Moving Forward

What Would Life Be Like With Three?


It’s a question I often ask myself. What would it really be like? How would we have managed? Would they really have all fitted into the car? Well Saturday we got the answer and I wont lie, it was bittersweet. We looked after my best friend’s son for the day and despite all of the warnings we had received from perfect strangers when I was pregnant, it wasn’t chaos, we didn’t lose a child and we definitely didn’t find ourselves rocking in a corner with a bottle of wine by 7pm. In fact, it was quite the opposite, we had the best day!

But like so many things these days, the experience has left me struggling to appease conflicting thoughts and emotions. I feel torn between the contentment of a great day, the sadness that Alex should have been there and the bittersweet taste of life with three children.

I often got the impression that some people thought we were crazy for having three children. The truth is that I actually wanted four, Rob wanted two and so we did the grown-up thing and compromised on three (with me secretly hoping he would come round to the idea of a fourth).  The general consensus was that three children under the age of four was absolute lunacy! Most of my pregnancy was lived out to a soundtrack of “good luck with that!” “It must have been an accident”! “Are you crazy”? “How on earth are you going to cope”?  “How on earth will you go to a theme park when one child will be sitting on their own”? “How will you ever be able to cross the road when you don’t have a hand for each child to hold”?  My standard reply to these questions was always that we will cope because there is no other option but to cope.

But Saturday taught me something, I learnt that whilst I am in no doubt there would have been tough days where just coping was the only option (isn’t there always with children), there would also have been days where we more than just coped. There would have been days where we excelled at being parents to three children, days where we could pat ourselves on the back and smugly reassure each other that we’ve got this parenting lark sorted. There would have been days where we not only managed to get three children dressed and fed but where we also managed to get out of the house! (A miracle I know!) There would have been days where they screamed with excitement in the car because we were going on an adventure. There would have been days where we made magical memories to last all three of them a lifetime. Having three would not have been the grey hair inducing hell that people seem to imagine it to be and I know that we would have loved every second of it.


So I guess that even though it made me sad to think of what could and should have been, it also settled an internal battle I hadn’t fully acknowledged I was fighting. I realised that I constantly question myself throughout my daily activities, always wondering if I could have coped with Alex in the mix. When I’m rushing in the morning to get two children fed, dressed and at nursery in time for me to get to work I wonder if I would have had enough time to feed and dress an additional child. When I’m battling with two fed up children in the supermarket on a busy Saturday afternoon I wonder how on earth I would have managed with Alex as well. But this is our life now, without Alex, and imagining him in our current lives will never seem like a perfect fit. The reality is, that if things had gone to plan and Alex was with us today then I may not be back at work at all or at the very least I would have been getting up earlier to allow time to get Alex ready as well.

I now realise that the question I need to be asking myself isn’t, how would I have coped? I know for sure that I would have. Instead maybe I can wonder who would have fallen in the mud first? Where would we have gone? What magical adventure would we have imagined? Would we have gone out to hunt for bear’s, fairy’s or dinosaur’s? Who would have eaten all the bread for the ducks instead of feeding them? The thought process of doubting my ability to cope with three children was instilled in me throughout my pregnancy with Alex and then only exacerbated by his loss. His death left me feeling like I had failed my child in the worst possible way and doubting my abilities as a Mother. Our day out with three children gave me back some of what I had lost, confidence in myself.

And the best part of it all? Alex still found a way, as he always does, to send William a white feather. He was there with us hunting dinosaurs in the woods.


Love Rachel & Alex xx

Moving Forward

Back To Work


So that’s our last family holiday of the year over and it’s time to get back to work, literally. Tomorrow is the start of my last week of maternity leave for Alex. I feel so blessed to have still been able to have maternity leave following Alex’s death. A couple of weeks off would nowhere near have got me back in a place emotionally and mentally where I could have functioned properly at work. This period of time has been so precious for me and knowing that the end of it is so close is bringing up so many conflicting feelings. I wasn’t expecting to have this time with my boys to just simply be at home and be a mom with no other distractions such as work or the newborn Alex we were expecting to bring home. The time off has also been essential for me to heal and get acquainted with our new normal. In the early days we called things like this ‘gifts from Alex’, things we never expected to have if Alex had been with us, they often seemed small and insignificant in the wake of Alex’s death but we had to find some positives amongst the sadness and time off to heal and be with my boys was definitely one of them.

