Caelan’s Sparkly Frozen Party (Pic Heavy!)

Through an amazing turn of events, we were given the opportunity to throw a super special birthday party for Caelan this year. We were also lucky enough to have a photographer come and capture the magic of the Super Sparkly Frozen party.

Brett from Hand in Hand photography was amazing in his connection to the children, and this made taking his photos that much better.

The sparkly invitations delivered to each of the children. Full of glitter and snowflakes, setting the scene for the adventures to follow.

Signage to the event on the day. Unfortunately this was not quite as visible as I thought and a few people got confused trying to find the gates to Arendelle! oops!

Trying to sneak a peek through the gates before they were opened.

Greeting the guests with hugs and love. It had been a long time since he saw his “Big Brother”

Of course, there were also others who dressed up for the occasion! It was very important to compare sparkles on each other’s dresses!

To start the party, we of course had to “Open up the gates!” and inside waiting was…. ELSA!

Some of our guests were a little bit stunned at seeing Elsa in front of them. Little Miss L could not believe she was right there!

Guests visited the Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post (and Sauna!) to collect their royal robes and crowns. A couple snacked on Sven’s carrots too!

Olaf was there, ready and waiting to give his famous warm hugs (hand made by me).

And he gave plenty of them! Much to the delight of party goers!

There was a table full of wonderful foods, including aqua and white lollies, Swedish Meatballs, popcorn and melted Olafs.

White chocolate covered marshmallows with sparkly blue crystals scattered on top.

Natural yoghurt, sugar eyes, sultanas and pretzels made for “Melted Olaf” desserts.

Lemonade was served in Snow frosted bottles for each of the guests

Elsa got the party grooving with some famous tunes… “Let it go” and “Do you want to build a snowman”.

Lots of spinning and twirling.

Big sister helping her brother learn the intricacies of Musical Hoops (like musical chairs! Three year olds are not brilliant at staying in one spot!

Next, Elsa weaved her snow magic onto the faces of the guests, painting all matter of frosty goodness.

Function of Fun (Elsa) is the best face painter I have ever come across. Miss R turned into a magical frozen butterfly.

Elsa (Dani) could transform any child into the most amazing character. The painting was flawless and the colours so vibrant.

With eleventy billion colours in her palette, Elsa could mix amazing rainbows and gradients.

And even those who did not want their faces painted, were able to get Olaf on their arm.

Even Caelan, who is not one to enjoy having his face touched by the cold wet brushes, tolerated having his entire face done because it was painted by Elsa!

Master O chose to be a snow fox

Tara was turned into a snow princess

Soon it was time for CAKE! Most of the guests sat and waited, though, being three, a number of them were not so interested in posing for a photo to show off all of their icy cloaks.

The cake was not exactly what I had imagined. Fondant once again proved me too ambitious! It also did not help that we had to move 2 days before the party! However the kids adored the cake, and that was all that mattered. What can’t be seen here is the amount of glitter and sparkle on this cake. It truly was spectacular!

Caelan had WAY too much fun cutting into his cake. The cake stand was made by me and full of micro fairly lights. The back of her cloak was transparent and covered in pearl dust.

The end of the day was finalised by a tug-o-war of hugs with Olaf…

Master F completely adored his snowy buddy

Master C was not to be left out of the cuddle-fest!

At the end of the world’s best party there was nothing left to do than to say farewell to Elsa, with a kiss no less!

Farewell bags were gifted to all, as a thank you for making this such a memorable occasion.

The gift bags all set up, courtesy of Swarovski Crystal, Australia

The generous contents of the bags, thanks to Swarovski Crystal

CJ was gifted Elsa, and his guests were gifted Olaf by the wonderful people of of Swarovski.

Some final photos to share of the day…

 

 

Suppliers:

Special thanks to the generosity of Swarovski , and the special ladies who went out of their way to make Caelan’s party so, so special.  Their gifts to CJ and the guests were adored by all.

Hand in Hand Photography (Brett)

Functions of Fun (Daniela)

The Professors (Lolly Shop) 

Ikea (Glassware, Wooden Crate, Meatballs)

Target (Glass bottles – self decorated)

Frozen Cloaks and Crowns 

Cake Decorating Solutions

The Christmas Warehouse (Snow and snowflake lighting)

Bunnings – For “Stuff!”

Op Shops for Glassware, Table runner, miscellaneous “Stuff”

 

Remember Avery

It has been 4 years, 2 months, 2 weeks and 5 days since he came into this world.  His name is Avery and is my son.  A beautiful and lanky long boy who weighed 4 kg and had velvet fuzz on his head, the colour of morning sunkissed wheat.  It was copper and golden, full of warmth.

