Grief

I see this a lot. Loss parents in so much pain that they lash out. I’m guilty of feeling it myself. When someone posts about losing a grandparent I admit to feeling like that’s just the natural order. That may be but it’s still a loss and it’s still painful. A child losing its life will always be so so traumatic and wrong but it doesn’t make it a more valid loss. By stacking up reasons and proof that your pain deserves more validity you ignore that pain.

I remember when I was early into this, I was so angry all the time. I would see people with babies and hate them. Every other loss would grate me as it took away from Jack, or so I felt. Sympathetic and often pitting looks infuriated me. But again anger is a distraction technique. To move forward and get to where I am now I had to see what was really going on, break through those walls, heal my heart.

It’s not easy. It’s taking intense CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and a lots of safe place visualisation techniques and grounding. Trauma manifests in many ways, one is anger, another is distracting from the issue. It’s hard, it’s painful to have to deal with loss, but take it from me, it does get easier if you do. Getting help is the key, you don’t have to struggle alone.

I’m never going to forget Jack, how could I? But his memory now makes me proud and happy, it is always sad too but that’s ok, that’s normal. I no longer think of him and then am instantly angry and wanting to lash out. I still get angry but I make sure I use my cbt tools to get through that and deal. Anger is ok, hurt is ok, it is wrong that i don’t have my baby, it is unfair, but I don’t want to live my life thinking of Jack that way. I don’t have to hurt or hate others for that to be real.

So next time you see a friend or family member sad that they have lost a grandparent, aunt, dog etc. Be kind, be loving and remember it’s their emotion and it doesn’t take away from your pain.

– Allana x

One day at a time

So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Over the last 2 months I have been taking time to focus on myself, going to therapy once a week and getting physically healthy too.

Therapy isn’t without it’s ups and downs. I have found that the hardest and most difficult times are the ones that make all the difference. Finding what feels uncomfortable and unravelling those emotions is progressing. There have been lots of unexpected realisations, a big one being that I felt I let Jack down. Not just by my body not keeping him safe, but by losing hope in the end. This was a surprise to me as in my front brain (what I call the conscious brain) I didn’t and don’t feel that way. That said, it’s always the “what ifs” that play on your mind.

Letting go of my need to comfort and be there for others is a personality trait that I struggle with. It’s how I am, but in being people’s rock and staying strong I have neglected myself. Being able to throw my hands up and say “I’m struggling, I’m angry, I’m heartbroken” is ok. Telling people to go elsewhere for comfort, is ok. Finally knocking down my walls and just being sad/angry/hurt/broken has been a great move forward. It hasn’t been easy for those close to me to handle sometimes, I never realised how much of a resolve I have. How I’ll fight kicking and screaming before I’ll shed a tear and “cause a scene”. Realising that the world will keep turning and that no one expects me to be ok and so strong as I have been is liberating.

I’m still very much a work in progress but I feel more and more like my old self. I feel that fight and need to keep going returning. I’m not quite at a run yet, but I’m definitely at a slow jog.

– Allana x

P.S. I will be doing some fundraising for baby loss awareness month this October. Please feel free to share my JustGiving link or if you have friends who need t-shirts, hoodies or baby grows visit my shop (www.shop4tshirts.co.uk) and 10% will be donated.

PTSD

So there’s a part of this road that I haven’t really shared with anyone. Not only am I traveling on the grief cycle but I also have ptsd which triggers my existing anxiety. It’s a hard thing to live with and be able to grieve fully. This is something we are both struggling with on a daily basis.

Ptsd is when your brain gets stuck following trauma. In my case it means I smell newborn smell and get silent clips of times with Jack in NICU. It’s like when you look at a memory except I can’t place exactly when the clip happened, there’s no narration or sound, it’s a very short memory clip. Anything can set it off and it happens at least once or twice a day. It’s a split second but it’s just stopping my progression though grief to moving on. This then triggers my anxiety which in turn pushes the negative depressive thoughts to the surface.

All in all it’s been a tough time and we are both taking steps to get through. I’m back getting cbt and just looking after me. I tend to try and look after others or make excuses for shitty people so that I can have an easier life. Mark does a very similar thing. No more. We are both putting ourselves and immediate family (including close friends) who matter and are there for us first. We have cut out people who have negatively impacted us. People who care and are important will always understand and be there in one way or another.

Self healing isn’t always obvious, it’s sometimes first accepting you need to let go. That maybe things need to get worse before they can get better. It’s a long road ahead but I truly believe that Mark and I will get there.

