The rollercoaster of grief

In the last few days since Nana has died – I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions.

At first I was shocked, despite expecting it – I think nothing ever prepares you. Then of course I was sad. Later was just utter heartbreak when it finally sunk in more, followed by anger at the world and people around me (that was last night, when I realised the world wasn’t going to stop spinning because I am heartbroken) and now I’m just really pathetically unbelievably sad again.  I’m sure there are other emotions to follow.

I also wonder if there will ever come a time, when I look at her picture and don’t just burst into tears.

And I feel cheated! BUT, I feel stupid for feeling cheated, because let’s face it  – she was 92! But I feel cheated on behalf of the kids mainly – well and myself.

I want to go back in time and drink up all the past times with her. When we sat at the Toby Carvery together as a family, or went for a drive, or just hung out at her or my house with the kids.

I am angry with my memory for not being sharp and not retaining every single piece of memory about her.

I am cross that I don’t have saved voicemails from her, because I am frightened that I won’t remember her voice.

My Mum and Aunt have started the arduous task of sorting through her things, and as I am close to her house – I suspect I have been benefitting from receiving items. Yesterday was a whole bunch of store cupboard ingredients – gravies, and jelly etc. Most of which I will use. But then there was also a brown paper bag of sweets, containing a couple of packets of sweets from M&S  – Mushroom coconut things, and some sour candies.

My last memory of being with her was eating these sweets in the nursing home, with her.  Not knowing they were sour she opted for one and spent the whole time pulling faces and saying ‘Ohhh!’ – she wasn’t a fan of it! I made it right with a coconut ‘shroom after BUT, I had to throw the sweets away today. Just looking at them made me so sad, it reminded me of her being ill and in the nursing home – and I can’t bear to look at them. I don’t want to remember her that way, I want to remember the good times.

Today, I got a box of Nana’s recipes. She went to a cooking school at some point (I don’t think I knew this) and these are all her typed our recipes from there. I didn’t see any of HER recipes, her famous Nana’s Stew (beef), or her famous fruit cake – I expect she memorised those.

I never went through that box with her and asked if she had tried any. And now I can’t.

The things you think about and regret after :-(

 

“She’s a fighter” – what not to say.

“She’s a fighter’ might seem like the most appropriate thing to say to the friend of family member of someone is dying,  but honestly – nobody wants to hear that shit.

I do not want to think of my Nana fighting death, because that suggest actually she doesn’t want to die and that makes me feel awful. And the truth of the matter is – she didn’t want to die – she was terrified. And knowing that makes this whole process so much harder.

When you hear the words “She’s a fighter” it feels like you have subjected her to death, when actually what happened is we couldn’t bear to see her in the pain she was in, and so had to ask for her to get the appropriate pain relief. Her body was already beginning to shut down.

Nana was given 24-48 hours to live from last Friday, and very sadly eventually passed the following Friday evening. I am absolutely and totally heart broken. I cannot imagine my life without my Nana Joan and it is only dawning on me now that I have to.

She was always my safe space.  The person I came out to first. The person I could talk to about anything, and the personal responsible for the majority of my happy childhood memories. I am so happy that she spent some time with Bug and Luke, but equally as sad that Bug will probably not remember her.

She was the woman in my life, who I would say made the biggest impact. She loved everyone and everything -even the local squirrels would knock on the door for biscuits and whilst I am happy that she has been reunited in Heaven with my GrandPop and our other family members I feel such a deep sadness for our loss.

The end of her life, was horrendous. St Christopher’s hospice, I have to say have been amazing (and in the back of my  mind I’m already thinking about fundraising activities for them) and the staff in the nursing home were so caring – they really all went above and beyond.

They brought in mattresses for us to sleep on the floor next to her at night, and offered cuddles and hugs and gave support and information when we needed.

One staff member in particular who had lost her own Mum a few months before went above and beyond. She talked us through what to expect and answered any questions we had. I had plenty, I was terrified of seeing someone actually die and had no idea what to expect.  She was with my Nana when she passed, it was 45 mins after my Mum left and even though we had maintained a round the clock schedule so she wouldn’t be alone – I have been told they wait until you are alone to die.  I am so happy that it was this one lady with her, because I know despite the short time she had known my nana, she genuinely cared and had an attachment to our family. I know without a shadow of a doubt she would have treated her with respect and dignity.

