Living life knowing the worst CAN happen


This is the cake I made for Conor’s Granny’s birthday. She loves both cake and chocolate so this was sure to be a hit. It’s a fat-less sponge but don’t for one minute think it’s healthy. It is filled with and covered with loads of chocolate buttercream.  It’s a little tricky rolling the sponge into its “swiss roll” shape. Fortunately the chocolate buttercream frosting covers all the cracks. I shaped it to look like a festive log. This Conor’s granny is both a reader and taster of Cakes for Conor!!

I live my new life knowing the worst CAN happen. The worst is far more than just a few cracks in a cake. I have become a worrier. I know from talking to other bereaved parents that I am not alone with my new anxieties. If a baby can die suddenly at the end of a perfect pregnancy anything can happen. Doctors refer to Conor’s death as like an accident meaning it could happen out of the blue to anyone. I think of it more like a lightning strike.  Accidents can and do happen and lightning can strike twice.

Since Conor’s death I have become more acutely aware of health issues in both me and my loved ones. In the space of a year I buried my son and my dear dad. I do not want to lose anyone else and I don’t want people to lose me. I am one of 5 mothers I know who in the weeks after our babies’ deaths were investigated for breast cancer. Fortunately we all got the all clear. Our breasts were probably just reacting to our bodies no longer being pregnant. We had each responded to all the new lumps and bumps with a heightened state of anxiety. I know of two dads who were investigated for possible heart attacks. Thankfully they too were fine. I have not become a hypercondriac but I take any new signs or symptoms seriously because I now know that the worst CAN happen. Once I start to worry it is only someone in a medical role who can reassure me that all is fine. Being told to stop worrying by well wishers only adds fuel to my anxieties.

Friends of mine who have had pregnancies after the loss of a child have experienced  huge anxiety. They too know that the worst CAN happen. People congratulate them and tell them to stop worrying as this pregnancy will be fine. They know that there are no guarantees. People talk about the odds of something happening again. They gain no comfort in odds knowing that someone has to be the one in however many.  Every trip to the maternity hospital takes them back to their bad news day. Thankfully maternity hospitals don’t just unhelpfully tell them to stop worrying but recognise their anxieties and their extra need for reassurance.


I hope that one day my worries will lessen. I hope that one day I’ll stop visualising the police knocking on my door any day Conor’s Daddy is late home. In the meantime I’m finding ways to give my poor anxious mind a break for a while. I am trying meditation (I’m still a bit of a cynical novice) and gentle distraction (reading and of course baking). Now where’s my next recipe…..

*Top Tips

This is the recipe I used. I spotted a link to it over Christmas. I think it works well all year round. It’s already very sweet so don’t even think about swapping dark chocolate for milk chocolate.



Mother’s Day

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in Ireland and the UK. It’s a celebration of Motherhood but has become another survival day in the calendar for the bereaved. This year I’ve been receiving reminders of the day everywhere. The baking pages I follow on social media have features on cakes. The hotels I’ve stayed at have emailed overnight deals. I can’t walk down the high street without witnessing floral window displays. I’ve sent my mother a generic card with my own message because I could not bring myself to shop for a Mother’s Day card.

Mother’s Day is another trigger in a world of “what should be”. There should be a one year old leaving inky fingerprints on a card bought by his Daddy. There should be hugs and kisses. Instead there are empty arms and broken hearts. This is our second Mother’s Day since Conor died and it already feels more of a challenge than last year. The loss of a child is for life and the triggers continue to hurt.

Recently someone told me she knows a mother who also lost a baby at term due to a sudden stillbirth. She said it’s this mother’s second child. She then said it would be worse for her as having another child she knows what she’s lost. This comment has offended and upset me deeply. The loss of any child is huge, whether it’s the couple’s first, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. Those of us who have lost our first child don’t need to have experienced raising another child to know what we’re missing. Our empty arms ache for the child we once carried. We also grieve our dreams of parenthood. None of us know if we’ll ever get the chance to parent a live child.

