Living to love

I wanted to write about this last week, explain what had happened with Daniel but for the first time in a long time I just cannot. I cannot find the words to describe the fear, the words needed to give light to the darkness.

Let’s just say I was scared, frightened to the point where I couldn’t breathe.

I’m so thankful for the outcome, thankful I got to bring my boy home but I think it’s going to take time to actually process this last week.

Everyone tells me how strong I am, how much I face yet they don’t seem to understand when I say I have no choice. You see loving someone doesn’t come with guarantees. No one promises you a life full of unicorns and balloons. You take a step in faith, in love.

When we adopted Daniel I knew I was opening myself up to fear. Embracing the unknown yet with the knowledge that he was extremely complex, that he was vulnerable.

Some people ask me why, yet why not? Just because I didn’t birth Daniel doesn’t make our bond any less strong. I do wonder if someone asks my friends who did birth they children “why they do it”. With Livvy everyone used to ask “how do you?” Not “why do you?”

He is my child, my son.

Love is a choice, loving my son is the best choice I’ve ever made.

So yes my heart is healing and fear is holding time but love, love is the greatest bond, the greatest emotion and the very best reason to be living.

Living to love.

Are you really my friends?

I’ve been honest here before about my struggle with friendships. How my awkwardness and self doubt has often left me pulling away from friendships. The fear of losing people has often led me to push them away.

I know why I do this, but stopping myself is a whole other battle.

Anyhow I was asked the other day about why I talk about my internet friends so much? Also are they really my friends?

So are you?

I’ve never been the best at friendships, never one for big groups. They just required too much brain power and for me to be out of my own mind more than I was willing. Family commitments and having a lot of siblings just never made me feel the need for large friendship groups. Also the dynamics of social groups mess with my mind. Cliques, status I simply couldn’t be bothered or understand. I often just don’t get people and social situations and I’m lousy at small talk.

So hello internet.

For someone who hates talking on the phone ( a whole other blog post) I found online forums to be freeing. I could chat to who I wanted and when I wanted. The groups were those with similar interests as me or similar lives.

First it was the special needs forums then with Livvy’s diagnosis it became the Rett community and then unfortunately I found myself in the bereaved family forums. All people willing to chat, support and guide me without any pressure on me to be anything but myself.

Then hello social media,

Wow I loved it, again I was given the opportunity to develop friendships with people miles away from me who just got it. Rett moms who cried themselves to sleep after watching their daughters seizure, parents trying hard not to lose their minds with their teenagers.

It was great, until it wasn’t.

I’m not sure what happened but losing Livvy changed the way I viewed the world. I couldn’t do arms length anymore. I needed close, deep friendships but I wasn’t ready. Emotionally I just couldn’t invest time or mind-space into others. I needed to heal, love on my girls and I suppose be a little bit selfish. I couldn’t be compassionate when my heart was broken. I’m sure many other bereaved parents will tell you that one of the hardest moments after losing a child is when you realise the world continues on without your child in it. I struggled with this so I hid away until my anger subsided enough to let me live again.

Hello hashtags

I laugh when writing this but Instagram and hashtags became my best friend. Literally a search engine to likeminded people. I love them, how many times would you expect #seizuresuck to appear, more than you imagine that’s for sure.

#Panhypopituitarism

#hydrocephalus #diabetes insipidus, #cerebralpalsy, visionimpaired #hypothalamicdysfunction #epilepsy

#Chroniclungdisease

#specialneeds

#complexneeds

#disabilityawareness

These hashtags have brought me in contact with some amazing people and now I’m determined not to hide from the friendships I am forming.

I have come across parents with children with complex needs with such a love of life that I cannot help but be excited by them. Their energy is contagious and their children’s smiles so infectious. like myself they live to make the moments matter. Standing up against discrimination and showing that our children matter, all children matter.

I am finding that sometimes it’s easier to be transparent behind a screen, to admit you are struggling when you are not face to face.

I have also seen waves and waves of support literally lift people out of the depths and I’m so proud to call these people my friends.

