Everything happens for a reason, a statement which is true-but so often used to attempt to offer some form of comfort or acceptance of things which have happened.

As if to say one event happened to help another manifest itself, that there is a greater good, one that perhaps we cannot see. We almost instinctively look for the silver lining, the light in the dark to rationalise and accept something which we find hard to process and deal with.

But that isn’t the reason things happen, some things will never be a reason for a greater good or to pave the way for something more wonderful to happen. Whilst everything does happen for a reason, the reason is the cause of the effect. Not to help unfold the future.

I have been guilty of thinking, ‘everything happens for a reason’ in the past- at the end of a relationship, or even just discovering I had lost my favourite pair of sunglass. I have tried to console myself with the thought that a path was being laid out for me to meet the most amazing partner, someone who would fulfil all my fairytale wishes; or having the perfect reason to buy a new pair of sunglasses which before I couldn’t justify.

And at the time it worked, somewhat. It offered a chance to look back on the reason why the relationship ended and confirmed the knowledge that I deserved better, in turn helping to accept the temporary heartache; it was for a greater good-eventually I would be so much happier. I wouldn’t end up being a modern day Ms Havisham with a dozen cats.

You just have to look on Instagram for a million motivational quotes about the universe having things in store, everything happening today is to serve the purpose for a brighter future. It’s perhaps easier to compute pain if we believe it is for the greater good, and when we know the pain will be temporary, maybe it’s easier to believe that everything does happen for a reason- to instinctively look for some form of hope and believe the universe has a predesigned agenda for us.  But when you are faced with everlasting heartache, it’s impossible to believe that was the way it was supposed to be.

When my son died, there was a reason. He was starved of oxygen, his brain was damaged and not enough was done to save him. Those were the reasons. Not romantic or philosophical, not to be written in typography on a picture of a mountain and hung in a frame.

So when someone said, not too long after his death, everything happens for a reason, I wondered what reason they might possibly think it might be. Did they believe it would help to make me a stronger person? To test my resolve, my ability to pick myself up from the depths of despair; to appreciate life more and take little for granted? Did they think that it had happened because something greater was in store? If so, I can’t possibly imagine what it might have been where I had to lose my child to have it-and whatever it was, I didn’t want it. Or perhaps they just didn’t think. They didn’t think about the connotations of such a phrase.

When we are faced with the darkest of times, it feels almost instinctive to find the light, rather than allow the darkness to prevail. Allowing myself to sit in the dark times, to feel immersed in the cloud of grief, without looking for a silver lining was something I had to learn to accept it was ok to do. It is ok to have moments, days, nights, weeks where the cloud feels heavy, and they do not need to be balanced out with rays of light, or looking for the stars. The bad doesn’t happen to pave the way for the good, they will run along side each other.

Life can be so wonderful, but it can also be tragic. It will break your heart yet offer hope; it is full of contradictions and uncertainties.

But even in the moments of darkness, one thing remains- a love which is so hard to explain. I used to feel as though I needed to look for the light in the dark, to try to find the positive or some reason. But sometimes in life, there is no reason that will help to make things better, but I do believe there is love. There is wonder and there is love, and in those moments where the light fails to find me, love always does.

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After doing as much work as I could do myself in the house last summer, the real renovation started in September 2018. It began with the bathroom, and then simultaneously the kitchen. Because the boiler had to be moved from upstairs, into the kitchen, both rooms had to be ripped out at the same time. To say the few weeks that both rooms were out of bounds were tricky would be an understatement. But thanks to Deliveroo (Uber Eats, Just Eat…any app which brought food to our door) and my lovely friends and family who let me pop round with my towel and loofah on the way home from work, we got through the stage of no hot water.

To have the finished results, it was well worth it (although obviously at the time I thought, ‘What the f*£k have I done?’ on several occasions.

When I viewed the house I could see the potential to make the bathroom into one of dreams. Originally there was a small bathroom with a grey tub and sink, along with fetching pink walls and floral tiles. Opposite the bathroom was a separate toilet and between the two rooms, a cupboard which housed the boiler.

The idea was to knock all the space into one-simple right?

I have no idea how simple it was to knock down at the walls (I was at work on the day the demolition started) but I returned home to a very dusty house. As much as my builders attempted to minimise the mess, it was inevitable that everywhere would be covered in a film of debris. For the first few days I attempted to keep on top of it, but it defeated me and I accepted that for the next few weeks (which actually turned into months, because no matter how much you dust or vacuum, the dust always seems to resettle).

Phase 1-knock down the walls and remove all the fittings

Once the space was opened up and everything removed, the boiler taken out and a new one fitted downstairs, the ‘putting back together’ stage could begin.