I made these lemon cupcakes for friends of mine. They loved the lemon butter icing. It’s made by simply mixing lemon juice with butter and icing sugar. I really loved doing the finishing touches to make the cakes look pretty. I’d like to dedicate these floral cakes to all bereaved mothers this Mother’s Day but especially to all those who know my empty arms. We are still mothers and our role is worthy of being celebrated too. Bon appetite….


Just Conor

After months of writing about Conor it feels right to introduce you to my amazing son…


Every parent thinks their baby is the most beautiful but “Beautiful” is the word most use when I show people my favourite photo of Conor. He had an absolutely beautiful little face. His profile was identical to his Daddy’s. I can still picture Conor as I watch his Daddy sleep. Here is Conor in the first baby grow ever bought for him after his 20 week scan. He was affectionately known as Junior during his 41 weeks and this is written on his clothes and hat. (The hat which is 3 sizes too big for him!) Conor had a most perfect little body and the softest hands. Sadly we’ll never know what colour eyes he had. This photo was taken during the short time we had to say both hello and goodbye to Conor.

I miss my little boy and the life he should be having so much. My empty arms ache for him. He is the first person I think about as I wake up and the last as I go to sleep. This photo is the face I see in my thoughts. Part of me died with Conor and I miss that person too. Somehow after Conor died the rest of me kept breathing. As time goes on it is getting easier to live my new life. The sadness never goes away though.

However it is Conor’s little life and not just his death that has changed me. I have a discovered a courage and a voice I never knew I had. It is something I have observed in parents of living children who would do anything for their children. My new voice will do anything to keep the memory of Conor and others who are sadly no longer with us (my dear Dad), alive. They can live on forever in our hearts and minds. I believe it can be Conor’s life’s legacy that one by one the bereaved will find their voices.

To my fellow cake lovers, Cakes will return next post. There are lemon cupcakes and a chocolate log to be written about.


The Adventures of Christmas Conor

Conor’s Daddy and I are just back from spending Christmas in Budapest. Exploring the sights (and of course tastes) of the city helped us to get through a Christmas that should have been so different. We brought with us candles which we lit to remember Conor, his Grandad John, Conor’s little pals and all those missing from our homes. We also brought our “Christmas Conor” decoration and he ended up on a great big adventure.

There were no cakes baked for Conor this Christmas. There were however a whole new set of Hungarian treats to be tasted. This Chimney Cake was our favourite…


The Chimney Cake was sold at market stalls.  Its a sweet yeast bread.  The dough (similar to brioche) is shaped into a long strip and wound around a spindle and cooked over charcoal.  It’s a bit like a BBQ. The cake is coated in sugar and melted butter while cooking.  Once cooked you can pick a flavour to dip it in.  We picked coconut. It’s eaten freshly baked and is delicious.

Budapest is an intriguing city.  It has such a significant recent history.  It regained independence only after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.  While learning about its history it struck me that our generation in Hungary is the first in a long time to know only freedom as adults.  Their children’s generation will have choices and opportunities that their grandparents could only dream about. It’s something those of us in the west have taken for granted.

In my old life I attended a talk by a bereaved mother whose young son had died many years before.  I have never forgotten her describing how difficult she found what would have been his 18th birthday.  Up until this point she had pictured him in a uniform attending their local school.  Once she reached what should have been his adulthood she had no idea how to picture what he would have been doing.

This trip to Budapest and taking pictures of Christmas Conor’s adventures has me wondering what Conor would have become and what choices he would have made…

I enjoyed talking the photos of Christmas Conor’s adventures. They provided a welcome distraction from the grief that followed us over to Budapest.  We nearly lost Christmas Conor in the castle moat and like every good mother I rescued him, spat on a tissue and cleaned him up! I now have 17 years to get used to the idea that I will never know what Conor would have or could have been. I know that what’s more important than any career or achievements, would have been that he was happy and loved.

