she had me in the same day for an emergency scan where we were relieved and completely overwhelmed to see our beautiful girl at 7 weeks. She had already outlived Dahlia and it stung but we were so grateful to have peace of mind. Not only that, we were given scans every two weeks up until our 12 week scan to make sure everything was okay.
I wish there were words to explain my feelings about the way that my midwife handled my care from the first moment she spoke to me. I had been stuck in a place where I felt like each time I had spoken to a health professional, I had a hit a brick wall. And each time that happened it hurt so much I could hardly breathe. Having that weight lifted and being met with sympathy to my individual circumstances and needs really overwhelms me when I think or talk about it. My heart swells when I think about the moment she told me I could come in for a scan...I am emotional just thinking about it.
Because of my overall experience in 2017, my pregnancy with Willow was full of ups and downs with more downs than I ever thought possible. Members of my family seen me at my lowest and most vulnerable and so did my midwife. At each and every appointment I had with Rebecca, she would talk with me about how I was feeling and try to figure out what we could do to better my situation. At one appointment in particular when I was really low she set up appointments with my GP and had my health visitor come out to visit to assure that I had the best support in place prior to the arrival of another child.
Rebecca also took a lot of care and time checking on our baby girls development. She always measured my bump a few times at our appointments and on Christmas Eve when she felt that I hadn't grown at all she sent me straight to another hospital for an emergency scan just to be sure that our baby was growing healthily. She always kept a close eye on my iron levels as I was very anaemic and when my medication wouldn't help she brought me in for iron infusion which helped to prepare for the worst (and the worst would happen after Willow was born).
When we chose the hospital that we did (which only had a midwife led unit) we knew that if I gave birth there and anything were to go wrong I would have to go by ambulance to another hospital. Unfortunately about an hour after Willow was born I suffered a post-natal haemorrhage which resulted in just that. I had previously had two relatively straight forward births and my pregnancy continued low risk as long as we could keep my iron levels up so I really do believe that having those iron infusions before giving birth saved me from having to have a blood transfusion. My midwives worked super hard and very quickly to look after me and stop the bleeding by the time I reached the other hospital. It was so painful and such a scary event and I am so grateful I had so much support around me for that.
My overall experience at the hospital I was cared for compared to the care I had received in my previous pregnancies was far better and individually tailored to my personal needs. We couldn't choose between Iris & Willow when it came to names so when we found out that one of Rebecca's daughters was named Willow, we knew this was a sure sign! I am so grateful to my midwife Rebecca and the other midwives, nurses and consultants who helped to bring our rainbow baby safely into the world. To them all I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! Our little Rainbow is 3 months old now and the miracle we never knew we needed.
Willow is 8 weeks old today and I have spent those 8 weeks falling more and more in love with her with each passing day. I have mostly felt very happy and well since she arrived and have adjusted to life with three young children, much better than I expected. However, as we have entered the month of March I have found it difficult to deter my thoughts from looking back to March last year, where I experienced the worst trauma of my life: the loss of our third baby. In these past two days I have really struggled with feelings of lowness, loneliness and heartache.
Each day I am caught up thinking 'what was I doing on this day last year?' Fortunately I have diary entries to answer those questions and they are filled with the hopes and dreams for the new life that had brightened up my own life ever so briefly. Willow will be blessed at our church this coming Sunday and although this will be an extra special day for us, it's also a sore reminder of the little one who won't have a baby blessing. I suppose with all kinds of baby loss, you are left with a lack of firsts: first birthday, first Christmas, first smile, first steps. With this, comes the dreading of certain months and dates: all reminders of those firsts never fulfilled.
Today Willow had her first round of injections and she has definitely been the most upset out of all of our children. I wept along with her and felt a real sting, a sense of protectiveness that I've never had when enduring the injections with my little ones before. I think I am feeling extra emotional and extra anxious at the moment so I've decided to do some writing to try and help myself feel better. I have always found writing a real kind of therapy and I always breathe a sigh of relief after putting my thoughts and feelings down in print.
I hope to write about when Willow was born and share the wonderful, yet difficult experience that I had. It was very different to my previous births, in both good ways and bad. I think writing about the precious moments of her arrival will really help to lift my spirits and keep me centred on the blessings our family are so abundantly given.
When I think back to this time a year ago (the days leading up to Dahlia's first and only ultrasound), I am reminded of the short and sweet time we had falling in love with her and excitedly preparing for the new addition to our family. We were convinced she was a girl and when Mark suggested the name Dahlia we both grew attached to it very quickly. Celebrating Mother's Day was so wonderfully special knowing that I had new life growing inside of me and that I was going to be a mother to another precious soul.
One of the most painful things about her death was that I had been so happy about being pregnant. With my firstborn I had been rather devastated as she was conceived very quickly after we were married and it had not at all been what I had planned. I was also extremely unwell which made me feel a hell of a lot worse about the prospect of a baby to care for. With my second child I was much more excited and thrilled for my little girl having a sibling but the timing still hadn't been exactly what we wanted. And then with Dahlia, I felt so at peace knowing she was coming. I finally felt that beautiful feeling I had read about mother's having when pregnant. I was so happy I didn't even care about how sick I felt. I was desperate for life with that precious little baby - it really was so cruel to have her taken away like that.
I have held Willow in my arms so tight these past few days. Her soft little head glistens with the tiny drops of water that have fallen from my tired eyes. She is a reminder of the painful heartache whilst being the source of healing all at the same time.
Autumn is my favourite season of the year. I am a total Christmas fanatic but the weather & nature in October is just perfection. Halloween is also a favourite celebration in our house and our 3 year old daughter has been talking about it since June!
I've been receiving those 'on this day' notifications from Facebook throughout this month. A year since my sister & I seen JB live, a year since we took the kids to the pumpkin patch and pushed them around the field in a wheelbarrow. Such precious memories and I had no idea at the time what the following year would be like. I was totally oblivious to how dramatically life would change in just 12 months.
