For everyone who reads this blog, wishing you peace and happiness for 2013.
This candle is lit along with many others in memory of my beautiful baby girl.
I haven't cried this Christmas sweetheart, but I've missed you every second.
Special love to all those reading missing someone they love.
Always remembering Florence Violet x
I have been rather quiet. I've been busy of course, and I had a bit of a health scare that knocked me kinda sideways.
All is ok now, it was thankfully just doctors being uber cautious. I am so grateful for our National Health Service, and especially the Nightingale Genesis Prevention Centre at the University Hospital South Manchester.
I'm now the proud owner of a teeny (3mm) titanium bow in my booby, but apparently that wont ring any alarms at airports.
Christmas is almost upon us, or here already I guess with this being Christmas Eve. I don't really make Christmas gifts any more. This year though I have made two gifts, only one I can actually talk about here for now though, and that's because it didn't quite work out!
Woody and I rarely buy each other Christmas gifts, and certainly not in the past three years. What we really want for Christmas no one can give us.
This year though I thought I would knit him a hat. I decided to use Kat's fab pattern for the North Sea hat. a great easy to follow pattern, and I really loved learning the herringbone pattern.
Unfortunately I shopped for yarn in a hurry, didn't get quite the right yarn, and didn't watch my guage closely enough. This might not have been a problem except Woody has a large head, larger than average.
When the hat was complete I realised it wasn't going to fit him, and I was right. I risked ruining the surprise and asked him to try it on. He couldn't even get it past the top of his head.
The good news though is that it fits Eden beautifully as a more slouchy hat. She asked for a pom pom, I obliged and she is now the owner of rather a smart, and very warm winter hat.
I've also been busy the past few days organising a fundraising trek for a little rag doll friend of mine.
You can read all about that here
And now I need to get off the PC and clean my bathroom, I don't want Father Christmas to see my grubby clothes all over the floor!
Merry Christmas, thinking of all those missing again this year, and wishing peace for all. x
Today I am organising myself and probably finishing off a few little pieces to take along.
My demo dolly needed a new cosy outfit for the stall, so I've dressed her (todays he's a her!) in some super soft recycled cashmere footed leggings, an organic cotton dress and cashmere beanie.
I've also got a basket full of bunnies to take along. Vintage cotton and organic cotton bunnies, great stocking fillers.
Maybe I'll see some of my local readers there. (and if not, don't forget there's 15% off in my Etsy store just by quoting the code FLOSS12 at the checkout.)
I'm currently offering 15% off all orders over at my Etsy store when you use code FLOSS12 at the checkout.
Lots of gorgeous party dresses, little wrap scrap slippers, cosy trousers and dungarees and special occasion gowns.
October 2009, we borrowed a friend's daughter and took six children to a caravan in Northern Cornwall.
Our hearts were so broken then, just three months out from Florence's birth. I was still carrying her with me, could still feel the weight of her on my left shoulder. I don't feel that anymore.
That was the first time we visited Trebarwith Strand
We headed straight back there on Tuesday morning.
There are some places that just have an overwhelming sense of calm. This is one of them.
Standing on the sand after picking our way across the rocks and being buffeted by the cold wind, there was simply a warmth, a pretective hug from the coastline.
I felt tears stinging my eyes. I felt like I was returning to a place I'd taken Florence, I could almost feel the weight of her again. Of course she never really went there.
Yesterday, the last day of our short holiday we went back.
Ernest had fallen asleep in the car, it was stormy and dark, lashing rain and wind, but the older children and I decided to brave the beach once more.
The skies cleared, the sun shone, the sea was wild, and bright green, still warm the sea turned to mist as each wave crashed onto the sand, and met the cold November air.
Again I felt that familiar warmth, and for a moment I closed my eyes, let the sun warm my face, while the wind also blew, and I could hear the crashing of the sea.
Again I felt the tears stinging my eyes, and I whispered a little "hello" to my Florence, and a "Goodbye" to the sea.
Catching up. I've been in Cornwall for the final part of this project. I took my photos as usual, but technical difficulties and an unreliable internet connection meant I could only use my phone to take photos and then upload them while out and about....Tesco's carpark had a good signal!
I'm home now, and although I did post my phone pics, I'm going to finish off this project by posting the photos from my camera.
Tell The World.
Forever sums it up really. Florence is gone forever, she will be missed forever, she is loved forever, and I am forever changed , forever.
This was hard. Wednesday was grey, grey grey. The sky was just clouds. Eden and I wandered about the holiday park we were staying in, hoping to find an interesting view at least.It was pouring with rain, and cold. We trudged across frields, through soggy leaves, and suddenly it was almost dark. The streetlamp had to stand in for the lack of a sun.