Santa doesn’t stop here…

Food is so closely associated with this time of year. Christmas is a multi sensory event filled with unique sights, sounds, tastes and smells.  Last year I made the stained glass star biscuits featured on the top of all of these pages. I wanted to try out my new star cutters and I wanted to bring Conor’s stars to the Christmas table. I even left one of the biscuits on Conor’s grave. The biscuits were easy to make and the cinnamon scent from the oven was amazing.   After rolling the biscuit dough you cut out a centre shape. In this hole you place crushed hard boiled sweets. As the biscuits bake, the crushed sweets melt to fill the hole. (See Top Tips below for the recipe) This year I’ve been looking at recipes but I don’t have the motivation to bring them to life. Sorry Conor, there’ll be no biscuits left for your birds or foxes to devour.

I think most people can appreciate the impact on our family of the empty chair that my dear dad should be occupying this year. I am sure there will be lots of toasts raised in memory of my dear dad at various Christmas dinners. There will be stories shared and healing will take place.  The loss of a baby is so different. We have no stories of Conor at Christmas to share with family. We grieve not for what we once had but for what we imagined we’d have. In my imagination there’s a one year old boy opening his present of a toy garage. There’s a proud Daddy taking photos and stealing all the chocolates from his son’s selection box. It hurts so much knowing the reality of Christmas is so different to the one in my imagination. The magic of Christmas left our lives on bad news day.

There is such a pressure to feel joy and happiness at this time and there is no escaping all the reminders. Our neighbours have had houses decorated since November. There are ads on the TV and on the side of buses. There are office parties and the exchange of cards and gifts. All the twinkly lights and jingle bells remind me of the Christmas of my imagination when the reality is so different. While the Christmas sights and sounds do not sting as much this year, I do not feel any festive cheer. I feel only sadness for what should be.

With all this in mind what do we, the bereaved do at Christmas? There is only one way for us to get through Christmas- that’s by doing what feels right for us at any given time. We need to take care of ourselves and our broken hearts. I now know a number of bereaved parents. Some plan to  stay with their families as they do not want to be alone in an empty house. Others are seeking out the empty house and hibernating until January. Some are heading away to escape the reminders of what should be. Many are doing a combination of all these options. Other parents I know are having to put on an act to give their surviving children some Christmas magic. All the parents I know are looking forward to January when feeling blue is the norm. Christmas is a holiday to survive as a bereaved parent. We know from all those parents who have gone before us that we will make it through. We also know we are not alone and that there are others feeling just like us.

We ask that you respect the decisions the bereaved make this Christmas. We are getting good at surviving so we must be doing something right! Do not be afraid of our tears. Do not be afraid to cry too. You do not need to stay strong for us. We know how exhausting that brave face can be. Raise a toast or light a candle for all those who both did and should occupy empty chairs. However, the greatest gift you can give to me, a bereaved parent is to remember our child.  I know you have no stories to share of Conor at your Christmas table but you can tell us you have thought of our little boy who should be leaving sticky finger prints on your walls.

I will leave you with Conor’s tree. It is decorated with gifts sent by some very thoughtful people in our lives. There’s a globe to represent all those countries Conor did not get to explore and there are plenty of stars…


I would like to wish all the readers of Cakes for Conor a peaceful Christmas. I hope you will be surrounded with love, kindness and tasty bakes.

Love from Conor’s Mummy x

*Top Tips

Here’s the recipe:

After a number of trials with different hard boiled sweets, I found “Fox’s glacier fruits” gave the best results. You could see the different coloured centres better with these sweets.

Being Grateful

I’m always on the hunt for new delicious recipes that are quick to make and contain few ingredients. This plum tarte tatin ticks all the boxes. There are only 4 ingredients; sugar, plums, marzipan and ready to roll puff pastry. The items are layered with fruit and sugar on the bottom, marzipan in the middle and puff pastry on the top. It was ready to go in the oven in about 10 mins (see recipe in Top Tips below). This was my first time making a tarte tatin. I was always wary of cooking this upside down tart. It requires a leap of faith as you flip the tarte onto a plate after cooking. I think the marzipan really added a special flavour. I served ours with coconut yogurt but it would be equally nice with cream or ice cream.


This tarte was the dessert for a dinner cooked to say thank you to the two very special ladies with whom I share an office. The three of us share a pokey space not much bigger than a cupboard. These two ladies are always on hand with tissues, chocolate, tea and hugs. They have covered for me on my bad days. On the good days we share our love of books and dating stories. Our little office has become a sanctuary in my chaotic life.