There were many things we had to do that I hadn’t thought we would about, or thought we would have to do. We had the fight Brigade in on the Wednesday PM to try and cut Nana’s rings off. Her hands were so swollen and her finger broken that neither the nursing home nor the funeral parlour would do it and my Aunt and Mum had tried and despite the pain relief, Nana had cried out in pain :-(.

Nana

I posted on a local group to find someone who had a ring cutter, and we talked about buying one on Amazon, but knew time was not on our side. A random stranger offered to borrow one from a friend and drive it to us  – I was SO touched by this.

Someone suggested the local Fire Station… and so on the verge of tears, I called them. They were amazing. They came out within 5 mins and had the rings off in 2 mins. I dropped them some biscuits today to say thanks.

There were also lots of issues, that we will be addressing maybe, one day in the future. I don’t want to go into them now though until I can make sense of things.

Now begins the start of sorting her things and arranging the funeral. My Mum and Aunt have most of the funeral arrangements sorted, and just need to firm up some dates. I am honestly dreading it. Because then, its real – for sure.

My head is such a jumble, I can’t make sense of anything right now, so I apologise if this blog post makes no sense, I wanted to write it to help unjumble some of the mess.

For now though, I can’t stop the tears.

 

 

 

Waiting for death

I got the call yesterday from my Mum that Nana Joan, my beloved Grandmother is being put on a Morphine Pump and probably at best has around 48 hours to live.

If we back track a bit, about a year ago she started having problems being breathless and over the course of the year deteriorated. There was a brief patch where we all thought she had made a remarkable recovery, but this sadly was short lived.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, we had managed with her still being at home with the absolutely wonderful care of St. Christopher’s Hospice and us, her family, but after 3 falls in a week a couple of weeks ago, the ambulance moved her to hospital and I was told she probably wouldn’t ever go home.

I visited her in the hospital a few times, and that was really hard. She was on lots of pain medicine and had moments where she didn’t know who I was – she tried to tell me I wasn’t Elle once and also that she was 101.  On one occasion I had been sitting with her rubbing cream on her back for the itching she had been suffering and the lady in the next bed, a stranger just quietly piped up “You’ve made her day coming in”. I’m not sure if she even knew my Grandmother – maybe they had private chats when I wasn’t there but it was nice to hear. I boo-hooed all the way home of course.

We then tried to find her an amazing home to move to – and we did. It *was* amazing and only 9 mins away from my house. When I went in to see her on the day she moved in, the residents were gathered around singing Lion King songs, beating African drums and I knew she would love it there. There would be activities that she could get involved in that se would really enjoys – lord knows my Nana loves to sing! Bug even had a go on the African drums!

I always noticed there was a great difference in Nana on the days she really engaged with others.

I left there after our visit, feeling lighter – singing the praises of the home to my wife. I felt that she (Nana) was in a safe place and had somehow convinced myself this would be the amazing home she would be in for the next few years. I even felt properly happy for the first time in a while. I think now I must have been in denial.

That was last week, the pain she has been suffering just got worse, lucid moments became few and far between and so it was decided by St. Christopher’s, along with my family that it was best and easiest for her to start her on this Morphine Pump. Which I now know, signals the beginning of the end.

I’ve never watched somebody die before. My lovely Nana looks like a child, curled up in the fetal position. We’ve stroked her hair, held hands, sang songs, cried, talked, whispered to her, told her that she can go, told her how loved she is, and covered her in kisses.

I’ve come home right now to allow my Aunt some private time, and I’m literally walking in circles in my house because I don’t know what to do with myself. This feels like a dream. A horrible horrible dream. I cannot believe that there will be a time when there is no Nana Joan in my life. Even though I know it’s coming, I am not prepared for it.

She is THE most incredible woman I know. With the kindest heart, and she has always, always been my safe place. I feel at true peace when I am in her company.

Why am I writing about this? I just feel so lost. Writing for me feels so cathartic, and helps to unscramble my thoughts.

I don’t know what to say or do with myself, while we are in this limbo stage, of waiting for her to die. I am scared I am going to forget to say things that are important. I am cross that I didn’t ask and memorise every single moment of her life so I can tell my kids when they are older. I wish I had taken more pictures.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.

 

I don’t want to jinx things but…

…..today is the first day that I woke up and I could actually breathe and my back didn’t ache immediately upon waking! Despite the fact I am exhausted, having spent 2 hours up in the night with The Wife, who was pacing around the living room in extreme pain again.

