Today I have been feeling rather glum, not quite sure why. You know the type of day when you wake up and just feel a bit off kilter, well that is how I have felt.
As the day draws to an end I sit here reflecting about all that has happened on my day off with my daughter Edie and realise we should celebrate each day’s little victory.
About a year ago my daughter developed a fear of water. We were so upset as she had happily been attending swimming lessons fairly regularly for about 10 months. She is a sensitive child but out of nowhere came this reluctance to get in the pool. It was so frustrating and confusing for us as parents.
We questioned if we had done anything wrong to cause it and tried different techniques to help Edie feel more settled and at ease. Bath time was never an issue as such but hair washing too became a battle.
We decided to cancel her swimming lessons and take her to our health club pool instead so we could encourage her to enjoy swimming again on our own terms. Last summer was spent encouraging her to splash about with water in a paddling pool and ultimately get in.
At the start many trips to the health club pool would involve Edie in her swimming costume walking around the outside. One person would be in the pool encouraging her to get in and another person on the perimeter holding her hand so she didn’t slip. It felt like so many steps backwards from the days when we would just turn up to swimming lessons and with Edie excited to get in and splashing about.
You couldn’t help but feel other parents were judging you and wondering what on earth you were doing whilst they seemed to be enjoying watching their little one/s learn to kick, float, dive and leave looking satisfied. I occasionally ended up going swimming on my own during the ‘children welcome hour’ and be fighting back the tears seeing kids revelling in the joy of swimming and thinking how easy it looked.
It was hard. It still is to be honest, but we are determined and Edie took a massive leap today. Okay so she loves her new swimming costume and prefers the ‘little pool’ i.e. jacuzzi to the ‘big pool’ still, but Edie got IN the big pool! She allowed me to hold her afloat whilst she kicked and we did a couple of lengths of the pool without any screaming or legs climbing the edge to get out. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is to me.
I am usually exhausted after each trip to the pool as it is normally mentally and physically a challenge but today there were many moments where I could just relax and revel in her delight at trying something new or pushing her own boundaries. Edie was relaxing and therefore I could too. She arrived at the pool smiling and left happy.
As parents we can put so much pressure on ourselves on how we bring up our children and make comparisons to others. Surely we should all just take satisfaction from reflecting at the end of each day to focus on a little victory achieved.
Tonight I take satisfaction in those couple of lengths.
It’s been several months since I last blogged but I’ve had the rather time consuming matter of the second and third trimester of a pregnancy after loss, a birth and seven months bringing up a baby to keep me busy!
Even though I’ve only recently finished my maternity leave, I wouldn’t say I have had more time on my hands, just different type of time. I have been meaning to continue blogging where I left off but as more and more time passed it just got harder to start. It has infact taken me exactly 51 days to complete this blog post!
However here I am blogging again finally and when trying to decide what to blog about, I thought the birth of our daughter Edie is a perfect place to start.
This was my second birth experience and I was determined to have a positive experience and outcome. I didn’t want the fact that our firstborn died during early labour make me fear it. We were offered an elective c-section and induction but I was so determined to see what happened naturally. Obviously if there had been signs of any issues we were willing to consider these options.
Towards the latter part of my third trimester my appointments, checks and monitoring really increased. At 30 weeks I had to go to hospital for monitoring as I thought my waters might have broken. They confirmed they hadn’t but during this visit they decided to test me for Group B Strep which is normally done at around 36 weeks. I came back positive which meant I would need antibiotics through a drip several times during my labour to protect my baby. It also meant that I would probably not be able to experience early labour at home which disappointed me but I knew the drugs were important.
I had chosen to start my maternity leave a month before my due date because I knew this was going to be an intense period with appointments and just trying to get through it. I’m so glad I did because I went into labour three weeks early at 37 weeks gestation. It was a Saturday and my husband and I had attended the hospital for a scheduled monitoring appointment in the morning.