I have written before about the songs that link in my mind to Florence. There are several that can stop me in my tracks, Take That's, Rule The World, Snow Patrol's Run, Cat Stevens How Can I Tell You.
This track though was the one I played over and over during the Summer of 2009, it seemed to fit so well with my feelings then of being worthless, dead inside, lost and ashamed.When I listen to it now those feelings can still surface. I think they've changed now, or at least softened, but the song is still powerful and can bring me to my knees.
Woody doesn't like this version, he prefers it without the shouty vocals, but I like them, I like the intensity and desperation.
Today is about sharing a significant memory, negative or positive.
I'm not ready to share my most significant memories, those are the ones that most haunt me at 3am. I've never even spoken to Woody about them. I don't think I will ever share them, despite a small part of me wanting to make it very clear to all the absolute horror of that morning in hospital.
I could share the memories I have of conversations and simple moments where I just knew Florence was safer in my womb than she would be out of it.
Instead I'm going to share memories from our family holiday in Hereford just a few weeks before Florence was born.
We had such a wonderful time, the sun shone, and the children played. I sat on a deck chair and knitted the little bonnet in the photo. The pattern was one I'd used to knit the same bonnet for Eden before she was born. Florence was buried wearing this bonnet....that's another memory....
We had several days out in Hilly Malvern, and on one of them, the children pulled my huge lumbering self up a particular hill, and we stopped in on a beautiful children's boutique, where I bought this little dress. I didn't know I was having a girl, but as with all my children, I had very strong instincts that I was. (I have always been right!)
The dress is now in her memory box, never worn, but I can still imagine just how it would've felt over her chubby baby belly, warm skin under soft cotton lawn. That is so vivid to me, and was in the shop when it was hanging on a hanger.
Happy, sad memories, but the memories of that holiday make me smile. She was there with us, all through my pregnancy with Florence I was so happy, and I always felt she was with us, already part of our family...she was. (is and always will be)
When I think of those days, I sing this song in my head.
We have been really lucky in this area, and have been gifted some beautiful pieces in honour of our daughter by some very talented friends.
Sat here at my pc, I have a portrait hanging on the wall to my right, another painting above my bed, a handmade silver brooch in a box behind me, a photo of Florence's name in the sand also on a shelf behind me, a hand carved rabbit on another shelf next to a Jizo in a frame .....I hadn't realised actually quite how much artwork I have.
This though is a painting we received in time for what would have been Florence's third birthday. Painted by a talented young artist I have known for all of her life, infact I was present at her birth almost twenty years ago and her mother is one of my closest friends, and has been for most of my life.
This hangs at the top of our stairs. I pass it countless times every day. The other day as I passed by with Ernest in my arms he said "Florence Sleeping".
I love that this hangs in the heart of our home.
Florence was born at 40 weeks + 3days (or some might say 4 days). She lived for a minute longer than 6 hours, or thereabouts. I'm still not entirely sure of the exact moment of death.
there is the official time of death, which as far as I understand is when the doctors stopped trying to save her.
I know I looked at the clock as she was handed to me, and it was 10.55am.
I know at the inquest the peadiatrician gave evidence stating that when Florence was handed to me, her heart was still beating, but only just.
I hope in those last few moments she knew she was in my arms, and in turn in the arms of her Daddy. I hope she wasn't in any pain.
Baby showers are not something that has really caught on here in the UK, although I believe they are becoming more popular.
I have to say the idea of a baby shower I found bemusing before Florence, but now I find quite repugnant.
A Blessingway might have been something I would have liked, and I did take part in a bead swap with other pregnant mamas from around the world. I loved going bead shopping with my friend who was also taking part in the same swap.
Now though, even the idea of a Blessingway makes me feel nauseous.
So, my photo today is simply of a teeny pair of bootees that I stitched for Florence while I was pregnant.
I prepared for her arrival joyously, stitching and knitting and painting. I had a glorious creative time, and I shared almost every creation here on my blog happily.
These little shoes represent those preparations.
They are now tucked away in Florence's memory box, never worn.
This photo was taken during the summer on the Pier in Beaumaris, on Anglesey. North Wales.
There's that gap. x
I didn't have much to choose from to read aloud, but I chose a short piece that I wrote after responding to a piece written by Angie for Glow.
Anyway, here it is.
I have 26 photos of Florence, most of them have never been seen by anyone outside of my immediate family.
Many of them are blurry or in bad light, taken by midwives who couldn't quite work out the camera, and with trembling hands.
There are just a few, maybe only three I'm comfortable sharing, other than for a fleeting moment.
This is one of them.
I do regret not taking more photos, and so wish I'd known about NILMDTS. I'm not sure there was a photographer operating in my area when Florence was born, but I know there is now. I've met her (we go to the same slimming club!), and she's lovely.
