On Tuesday I could hear police sirens and a Helicopter outside our house so I went upstairs to look out my bedroom window and the Coastguard was flying very low in over the beach in front of us.
It was one of the hottest days of the year so generally and from past experience when you hear and see that it is never a good sign. My heart sank a little and I was hoping possibly it was training but we found out later that a 5 year old girl drifted out to sea on a inflatable lilo. Thankfully she was as saved and she is fine but it could have been worse and of course news like that would scare any parent.
We get thousands of visitors to our beautiful long sandy beach in Portmarnock every summer and particularly on the warmer days it is extremely crowded and things happen, children get lost and people get into difficulties in the water.
So I thought I’d do up a little post that might help people who are unfamiliar with beach safety. We do get so many visitors who come from all over the country wanting to enjoy a family day out and to cool down by the sea, everyone expects their day to be a happy and safe one to end well.
I got in touch with Irish Water Safety and the RNLI this week and they kindly sent me some very valuable information to pass on to you all in regards to beach safety, they have a very handy leaflet with fantastic information that I hope you would please read.
Below are also my tips to ensure a happy and safe, memorable day at the beach.
1. Stay close to the Lifeguard Huts
2. Ensure to stay in between the Lifeguards designated flags as these are the areas they patrol and watch only.
3. Check the flags they have out to see if it is safe to swim ie Red means do not swim. If you are unsure ask the Lifeguards.
4. Swim within your depth and stay within your depth. There can be hidden depths, strong currents and riptides so please be aware of these.
5. It goes without saying but Adults stay sober! Alcohol is a factor in 1/3 of drownings in Ireland. If you are responsible for the safety of young children do not consume any alcohol,
6. Dress your child in bright colors and remember what they are wearing.
7. Write your number on your wrist or better still buy reusable waterproof wristbands and put your name and number on them. I bought ours on Ali Express for €1. Below are the exact ones I got for our kids.
8. Explain clearly to your child what the wristband is for, show them where you are situated on the beach and have a pin point for them (ie we are beside the steps or the lifeguard hut) and reiterate to them how important it is they do not wander off, under any circumstances.
9. Do not bring or use any inflatables such a lilos and small dinghy’s to the beach, other then armbands, ideally life jackets or vests are best. I can’t stress enough how dangerous these blow up toys are. A gust of wind can topple them, you and/or your child over, drag you out to sea or cause suffocation. Prevention is better then cure and these are not lifesaving devices in any shape or form.
10. If your child goes missing check your surroundings and area calmly. Do not leave other children unattended. Inform the Lifeguards on duty and keep them updated. Once your child has been located, inform every who is searching also.
On a lighter note, when planning a day trip to the beach here’s a few tips on what to bring
1. Sand toys (such as buckets and spades/ frisbees)
3. A picnic cooler with sambos, snacks and drinks.
4. Beach tent
5. Beach towels and a large blanket
5. Change of clothes for you and kids
6. Baby powder if you have it is great for removing wet sand!
And very important too is to leave the beach exactly as you found it, leave no trace of you being there! Bring a rubbish bag and take your stuff home with you or place it in the public bins at the beach. I’ve seen our beach left in a terrible state almost daily in the summer. It’s so disheartening. Amongst the rubbish are many Plastic sand toys being left on the beach to be washed out to sea which destroys sea life is detrimental to our environment.
Now lets all hit the beach and enjoy safe and family fun day out this summer that you and your family will remember forever!!
I visited Zaton funnily enough 12 years ago, randomly my friend from NYC’s family are Croatian and are from Zaton so when we moved home from NYC 12 years ago we flew out to Croatia a few weeks later and did a mini coastal tour from Pula in the North down South to the Zadar region (Zaton) where we stayed in their home in Zaton for a few days. Its pretty vague and hazy now as we had no kids then so we spent drink fuelled nights in the city of Zadar and hazy lazy days down by the resort and beach in Zaton.
Anyway that’s not why you are reading this particular post today, ya’ll want hints, tips and tricks and to hear my feedback on the resort and area.
Ok so I’m going to write this in the format I wrote our Barbados post as it got great feedback. I’m going to use bullet points and then go into more info on restaurants, sightseeing etc.
Ryanair fly direct from Dublin airport to Zadar 3 days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The flight time is only 2hrs and 40 mins so its the exact same flight time as flying to the South of Spain.
