Capture your grief

I have decided to try at least try to participate in the Carly Marie project and document my grief for the month of October 2012 as part of the pregnancy and infant awareness month. The project starts with the sunrise on the first day of the month and ends with the sunset at the end of the month and then lots in between..So here goes!

Day 1. Sunrise, this photo was taken on the 1st of October 2012 in Co.Kerry Ireland at 7.45 am.

 Day 2: Before loss: before I knew what I know now, innocence, happiness. I was doing fertility treatments but I had hope, I saw a future I was happy .  It was my birthday we had a picnic. It makes me sad to see this picture..

Day 3:  After loss self portrait, this one was hard for me. I don't have many pictures of me since the loss of the twins. We did a few trips away and those are the ones I have, so I picked this one. It is a picture of me in Paris, I picked it because of the necklace I am wearing it is where I carry the twins ashes. So even when I was feeling lonely and tired on the trip I had the babies close to my heart. This portrait of  me picking up the pieces and trying to assume some sort of normality in my life. I may be smiling but inside I'm sad.

Day 4:  For most treasured item, I picked the beanie hats worn by my sons. When Luke was born he wore the white hat. The day we cremated Luke I gave him Arthur's first hat, and kept Luke's white hat. The yellow is Arthurs second hat, he wore it neonatal for about three days, it was a little small for him and there is a spot of his blood on it. In the initial stages after the boys death I kept their hats with me all the time, I took them everywhere and I slept with them. I used to smell them and I could smell baby Arthur. Now I keep them in the boys memory box.

Day 5 : I have chosen the certificate we got for planting an Oak tree in the national park close to where we live. I re-posted a picture of the forest where this is, it's beautiful, tranquil and by a small stream. I love it!!
Also included in the picture are two cards which were sent to us acknowledging a donation we made on behalf of our two boys to support the purchasing of memory boxes for local hospitals. These were the same memory boxes given to us which are now filled to the brim. At the time when I was given the boxes I was so sad all I could think of was here I was leaving the hospital with two boxes whilst everyone else around me had their babies. The cruelty of this still haunts me, but now I am glad to have something, I have boxes filled with love.

The following is the poem we read at Arthur's funeral, poor old Luke didn't have anything as everything was so out of control..

Precious, tiny, sweet little one
You will always be to me
So perfect, pure, and innocent
Just as you were meant to be.
We dreamed of you and your life
And all that it would be
We waited and longed for you to come
And join our family.
We never had the chance to play,
To laugh, to rock, to wiggle.
We long to hold you, touch you now
And listen to you giggle.
I’ll always be your mother.
He’ll always be your dad.
You’ll always be our child,
The child we never had
But now you’re gone…but yet you’re here.
We’ll sense you everywhere.
You are our sorrow and our joy.
There’s love in every tear.
Just know our love goes deep and strong.
We’ll forget you never-
The child we had, but never had,
And yet will have forever.

Day 6 : What not to say. If I am honest I think I have been very lucky in terms of people  not saying the right thing. I have had very few bad comments, most people have been good. I think what has been the most hurtful is people saying nothing, pretending nothing ever happened.

The first what not to say comment I wrote is 'I feel your pain'. This was said  to me several times by someone really close to me.  At first I said nothing but then I answered back, how could you feel my pain did you loose a child. It made me feel angry, even though I know that it was said by someone who did feel very sad that I had lost the twins, but still how could they know how it felt.

The second comment 'maybe it is for the best' was said to me by a lady who also lost twins and has a child with a disability. We were discussing baby Arthur and his neonatal journey, she was saying how difficult life is with a severely disabled child. I was a little taken a back. I think I answered that it doesn't matter when your child is in front of you that is all that matters in the world and I would make any sacrifice for them as all I wanted was for him to live. 

Last week I met someone I hadn't seen since the babies were born, and they said congratulations what did you have, I was floored. I'm still recovering from that one but I think they are too.

 Day 7: What to say, I had a lot of lovely things said to me but the most important one is that my boys names are mentioned, that they are acknowledged and that I can speak out loud about them and that somebody is willing to listen. I also want to be told that I am a mother, as I am a mother to two beautiful boys whom I love much  more than words can express, so validating that was and is hugely important to me.

On my six week visit post natal, my consultant spoke about the boys and she said that every child comes into this world and leaves an impression, and we can learn from them and that my boy's can maybe teach us something that will benefit their future brothers or sisters. That statement has really stuck with me and even in the depths of despair, which is where I was at six weeks post natal, she gave me hope, for which I am truly grateful. 

Upon reflection, the people that said the right things were the people that were there and still are, the ones who took time to listen and wanted to hear the boys story. Others that were not as close but simply said I'm sorry also said the right thing as they took the time to acknowledge what had happened and  that is important too.. 