I treasure the few photos we have.
Can I say here that I'm slightly uncomfortable with the word sacred? The other choices were "Altar" and "Shrine", and I'm not too keen on those words either, despite the fact that this photo does depict all three. I'm just contrary!
There are several spaces around our home with photos of Florence accompanied by little trinkets that relate to her, often gifts given by thoughtful friends, or little things I've collected. There's a snow globe, some building bricks that spell out her name, a dried rose,a pine cone....
This shelf though is at the foot of our bed. Every evening I take off my necklace with her photo and place it there and I light her candles.Woody then blows them out when he comes to bed, often I'm already asleep but the smell of snuffed out candles usually wakes me, even if just for a second, that's our "goodnight". x
Hmmm, this is not an easy one. Looking back over the past three years I can see that I have been involved in various projects.
My first project was making Florence's burial gown, but I barely remember making that.
I also put together a scrap book for her, which I've never photographed, that's just for us.
I've made blankets, and burial pouches and knitted hats for my local hospital.
I've taken part in various giving projects on various blogs, including the 25 days of giveaways each Christmas.
I've designed a range of fabrics in memory of Florence, and also a range of childrens wear. My Flossie Pinafore pattern is a free download on my blog, and when I have market days I donate 10% of my sales to SANDs.
Somehow though, none of this ever seems quite enough.
I don't have the confidence to do anything more specific, and maybe not the inspiration. I struggle because Florence died full term, and no one really knows why.
No one is to blame.
Florence was a "perfect little girl"
No one could save Florence.
I have nothing to campaign for, nothing to pin a project on...except maybe awareness?
Maybe that's what this blog does now? Mind you, even there it's so confusing...my blog about sewing and baby death and failed breastfeeding....hmmm.
I don't like todays theme, and tomorrows will be just as hard, that's about Charity.
This photo was taken in August at Penmon, Anglesey, North Wales.
Penmon is a magical place, so serene.
We went there at sunset, and we saw seals swimming in the sea.
Florence is always with us, we all carry her in our hearts, I've also signed this photo the way I sign letters and cards, with six kisses, one for each of my children, the larger kiss for Florence to show she's never forgotten, and always missed. xxxxXx
This year would have been Florence's third birthday.
We have for the past two years spent the day together as a family, sadly we couldn't do that the first year because Ernest was ill in hospital, and I was with him. That was so incredibly hard, and not something I've ever really spoken about here. A very very dark time, and I nearly lost my mind completely, maybe I'll tell about that one day when I'm strong enough to go back there in my own head.
This year after a balloon release at Florence's grave side, we drove out to her woodland, had a picnic and then came home to birthday cup cakes.
Our first balloon release for Florence was at her funeral. The funeral director suggested we release balloons to direct everyone's attention up to the skies after Florence's coffin had been lowered into the ground.
I remember I was the last to let go of my balloon, and we'd under estimated how many balloons we'd need.
Each year we release balloons on Florence's birthday. This photo is from July this year, a beautiful sunny day and a balloon from each of us. x
Wave of Light
Today is Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness day, and across the world people are lighting candles at 7pm in memory of all those babies loved and missed, creating a wave of light around the globe.
We went to the cemetery at sunset, arranged Florence's roses and lit her candles.
I'm sad to say I have never really got the hang of real life babyloss community.
I know of several babyloss families, have tried and mostly failed at making local babyloss friends.I'm not even really sure why.
I couldn't face real life bereavement groups, but we did attend a babyloss service at our local church in the October after Florence died.It really wasn't for us, for lots of reasons.
My community is online, the blogs of my dear babyloss friends, their beautiful children who I think of often, speak their names,and try to honour their short lives along with Florence's.
Glow, of course, Glow saved me from angels and sentimentality...there's nothing wrong with either, it's just that they don't work for me.
My community connects across the globe, blog to blog to Glow and back again. Parent to parent, supporting each other with empathy and love.
I don't believe in signs, that doesn't mean I don't say hello to rainbows, I do.
When the sun streams into my window in the morning, I close my eyes and whisper a good morning.
I don't believe in signs, but I am in awe of the universe and all it contains, and I do believe we are all part of that.
I've said before that I think of Florence's body as nourishing the earth and becoming part, a teeny tiny part of the universe, the tiniest hint of each molecule of cloud and rain and sun, and earth.
I love this explanation.
I don't believe in signs, but I still say hello to rainbows because it eases my heart for a few moments.
While I was pregnant with Florence, I upcycled an old cupboard given to me by a dear friend, to keep all the baby things in.
I gave it a shabby chic paint effect and lined all the drawers and shelves with cath kidston rose scented drawer liners.
I don't usually like scented things. I'm very sensitive to artificial smells, they trigger migraines in me, but these drawer liners are subtle and don't affect me in that way.
