Hello everyone, I’ve got a really nice blog for you today. We recently attended an event hosted by The Lullaby Trust and I thought I’d write up a little post about our lovely family day out with this fantastic charity. We were so pleased to be invited to a day out with them at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, somewhere we have never been before, tickets provided free of charge. We were eager to be able to speak with other grieving parents and meet the charity volunteers themselves, putting faces to names.
I should perhaps tell you a little bit more about the charity first and what they do before getting into the experience of our day out. We were suggested the charity by a social worker who had been supporting us through our loss. She was aware of how much we were struggling and that no counselling was available to either of us despite repeatedly asking for it. With no one to talk to we felt very isolated in the early days of our loss, Fabian even more so. I was lucky enough to develop a lot of friendships online through Instagram with other parents but Fabian still had no one to talk to besides me. Although it is so important that through loss you support each other, sometimes it can be quite hard to offer support when you also need it reciprocating, especially when you are both experiencing a different stage of grief.
The Lullaby Trust raise awareness for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome aka cot death), promote safe sleeping and also support grieving parents through loss. They provide support via a helpline but also a befriending service. There is an option for telephone or email support. Both me and Fabian signed up for a befriender quite early on in our loss. I opted for email support and Fabian opted for phone calls. I did find this tremendously helpful initially and they do try and partner you with someone who might have gone through something similar if not the same. Over time I realised personally email support was not right for myself as it meant exchanging quite lengthy emails due to the nature of the subject but this at times became overwhelming and time consuming, feeling more like a chore than of benefit.
I am so pleased however to say Fabian is still receiving support through weekly telephone calls with his befriender and it has truly helped him to have another dad to guide him through his first Father’s Day and the recent anniversaries relating to Silver. I am so glad we discovered this charity and found support for Fabian because dads are often forgotten about yet I know it has made the world of difference for him to simply have one person to talk to who actually understands what he’s feeling, probably more beneficial than seeing a general counsellor in that sense! I can’t recommend this service enough for anyone who does feel they need someone to talk to and is feeling isolated or unsupported. You can access the support for as little or as long as you need, for Fabian this has been a weekly support for several months whereas personally I only needed a couple months of emails before I felt stable enough without the support.
I do want to briefly tell you about the CONI scheme before I move onto the tales of our exciting day out. CONI represents Care Of Next Infant and is a scheme where you can access much more support from your health visitor, diaries to help you monitor your babies health and wellbeing, you are able to borrow breathing monitors for your own peace of mind with your next child, receive training on resuscitation and receive a room thermometer along with guidance on safe sleep. Unfortunately, this is not available in all areas, we are one of the unlucky ones who are not in an area that offers this, but they are still able to point you in the right direction of receiving similar support. We have received all the information to discuss with our own health visitor and are currently looking into finding somewhere to do first aid training before Leilani is born for our own peace of mind. We are also planning on buying a breathing monitor for ourselves too.
On to the exciting part now! Originally, we had planned to bring Nana and Grandad (my parents) with us to help watch over Beau so we could actually talk to people and get the support however Nana was at a Christmas fair with her business so it was just the four of us. Grandad being particularly excited to be coming to somewhere he had been desperate to visit for quite some time. We arrived for opening time and went to a booth set up with The Lullaby Trust where we got to meet a couple of the volunteers we have previously spoken with on the phone before receiving our entry wristbands and a charity sticker. The plan was to meet back at a private meeting room at lunchtime to properly meet the staff and other parents, they’d even provided a free packed lunch for Beau too which was great!
Beau has unfortunately picked up a viral cough recently and had only slept for twenty minutes in the car despite it being an hour and a half journey! As we are trying to get him used to walking since Leilani will be having the pram soon, plus more often than not he’s trying to escape the pram we decided to start the day with him walking. Not sure that was our best choice, he did love walking around and was generally very well behaved however often as he was feeling rotten and a little tired he did keep wanting Fabian and Grandad to pick him up! This is the first time we’ve taken him to a “zoo” since he has actually learnt animal names and was able to say and recognise the animals without us having to tell him which was adorable.
I must say I know it is quite controversial as a vegan family to be attending a place with captive animals but thankfully it would seem the focus at The Yorkshire Wildlife Park was rehabilitation and rescue, a lot of animals coming from very poor conditions and situations. We were all amazed at the size of the enclosures and how healthy the animals looked in comparison to a zoo more local to our home. This truly gave the impression that the wellbeing of the animals was paramount and that space for the animals was vitally important and integral to their layout. I loved the fact that despite the large enclosures we were thankfully still able to see the animals quite well and it was reassuring to see the condition all the animals were in. On the topic of being vegan I was also extremely impressed reading their menu online just how well they cater to vegans in their café’s and the fact they were able to provide vegan chicken nuggets for Beau for lunch, enabling him to not feel left out by technically having the same as the other children.