Day 8: Jewelery, I picked the one piece of jewelery I wear everyday, it is a silver urn, where I carry a little piece of my boys ashes with me. I love this piece of jewelery and it is always close to my heart.

I was wearing it about a week ago and I was with a mom (client) and her two year old son who doesn't really talk and was really shy around me, he pointed to the necklace and said baba, baba. It felt like a sixth sense moment as these are the only words this child has ever said to me. I later discussed my encounter with my partner and I was trying to figure out why he was just pointing and saying baba, all I could think  of is that maybe he could see his reflection in the silver as it is so shiny or maybe he could sense the babies who knows but it did highlight that this necklace has become a symbol of my babies and I love wearing it close to my heart. 

Day 9: Special place. I have a special place where I go, it is the beach which is a few minutes walk from my house.  It doesn't so much remind me of the boys but its where I think about them. I visit here most days to walk our dog. Our beach is 12km long and in the past few months I have got my partner to drop me off at one end where he fishes and I walk back. Its a great way to clear the cobwebs and to think and scream if I want as there are few if no people around.

I love this space, I collect white feathers and white shells, I write their names in the sand, I talk to them. In the middle of the beach behind the sand dunes there  is a lake where the boys daddy has a boat where he fishes with their grandfather. There are a lot of swans living on the lake and it is truly a beautiful place. My partners uncle had his ashes spread there during the summer he passed away a few days after the twins. I always thought I spread our boys ashes at the beach but I am now leaning towards the lake as their grand uncle is there, in a way that gives me some comfort and also their daddy spends almost every day there during the summer. So it is indeed a very special place!

Day 10: Symbol that reminds me of the babies, this is quiet challenging. I have a lot of symbols for the twins, such as butterflies, feathers, flowers, shells but as i thought about it they only become symbols if I see two. If I walk the beach and find a feather it means nothing to me unless I find a second one. So there it is I have a symbol for my babies and that is the number two 2.

I remember a few months ago I was driving to the clinic for a scan starting off my first FET , I was very emotional and it was early and two white butterflies flew in front of me, at that moment I felt the boys close. On my first day back to work , I was all over the place with my nerves and I found two small fluffy white feathers, I immediately felt a connection to the boys. I have had a few of these moments, whilst it makes me sad to think this is all I will ever have with my boys, these are also very special moments.

Day 11, Supportive friends/family, todays entry I picked a photo that was taken a month ago. I am smiling and was really having  fun. These two women have been with me every step of this journey, week in and week out they called to my door, they got me out walking and cycling again and even got me to do a scuba dive. They listened to me and mentioned my babies names. These women have made me smile again and for this I am truly grateful.

What I liked about doing this post is it made me think of all those who have been supportive to me and they are many. As I have already written in the past, I  have had a hard time with people I thought would be there for me and who were not, so it was good to do this exercise to think about those who were. My partner has been the most supportive person in my life,  he is right there with me everyday and night when I cry myself to sleep. My mom was amazing and really supportive and also suffered a huge loss, her first grandchildren. My sister has been my rock. There are many more and just thinking about it has made me realize how many supportive people I have had in my life these past few months. Thank you

Day 12: Scents Todays entry was an easy one for me, there is one scent that takes me right back to neonatal and that is antibacterial hand wash. Every time we visited Arthur in the NICU we would wash our hands again and again. It was like preforming a ritual each day of his life. I remember being scared all the time that I would give Arthur something. I was on a lot of antibiotics, I was run down and my lips broke out in sores.  I used to scrub my hands, if I touched something I would wash again. What is so sad is that it is an infection that was the cause of his death in the end.

Luke was with us in the hospital room for the first couple of days of Arthur's life. After we cremated Luke and I was discharged from hospital I went to stay with my SIL as she lives close to the hospital. I was pumping milk at the time, and I set up a table in the bedroom for the pump and the steamer. My SIL gave me this bottle of anti bacterial hand wash, I used it everyday, I washed before and after I pumped.

After Arthur died, I bought the same bottle of hand wash and when I smell it, I am instantly back to Arthur's little lifetime. I love smelling it but I do not use it everyday. I keep it for my special time with Arthur, when I can absorb all of him xx

Day 13: Signs, I like to think that I do get signs from the twins.  As I said in a previous post I need to see all my signs in two's for it to represent the twins. This morning as I walked the beach I saw a double rainbow and  it took me straight away to the twins. But I guess fluffy white feathers are what most represents to me signs from the twins. As I live on a beach I am constantly  finding white feathers, but its when the white feathers show up in unusual places that it really strikes me as a sign.