And now here we are on October 31st with two beautiful children: Princess Fiona & Shrek. Two little ones that had their first halloweens. They sat naked as babies in their pumpkins & waited whilst a million photos were captured. They wore the 'my first halloween' bibs and sleep-suits. They made ghosts & witches with their handprints and footprints. They had and continue to have their firsts.
But we do have one who has no firsts - there is a pumpkin missing from our patch. There is an emptiness, aching arms and a heavy heart this month. My favourite season has been somewhat tarnished by the fact that our little one should have been born. She would have been about two weeks old by now. And she'd have been lying in a huge pumpkin whilst I took a million photos and cherished every precious moment with her.
To all the other families out there with missing pumpkins, I'm thinking of you and sharing your pain.
Have you ever heard of the term 'V Day' in pregnancy? The V stands for viable or viability and the day occurs when you reach 24 weeks pregnant. By the time you reach this point in pregnancy, the baby has a better chance of survival outside of the womb, if born early. Babies born before have much less chance since their lungs & other vital organs aren't developed enough. Of course 24 weeks is still far too early for a little baby to come into the world but if it were to unfortunately happen, the advances in medical technology mean that today he or she would have a better fighting chance than earlier on in pregnancy.
I've said it before: this pregnancy (my fourth) has been no picnic due to my previous loss earlier this year. It has been filled with a lot worry and heartache. I now know that I'm having a little girl, something I've really longed for. Knowing more about the baby and feeling her moving inside of me is really helping me to bond with her. And I've reached a point where I cannot stop thinking about the thought of losing her. I sometimes find myself Day-dreaming or rather having daymares about various situations which would result in me losing this child.
And the whole time I find myself speaking to her in my head and saying 'if you have to go, please wait till you're at least 24 weeks.' Perhaps the NHS can provide a better explanation as to why I feel that way:
"A stillbirth is a baby born dead after 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies before 24 completed weeks, it's known as a miscarriage or late foetal loss."
I don't want my baby to die. I don't want any of my children to die. But my third child did die. I've experienced that loss. I know how it feels, I know the pain. I do not wish for it to ever happen again, but I know that it could. It's a fact that my baby might not survive this pregnancy. It's a terrible thought, but it's fact. So with that terrible thought in mind, here is the honest truth about how I feel about: If I had to lose her, I'd want to lose her after 24 weeks.
So now you are wondering why anyone in their right mind would have a preference about the timing of their child's death? It perhaps sounds twisted and cruel when in fact it's a wish that is powered only by love and protection. I wrote in my journal as if I were writing to my unborn child and I think this would best explain my feelings on the subject.
"My dear daughter,
You are so precious and so small. I feel you kicking me all day everyday and I will cherish those kicks forever. I am dreaming about you constantly. I sometimes have sweet dreams about your birth. I hold you and I tell your dad how much you look like your brother and sister. I love those dreams so much. But I also have other dreams. Dreams where your little heart stops beating and we have to say goodbye before we can say hello.
I try my best to stay positive. I look to the future with hope and pray that you will be healthy and strong when you're born. But it's reality, it's a fact that you might not make it. There's no science or faith that takes that fact away. I want to bring you into this world and watch you grow, but in case that doesn't happen I need to ask you something.
If you have to go, please wait till you're 24 weeks grown? Wait until the world sees you as a real person. Wait until the doctors will call it a stillbirth and not a miscarriage. It doesn't matter what I believe or how I feel about you, no matter how small you are. They will always treat you differently. Wait until they let me hold you after you're born. Wait until they give me time before sending me home to deal with it there. Wait until they take it seriously and offer me the help I need and follow through with it. Wait until I become a less common statistic although certainly not rare by any means. Wait until they let me dress you and wrap you in a blanket. Wait until they give me some sort of certificate to respectfully acknowledge your existence. Wait until they allow me to mourn your loss with a burial or cremation of my own choice instead of burning your remains with hospital waste or sending me home to flush you down a toilet. Wait until the process of releasing you from my body is counted as an actual birthing process and not just some stomach ache and bleeding.
Wait until other people hear of our 'stillbirth' and count it as an actual loss of life. Wait until they feel the need to send a card or acknowledge our loss by giving a hug or saying sorry. Wait until those 24 weeks have passed. Wait until your death has a new name that seems to be counted as more real or more tragic in the eyes of society. Just wait, so that they'll actually remember you and believe you existed. It shouldn't matter when you die my girl, but for some reason in the world I'm trying to bring you into, it does.
I pray you will make it here. And if you do, I'll raise you to know that all life is sacred. I'll teach you about your sister who was as real and significant as you are. And hopefully you'll grow into a woman, a member of society who will know how precious life is and to acknowledge and respect all loss no matter at what stage of life it occurs."
I wish I could say these past 12 weeks have been some of the hardest of my life but given my previous loss, that would just not be true. Falling pregnant again so quickly after losing my third child has been a difficult pill to swallow. The major mix of emotions is pretty overwhelming, even to this day. From feeling like I'm suffocating because I've not had enough time to grieve, to desperately wanting to buy that really cute outfit I pass in the supermarket.
The beginnings of this pregnancy were debilitating for me in a few ways. Extreme sickness and nausea lasting from morning tonight makes it almost impossible to do anything. Apart from that, we had no way of confirming if I were actually pregnant or not. It had been a fair amount of weeks since the miscarriage but many women can still have pregnancy hormones in their urine for a long time after loss. I started to convince myself that my body was playing a cruel trick on me. What if I was going insane and just convincing myself I had those symptoms when in reality I didn't at all? My GP was unhelpful & didn't think it seemed to matter if I were pregnant or not unless I was considering termination. Given that I had just lost a child, it was pretty important to me to know if another one was on the way or not. My family were pushing me to reach out to midwives and other health professionals but by this point I was spent. I didn't have the energy to hit another brick wall. It was 2 weeks before we finally had a scan (and only because I had started to bleed) that revealed a 7 week old foetus with a beautiful heartbeat so visibly clear. My husbands heart was heavy as he realised that this fourth child, had already outlived our third.