Zaton resort is under a 30 minute drive from the airport.
You can rent a car, taxi or pre order an airport transfer with Sun Transfers or download the Uber app to your phone and order through them.
The currency in Croatia is the Kuna (they don’t use Euro) and as of June 2019 the rate is EUR 1 = HRK 7.40
Arriving at Zaton resort
As you enter the resort you will see the apartments area to your left, you will drive down a long enough road towards the campsite. There are 2 receptions, to the left is the Apartments reception and straight ahead is the campsite reception. On the left were the apartments reception is is the little onsite village with all the shops, bakery, restaurants etc and once you reach the end you are on the beach, to the left of there is the walkway to the swimming complex.
Apartment area map
Towards the campsite reception is the large onsite supermarket. It is really well stocked I must say and has pretty much everything you need while in the resort, it even has it’s own deli counter with cold meats and cheeses.
If you have booked your mobile home, camping or camper van space directly through the Zaton resort then you go into the main campsite reception building.
If you have booked through a 3rd party ie Allcamps.ie/Eurocamps etc you go a few steps past that to a tented area for check in. We arrived at around midday to find out our check in area was closed and did not open until 6pm but there was an number you could call and within a few minutes someone was there to give us the key to our mobile home and we were asked to come back at 6pm to check in properly.
Before I go into the resort info in detail I would definitely return to Zaton but I would stay in the apartments next time, they were closer to the pool complex, beach and resort facilities. Our mobile home while it was lovely was at the very top of the campsite and had we no car hire would have been a nightmare for me as I was 24 weeks pregnant and suffering with pelvic pain so walking far is not an option for me. The walk would normally be about 20 minutes from our mobile home to the resort facilities. there are bike rentals available on site too. The apartments would literally have it all on your doorstep and anyone I spoke to staying in them raved about them.
I’d never, as an adult, stayed in a mobile home and campsite before, so ill be honest I was a bit shocked when I arrived in our mobile home and had to make up all the beds etc and make the mobile home liveable for our 9 days stay. So another reason why id chose the apartments, they are more serviced then the mobile homes.
The pool areas are absolutely amazing in the resort, they are spaced out over 3 levels – the first level is mainly for the younger babies/toddlers with a flat area where babies and toddlers can run around in between a non slip area spray park area and another shallow pool with a safe water slide for the kids (and some adults) to enjoy. The 2nd level is for a little bit older kids with very shallow pools but there were lots of slides and other such things. The 3rd level is for everyone really, its has a large pool for all the family to use and then they have lots of different hydrotherapy pools and a long pool for those who like to swim pool lengths.
Toddler wet park
Large 3rd level pool by the pool bar and restaurant
Large family pool
Kids club area
Next to the pool area is the Kids club ‘Zatonino’s’ which has an outdoor playground and an indoor classroom style area. The great thing about Zaton is the kids club does start from age 3 and they do swimming lessons for the kids from 10am some mornings. Again we were so far up the back of the resort to get up and out and ready for 10am was impossible for us so we didn’t avail of the kids club for Cadhla this time.
Also in the same area of the resort is an activity park which has outdoor softplay areas, an electric go kart area, trampolines, slides and kids bungee trampoline thingy. There’s also a mini golf park, which we did one morning and it was utter chaos with Senan, our 22 month old, he was like Happy Gilmore on it, running all over the place, into the ponds and basically trashing the place but it was a bit of craic.
Sun Loungers and umbrellas do have to be paid for at the pool bar daily. they are expensive in my opinion and do add cost to your holidays but they do prevent the towel brigaders which is actually nice and refreshing! However they are HRK 30 (€4.05) per lounge per day. So if you are getting 2 loungers and an umbrella its going you €12.15 per day! Quite a lot of families had lilo’s and spongey things and even pop up tents by the pool area so that might be a cheaper option for some, but I was heavily pregnant and we had enough stuff to carry down with us each day we just got the sun loungers!
Other facilities on site are
Bike rental (you can also rent from bike company’s in the nearby town on Non who do a drop off and collection)
Since we visited I see now in the high season they have pool parties some evenings which might suit for older kids and actual foam parties in the onsite nightclub, aswell as cultural nights, live music etc so there seems to be a lot more extra events going on in high season too.
