At the start of this year I decided to buy a mason jar to fill with memories from the year. A friend was doing it and I thought it'd be a great idea.reasonsn't wait to sit at the end of the year and look back through all of the pieces of paper remembering the joy and the tears from the year and being thankful as a family. The mason jar is sat on the shelf in our kitchen.........filled with........coffee pods. I put it to use after our coffee machine being put back to work. The jar had remained empty for months and by the time I remembered about it I felt it was too late to start filling it with memories from the last couple of months of the year.
But something has happened this week that has made me sit back and reflect on the year we have had and what I have to be thankful for.
My beautiful friend lost a baby at 14 weeks under horrible circumstances.
I don't want to go into her story here as it is her story and not mine but needless to say they are devastated. Like us, although for very different reasons , having a family has not been a straightforward journey for them.
Seeing her go through it has reminded me of the immense pain we were in 15 months ago having suffered our third loss in 12 months; a very early 7 week loss following a miscarriage at 10 weeks and a stillbirth at 32 weeks....full term for me due to a clotting disorder meaning I am unable to carry well into the third trimester. The pain is suffocating. Everything you hoped for is destroyed in one moment and your life suddenly takes a whole new course.
People who have read my blog before will know that 6 months ago we took the huge decision to stop trying for a baby following 3 years of loss, prematurity and failed fertility treatments. It was the biggest decision we have ever made and has caused us to completely refocus our lives and rethink our priorities.
So here we are, 15 months after out last loss, having rebuilt our lives beyond any recognition of what they were like before the losses began - before we struggled to conceive and then lost our daughter at 32 weeks, 27 months ago.
So I thought I'd manually look back and imagine I'd filled the jar. What would be in it and what memories would we be reliving?
We were asked to consider caring for a little girl a similar age to Emilie. The initial pain of the comparison between the two babies melts away when we hear her story and we agree to the placement.
Samuel celebrates his 4th birthday and our families meet my husband's half brother for the first time. We have a wonderful time getting to know each other and look forward to building relationships.
We go away on a family holiday to centerparcs and have fun making new memories together.
Our foster daughter arrives. Our lives are changed for ever.
I facilitate my first parenting course...something I have wanted to do for years. My passion is working with children and families and the timing of everything over the last couple of years has meant that I am now able to do it without having to worry about juggling work! I go on to facilitate 2 more over the course of the year.
We continue to suffer from infertility which which breaks my heart on a daily basis. There are days when it is all I can think about. I am referred to a new consultant who agrees to a new course of treatment. I sob in his office - much to his embarrassment - purely at the relief of being listened to.
Our foster daughter's complex needs become more known and we are asked to consider caring for her on a permanent basis. We know that we cannot continue having fertility treatment and trying for a baby at the same time as caring for a child with additional needs. We decide to put our foster daughter first and stop trying to expand our biological family.
The relief is immense.
Samuel starts school. I have a month of slipping back into the clutches of depression due to a combination of missing him so much, knowing my life has moved on and Emilie's 2nd anniversary.
The fog lifts towards the tail end of the year and I am able to look back and realise how much I have to be thankful for and how far I have come. I didn't think I would ever recover from the grief of losing a child and it is something that still effects me on a daily basis but we are still standing over 2 years on ..... Albeit sometimes only just.
And here were are at the end of another year. I felt another wave of depression hit at the start of this week spurred on by the inexorable passing of time. I felt suffocated at thought of another new year looming and genuinely thought I was no further on than I was at the start of this year. Or the year before.
Looking back I realise how wrong I was.
And maybe I'll fill that jar in 2014...