Florence Violet

The posts below have been moved here for those stumbling across our story for the first time. If you'd like to see the original posts along with the comments, then please click here and here.

Florence Violet, originally uploaded by indiaeden.
Born into her Daddy's waiting hands and held against Mummy's breast on 22nd July 2009 at 4.54 am. 9lbs 3.5oz
Sadly slipped from this world at 10.55 am on the same day.
We loved her from the moment she was conceived and will miss her forever.

I have thought long and hard about putting Florence's story here, and having talked it over with Woody decided that I would.
Her story, our story is not an easy one to tell, but we think it might help some people who care about us to understand a little more about her short life. I also know how much it's helped me reading other families stories of loss, and maybe a mother in a similar position to me might stumble across this page and know that there are other mothers out there that understand, and feel that immense pain just like they do.

Florence Violet
22nd July 2009

Florence was a wonderful surprise baby. We had four children, and didn't plan on having any more, though it was no secret I wanted at least one more!
Finding out we were pregnant, was a surprise, I'm still not quite sure how it happened! I felt so lucky to be pregnant again, and enjoyed every moment of my pregnancy...ok maybe not the morning sickness!

Tuesday 21st July 2009, three days after my “official due date”, I woke in the early hours to strong contractions and period type pains. The contractions were only coming about every ten minutes, and I was managing to rest, even doze between them. I knew there was a way to go yet.
Woody had already booked the rest of that week off work as I was struggling with the school runs. I was very glad he had.
Things slowed down a little once all the children were up, and I managed to get the middle two off to school without arousing any suspicion.
I just had to keep my excitement from India, who had already finished school for the summer, and from Sid.
We spent the day quietly pottering about the house, and went for a gentle walk to a local park. We fed the ducks and simply enjoyed some quiet time.
By tea time the pains were stronger. Woody prepared a delicious chilli and flat-breads, and my best friend, Heather joined us for dinner.
We were all quite jolly. Woody and I were amused that Heather had shown up not knowing I was in the early stages of labour.
Once she realised, she looked rather nervous, and I tried to hide when the contractions came.
Later that evening once all the children were tucked up in bed, my contractions got a lot stronger, and I decided to try out the tens machine I'd borrowed from a lovely friend, Maxine.
I was trying to watch TV while bouncing on my birth ball or standing using the bedside crib to lean on and rotating my hips.
I also spent a lot of time on the loo, I think Florence was pressing on my bladder, I seemed to constantly need to wee. That position though would then trigger more contractions, as would Florence's constant wriggling!
She'd been enormously active all through the pregnancy, and during labour was no different. She'd kick and wriggle so violently sometimes I'd shout out “you little bugger!”.
She was going to be just like her big sister, Eden. I was sure of it.
By about 1am, the contractions were coming about every four minutes and were lasting about a minute and a half. Woody and I decided to go downstairs to the lounge where I planned to give birth, and where Angus and Sid were both born.
I decided to give the hospital a call and warn them I might need a midwife sometime soon.
Mary, my wonderful midwife was already in with a birthing woman, so I said I'd call back when I thought things were more urgent in the hope she'd be free by then.
Meanwhile Woody had woken India to go and sleep in with Sid in our bed. Eden and Angus also woke briefly, but I told them the baby was coming and they should go back to sleep.
Woody and I settled down in the lounge. Woody in the arm chair with a blanket, and me sat on my birthing ball,leaning over the back of a dining chair.
By now the pains were very intense, and I was struggling to get in a comfortable position. I felt overwhelmed and began to cry, telling Woody I couldn't do this...classic transition maybe?
Woody gave me some rescue remedy and a homoeopathic remedy from my birth kit. I stopped crying and gave myself a severe talking to.
I was now standing and leaning over the back of the dining chair. Woody had started to doze in the arm chair,but I couldn't wake him as now the contractions were one on top of the other, and very intense. I was half keeping an eye on the time and decided if these contractions kept coming like this until 4am, that would be when I'd wake Woody and ring for Mary.
I kept telling myself “you can do this”.
Just before 4am my mucous plug came away, and I woke Woody to check...I couldn't move, I was rooted to the spot and clinging on to my chair.
We then phoned the delivery suite, but I couldn't speak, and before I'd even passed the phone to Woody, the midwife was already sending Mary out to me.
Mary arrived very quickly.(I live very close to the hospital.) I was so pleased to see her. A week earlier she had hurt her leg and I didn't think she'd make it to my birth, I was so glad she did.
Mary wanted to examine me, I was really nervous, but she was gentle and caring. She said I was 5cm's dilated with waters bulging. Florence was in a great position and her heartbeat was strong.
As I stood up from the sofa, there was a whoosh of amniotic fluid! Mary again listened to Florence's heartbeat, still good and strong.
I was managing with the Tens machine, but Mary thought I might like some Entonox, so popped out to her car to get a mouthpiece for the canister.
Almost immediately I could feel Florence's head crowning. I said to Woody “Here comes the head”, but he didn't believe me! (I have since told him that when a woman says a head is coming, she's not kidding!).
There was another huge gush of waters, and I could feel Florence coming with them. I didn't push, just breathed deeply.
I told Woody to go and get Mary, then said “No stay, catch the baby”. Woody was holding out his hands to catch Florence, (she had one hand up near her face) as Mary came back in. Mary said the cord was tight around Florence's neck and she may have to cut it, but Florence had other ideas and was born in a flash into both Woody and Mary's hands . (little did we know, that had she cut the cord then, we might not have got the time with her we did.)
Mary passed Florence up to me, I held her warm slippy body in my arms. Woody said “It's a girl”. I knew it! I held her close and scolded myself for any doubts I'd had while pregnant that she might never make it earth side.
Woody and Mary helped me to the sofa. There had been no time to put down all the towels I'd been saving, so Mary hastily put down stepping stones of inco pads for me.
I sat on the sofa with my beautiful baby girl against my breast. She looked just like Eden. I knew her already, just like the other children.