Yes some relationships I have formed are deeper, some I literally feel are family where others are not so close but I’m equally thankful for.

Some friendships will stay behind a screen and that’s ok but others I’m nervous but so excited to bring into the real world.

But all I value, all matter to me.

So in answer to the question are my internet friends real friends? My answer is this, “Completely, I don’t want to do life without them. “.

Not hiding my boy away

A child breaks their leg, Mom shares image on social media and the comments that follow are full of “bless them” “oh little brave one”. A special needs parent shared their reality and the response is so very different.

Regardless of how people have viewed the coverage regarding Alfie Evans I am getting truly tired of hearing “you shouldn’t show photos like that” “who wants to see a sick child”.

It’s comments like this that makes us special needs parents feel we have to hide in the shadows. It’s ok to share a photo of a normal (I hate that description) healthy child with a broken leg but how dare you share a complex kid?

Comments like “it’s made me feel uncomfortable” are driving me crazy. I’m sorry my life is making you uncomfortable, I apologize that my child’s feeding tube makes you look away. That you feel sad that you have to think of children in situations like this.

Jog on,

Our children are gifts, if we want to share and journal every step of their journey we have the absolute right to. If we want to share our fear, pain and worries we will.

It’s comments like those written above that left me struggling alone with Livvy. It’s attitudes like this that stopped me reaching out to be supported.

It’s not happening again, I will not hide my beautiful boy from those that are sharing our journey with me. I will not allow myself to feel isolated again. As far as I’m concerned if you don’t like what you see or read, don’t follow.

I am so thankful for the community of parents whose children have complex needs here on social media. For the wide-awake club who keep me company in the endless early hours. Those that have been there that can advise or encourage me and for those that just get it.

Social media has brought the world closer, its connections have brought me friends I love dearly that I have yet to touch or hug, but they have pulled up when I’ve been feeling down, wrapping me up in encouragement and love.

Yes, social media has it low points but the community of parents with children with special needs have been a lifeline to me. I love seeing photos of their beautiful children, love sharing in their moments both good and the hard. Love being given the opportunity to support and encourage them as they do me.

So, will I let those that “feel uncomfortable” stop me from being part of this amazing community, no chance I love my people.

Will I hide my child from the world, no way he is too blooming gorgeous?

 

 

 

 

My rainbow tribe

Last Friday night was one incredible evening along with a wonderful group of people I hosted a Rainbow disco, a fundraising event in aid of raising funds for our local Children’s Development Centre sensory room.

Over the years I have hosted a number of fundraising events, but Friday was so different as I didn’t do it alone.

I first attended the Children’s Development Centre 16 years ago when we started on our journey into investigating what was happening with Livvy. I was welcomed by staff who wanted to support and help me as much as they could. I can honestly say that some of the faces may have changed but the philosophy hasn’t everyone really wants to support you and your child.

I started at Little rainbows  a specialist playgroup for children with complex needs in April 2016, Daniel had been with us for a few months and it was time for us to encourage him to socialize and challenge him to learn and engage with others outside the family. Whilst he struggled with attachment and often switched off, from day one we were all made welcome by the group. The staff are genuinely lovely and the parents, well they are some of the best people I have had the pleasure to meet.

I have written here often on my blog how I struggle with friendship yet here at Little rainbows I have been blessed by some amazing friends. Women and men who have opened their heart and arms to both Daniel, I and even Alan (lol). We have become part of a tribe, the rainbow one.

Daniel will be leaving this group very soon as he starts his school journey and whilst I will miss the lovely staff at rainbows I know I won’t have to miss my friends, little rainbows is what introduced us,but friendship is what holds us.

We are the rainbow tribe.

A special field

This weekend I received some news I knew was coming yet never wanted to hear. My friends child had passed away, disappeared into the hours of the morning leaving behind a heartbroken mother. My friend knew she didn’t have forever but was praying desperately for one more day.

One more day.

How often I would wish for Livvy one more day, one more hug, one more giggle.

How often do i allow grief to consume my heart?