Following this we went out for lunch and decided to enjoy the sunshine and went for a little walk afterwards. I remember saying to Rik that it felt like the baby was quite low and getting several braxton hicks during the walk. I placed his hand on my stomach during one to show him how hard it was. As we were getting back to the car I remember feeling a slight gush and went to the cafe toilet. I came out and told him we would have to return to the hospital as I am sure it was some amniotic fluid.
We returned and I got monitored again although they felt it wasn’t amniotic fluid. During the monitoring slight contractions were showing up and the midwife asked if I could feel them. For about 5/10 minutes we thought this was it and I was having our baby, but then they petered out. However the midwife wasn’t 100% satisfied with the report so I was monitored again. This time less contractions showed up and 40 minutes later I was going home.
I joked with her how I was going to a friends for Chinese that evening and she said I should avoid it if I was going into labour! I was shattered when I got home and all I wanted to do was take a nap but there wasn’t enough time so I didn’t. Something I would later regret!
Whilst I was sitting in the packed Chinese waiting for our order under a loud TV, I remember thinking I shouldn’t be here, and I was right. I kept thinking it would be okay if I went into labour as one of my friends was a midwife. We joked how it could be anytime. I went home and started getting ready for bed when I had my mucous plug show. I texted my midwife friend a picture, believe it or not, and she said it was a good sign.
With my previous birth, the plug had appeared a week before going into labour so I wasn’t panicked. I had literally just got settled in bed, when I felt the need to go to the toilet. I sat up in bed and felt a gush. Not loads but enough to think something was happening. It kept coming so I texted my midwife friend back again saying “Phoning hospital as just had some water come out x”. I remember my body started shaking uncontrollably as I went into panic mode.
A phone call to the hospital later and I was getting dressed still in shock. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite finished packing my hospital bag but fortunately I had made a list on my phone of what I had still needed to pack so as I read out each item Rik went looking for them.
We drove to the hospital and it all felt like a dream. I remember questioning whether we should bring in the bags because I kept doubting that I was in labour and that I would need all the baby items this time. There was always a little niggle at the back of my mind whether it would end in devastation again.
We got shown into a room to have a scan to check on our baby. Unfortunately this was the same room we had been told there was no heartbeat last time but somehow we were strong and coped. The on call obstetrician confirmed my waters had broken and gave me until 6am the next morning for my contractions to be fully established. They gave me my first drip of antibiotics. We were then moved into our own room which we would occupy for the rest of our stay.
We decided not to tell family that we were in hospital and wait until the morning. By the time we went to sleep it was 4am and I knew I had to be woken at 6am for my next dose of antibiotics. It’s very hard to sleep when you know you are going to have your baby in the next 24 hrs! It was lovely having Rik there to keep me company and support me.
In the morning I was examined and found to be 3cm dilated so I didn’t require to be induced. This was good news but because my contractions had not established fully I was told I would require some syntocinon to speed things up because I needed to have the baby 24 hours from when my waters broke to reduce infection. This meant a water birth was not an option which upset me. I had hoped to have a water birth with Freddie but chose to have an epidural in the end so to then be told I couldn’t have one was disappointing. I was therefore determined to ensure that I was happy with the rest of how things went. This included wearing some special pieces of jewellery including a necklace I had made with Freddie’s footprints on. I wanted it close to hand to rub if things got tough and I needed extra encouragement.
After breakfast the overnight on call obstetrician was just about to finish her shift but before doing so introduced the team of midwives and the next on call obstetrician assigned to me and assured me that they had all read my birth plan and care plan. This was about 8am and by now I was starting to feel regular twinges so they moved me to a delivery room.
I had requested the delivery room we had with Freddie if it was available and fortunately for us it was. It had been redecorated since 2013 and had a brighter feel with blossom on the wall and new beds which changed into tiered seating. I remember thinking it was a beautiful sunny day and we had the windows open. I asked the midwife if we could have the battery operated flickering candles I’d seen in the room during a tour of the ward and some meditation music I’d got with me. To make me more comfortable I’d also asked for the wireless monitoring system so I wasn’t tied to a machine. I was quite comfortable swaying from side to side on my Swiss ball.