This week Thanksgiving will be celebrated by families across the United States. I like the idea of a holiday focused on giving thanks but I had never given it my attention until now.  Looking back at my old life I wish I had spent more time appreciating what I had and actively feeling grateful. A few Christmases ago Conor’s Daddy bought me a Thank You book. It’s a beautiful book published by the Irish Hospice Foundation.  The preface to the book states that the practice of gratitude enhances mental health and emotional stability. It states that gratitude can be learned – the more we express it, the more we experience it. The book contains expressions of Thanks from various Irish  writers and celebrities. It has plenty of pages for adding your own expressions of Thanks. I am ashamed to say that it has taken me until now to write in it.


Gratitude while grieving has not come easily to me. It’s hard to feel grateful for what you have when what you most want is lost forever.  Following the death of a loved one there is a real need for the rest of society to point out positives. There have been many occasions since Conor died that I have been told “At least you have a good husband” or “at least you have your health”. There is no space for “At Least” in grief. What was so wrong with me wanting a good husband AND my little boy? What good was my health when I would have given my life to save Conor’s?  I know it is well meaning but pointing out my positives only angers me. These “At Leasts” are typically uttered by those with both husbands AND living children!!

Gratitude needs to come from within. On bad days I have found there is no room for gratitude. On bad days it’s ok to simply miss what is lost. On good days I can now see the positives (including my husband and health!) Conor’s Daddy and I have started writing in the Thank You book. Before we go to bed we reflect on the day. We are hoping to learn how to be more grateful. It is early days but so far I am enjoying this routine. Knowing I will be writing in the book, I am more aware of the positive moments in my day.  Being grateful will not take away any of the sadness we feel since Conor’s sudden death. However, I hope that being grateful will help make our new life a better place.

I am grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to read our story – especially those of you who are not bereaved parents but want to support people who are. I only wish there was a way I could thank each of you in person with a slice of tarte tatin.

*Top Tip

This recipe is once again from my hero Mary Berry. Give it a try…

Going round in circles

Here are some biscuits I made for my sister ‘s recent visit. The “bite-sized pinwheel snacks” are from Lorraine Pascale’s “lighter way to bake book”. I thoroughly recommend Lorraine’s books and recipes. This book uses regular ingredients to make familiar bakes. Lorraine has tweaked the recipes to make them a bit lighter. I regularly bake her bread which uses skimmed milk in place of buttermilk. These biscuits contain all the butter and sugar you would expect in a biscuit but are made bite-sized instead. The recipe requires precision. You need to measure out two rectangles onto parchment paper before rolling out both the vanilla and chocolate dough to fit the rectangles. The two rectangles are placed one on top of the other before being rolled up, sliced and baked. They were delicious. While they are lighter than the average biscuit the temptation is there to have a 2nd and a 3rd!


It’s now over a year since I have been sharing my life with grief. I look at how far we have travelled together and I feel proud. This journey isn’t linear though and at the moment I feel stuck in a bit of a vicious circle. It’s like I am on an old fashioned merry-go-round and there seems to be no sign of it stopping.

There is a constant battle between my brain (my thoughts) and my heart (my feelings). My brain seems to be adapting to my new life better than my heart. My brain can see the positives in life while my heart struggles with the idea that life SHOULD be so different. I don’t  seem to be able to experience one without the other. The word SHOULD is never far away…

  • This week I received a lovely postcard that made me cry. My head was delighted that the sender had taken the time to write to us on holiday. My heart knew that the postcard SHOULD have been addressed to three people.
  • I recently heard about a friend having a new baby. While my head is so relieved to hear that this baby arrived safely, my heart knows this SHOULD have been us too.
  • Conversations about Christmas have started in work. My head allows these to take place. My heart however removes me from them knowing our Christmas SHOULD be so different.
  • Yesterday I visited the Christmas department of a local shop. My brain is delighted with my Christmas lights spelling out Conor’s name. My heart knew I SHOULD have been in the toys section buying santa gifts.