Over the months I stocked the cupboard with nappies, and bootees and clothes, they all took on the smell of the liners.
After Florence was born, I had a little super soft organic washcloth from the drawer that I would hold over my face and breath in the scent.
I never had time to breath in Florence's baby scent, and sadly the clothes she did wear were washed before they were returned to me after the post mortem. I don't know how she smelled, and so this smell of the drawer liners is, in my mind her smell.
The washcloth has long since lost it's smell, and the cupboard now holds all of Ernest's things, (though we all still call it "Florence's cupboard" ).
I lined Florence's memory box with the liners that were left over, and on the rare occasions I do open her memory box, I take in a deep breath of the heavenly smell of my baby.
Once or twice I've been out and about and caught a whiff of the same scent, someone passing me in the street who perhaps has stored their clothes with the same liners, and it always stops me in my tracks, makes me smile, it's like a little "hello".
October 10th Symbol
I don't really feel totally comfortable with the idea of a symbol, but despite my unease I seem to have a few. Roses, hydrangeas, ladybirds, rabbits, and doves.
Doves are a recurring symbol. While pregnant with Florence I made two special baby carriers for her with dove applique, and in the days after her birth I appliqued the same dove onto her burial gown. That dove was interpreted by the stone mason who made this beautiful stone for our garden. We've also been gifted and have bought several trinkets and ornaments that fit the theme, I even have a whole folder of doves on flickr.
October 11th Supportive Family and Friends
We are very lucky to have been supported by so many wonderful friends and family, far too many to list here.
Woody has been my constant support, and I hope I've been his.We seem to hold each other up pretty well most of the time.
There are two very special friends that do deserve a mention, and I know I'm going to embarrass them by doing so.
They are Lisa and Heather. I love you guys, and can never pay back all the love you have both shown me and my family, and Florence over the past three years.
(If you are reading, it could be worse, I did consider asking you both to pose for portraits...and I might still!)
A Special Place
We are so very lucky to have our special place. An acre of woodland was dedicated to Florence by some wonderful beautiful people from all around the world.
We go there when we want to have some special family time, it's such a pretty place, very popular with walkers, families, I love that they all pass Florence's marker there and if they read it will know she is such a beloved baby.
(And the cafe near by does fab chips and beans to warm you up after a cold wintery walk!)
I have a few precious pieces of jewellery related to Florence, including a locket containing her hair, and a beautiful brooch hand made by a wonderful friend, but this pendant I wear every day, and I love it.
The chain is long and it hangs near my heart. The glass locket contains two photos of Florence. There is also a little silver tag engraved with her name.
I don't feel dressed without this pendant, I must handle it and kiss it a million times a day.
Ernest loves to look at it and says "Florence", and gives it to me to kiss, then he kisses it too.
What To Say.
There's nothing I like to hear more than my daughter being included. Here in our home Florence is mentioned along with all five of my other children, it feels very natural for us to talk about her, she is part of our family.
Other than hearing her name being included, I like it when people recognise we are a family of 8 not 7. I like it when people accept that I am a Mummy to 6 children.
A lovely friend recently told me how she'd had hopes and dreams for Florence too, and I thought that was beautiful.
Sometimes a simple "I'm sorry" is enough, and sometimes, a hug, a kiss, a squeeze of the hand, or even a caring smile, a reassuring glance.
And often just sitting and listening, or just being is worth so much more than any words.
Thankfully I've been on the receiving end of all of these. I have some beautiful friends and family. x
I doubt there is a babylost parent out there that hasn't had a stupid or thoughtless comment made to them at some time.
I like to believe that most thoughless comments are the result of fear, and mouths springing into action before the brain is properly focused, or has had time to consider the impact of the words falling from the mouth.
I've had lots of the usual things said to me, been told I'm brave and often, the same person will also say how they couldn't be as brave if it happened to them...I do wonder what exactly they would do instead? And although I'm sure they don't mean this, but are they implying they love their children so much more than I do because they couldn't possibly go on?
I have had one person tell me it was time I moved on, and focused on my living children. That enraged me, but I simply walked away, when really what I wanted to do was ask her which one of her children she could move on from so quickly? And had she any idea how much I had been focussing on my older children and supporting them through their grief?
Two days after Florence died, I had a phone call from someone telling me she knew just how I felt because her happy healthy living daughter had spent some time in hospital as a baby, and then she cried and told me every detail of her child's hospital stay. She didn't just do this once, but several times over that summer.
The photo though shows something that was said to me after I told someone that my youngest daughter had died.
I was incredulous at her response, I almost laughed as I replied, "She was 9lbs 3.5oz, she was born alive."
Really though, what hurts the most is when nothing is said, when Florence is not mentioned or acknowleged.