Food and Dining
Ill be honest the food in Croatia is hit and miss, when its good its good but when its bad it’s bad. It is a lot better then what it was on my previous visit however so things are improving. as they are so close to Italy and they get a big influx of Italian tourists in Summer they do Italian food really well, particularly Pizza’s.
We are in a good few restaurants on site in Zaton resort and her are our favourites
Restaurant Kruske Jabuke – fab burgers!!
Restaurant Konoba Bepo
We ate in the new refurbished Kuzina, which is the onsite restaurant you can eat in if on half or full board. We had breakfast and lunch there on different days and ill be honest we weren’t impressed. It just wasn’t up to scratch therefore in my opinion I wouldn’t recommend going B&B, half board or full board. Go to the bakery in morning time for breakfasts and fresh bread and the mini mart for daily essentials. We made rolls and sandwiches and snacks for by the pool for the day. I brought a large cooler bag and ice coolers over with us so used it every day for lunches, snacks and drinks.
Sunset in Zadar Old Town
At the bridge into the Old town quarter of Zadar
People watching and sunset watching at the sea organ in Zadar
We ate in Zadar and Nin when we were there. The restaurants we ate in were all fabulous and there were so many restaurants in Zadar and Nin that were recommended or looked really nice.
Restaurant Zlatni Vrt
Restaurant Bruschetta (book in advance)
The tiny church of St Niklas in Nin, just outside the Zaton Campsite
The Mad Duck (unreal burgers)
There were loads of restaurants in Nin that we just didn’t get to try but they looked really well, lots of choice and its only a 5 minute drive from Zaton resort. I must say Nin is just a really pretty town to visit or walk around.
Zadar is a really beautiful city, I highly recommend a visit in there. Sunset at the Organ of the Sea in the Old Town is just a beautiful sight and walking around the old town is really lovely too. I suggest downloading Uber app before you go. I spoke to a family who the previous year paid Eur 30 each way for a taxi to Zadar but this year they used Uber and got it for Eur 16 each way.
Local foods we really enjoyed were fresh fruits especially the cherries. Croatian tomatoes are absolutely the nicest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Local olive oils and cheeses were very good too.
I did a lot of research on car hire in Zadar and from my finings I found a lot of people were charged unnecessary charges on their credit cards when they got home for minor scratches and tat seemed to the the large worldwide companies doing it not so much the local ones. From my research I found XL car hire to be very well recommended so we went with them. We brought our own car seats with us because it was between Eur 45-Eur 95 per seat to rent one! All the car companies were the same. Our car hire cost us Eur 110 for 9 days. The car hire desk for XL was just outside the door of the arrivals area of the airport. Croatia is a very easy country to get around and the road infrastructure is excellent. We took photos and videos of our car on pick up and return to avoid any issues should they have arisen.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Krka National Park
Dugi Otok Island – The boat goes from Zaton resort a few days a week
Kornati Island – The boat goes from Zaton resort a few days a week
We did a day trip to Krka National Park as it was the one that came out on top as the best to visit with the age our kids are (4 & 2) – we did it from 2 different entrances and it was very beautiful but it felt quite dangerous in parts with the buggy so I did feel uneasy in certain areas but it is very beautiful. Plus I was pregnant and couldn’t really get too far.
If you are looking for a more affordable and different style camping holiday to those of France, Spain and Italy, which are very popular with Irish holidaymakers, then I would highly recommend checking out Zaton Holiday Resort. Kids and adults are all well catered for and it has very competitive price to that of Sanguli in Spain or Eurocamps in France.
Croatia is a must see destination for anyone, it has some of the most amazing and dramatic scenery you’ll ever see, beautiful beaches and has a rich and full history for those who want to learn more about it. We will certainly be coming back here in a couple of years time, with 3 kids in tow instead of 2!
If you want to ask me anymore questions about our trip please just drop me a message here or via Instagram at Aoife.irishmumontherun
Today is May 1st and today marks the start of maternal mental health awareness month. Today also marks the half way mark of my pregnancy, I’m officially 20 weeks! Those of you who have been following my blog and social media for a while now will know this is a very anxious time for me and I’ll be honest my mental health is struggling this week, i’m anxious and on edge but I do put on my game face every day, like so many of us do cause I just have to get on with the busy day ahead. I am so positive by nature but I can’t deny that fear and nerves do come in to play in my mind.
