Why date nights matter!

Date nights are an important part of keeping a relationship fresh and fulfilling. They allow you to dress up, do something different and enjoy each others company. In an ideal world we would have at least one a month but we’re lucky if we manage 4 or 5 a year. We look to but life takes over or we just don’t have the inspiration or motivation to get it organised. The main organisation part is finding a babysitter for our one year old. So this week we got our act together!

We hadn’t had a date night since before we lost our baby about a month ago and sorely needed one to get back to us. So I got myself sorted and got one of our amazing friends to babysit. I then got to planning what we would do.

I’d met a friend during the week for a swim with my little one and upon entering the retail park noted the bowling alley, laser quest, trampoline park and Nando’s. No we didn’t do all those in one night. I decided we’d go trampolining and have Nando’s after.

So it came to our date night and we arrived at the trampoline park, had our video briefing and got in there. We were the oldest people in there (I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or proud) and definitely had no skill when it came to jumping. I felt slightly inadequate next to these 10 and 11 year olds. They were doing flips all over the place. They have all sorts in there. Trampoline dodgeball, basketball slam dunking, speed chasing games on the wall, an assault course, foam pit and air filled crash pillow. We tried everything and only 8 minutes into our session we were pooped; out of breath, sweating and thinking how an earth has our session still got so long left?! Don’t get me wrong we were having a great time but when you’re knackered and you don’t want to waste your trampoline time/ look unfit by sitting and resting the clock seemed to tick by very slowly.

Another issue I encountered is really a female only one. Now as a woman who has had a baby (although via section) I assumed that my pelvic floors were in pretty good nick. Especially as I keep up on my exercises. Well trampolining has shown me I still have work to do. Not every single jump but ones where I put in extra effort to go high I’m pretty certain I peed a little each time (I’m sorry for the tmi but I feel I need to warn any ladies out there).

Therefore what I have learnt from this date night experience is that I’m old(ish), not overly fit, and need to do some pelvic floor exercises. Luckily they had showers and changing rooms so we could become presentable for the rest of our evening. And although we ended up in Frankie and Benny’s and not Nando’s (too long a queue) we had a great time. We were able to forget about everyday life, have fun laughing at each other and being silly and bring ourselves closer together ready for the weeks ahead.

Maybe next time we’ll go for laser quest. You wouldn’t want to just go for the ordinary meal or movie out.

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Keeping afloat

Since we lost our baby I probably look okay on the surface as I’m not crying or moping, but underneath I’m paddling like crazy to keep afloat. I’m keeping myself so busy that I don’t have time to think. I’m mostly busy because I have a 17 month old but also I can’t stand to be in the house for too long. And being busy is great at the minute but I know that any second anything could cause me to crumble and when it does all my emotions that have been pushed to the back of my mind will surface. Yet I’m lucky enough to have amazing friends and family.

It’s also pregnancy and infant loss awareness month and I’ve felt lucky to have this so close to my own loss. It’s given me hope to know I can speak out and not have my baby forgotten. It’s also led me to some amazing support groups. But even with all of this I still beat myself up about what I did that harmed my baby and what I could have changed. I know it wasn’t my fault and I want to share this snippet from my support book that I needed to hear tonight.

This book has been a lifeline to me. You may find it helpful for yourself, a friend or family member. It’s saying goodbye – Zoe Clark-Coates. Read it.

Also I can completely recommend getting a dog. We’ve borrowed one to test how our daughter gets along with one before we buy one. It’s going great. I’m happier then ever. Loving the dog walking and cuddles and also loving watching my daughter have such fun with him. Definitely do it. Animal therapy works!

The joys of a toddler

With everything that has been going on I don’t know how I’d have managed without Beatrice. Yes, it’s exhausting trying to grieve, physically go through a miscarriage and look after a toddler and I don’t always get it right but she gives me a distraction.

I’ve been so numb and on the outside probably look really well and not grief stricken at all. I can only put this down to not having any time to dwell on my grief as my 16 month old daughter needs me. She’s been very needy recently and I’m sure she’s playing off my emotions. Luckily she has moments of pure sunshine that have brought a joy to my life when it’s clouded in fog.

Here are some of the things that have made me smile and I hope they do for you too:

1) when we try the count to 3 method of parenting she just counts along with us which is super cute and very clever for her age, although not effective in any way.

2) we taught her to sign please to try and stop her screaming and it’s worked but she now signs and says it all the time when we don’t even know what she wants. We’ll have to work on some new signs.

3) she has learnt to say badger. This is due to a wind in the willows toy at my parents and my dad was teaching her the names of the characters except badger is the only one she got.

4) she’s starting to learn to say the names of her 2 best friends, Annabel and Miriam. Except Miriam comes out as minion (I may have a love of minions and she’s just decided they sound the same).

5) we’re all about the dogs and when she sees them in park she runs at them with her arms open yelling doggie (yes she’s mine), and when they ignore her and walk off she shouts ‘no’ after them.

6) she loves to sing and dance so we often crank up the music and have a crazy dance and sing along.

