Supporting children through literature after the loss of their sibling

Toni Watson 

Supporting children through literature after the loss of their sibling    


My Blog

My first Rainbow Baby

Posted by Toni on January 6, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (1)

When I heard the cries of my rainbow baby as she entered this world, the overwhelming emotions of relief, joy, love and disbelief swept over me like a tonne of bricks. In 2005, after experiencing 4 years of grief and loss through losing 7 babies, I held a baby girl who was breathing, who was healthy, who was coming home with me.

As I headed to the hospital's elevator to leave, it literally felt like I was stealing her. It was incredibly surreal. I just couldn't believe she was actually mine. She was my 8th baby, but my very first to keep.

Isabella Ashlyn Tattis is my rock, my rainbow, my hope, my joy, my song in life. She pulled me out of the depths of despair 15 months after losing Jacinta & Madelin. She pulled me out of years of depression from multiple loss and gave me hope when I was grasping at any kind of light in my day. I needed her possibly more than she ever needed me, especially when I separated from her father 2 years after she was born.

Almost 8 years on, I still know how blessed I am to have her. What a true miracle she was and is. I feel it through every breath I take, through the moments of sadness for my babies in heaven, through her achievements at and outside of school, through supporting many grieving families through Bears Of Hope, through the daily cuddles I have with her and through her just being here for me to mother. How lucky I am to have such a bright, happy young girl who makes me so proud every single day to be her mother.

I can openly say she saved me from a path I no longer wanted to follow. I was on autopilot for years trying to live a life that seemed so foreign to me. I just couldn't find my place in it. I didnt feel as though there was a true connection to reality as so much of me had died too. I felt like a total failure to myself and to my husband. All I wanted to be was a mother to a baby here on earth who I could love, nurture and watch achieve all their milestones in life. Isabella gave me the strength and the desire to live again and for that I am forever grateful.

Raising a strong headed, smart, assertive young girl, especially as a single mother, has had it's challenges over the past few years but I wouldn't change it for the world. She's a child who challenges ideas, issues and boundaries in life, as to ascertain her place in it. A child who marks her place, certainly challenges mine but I love that!

Over the years, I have become conscious of the amount of protection and worry I have for her. Anxiety has surfaced with a strong fear of losing my only child. I do my best to raise an independent girl and not allow her to see my anxiety. It's hard to keep everything in perspective at times, it's very hard to control it. I still double check on her before I go to bed to make sure she is breathing and comfortable. A mother's love for her rainbow baby is indescribable.

I have always worried about the impact of her dad and I separating on her self esteem, her confidence and her ability to live between two homes with 2 sets of everything. It's not the family life I ever planned for her, or for that matter, even myself. I have strong family values, having been raised within a tight-knit family. Separating from her dad of 15 years went against everything I had dreamt about and knew of, even though we were strugggling (after years of loss) to find our way together again once Isabella arrived. In the end, the decision was made for me and I did what was best for my daughter and I.

Even though there are now different challenges in life due to these circumstances, I have witnessed a beautiful, young girl grow to be a confident performer, a joker, who loves going to school, thrives on her sports (especially cheerleading) and who has a lovely group of friends. Her kindness, zest for life and beautiful smile are so heartwarming to experience. Her drawings since preschool age have always bright and positive including drawings of her family and her sisters in heaven. As a mum, I can proudly say I have done alright considering. She's so beautiful in and out and I am just so lucky!

If someone had told me at the age of 25 before starting my family, that I would lose 7 bubs ( two of which would die in my arms) to finally get my rainbow baby, I possibly would have not gone through with it. I wouldn't believe I had the strength to face such traumatic circumstances over and over again for the constant fight for the relief of a grieving heart was almost too much to bear.

But, for some reason that was the plan for me. That was what I had to endure. Somehow I kept my dream alive and got back up each time I was crushed into a million pieces. Those pieces never quite fit back together again but has formed the person I am today I am so thankful that I did find a way to put one foot in front of the other and learn to live with the absolute agony and heartache of multiple loss, as I would never know the miracle of having a rainbow baby.

I received a little note by the side of my bed one morning and it read:

"I don't love you mum, I love you more than love".

I would do it all again, just for this.

Risky business

Posted by Toni on November 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)

My life has been quite hectic lately between Bears Of Hope, afternoon sports, book purchases, appointments and family commitments. But the one thing taking up alot of time in my thoughts, dreams and everyday life is where are we going to live?

The house that I have rented for 5 years, since I separated from my ex-husband, has gone up for sale. My security blanket has shifted and this has made me a little more anxious than my pregnancy. Waz, my fiance, and I had been hoping for another 12 months in this house, especially with the impending arrival of our baby next June however, right now, my living circumstances could go either way. And that makes me very nervous.

I don't do so well when I'm not in control of a situation. I had always been well organised, a perfectionist, a planner and like to think things through slowly and meticulously. I don't know how much time I have. I feel like I now need to take the bull by its horns, take control so that I'm not caught off guard when that sold sign goes up. But to build or buy is a decision taking its toll.

I used to be alot of things before I began losing my babies in 2001. Confident, independent, an over-achiever. Saying goodbye to each of my babies and living with depression stripped me bare. Thankfully over the past few years, and since meeting Waz in particular, I have begun to tap into the old Toni, rebuild my inner confident self and I am now blossoming. Those petals are as bright as they have ever been and my roots as strong as steel, which I'm sure will be the strength to face what ever comes my way.

The worry of where I am going to live has been an absolute torment with a tiring 4 hours of sleep a night. My anxiety is somewhat elevated. It's not something I had planned for or even wanted, whilst expecting this baby. But one thing I have learned in life is that you have to expect the unexpected and go with what you are presented with. Don't fight it. Everything happens for a reason.... and I know this doesn't sit with some people (it didn't when I had just lost each of my babies) But I am a strong believer of this now.

My life didn't turn out the way I planned it. A far cry from it. So I guess whilst my life is still unravelling, I should take control of what I can, face and create the best out of the fear and anxiety. Who knows what brighter future this will bring to my family. Who knows what I will learn out of plunging in and taking a chance. A risk taker I am not...but perhaps it's time to be.