At 59 cm, he was long. So very long.  I joked that he would have one day played the piano, with fingers that long.  As I touched him, I noted his full cheeks, his long legs and the cleft-like chin.

I also noted, a thousand times a minute, that he was not breathing.

Avery was stillborn.

This month is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month.  Leading towards an International Day of Remembrance on the 15th of October.  Every year I want to write something meaningful, but the words get lost in translation, between my heart and my fingers.

But this year there is something I thought everyone should know.

His name.

“But we know his name! I hear the hoards cry!  His name is Avery, and he was stillborn.  We know all of that!”  Of course you do.  I have said it all a million times over.  In person, online, in grief therapy, in passing comment.  I know you have heard it.  In fact, some of you are possibly rolling eyes at the thought of hearing his name again.

But there is something I want YOU to know.  I don’t say his name for me.  I hear his name in my head every second of every day.  I hear his name in my dreams, in the smell of fresh dew melting off cut grass.  I hear his name in the song of the birds, and the silence of the night, just after dusk has settled.  His name is echoed in the touch of a friend’s embrace, or the tears of his sister when she is upset.  The world whispers his name as it inhales, and cries his name as it exhales.

What I want you to know is that I say his name for you.  For YOU to know him.  For YOU to remember him.  For YOU to feel him as you hug your children and think “It could have been them…”

I want you to hear his name and think of every 133 children you meet, and know that there is one child missing.  One child who should be in your class, one child who should be in your dance group, or in your sports team.

I say his name so that you see his face in the shadows of your story time, in the pages as the fox springs in the woodlands.  I want you to feel him snuggled against your breast as your child’s warm breath caresses your neck while they tell you how magical their day was. As they tell you they love you  as much as they love rocks and marshmallows and fairies.

I don’t say his name for me.  I say his name to make your shift your weight, to feel uncomfortable at the thought of a baby or child dying.   I want you to think of the babies not here.  Of the miscarriages, the stillbirth, the neonatal deaths.  I want you to think of the 1 in 4 women who have lost a thousand memories and a million kisses.  Whose dreams rest in a plastic box on the mantle piece for them to burn a candle next to on special occasions.

I tell you about my son, Avery, because he matters.  He matters as much as your son, as much as your daughter.  I tell you about my son because his name is all I have, and I want to share it with the world.

And so I leave you with his photo, his precious, sacred image, in the hopes that tonight, and all of this month, you think of him and every other little soul who is flickering in the starts, because they are forever just a memory.

Update Update Update

I thought it was time I gave you all an update since I have ignored this blog for so long.

Tara is coming up to 9, though I swear some days she is 19 and some days she is 4. She is absolutely delightful – when the mood hits her. And let me tell you, moods do hit her!

She is absolutely loving her irish dancing and it has made her so confident – if only in the Irish Dance part of her life. We are working on her being more confident in school, but we are muddling through.

We are looking at having some formal testing done with her to help her reach her potential at school, because it is a bit of a struggle. Socially and Emotionally it can be a bit difficult for her to navigate her days. We have lots of headaches and stomach aches and tiredness when it comes to school.

In the face of all of this she is amazing and lovely and caring and imaginative.

She managed to tear a ligament in her hand recently, after a spectacular fall tripping over her own feet. A purple cast and lots of physio, it is pretty much bac to normal now.

 

CJ is just storming along.  He is crazy and inquisitive, friendly and boisterous. He has two speeds – Idle and Turbo.  My little pocket rocket.

He is still experiencing delays in his speech and communication, and still has some muscle problems.  Two weeks after Tara tore her ligament, he hyper-extended his knee and caused soft tissue damage!  They are sending me grey I tell you!  We had a physio appointment for him today and we are armed with exercises for him to do for the next two months.  It involves squatting, stairs and kicking balls.  Sounds like I am training him for the AFL!

They are going to push the speechies into getting in contact with us.  And I called the locals and got his name on the list.  I also spoke to the paediatrician today, and she has spoken to them too… so hopefully they got sick of hearing CJs name and will just get me in for an intake to stop me calling! He can understand bits now – especially if you use some gestures or some signing.  But there is an awful lot that he does not understand.  He can get his point across a lot, but there is no language used.  Any sounds he gets, he loses within days.  He spends the day walking around saying “ya ya ya” like a Sesame Street character (yp yp yp)… and grunting “uuuuugh uuuuugh” over and over at the top of his lungs.   He did it for four hours in the car on Sunday.  Fairly non stop.  Fun.