Being pregnant again after losing a baby has been excruciating. When you've been through the physical effects of a miscarriage, the blood and the pain, your worst nightmare in a subsequent pregnancy is to look down in that toilet and see the blood again. Thankfully we have been really blessed with good midwives and doctors (after switching hospitals) who have looked after us and given us the reassurance we need.
With scan after scan we have been left relieved and happy to see our beautiful baby another week bigger. But I've hated going to every single one of those. I'm someone that has never experienced or understood anxiety. Someone close to me once spoke of wanting to throw herself from a moving car because of those feelings and I have definitely felt like doing that whilst driving to our ultrasound appointments.
Having experienced a missed miscarriage (where there were no signs we had lost our baby until we had our 12 week scan and there was no heartbeat) I know now that it doesn't matter how nauseas or bloated I feel. It doesn't matter if my boobs feel bigger or I really want cucumber and ice cream. My baby could be dead, and I'd have absolutely no idea. Living with that each day is both painful and exhausting. I cannot wait until I finally feel those beautiful baby kicks moving inside of me. Until then, I'll continue to put off going to pee as soon as I feel that urge. And I'll sit on the toilet for as long as it takes before feeling brave enough to look down.
I'm not sure if those around me who have rejoiced in our news have assumed that we are suddenly healed and happy again now that we are expecting another child. It simply does not work that way though I wish it did. I feel so blessed to be pregnant again and so quickly. Many women don't get that chance. But being pregnant again doesn't make me feel any better about the fact that I lost my third baby and for no good reason.
I don't know why the things that have happened to us in these past few months have happened. I don't believe that it was part of some plan, that my baby died because it was part of a bigger picture or she was too precious for earth. I don't believe that there's some lesson to be learnt and that it was just not mean to be. It was cruel and unfair. I'm not okay with what happened to me. And I'll never be. In the words of a favourite song "No science or religion will make this whole."
But what I do know is that my heart is still beating. I'm still alive; I survived. I have my family and I have another member joining it in January. Do I wonder if we'll actually get to hold that baby? Yes. I think about that every single day. I think about the nursery furniture we just bought and the baby clothes that just arrived in the post. What's the point in buying it? Why set myself up for disappointment? Even naming this piece of writing 'the rainbow pregnancy' is scary because what if this doesn't work out and this isn't our rainbow? But a loss isn't a loss unless you're attached - you can't experience loss without having cared for or loved that someone. Life has to be lived and enjoyed despite the tough things we go through. My biggest regret from my pregnancy with Dahlia is keeping it a secret for so long. I wish that child could have been celebrated like she was supposed to have been. And I won't let that happen to our fourth child.
Although this post is about sharing the tragic and unspoken truths of pregnancy after loss, it hasn't been all bad. We had our 12 week scan recently and like the other scans I was filled with dread and worry beforehand. But I came away from that scan both happy and excited. We were able to see a fully formed baby wriggling and moving around like crazy! The scanner couldn't even get the measurements at first because our little baby was so active. It filled me with true joy watching that beautiful child plus our overall hospital experience was so positive. I'm actually looking forward to January with excitement.
I'm certainly not fearless. The fear is there and it's fierce. They call it a rainbow pregnancy or rainbow baby because it's the miracle after the storm. Rainbows are a symbol of hope and I guess that's the only thing we're clinging to. Hope for healing and hope for the future, with another beautiful child that we'll hopefully hold in our arms at the end of all this.
See my Rainbow Pregnancy video here:
You were once my whole world, my only world. And now you are squished between your siblings. I wish I could be so much more for you. I held you as a baby and vowed to give you everything. To be everything for you. And I am failing. I try so hard to be patient, it's just your age. You need to have tantrums and refuse to go to bed. But all of that is so much more difficult to deal with when I have this ever-growing ball of heartbreak and anger stuffed up inside of me.
You are still too young to see what I'm going through. Too young to see my heartbreak and impatience. Even then, you are such a chilled little boy. The tantrums have not begun yet. I am so happy that you won't remember this time in our lives. You are my happy little boy. My little blondie. When I look at you I see what I could have had, had we not lost your sister. I bet she would have had hair like you. And you'd have kissed her to death. You are so special.
I think about you everyday. You were so precious to me, from the moment I found out you existed. For the first time in my life, I was so happy to be pregnant. So calm, so at peace with what was happening. It felt right, like it was meant to be. You were wanted so badly. And my heart aches, I feel it swelling when I think of how you're gone.
Today was like every other day I've had since probably around the Spring/Summer of 2016: pleasant and happy enough. I have lazy days, I have days jam packed with things to do, I have days where I feel really accomplished, other days when I wish I had done something more etc. Every day is different but I feel contented enough with it all. In fact, I actually feel generally quite happy with family life and all that goes on. However, inside my head, is this constant bug. A constant problem that my brain is trying to figure out.
Almost everyday when I'm getting on with the things I need to do, I am also doing a lot of thinking. The kind of thinking that often makes my heart ache and I can genuinely feel the tugs on my heart strings (and not in the good way that is often meant by this phrase). With each new day I am trying to figure out who I am. I grew up thinking I was someone, thinking I belonged to something and thinking I had this belief system and moral code. And then one day last year, it was all sort of shattered into pieces. And it wasn't in one strike. I feel like it started to shatter slowly and then the consequences just suddenly crept up on me one day.
