Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The journey of a grieving mother


‘I am sorry but there is nothing we can do to save your daughter’ these are the words that constantly replay around in my head, visions of me holding her with her big beautiful eyes, remembering every single expression she done while here on earth, from the small lines on her forehead as she looked up at me, to her perfectly shaped little mouth that I used to stroke ever so gently. No one can comprehend the loss of your own child unless they have walked the same path, from witnessing her last breath and yet feeling totally helpless as a parent to save her, something that was my duty, a duty to protect a duty that goes beyond anything else, a duty I feel as a mother failed to do.

Since we found out we were expecting, I made sure that everything I was eating and drinking would benefit our baby, I didn’t smoke or drink, I ate more veg, fruit, salad and drank as much water as I could, I stayed at home most of the time but I was happy, happy to ensure that our baby was safe and everything was going to be perfect.

The day we travelled back to Kerry was the same day we laid our daughter to rest, that very same evening we walked into our house, I remember it was quiet, I walked upstairs and there in front of me was the door for her nursery, untouched, everything in place ready for her, I grabbed my stomach and all of a sudden I felt ‘emptiness’, despair, sadness, failure of a mother, I walked into her room, everything was perfectly placed, her cot, changing station, nappies and baby wipes stocked up, even a towel ready by the side for her first wash, I looked down at my hands and nothing was there only drops of my tears. I sat on the floor and cried so hard it hurt, clenching on her blanket so tight, I held it as if she was there, just trying to see if I could feel like how it should be, am I going mad? No, I just could not register that she was gone and I was to never see her again in this life.  I remember the curtains in her room were open, the stars were so bright that night, I walked to the window and felt a wave of calm that she was there with me watching me through the stars.
During her burial I felt I could not let my true emotion out, if I started to cry I was petrified that I would not stop, I would collapse and not get back up, I have this constant feeling that my body had failed my daughter, that it was my fault she is not here today, the least I could of done was be strong for her before she flew with the angles, just like she was strong for us by giving us time.

It has already been 5 months since we welcomed her here and my heart is still so raw, I feel so much fear as time goes on, as my memories of her become slightly more faded, the emptiness has grown even more while I am here at home, I should have lack of sleep, I should be making bottles and have washing so high I don’t know where to start, but as soon as Keelan has gone to school I am left in the house of silence ... I look around and feel deflated, I try and keep myself busy making sure the house is perfect, washing is done but I find myself looking at the time counting down the hours Keelan will be home, to see his smile again, tell me about his day work together on his homework, then its time to make the dinner, Kevin comes home talks about his day I clean up after dinner, chill out then bedtime and repeat all the above. Being at home alday is a constant reminder of someone precious that I do not have, go for a walk I say, it will do me some good, so I do I start to feel positive again, I am walking taking in the fresh air, I then look ahead and see a lady with a pram, my heart races every time, it’s not their fault but in my mind it brings back the constant reminder of my most biggest loss. 

The eagerness of wanting some normality is taking over, I want to get back into work I am ready and so the job search continues sending CV’s and not hearing back makes me feel even more worthless, the recent loss of my granddad who was such a large factor in my life overwhelms me, is my life ever going to give me a break? I know there is always someone else more worse off but this is my feelings, my emotions and my battle as an angel mum which I think many other angel mums could relate too. I envy those people who have their career, see and talk to different people every single day, I am doing everything I can to get back in to some normality but I have to keep reminding myself that things do take time, grief is a process and I am only at the beginning. I have Keelan to think about my son who is my world, so I must try and pick myself up again and so I am starting tonight by going for a long walk, I now want to focus on getting myself fit agian mind and body, i've got to do this, I will do this and any bumps along the way I will jump over them with pure determination.

This is only the beginning of my journey....

Mother to an angel xox

Friday, 21 October 2016

Campaign Update - Letter to Minister for Health

Email sent to Minister for Health Simon Harris regarding our meet request
Sent 5/10/2016

Dear Minister,

Further to the full support from the ‘Southern Regional Health Forum’ I would like to ask for an  opportunity to meet with you and discuss our campaign which highlights just how crucial it would be to have routine detailed screening available to all expectant mothers.

With a routine detailed 20 week scan put in place this will relieve much strain for Crumlin as plans can be put in place prior to the birth. Currently babies who need immediate medical attention must wait for the arrival of an ambulance then they must be transported to Dublin which can take a considerable amount of time, which in most cases they simply do not have.