He can work an ipad like the best of them – but he swipes so franticly that he loses the app he is on and then gets frustrated.  Does anyone know if you can parental lock an app to stay on the tablet?????

I have been going ok.  Depression has been up and down like a merry go around, but for the most part has been good. My new psychologist is amazeballs and I feel a great connection with her.  We are getting to nitty gritty stuff instantly, which is important, instead of spending months skirting them.  I really enjoy my sessions, even if I cry like a toddler.

But, my head is above water, my kids are awesome (if tiresome) and my friends are the bestestes women around.

Will post some photos soon. I promise! I have tonnes of them. (follow me on instagram @hesperasgarden if you want more Tara and CJ spam!)

Night Night xxx

Dear Ada and Chrys

Dear Ada and Chrys,

I am so terribly, deeply saddened to hear of the tragic stillbirth of your son Harrison. I wish with all of my heart that no family ever has to suffer through the pain of saying goodbye to a much wanted baby.

I hope you are surrounded by the cushioning love of friends and family during this painful and unimaginable time. I hope that you have seconds that feel like hours while you look into his face, and commit his face to your memory. That yu can touch his hair, and bathe his skin and create a million ways to remember him in the future.

I beg of you to take photos, even if you don’t want to right now. One day those photos may be the only thing you want. He is beautiful. He is lovely. You will want to look at him again.

Rally with other mama’s who have lost their babies. They will be the ones you can scream at over and over again and who will not judge you. There are other celebrities who have lost their babies. If you don’t feel you can talk to just anyone, search them out.

Don’t be afraid to laugh. Or cry. Or scream. Or throw things.

There is no time on grief. There is no time on mourning your son.

Say his name. Make sure others say his name.

Harrison.

Beautiful Baby Harrison.

Ada and Chrys, I am sorry you have joined our club. No one wants membership, but we are here if you need.

Dear Avery – Happy 3rd Birthday

Hello My Boy.

I know it is belated.  I know it is not THE day.  I know it feels wrong.  But it has taken some time.  Time due to circumstance, time due to my heart.  Time to find space.

I found your 3rd birthday SO hard as it approached.  I just could not get my head around the thought that it has been 3 years since you never took that first breath.  And I just could not bear to let my heart – or my head – drift towards thoughts or memories of you.

And then when your birthday hit, so did gastro.  Gastro had meant I could not prepare the night properly.  I was weak and unwell.  Then it hit Tara on our way to your dinner.  So many people could not come, or facebook did not alert them and those who were able to come were Jet Lagged so had to leave early anyway.  Then again, so did we.  I drove Tara home with CJ while Ally had an extra couple of drinks with some friends.

It just felt hard, and lonely.  Like once again the world was against me on the 14th of July.  It is a day that is set for you.  Where I can unashamedly and unapologetically laugh and cry and fawn all over your memory.  Decorate a cake as if you were with us.

But you aren’t with us.

We went to your tree with some awesome friends. There was laughter, and cake and quiet reflection.  And singing.  We sung happy birthday to you.  There are some photos of the day.  I’ll post them tomorrow.  Your tree is getting bigger and stronger.  Sometimes it has flowers on it.  It is quietly unassuming in the little place we planted it.  Just sits there – hidden in plain view.  Somewhat like you.  Tara decorated the cake for the park, and the friends loved the jellybeans as the rolled out of the centre. So much colour on a day that feels so muted and grey, even in the brightest of sun.

For your birthday, RNSH was gifted a cold cot thanks to Talin’s Cloud. I feel so honoured that your name is etched on the box.  Every family that uses it will whisper your name. They will know of you.  And you will touch their hearts as they squeeze every free moment out of the day with their child.  The second longest day of their life… the longest day being the day they forever say goodbye.  The cot was used the day it was delivered. And then I learned a family was touched by loss on the 14th.  Another family had their cries echo and bounce around the walls of Room One.  I hope, my little spirit babe, you were able to give them some energy… some love.

It isn’t easier, Avery, to deal with your loss after 3 years.  The pain is still there, I am just better and not facing it.  But sometimes I find myself longing for that initial month so that I can feel the shock and the pain and the intensity of my grief, without fear of protecting Tara, or my heart, or anyone else.  No matter how much I want to, it is not the same as it was.  I can’t just let it all out.  It oozes and seeps from me sometimes – at my Drs, at my new psychologists, at the SIDS and Kids memorial.  Like a sponge that just cannot hold on to any more liquid, it leaks from my eyes and my heart.