I guess the thing I’m feeling most strongly at the moment is anxiety, I’ve never been an anxious person so I find it a tough one to navigate and deal with. I feel anxious about so many things, not just simply returning to work and settling back into my job. Of course I am definitely worried about getting back into the routine of work, making sure we have a dinner ready for when we all get home, doing packed lunches and making sure we’re all up, fed and dressed ready to be out of the door on time. But these aren’t new hurdles, I’ve faced these challenges before and after a few tired weeks I soon get back into the swing of things. The things which worry me most are inevitably related to Alex, my new outlook on life, my children and coping with the sad days.

I’m different. I look like me, I talk like me, I even act like the old me most of the time but dig a little deeper and I am irrevocably changed. The new me has lost the majority of her patience and tolerance for the complainers and pessimists of the world. Unfortunately however, I work in a customer facing role in a busy hotel and complaints are part and parcel of the job. It’s an aspect of my role that has never really bothered me too much in the past, in fact I always quite enjoyed resolving any issues and making sure the customer leaves happy. I feel so differently about it now though, it all seems so trivial and non-consequential in the aftermath of losing Alex.  How do I stop myself from telling the guests who are getting irate over their egg being too runny at breakfast, their dinner being five minutes late or their bed being too hard that life can be a LOT worse. How do I stop myself from simply telling them that I’m really not bothered?  Losing Alex really has put so much of my life into perspective. I just want to tell them that I wish my child was here to taste a runny egg when he’s old enough, I wish I could feed him his dinner five minutes late and watch him race to eat it all or screw his little button nose up at the foods he doesn’t like. Most of all, I wish I could put my beautiful baby into his bed at night and tell him I love him, I don’t think he would care if it was too hard and I would sleep on concrete every night of my life without complaining just to have him back in my arms.

And what about the bad days? They still happen, maybe not as often but when they come there is no escaping them. There is nothing that can stop the waves of sadness, guilt and regret that come over me and nothing that will stop the tears. In the past, I’ve had no problems leaving whatever issues I have in life at the door of work and putting on my ‘be happy for the customers’ face but I worry that won’t be so easy anymore. Being off work has given me a safe place to feel whatever I feel on that particular day and I really have found that to be the best way to deal with my grief. If I’m sad I’ve been sad, if I’m angry I’ve been angry and if I feel I need to go and spend some time with my little boy I have been free to do so. I find it hard to suppress my emotions like I used to, my face struggles to hide what I feel. But I also know that I need to function to the best of my ability at work and be professional at all times, something which doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with grief. I don’t think the hotel’s TripAdvisor reports will fare too well after the guests experience me sobbing on a down day. I guess I just have to hope that I can pull myself together on those days and find that strength to leave it at the door.

How will the boys adjust? I have a feeling that they will deal with this a lot better than I will but it’s my job as a Mom to worry I guess. Will they notice that tired grumpy shouty Mom makes an appearance a bit more now that she’s back at work? Will they notice that I am away from them for longer? They have both taken Alex’s death so well, we have been open and honest with them from the start and they have come through with an unconditional love for their little brother, a firm understanding of where and what he is (a star) and hopefully no negative lasting effects. The one thing that has become clear though, is that they are both very clingy with me since we lost Alex. They will always choose Mommy over Daddy, a normal boy thing I know, but it’s a lot more intense since Alex’s arrival and me being at home all of the time. I guess we just have to carry on as we started and hope that by being upfront and preparing them in advance for me leaving will mean that they will run into nursery without a backward glance. Driving to work having left behind two distraught children screaming your name doesn’t make for the best start to the day.


It’s not all gloomy though, on the other hand I am also excited and eager to return to work. I do love my job, I have a great group of colleagues and it’s generally a happy place to be. My employers have been incredible through our experience of losing Alex and I will always be thankful for their love and support. Although it feels like another step away from Alex I am looking forward to getting this part of normality back in my life, I think it will be a good thing for all of us. I feel guilty for saying it since losing Alex but I still get the normal feelings of isolation which many stay at home moms experience. Some days I crave adult conversation, I miss my work friends and the giggles we used to have and I find that my brain needs a challenge. Again, I feel guilty saying it, I know that so many people would give anything to have what I have and I honestly do cherish every moment, more so than most, but there is only so much CBeebies and PlayDoh that I can take before my brain cells shut up shop and leave me forever.

Most of all though, I’m excited to have a group of people back in my life who know Alex. They met Alex and watched him grow in my tummy, they all tried to guess the sex when I secretly knew that he was a boy, they brought me cake when I needed it and quizzed me excitedly when I returned from a midwife appointment or scan. It will be a relief to be surrounded by a group of people who I don’t have to explain myself or Alex to. I know they will speak his name without fear or uncertainty and that feels like one of the most amazing things right now.