And this is the part where I'm supposed to be bravely honest and start being a bit more specific. So yeah, I am talking about my religious beliefs and the church that I belong to (once belonged to?). I heard a song recently that said 'Every heartbreak makes it harder to keep the faith,' and that really resonated with me. For the 'outsiders' (and that's what I'll call you because that's honestly what you are when you're not fully a part of this - its DEFINITELY how I feel right now) that aren't members of this church, it will probably be really difficult for you to understand why this is so difficult for me. Why does this have such a huge impact on my life? Why is it so upsetting?
That's a really difficult question to answer because you are an outsider. And you'll never really know. Some other Christian churches are about showing up on a Sunday and maybe trying to be like Christ. But in this church, religion is your way of life. Everything you do connects with your beliefs and this plan that God has set out for you. You're taught from a very young age all of the things that are expected of you and that after the age of 8 you have agency - the right to choose for yourself and accept the consequences to every decision you make. Everything I have ever done in my life has been intertwined with the teachings of this Church and for the purpose of Eternal Salvation - to be with my family forever.
There has been so much good in my life because of it - so much happiness and special memories. But its not a perfect place and the people who try to live by these teachings are just people. They make mistakes and things don't always happen the way they should. I have reached a point in my life where I have a lot of doubts. A lot of really deep doubts that sort of eat away at you and take you to this place that isn't very nice. And I'm really lucky to have a husband that truly loves me despite my doubts. I am so grateful that my relationship with the church has nothing to do with our relationship. I only hope that the relationships I have with others will stand the same (which is not always the case).
So for what feels like a very long time, this part of my life has been sort of switched off, folded up and put in a cupboard. This is mainly because I am too scared to face the issues I have. I'm too scared to try and resolve it all because I'm worried it can't be resolved. I'm worried that I'll realise its broken beyond repair and I can't switch it back on again. And then what? What else do I know? What other life do I live? And what about my children? Because here's the biggest battle, the ever-growing alien conundrum that takes chunks out of my heart every day: If I don't go to church (and live the teachings etc) I am terrified that I will be failing my children. But on the other hand, I'm also terrified that I'll be failing them if I do.
Now, here's the light at the end of the tunnel. There are not many things I do know right now. I used to think I knew a lot of things: who I was, what I believed in. Those are pieces of the puzzles that are temporarily lost. But here's what I do know for certain: There is nothing more important, more relevant, more crucial and nothing that can bring you more happiness, than family. Families are what make up the human race and where love is born. I find joy in my life every single day, because I have a family. Each member is so different and special. I learn things from my parents, from my siblings, even from my own children. I laugh, cry, and live with my family. They are my reason for everything.
If you're reading this and you feel that life is confusing, difficult and stressful, know that you can get through anything in this world, if you have a family. This doesn't have to be two parents: a mother and father, heck it doesn't even have to be people who are blood related to you no matter what the biologists say! Even when you choose a different path from that of your families, keep them close by and love them forever. Of course, families aren't perfect and there will always be disagreements but remember Ohana! Ohana, in Hawaiian Culture, means Family - families that are bound together and remember one another. That means no one gets left behind, or forgotten.
And if for some reason, you feel like you don't have a family to call your own, come and join ours. I promise we'll love you forever.
We had a lot of fun today creating our banner. Lillie and Mark are still quite young so we knew their input would be limited but we tried our best to make their corners of the banner very specific to their likes at the moment. Lillie spent a lot of time drawing pictures on scraps of paper whilst baby Mark had a nap. Big Mark & I thought hard on what sorts of things we wanted to include on the banner and what our motto should be. We started with our family name, which we decided to do in the colour red as this is the colour of the Nicholson tartan and crest.
From there I had to focus on many of the other specifics alone as Mark decided he wanted to draw The Bat Family in Lego form in his corner of the banner and so dedicated most of his time to that cause! He put a lot of thought and detail into it and I was very impressed. I think his drawing of Bat-Girl was probably my favourite. I decided to draw a Christmas Tree in my corner as it was about drawing something that represented our passions. I also drew a packet of wotsits in Baby Mark's corner as he absolutely loves them and actually spent some time eating them whilst we were making the banner!
As well as the Wotsits Packet, I also drew a picture of Marky walking as we are sure he will be up on his feet in no time! By this point Lillie had gotten hungry and bored of scribbling so I made her a jam sandwhich and sent her to the table in her play-room. We did have a couple of tantrums during the activity but it didn't escalate and we were able to have a generally smooth-running experience together. I thought a lot about how we plan to do this each year and how we will all change each time. I cannot wait to look back on our banners and remember the wonderful memories we will have created. We decided to draw a Scottish Flag at the top of the banner and the Nicholson Crest at the bottom. We also came up with our 2017 Motto which is 'Members of the Nicholson Family Always Smile!'
Next, I worked on Lillie's corner. I made a really rubbish drawing of a Princess because she has been so obsessed with them ever since I took her to see a Cinderella Pantomime last month! Everyday we are watching Disney Princess movies and she just loves them all. I also did a sketch of a Nursery sign as Lillie will be starting Nursery in the summer which I am equally dreading and looking forward to. She was really pleased that I drew a Princess for her and I wonder if by next year she will be wanting me to draw something different!
And Mark is STILL working on his Bat-Family! So we moved on to the handprints. I thought it would be really nice to also put our handprints across the banner and see how they change every year. I used some green paint and rolled the kids sleeves up. Baby Mark's first print didn't quite work out so there is a giant splodge next to his second attempt which thankfully, does look like a handprint! Lillie next and she was so excited. She had been waiting for this moment the whole day although wanted her hand cleaned instantly! She did a great job.
Mark FINALLY completed his Bat-Family and we both added our own hand-prints. By this point, the banner was full of fun and colour and I am honestly really proud of it. I added some cute hearts and flowers in several blank spots and took a final picture. Don't you think it looks fantastic?