Two weeks ago I was attending a training  session for work. I was very nervous attending as I knew there were going to be some people at it that I would not have  met since I was pregnant. I was driving into the training and it seemed out of nowhere a white feather appeared on my lap. At first I was shocked as it really felt like a sign that the twins were with me. When I logically thought about it, I came to the conclusion that the feathers must have been in my bag and when I took my phone out the feathers must have come out as well and floated to my knee. However that it happened at a time when I really needed it as the feathers were probably in my bag for weeks was comforting. I love moments like this and thankfully I have had a few.

Tonight I joined in the wave of light and lit  candles in memory of Luke and Arthur and for all the babies around the world that couldn't stay.

Day 16: Release, Today was a simple yet uplifting experience. I decided to release two blue balloons in memory of my two little boys Luke and Arthur. The weather in Ireland today was unsettled. When I arrived home from work, I really didn't feel like going out in the elements, facing the wet and windy conditions. Thankfully our 16 year old lab mix had other ideas, so we headed down the beach with my two balloons. The beach was beautiful, there was a strong onshore wind with nice clean surf, to be honest it was a perfect evening. I had the two balloons tied together and one broke free, I was a bit upset as I wanted the two balloons to be released  together, but thankfully as the wind was onshore I was able to retrieved the balloon that got away and tie them together again. Then after a few photos, I let them go, they blew to the waters edge and back onto the beach, and I watched as the balloons danced down the beach, as though they were playing in the surf. All I could think about was the souls of my beautiful boys playing in the surf, beautiful..

Day 17: Due date,  This photo is of my first hospital record I was 8 weeks pregnant and my due date was written down for the first time the 29.3.12. I was looking over this form tonight and as you can see it has a heading that says pregnancy problems to date and they wrote No Problems. How I wish it continued like that and I remained innocent about baby loss.

What did I do on my due date? I donated two memory boxes in the boys name to the hospital. I got a piece of memorial jewelery to hold the babies ashes. I got a present from my partner, which was a picture book of the babies, which I can honestly say was the nicest gift anyone has ever gotten for me.

On the babies due date I also had a follow up appointment with Arthur's consultant from the neonatal department. The meeting was hard, but the consultant took his time with us and we talked about Arthur for nearly two hours. As the day was busy, it went by quickly. It wasn't till the following day that I felt the sadness take just caught up with me..It was like we filled the due day with symbolic gestures, which helped to distract..but then it just became black again.. I retreated to my bed..I was tired..

Day 18 Family Portrait, This is a picture of our family album, it is the most precious item, which contains the photographs of our two beautiful sons Luke and Arthur. It was a gift to me from my partner, which I received on the babies due date. I love it and I love their photos. I also got photographs taken from the charity now I lay you down to sleep, which I only got  two weeks ago, I was really thrown when I  received them, they were taken the day before we cremated Luke.When I looked at the photos they made me cry as I didn't recognize myself.  I was looking at grief head on and the emptiness in my soul was so exposed in all the photos, I found it hard to look at them so  I put the photos away until I'm stronger.

Day 19 Project
I attended a workshop and made these two patches, which still remain unfinished. The patches are to be added to a quilt and the quilt is displayed at various events that take place around the country. It was the first workshop I attended and I went on my own, I found it extremely difficult, I was very nervous and cried for the first hour. My head was all over the place and I was telling my story and listening to the other mothers stories, so I wasn't doing much with the patch. Now that I have attended an event I feel a little more confident to attend another. 

Normally I am a physical person and I enjoy recreation sport such as cycling, running and walking. I would like to get involved in a project or event to help raise money for the neonatal unit where Arthur lived. This is something I plan for the future.

Day: 20, These are the three charity's that have supported me on this journey of grief.

A little lifetime foundation have offered me  a lifeline. I have received support  from them on their forum, parent support meetings and workshops.

Feileacain gave me the boys memory boxes at the hospital, which contained their teddies and blankets and a camera, which I used for Arthur while he was in neonatal.

Glow in the woods allowed me to connect with the wider baby loss community. I remember in the first few days after I lost Arthur I needed information on stopping lactation and baby loss and I found the answer on the glow in the woods website.

The people that run these charities are truly amazing and I am internally grateful for all the love and support that I have received.  Also to all the baby loss mothers who are part of this community,thank you for listening to my story and for sharing yours.

isands home page


Day 21, Altar Shrine, Sacred Place. This is the first place I see when I wake up in the morning and the last place I see before I sleep...

Day 22: Limerick Maternity Hospital. My babies were born in Limerick a city over two hours drive from my home. I was taken there by an ambulance as my local hospital does not have a neonatal unit. I remained in the hospital for five days until the twins were born. Arthur lived for two weeks and one day in the neonatal unit at this hospital.