Both my babies here on earth with me are my rainbow babies. For every successful pregnancy i’ve had, i’ve had a loss just before it. This baby, will be my first non rainbow baby. My 2nd loss, my son Oisin, was at 22 weeks in October 2016, having gotten the awful news that he had no heartbeat at our 20 week anomaly scan. I’m now at that stage of this pregnancy and through my journey in recent years I’ve come across some women, a minority but never the less, that it has happened to twice. Yes my mind is only overdrive, because you can’t underestimate what the future may hold or what’s around the corner. I only hope it’s all joy and happiness, but I just don’t know.
I did have an appointment with my Counsellor this morning and during our session we spoke about my fears in this pregnancy and stuff came out that I wasn’t even aware of consciously, that was niggling away at my subconscious. I was chatting about giving birth to Oisin and not feeling like I had the strength to go through with his birth at the time, knowing I’d be giving birth to him stillborn. However in the days leading up to his birth I had amazing support from my close girlfriends from home and my online support group, my Rollercoaster girls from Cadhla’s pregnancy, my Queens, my tribe! Each of them told me when I expressed my fears that every single one of them was gonna be in that room with me, holding my hand, sending me light and positivity. Obviously not physically present but in mind and spirit. I really and truly felt their presence that day, I didn’t feel so alone or scared. Yes, I had Bobby with me and he was all I needed physically to be present with me in the room but emotionally I needed a whole lot of other support from Women around me and in my life that I trust.
It really got me through dark times. I absolutely am truly grateful for it. But I completely burst out into tears and was sobbing at that love I had then & felt I needed just an ounce of it right now.
I’m finding now I need some emotional support right now at this present time in my pregnancy and im sure im not the only woman who feels this. But I’m genuinely afraid to ask for it because I don’t want to burden people, everyone has their own shot to deal with! I know the saying it’s ok to ask for help and maybe I should just practice what I preach and I should just say it out loud!
All women in all pregnancies have fears (and also hope and joy) and they do need support, by support I mean just checking in with them to see how they are or having a cup of coffee or going for a walk. If this is a rainbow baby for an expectant Mother she will definitely require additional support. The support you gave her when she experienced her loss, she needs that now just as much as she did back then. I can personally guarantee she is struggling at times with her mental health, her growing baby, the fear of loss again.
So if you know someone currently who is pregnant and might be struggling get in touch with them, it’ll mean the world to them to know someone is thinking of them. It can be very isolating and many isolate themselves purposely during this time because it is so hard for them to be in social situations or answer questions asked.
So check in on your sisters, cousins, friends etc and meet for a cuppa or a walk and give a big warm hug letting them know you realise this is a tough time for them and you are there for them. 💕🤗
I promised to write a travel blog post on our most recent trip to Barbados because so many of you loved how I showed such an affordable side to this beautiful island that so many rich and famous flock to for their luxury holidays.
I have been going to Barbados since the early 90’s and it is like a second home to me now. I have been a repeat visitor since falling in love with the place the second I landed on it. Hands down I can honestly say it’s one of the most amazing places ive ever been too.
I know not everyone will fall in love with it as much as I do but I think even if you get to visit the place once you will love it and you will come home with many happy lifetime memories.
So I have written this post from my perspective, from my memories and from an affordable point of view.
I’m going to try and write the rest of this post in bullet point/short format so it is easy to read and you can get the most out of my hints and tips and then ive created sections on Restaurants and bars/ Beaches/ Accommodation/Sightseeing
Map of Barbados
The island is only 21 miles x 14 miles (166 sq miles) so it is very small, but it is very over populated with a population of roughly 300,000.
Flying time from Dublin to London including layovers is roughly 14 hours, broken down to a 1 hr flight from Dublin to London Gatwick, 2/3 hour layover in London and a 8.5 hour flight from London to Barbados. Flights are anywhere between €550 – €700, they can be a lot more but I have always paid in around this price range in recent years for my flights.
Cassidy Travel also do flight and accommodation packages too so contact them if you are looking for a package rather than booking flight and accommodation separately.
