Tagged: Mother

Nicola Gaskin & Winter Wolfe

Blogger Nicola Gaskin gave birth to her son Winter Wolfe on 23rd October 2015, Winter lived for one day before he died from a number of complications. In this raw and honest interview Nicola talks about her loss, feelings of grief and the ways that she honour her son’s short life…

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Can you tell us about you and husband’s relationship, how did you meet? How long have you been together? Where did you get married? Myself and Dean have been a team for ten years.  We met on the clichéd night out and realised we shared many friends in common, in particular he was close with my brother.  In many respects, it was quite a feat that we hadn’t met before, but when we did the timing was perfect. We hit it off instantly.  I loved the way he dressed like a cartoon and we shared the same sense of humour and love of partying and travel.

Ever since then we’ve been pretty much inseparable, travelling to 29 countries together.  He takes the greatest care of me and always makes me feel loved and safe.  We decided to get married secretly, not really for any other reason than we wanted to.  We planned a trip to Sri Lanka and made wedding plans over there.  We had had such a devastating year, we had lost our baby suddenly at a day old as well as a subsequent early pregnancy loss, and we just wanted to escape, have some fun, be a little mischievous and tie the knot so we were all connected by a family name.  We got married on the beach, just the two of us.  My wedding dress was made by a friend of mine, with snowflakes on it for Winter, and our wedding rings were made from his ashes.  We chose the date 23rd August as the 23rd of every month marks another month of our son’s brief life.  It was the perfect day, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant for the first time?How was the pregnancy and the birth? We were delighted to be pregnant.  I had been hoping for children for a little time, and Dean had agreed that we should start trying.  I fell pregnant on our first month and didn’t realise until I was six weeks pregnant. Looking back, I just had no idea how fortunate we were. We were also both incredibly naïve, from a single pregnancy test I believed I would have a baby in nine months’ time, I really had no experience of miscarriage or pregnancy loss.  We just thought ‘yes we are pregnant’ and began making plans. I loved every moment of my pregnancy, I was blessed to have very little sickness and a smooth ride, really relished it all.  I loved the preparing, the washing baby clothes and folding blankets and decorating the nursery. I was so ready to be a mother, I daydreamed about it constantly. Even in early labour I set up the Moses basket with soft toys and sheets ready to bring home our baby.  My waters broke at 5.30am, we went to hospital and were advised to go home and await contractions and return when they became regular and strong.  At 6.30pm my mum drove us to the hospital where I laboured for a further 10 hours until we welcomed our son into the world at 4.37am the following morning, October 23rd 2015.  He was placed on my chest and we looked right at each other then he looked at his dad, we all fell in love.

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Can you tell us about what happened to your son Winter? 30 minutes after his birth, Winter became poorly. He just suddenly stopped breathing and became limp.  The midwives hit a panic alarm and the room filed with doctors and nurses as they worked to resuscitate him. We were all in absolute shock.  On the one hand, it was pure panic and I just sat there numb, on the other hand I thought ‘he will be ok, look at all these doctors and nurses…’ But after some time, he was whisked away and a nurse said to us ‘I need you to know that your baby might die’ and I said ‘But we’ve only just had him.’ The next few hours were difficult to navigate. We called family, hearing their excited anticipation for the long-awaited phone call and having to break it to them that their newborn grandson/nephew was likely to die.

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That whole day Winter was in an incubator with tubes and machines, and every now and then we would sit with his doctor whilst he talked to us about a possible diagnosis, and the option to turn off the machines. I was exhausted from labour and anxiety and was hooked up to a drip to rest for the night. Early the next morning Winter was transferred to Leicester Glenfeild where they specialise in heart problems. I waited to be discharged and given medication before we drove up there to be with him. We were so full of hope in the car, I felt certain he would be cured and saved, but we arrived just in time to hold him as he died. We spent time alone with him, kissing him, bathing him, dressing him. We invited family in to hold him and say hello and goodbye. Then we had to leave the room and drive home with a memory box, to a house full of expectant preparations. It was extremely painful, surreal.

