Monday, 30 April 2012

Feeling supported

It is now almost 5 months since Erin passed away - she would be coming up to 6 months old. I see pictures of babies born around the same time and wonder what Erin would be doing now. Would she be able to roll over? Would she be babbling away? How big would she be? I will always wonder these things - all the little details about my beautiful daughter that I will never get to find out. Some of them are the most basic things, like her eye colour. Her eyes were a deep dark blue when she was born, but maybe they would have changed? Her hair was a dark blonde, just like daddy's - maybe it would have got lighter? It hurts that I will never know these things. As grateful as I am for the time that I got to spend with little Erin and the opportunity I was given to find out some things about her, I am also angry and desperately sad at the things I will never know. I will always be left wondering.....

So it is almost 5 months since we left Alder Hey with empty arms and broken hearts. I have written before about the lovely staff that cared for Erin whilst there, but today I received  phonecall that has reminded me of the other wonderful staff we came into contact with. These are the team that no parent wants to know - the team that support parents following the death of their child. They rang to ask how we were doing and whether there was anything that they could do to help us. We are being well supported by our local hospital, where Erin was born, so do not really need anything from them - but it was so lovely that they asked. The grief of losing a baby can be so lonely and make you feel so empty inside that it is nice to know that we are being thought of.

The job they do must be so difficult, but it is so important. The day following Erin's death is a bit of a blur to me - we were taken by the bereavement support worker to the town hall where we had to register Erin's birth and death in the same appointment. We were given a memory box to put Erin's things in and helped take foot and hand prints of our darling daughter to keep forever. These are now among my most treasured possessions and are something that I would never have thought to ask for. Just the other day I began to panic that I couldn't remember what Erin's feet looked like or how long her toes were. Then I remembered that I had these prints and I was able to go and look. I have even had them made into a necklace which I wear always.

These things are so important, but in the depths of their grief a parent is in no position to think of them.  I really admire the work of the bereavement support team and am so grateful to them now that they helped create some momentos of our precious girl that will stay with me forever. The importance and meaning of what they do can never be underestimated.

When you have your baby in your arms, footprints, handprints and locks of hair may not seem like much. When you no longer have your baby, they mean everything!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Aching Arms

I am really happy to tell you about our latest fundraising effort - well, I say our, but really it is all down to a friend Mike who is taking part in the Great North Swim in June and asked if he could use it to raise money for Erin's Gift. Of course I said yes without hesitation and knew immediately which charity I wanted him to swim for - Aching Arms.

I have written about Aching Arms at length in a post before. They are a wonderful charity set up by the lovely Leanne following the loss of her son James. They aim to bring hope and comfort to bereaved mothers' aching arms by giving them a teddy bear to hold. Each bear is given in memory of another precious baby's life lost too soon and is a gift from one mother to another. I was given a beautiful bear in memory of baby Maisie and each and every night I fall to sleep holding Maisie bear tightly in my arms.

My previous post about how much Maisie bear and the work that Aching Arms do can be found here

I really hope Mike is able to raise lots of money through sponsorship for his swim. For each £10 that is donated another bear in memory of Erin will be given to a mother needing comfort. Of course, the bear will never replace the precious baby that has been lost, but that is not the aim. The bear will be something for the mother to squeeze tight and hold as she cries and thinks about her dearly loved and much wanted baby who is no longer in her arms. It will remind her that she is not alone...that somewhere out there, there is another mother who has experienced similar loss and who has given this bear to her with the greatest love she has....the love for her most precious child.

Please take a look at Mike's fundraising page and donate/share it if you can You can also sponsor him by texting ERIN62 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5, £6, £7, £8, £9 or £10 to 70070. Thank you.

"While I sleep, I dream of you, and when I wake,
I long to hold you in my arms"

Sunday, 15 April 2012


I was honoured to be asked to write a guest post on another blog this week, so instead of writing one on here today I thought I would link you to that

If you have time please have a look at this blog - 'Not Even Bag of Sugar' - beautifully written by Kylie. You can also follow her on twitter here @kykaree.

I will also leave you with this beautiful poem, given to me by a friend. I am unaware of the author, but it is has brought me much comfort, although I cannot read it without tears. When you get to spend such little time with your precious child, it is hard to feel like you did enough for them and are truly their mother. I hope these words bring comfort to other mummys who may at times struggle with these thoughts.

What Makes A Mother

I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today,
I asked, "What makes a Mother?"
And I know I heard him say:
A Mother has a baby,
This we know is true

But, God, can you be a mother
When your baby's not with you?

Yes, you can, he replied
With confidence in his voice,
I give many women babies,
When they leave it is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime,
And others for the day,
And some I send to feel your womb,
But there's no need to stay.

I just don't understand this God,
I want my baby here.

He took a breath,
and cleared his throat,
And then I saw a tear.
I wish I could show you,
What your child is doing Here...

If you could see your child smile
With other children and say,
"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of love and life and fear,
but my mommy loved me so much
I got to come straight here!"