I have always stayed on the South or East Coasts of the Island. The area in or around Accra Beach is where I stay, otherwise known as the Worthing/Hastings areas. It is probably one of the busiest (tourist wise) areas of the island but it’s in the thick of it that you are going to be properly mingling in with the locals and their way of life.
This area is walkable to many bars and restaurants and accessible to public transport.
There are plenty of affordable hotels and accommodations to choose from along the South Coast.
However if you want absolute luxury and to not have to leave your hotel then you want to be staying on the west coast.
A taxi from the airport to the south coast, which is a 15 minute drive should cost no more than $30 bds (Bds is Barbados dollars). Always haggle and get the taxi price from the driver before you get in any taxi.
Barbados dollars is $2 to $1 usd – ie $20 bds equals $10 usd.
You can use USD everywhere around the island but you will be given your change back in Barbados dollars.
Proper Bajan food is the best and most amazing food in the world, for this reason I never would go all-inclusive in Barbados. There are too many restaurants and places to eat that you’d be missing out on as well as missing out on the amazing people, culture and beautiful sights to be seen.
If you are on Accra Beach at about midday in the beach car park you’ll see a line of people form a Q behind a white van, this is locals and tourists queing up to get their lunch from here. OMG it is the nicest food you’ll ever have!! Go for the chicken, fish, Mac Pie and salads. Lunch costs between $13-$15 bds (around €7!). Be warned by 1pm she runs out of food and packs up to go home.
The tap water is one of the purest in the world and is perfectly safe to drink.
The West Coast of Barbados is where all the big fancy all-inclusive hotels and villas are. It is also very expensive up there so the cost of your holiday could be double what it would cost on the south coast. However a day trip up there to visit some of the beautiful beaches is a must do. Mullins Beach is one of my favourite beaches up there and there is a little beach bar there too.
Holetown is a fabulous little town on the west coast and worth a visit or a night out. Limegrove is a shopping centre up there full of designer shops and some nice little eateries and bars. Friday nights are good fun up there in or around the 2nd street area.
Barbados ‘Flyin’ Fish’ and Mac pie with macaroni salad
Restaurants and Bars to visit
Tiki Bar – http://www.tikibarbados.com/ – Beach bar at the end of Accra Beach. A must visit for some yummy sundowner cocktails and light fare such as sandwiches/Salad and burgers. They do a great happy hour on Fridays from 5pm-7pm with live music after. Ask for my friend Omar if you go and tell him his good friend Aoife sent you there!
Shakers – http://www.shakersbarbados.com/menu.html Id eat here every night but there’s so many other fab places to eat I just cant, but the food is unreal. You’ll be sitting on plastic chairs and tables but eating absolute amazing home cooked with love Bajan food. Very rarely can you rock up as a walk in so I’d recommend booking in advance.
Naru – http://www.narubarbados.com/menu My absolute favourite restaurant is Naru on the South Coast, it is along the boardwalk and is Japanese/Sushi. Do not miss it! Don’t say you don’t eat sushi, everyone eats sushi you might just not know it yet! Trust me here. Sushi is not just raw fish, I don’t particularly like raw fish but most sushi is cooked. They have all kinds of sushi here make from chicken and pork etc (their proper pork sushi is one of my favourites ever! ) Book an Oceanside table.
Selection of fresh made sushi from Naru Restaurant
McBrides – Irish bar with a good atmosphere and live music
Old Jamm Inn – Bar with live and local music
Car hire is not cheap but I use Coconut Car Rentals which is 5 minutes’ walk from Accra Beach. If you want to do a couple of days sightseeing around the island and visiting different beaches and sights I would recommend hiring a car for 2-3 days. They drive on the same side of the road as we do to. It’s very easy to navigate and get around the island too and if you get lost the locals are helpful to get your on the right path.
All beaches are public beaches and it is in their constitution that the people of Barbados own the beaches!
If on the south coast getting up and down the main coast road by bus or ZR (White hi-ace vans that serve as public transport) cost $2 bds to get your up and down the beaches along there.
One Sandy Lane Beach
South Coast beaches
West Coast Beaches
Sandy Lane Beach
East Coast –
Crane Beach – Do not leave the island without visiting this beach and resort! It’s amazing. Rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
Bottom Bay – you are not advised to swim here but it makes for the typically tropical beach postcard picture.