Too often .

This last week I have been camping in a special field in Shropshire, the field itself isn’t rather special but for a week or two each year it transforms into something rather remarkable.

From the grassy emptiness it becomes full with love, laughter and friendship.

It overflows with energy, life and living.

For this time each year this field becomes a place where friendships are forged in life experiences.

This field becomes a place where children the world tells cannot, CAN.

This field is rather dangerous though, it is rife with infection, a infectious disease known as hope.

It creeps up into your soul and you start to believe that anything is possible.

Children who can not communicate start to talk, children who cannot walk take steps.

Parents close to breaking become refreshed, families divided are reunited.

This field has no barriers, its a place where everyone gets to be exactly who they were made to be. Not everyone gets on but there is a freedom in acceptance. We are all walking our own pathways and sometimes they can be overwhelming, but here on this field thats ok. You can cry, scream or break down, complete in the knowledge that we all get it.

Over the last week I have become a people watcher, I have observed shy children blossom in confidence, from the first awkward hello to beginnings of life long friendships.

From fire pits to bouncy castles friendship has flowed around this field, some already a lifetime in the making, others being created in that moment.

I have heard so much laughter than even in my grief it has lifted my spirit.

We have had fancy dress from the cute to the never to be unseen, quiz nights, animals and magic. We have hosted our own special Olympics with a level of competitiveness and determination I still can not get over. A child may not be able to walk but they can scream with joy at whizzing over the ground determined to get a medal on their chest.

A balloon release so painful yet so beautiful, how can the most painful part of the week be the most amazing? My heart breaks as I watch those balloons lift up into the sky, my soul aches for my Livvy so desperately I can hear it scream. Yet as my eyes drop to those around me I am struck by how wonderful life is. How everyone standing there beside me gets it somehow. Some may have experienced a loss, others may live in fear of it.

Yet fear of death isn’t found on this field, fear isn’t welcome here.

This field, this camp is about living.

Its about packing life into every moment.

Its about cherishing one another and holding on to what really matters.

The world isn’t allowed on our field, for a week each year we are protected from the daily battles our lives bring to our doors. People who don’t understand don’t visit this sacred place, every chair is filled with people that understand or accept.

Different struggles, different issues, different lives but we are united in our love, our love for our unique wonderful courageous children.

Our special kids. 

 

  • A big thank you to  all at Lower Lacon caravan park for looking after our special field for us all. For welcoming us in a way I have never experienced on any campsite anywhere else and for also being just truly wonderful people that I am pleased to call my friends.

Weaning fun

This year we have been given the go ahead to really start weaning my little one. Although we don’t think he will be able to eat enough to fulfil his needs it is exciting that he can try new taste’s and experience different textures.

So starting on this journey I was rather chuffed to see that the highly-anticipated Aldi Baby & Toddler Event is returning to stores across the UK.

They have a fantastic range of products which will be perfect for our journey into weaning.

The event  will be starting online from the 10th August and in stores across the UK from the 17th August.

Weaning Daniel is going to be different from when I weaned my girls as he will only be able to eat small amounts so storage and the ability to make my own puree’s is a must, as so far I am wasting a lot of the jars and pouches I have opened.

Daniel seems to be enjoying his tastes and tries and so far we seem to be loving strong flavours and not liking pumpkin but we will see. Todays banana was a big hit.

The smile says it all.

 

 

  • I was gifted the goodies from Aldi’s for the purpose of this shout out about the baby and toddler event but all opinions about it being awesome and well worth a visit are my own.

My favourite photo

This was taken in May this year and it was the first photograph of Daniel without his NG tube. It isn’t my favourite because it’s the first without his NG but because of my relief of seeing that smile after surgery.

 

There is nothing worse that handing your child over to surgeons and theatre staff, you have to trust them with your heart. This gastrostomy surgery was the first we had faced with Daniel and nothing could have prepared me for the fear I felt as I left the theatre, my legs literally felt like lead. I could barely breathe for the hours he was in down.

So this photo is my moment, the moment I could breathe again.