New pipework was installed, all the walls re-plastered and the ceiling boarded and plastered, with spotlights put in before anything else could start going back in. All that was left in the room at this point was a toilet, which needed to be flushed manually i.e. a bucket of water-all the glamour!

Finally it all started taking shape when the walls and floor were tiled. I went for the same floor tiles as I had in the kitchen in my old flat, which are also downstairs in the hallway and kitchen. (I spent so long looking for tiles and just kept coming back to these ones, so I must have really liked them.)

Then the fun stuff started to happen, the bath, sink, shower and washing machine were able to go in. I decided to have the washing machine upstairs as it meant that there would be more space in the kitchen. It also made logistical sense, seen as that was where the clothes would end up being put away after being washed and dried (probably about 2 weeks later).

I asked my builder if he would be able to use a piece of oak, which I had left from the renovation of the flat’s kitchen, as a shelf for the basin.

Once all of the fittings were in place, a cupboard was built around the washing machine, the walls were painted, two scaffolding board shelves put up, and then I could get faffing around-the best bit!

A quick DIY with some bamboo, cable ties and black twine to make a towel ladder.

The builder made the cupboard from waterproof MDF, a piece of oak left from the kitchen work top and then I painted it in Down Pipe eggshell paint.
I saved this ‘B’ from the skip. The builders found it when they cleared out the attic; I’m not sure why it was up there, or if any other letters were thrown away but glad I managed to save this one.
Love this little fella from Dunelm.

And there is my bathroom revamp. I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out; from a simple sketch, hours on Pinterest, reusing some old things and finding the perfect new fittings, as well as a builder who was amazing and found a way to make everything happen just how I asked, I have my dream bathroom.

I have entered this room into the UK Interior Awards in the category of ‘Best Room Revamp’, got to be in it to win it, right? If you’d like to vote for me, you can do here (I’m number 65).

Love, Louise x

As Christmas very quickly approaches, I’ve had a few messages asking for gift idea for little ones who won’t be at home with their family on Christmas Day.

So, I thought I’d put together a little gift guide, including some of the gifts which we were so kindly given to us this weekend for Gabriel’s birthday.

Donation to a charity 

The list of amazing charities who support families after a loss, are doing work to help prevent pregnancy loss, stillbirth and neonatal death, or offer services to help remember babies are endless.

If there is a particular charity the family support, a donation to that charity in memory off their child would be a wonderful gift. For me, there has been a great comfort in knowing that Gabriel’s story can continue by helping others.

If there isn’t a particular charity they support, here are a few you might like to consider:

Tommy’s Baby Charity

Remember My Baby

Kicks Count

Our Missing Peace

SANDS

4Louis

Name a star

This was a gift my sister bought for Gabriel for his birthday; I received a certificate and guide to locate his star in the sky (although my astrological skills still need to be worked on!)

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It’s such a lovely thought to know there is a star shining brightly in the sky and it has my son’s name.

Jewellery 

I’ve been given some beautiful pieces of jewellery over the last year and they are so precious to me.

Murray and Me Jewellery creates lovely pieces, hand engraved with names, initials or messages and a donation from each sale goes to Tommy’s.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Sand and Seagulls on this Love necklace. It’s a beautiful reminder that love never ends and again, each sale helps to funraise for Tommy’s.

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This gorgeous bracelet from Bloom Boutique was a gift for Gabriel’s birthday from one of my closest friends and has his initial and birthstone on it.

 

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Music Box

This was given to us from another wonderful friend, with Gabriel’s name and lyrics from a song engraved on the lid. Poppy absolutely loves it and sits with it, playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow-she knows it’s Gabriel’s special box and it’s lovely to see her sitting with it remembering her little brother.

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Personalised Pictures

I love this scrabble tile frame from my lovely friend; my little family all together. There is a great sadness in knowing there will always be someone missing physically from our family so something like this, where we are altogether means so much.

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Here are a few other personalised pictures I’ve come across which look lovely…

Digital download of your family from LittleLiefCreations

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Print of the stars on a baby’s birthday; this print is from MyDawsy

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Also from My Dawsy  are these great song lyric prints which could be personalised with a song special to the parents.

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Art Work

I’ve been so blessed to have been sent two breathtaking portraits of Gabriel from two of the kindest, and incredibly talented ladies.

This beautiful watercolour is by @pieceofmebabyart and looks just like my little Gabriel.

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Last week I received this pencil drawing from @the_forester_and_the_feral and I can’t believe how detailed and perfect it is!

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I also commissed a piece from Niki aka @miss_magpie_spy of Poppy and Gabriel together at home. For so long after Gabriel was born, Poppy asked when he would be coming home, and I had to tell her that he wouldn’t be able to. We would never have a photo of them both at home together, but Niki was able to create the most beautiful picture of them together.