This word SHOULD has me stuck. It stops me from sharing others’ joy. It can leave me feeling lonely and isolated. I have been trying to ignore the word SHOULD but it seems to be getting bigger. It’s now time to try a new approach. I have heard the phrase “Its okay not to be okay” so many times as a bereaved parent. The more time that passes since Conor’s death, the more this phrase makes sense to me.  However, the more time that passes, the more I feel a pressure to have moved on. I feel this pressure from others who are waiting for the old me to return but I also put pressure on myself. I need to remind myself that it’s okay for me to still feel consumed by my sadness. It’s okay for me to miss my little boy and the life he SHOULD be having more than anything. I know I am no where near accepting Conor’s death and that’s okay too. I hope that someday my brain and heart will cease battle and enter into a supportive partnership like the vanilla and chocolate in these biscuits. In the meantime I simply need to stay on my merry-go-round, hold on tight and look up at the stars.


This post has been written in reverse. Usually the bake comes first and is followed by my words. Often the bake prompts a thought or theme that I want to explore. This time I found myself wanting to write about Halloween. Yet, no post would be complete without a bake. Yesterday I found myself with 90 minutes spare before meeting a group of bereaved mothers (willing cake eaters) at our craft class. This was more than enough time to mix, bake, decorate & clean up (my least favourite step).  I followed the simple all in one Fairy Cake recipe (see “light up for love” post) and using black & white icing I decorated ghosts & witches hats….


I am now uncomfortable with some elements of Halloween. Since Conor died I view Halloween with new eyes. I find some aspects insensitive. I grew up in London at a time when Halloween was overshadowed by the fireworks associated with bonfire night taking place just five days later. I remember making witches hats out of black card in school and once raided my mother’s white sheets to make a ghost costume. Halloween was little more than that. I have spent my adult years living in Ireland where Halloween is so much more and I have witnessed it become a bigger and bigger spectacle. I have neighbours who turn their homes into spooky grottos. Some gardens look like horror movie sets.

The parts of Halloween I now struggle with are the joke coffins and gravestones. Gravestones are an unwanted reality for the bereaved and are no joking matter. I never imagined that at the time I should have been buying blue 0-3m clothing I was shopping for my son’s gravestone. Who knew there was so much choice. We found ourselves browsing other graveyards, admiring shapes, size, wording, colours, materials etc. We walked around Conor’s graveyard armed with a measuring tape so his gravestone would sit well alongside the others. Just five weeks after Conor’s death we found ourselves in a cave on Valentia Island, Co Kerry picking out a piece of slate for our son’s headstone. We sat down with the stonemason and designed the gravestone Conor will eventually share with his parents. It was a most surreal experience. Having spent happy childhood summers in Co Kerry it was important for me to bring a piece of beautiful Co Kerry to Conor’s resting place…


The artificial world of Halloween decorations also reminds me of the challenge many of my new friends face trying to support their surviving children following their babies’s deaths. These siblings have an innocence that is lost forever. They live with the knowledge that anyone can die. I have a friend whose young children regularly visit Conor’s grave. Their baby sister is buried in the same graveyard. They notice any new items (including a new windmill bought by Conor’s Daddy) left on the grave and they show Conor their new toys. They know me as “Conor’s Mummy” which makes me smile. I can only imagine their confusion as plastic headstones and coffins come and go from their neighbours gardens. Death and gravestones are an ever present reality in their lives.

I don’t wish to cancel Halloween. I love seeing all the carved pumpkins. I am nostalgic for witches hats and white sheets. I am happy to see black cats and spiderwebs. I just wish it would stop there. There is no need for artificial coffins or gravestones. Leaving hospital with a baby’s coffin would be anyone’s worst nightmare. The sad fact is that for one family nearly every day in Ireland, this horror story is our cruel reality.

*Top Tips.

It was a last minute decision to bake these fairy cakes. My butter and eggs were straight from the fridge when the recipe asked for softened butter & eggs at room temperature. I gave the butter a 7 second blast in the microwave (do not allow to melt).  I read recently to place eggs in a bowl of warm water to quickly bring to room temperature. Happy Halloween baking.