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How has your faith helped you through this? What teachings have you drawn upon? How have you tried to find the positive in so much negative? Without a doubt, my Buddhist teachings have helped immensely when dealing with such a great loss.  I have accepted grief as a normal emotion, and one that will last a lifetime, although it shifts and changes over time. ‘Patient acceptance’ is one of the greatest teachings I have drawn upon since losing my son. Accepting his death is something I may never fully come to terms with, but I accept all the emotions that come with grief. The realisation that death is a certainty and its timing is entirely out of our hands is also a huge Buddhist teaching.  In the western world we are always surprised by death, yet in Buddhism meditating on death itself is a huge part of the daily practice.  Every morning Buddhist practitioners spend time quietly reflecting on the truth that ‘I may die today’.  It sounds a little doom and gloom but actually when practiced with wisdom and understanding, it is an enlightening realisation and brings greater spiritual meaning to each and every single day we live.

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I also think that finding the positive amongst such pain is a matter of perspective.  Winter died after a day, but he LIVED for a day.  I have found that many bereaved mothers in similar situations are able to find many positives in their loss, that’s not to say their loss is a positive experience in any way, but more that the love they have for their baby and the experience of meeting and holding them greatly outweighs the pain of their loss. A beautiful phrase I have come across regularly on this journey is ‘Even if I knew you were going to die, I would still choose you’.  I wish Winter had lived but I wouldn’t swap Winter for a living baby, he’s still my special baby to me.

You’re an active blogger and social media user, why do you choose these platforms to share your story, Winter’s story and your journey? When Winter died it was never my immediate intention to blog about him and share so openly on Instagram, it just felt like a natural progression from sharing my life previously and in particular my pregnancy.  At the time, I had a small following and really just posted little snippets, but over time I discovered a whole community on Instagram centred around baby loss and I felt as though I had a place to talk about my baby and share my journey.  To an outsider it may seem a little morbid or unnecessary but finding people in similar situations talking so openly absolutely encouraged me to find my own voice, and also the realisation that my feelings were normal and valid, and it was ok to tell people about my baby, that even though he died his existence was real and he was important to me and loved.

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These days I talk about Winter publicly because he’s part of my life, just like moving house and getting married, he’s still very much part of our family and it would be unusual for me to not talk about him.  I also feel like there is a need for people to share their lost babies and not everyone understands that, so we are gently educating people.  About infant loss, the lasting effects of grief, the shameful rate of stillbirths in the UK.  I have had many moments online where people have asked ‘why do you share photographs of your dead baby?’  And I tell them, because they are the only photographs I have and I don’t feel the need to hide him away in shame, in fact I frame them and put them on my wall. I share him because I’m proud of him, like any mother showing off their newborn baby.  We should open up discussion and not be afraid of it or feel that it is wrong.  I write about my grief and the feelings I have encountered, the isolation that can come with losing a baby when people don’t know what to say to you and say nothing instead, the difficulties of overcoming jealousy and bitterness when friends around you announce pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies, the lasting and ongoing trauma that doesn’t just end one day when you’re suddenly healed.  This is why I share, to help myself as well as others.  And I love to talk about my little boy, what mother doesn’t?!

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Can you tell us about your tattoos, do you have any in Winter’s honour?  I have two tattoos in Winter’s honour.  One is a blue snowflake on the rib he kicked me in when he was growing in my belly. It was always this same rib and it got really sore and I would have to lie on the floor and stretch out to try and move him. At the time, I cursed that foot jabbing me so hard, but now it’s a fond memory.  The snowflake is simple, it is the same pattern that my grandma cut out for the table decorations at Winters wake, it’s very special to me.  The other tattoo is a quote on my arms, when I place them in the ‘baby holding’ position it reads ‘Most people only dream of angels, I held mine in these arms’.  It is just the perfect reminder that I held him.

You can read more uplifting and raw posts about Nicola’s experience of infant loss on her blog

Growing Pains With Tracy Kiss

28-year-old Tracy Kiss, blogger, model and mother, from Buckingham talks about how having a tattoo to cover her stretch marks helped her to reclaim and love her body once again… 

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When did you start modelling and how did you get into the industry? At the age of 18. I was talent scouted by MTV to model in a documentary about relationships, I then went on to do page 3 for The Daily Sport newspaper.