I feel so suffocated by the constraints of how everyone else does or does not function, or grieves, or lives.  Why can’t I be carefree and just embrace the tear streaked emptiness that wants to engulf me?  Too much hiding of my feelings when younger. Too much thinking space.  Too much mental, not enough emotion.

I hate that I do not have new stories about things you are doing, tricks you are learning, words and phrases you are saying.  I ache that I don’t know whether you like Iron Man, Dragons or Thomas.  I have no clue if you like blue, or green, or pink.  I will never know your favourite foods or your favourite tshirt.

I will never hear you say I Love You, or Mama, or scream at me from the lolly aisle at the super market.  I don’t know what your cheeky laugh sounds like, or you sobbing wails.  The day you died I was robbed of more than just your body.  We were robbed of your entire life.  And there is nothing – no words, no memories, no photos beyond 6 days in July 2014.

Avery, you are so very missed. By me.  My others.  They say your name, they talk about him.  But there are only so many words that can be uttered about someone who most people never met. I am left being the one to talk, and I sometimes I feel I just run out of words.

Everything was stolen from us when you were taken.  When you slipped silently into this world, grey, slippery, and heavy.  So heavy.  You took the air from my lungs as you were placed on my chest, and I have not been able to breath fully since.  I wish I could say that I wear the pain like a badge. But I don’t. I hide it, and run from it.  Run from you.

I cannot help but feel so angry that you never took a breath.  I never saw your skin flush with new life.  I never heard you cry, I never saw the stormy tempest of your eyes searching through the light for me.  So many nevers.

I have not been able to write for so long.  I just have not felt the motivation, the desire.  I need to find time for you.  For Tara and Caelan too.  So much of you lives in this blog and it is unfair on both of us for me to let it slide.

If only my words could bring you back. If only my love.  If only.

But you were never meant to be here.  You were always meant to be just a blip on our radars, whose shadow remains long after we passed you by.  It does not make it easier.  Nothing is easier when your baby is dead.

I just wish you were here.  Snuggled with us.  Not the void in our hearts.

An update

Thank you everyone. For coming, for visiting, for meeting Avery. Thank you for giving him time in your heart.

Things have been crazy in my head, but in the lead up to his third birthday I have been speaking out more about him again.

We are featured over at Mamamia this week, and my words are being shared across thousands of browsers.  People are hearing our story.  Saying his name.

If you read our story, and come and visit at hesperasgarden, then please consider donating at my Red Nose Day fundraising page.  Or buy a red nose.  or a pen.  Every little bit helps.

Missing him is daily… no, hourly, for me.  But if you remember him just today, I thank you.

 

Dear Caelan, You are One

Photo of Caelan by Chloe C.

To my dear, sweet little fawn baby. You are one! I cannot believe it. Yesterday we celebrated your first rotation around the sun with a beautiful picnic at the park with so many dear to us. It was amazing to feel the love surround you and follow your wake.  We based your party around the theme of Baby Batman, and I made you a suit to wear for the occasion.  And a cake.  A really kick-ass cake (i’m your mum, I can say that!).  While everything came together for the day, I am still in denial that you are one.  I just cannot fathom that you are no longer that tiny mewing baby in my arms, rather a 10kg whopper of an almost-toddler!

This year has been such a whirlwind of emotions, lessons, time moving fast, time moving slow, confusion, joy, happiness… so many variables.

We have explored health concerns, had many, many, many hospital visits and admissions, saw more doctors than we had hoped to see, and only had a few answers. Some big (22q13.32 Dup), some not so big (croup!). It would be easy to say your first year has been defined by the numerous visits, but that is not the case at all.

This year can easily be defined by one thing. You are The Best Baby Ever(TM). And it is not just mother’s bias.. just ask anyone who has met you. They all agree that you are cruisey, smilie, loving, excitable, cute, mischief, cheeky… and so much more.

You are a baby (child?) who adores music. If you are upset, which is rare, we need only turn music on really loud, or start singing. There is something about a melody that just draws you in and casts a magic spell over you. In fact, it is in your bones so much that you are already bopping and dancing when music is on around you. You cannot help but move and embrace the rhythm. And the joy in your face is mesmerising.

You learnt the art of crawling on boxing day, and you have not stopped moving since. After all of the concerns with your milestones early on, you have simply moved on from there and kept going, hitting them all right on cue. You love playing chase, cruising furniture, and pulling everything out from where ever it is meant to be… two million times a day!

