Every week we take fresh roses to Florence's grave. I sit next to her stone, I remove last weeks roses,and I sit quietly trimmimg the fresh roses and arranging them. Meanwhile Woody cleans her lantern, and lights a fresh candle. India and Eden fetch fresh water, and clean the stone. Angus and Sid run around on the grass and sometimes pick dandelions or buttercups for Florence.
There is a certain grace in each of us having our role, even when there is little peace...the boys are not quiet when they are running about !
This evening, the cemetery was still, just us there. As I was removing last weeks roses, I spotted this one, and had to bring it home. Such faded beauty. I've placed it under Florence's photo in our bedroom.
(I guess it goes without saying that my instincts on gender have always been right too.)
Baby boy does have a name, actually he has a choice of two, but there is a clear winner in my mind, and I usually (always) get my own way!
Naming a baby is always difficult, but I find way more difficult when so many names I know and love belong to the precious babies of the babylost community.
I will hear a birth announcement, and hear one of those special names, and I feel a stab in my heart, and I try not to let it show on my face.
Recently I have heard of two new baby girls called Florence, and a Violet too. One of those Florence's is local, local enough that I might hear her Mummy call her name in a supermarket. Unless you are reading this as a babylost parent, I can't expect you to understand just how that hurts.
Of course, I can't expect the world to stop naming their babies just incase it makes mine or any other babylost parents heart skip a beat, and tears sting their eyes when they hear it. Like everything else that's a poignant reminder, it doesn't make us any sadder, it can't.
Maybe, over time I will hear of a new baby girl, Florence and I will smile and remember my baby girl too, and I will say "What a beautiful name, congratulations", and nothing more...maybe. x
I've been feeling really rather calm lately, eerily so, almost detatched. Like with any emotion I've tried to just feel what I'm feeling, just sit with it.I know whatever it is,it will change and there's little point denying it or trying to overide it.
This calmness is what it is, it's not an omen,if anything it's just my brains way of coping in these last weeks.
This morning though as I waved off Woody and the children, those hot stingy eyes gave me away, and for just a second I could picture an eleven month old little girl at my feet, waving them off.Then a second later could almost feel her head heavy on my shoulder.
I don't know how to get through the next few weeks. I don't know how to miss Florence and wait for baby boy without losing my mind.
I used my Buddies fabric to whip up some pram bedding this morning. Just a simple stretch sheet and blanket with a velour reverse. I'm quite pleased with how well the colours of my fabric tie in with my lovely new purple pram.
You know I could ponder a while on the subject of prams, and the fact that some people seem convinced they have mystical powers that can kill babies, while others seem to think the fact that I have one all set up and ready in my kitchen implies some kind of optimism on my part.
The truth is, it's a beautiful thing, but it's just a thing, it can't kill my baby, it can't guarantee he'll live.
It sits quietly under a photo of Florence, and every now and again I look at it and hope I get to use it very soon.
Today, with the sun shining we went to visit the acre of woodland dedicated to Florence within Lady Mabel's Wood, in Haigh, Wigan.
Of course we managed to get a little lost on the way, not being familiar with the area, but what a joy when we found it! Such a beautiful place.
I'm sure it's somewhere we will visit often. We walked along some of the track through the woods and up along part of the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal where we saw dozens of bright blue dragonflies darting along the canal's edge.
There's a country hall nearby too, so we went there for tea and buns before heading home.
Oh yes, and the ladybird house is in situ in the garden now too.
Today's efforts to keep busy meant sewing up this bag I've had cut out for a few weeks now. I used my gorgeous Sandi Henderson, Meadowsweet fabrics, (I decided a bag was a safer bet than a dress at this stage of my enourmousness.) and the "Here We Go" pattern from Anna Maria Horner's book, "Handmade Beginnings".
I'm pretty happy with it, it's lovely and roomy for carting about nappies and the like, plus it's pretty, and I like pretty.
The woodland is near enough to visit, and hopefully we'll be able to do that this weekend.
I'm so touched by this wonderfully thoughtful gift that came from the babywearing community and from my sewing friends.I don't know exactly who to thank, but I think there are lots of you, thank you so much,to know that our daughter's short life has touched so many means such a lot.
Only yesterday I was worried that Florence was being forgotten, but everyone walking in this woodland will read her dedication, and will know her.
Thank you. x
So, I've had this idea in my head for a while. I like to imagine sometimes a pretty garden filled with magical flowers and plants, a bright and sunny place, and although it rains sometimes, it's that lovely fresh spring rain that makes great puddles for jumping in.