It was at this point once he knew I was settled that my husband took the opportunity to phone our family to let them know what was happening. It was a Sunday so a few of them were about to go to church. My mother said she would pray for me. My sister said she’d seen a robin in her garden and believed it was a sign from Freddie. I took delight in telling her that yesterday when we were returning to the ward we had seen a robin just sitting on a fence in the hospital car park and had taken it as a sign from Freddie that he was present and that everything was going to be okay.
Rik then thought he would pop home to pick up a few things we’d forgotten and have a quick shower. I didn’t know how long I was going to be in labour for and wanted him to be as fresh as he could be after two hours sleep! Whilst he was away I just relaxed really. The only thing that was a bit stressful was when I went to the toilet and got in a bit of a pickle as I had to take the antibiotic drip stand with me and keep the monitoring belts in place which I failed at. I remember thinking that the midwife must have been wondering was going on as the traces disappeared on her machine back in the labour room.
Rik returned around 10am and decided to sit behind me on the tiered bed whilst I sat on the Swiss ball so he could massage my back. He remained there for the rest of my labour and was an amazing support physically and emotionally. I was breathing through my contractions well and they were coming at a rate of about three every ten minutes. As they got stronger and stronger I needed to push harder against Rik’s hands and breath deeper. The midwife kept saying the baby is very happy as her heart rate was stable.
Prior to giving birth Rik and I had spent one night a week listening to a hypnobirthing CD and as the contractions seemed to roll into each other I found myself going back to one of the exercises and imagining being stood by a waterfall with Rik by my side holding hands. At this point I still hadn’t had any pain relief and after two strong surges I remember thinking I don’t know how long I can take this.
I had heard you can feel the baby shifting down and I certainly did. At first I thought I had imagined it and just ignored it but a few contractions on and I pushed a bit and felt the baby move further down. I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t realise how ready my body was.
It was at this point I said to Rik that I felt nauseous, I then started to weep and as a second midwife went to get tissues I had one or two really strong surges where I was lifting myself off the ball back against Rik’s hands. It was now when I needed that extra support and I rubbed Freddie’s necklace knowing that I could endure anything in his memory. Rik whispered in my ear “it won’t be long now Nic” as he just knew I was ready. The next contraction I was up on my feet which took the midwife in the room and the second one returning with tissues a bit by surprise.
I was encouraged to turn around and lean over the bed as they quickly pulled down my bottoms. I heard one midwife quickly opening a welcome pack whilst the other told me to do what felt natural. This is when my inner cave woman came out as I let my body naturally birth Edie. It felt so euphoric and I remember listening to myself thinking is that me making those noises. A minute later and Edie Pierrine Bromley was born in the Blossom Room at the PEH, Guernsey at 12.20pm weighing 6lb7oz.
I went to grab Edie and there was that moment before she cried where there was silence from her and I panicked and said she wasn’t breathing but to our relief she did. Having asked for delayed cord clamping, I was encouraged to lie down as she was passed to me. It was a funny moment as I felt the cord tugging but we realised we didn’t have much cord to work with. Lying there with her in my arms I didn’t cry, I just looked at her, looked at Rik and back to her and said “Hello I’m your mummy”.
Two minutes later and Rik cut the cord and then I had further skin to skin with her. Eight minutes later and I had to stand up again as a strong surge came on to birth the placenta. I looked down as it was caught in a container and noticed what a mess I had made. On inspection I required some stitching and I think enduring this was the hardest part of the whole thing! The midwife said just concentrate on your new baby which I did but I was very relieved when they had finished.
A midwife encouraged me to try breastfeeding Edie and she fortunately latched on straight away. It was wonderful to know that forty minutes after giving birth she was feeding from me. We were then left for around an hour to have some quality time together. It was during this hour that Rik stood opposite me in the room and rang my mother and said “I’m looking at your daughter and your granddaughter”. I can’t even begin to imagine the relief and excitement that she must have been feeling.