Hotels on the South Coast
Accra Beach Hotel – http://www.accrabeachhotel.com/default-en.html Perfect located on Accra beach this is an ideal place to stay for families with young kinds. They have a free twice daily kids club for ages from 4 upwards, if you need a break or want the kids out of the hot sun.
Ocean Two – http://www.oceantwobarbados.com/ Id absolutely love to stay here, it is such a gorgeous hotel at the end of St Lawrence’s Gap. I recommended it to some friends who have stayed here and they absolutely loved it. It’s a bit more pricey but if you can afford it do it!
Air BnBwww.airbnb.com has an absolute abundance of accommodations to choose from all over Barbados but particularly for along the South Coast. They have accommodation for all prices ranges.
Day Trips and Sightseeing
Sunset from the Blue Pineapple bar on Accra beach
Myself and Bobby watching another beautiful sunset
A fantastic half day trip I would 100% recommend going on a Catamaran cruise up along the West Coast, swimming with Turtles, Snorkelling in the reefs, swimming along An Idyllic Beach. You need to book in advance so don’t leave it to last minute and they pick you up and drop you off to and from your accommodation. It’s one of my favourite things I do when I am there. I always chose to go on Cool Runnings. You can chose the morning/lunch time cruise or the afternoon sunset cruise.
Oistin’s Fish Fry – The place to go for dinner on a Friday night if you are visiting the island. It the local fish market but it comes alive with tons of fresh food stalls and music and entertainment from the locals. Its very, very busy so be warned! but guys I’ve been here so many times and I’ve had so many misses on the food here. So if your not in the mood for a miss meal eat somewhere else before you come and then pop down and enjoy the atmosphere.
Harbour Lights on Wednesday and Friday nights. This is an outdoor beach club that comes alive on a Wednesday night. its $60 bds (€25) and all you can drink on selected drinks from 10pm to 3am. It doesn’t get going till after 10pm so don’t arrive too early! https://www.harbourlightsbarbados.com/
I wrote this piece a year ago on the anniversary of what should have been Oisìn’s 1st birthday had he been born on his due date. I read back on it today and thought I’d share it with you all.
I wrote it as part of Karen from Yankeedoodlepaddy’s guest Blogger Month of Love…
It is Day 20 of theGuest Blogger Month of LOVEand I hope you are enjoying these love stories as much as I am. Some of them have made me laugh, some have made me cry. That is when you really know something is about love, when you feel emotion. God given human emotions are a barometer. They take a temperature on life, on our soul, and today’s story is one of those that is felt deeply. Aoife Bermingham contacted me via Snapchat when I invited folks to submit love stories for this guest blogger series. When she shared what the subject of her love story would be, I was already in tears. It is such a touching tribute to the purest kind of LOVE.
Today is February 20th 2018. Had he been born on his due date he would be 1 year old today. Who is he? He is my son, Oisín O’Shea. Born sleeping on 2nd October 2016, the day of the Guardian Angels. I LOVE him.
When we got the bad news that Oisín’s heart was no longer beating, that he was no longer alive and I that had to give birth to him sleeping it felt like my life was over in those moments. But I gave birth to a sleeping angel and that angel, Oisín, made me find strength I never knew I had. I love him for that.
Our love is between 2 places, Heaven and Earth and everywhere in between. I’m not a particularly religious person but I have to have faith that he is in that place we call Heaven, with my Nana Betty and my 2 Grandads, Brendan & Jim, who I love so much too. They all loved me so I like to I think that that missing piece of me, Oisín, is in heaven being loved and cared for by those that loved me, until it is my time to be there with him. It gives me a feeling of peace to think this, instead of the anxiety and feelings of loss that often overcome me.
I have given birth 3 times in 2 years. Two of my children are here with me on Earth and Oisín is not. I love them all equally no matter where they are. A Mother loves her children unconditionally. Always.
The boy who’s heart stopped beating while growing in my tummy has a special place in my heart. He is everywhere around me, even though I can’t see him.
I ache to hold his hand and rock him to sleep but that’ll never happen. I still love him. I wonder what he would have looked like on his first birthday but that’ll never happen. I still love him. I wonder what his favourite food or favourite colour or favourite toy may have been but that’ll never happen. I still love him. All these things I will never know the answer to but one things for sure, I will always love him.