All that was left to do now was come up with our family rap. Now this, was definitely the highlight of our Family Unity Day! Mark and I both came up with the lyrics together and he beat boxed. We put some hats on and tried to get Lillie to do the peace sign but she can't quite get her tiny fingers to work it yet. We took a video of our masterpiece and are now ready to share with you 'The Nicholson Family Rap 2K17.' Enjoy!
So all in all I'd say our first Family Unity Day was a fleeting success! We all really enjoyed ourselves and we were so blessed that daddy didn't get any call outs to work as we would have been sad doing it without him. We plan to hang our banner on our staircase, along with our family goals for the year. I'd definitely recommend other families to do something like this in your own homes this month. Teach your children to be proud of their family name, be proud of the little people they are and the things they enjoy that make up their being! Create strong family traditions and happy memories this year!
Happy New Year Everyone!
You can read more about 'Family Unity Day' in 'The Book of New Family Traditions' by Meg Cox.
Now, at 22 years old I find that my little article has appeared in both 'The Liahona' and 'The New Era' magazines for January 2017. I am absolutely thrilled and when I first saw it I really actually couldn't remember too much about writing it. It was so nice to be reminded of my young self and how I felt back then. I am hopeful that my words will be able to inspire and touch the hearts of others.
My heart jumps a little every time I log on to lds.org and see my name in print! Not only is the article readily available to anyone in the world online, 'The Liahona' is published in up to 47 languages and is distributed to thousands and thousands of members worldwide. I plan to print the article off in every language it is published in and store them in a folder! In fact, my brother-in-law (who is fluent in French) was kind enough to read my article to me in French this week. I read the New Era every month growing up so its a pretty cool feeling knowing that young people all over the world will probably be reading what I wrote. I can only hope that they enjoy it!
So whilst you may not have a clue what I'm talking about or think very much about it, this is a huge deal for myself! It has brought me a lot of joy and a sense of achievement. I am so happy to see something I've written be printed in such a widely read magazine!
If you'd like to read my article you can view it online here. Alternatively, here is a photo of the article as it looks in the magazine!
Back in December 2014 I was asked to write a piece about the birth of my beautiful baby Lillie. It was featured on 'The Gift of Giving Life' website which is about a very special book that changed me whole pregnancy and birthing experience. Our little girl will be three years old in June and will be starting nursery - wow, where has all that time gone? I am so grateful for the many memories and photographs I have to carry with me as she continues to get older and older. I am so glad I have kept journals and have pieces of writing like the one below to remind me of the most precious moments of my life.
I've been meaning to share this on my own blog for some time now so here is a copy of my article but you can read the original along with many other incredible birth stories right here. It isn't perhaps the most detailed or perfect as I would maybe want it now but it was fresh just six months after Lillie was born and it is really special to me! Before you read on though, I just wanted to share some information about Lillie's names. I think names are really important. A name says a lot about a person, it fits a person. Although picking a name you really love is important when naming a child, Mark & I always agreed we would give our children names that had some sort of meaning or significance.
Lily's are my favourite flowers - Calla Lillie's in particular so we had even considered the name Calla or Callie. At the time we also had some special friends in our lives who also bore the name 'Lily' and so it made it even more significant to us. We decided on the spelling 'Lillie' because my name ends with and 'ie' and so does my mothers (her preference). In the same week that we found out the baby would be a girl, I bought a bouquet of Lillie's and put them in a vase in our stairwell. We were really struggling to choose a middle name at the time. I had thought of trying to combine both of our mothers name (my middle name is Megan - a combination of both my grandmothers names) but nothing seemed to fit.
I started asking my mum about family names but still couldn't find something I was happy with. That week my beautiful Lillies bloomed into this wild orange colour. They were like floral flames resting at the window as you passed them on the stairs! I sent my mum a picture of them and she told me that my great-grandmothers favourite flowers were orange Lillie's. Now, I am not someone who believes in coincidences so how meant to be was it when we found out that Marks great-grandmother (who had died at a very young age leaving too young children behind - one being Marks grandmother) also had the same name! Ellen would be Lillie's beautiful middle name.
It took three pregnancy tests to convince me this was really happening. We were married only a month and a half and now a baby was coming. My initial feelings were absolute fear. How on earth could I do this? I was in my second year at university and we were living off of Marks part-time job. This was not the time for having a baby (or so I had thought). If I’m being totally honest, my feelings went a lot deeper and lot more personal than this. All I knew was that I was very much pregnant, and I very much didn’t want to be. I think what was most difficult about dealing with this situation was the guilt that came with it. How could I not want a perfect little son or daughter? I had spent my entire teenaged life dreaming of having a family and now faced with the reality I just wanted a way out.
I felt awful. I kept imagining the beautiful child inside me and thinking ‘How can I not want you?’ I spent a lot of time on my knees and shed an awful lot of tears. A trip to the states and a browse in one of my favourite book shops solved everything. As I stared at the cover of The Gift of Giving Life I felt a little sense of excitement about being able to feel the spirit about being pregnant and giving birth. After reading the contents and seeing the sort of discussions that I would be able to partake of, I knew I had to take this book home. And I was right. This book calmed all of my fears and totally blew my mind. I read the whole thing slowly, and over the course of the nine months. I managed to finish it the week before I gave birth.
One of my favourite parts was reading the thoughts and feelings of a woman who seemed to have been able to put into words the way I had felt when I found out I was pregnant. I remember thinking ‘It’s okay. I’m not the only one. It’s okay to feel like that.’ And that’s all I needed. To know that it was okay to be pregnant and not want to be. After I came to terms with that, I could accept it, take time to heal and figure out that this was the best time for a baby and that although it wasn’t part of our plan, it was definitely a part of Gods plan.