If a routine detailed 20 week scan was implemented and a diagnosis was made prior to the birth, a surgical plan can be made and the mother would have the opportunity to make arrangements to deliver her baby in Dublin which would also increase the survival rate of the baby. We understand that our daughter could not have been saved, however we are speaking from our own personal experience as we wish no other parent to have to go through what we have gone through, we are also speaking on behalf of the hundreds of parents who have contacted us and bravely shared their stories of babies who did pass away because a diagnosis was not made.

Minister we ask if you could meet with us at your earliest convenience to discuss our campaign further, we hope through our letter to you, you can understand the urgency to address the current screening procedures and hopefully going forward we could have an opportunity to work alongside the HSE.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to receiving your response.

Kindest regards

Jazmine Sands 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Our Wave of Light for Isabella and all angel babies worldwide

As today is International Babyloss Awareness day, we are taking part in the International Wave of Light this evening. As bereaved parents ourselves we join the many other parents of angels from all over the world in lighting a candle for all our angel babies who have changed our lives forever. Today we honour and remember our babies in heaven and let them know we are thinking of them always. Isabella is our daughter in the sky and we miss her so much, love you Isabella with all our hearts xox 

Letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris

Below is the letter I have sent to the Minister on 5/10/16, I have yet to gain a response however I have amazing people supporting me who are doing everything in their power to push for this crucial meeting that without a doubt must take place. 

I will continue to keep everyone updated on our progress and will continue to drive our campaign this as much as possible. 

Mother to an angel xox

Friday, 14 October 2016

International Wave Of Light

October pregnancy and infant loss awareness month
Light a candle on Saturday 15th October at 7pm to honour all angel babies  

As October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, we as angel parents are taking part in the 'International Wave of light' event and would like to invite all our friends, family and all those who have gained an angel baby or child. 

Lets shed some light to create awareness and support to those who have walked the same path as us of loosing a child, lets honor and remember our beautiful angels in heaven, please join us by lighting a candle tomorrow (Saturday 15th October) at 7pm (GMT) for at least one hour.

Join people worldwide to help create awareness by posting a picture of your light on your facebook page and share with us on our Isabella's campaign by clicking here and remember to include hashtags #internationalwaveoflight #waveoflight #angelbabies #nilmdts

Let us together send light to our angels 

Mother to an angel xox

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A brother’s love for his dying sister – how to explain the inevitable to siblings

Many people have asked me, how we handled our son Keelan when the doctors told us about Isabella, and the answer I always give is we were honest with him from the start.

I suppose the hardest part was knowing that Keelan already said hello to his sister and that we told him already that his sister was coming home that Friday, he was so excited becoming a big brother, I remember sitting on the bed with Keelan after he saw Isabella with his dad when the doctor and nurse came into the ward and asked to see myself and Kevin in a private room, my heart sank as I knew there was something serious wrong by the look on their faces, I looked at Keelan and he had the biggest smile on his face not knowing what was happening,  that is what gets to me more about her heart condition not being picked up, our son had to suffer the rollercoaster ride of emotion, something no sibling should ever go through.

After we were told that she appeared to have complications with her heart and that she was being sent to Crumlin, we were in a state of shock, how could our precious baby girl who looked  perfect and healthy have something wrong with her? How serious is this? Is this life threatening? How are we meant to go out of this room and explain to our son what is going on? Is he going to understand? All of these questions were running around in our heads, I wanted to go with her in the ambulance but I was not aloud after surgery, Kevin had to go up alone in case paper work had to be signed but I don’t want him to be alone and I don’t want my baby girl to not have her mum next to her. You simply cannot process anything, all I knew is that I had to be truthful to Keelan, he is 7 yrs old and has a good understanding about life itself, I strongly believe as it was his sister he had the right to know the truth, if I tried to sugar coat this it would be so much harder for him to process if anything was to happen which at the time I would of never dreamed of.

We sat Keelan down and I said that the doctors have found that Isabella’s heart is very sick and they are going to send her to a very special hospital in Dublin where they are going to do everything they can to make her better, but there maybe a chance she may fly with the angels. It took all my strength not to collapse on the floor in front of my son, but if I looked strong, he will be strong, he replied and said ‘ok mummy, I will say a little prayer for my sister to get better so we can bring her home. As I stayed in Kerry hospital for the next two days I spent as much time as possible with him as I knew once I get to Dublin I wouldn’t know when I would be back down, the night before I left my mum brought him down and I asked for her to go back to my house to collect more stuff and to leave Keelan with me, that was quality time we needed and time which became so important to ensure that he understood what was going on.