It was 4.54am.

While we waited for the placenta, I held Florence skin to skin. I offered her the breast but she wasn't ready to feed yet. She had been born very fast and was a little mucousy. I wasn't concerned about her not wanting to feed straight away. All of my babies had waited a good hour before wanting their first feed. I was happy to feel her body against mine, and study her little hands and face.
She passed meconium all over us both, and I started to feel a little uncomfortable after about thirty minutes or so. This was when we decided to cut the cord that had stopped pulsating, and I asked for syntometrine to help the placenta come away.
Mary then suggested I go for a quick shower to rinse off the meconium, and Woody took Florence. He washed her gently with warm water and a soft cloth before having a cuddle with her while I showered.
I was so excited in the shower, I think it was the quickest shower of my life, I just wanted to get back downstairs to my new baby, to give her that first breastfeed and to settle down for the new day with my family around me.
The children had all gone down to say hello to Florence while I was in the shower.
When I got downstairs, Mary said Florence was a little cold and “dusky” and she wanted to put her back skin to skin with me. I immediately tucked her under my pyjama top.
Mary took her temperature, and it was only 34 degrees, she was by now whimpering a little. Mary called an ambulance and I held an oxygen mask over Florence's face.
Initially I think we all thought it was the fast birth and the mucous on her chest causing the problem, but I remember my hands shaking as I tried to put a nappy on her, and knowing in my heart that things were very wrong.
India found me some shoes and a fleece to throw on over my pyjamas as the ambulance arrived.
Mary held Florence into the ambulance, and I was helped in by the paramedic, and strapped into my seat. The sirens and lights were switched on. I couldn't believe this was happening, I was overwhelmed with dread.
We arrived at the A&E department just minutes later. I climbed out of the ambulance first, but Florence was already on the table by the time I got there.

It was 6.05am

This is where details get very blurry. I have flashes of the next five hours , but exact time lines are lost to me.
I remember a wonderful nurse, Jo enveloping me in her arms and holding me so tightly. I think we both thought that holding on like that might make it all ok.
(I've since learned that Jo sadly lost her father just a week later and he is buried close by Florence.)
I remember Woody arriving soon after us. He had waited at home for his step Mum to come and look after the children, then raced to the hospital to be with us.
I remember Florence's tiny body on that table, wires and tubes from every limb, from her nose, her mouth and her umbilical.
I remember stroking her tiny hand and her soft cheek as the doctors and nurses worked on her.
I remember knowing she was leaving us.
I wanted it all to stop. I wanted to hold my baby in my arms.
Finally, after five hours Florence decided she was leaving us. Woody had taken me outside for some air. He was holding me up, and I thought I was going to wake up any minute.
That is when the doctor came to fetch us. She told us Florence was making the choice to leave us.
Woody held me up as we walked towards the table. Another doctor was still trying to resuscitate her. The first doctor told him to stop and to give us our baby.
Woody and I were both sobbing and holding our beautiful girl as a nurse hastily cut all the tubes and wires.
We sat together, huddled, crying, me unwrapping my baby to get a good look at her. I wanted to study her as I would've at home during that first feed.
Time stood still in our little bubble as the nurses cleaned up around us.
She was gone.
She never had that first feed, she never opened her eyes.