My phone vibrated and woke me up around 2am, she was calling me from downstairs and I knew she wasn’t right. She was talking in that kind of breathy way you do when you are in pain. When I went down she told me she had been in the kitchen putting in one of those buckwheat things into the microwave, when she said everything closed in around her, her ear started buzzing and she wasn’t sure if she was having a heart attack, or dying.

That’s probably one of the most terrifying things you can hear from your wife, nearly exactly 12 years to the day that her dad died of heart problems.

We called 111, and spoke with a nurse there, then an on-call doctor, who thinks that despite having taking Tramadol with no side effects before and recently, that she had suffered a side effect to the one last night. I am hoping that is all it was.

She and I got very little sleep last night – her with pain, me with worry.

Thankfully we were meeting with her rheumatologist today and when she woke up from dozing in the chair in the living room, she appeared to be in less pain – which was incredible.

And so, it was kind of a blessing really that she had a big flare up last night, so the rheumatologist could see just how much pain and swelling there was, and gave her a shot of Prednisone. So, we are hugely hugely hopeful that she wont be in as much/any pain. We still don’t have a diagnosis because all the bloods are not back, but her x-rays have come back clear, which is a big relief! She has had a mystery horrendous cough for as long as the pain in her joints has been happening, and we were both worried it was something much more sinister.

So big love, thoughts and prayers are still very much needed. I’ll be getting an update on Nana Joan shortly, but in short she is back in her own home, but still very breathless and struggling with energy. I have been frightened to write the blog update, just in case I jinx things terribly.

In other new, just before the afternoon school run I had some free time, so I managed to pick up some toys in the Sainsbury’s toy sale for Christmas today for the kids, and my Christmas wrapping organiser arrived, which made me stupidly happy!

Bug checks out the Christmas wrapping organiser

Bug checks out the Christmas wrapping organiser

When the going gets tough.

Most of this year has been a struggle. When people ask me about it and joke that we are due a lottery win, I say that I can’t wait to get to 2015, as if that is somehow magically going to be better. I don’t know that it is, but I am hopeful, really really hopeful – because this has been ridiculously shit and without hope, well we have nothing.

The last few weeks, have honestly been some of the most difficult, and a true struggle. Dealing with the health worries of the woman I love, the woman I married, who I want to spend the rest of my life with and the woman who is my safe place, my constant, my Nana has taken its toll on me. But I’ve tried to plaster a smile on through much of it, whilst simultaneously trying to not worry, share the health burden for the two other women in my life, and look after the kids and run our every day lives – whilst struggling on with my own bad back.

And only two day ago, I’m pretty sure I just literally broke. I am absolutely terrified that I am going to lose both these women. And now just typing that has made me cry again.

I’m always surprised during difficult times, who tends to come to you rescue. Who becomes your support when your support is sick? This time its been people I’ve not expected. The people who I thought we could rely on – are nowhere to be seen. And yet, during this ridiculously upsetting period of my life, one ‘friend’ saw fit to delete me from Facebook, without even knowing truly what was going on. That on top of everything else, was one of the most hurtful things that someone could have done. To save others from hurting me, I have saved them the bother.

Anyway, I’ve not posted MUCH on here about the health stuff, because this blog was about baby stuff, right?

But right now my mind has only one thing and one thing on it and that is recovery. We should be finding out the results from my Wifes x-rays and various tests on Wednesday, so I am asking for if you can spare them good/vibes and or prayers, please.

<3

Photoshoot

Bug did a photoshoot with our favourite photographer Sara-Jane of Shutterbaby yesterday, which was lots of fun!

It was actually Sara-Jane who took the first professional picture of Bug, at a cafe in East Dulwich – where she was hosting a session. A friend had told me what an amazing photographer she was, I had seen the proof and I loved the idea of booking a 15 minute session and turning up to a cafe with my newborn to hopefully get a good picture.

I’ll admit, I was worried a bit about the timing, trying not to have a cranky baby and of course, Bug didn’t perform as I expected or the day to get a beautiful picture, or so I thought- when Sara Jane messaged me with it, I was BLOWN AWAY! And, this was it:

ATBS - BUg 1st photo

 

Beautiful, right? I am convinced that it was this picture that landed Bug the contract with her agency.

And 18 months later, Sara-Jane’s pictures are still wowing me, here are some of my favourites from yesterday:

Hope you enjoyed! :) x

My personal Wave of Light

At 7pm throughout the world today (and across various timezones), people were lighting candles in remembrance of babies lost, for today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

And today, I lit my Yankee Candles as I usually do each night, but sat and spent some time thinking about the twins that I very sadly lost in 1997.