So there I was – five days overdue and at 4 am the contractions woke me up. They were hard, fast and very painful. I was hurting, but I wasn’t afraid and I wasn’t panicked. I was very calm and very focused. I had a firm belief that this was my purpose and what I was designed to do. I knew I could do it and I knew there was no need to worry. I had learned from reading my book that women who have a great fear of giving birth actually tend to have longer labours or complications in childbirth compared with women who are not afraid and keep calm. I even researched this by asking women that I knew, and it seemed to be true. I had great faith that if I stayed calm and had courage that I could do this.
I listened to the sound of rainfall and did my breathing exercises whilst sitting on the bathroom floor trying to figure out when was the right time to call my husband home and when we should go to the hospital. I was so confused – my sister had given birth three days prior and she had been in labour for 40 hours but this was happening so fast. The contractions were almost over-lapping and they were extremely painful. This was difficult for me to deal with without getting panicked, but I just kept telling myself that I could do it and that it would be over soon. This wasn’t going to go on forever, and when it was over I’d have a beautiful little girl to spend everyday with.
At 8.45 am Mark came home, and we called the hospital. It was quite far away so I was reluctant to go in and be assessed because I knew if I wasn’t at least 4 cm dilated they would send us back home. But the contractions were so fast and we felt we should go. We arrived at 10.20 am and after assessment I was told I was 5cm – wow! This was happening quickly. I had always imagined lying on a bed to give birth but sitting down just wasn’t an option in reality. I could feel so much pressure like the baby was coming already so I just had to stand. And I was right – she was coming, and I couldn’t control the urges to push. With my husband there to witness the most incredible moment of our lives and my mother there to hold my hand and motivate me to push that little bit harder, my little Lillie was born at 12.31 pm. It was quick and painful, but I loved every single second. I have never felt anything so exciting and exhilarating. Giving birth to my little girl was the best experience I’ve ever had. It was so positive and so within my capacity. I felt wonderful and so happy to finally have this beautiful, perfect girl.
I truly believe that I owe my birth experience to the things I learned and kept with me from The Gift of Giving Life. I will always treasure the special things I read in it and shared with my husband. I will always treasure calling my sister who was also pregnant with her first and discussing the things we read in this wonderful book. And I will always read this book throughout my pregnancies. It is one of the best books I have ever read and I urge every woman, mother, mother-to be to take in its words and let their hearts be touched.
**Buy the Gift of Giving Life for just £12.81 here on Amazon.
The Christmas Psycho is back with another post about, well, Christmas! I've been married now for almost four years, making this our fourth Christmas together. And I can honestly say that its the first Christmas I`ve wholeheartedly enjoyed since starting my own family! I`ve thought long and hard about writing this post and decided I wanted to go ahead with it. The points that I'm about to make may not be of grave importance to a lot of people, but I hope that the way I have felt strikes a chord with some other person (whatever their circumstances) who has perhaps struggled with big changes in their life.
When we got married we had already decided that we wanted to live in the part of the country where Mark was from. He loved where he grew up and I had always dreamed of a home in the country-side so it really wasn't that difficult for me to decide I wanted to move. Of course I knew that would mean living an hour away from my parents and other family members but I felt strong enough to cope with the distance and knew I would make every effort to see them often. And so we moved into our first flat: a cosy little attic space in the top of an old hotel. We absolutely adored it and still do.
We settled and were very happy! Mark was working and studying and I was studying as well. Two months into our marriage and we found out I was pregnant which brought on a lot of emotional and physical change. I dropped out of university due to my health and spent days upon days in my bed apart from the two weeks in November where I dragged myself upon a 14 hour flight to America for a honeymoon where I spent most of the time puking over all the lovely sights. It was a pretty dark time in my life but by the time December had come I was starting to feel better about a lot of things and the sickness was subsiding!
I was so excited for our first Christmas together as husband and wife and I think that was perhaps part of the problem: my expectations were super high and they were just never in a million years going to be met! We arrived back from our honeymoon in the first week of December and the jet lag was unreal. It took us almost two weeks to get back to normal! We found ourselves at Tesco at 4am one night, buying our first Christmas tree, which of course was too tall for our tiny flat (rookie mistake). The only place we could make it fit was between our kitchen and dining area so it was very random, crooked and barely decorated. We spent most of our time in the living room so we didn't even get to enjoy the damned thing!
I spent so many days of that festive month, stuck at home alone (and no not creating death traps for the most wanted criminals) feeling unwell or feeling sorry for myself. If anything, I needed to be with my family most at that time! Unfortunately, that was not to be. Mark and I had agreed that we would alternate Christmas every year, having dinner with his family one year and dinner with mine the following. This particular year, his youngest brother would be skyping the whole family from a foreign country where he was serving a two year mission for his church. The family hadn't seen or spoken to him face-to-face in four months at this point, so it was a pretty big deal that we would be getting to talk to him via skype.
So on my first Christmas away from home, newly married, having a difficult pregnancy and feeling altogether very lost, I was dragged away to a new family (whom I love dearly) and forced to come face-to-face with what the word 'compromise' really meant! I remember on Christmas Eve I couldn't stop crying and there wasn't really a reason for it...I think everyone thought I had gone mad. It really wasn't the most appropriate of times in my life to have hormones going crazy. That month of December wasn't exactly the Christmases I was used to growing up and with it being the most wonderful time of the year and (to me) the most important, I was bitterly disappointed.
The following year was a smidgen better. Our little girl had been a part of our lives almost six months and we loved her dearly. We knew she wouldn't have a clue what was going on but having a child just made the festive period a lot more exciting! We had moved home by this point and our beautiful tree stood proudly in the corner of the living room. It still didn't look good to me. I attempted a homemade advent calendar where we would do a Christmas activity and read a scripture every day of the month...I think we managed around seven of those! We scrimped and scraped together, worrying the whole month that we wouldn't manage to afford gifts for our HUGE families.