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When I was pregnant with Gabriel, the lovely Gail from @Soggy.rabbit did an illustration of three toys for me, each one a special toy for each of my children. It’s another beautiful picture, a representation of all my children together and the most gorgeous keepsake.

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Personalised Candle

I’m obsessed with candles (I have far too many and my friends think I’m crazy for spending so much on Diptique) but there’s nothing quite like candle light to help bring some peace.

There are a number of candles on Etsy and NOTHS; I personally love these wooden tea light holders from Warner’s End can be personalised with a name, phrases, date.

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I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that anything you gift this Christmas, or any other special occasion, to remember a baby who is not at home to celebrate with their family would touch the heart of the family and would mean the world to them.

It could be as simple as remembering to include them in the Christmas card you write or any festive message you send. This reminder from Aching Arms UK says it perfectly…

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To help celebrate National Doodle Day, I thought I’d popped up a link to a downloadable/printable Autumn Doodle which I did last year.

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National Doodle Day is an opportunity to take home a truly unique piece of art by a well-known celebrity or illustrator. All pieces are now up for auction on eBay, I’ve just had a little look and there are so many I would love to buy.

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The money raised from the auctions of these doodles goes to supporting Epilepsy Action and by buying a doodle you will help more people to take control of their epilepsy. Expert advice will continue to be provided by the Epilepsy Action Helpline and website and you will help more people to beat the loneliness that epilepsy can bring by expanding Epilepsy Action’s network of local support groups.

I have found that doodling and working on the commissions over at Doodle Pop! and having a creative outlet has been a real help to me over the last 9 months. It has meant I have been able to fund raise in Gabriel’s memory and I have been honoured to create pieces for such special people and occasions.

If you would like to support Epilepsy Action and make a donation after downloading the Doodle Pop! ‘Hello Autumn’ doodle, follow this link here. #GabrielsGift

 

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Losing my baby was never something I had ever thought about, why would it be? For 41 weeks I carried Gabriel and there was never an inkling of a concern that I would go home with just a small box containing some of the clothes he had worn, his hand and feet prints and a lock of his hair around my neck. But in just a few life-altering moments my entire future was changed and I now live with emotions which I would never have known possible.

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I think of Gabriel constantly, he is always there in my mind’s eye and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can picture his perfect little face with the longest eye lashes and cutest button nose. I can still feel the softness of his skin and how he fitted so perfectly into my arms; my heart bursts with love at the mention of his name and I am so thankful for all the memories I have and that I am able to treasure the time he was with me.

 But that doesn’t take away from the pain, the overwhelming aching that is also always present and at time all consuming that anything else becomes impossible. The knowledge that he will never get to live the life which I thought he would, that his brother and sister will never be able to play with him how they should have, and I will never see my son grow into the handsome young man he should have been. That there will be no birthday parties or milestones met, there won’t be any ‘firsts’ and there will always be a person missing in our home.

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After Gabriel’s birth I stayed with him in the hospital for 5 days. I spent hours looking at him, talking to him and telling him how much we all loved him and all the things we had hoped for him. I told him about his big brother and sister and how excited they had been to have a little brother at home. I kissed his perfect face endlessly and had the natural urge to care for him. I gave him a bath, changed his nappy, put clean clothes on him and held him for as long as I could. I needed to nurture him, to do the things which I had anticipated doing and whilst I was never going to be able to do all the things I had imagined, I was able to care for him and be his mummy in the hours we had together.

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Leaving my baby behind in the hospital was one of the most unnatural things I have ever had to do. I never once imagined having to leave him in a place he didn’t know, with people who didn’t love him and whilst I knew he wouldn’t feel fear, I felt an awful amount of guilt for leaving my precious little boy. I worried about who would look after my son, who would keep him safe and hold him if he was scared…but then the reality that he would never feel those things would hit. Trying to comprehend how things could change so drastically in such a short space of time was near enough impossible. I held on to the knowledge that he had been safe when he was with me and for all the months I carried him he felt love and comfort; he heard our voices and felt our touch and he was very much a part of our lives, as he always will be- just in a very different way to how we imagined.

 Nearly four months have passed from the time he came into the world, and in those months I have wanted to and needed to continue to be his mummy-just as I always will be. I have attended appointments which I never thought I’d need to, spoken with professionals I should never have met and arranged his ‘Special Day’, as we call it. I have shared his birth with those who followed my pregnancy on social media, as well as parts of the uncertain path which we now have to walk. I know that whilst Gabriel is not here physically, his short time on this earth has touched the hearts and lives of many and I am so very proud of him.