I remember months prior to having Isabella my granddad (Keelan’s great granddad) was very ill with cancer, I knew I had to prepare Keelan for the inevitable, we visited him in the hospital but once he really started to deteriorate I didn’t have the heart for Keelan to see him anymore, I wanted him to remember him looking well and able to crack his jokes as always. To prepare Keelan I got him a book about life and death so he would have a greater understanding for the sad time that I knew was upon us, this really did help him, however I never knew that this would be of use to help him through losing his baby sister.

As I was in Crumlin Isabella’s condition is looking more serious but we had yet to find out what was going on, until we had our meeting with her doctors and was told that there was nothing they can do. Our hearts broke into a million pieces; Kevin looked at me with despair and said ‘how are we going to tell Keelan’ I said ‘the truth’. At first Kevin was hesitant to let Keelan come up but I said we must give him a choice, he will never get a second chance to say goodbye. I remember being at Kevin’s brother house Micheal who is Isabella’s godfather, he lived down the road from Crumlin so we were staying with him, he looked after us through our entire journey, he sat us down in the living room and then we made the phone call, we had him on speaker phone both trembling with immense sadness and fear in how we are going to tell our son what is going on and how is he going to react. Kevin talked first then paused, he couldn’t go on, I took over and started to explain, I told Keelan that the doctors could not fix Isabella’s heart because it was too sick and that she will be flying with the angels soon, the phone went quiet, I continued and said that we are giving him a choice if he would like to come up and say goodbye or if he wanted to stay at home? He replied that he wanted to be the best big brother and say goodbye to his sister, we was incredibly proud of him as we knew that this was no easy decision to make for a 7 year old.

Keelan came up on the Friday with all of the family, amazingly Isabella gave us precious time so that Keelan had a chance to say hello again and give her cuddles and kisses before she grew her wings. She was christened at 4pm and we had a private photographer from NILMDTS to take photos of her later that evening in her final hours with us, photos of Keelan holding her, and our little family altogether which will forever be cherished, making those memories that will now last a lifetime.

Isabella passed away early Saturday morning on my chest, we brought her down to Kerry for her burial that same day, we brought her down to Kevin’s dad house in Killorglin, so many people were there wanted to pay their respects, Keelan wanted to help his dad place her in her little pink casket, something that I would never expect for him to do but he wanted to, a sense of a duty being her older brother. She layed there just looking like she was sleeping, so beautiful and at peace, that was when it finally sunk in what had happened, myself, Kevin and Keelan broke down together holding each other so tight, a bond that will never brake. We did choose for Keelan  not to attend Isabella’s burial as he had already been through so much at this stage we felt that he said his goodbye’s and now it was our turn to say goodbye.

Kevin walked out of his dad’s house holding little Isabella’s casket so tight in his arms, while I walked behind him, the sun shining down on us, the clouds were so fluffy in the sky, the river was sparkling and so many swans gathered around the water’s edge, now it was time for us to say goodbye to our darling Isabella.

I wanted to share this as I feel it is so important to see from personal experiences how we as parents dealt with a situation that was thrown to us, everybody has their own ways in parenting, but I just wanted to show that being truthful to our children is the best way for them to learn about life and death and how they begin to process this in their own way. We all want to protect our children from pain and never want to see them cry, but I think if we tell them nothing bad is going to happen and it does, it could create a full sense of confusion and leave them thinking negative thoughts about every situation they are told 'everything is ok, and you don’t need to worry’ but if you sew the seed of maybe this could happen but they are in the best care possible, this not only tells the truth but also adds a percentage of preparing for the worse. This can be relating to any family member, friend of family or even the families pet.

I like to say ‘preparation is key’ and it is especially for siblings in circumstances like ours, this is why our campaign is so important to get through to the Minister for Health that if Isabella’s heart condition was picked up, and knowing that she could not of been saved we could of prepared Keelan for the worse, however because the resources are not available to us within the hospital our son said hello to his healthily sister then days later goodbye, if that is not confusing I do not know what is and all because our health system failed us. We know our Isabella could not have been saved, however we want to save any other parents from the heart break of what we have gone through.

Mother & brother to an angel xoxox