– Allana x

Wedding!

So we did it! We got married!

It was a perfect day for us. We had so many amazing people help to ensure it was everything we hoped for and more. Especially our parents, my brother and his fiancé, the bridesmaids and best men and Karen and John. We couldn’t have done it without you guys in particular. There are many others who helped us too though!!

The main thing that we wanted was for Jack to be present for us. We didn’t necessarily want it to be obvious to everyone but just so we knew. We had butterflies all over the place, his name is on our wedding rings, a collection box for our NICU fund and flowers for him. We raised £320 to add to his fund ❤️

It was a beautiful day for us and everyone made it so special. We had been really focusing on the day and it was therapy for us to plan for it and keep busy. It wasn’t just a wedding but a renewal of us, a sign that we made it.

Annoyingly we had a very small amount of drama right at the end and a few people who let us down last minute (and didn’t let us know). Frustratingly these people haven’t apologised and didn’t contact us at all. However, it’s a simple way to handle these things, these people are no longer part of our lives. Nothing can ruin our day and spoil what we have. We are so strong and so very thankful for the vast majority who made it incredible.

Our next route is to keep moving forward and healing. It’s still hard and it’s always going to be at times, but we have each other and so many incredible friends and family around us. We will be ok.

– Allana X

Post Mortem

Today is a day that we have been both anxiously waiting for and dreading since we lost Jack. We were keen to get this last part of the medical side completed but so scared at what might show up. What if we did some thing wrong? What if the hospital did? I dreaded having another wave of pain ahead of us. We both knew that wasn’t the case, but as with all things your mind runs away with itself and concocts all of these horrific things.

What we found out was that Jack had pneumonia covering all of his lungs, his lungs were severely damaged. He had no chance of pulling through it. His tiny underdeveloped lungs were also damaged by the ventilator tube, which is also where the infection came from in all likelihood. By the time his lung collapsed he had no possible way of fighting it or inflating it. The drugs he was on (one of which had been an antibiotic that fights this usually) had no impact and his micro-premmie body couldn’t go on. Our choice to let him go wasn’t just right, but also meant he didn’t suffer.

Yet again Southampton NICU staff showed love and compassion. They are so incredible and really deserve a lot more credit than they get. Please donate if you haven’t yet, we are going to take all the money raised in on Jacks 1st birthday on 12th December.

Its so hard. On the one hand you have this relief that, yes you did the right thing, but on the other the sadness at how sick our little one was. We wish he could have had happy and fun life, not one filled with tests and beeps. But we did the best we could with what we had. We showed him as much love and care as we could and that’s all any parent can do. We hope that he’s happy and playing up there in Summerland, with no pain, no wires and no sadness. We will see you again one day little one.

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Giving Back

It’s been a little while since i promoted this but we are still wanting to raise money to give back to Southampton Hospital and NICU. We will be splitting the money between 2 charities, these are:

Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity – https://schcharity.org.uk/

Holding Little Hands – https://www.facebook.com/HoldingLittleHands/

Both of these charities directly help to save the lives of children and baby’s everyday. They give money to all aspects of child and baby care. This means that the incredible people on the front line can continue to provide the outstanding care that they do. Not only that but it means they can keep giving the kind and respectful end of life care that baby’s  like our Jack received. They are not only medical professionals but they are counsellors and some of the kindest people i have ever met.

Even the smallest amount will add up to something wonderful. Please share and donate if you haven’t already.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jack-tigwell

– Allana x

Mindfulness

I try to live this everyday. By choosing to have a open and positive mindset I am able to grieve fully. I’m not rushing or dragging it out. My head, body and mind are just open to how I need to and do feel. I refuse to be consumed by grief or push it away. Neither are productive or things that I think Jack would want.

So we still haven’t had the post mortem results yet. It’s hard waiting as I want to shut that door of unknown. I know why he died but we need to know why he came early. It’s hard having that unanswered. I know we may not get one but at least I can deal with that once it’s done.

We had a lovely letter from Southampton Hospital thanking us for the donations from Jack’s funeral. In it they also included a pack of forget me nots. I’m not sure why but I have had a real connection with these flowers and see them everywhere. Seeing the packet brought tears to my eyes. Not sad ones but just raw emotion. It was unexpected and really touching.

We still have our JustGiving open but it’s not where I want it to be. I’ll have to start pushing it again. I really hope we can reach £5k by Jack’s 1st birthday in Neverland. That would be so wonderful.

Not long now until the wedding! 3 months and 2 days to go. ❤️

– Allana x