It was 10.55am

After a while we were moved to a relatives room, and a midwife was left with us. We were worried sick about our older children, and I made that awful phone call home to Grandma to let her know our baby girl had left us.
We were moved again a while later to the bereavement suite in the maternity department.
I was wheeled through the hospital holding my baby and trying desperately to hide in her blanket the tubes and wires still left in her body.
Woody walked behind carrying my bags.
It's a long way from A&E to the maternity department, but our lovely bereavement midwife, Annie went as fast as she possibly could.
The bereavement suite is a quiet comfortable space in a distant corridor away from the bustle of the maternity wards.
Annie helped me to weigh Florence, 9lbs 3.5 ozs.
We were left alone in that room for a while. Woody made a cup of tea. Annie had left us sandwiches, but we were not hungry.
We undressed Florence, and I washed her carefully before dressing her, and hiding all the wires I could in her nightgown.
I kept asking for the wires and tubes to be removed, and being told it was impossible until the coroner arrived and gave permission. Woody stopped me several times from ripping them out myself.
We held Florence in our arms, I walked with her and rocked her and we cried.
Eventually the coroner, Rita arrived and gave permission for the tubes and wires to be removed. Finally we could see our sweet baby's face.
She was so beautiful,and I swear I could see her smiling.

We had to then endure the SUDIC (Sudden Unexplained Death In Childhood) team, their questions, their intrusion into our grief and even into our home, as Woody went home with two detectives and a specialist paediatrician so they could see where Florence was born. (Granddad and Grandma had by now taken the children to their house, they still didn't know what had happened.)

Finally the time came to leave Florence. We had to get back to our older children, but to do that we had to abandon our precious girl.
Annie's colleague suggested she hold Florence in her arms on the sofa, so we could leave her that way instead of having her taken out of the room.
We kissed our baby girl goodbye and forced ourselves out of that room, down the corridor, into the lift, down another corridor, forcing one foot in front of the other. Holding a memory box in my arms instead of a baby, my dress spattered with blood.
When I got into the car, there was the baby seat.

We arrived home to an empty house, but the children arrived soon after. We sat on the sofa, we all cried.

The children wanted to see Florence, so later that evening we went back to the hospital. The children all got to hold and kiss their baby sister, and we took photos.
The girls both took her gifts to keep with her. India gave her a little pink bunny, and Eden gave her a cushion she had made and embroidered for her.

That night the older three children cried like I never want to hear them do again. They all slept together in the same room for several days afterwards.

The last time we saw Florence was two days before her burial. She was lying on the quilt I'd made for her while pregnant, wearing the gown I'd made for her in the days after she was born, and the bonnet I'd knitted for her on holiday.
She looked like a little sleeping pixie, delicate and beautiful.

Florence was buried on 7th August 2009. The sun was shining, we watched the balloons float off into the clouds and we wept.

We are all broken hearted at the loss of our Florence Violet. She was a part of our family from the very moment she was conceived. We miss her so very much and will love her forever.
She will always be our fifth child.

Our family of seven

Florence was buried on 7th August 2009.

Informal. Jeanette and Andrew have no beliefs in a conventional sense so they have asked me to say a few words and help them to say goodbye.

We gather today to express our love for Florence Violet Wood sadly also, to say goodbye. And hopefully to bring some comfort to those family and friends here that have been  hurt by her early death.

Florence’s death is not only the loss of your daughter, sister, granddaughter or neice. The loss of someone so young is more than that, you have also lost your hopes for her, and saddest of all you have lost part of your future with her. It is indeed a harsh blow. Grief is the price that sometimes we have to pay for love.

Kahlil Gibran words about the nature of hurt…….

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Death is of course a natural part of life.

As Tagore said “Death belongs to life as birth does. The walk is in the raising of the foot as in the laying of it down”

Death may be a natural part of life but to loose one so young upsets our ideas of the natural order of life: usualy it is the old that die and that is expected and part of the order of things. When that natural order is upset it can seem cruel and unfair.

But Florence was a natural creature , as we all are, and therefore subject to chance and impermance.  As all living things are from moment to moment.

Though Florence had only a short time in the world she has been part of Jeanette and Andrew’s family for 9 months now. She was anticipated with great joy by India, Eden, Angus and Sid. She was very welcome and joined a lively loving family. The time that she spent at home with her family around her and the happiness of that short time will never be forgotten.