So I’m off to make the absolute most of this last precious week despite my anxieties and pray that I can still fit into my suit!

Love Rachel & Alex xx


Cycling For Alex & 4Louis


I’ve been so lucky to have a great group of friends to support me through the loss of Alex but my best friend Kerry definitely deserves a special mention. Our parents live opposite each other and we have grown up together always being the best of friends. No matter where we have been or what we have done we always come back to each other and nothing changes, the very definition of friendship I think most would agree. Our friendship truly showed its worth when I lost Alex. I felt so ashamed, I wondered if people would think, like I did, that I had done something wrong and I was devastated that people wouldn’t want to see my beautiful boy because he wasn’t alive. For those reasons, I didn’t want to see anyone at all, I didn’t know what to say to them and I couldn’t bear to see anyone’s distaste towards Alex. It felt safer to exist in our little bubble of grief with Alex and my family rather than risk inviting other people into it and possibly causing more upset.

So, in true Kerry style, she did what exactly what I needed without even knowing it. She just marched in and picked up my baby. She held him, rocked him and cuddled him exactly as she had with William and Thomas when they were born. She commented on his long fingers and toes, she picked out the similarities to his brothers and told me he was perfect. That moment in time helped me more than I can ever explain. She erased some of my fears and lifted a few of the worries from my shoulders. Her actions showed me that people wouldn’t be afraid to see Alex and most of all I could clearly see that she loved him. It broke my heart all over again to think of the relationship Alex should have had with his Auntie Kez but it meant so much that they got to meet each other and we all got to make a memory. Even now, further down the line in our life after loss I still find Kerry to be one of my most important support mechanisms, she met Alex and saw the depths of our sorrow and because of that she ‘gets it’ more than most.

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So why am I telling you about this? Well, a few months ago Kerry came to me and asked if she could raise some money in Alex’s memory. The reply was obviously, ‘of course!’ And it was decided that a bike ride to Cornwall would be the perfect challenge. Cornwall is a special place for our family, I have been going every year since I was a child, in fact I’ve missed most of Kerry’s birthdays due to being down there every year in August. After Alex’s funeral, Rob and I escaped down there for a few days away to gather our thoughts. I needed to hear the waves and smell the sea air since the first day we lost Alex. It brings me so much peace. So Kerry, her sister Katie and Katie’s partner Jayne are riding the 380 miles to Cornwall on spin bikes. The event will be held outside Pure Gym at Bentley Bridge, Wednesfield on the 2nd September so anyone local who fancies coming along to cheer them on you will be more than welcome!

Over the years Kerry and I have tried a multitude of things to get fit and lose weight. We’ve dieted, we’ve joined gyms and we’ve tried exercise classes. We even tried a personal trainer once and quit after feeling totally broken for a week afterwards! I’ll never forget him making her jog for 5 minutes on the treadmill and her shouting that she couldn’t do it and nearly having a tantrum in the middle of the gym! I think after all these years we’re finally starting to accept that we’d rather go out and eat cake or drink wine than exercise or diet. So it’s definitely safe to say that this will be a massive challenge for Kerry who probably doesn’t even remember how to get on a bike, never mind ride one for that distance!!


I can’t think of a more deserving charity to raise money for than 4Louis. When Alex was born and the room had calmed down a bit I so clearly remember the midwife coming in with the box. She sat down and quietly went through it with us, even through my sadness I remember feeling so incredibly amazed and grateful that someone could be so thoughtful as to create something like a memory box for parents in our position. I had no idea that such a thing even existed and I can’t say how glad I am that they do! We had three short days to collect and make enough memories to last us a lifetime and the memory box was a vital part of that. Our box is one of my most precious possessions as it’s pretty much all we have of our little boy. 4Louis make memory boxes for children who have passed away at all ages, each box is tailored for the age of the child. The boxes help families to feel less alone and to capture as many precious memories as they can. It contained so many beautiful things all thoughtfully wrapped in tissue paper:

A clay impression kit to capture Alex’s beautiful long fingers and toes

Forget Me Not seeds which we will plant in Alex’s memory garden

A balloon and a postcard to send a message to heaven-we are saving this for Alex’s first birthday

A curl box to keep a lock of Alex’s hair

An SD card so that we could take as many photos as we wanted to

Two teddies, one for Alex and one for us

A copy of the wonderful book Guess How Much I Love You

A candle and a card to write a message to Alex

£30 is all we need to provide one devastated family with a memory box to help ease their pain and give them lasting memories of their child. So even if you can only spare a pound or two to sponsor Kerry, Katie and Jayne we would all be so grateful and it will go a long way to helping other families cope with the loss of their precious child. Please click on the link below to donate.