The staff at the hospital were amazing, I was treated with such kindness and empathy. I don't know where to begin to thank the nurses who comforted me during the most difficult time of my life, the consultants that looked after me and  hugged me after labor and the nurses in neonatal who cared for Arthur and provided us with lasting memories. This is the building, where my sons lived and died.

Day 23: Their name, their photo: Their names are Luke and Arthur Townsend.  I have lots of the photos of my boys, which I am truly grateful to have. I don't want to share them here as I want to keep their photos private as that is all I have. I have included their scan pictures, which represent the days of innocence, when I believed I would give birth to my two beautiful babies and be able to keep them.

These pictures represent  the transformation that has happened in my life,  I once trusted this world but now I question everything. I no longer feel safe. How I wish I could go back to this safe place and change the outcome.

Day 24: Siblings. I have no other children just  Luke and Arthur. I do have four more frozen embryos  so there is the potential for four more siblings, but realistically I know how hard it is for me to become pregnant that I sometimes wonder will it ever happen for us. I want siblings for Luke and Arthur so badly it makes me hurt each and every day.

I have one sister and two brothers. My sister has been a huge support to me over the past 10 months. This picture is of us in India, it was taken seven weeks after Arthur died.

Day 25: Baby Shower Blessing

We don't generally do baby showers here in Ireland and I didn't buy anything before the babies were born. I was looking at the prams and cots but I would have got them closer to their due date. I was given a moses basket at around 18 weeks, but I put it away and it is still away.

When Arthur was in neonatal, we were advised to get some books and to read him stories. We got him books as well for his Christmas present. On Christmas morning when we arrived  into neonatal, Arthur had his own Christmas stocking full of goodies, hats, shoes, blankets and clothes. I was also given a beautiful blanket with Arthur's name on it, I wrapped Arthur in it and this is what he was cremated in. I was given some clothes for Arthur and a friend of mine had knit him some hats.

Day 26:  Their Age, Luke was 24.5 weeks gestation when he was stillborn. What is really sad is he had a heartbeat up until his birth. Nobody knows what happened him but I  was told he was the comprised twin and therefore must have experienced stress during the birth.

Arthur lived for 2 weeks and 1 day in the neonatal unit, we had two birthdays for him we celebrated his first and second week of life.

Day 27 Art work,
 I don't have a piece of art work for the boys. I do love art and we have some beautiful pieces in our home. The pieces of art we own all come with a story and have a meaning to us, so hopefully I will find something that will encompass the boys story or bring me solace when I look at it.  But for now I have picked two wind chimes that were given to me by a dear friend one for each of the boys. The chimes hang in the boys room.  Their room is bare, and I rarely go into it as it is a constant reminder of what I have lost. 

Day 28 Memory, All I can think of is the blackness, the despair, that I felt over the past 10 months. This photo represents were I have been and where I am trying to crawl out of, it represents what I have lost and the hopelessness I have felt. It is a negative memory but unfortunately it overrides everything.

 I do have some positive memories, I met my two beautiful sons, I loved them. I got to know my son Arthur, I held him, I read him stories. I experienced being a mother for a moment. I have had supportive people around me. I have created memories of my boys. I have laughed, I have cried.

But overall the underlying theme is one of sadness....

Day 29 Music, this album, doesn't remind of the twins, but it reminds me of the time I lost the twins. I listened to this album everyday for about two months after I lost Luke and Arthur. I remember when I had the energy to go for a walk I would put on my head phones on and I would just walk and listen to my i pod full blast. I think now and into the future it will always remind me of that time in my life and probably take me to that place again.

Day 30 Your Grief Tell the world, I am a little late posting day 30 and 31. To be honest I found this post a hard one as there are so many things I can tell the world about my grief but I haven't sorted through them all yet myself. But here are a few that came up when I thought about it.

This is a long hard journey

Often life seems out of control

It can be lonely as many do not understand

It is important to know there is support and you are not alone

Sometimes I feel I have moved forward with my grief and suddenly without warning I find myself back at the beginning.

It is mine

Day 31 Sunset. Fahamore, Castlegregory, Co Kerry Ireland taken from our upstairs window.
  I am glad I decided to participate in this project as it has allowed me to reflect on some questions which I had not answered for myself. I look at this project as a keepsake, that I can look back on in the future and remember where I was. I found some days challenging but over all it was a time for reflection. I enjoyed looking at what others captured and felt a connection to the baby loss community. I would like to thank Carly for putting this project together and allowing me the opportunity to participate. I would also like to thank all the other moms for sharing their story. 

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