Florence will always be loved as Jeanette and Andrew’s fifth child. She will always be remembered by India, Eden, Angus, and Sid as their little sister. She will remain a member of your family as your granddaughter or neice.

She will be remembered, cherished and loved and will be a tender presence in your hearts and minds.

Envelopes and cards: Shape or message

I would like us now to just a have a period of silence to think of Florence and to send our love to her. Those with a faith might like to use this time for a silent prayer.

Tibetan saying;

All worldy things are brief,

Like lightning in the sky;

This life you must know

As the tiny splash of a raindrop;

A thing of beauty that disappears

Even as it comes into being.

Committal Words

Here in this last act, with love and care, in sorrow but without fear we give that part of Florence that can no longer stay with us, her body, to the Earth.

F l o r e n c e

I'd like to share here some of the poems,songs,and photographs that I've collected since Florence's birth. Most of them, I've kept in a little folder on my pc, not quite knowing what to do with them. When I've seen something that captured my heart I've tucked it away for a later date, and that means often I've not remembered where I've seen it first, so apologies in advance for that.

The following poem is one that was running through my head the days following Florence's death. We had lines from this carved on her grave stone, and I'm considering a tattoo with the same words.


by: Oscar Wilde

Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.

Peace, peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

Here a pretty baby lies
Sung asleep with lullabies:
Pray be silent and not stir
Th' easy earth that covers her.

I think I found this poem on the blog "Dead Baby Jokes"
There is something so beautiful and so comforting about the nursery rhyme style of this.

I think the next two poems probably came from Angie, over at Still Life With Circles

The End
It is time for me to go, mother; I am going.
When in the paling darkness of the lonely dawn
you stretch out your arms for your baby in the bed,
I shall say, “Baby is not there!”–mother, I am going.
I shall become a delicate draught of air and caress you;
and I shall be ripples in the water when you bathe,
and kiss you and kiss you again.
In the gusty night when the rain patters on the leaves
you will hear my whisper in your bed,
and my laughter will flash with the lightning
through the open window into your room.
If you lie awake, thinking of your baby till late into the night,
I shall sing to you from the stars, “Sleep mother, sleep.”
On the straying moonbeams I shall steal over your bed,
and lie upon your bosom while you sleep.
I shall become a dream,
and through the little opening of your eyelids
I shall slip into the depths of your sleep;
and when you wake up and look round startled,
like a twinkling firefly I shall flit out into the darkness.
When, on the great festival of puja,
the neighbours’ children come and play about the house,
I shall melt into the music of the flute and throb in your heart all day.

Dear auntie will come with puja-presents and will ask,
“Where is our baby, sister?”
Mother, you will tell her softly,
“He is in the pupils of my eyes, he is in my body and in my soul.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

"Lullaby for my Dead Child"
by Denise Jallais, translated by Maxine Kumin and Judith Kumin

You shouldn't be afraid of the dark
Or of worms
Now you can play with the rain
And see the grass come up

You shouldn't put dirt in your mouth
And sit still waiting for me
We've given you some flowers
To console you for being little
And dead.

This is a passage from "The Water Babies" by Charles Kingsley. This was printed on a card from a friend, and struck a chord with both Woody and I.

And... one moonlight night, the fairies came flying in at the window and brought her such a pretty pair of wings that she could not help putting them on; and she flew with them out of the window, and over the land, and over the sea, and up through the clouds..

This poem was written by Eden.She wrote it in the months following Florence's birth, but only now have I felt able to share it.(with her permission)

A poem by Eden 

This transcript from a radio programme is something that speaks to me.

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.

In the early weeks of our loss, I trawled the internet in search of others who knew the pain of their baby dying. I devoured blogs, and searched links, and here are some of the places I found comfort, and places I wish I'd found at the time.

Glow In the Woods
Faces Of Loss
To Write Their Names In The Sand
Still Life 365

One of the many awful aspects of losing a baby, is then having to deal with your breastmilk for that baby.
Some women want the milk gone,but others want and need to see the milk and to perhaps put it to good use.There is no right choice, only what is right for each mother.
Here are useful links depending on which choice you decide to make.

UK Milk Banking
La Leche League GB (I had wonderful support from LLL when I was donating my breastmilk.)

How to stop lactation, when there is no baby.
Baby loss care package. (US site.)


An Exact Replica Of A Figment Of My Imagination.
They Were Still Born
We Were Gonna Have A Baby,But We Had An Angel Instead