We spent 22 weeks together and went through so much in those 22 weeks, all life changing experiences. This photo is the only photo I have of the 2 of us together. That’s his big sister Cadhla photobombing it! It’s cherished.
We planted an apple tree in our garden a few weeks after he was born sleeping and I watch it grow every day. It’s right outside my bedroom window so when I go to sleep at night and when I wake up every morning it’s the first thing I see. A Mother’s love for a son who’s feet never touched the ground. It’s tough. But it’s not tough to love him. It’s still unconditional love.
I wear a piece of him around my neck everyday in a locket and I have a necklace with the 3 kids names on it. I have my Oisín candle that I light almost daily and I have a painting which was done for us of one his scan pictures, which hangs proudly in our family room, it brightens up our room, it fills it with love, as does the laughter of his big sister and baby brother.
My love for him is everywhere and his love for me is everywhere, I feel it, I see signs of him everywhere, like the little robin that perches on a branch of his tree or the little white feathers that fly in through the window every now and again.
When I fell pregnant again Oisín was there with me at every scan, and believe me I had loads of scans. I felt it, I felt his love, I felt his angel wings wrap around me, protecting me, protecting his unborn brother. He always sent me a sign of love.
On the big scan day I was a bag of nerves but he sent me a sign in regards to the people I bumped into that day in the hospital. The same people that were there with me when I lost Oisín. From the Sonographer, to the Anaesthathist, to the Midwives, to the Bereavement Team. I met them all that day and they were all so overjoyed to hear everything went well. He was there saying ‘Look Mammy everything’s gonna be fine, my brother is fine, I love you and I love him and I’m gonna look after you. All these people you met the last time when you were so sad, you are happy today seeing them and telling them the good news and I’m giving you a good memory to have of these people instead of a bad one’
Now that’s love, the love of a son to his Mother.
This is why I’m here today writing this piece about love and writing my blog, it’s all to honor Oisín, my love for him and our love for each other and to possibly help any other Mother or Father who has or is going through a similar experience. For out of such sadness and dark times, because he was stillborn, came strength and light and LOVE from the experience of being Oisín’s Mum.
Oisín’s baby brother, Senan, was born fit and healthy on September 19th 2017.
I can’t even begin to describe how sh1t this time of year is for those who have lost a baby and particularly when it’s the first year you have lost your baby. The grief is actually beyond imaginable. the shops are filled with the cutest baby clothes and babygro’s all saying ‘baby’s first christmas’ and all you can think of is that this should be you and how has it gone all horribly wrong. You should either still be pregnant or should be experiencing your baby’s first Christmas but instead you are mourning or wishing so bad for it to be the way it should have been earlier in the year, they way you had it all planned out the second you found out you were pregnant with your little one. but instead you are mentally and emotionally stuck in some reality that you just can’t bear to be in.
It’s hard to say it has got a little bit easier because I feel that sounds in poor taste but time has been somewhat of a healer and I have learned to cope in some ways but Christmas is a trigger and its all about family and when there is a special person you love missing from your family christmas will always be tinged with a bit of sadness.
I was in my local shopping centre last week and I just saw so many new babies with their mammies walking around so happy with life and it does put such a smile on my face because it really is such a very, very special time, a babies first Christmas but it also brought me back to a place where I was 2 years ago when I experienced my first Christmas without Oisin being in my tummy anymore and last year should have been his first Christmas. It was Senan’s first Christmas and it was very joyous and happy for us and I would never ever in a million years take that joy away from myself and my family and Senan for his first Christmas but it was 100% in my mind that it also should have been Oisín’s and I did allow myself be emotional about that.
But today I think of all the parents out there, particularly the mammies because it is so, so hard for them to get out of the house into the throngs of Christmas shoppers and feel festive and buy presents and watch happy families walking around when it is something they want so bad too and not that it is something they want, its something they too should have. They had lots of hope too when they carried their baby or gave birth to their baby but something went drastically wrong and their lives changed forever by what happened during the year.
So please, please, please if you read this piece and if you know someone who has lost a baby this year or a pregnancy send them a Christmas card, put their baby’s name on it if their baby was named, send them a text or even better drop them a quick phone call and let them know you are thinking of them and that you know this is a tough Christmas for them. Otherwise it feels like it is a taboo subject or they feel like they are being alienated and in an even lonelier place then they already are. If you want to buy them a little gift a candle or a bauble for their baby for their Christmas tree is perfectly acceptable.