I knew I was pregnant, it/they were wanted….I just didn’t know it was twins until it was too late.

I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason, even shitty things maybe sometimes (although we are 17 years later, so I do recognise its easier for me to say that now), life would be very very different for me with a pair of teenagers right now.

Would I have perhaps tried to ignore my own sexuality and stay in a straight relationship and been ultimately quite unhappy living a lie (even though he was a wonderful man). Who knows how life would have turned out?

From the moment we talked about having children, to the devastating moment I found out that there were no heartbeats, I had already managed to plan an entire life for myself, for us with that baby.

I had lived and breathed it. Every waking moment spent thinking about this baby inside of me, and although there was only a small bump, that did not mirror the amount of love I felt.

I remember vividly the moment of being told that there were no heartbeats. A conflicting mixture of shock at the news of twins, tinged with the achiest kind heartbreak.

I asked, no I begged for a second opinion, I couldn’t believe them, I wouldn’t. I wonder how many women do that? The hospital were good enough to transfer me to another hospital for a second opinion and the entire journey in that ambulance I sent praying they were wrong. Proper praying. The kind where your knuckles hurt form pushing your hand together so hard, and your teeth hurt from gritting them. I remember promising to do good things in between sobbing in return for the babies having strong beating hearts.

But they were right.

I cried myself to sleep in my hospital room that night. Spent on a ward with other women, still pregnant but with prominent bumps no doubt desperate for sleep themselves, and I will never forget the nurse coming in in the night to shhh me with what I hoped would be comforting words, but what she actually said stung even more – talk of ‘Its gods way, you’re too young, just a child, it’s probably meant to be’. It offered none of the comfort a 17 year old miscarrying wanted to hear.

Nothing at that time was meant to be. I was meant to be pregnant. I was meant to be thinking about buying things, decorating, living my dream.

The next day my D&C was scheduled. It was Valentines day and honestly, it has never ever been the same since, because to me that is the day I lost my babies. That’s the day my future seemed bleaker and darker for a while. Most Valentines day there have been tears shed at some point.

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Movement began in the United States on October 25, 1988, when then-American President Ronald Reagan designated the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

The October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAILRD) Campaign began in 2002 as an American movement started by Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and Tammy Novak. Together, they petitioned the federal government, as well as the governors of each of the 50 states – and across the world people join together on social media to share their grief and thoughts of their own and others losses.

I’ve never talked publicly about my loss, because it was always very private and of course there is a bigger explanation than just ‘I was pregnant’, you tend to find people want to know more about my ‘straight days’, but I wanted to recognise my twins, they are a really important part of my life, of my history.

I am not looking for sympathy, I am writing it down because it is a difficult and painful subject and I find it therapeutic in some ways write about difficult and painful things and hope that it will indeed help someone else open up and talk about their loss and help somehow with their grief.

So, here is my virtual candle for my babies, RIP – February 14 1997.Lost so long ago, but never ever forgotten.

And for all the other SkyBabies and their parents too – you have ALL been in my thoughts.

candle

 

 

 

 

Hats, Face Painting, Soft Play … Oh my!

I’ve had a lovely, fun filled day with the kids today!

This morning, Bug and I went to our new favourite soft play/cafe; Kidplay Cafe. Bug got to hang out with her friends, twins Eoin and Harper, and Charlie. I got to hang out with their Mummies and drink squash (as I’m caffeine/aspartame free as of a few days ago, mostly in support of my wife, really -and because, well it’s better for me!)

bug_kidplay

 

It’s an amazing cafe for those with little ones, I highly recommend a visit if you are local. There’s parking on the local streets for free if you are lucky, or 2 hours at the co-op opposite. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I *wish* I had discovered it earlier! I imagine I would have spent most of the early days there with The Now Toddler!

A play fee of £3.95 entitles you to two hours of fun in the small soft play area. It’s small enough that little ones don’t get bored, and big enough that you can see their every move. There are two sections of soft play, I way say one is more for under 2’s and the other looks like 3-4 years, but is height based.

They don’t appear to be very strict in enforcing the 2 hour limit, BUT I haven’t been there when it is packed. I believe their capacity is 25 children, so they could potentially ask people to leave if it got to close to those numbers, but hasn’t happened to me… yet!

Their food has to be THE most reasonably priced food in all of London. £1.50 for a hot sausage roll, with carrots and cucumbers is PERFET for The Toddler, and £2.90 for ham and cheese toastie. My jug of squash was £1.50.  The reasonable prices are what keep me going back, to be honest.