And as you grow and develop I see the relationship between Tara and yourself forming and getting stronger. She wants to smother you at times, and at other times does not want to know you. We are always hearing “I want to Hug.My.BROTHER!” or “He is my BROTHER! Let me TOUCH HIM!” If only she would choose opportune moments in which to get so firey over your bond. But I cannot help smiling and bursting with love and pride when I see the two of you snuggled into the same bed. I am sure the time is going to come sooner, rather than later, for you to move out of the cot and into a toddler bed in Tara’s room. She is aching for that time, while still wanting the freedom of being alone.

You keep us all on our toes, and in doing so you have carved your own place into this family, and this community around you. I was so worried that you would be born into the shadow of your brother, but the light in your heart literally has you bursting in light.

That is not to say that we have forgotten Avery this year. You are often found staring at his photo, and you are always playing with his suitcase. As time goes on he will become part of your every day vocabulary – especially if I continue to call you him. I don’t do it often, and when I do I am immediately checked into line by my own heart. But I don’t want you to see fear or anguish when you hear his name. You will learn joy and laughter when we talk about him.

I cannot believe a year has gone since you made your entrance into this world. Silently, scaring my heart. But you do things your own way. You have a will and a boldness about you, that is quiet like a lion before it pounces. You stare and watch, take things on board, and then attack with cuteness and bravado.

You are such a blessing. And we are so lucky to have you in our lives. Thank you for picking us as your family. We love you beyond words.

Much love always my sweet boy Caelan.

Love Mama

So you think you can dance child loss

Watching SYTYCD Australia, wishing that I could have the platform to choreograph a child loss piece, as you do, when all of a sudden they announce that Sam and Zoey are doing such a piece.

I brace myself for the cliched train wreck that it could be, and within moments I was sucked into the pain of the mother on my screen. She was not a dancer, she was like me. She was holding the only tangible thing she could – a doll (I have a teddy bear). Clutching. Weeping. Holding.

And the boy, Sam, clung to his mother. Held her up. Gave her strength, carried her when she could not walk herself. And yet, she carried him when he needed to be a boy too.

I could do such an in depth analysis. I could write s much about the intricacies of the dance and the motions. The choreographer did so well.

Until the last tiny second when the doll is removed from the mother and slung to the ground.. That moment killed me. As a mother grieving, the last thing I would like to see is the surrogate thrown to the ground. I am sure that is not the point I was meant to garner, but it is what I carried with it.

But I go back to Zoey. Who magically made herself into me. And made me into her. Telling my story. OUR story to the world.

And I applaud her for the dance that touched so many.

The dance that touched me.

Love Child

Train Wrecking.
I watch, I feel, I acknowledge.
The woman grieves for the babe taken.
Removed from her womb.
I am her.
Both our arms are empty.
She leaves hospital, with a memory.
Belly shadows her history.
Downy and soft.
Hiding the angular pain.
The loss in her heart
Stabbing, bleeding, tears of anguish
Obsession follows.
Hair, eyes, feet, skin.
What were they like?
Do I remember?
Is it sheer fabrication?
Train wrecking.
I cannot look away.
Because I am her.
Even if her baby breaths,
her arms are empty.
And so are mine.

Close

He never lived here.  He barely existed here, but I cannot help but feel close to Avery when I am home at my mother’s house.

Perhaps it is the quiet.  The hush of the country air allowing my mind to think.  Perhaps it is the sense of family and closeness, and the fact there is a piece missing.  Perhaps it is because in this lounge room, the room I am sitting right now, is where we announced to the world he was on board.

I don’t feel overwhelmed this time.  I don’t feel shattered.  I just feel heavy.

But I also feel him in the rolling hills, the smell of gumtrees, the occasional ray of sunshine peaking through the clouds.

For a long time this town felt like a curse to live in.  As a 12 year old it was not where I wanted to be.  And as an older teen, all you wanted to do was get out of here.  But now that I have a family, and I see the other families, a part of me feels like I need to come home.  To see Tara walk down the street to the store by herself or run next door to play with the local kids is so special.

There is a magic that happens when you see the bonds being forged and reinforced between a Nanna or an Auntie with your own children.  However, in Sydney we just do not have that.  It is months between visits, and it is hard on everyone.

But here, just like I feel close with Avery, I feel close to my family.  And my children get to be close to them too.

Everyone here has seen Caelan reach milestones – Crawling on boxing day.  We all watched in wonder as he tried to puzzle left and right movement to go forward.  And then cheered as he succeeded.  A milestone that people often would not get to see since we are usually in Sydney.

It’s  special place, here in Victoria.

A place where everyone gets to feel close.

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