The whole month just hadn't been what I had wanted. And again, I totally admit that I shouldn't have put so much pressure on myself with these massive expectations. Even with Christmas dinner with my own family, I flew into January feeling like the Christmas Tree hole in my heart just hadn't been filled that year.
And Christmas 2015 was interesting to say the least since I had just pushed a child out of my body 4 weeks before! Surely I don't have to go any further about why that December wasn't exactly the most enjoyable or festive of times? Although I might add that having a new-born during the month that we celebrate the birth of the most important baby to have ever entered the world, was an incredible blessing. And yes, with each year I do feel like things did improve.
But it wasn't until this Christmas that I truly felt happy and at peace with the celebrations we have enjoyed. This month has been wonderful and I can't quite work out what has been different for me! Is it the fact that my firstborn is now two years old and has been totally obsessed with Santa and Mary and 'baby Jesus?' Is it because we FINALLY ticked off every single activity in our Advent calendar? Or have I maybe let go of all my expectations and finally relaxed about the whole darn thing and embraced all the festive fun, love and joy without putting myself under any stress?
I think I'm going to put it down to a combination of all of the above, amongst some other things. Mark no longer works in retail which can be incredibly stressful at this time of year. He is a much happier person since changing jobs and he's had some great holidays this month. I am so beyond grateful for all the time we have been able to spend together as a family. I've also been super organised with the Christmas shopping this year, eliminating the sleepless nights worrying about our finances! We've created so many new traditions together this year and spent SOOO many days with members of our extended families.
Christmas is a time where families and friends come together and celebrate life and love. I know how blessed I am to be married to someone who loves me and to have children, but that doesn't make it a piece of cake and it certainly doesn't make any negative feelings I have, void. Everyone is going through tough things in their lives, all so different and unique. This is just a small piece of how I've felt these past few years but there are others out there who feel even more alone and have even bigger issues. And that all seems to feel worse when December comes around. My message is, that Christmas won't suck forever. Life changes and we change with it. Life does get better if you want it to and Christmas is just a small chunk of your life that takes place every year.
If it ain't Merry, there's always a do-over next time.
Without a doubt the past few years have become a sort of competition to see who brings out the best ad. This year (on my birthday) we watched all of them and voted on our favourites but I'll get to that later. Anyway, this morning I received a regular email from 'Martin's Money-saving Tips.' It comes around every week or two and I always glance through the list to make sure I don't miss out on anything good. As I scrolled near the bottom I came across this sub-heading 'Xmas ads 'don't work': Last week's poll asked if tear-jerker Xmas ads had any impact on where you shop. A whopping 89% of you say you aren't won over by the 'ads' and 9% actively avoid the shops that put them out.'
Wow. I couldn't really believe my eyes. In fact, I was pretty annoyed about it. You see, to me its pretty obvious that a dog jumping on a trampoline and a robin red-breast eating a mince pie isn't really designed to encourage folks to go out and buy stuff... Its been made pretty clear to me in the past few years that the stores 'putting out' adverts with these kind of messages are trying to do something more. I'd like to suggest that they're trying to spread some joy? Some Christmas Spirit? Go beyond gifts? In fact, I think if these particular stores really wanted to persuade people to buy from their shop they'd just do what House of Fraser do every year and release a sucky advert jam packed with all the flashy stuff that can be bought, along with the 'cool' dancers and the modern music! A load of tripe if you ask me...
So yeah, I really don't think that the CHRISTMAS adverts 'don't work', Martin. Based on my observations on social media I'd say that they DO work. Everyone is talking about them, sharing them and getting excited. 'Awwing' at the really good ones with special messages. That's the kind of reaction I'd expect from people. I mean I honestly can't believe that everyone is running to Aldi for their Christmas dinner because a carrot on the telly went on a magical Christmas Adventure with Santa Claus. That just can't be! So I scrolled to the bottom of the email and goodness gracious the subject came up again.
This time the heading read 'THE CHRISTMAS ADS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SHOPS.' Oh do they not? I'd have never guessed that one Martin. It goes on: 'With Xmas ad saturation of commercial breaks at this time of year (to little effect, as the poll results above show), our forumites are asking which are the most annoying. From bouncing dogs to humming families, let us know which Christmas ads you love and hate.'
Okay, so because the people writing this forum clearly believe the adverts are supposed to help sell from these particular shops, they think its stupid that the adverts don't have anything to do with the shops. Hmmmm. They don't have anything to do with the shops...I wonder why oh why that could be the case? CAUSE ITS NOT ABOUT THE FLIPPING SHOPS!!! For goodness sake...they spelled it out plainly but still don't get it. How is this a difficult concept?
Now, maybe I'm wrong. These adverts do cost these companies an awful lot of money. But who isn't going to put out an advert at this time of year? The fact is people ARE going to shop and they ARE going to go to these stores. But I refuse to believe that people are choosing which shops to buy from based on adverts about Mrs Claus' secret double life and a carrot named Kevin. You'll just never convince me of that.
And so, I believe my rant is coming to an end. A rant it may have been, but an important one I believe. And if I haven't convinced you yet (although I really think you'll need to question how your brain works if that is the case haha) then please take a look at what I voted my FAVOURITE Christmas advert not just of this year but of all time. Watch this advert and tell me that Sainsbury's are trying to get you to go out and buy from them? Because this message is THE most relevant and crucial message we need right now in this day and age. And it certainly isn't encouraging you to go down the shop and buy a turkey.
We've had a wonderful few months filled with family activities, sweeties, crafts, lazy days and more sweets! The back end of September wasn't too busy for us. We started having weekly shopping trips with Mark working at better hours and driving us to the city before and after. I managed to get ahead on some of the Christmas shopping and snapped up some great bargains for my babies. Some chillier days crept up on us so I decided it might be best to order in some coats, hats and gloves for everyone. H&M proved to be the ideal place for finding reasonably priced, cosy-wear for my little ones. They now have matching coats with fur trim hoods to keep them warm this winter.