I know only too well that pregnancies and births don’t go according to plan but on that day I had no doubt and that Edie was here to stay. It was an agreement I had with Edie when we first both looked into each other’s eyes and remains a very strong agreement today.
A few weeks after giving birth to Edie, a friend asked me how my birth was and I could honestly say I really enjoyed it. I know that not everyone can say this but I felt empowered by how I coped and we both worked together to bring her earthside. It really is amazing how your body knows what to do and by trusting it, birth can be a calm, relaxed and enjoyable experience. I am very lucky to have experienced giving birth to two beautiful children.
As the last few hours of 2013 approach, I want to reflect on what a year this has been for me and my family. You may think I just want to see the back of 2013 and wipe it out of my life, but in fact I want to do the opposite.
Yes some events of 2013 have broken my heart and changed me forever, but it’s not all doom and gloom. If I just sat here and dwelled on the bad, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed everyday. There have been some days I have wanted to stay in bed and hide myself away from family, work, chores, friends, life, news and just thinking, but if anything, 2013 has taught me what to get out of bed for.
2013 made me stronger because………it gave my family hope, happiness and excitement when we were still raw from my auntie passing away from cancer in Dec 2012 and attending her funeral in Jan 2013. It was so hard having such good news to share with my family when I know they were still grieving for the loss of auntie Bun. I was torn between being so elated to be expecting my first child and feeling so sad that she had lost her brave and courageous fight. The news of bringing new life into the family made us strong and happy again. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise that there is a time when you must admit to yourself that for all your best efforts and interest in something, if it becomes a chore and you start to not enjoy it anymore, it is not a failure to walk away. I am proud that Rik and I set up the Guernsey Dub Collective Volkswagen club in 2012 but the lack of enthusiasm and support was draining us both. We could have carried on and dragged it along but what was the point when we weren’t getting any pleasure from it. It took courage for us to be strong enough to walk away from it knowing that we had tried. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..after carrying my son for 39 weeks and 5 days I lay silently in bed breathing through my contractions throughout the night of August 15th whilst I let Rik sleep so he was rested in the morning. I was scared and excited but I now know that I am brave and strong because I worked with my body and started labour spontaneously on my own. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because………after carrying my son for 39 weeks and 6 days and being told my son had passed during early labour, I supported my husband whilst he broke down and sobbed in my arms. I didn’t realise I was strong enough to keep it together for the both of us. I couldn’t have made the decisions about my body that I had to make that day if I hadn’t kept it together. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..three weeks after loosing my son, I found out that I no longer had job security and coped with the fear and confusion this came with on top of everything else. I dealt with the news in a mature and dignified way and now have the opportunity to stop and look at the options available to me. I feel more determined to look after myself and be valued. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..when I was trying to pick myself up things kept knocking me down but I kept picking myself up. I was constantly seeing doctors and specialists getting tests, scans and checks done but this, and constantly being on antibiotics for a while, didn’t break me. I found strength in the fact that I was being looked after, needed to recuperate and that things could only get better. I was finally given a good clean bill of health in December. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..after waiting for three months to get the full post-mortem results, I have not been deterred from trying for another baby again in the future, even though what happened could happen again. I now have a lot more knowledge about my body and pregnancy and will be monitored more in any future pregnancies. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise what a blessing it is to have children and that if I am lucky enough to be pregnant again, how I must cherish every moment as you never know what the outcome is. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise the importance of life, to not get weighed down with things that don’t make you happy and make you grow as a person and appreciate good friends on a stronger level. 2013 has shown me true friendships and that the best things in life are free. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..it gave me the courage to reignite a passion for music and singing and to audition for a local choir in 2014. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because……..it taught my family that life is short and we must embrace the time we have together. By doing this, it has brought my family closer together which makes me happier. I thank 2013 for that.
2013 made me stronger because………it reminded me how lucky I am to have Rik by my side to experience life’s highs and lows with. It made me appreciate him more and love him deeper, and made us stronger as a couple. I know that we can get through anything now. I thank 2013 for that.