As the morning went on Beau started to get quite restless and cranky. He was tired and hungry. He had walked up to a kiosk and asked for yoghurt, only to be very upset for Daddy to tell him they didn’t sell yoghurt! I think his cough and throat was really hurting him (he’s been asking for yoghurt non-stop for four days now). We decided to head to the meeting room which was lovely and spacious compared to the general food area downstairs. I have to admit it was very busy and quite intimidating sitting down on a large table where there were already two families. We didn’t actually speak directly with any of the other grieving parents, it was quite nerve wracking and particularly hard knowing how to instigate such a sensitive conversation. Perhaps over time we will find this easier to do.
It’s funny how children can be super tired and cranky one minute and bouncing off the walls the next isn’t it? Well let’s just say trying to eat our lunch was rather stressful. Beau made many escape attempts and Fabian spent a lot of time chasing after Beau as he ran around the large circular tables, suddenly not interested in his food. Thankfully my dad was able to help, me being pregnant and particularly slow I wasn’t exactly utilitarian! Beau did however warm up to one of the volunteers very much and then wouldn’t leave her side which was in fact quite handy. It was so funny to watch as she would try talking to other parents yet he would roll about on the floor and do everything in his power to try and get her attention. It was absolutely lovely to see him also make friends with some other children which were about ten or so years old I think. He kept going up to them very shyly and they would cuddle him and play with the pom pom on his Christmas jumper but I think he was in awe of them really. I absolutely love seeing him be able to interact with other people and children and see how he is and how he’s developing as a little person.
With Beau distracted Fabian was thankfully actually able to speak with a different volunteer. I know he likes to talk for England and it really helps him talking with others, so I can only imagine this was beneficial and comforting. We also gathered quite a few useful leaflets too as we prepare for Leilani coming home. One thing I know we do need to buy is a moses basket mattress as Silver had leaked and bled a little on the other one so it will be helpful to have their input on selecting a new one for optimum safety. I was also very pleased to see they are selling Christmas cards too which I didn’t realise so we will be buying some to support them in their work and as a thank you for all the amazing support they have given us as we go through this difficult journey. (For more suggestions on how to celebrate Christmas whilst honouring and including your baby click here to view my blog post on the subject matter)
After lunch Beau had an encounter with a giraffe which I found very special and meaningful. They had all come inside to be fed so we went to have a look only for an extremely large one to walk from quite far away directly towards where Beau was. Thankfully I was able to quickly snap a picture and it then reminded me, when I took my twenty week bump photo for Beau it was at Barcelona Zoo in front of the giraffes! So it got me thinking, Silver’s special animal is an elephant, Leilani’s is a unicorn and obviously Stork’s is a stork. I finally felt Beau had a special animal! Plus, they both have the same hair colour so I feel it’s just meant to be, plus Beau loved them and kept saying giraffe afterwards and ever since.
We did actually opt for putting Beau in the pram for the second half of the day which was definitely a good call. We enjoyed visiting the few animals we had missed in the morning and having a leisurely walk around the park as the sun began to set. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we even indulged in some retail therapy at their gift shop to end the day. We treated Beau to a giraffe for the journey home which he chose himself and promptly covered in snot. We wanted to get something to signify Silver being with us since this day was about her but nothing elephant themed stuck out to us. Instead we found a lovely angel ornament which we felt was perfect to remember our special day with her in mind. We also bought Beau a microwavable lavender giraffe toy for Christmas. I had already been planning on getting one since we have separate heating systems for upstairs and downstairs and sometimes the upstairs is quite cool at bedtime but I didn’t feel safe giving Beau a hot water bottle. Hopefully the lavender might improve his struggle with sleep too!
I think it is so important when you’ve lost a baby to be aware of just how much support is out there for you. There is so many different charities which can help support you in different ways. Please reach out to your bereavement midwife, GP or simply search the net. You don’t have to go through this alone and there is support for both mums, dads and families out there. Below are a few charities which are nationwide and may be able to support you
SIDS awareness and advice, helpline, befriending service
“Sands works to support anyone affected by the death of a baby; improve the care bereaved parents receive; and create a world where fewer babies die.”
“Raise awareness for parents & families who have lost their babies. Financial Info & Support.”
“We fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provide pregnancy health information to parents.”
Sending love and warm wishes to all the grieving parents and families out there,
Until next time,