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Being the mother of a baby who now dances amongst the stars brings with it feelings which are at times so hard to comprehend, emotions which can’t always be contained or the ability to find words to really describe. Whilst I feel a massive amount of injustice, anger and sadness about the events which led up to, and ultimately resulted in, my son dying, I can still smile. I think of Gabriel and I smile, I look at his photos and I smile, I talk with my 3-year-old daughter about her little brother and we both smile because he was beautiful, he was perfect-he was everything, and more than, we thought he would be whilst I was pregnant. My chest burns with the love which I have for him, for the perfect little soul he is, for all the happiness which he has brought, because he did. There is great sadness, insurmountable sadness, that he is not with us now but that does not take away from all the joy he brought to our lives. All the nights where I watched him wiggle around, all the times his big sister blew raspberries on my tummy and ‘shared’ her toys and food with him, the times I was able to see his little fingers moving on a monitor or hear his heart beating at my antenatal appointments, all the moments I was able to spend with him, holding him and stroking his hair. And all the joy he still continues to bring, to know that he is part of our family, that he is a part of my friends’ families and his name will always be spoken by those who met him, along with many other wonderful people who I have never met but offer a wealth of support through social media.

 We will always play with Gabriel’s toys, lay under his blanket, read his story books, look at his photos and look after his teddy bear. He will always be present in our lives and I will always smile when I think of my little Gabriel or talk about his chubby cheeks, all of his dark hair or how he kept me up all night in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, anticipating his arrival and then meeting him for the first time and falling in love as soon as I held him.

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I am so proud of all my children, my eldest son who continues to amaze me with his maturity and kindness, my little daughter who brings such happiness to our family and so lovingly speaks of ‘her baby’-her little brother, and my beautiful Gabriel who has touched the lives of so many and whose legacy will grow and will support and help many others-all in a lifetime which was cut far too short but in a memory, which will last forever.

Thank you for joining in this month’s Happy Post Swap, with the theme Hygge-think all things cosy.

Here is a link to a printable card, if you’d like to print it off and pop a note in with your happy post.

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One thing that will always stop me in tracks is when my phone beeps to alert me to a message and there on my phone is picture someone has sent me, of somewhere they have ‘taken’ Gabriel. I just love to see his name and the thought that someone, someone where has thought of him whilst in some of the most beautiful places is so comforting. My little boy is remembered, his name is spoken and it now is in places all over the world.

From the very beginning the support I received from people I had never met was something which I will never forget. The outreaching of support, love and kindness from people all over the country, and in some parts of the world, has been at times so overwhelming.

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A few weeks after Gabriel was born I had to go to the doctors and as luck (or misfortune) would have it, there was a baby clinic on that day. I sat in the waiting room using every ounce of strength which I had left in me not to break down and scream of the injustice I had faced just days before.

It was then that I set up ‘Gabriel’s Gift’ Just Giving page, at the time I didn’t know which charity I would support, how many people would take the time to read my story or donate, if indeed any, but I had to do something. I had to try to find something that I could do for my son whilst surrounded by mothers with their tiny bundles.

Like many expectant mothers who had never suffered a loss, during my pregnancy with Gabriel I never considered the possibility that I might not go home without my son. I had no idea how high the statistics are, with one in four pregnancy ending in a empty arms and a silent nursery. I knew little about the charity Tommy’s, only knowing their name as I had seen some of their campaigns whilst pregnant.

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This week I popped along to Chelsea to see the floral displays around Sloane Square. I’m not really a horticulturist and have no idea what many of the flowers were-other than very pretty…(and the obvious like roses and peonies-of which there were many!)

The theme was ‘Summer of Love’ and this reflected in some of the displays, whilst some were arches of flora as you walked into the shop…as if Jimmy Choo needs to be made any more tempting.

And as I just about know my rose from my rhododendron, (I didn’t actually know what a rhododendron was until I googled it, but now I do thanks to the need to alliterate) I haven’t got a huge amount of commentary…other than it was a very pretty afternoon, pretending to be an extra from Made in Chelsea.

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A few months ago I put an offer in on a house. It was the first house I’d viewed in a long time (my previous house viewing experiences haven’t been great; one involved just poking my head round the corner of one of the bedroom doors as there was someone asleep in the bed!)

Some may say it was a bit hasty to make an offer on the first property I viewed but over the years I have looked at many online and gone to visit a fair few. I had a checklist of things I wanted from a house and this one ticked them all, and some. I could have either spent another few months looking at more houses and not finding what I wanted, or make an offer on a house with everything I wanted…so I did. Eeeek!

The offer was accepted and now I’m at the stage of solicitors doing their searches. I’m not entirely sure what they are searching for but I hope they find it soon as I am desperate to get in there and start making it our home.

Every room needs something doing to it…it is a bit of a project-maybe more than a bit– but it’s nothing I can’t find inspiration from Pinterest for, and then my builder make happen. I’m also planning on doing some of the work myself but nothing which involves heavy machinery or could go disastrously wrong. I hope.

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