What made you want to become a model? I was bullied terribly up until the age of 17 for being shy, geeky and insecure. When I was talent scouted I never imagined in a million years that I could ever be a model but they saw something in me and I’m so glad that they did because it brought me out of my shell.

What kind of work did you do? I was a glamour model before having my two children which involves lots of lingerie, bikinis and topless as well as the occasional catwalk and fashion.

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Did this change how you saw your body? Did modelling help with your confidence? Although modelling gave me bags of confidence that I never knew existed it also changed me as a person. I spent endless minutes on sunbeds to maintain a year round tan, dyed my hair peroxide blonde, wore fake nails, false eyelashes and dressed in skin tight revealing outfits. I literally changed everything about my appearance within a year and although I loved my ‘new’ body I realised deep down that I wasn’t being true to myself.

How has pregnancy and being a mother affected how you see your body? Becoming a single parent at the age of 19 was such a wake up call, it made me realise that there’s so much more to life than the shallowness of how we view others. Beauty doesn’t come from a packet, tube or needle it’s from natural confidence, being comfortable in your own skin and feeling happy. My body shape changed dramatically, I was incredibly thin and as my pregnancy developed I started to get stretch marks which were deep red lines that seemed to slash my skin. At that time my body was my career, and I felt that becoming a mother had ended the life I knew by scarring me so badly.

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Do you miss being pregnant? Despite all of that I loved being pregnant, it was difficult for me to adjust to the weight gain at first because I had always been so strict on myself. But once I embraced it I realised how much I love food, how happy I was to feel my daughter kick inside of me and despite knowing I had to bring her into the world alone I felt safe knowing that we were going through it together. There is nothing as precious as unconditional love and I’d happily have more children if I met the right man one day.

How has pregnancy affected your body physically? Physically pregnancy has had an horrendous affect on my body at such a young age, firstly from scarring up my stomach hips and thighs with stretch marks, weakening my stomach muscles and making my chest collapse. I had breast implants that became loose and leaked from the pressure of breast feeding, so I underwent reconstructive surgery. It has been the most joyful yet painful experience of my life but I’d do it a thousand times over for my children, they are my absolute world.

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Can you tell us about your stretch marks? Also how you tried to get rid of them? My stretch marks remained the same with my second pregnancy and didn’t get any worse, I think my skin was already so badly damaged that it couldn’t possibly stretch any further. I had fairly large babies with my daughter weighing 7lbs and my son 8lbs 8oz, but I blame my love of food for contributing to my weight gain as for once in my life I didn’t worry about what I ate!

I’ve tried everything to get rid of my stretch marks which I’ve covered in my beauty blogs from oils and creams to needling and lasering, all methods designed to stimulate the regrowth of natural collagen in the skin to help to repair it. Whilst stretch marks can be improved they can never be removed unless you cut the skin away which I didn’t want. Fortunately with my treatments I was able to lighten my stretch marks from a deep red colour to a pale white, instead of being deep they became a little more shallow and where the skin had become so loose and wrinkled it’s now firmer and flatter but still scarred, just a little less obviously.

Why did you choose to cover them with a tattoo? How did you pick the design? I chose to cover my stretchmarks with a tattoo because the pigment in my skin had disappeared from stomach, which left me with white lines.  At the age of 28 I was hiding my body, I never wanted anybody to look at or touch my stomach because I was embarrassed.

The only way left for me to try to remove my stretchmarks without surgery was to cover them with a tattoo and once my final laser treatment was complete to correct the texture of my skin I called my tattooist, James King, to talk about designs. I already have 10 tattoos including; feathers, wings and my children’s dates of birth.  I’m a nature loving vegan, I live for peace, love and happiness so we combined a lotus flower with the hamsa hand to signify strength, beauty and good fortune.

I wanted to turn a part of my body that I hated into something positive, and  my tattoo has done just that! Something that once hurt and upset me for so many years now makes me smile uncontrollably. I never thought I’d feel so happy in my skin again as I do now, it’s given me my youth back.