I think of it as a place Florence might like. (Now i could go off on a tangent here about how I don't for one second believe she's in such a place, but I'll try not to spoil the moment)
This imaginary garden is my inspiration for the fabric designs I've been working on tentatively, and for the dress I recently designed in Florence's name.
Everyone who reads here knows how much I looked forward to creating for my little girl, and how much I miss being able to make for her, but she is still an inspiration to me, and I will try to honour her with my work.
I have plans in the pipeline, hopefully something to celebrate her birthday next month.
Meanwhile, I just want to say thank you so much for all your kind words on yesterday's post, you probably have no idea how scared I was putting up those designs.
Caroline honey, I would be honoured if you would name one of your knitwear designs after Florence.
Or at least the very beginnings of one.
I've had some ideas bubbling away very slowly in my brain for a while now, ideas for the future, my creative future to be exact, but I've either been too emotionally drained to make a serious start on anything much or I've been too damn scared of failure to pick up my sketchbooks and even attempt anything.
This morning though I put my fears aside (almost) and ignored my inner voice of doom and perfectionism and just decided to have a play.
I remember once at college my crazy tutor, Ron seeing I was having a bad few days at the drawing board, just sent me off to the print room to "play" just to see what would happen and get me out of my funk. He was a wise man, it worked then, and I can, albeit tentatively feel my creative funk lifting ever so slightly after my play on the pc this morning.
The designs I've created are basic, they need work, but I actually did them, and of that I'm kinda proud.
These are the first steps to creating a fabric range in honour of my Florence, she is my muse.
Lots to say and nothing to say. Keeping busy, trying not to think too much. Wishing the next few weeks away.
This outfit was completed today for a friend's baby. I'm a bit nervous about it actually, and wish I'd taken a better photograph...aw well, you get the idea I hope.
We've been in Scotland for the past five days. We stayed in a cabin on the shores of Loch Lubnaig.
We almost had to cancel our trip after Woody, the boys and myself all came down with a violent stomach bug on Saturday night. We were fit to travel by Monday morning though, and with fingers crossed that the girls had escaped the bug we headed off.
I had a few little wobbles about being so far away from home, and more specifically away from my local hospital, my consultant and my midwife, and a bigger wobble when on Tuesday morning I blacked out for a second in the car. I'm certain it was only the remains of the bug plus a little low blood pressure. It didn't happen again.
Despite my wobbles and slight worries, it was good to get away. Of course I always feel I've abandoned Florence.
I bought lots of trinkets to decorate her grave, souvenirs from a holiday she could never go on. I'll take them to her today.
I also bought a little tweed rabbit for baby boy. I fell in love with tweed while away and have a million ideas in my head for a winter wardrobe and a few other things all made from beautiful tweed. I'm always relieved to know I can still be inspired, sometimes I think my brain is so weary from grief and from pregnancy after loss that there is no room left for creativity, but I have a page in one of my notebooks full of "Scottish inspiration" , and perhaps even some plans to keep me busy over the next few weeks until baby boy arrives...and he's going to arrive, and I have to, and I do believe he's going to be well, especially since I've just sent Woody off to collect a stupidly expensive,but beautiful pram to push him around in. (I was brave and talked prams over the phone with a salesman, and didn't cry even when he suggested I pay a deposit for it now and collect it after the baby was born...maybe he has experience of dead baby returns...who knows.)
I dream of having a pretty garden, sometimes when I can't sleep I paint a picture in my mind of my perfect garden, it has rows of vegetables, and a pretty shed, and flowers lots and lots of flowers.
In reality our garden is untidy and though not really neglected kinda haphazardly taken care of.
At the end of last summer I tried to nurture a small plot in Florence's memory, and I planted hundreds of bulbs and goodness knows what else. Over the autumn and winter I watched the local squirrels dig up and eat some of the bulbs. I didn't stop them, I figure it's their garden as much as it's mine.
The squirrels did leave some bulbs behind and this week these pretty flowers have popped up. I can't remember even choosing them,but I know I did.
I did choose these violas to carpet the bare ground in front of Florence's stone.
My lovely Fig tree, Violetta isn't doing much...
But just look in the base of the pot, a whole magical world...
Florence, I'm sorry your garden isn't perfect sweetheart,but it's magical in it's own way despite my best efforts.
Today we decided to abandon the "to do" list and go see Grandma. We had lunch at Red Wharf Bay, sat in the sunshine, the children paddled, and Angus lived up to his reputation of behaving like an excitable labrador puppy, getting so wet and sandy he had to sit in the car in his underwear while his clothes dried out.
Sometimes, a day at the sea side is just what the doctor ordered.