Light up for love

This is one of the fairy cakes I made with my little niece this weekend. We used a piping bag for the icing and she loved squeezing the gooey pink icing out of the bag. After piping the heart shape she exclaimed “I love hearts”. Her enthusiasm for this simple recipe was infectious.  It was a bittersweet moment. The thought that I should be doing this with my son is never far away. The fairy cakes tasted as good as this one looks.


Grief is the price we pay for love.  We do not stop loving someone when they die. I haven’t stopped loving Conor or my dear Dad since their deaths. I fell in love with my baby from the moment I knew he was growing inside me. I treasured every “good morning Mummy” kick. Those 41 weeks were our time. It was love at first sight seeing Conor after delivering him silently into this world. He was shown a lifetime of love in his short life. If love was enough to save Conor, he could have lived forever but sadly love cannot stop lightning strikes. As time passes I have become less afraid of my sadness.  It is in my sadness I feel the strength of my love. My tears are simply an expression of my love.

Since Conor died I have questioned my role. I am a mother but how do I parent a child I cannot feed, bathe, dress or cuddle? What do I do with all the love I have for Conor?  Conor’s Daddy and I find other ways to show our love. Here are some of them…

  • We keep Conor’s grave looking tidy and colourful. Along with his grandparents, we keep a candle lit in his lantern. Although I haven’t quite worked out my relationship with his grave, I want his space to look loved.
  • We write Conor’s name in the sand when we visit the beach and love it when others do the same.
  • We remember Conor in cards using our ink star stamp to symbolise “our little star”.
  • I create. I have made cakes and biscuits using Conor’s star symbol. I recently made a mosaic for our garden. Making something for my son makes me feel like a good mother.
  • I tell the world about Conor in these posts. has now been read in 24 countries! (I am aiming for more so please share this post with family and friends living away.)
  • We light Conor’s candle at night. It’s a special candle given to us in thanks for fundraising. It’s made of wax but has a tea light holder on the top so you never need to burn the candle down.


October 15th is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  It is a day of remembrance for all those babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death and SIDS.  It was established by bereaved parents in the USA.  The day aims to raise awareness of the impact of infant loss on families. It acknowledges that our babies existed and will be forever loved.  The day is observed with remembrance ceremonies and candle lighting vigils. At 7pm it features a Wave of Light with candles all over the world burning for all our babies who didn’t get to stay.  Here are some of the candles burned last year by friends and family to remember Conor…


This is the first year that International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day will be officially recognised by our Irish Government. This Thursday 15th October I will be the proudest mother in Ireland. I have been asked to tell Conor’s story at a Baby Loss Awareness and Remembrance Event. There will be a room full of people in a city centre hotel listening to me speak about my Conor.  At 7pm we will pause to light our candles. This Thursday 15th October at 7pm I ask you all to light a candle for Conor and all our babies, for our love is like a light that never goes out.

*Top tip.

Once again I used a very simple all in one recipe from Mary Berry.

I followed the 10 second rule to get the icing to the correct consistency.  (You can look this up on YouTube.)  You cut through the icing with a clean knife and count to 10. If your line is still visible after 10 then the icing needs more water.  The icing is too runny if your line disappears before 10 seconds.  Give it a go. It’s the best tip I’ve found to achieve a perfect consistency for piping.

The most difficult job of all


I can’t believe I have never featured my cupcakes in Cakes for Conor. I have made two batches so far. Both were packaged nicely and given away as thank you gifts. The homemade cupcakes taste so much better than the artificial and garish shop bought ones. Having become a home baker, I no longer waste calories on shop bought cakes! I learnt how to pipe the frosting (simple butter icing) on a course at the Baking Academy of Ireland.  I shouldn’t boast but my piping was much neater than my fellow classmates. I used my fondant icing flower cutters to decorate.  I am particularly proud of these cakes and my newly acquired skill in piping.