7) and finally she has taken to trying to sit in her dolls pushchair to read books but this quite often ends in a stuck bottom and a lot of screaming.

These are things that help get me through at the minute. I hold her that extra bit tighter and keep them in my mind when the long and exhausting evenings and nights come along. Grief is so individual. I might be okay on the outside but really it’s only the toddler I love like crazy that is holding me together.

Be kind to yourself. Be selfish. Rest. Find joy in the small things and hold on to whatever you can to get you through. (Even if it may be binge watching friends).

Rollercoaster

I don’t want this blog to become a place for me to mope and be sad with everything that is happening; because who wants to read that but also Robin wouldn’t want that for me. It won’t change what’s happened and it also will benefit no one. Inevitably there will be moments where I am honest with how we are doing because there’s no point writing a blog about family life if I’m not being real about our experiences. I’m sorry if people find it hard to read but it’s definitely a lot harder to live it. We don’t want sympathy just love, support and your amazingly kind words. Luckily we have Beatrice who brings moments of sunshine to our lives at the minute and is one of the things that is keeping us going.

The amazing support from friends, family and even people we’ve don’t know has been amazing. Shared stories of their own losses, a listening ear, food, tears alongside ours and so many little gifts to get us through. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us. We love you all.

It has been a rollercoaster this last week. I have days of complete numbness when I have nothing left and then I feel guilty for not crying. I have other days of being an emotional wreck and some days I can seem normal but something will just trigger a waterfall. These are all normal parts of grief but that makes it no less difficult.

Beatrice has been a joy to have with us. We hug her that little bit tighter (which only makes her shout at us) and maybe spoil her just a little bit at the moment. She brings sunshine to our lives, she truly is what her name means, ‘bringer of joy’. But my ability to deal with her bad moments has diminished. She loves to just shout at the minute and scream and not only is it headache inducing but I find myself begging her to stop without fully engaging with her. She’s probably playing off our emotions but when you know she can say please and show you what she wants it is difficult to manage. I feel bad but I know it’s a phase and she’ll have us back fully engaged as we work through this difficult time.

She brought much laughter yesterday when Ian decided to use the count to 3 parenting method. It had no effect on her speed of descending the stairs whatsoever (she was too busy chatting, yes she’s like me) but it did result in her counting to 3 with Ian. Which I’m sure would infuriate an angry parent but was the cutest thing I’ve heard. You can’t help but have that melt your heart. It definitely makes up for the tantrums. I look forward to many more moments like that.

What if……

This is probably my hardest post you write but also one I need to write. Not only for me, but to bring awareness but also to remember our baby.

This week has been tough. Instead of announcing we would be having a new arrival we are having to tell our friends and family that we lost our baby. At 10 and a half weeks pregnant they are no longer with us. And this has been heartbreaking and now we are left with so many what if’s. What would they look like, boy or girl, what would their personality be?

We’ll never know whether they were a boy or a girl but we gave them a name anyway. We named them Robin which could be either and now whenever we see a Robin we’ll know it’s them saying hello.

4 of us were pregnant in our friendship group. And 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. For some reason I always thought it would happen to one of us and for some reason I always thought it would be me. Whether that was God preparing me or not I don’t know. When we went for our scan I knew there would be no heartbeat as the pregnancy hadn’t seemed right. I wasn’t as ill as I was last time and I just had a feeling.

Emotions wise I’m everywhere. Some days numb, other days a wreck but thank God I have Beatrice to cuddle and Ian who has been amazing. They give me something to live for. As for friends and family they have been amazing. Sending food and flowers. Food is very helpful as I have no appetite at all. But even more invaluable they are there to talk and listen. It’s easy when you don’t know what to say to lose touch with someone. But instead of going silent just tell me you don’t know what to say and then just listen and be there. Loss and grief are very lonely experiences and although you can’t know what I’m feeling you can let me know I’m not alone. Simple texts each day just to ask how I am. Thank you to all those who do this. But also it’s okay to talk about our baby. They are not someone/ something to be brushed under a rug. They are my child and I want to remember them. If I get upset just let me cry. Hand me a tissue or hold my hand. Allow me to feel my grief and know that it’s okay but also act normal as I cry. Don’t make a big deal just carry on talking to me. It’s better out than in.

Another very difficult thing is my body still thinks I’m pregnant when I’m not. It will take time to go back to normal and this is a struggle. Along with seeing those around me who were expecting at the same time. I am still so happy for them but at times I will struggle with knowing I would have been through that journey with them. I’m now part of a club I never wanted to join but I know I’m not alone.

I don’t know how I’m keeping going but I am and God has part to play in that. I have never felt closer to him. It was not part of his plan and he cries with me. God does not make life so that it then dies. It is the evil in the world that causes death and I know that he is holding our little baby so tight right now.

Our baby is not a taboo subject and I am not ashamed to share about them. They are a part of my life and this experience is now a part of me that makes me who I am. Our baby is very much loved and we will never forget them, so please don’t forget them either.