I feel so lucky to have a Mom who had so much love for me,
I learned my lessons very quickly,
My Mommy set me free.
I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep,
On her pillow is where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek,
And whisper in her ear,
"Mommy, Please don't be sad today,
I'm your baby and I am here"

So you see my dear sweet one,
Your children are okay.
Your babies are here in my home,
And this is where they'll stay.
They'll wait for you with Me,
Until your lessons there are through,
And on the day that you come home,
they'll be at the gates waiting for you

So now you see
What makes a Mother,
It's the feeling in your heart,
It's the love you had so much of

Right from the very start.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Masato Fashion Show

As you are probably aware, we are organising an auction to raise money for the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal, to take place in October 2012. In order to collect items to sell I have been sending requests via twitter and have been overwhelmed by the response. We are in the process of setting up a website on which we have a page dedicated to all the generous businesses and individuals who have donated.

One person who got in touch was Mike who works with the fashion designer Masato. He had seen my tweets and said that Masato would like to donate one of his dresses for the auction. Needless to say I was totally gobsmacked and amazed. Mike said that my husband and I could attend their fashion show in Manchester to meet Masato and collect the dress. Well, I had never been to a fashion show before so was quite nervous, but yesterday we we went, we saw, we collected the dress and we had a lovely but emotional day.

We met Masato, Mike and some of their team at their hotel in the afternoon and despite being nervous, were put at ease by how lovely they were. Masato gave us this gorgeous dress and their photographer took some photos.

I am so excited that we are going to be able to auction it to raise money for Alder Hey -  it is a size 12 for those who may be interested!

We were also surprised by Helen and Joan, the lovely ladies from Latimer Couture jewellery ( . They explained that they would like to donate one of their beautiful necklaces to our auction - cue my first tears of the day. Unfortunately I don't think the photo below quite does justice to just how beautiful the necklace is, but hopefully I will be able to take some better ones before the auction.

We were then given VIP tickets to Masato's show which guaranteed us front row seats and a goodie bag. It was wonderful - the dresses were absolutely gorgeous and I would really recommend everyone to have a look at this wonderful designer's work (

I am so grateful to Mike, Masato, Helen and Joan for their extremely generous donations to our auction. I am sure that they are going to raise a lot of money for the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal - a really wonderful charity. I would also like to thank them for being truly lovely to us and treating us to an amazing day out.

My husband and I arrived home that evening exhausted after an exciting but poignant day.It had been the first day since Erin was born that I got up, put makeup on and made an effort with my appearance. It had not felt right to do those things before, but yesterday it felt okay because it was all about Erin. All the fundraising we do is in her name, so going to Manchester and meeting these wonderful and generous people was for her. I hope I did her proud.

"How beautiful a day can be
When kindness touches it"
~ George Elliston

Sunday, 1 April 2012

I miss you Erin

Today is 4 months since Erin passed away. A friend asked if I wanted to talk about the things I miss about her and I thought this may be a good topic for my blog. A chance to reflect on and think about my beautiful little girl.

I miss so many things about the first week of her life, before she had her operation, when she was on K2 at Alder Hey hospital. I miss watching her stretch her entire little body and wriggle around as she was waking up from a deep sleep. I miss the way she used to gulp down her milk as fast as she could and then clamp her mouth tightly shut when she had drunk enough and refuse to  let the bottle pass her lips again. I miss watching her sleep - it seemed she could get comfortable in any position. I miss it when she pursed  her lips in her sleep and pulled other funny faces. I miss our cuddles - I miss our cuddles so much. I miss holding her against my chest and snuggling her close. I miss stroking her soft hair and watching her sleep, her cheek squashed against my shoulder. I miss resting my cheek on the softness of her head and feeling totally at peace, knowing that this felt totally right and was what my life was all about - caring for my beautiful daughter. I miss jumping out of bed in the morning, even though I had only had a few hours sleep, because I was going to spend another day with my amazing little girl. Jumping quickly in the shower and getting dressed as quickly as I could - I never once dried my hair with a hairdryer during Erin's life because that would just be wasting time. I could not wait to be by her side and every minute was precious. I miss getting up in the morning and saying excitedly to my husband, "come on, lets go and see our little poppet". I miss changing her as she wiggled around on the mat - trying to work around the wires and monitors. I miss choosing a babygrow for her to wear and dressing her proudly. I miss everything!

The next 2 weeks were spent with Erin in ICU following her operation. This was a very different time as she was critically ill and there were no cuddles, or dressing or stretching anymore.....but despite this, there was still hope. There was still a skip in my step as I rushed down to the ward in the morning, hoping that today would be the day when she could come off the ECMO machine. There were still tremendous feelings of pride as I sat by her side, whispering words of comfort in her ear, stroking her hair and holding her hand. These feelings of pride will never leave me.

And now, there are things that I miss that I never even got to do. I miss having the opportunity to sit in the rocking chair in her nursery with her and sing her to sleep. I miss having the chance to take her for walks in the sunshine and visit daddy during his lunch break at work. I miss the fact that I never got the chance to introduce her to most of my friends and family and that she never got to enjoy all the cuddles she would have had. I miss getting out of bed full of hope and joy in the morning.......

When we returned home from hospital without Erin one of the first things I did was write down all the wonderful things about her - the details of her hair and her weight and the funny little mannerisms that she had. I was so terrified that one day I may forget them and I never wanted to forget anything about my precious little girl. Now I know that I will never forget these things, but what I worry about is that I will forget how these things felt. It is 4 months on and I am struggling to remember just how it felt to hold my baby girl close and this scares me, because my memories are everything...they are all I have.

"When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. "
~ Author Unknown