ZOE: Motherhood has so far been an exciting, turbulent, stressful but rewarding and loving experience. I could never have been prepared for the multi-skilled tasks involved in parenthood. Nurturing the girls through their academic, social and emotional development is a precious and constant learning curve for the whole family. I enjoy the time spent talking and listening to the girls, sharing their achievements and always being there to comfort and protect them. As our family grows older in years and experience, my wish is that our blood ties will never be severed and we will always remain a family unit and support network for each other.
JEAN: We struggled with money but it’s wonderful when the children come along and you see them grow up … into nice young ladies… But nowadays I don’t think that ... some young parents appreciate how we had to struggle years ago … they seem to be so hard done by for some things ... it’s not a pleasure to look after their own children sometimes … We used to walk … I can never remember getting on a bus, we used to walk everywhere. We used to pack up a picnic ... I ... just put the bits in the bottom of the pram and we used to have a wonderful day out. We used to meet up with other people and then we’d spend a day at the paddling pool.
CLAIRE: I know that if they are at school then they are fine, they are being looked after, hopefully they’re learning and everything should be o.k. It is nice to see them when you come home, whether it’s on a day that you have actually collected them from school or in the evening and you have had a hard day at work, it’s nice to see them and I feel that they are pleased to see you as well, when you get home … Most weekends are either seeing friends or we try to make sure that we do spend some weekends just on our own, going shopping on Saturdays, going out, going for a walk through forests and things like that just so that we can be a family but if you gave James and Holly an option of going for a walk round the forest or playing out with their friends, then they’d much prefer to play out with their friends! Whereas we would like to do more things as a family because we feel quite guilty when we are out at work all the time ... so this is our chance to make it up and actually be with them at weekends.
Press here to listen to Catherine's story.
CATHERINE: …two sons, Sam - he's seven, Matthew - he's nearly eighteen months ... and I’ve got a daughter but she lives in heaven. Her name’s Annabel, she would have been two and a half … Annabel was born on 8th November 2000 … I was due to have a caesarean and they told us that her heart had stopped and that they didn’t know why and so on 8th November we had a caesarean anyway and she came. She came and we haven’t got any reason for her dying. They just said it sometimes happens …Well everything was going fine and then on the Monday night … I felt some really funny pains and … then they just went. All day on the Tuesday … I hadn’t felt her move or anything … I was 38 weeks pregnant ... then I sort of knew … I think I always knew deep down that … something was going to happen and yes, I knew that night. Then, we stayed in hospital overnight and the next day we had her born by caesarean.
It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Harder than my dad dying … nothing compares to losing your child. It was really really hard ... it was a real shock. We’d gone in to have this baby and then we came home with nothing, it was just like the worst experience in the whole world. You can’t explain that to anyone ... but when they took her down to the mortuary, one of the midwives came up with her clothes and her blanket and I broke down crying because to me, my children should be wrapped up and warm. She didn’t have any clothes and …that really really hurt and that still sticks in my memory. They … took photos and they did a little memory pack and stuff, with a lock of her hair and her footprints and her handprints, which now I am eternally grateful that I have got those things of her …they brought her into us, we got to hold her and Sam got to see her … so it was just really nice …I wanted everyone to see her because she was mine and she was so different, so different from Sam and so different from Matthew now we have had him. She … had really dark hair and both my boys are really blonde …
I wish it had never happened but I wouldn’t change it now because she has made me a better person I think and she’s given me Matthew and he’s just a joy … he’s so incredible, I love him so much and he was meant to be for some reason. He was meant to be here and she let him come along … he’s given me my life back. I shall be forever grateful to that little boy … he’s just the light of our lives ... he has given us peace again. I think when Matthew turned one, I suddenly realised that it was o.k. to love him and to really enjoy him... She’s always there, I still think of her every day and she’s always there in my heart ... and I shall never forget her but … I can love Matthew and we can have fun again and we can laugh and we can do things as a family and its o.k. It wasn’t ok for a long time. I think it has taken us over two years to come to terms with it really. We just shut off, we just didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything for two years, really … I am thankful for all the friends I’ve got because … that’s all I could talk about for two years is her and what had happened to me and it was just like nothing else mattered, nothing! I just didn’t care about anything … It makes you think so deep, nothing matters but your family and it takes something like that to make you realise…
I guess some people must think, its nearly three years, get over it but … I’ll never get over it. Not to be so close to having that baby but I feel it’s ok now, I never thought I’d get over that pain but I feel good, I want to live, I want to enjoy my life, I want to see my boys have fun, be with them ... Sam was nearly five when Annabel died … I feel really sad for Sam because I just don’t remember …anything significant out of those two years ... I think Sam’s coped with it really well and I think we’ve all stayed strong. He’s been our rock really although sometimes I’ve felt we have treated him really bad because sometimes we have been so angry. Not angry with him but just angry with everything, life. But … we’re having good times now.
… There are just so many different stages of grief, you’ve got to go through and I am at the last stage, acceptance. You need to get there, it’s a long journey. You can’t rush it ... there have been a few times when I have thought, I can’t do this charity because it was very emotional at the beginning. I found it very very hard every time a cheque came in with her name on, I’d cry. If anyone mentioned it, it was really … hard but now …I am really pleased … because it is a really positive thing and I am glad that we’ve done it and we are going to launch the support packs on her 3rd birthday this year so it’s a really big achievement and I’m really pleased that we haven’t let her name go in vain. It was more Trevor’s idea because that was his way of channelling his grief but yes, we are really … pleased with our charity.
… I know I have got my lovely boys but in my heart of hearts I would like a girl because I am girly, I love girly things and you can’t dress a boy up and do their hair ... I’d like to have another one … but … at one stage it was about having a girl but I don’t think it is anymore. I think that when I knew Annabel was a girl I was quite happy … just to have two kids but I don’t know, I think I probably would have changed my mind because I really love it. I am really enjoying it and it’s what I want to do. Some days I get fed up but I do, I like being with them and Matthew’s funny and makes me laugh and I just think that it would be nice to have another one … I couldn’t not see him all day and I couldn’t bear someone else to be looking after him, I just couldn’t do it, oh it would make me cry. Yes, some days I think I’d like a break but no, I just wouldn’t want someone else telling me he was doing something, I’d miss him ...
… Losing Annabel … I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy what we went through because to lose a life, you don’t expect to lose a baby, you have got so many plans and you’ve got a future for that child and to not have that future is really, really hard … Having my boys … I wouldn’t be without them, definitely they are great … I love being a family now … I feel like we’re ok because there are four of us now … Even driving along and they are squabbling in the back and I think; how can a seven year old squabble with an eighteen month old baby but they can and its cool … Sam has got someone to squabble with and it’s great!