I have recently returned to work after a longer than planned absence. There are many people telling me “it will good for me to be back at work” and “good for me to have something to do”.  While I know people are well meaning I have struggled with people (its never any other bereaved parents) telling me what they think would be good for me or telling me what I should do.  I interpret being told what I should do as a criticism of what I am doing. I wish there was a guru guiding my every move, but sadly there isn’t and so the next best thing is me. Grief is as unique as a fingerprint. No one knows more about how to live with my grief than me. No one but me knows what’s best for me. I thrive on encouragement and not criticism.

This week in work I was asked to review a job description. It contains a list of essential and desirable skills for the role. This process has got me thinking about my new life. Something people don’t realise is that while I have been out of the workplace, I have been working harder than I have ever before had to work.  I haven’t been doing nothing waiting for “something to do”. I have had to develop a range of skills for a job that’s completely different to the one I applied for.  Being a bereaved parent has to be among the toughest of all jobs. The bereaved mother doesn’t get any rewards for her sore leaking breasts, sleepless nights and a lifetime of worry. There are no smiles, giggles, cuddles or “mamas” to enjoy.  One year on I feel proud of the following skills and roles I have acquired doing a job I was totally unprepared for:

  1. Survivor. Everything changed the day Conor died and his Daddy and I had to learn to simply survive. In those early days we ate because we knew we should, not because we were hungry. The dinners may well have been witchetty grubs for all we could taste. Our home became the cave we felt afraid to leave. Clothes were simply for warmth and not fashion. Hygiene wasn’t important and there were days when I even forgot to brush my teeth. I was unable to be alone.
  2. Counsellor. Both Conor’s Daddy and I have good and bad days. We both grieve in different ways.  We have had to learn how to support each other and communicate our feelings. We try to simply listen to each other and be present. I also use these counselling skills when talking to my new “colleagues” ; all the other bereaved parents I now know.
  3. Researcher. I have read and re-read stories of survival and theories about grief. For a long time I was searching for a way to rid myself of all my sadness. I thought by learning as much as I could about grief I could somehow find a shortcut to “getting over it”. I’ve come to realise that there is no shortcut. With time I’m coming to terms with the idea that I’ll never get over it and nor do I want to. I will never stop loving Conor and so I’ll never “get over” his death.
  4. Teacher. Sadly, baby loss is still a taboo subject in society. This year I have experienced the loss of both my dear Dad and son. There is no taboo in the death of a father whose long (ish) life can be celebrated. Many people knew my father and mention him with ease. I feel healing in the sharing of stories about his life and what he meant to people.  Many of these same people do not know how to mention my son. The lack of shared stories makes grieving for my son more complicated. I have found myself having to educate people. I teach the message that I want people to mention Conor. I want him remembered and his short life acknowledged.
  5. Diplomat. There have been times in this past year when I have felt angered by people who say hurtful things. While the old me was a pacifist, the new me is quick to anger and has skin as thin as filo pastry. This isn’t a peaceful combination. I am having to learn when to take something on and when its best to walk away.
  6. Storyteller. In my role as a researcher I read that healing comes with telling your story. Telling Conor’s story has been my privilege. It is my favourite part of my new job.
  7. Nurse. Sadly my dear Dad became seriously ill during the past year. He died peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family who each took on different roles in his care.  I took on being his nurse. I’ve also had to learn a whole medical vocabulary associated with baby loss. I never anticipated having to read and understand an autopsy report for my own child. For all the medical content, it may as well have read “lightning strike”.
  8. Builder. I am having to rebuild my life which has changed beyond recognition since Conor died. Unfortunately there are no self assembly instructions. The process is trial and error and is much slower than anticipated.
  9. Baker. Ours is now a house that smells of fresh bread. Enough said.

Acquiring these skills has taken up so much energy.  I am now having to dig deep to find the energy for the workplace and so far I am managing to do this.  I know I have been so busy surviving that I haven’t been able to be the best sister, daughter, friend, niece, auntie, godmother, cousin and in-law I can be. However, please remember, I am working hard and doing my very best.

*Top Tips

There are loads of recipes online for cupcakes. YouTube has lots of clips explaining how to pipe frosting. Give them a go….

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