Finally, 2013 made me stronger because………it gave me the courage to see a rainbow and that there is still hope, happiness and excitement for 2014. I thank 2013 for that.
Rik and I want to share with you something that we wrote in honour of our Freddie.
We had hoped to write something for his funeral but ran out of time so when Tania Shires from the local Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) charity asked us to do a reading at the Lights of Love carol service, we knew that this was our opportunity to finally write something special to read out for Freddie.
‘Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy’ is written by us both and is several short one line letters to Freddie. It is written in a way that suggests Freddie has not gone from our lives forever but is merely off on a journey. We were worried it was a bit self-indulgent for the service but hoped that those attending would relate to it, or at least parts of it.
Here is our special reading for Freddie, hope you like it.
Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy
Dear Freddie I hope you don’t mind us writing to you but you’re not here you see. (N)
Dear Freddie I know you can’t respond, but you don’t need to, I know you can hear us. (R)
Dear Freddie I was expecting you but you left before I could say hi. (N)
Dear Freddie I cherish the time we had together, speaking to you in your home. (R)
Dear Freddie I am sorry mummy and daddy raised their voices during your last week here. (N)
Dear Freddie I know that you love us, there is no doubt of that. (R)
Dear Freddie I hope you are enjoying your new home and not making too much of a mess. (N)
Dear Freddie I know your home here was ready, but you had to go somewhere else. (R)
Dear Freddie I keep finding things of yours all around the house that you left behind. (N)
Dear Freddie I know that just like your Daddy you love to dance. (R)
Dear Freddie I cried the last time I saw you, I should have smiled – I apologise. (N)
Dear Freddie I rocked you when I held you, it felt like the most natural thing to do. (R)
Dear Freddie I’ve been telling lots of people about you, they all send their love. (N)
Dear Freddie I can’t believe the amount of people your short time here has affected. (R)
Dear Freddie I wish you could be here as we are all missing you terribly. (N)
Dear Freddie I wish you could have stuck around, you know we would have had so much fun. (R)
Dear Freddie I want you to visit us, your aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents again very soon. (N)
Dear Freddie I wonder what you would have been, a fireman, a doctor, a dancer maybe. (R)
Dear Freddie I’ve been looking out for you and I think I may have seen you a few times. (N)
Dear Freddie I cherish our time together but some days are tougher than others. (R)
Dear Freddie I’m keeping myself busy but I am always thinking of you and your new friends. (N)
Dear Freddie I bet you are being well looked after, that’s my boy. (R)
Dear Freddie I really hope you will be a big brother one day, a job I know you will be great at. (N)
Dear Freddie I know this hole will never be filled, my longing will never pass. (R)
Dear Freddie I know how hard you fought to meet mummy and daddy, we are so proud of you and love our brave angel very much. (N)
Sleep tight. (N and R)
Written and read by Nicole & Rik Bromley in honour of Freddie Leigh Bromley.
The Lights of Love carol service held last night at Forest Church was the second of its type. It is a non-denominational candlelit service of carols and readings, lead by Rev Linda Le Vasseur, to honour our loved children who are no longer with us, before we celebrate Christmas. Eight other Lights of Love services took place simultaneously in Huddersfield, London, Stirling, Nottingham, Portadown, Cardiff, Norwich and Liverpool.
It was the first time we had attended this service and we were overwhelmed by how special it was. Hundreds of candles were placed around the church lit for our loved ones. You were able to write a personal message and hang it on a Christmas tree surrounded by candles. This tree would stay in the church throughout the Christmas period and tags could be added by visitors to the church.
The service included eight readings and six carols plus Aindre Reece-Sheerin singing Gabriel’s song, a circle dance performed by the Guernsey Circle Dancers to Berceuse and Kim Spaargaren singing at the end. Everyone that attended received a Lights of Love Christmas tree decoration and was invited to light a candle in memory of loved ones.
Attending this type of service is not only a time to think about lost loved ones but to feel safe with a group of people who understand what you are going through. It was truly special and I look forward to attending next year.