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What would you say to other mums feeling the same way as you did? I’d tell other mums to look into turning their scars into body art because you only have one life. To me a tattoo isn’t just a decoration, it’s a story, a reminder and inspiration for life. It’s capturing your essence as a person, expressing your individualism and in my case turning something negative into a positive. Everybody should be able to love their bodies no matter their age, size and ethnicity. For me tattoos have given me back my confidence, true confidence and shown me how I can love myself for who I am. I’m a woman reborn, my embarrassment and insecurities have vanished and I’m ecstatic to have a second chance with my body.

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What was your first tattoo? Do you still love it? Rather foolishly I got my first tattoo at the age of 14 which was a tribal swirl on my lower back that I covered over with angel wings, that mean so much more to me, as I believe feathers symbolise hope and freedom. My first tattoo was something that I rushed into simply because it was fashionable at the time, it had no meaning to me and was nothing more than a filled in stencil that I outgrew.

Can you tell us about your other tattoos? My favourite is ‘love is blind’ tattooed under my breasts, its a reminder of how life may change but true love is unconditional and that is very much what I have for my children. My babies taught me the most important lessons in life of patience, strength and natural beauty and although being a single parent is incredibly challenging at times it has made me the person I am today. Tattoos have given me back my fire, repaired my body and rebuilt my self esteem whilst capturing my heart for all to see and I will cherish them forever.

Tattooed Mama: Hannah Daisy

We chatted to full time mama 22-year-old Hannah Daisy from London about becoming a mum, how she sees her body differently now and her tattoos…

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Pregnancy is such an enlightening journey, there’s no way you can come out the other side and look at yourself in the same way. It was so uplifting for me, my body worked HARD, and I’ve come to respect it so much more. I’ve struggled with self esteem, I still do from time to time, but I try not to worry about the small things any more and just appreciate it as a whole. If I wanted to look like I hadn’t had a baby then I wouldn’t have had had one.

Honestly, my tattoos haven’t changed much at all since I was pregnant. I have got a stretch mark that’s gone straight through the bottom of the dagger, but it’s not noticeable, it all comes with the territory and I had anticipated some change, so no biggy!

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Every aspect of life has changed. I’m still trying to find that balance between being a mum and being my own person. Having a career and keeping up with hobbies have both been on hold since being pregnant and having Reuben, which has been the most frustrating thing, but I’m finally starting to weave them back into the mum schedule, we’ll get there eventually. The kid makes the rules right now!

Instagram was never meant to be more than a place to share photos for family and friends. My pregnancy started off a bit rocky and I wasn’t really sure how to cope. I’m normally one of those people who bottles everything up, but I started to talk about my experiences and converse with other women and it really helped, it became more of an outlet and played a huge part in me healing.

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I started @two.plus.roo so I didn’t end up bombarding everyone on my main account (@hannah.daisy) with endless bump updates intended for family and friends. I felt this huge urge to capture everything, I’m glad I did because it’s been such a magical journey so far. Finding this little corner of the internet where women really pull together as a community was a huge eye opener and I can only try to add to that.

I don’t think anyone is really qualified to give advise on pregnancy/motherhood, everyone has their own ways and it can get quite patronising, so I’d say have faith in your own instincts and don’t feel bad if you need to politely ask someone to back off. Keep a positive head on your shoulders, make some mama friends and enjoy every second!

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I miss being pregnant so much, I loved being pregnant. It’s a such a surreal feeling to be carrying a little human, when you think about it it’s almost alien isn’t it?! I’m really selfish and enjoyed being the closest one to him! I certainly don’t miss waking up every 20 minutes through the night though, that I could have done without.

Tattooing was something I took interest in quite early on in life, a lot of my other interests at that time were easily interwoven with tattooing so it was something I was bound to bump into at some point. My partner George tattoos, we both paint together and get tattooed, so it’s something that would be hard for me to avoid. My tattoos don’t have any great personal meanings or anything fancy like that, they’re just a collection of designs I like by people I’ve wanted to get tattooed by. George and I tend to spend the year saving and then travel to different parts of the world to get tattooed by some awesome artists. It’s allowed me to meet people I otherwise wouldn’t of crossed paths with, and it’s a great reason to travel. We have plans to travel and get tattooed a lot more this year, this time with Reuben in tow, I’m excited to show him the world this time round!

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