But please don’t shut them out, don’t ignore them, don’t not mention their baby…because the silence is deafening.
The reason I started my blog was to raise awareness about baby loss and stillbirth, to break the silence and that is my goal. I love the amount of messages I get from people who follow my blog and contact me saying their friend or family member lost a baby and what should they do to help them. really its that simple don’t ignore them. I know so many people who feel that by mentioning the baby or the baby name will make them upset but trust me by not mentioning it is so much worse.
Last Saturday we were kindly invited by Luggwoods to check out their Christmas train and Santa experience. We had recently been to their Halloween train and absolutely loved it and we jumped at the chance to check out their Christmas themed event.
So off we toddled down the M50 and up towards the Dublin Mountains. Luggwoods is just minutes drive from Saggart village.
Upon arrival we were met by some of Santa’s little helpers who painted our faces and got us in the spirit of things by singing us a few songs before we boarded the train up the mountain trail to Santa’s little kingdom.
Myself & Cadhla, although she looks like she’s not happy to be here she really was!!
When we boarded the train we were told Santa lost a few of his presents and that we had to look out for them along the way in the trees in the forest. So in between singing a few more festive tunes and screaming at any presents we saw in the trees it was fun (& noisy) journey up. Our favourite part of the train was when we stopped by The Grinch’s house and sang jingle bells to make him happy and fall in love with Christmas again. Anyone who follows cut on instagram would know Cadhla absolutely loves The Grinch. So she absolutely loves this and was screaming jingle bells at the poor guy!!
Luggwoods Christmas tree
Once we arrived at Santa’s house we were met by Mrs Claus and the head elf. They brought us in to see Santa’s real life reindeer in their pens and we had a little action mini disco dance with them before we went through to the next room where we got some family photos taken on Santa’s sleigh, had a yummy cup of hot chocolate and some pancakes while the kids all did some colouring and writing their letters to Santa which they could post through the onsite letter box for all letters to the North Pole. We were in here for a nice amount of time and when Santa was ready to see us we went on in through to Santa’s sitting room where the big man himself was there waiting for us.
Head Elf and Mrs Claus
What can I say about Luggwoods Santa? Well we are only 3 years going to Santa’s and i have to say this Santa was amazing. Cadhla was all talk about Santa before she went in to see him but as soon as she saw him she didn’t want to go near him, at all! She clung to me and would barely look at him, but Santa himself was very good a patient about it. Senan on the other hand who has just turned 1 thought Santa was the biz, he was high fiving him, pulling at his real beard (which must have been sore for poor ‘ol Santa) and laughing in his face and generally loving the big jolly man in his bright red suit. Sure Mammy and Daddy were having a great laugh and the chats & bants with Santa himself.
Santa and the O’Shea’s
After the presents were given out and a photo opportunity we said our goodbyes to Mr Claus, we headed through to another area were we went on a teacup emery go round, a great added bonus as myself and Cadhla had a lot of fun in there. There was also a small enclosed little baby/toddler ball pit area for the younger baby to have a play in (and give the parents arms a rest) this is also where you pick up your photos of your family and Santa.
After some more dancing and Christmas craic it’s time to board the train back down to where we started our journey. Again we passed by Tinkerbell and the Tooth Fairy’s house and The Grinch’s house and where he was dancing and waving goodbye to us. But before you board the train check out the serious spectacular views over Dublin from this point. My camera just couldn’t do photo justice to the view of the twinkling lights from the city below us.
It truly was a magical end to a magical family evening. New happy Christmas memories were made for me and my brood and isn’t that was Christmas is all about, family festive fun time! We will definitely be returning to Luggwoods next year, our new Christmas tradition.
Luggwoods opens November 30th tickets can be booked now at http://www.luggwoods.ie and are priced at €19 per child and €14 per adult. (Infants under 12 months go free)
No buggy’s so we brought a sling for our 1 year old. I’d recommend bringing a sling for any babies going to Luggwoods but its not essential if you don’t have one.
It is all indoors and it is quite warm except for the train part which is covered but not heated. For us the weather was mild on our visit so next time i’d leave all the jackets in the car and just have layers and hats on the kids which can be take off if need be.