T11 was born just 9 months and three weeks before his twin sisters. After a very dangerous time giving birth to L naturally and C by emergency caesarean, amounting to no blood pressure or pulse at times for me and four blood transfusions, I discharged myself just two days later to be at home with three babies under the age of one. In retrospect I was not well enough to be at home, but at the time all I could think of was being reunited with my little baby son. T, at 9 months, was far too young to understand why his mummy, who he had been with 24 hours a day, was now no longer at home. It probably affected me more than him, but the yearning to be with him was far stronger than the sense to stay in hospital and recover, so after checking the twins were given the all clear to go home, I left the hospital having signed my own discharge.
I coped, but barely. I was anaemic and had a nasty uterine infection. It was a matter of getting through each hour, rather than each day. Gary was working two jobs as a deputy head green keeper and also as an assessor. We were both exhausted! My wonderful mum came every morning to help me bring my babies downstairs, as I had no means to leave T safely in the living room as I fetched the twins from upstairs. My dad popped by each day to take all three babies out for a walk in our three seater pushchair, so I could spend time resting. Friends rallied round and cooked for us in those early days at home.
Nik, my closest friend, pulled out all stops for our new little family. She picked up early on that I was simply not myself and she came round everyday after work (she taught at a local school). Every day. She walked in the door, threw off her coat, rolled up her sleeves and helped me feed them, bath them and did anything else I needed help with. I don’t think she will ever know how much that help meant to me, how important it was at a time when I felt the walls closing in.
That Christmas, when T was almost 1 and the girls just two months old, Nik brought round their Christmas present. It was three Christmas angels. One had ginger hair just like T. These three angels served as a reminder of how God had been watching over both me and C11. How, medically we both should have died (we’re not sure how long C went without oxygen, but the doctors could not believe she had lived and thrived the instant she was born), and yet He performed a miracle that day. Each time I put these angels on my Christmas tree, I am reminded once again about the fragility of life and the sheer power of a God I adore:
Every year since then, we have bought a Christmas tree decoration for each of the children. None have been as special as those first angels, but all have had much thought and love put into them. The aim was for the children to take them to their own homes and to hang them on their own tree. To remember each wonderful Christmas we were blessed with together.
Each year the decorations are different, and reflect the stage we are going through in our life at that time.
During the busy years when the three older ones were babies we bought them their decorations:
During our years in Ireland, when things were a little less overwhelming and busy, but money was short, I made their decorations from last year’s pyjamas and some ribbon I had:
One year we made our own from apple sauce and cinnamon (something we have done each year since):
The year I was pregnant with B2, we bought some beautiful carved decorations, depicting the Christmas story:
And the last two years we allowed the children to choose their own (we chose B’s!):
This year, again, will be different. At the charity Christmas fair I bought some hand made bags for 10p each. Gary and I have been discussing a verse of scripture we want to give the children as our prayer for them for the coming year. This I hand wrote onto a piece of paper and rolled up into a scroll and tied with a scrap of material. I also bought five heart shaped Thornton’s Chocolates, one for each child, wrapped in a gorgeous rosy coloured foil. These have been packaged up and will be given to them this Saturday, our official decorating day:
It is a simple, inexpensive tradition, started by someone special who was a true friend to me in every sense of the word. For when I was at my weakest and most ugly, she loved me all the more.