The 30th of September proved to be a momentous day in our household! With both babies sleeping over at Nanny's house, I decided to tag along to Mark's work appointments (staying in the car of course). So we zig zagged around and somehow ended up in Falkirk! It was pitch black, freezing cold and not seeming like the smartest of ideas. But anything for some extra time with your spouse yeah?? So off he went into the cosy house of a lovely Irish woman who chatted to him for hours, whilst I turned into an icicle in the car! Luckily, I had a couple of coats to use as blankets, a box of quality street AND Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets = BLISS.
Dinner was yet to be had so when Mark emerged from the house with no sale (sad face) it felt only proper to check out where the nearest Nando's Restaurant was. And with one just 3 miles away, how could we say no? So off we went to fill our stomachs with some peri-peri chicken and upon entering the restaurant Mark realised something quite special: this was his 50th Nandos Restaurant. That's right - Mark had now visited 50 separate Nandos Restaurant's across the UK. Wow! He was ecstatic and I was ecstatic for him! So we of course had to tell our server who joined in our celebration and consequently gave us free desserts - yum!
October came around very quickly! A few days in and we were discussing costumes and decorations and really getting into the Halloween Spirit. On a week that we spent at my parents, I decided to venture into the 'attic of doom' with my brothers to see what treasures we could come up with. So up the shaky, metal ladders I went, trembling all the way and stopping now and then to check my brother was still holding them at the bottom. When I was a young girl I watched my brother Logan fall from a set of ladders. He hit his head so hard he was unconscious right up until the ambulance arrived - the ladder fear was born.
Arriving in one piece, my brothers and I ducked around the dark attic rummaging through boxes and digging through piles of objects. Just when I thought the quest had been in vain, the special stuff decided to start appearing. A beautiful Mamas & Papas Rocking Horse once belonging to my little brother Caleb is now often rode by my little Mark whilst I sing 'Horsey, Horsey don't you stop' over and over and over. A Tigger bouncy game sort of like Buckaroo, once belonging to myself and my siblings is now one of Lillie's favourite past-times and we never stop getting a fright when Tigger wakes up! We found so many wonderful things up there and I plan to go back soon for more.
The next weekend was spent in St Andrews at the aquarium. We absolutely loved walking around and looking at all the fish. We even got to pet a snake and have our picture taken with a giant spider! Lillie loved watching the seals get fed and baby Mark was quite taken by the meerkats. These kinds of family outings are my favourite and often remind me of my own childhood. We found a family ticket for the Aquarium on Itison which always proves great for cheap, family days out. Mark and I also spent a gorgeous day in Inverness and visited Loch Ness where we walked along the water for ages and tried to spy out the Monster which we both believe is real!
In the weeks leading up to Halloween I was working hard on my window display. The children have a playroom in our house with a huge window so I decided to decorate it to co-ordinate with seasons, holidays and special occasions. I decided to give the window a theme to match our costumes and since we planned to dress up as characters from 'The Wizard of Oz,' I went with an 'Over The Rainbow' theme. For weeks I worked on a rainbow paper chain and a long yellow brick road. I painted pumpkins like the characters we were dressing as and even placed some sparkly red shoes in the window. I was really proud of how it turned out!
It gave me a good excuse to sit down and do some Halloween crafts with Lillie. We made Pumpkins out of paper plates and Ghosts using her footprints (something Baby Mark could participate in too). I love painting and making crafts with my girl so this was a really fun Autumn activity.
We decided to start our own tradition of going to pick a pumpkin at a farm every year. So we went with Lillie's cousin Levi to Cairnie fruit farm. Its a gorgeous little farm just a couple of miles outside of Cupar. It has great picnic spots, a big park and a huge maze. Whilst Baby Mark was sleeping in the car with daddy on watch, Lillie and I went down to the pumpkin patch and picked ourselves two gorgeous pumpkins: a pretty white one and bright coloured orange one with a long stock. We finished the day off with hot soup and tasty bread. Our Halloween party was so much fun too! We played pumpkin bowling, pass the pumpkin, dooking for apples and we even got the chance to wrap Grandad up in toilet roll like a mummy!
The week before Halloween we were very blessed to have four young African girls stay at our home. They were part of a singing choir touring the UK and we had met them last year and grown to love them tremendously. We had a fantastic experience with them and I plan to write a post all about it so watch this space.
And now its the 16th of November??? The Birthday Month is upon us! How on earth did we get here already? Our month has started out dazzlingly! Mark has been working a lot more in Glasgow which has given myself and my babies the perfect excuse to visit our family on the West Coast a lot more often. We spent many days in the first week of November staying with my grandparents. We went shopping and took the kids to soft play. On the 4th we went down to the local firework display and we absolutely loved it! It was freezing and sparkly and wonderful! We went home, drank hot chocolate and did some sparklers. Lillie was fearless!
The next night we did some PG fireworks in the back garden which were so much fun. We spent time with my aunt and my brothers and the whole experience just made my heart warm. The occasion of course called for more sparklers and more hot chocolate! And now we are just cruising through the birthdays and soaking it all in. This weekend we plan to celebrate my brother's 21st and my 22nd! The following week both my Mark's will be turning a year older and it tugs on my heartstrings:
1. Because my little Mark is going to be a year old and this has without a doubt been the quickest year of my life. He was just a tiny baby yesterday? My Lillie didn't grow as fast as this?
And 2. My big Mark is going to be 29. Which means next year he will be 30?!! Which means old man o'clock! Okay so not really old but in comparison to 22 year old me? He's getting there! On the bright side I will always look healthy and young next to him. Happy birthday babe!
And Happy Autumn everyone - love The Nicholson's. x