Children under 1 are £1.95 for play entry, and under 6 months are free. Siblings are charged at £1.95. They have a birthday party package for up to 25 children (10 catered for), for £165 which again seems very reasonable based on my experience of London’s prices.

The lady who owns it is incredibly friendly and welcoming, JUST as you would hope and expect her to be. I found a couple of the staff just pleasant enough (i.e could have been friendlier and a bit more welcoming), but apparently you can’t have everything!

Do make a trip to visit them and tell them we sent you :)

After this I made a special trip to pick up a box of something that I can’t yet talk about – but am VERY excited about. Watch this space!

Thankfully Bug slept in the car at this point for about an hour as she had kinda missed her nap. The we went to pick up Lukey from school.  Since she has become so competent on her feet, we park at the bottom of the road from her school and walk up! They have some wooden play equipment in his playground that she likes to play on while we wait.

Check out my sparkly shoooooes!

Check out my sparkly shoooooes!

 

Playing waiting for Luke

Playing waiting for Luke

After that it was our usual routine, straight home for snacks. I was delighted to find a hat I had ordered from the supremely talented Pippa of Handcrafted by Pippa had arrived on the doorstep. Pippa is an East Dulwich Mum who knits and crochets the most incredible creations! I’ve had some hats, newborn vests and cardigans from her and I will say hand on heart you will NOT be disappointed with the quality – it’s what keeps me going back.. and has led me to order an adult sized hat to match ‘The Toddlers’ – ha! Yes, I’ve become THAT person. How beautifully does it go with her vintage style Sue Hill coat – aka ‘The most beautiful coat in the whole entire world’?

Bug_hat

 

And then Mummy was VERY excited to break out her new Snazaroo Face Painting kit (bought in preparation for Halloween), and I had a practice on a willing subject, he looks thrilled (hehehe!):

Luke face paint

He was actually a lot happier than he looks, he loved it and didn’t want to wash it off, I just like this picture because the combination of grumpy lion face makes me laugh! 😀

And this is how the Toddler face paint went. Yep, totally not recommended on toddler who refuses to sit still! haha!

bug_facepaint

Until next time!x

 

 

The life of a Toddler

Hellooooooo!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen that ‘The Toddler’ is just SO busy these days! Busy, busy, busy – she has found a new use for the Fisher Price Ballapalooza and has been swinging from the bar where the big inflatable ball usually is, that was pulled off by an overly enthusiastic 7 year old! That’s some strength for a 19 month old! It was the last thing she did last night before going to bed and the first thing she did this morning after waking up!

swingingbug

We’re still fighting pain and colds and general lethargy here, but soldering on!  Nana Joan is out of hospital and staying with my Aunt for a couple of days while she gets used to her new medication. It was confirmed that she had fluid on her lungs and a heart condition that meant she would almost certainly have a stroke, so she is now on warfarin to help with that.

We are hopeful the medicine kicks in and she is back to her old energy levels. She has always been so strong and mobile for a 90 year old and loved her independence, so it would be really, really hard to see her as a frail 90 year old now – and such a sudden change would be so hard for her to mentally come to terms with I think.

Back at ours, we’ve also been conducting squirrel watch here with The Toddler. We’ve always had plenty of them in the garden (the most ever, was 7 at one time!) and for some reason she just developed this fascination with them and runs to the window yellow ‘Baaabbaaa BABBAAAA’ to call them! Thank goodness for double glazing, they don’t seem to scarper!

squirrelwatch

 

Today, whilst cleaning the kitchen, with The Toddler ‘helping’ for a bit, I suddenly realised that sitting on the floor she had been very (worringly!) quiet. Every parent knows a quiet child means trouble! I wasn’t wrong, she was emptying the dog biscuits from the dogs food plate one-by-one into their water bowl! Look at that cheeky grin! *pinches cheeks*

bugdogfood

This video, of The Toddler at a gym birthday party (awesome idea, btw!) last weekend is my favourite video EVER, if you fancy a grin – definitely give it a watch! She gets her moves from her Mom 😉

I am ridiculously happy that I have the opportunity to be a stay at home Mom, and watch our beautiful kids grow, and flourish in front of my eyes. I get to see all kinds of cool stuff that they do each day and the new things they are interested in. I want you to know I never ever take that for granted – I am thankful every single day.

I’m off to order some bits, I fancy having a go at making hair bows – I go through so many with The Toddler, I may as well make my own!

E x