Donate to Cycling for Alex & 4Louis here


Thank you

Rachel & Alex xx


Lets Break The Silence

I was under no illusion when I decided to write about Alex and our life after losing him that it would not be to everyone’s taste. Us British do not like talk of death and grief, we prefer a stiff upper lip over tears and emotion. I was recently told by a friend that someone who had read my blog had commented that it was morbid, and despite being prepared for negative comments, I have to admit that it bothered me. Morbid felt like a strong word and I felt that familiar feeling of shame after hearing it. And then I got frustrated, frustrated with our society and its ignorance of stillbirth and frustrated at its willingness to turn the other cheek because talking of a baby dying makes us feel uncomfortable. So in light of that, I thought I would write a blog on why I feel talking about Alex is so important.

Morbid is defined as an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects such as death. And that is the basis of why the word bothered me so much. My interest in Alex is not at all abnormal and unhealthy, my interest is exactly the same as any other mother has in their child, it is healthy, natural and fierce. I cannot help that Alex’s story centres around his death and I cannot help that this makes people feel uncomfortable. And yet because of that, over and over again families of stillborn babies are ostracised and ignored by society. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t wish losing a child on my worst enemy and its true, I honestly wouldn’t. The pain is indescribable. But there is the odd occasion where I just wish that people could walk a mile in our shoes to have a better understanding of what its like. Hopefully then they would see that the stigma and taboo surrounding child loss is a constant battle for us. Losing a child is painful enough without having to put the feelings of the masses before our own.

And yet it is hard to blame people for their ignorance when the media and government do so little to light the way and open up the conversation around stillbirth. The BBC recently declined to show Still Loved, a documentary showing peoples experiences after losing a baby, as it was deemed to be too upsetting. It was then shown in selected cinemas around the UK but some of those also declined as ‘who would want to see that?’ 1 in every 200 babies are born still. 10 babies a day! This is not something that should be easy to ignore, we need to talk about it, we need to educate ourselves and we need to get better at supporting those 10 parents who lost a baby today. As parents to stillborn babies one of our biggest fears is that our children will be forgotten. The only way to stop that is by talking and people need to understand that this is totally normal.

By myself and other parent sharing our babies stories there are so many amazing things which can be achieved. The first has to be more funding of research into miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. This area is massively underfunded by the government and that means that the all-important research into preventing so many babies dying is simply not happening. Only by talking and getting the issue out there will we be able to accomplish this goal.

By opening up the conversation around stillbirth, family and friends will hopefully have a better understanding of how to support parents grieving for their baby. Everyone grieves differently but having more awareness of grief and its different forms will allow families to grieve in whatever way they need to and not feel judged. Parents themselves will also know that what they are going through is normal. When we lost Alex I had no idea that what I was feeling was so common following a stillbirth. It is totally normal to feel angry, ashamed, confused, lonely and guilty as well as being desperately sad, it is normal for your arms to physically ache for your baby. Reading other peoples experiences of stillbirth and seeing that they felt the same things as me helped me not feel so alone. Those stories filled the gap and answered the questions that my family and friends couldn’t.

And lastly, I have found that by talking openly about Alex we are creating new, positive and exciting memories in his name. I have had a couple of friends come to me in recent months wanting to do things to raise money in memory of Alex for charities like 4Louis, SANDS and Tommy’s (I will post details of these on the blog as soon as I have them) These wonderful events not only help these incredible charities but they will give us an easier way to bring Alex into a conversation. It will always begin with “we are doing this because our son was born sleeping” but hopefully when coupled with a charity event people will find it more palatable.

I will never apologise for speaking out and telling Alex’s story. The silence needs to be broken and how can we do that if we conform and stay silent? I made Alex a promise before I left him in the hospital, and that was that I would always speak about him, I would never be ashamed and I would never let him be forgotten. I intend to keep my promise and by speaking about him I intend to make the noise that he never had the opportunity to make.


Rachel & Alex x


Alex’s Birth Story


I’ve been thinking a lot over the past week about how I am going to write Alex’s birth story. I’ve found it difficult to write, myself and Rob (my husband) have talked it over many times and the truth of it is, there are parts that neither of us can remember. The only thing I can put this down to is the complete and utter shock we felt at the time. It makes me feel so sad now, I feel disappointed with myself, I want to remember everything no matter how much it hurts to think back on. We don’t have a lifetime of happy memories to block out the bits we would rather not remember. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the shock and its effects on us are just a part of Alex’s story too.


My pregnancy with Alex was uneventful as far as pregnancy’s go. I already have two children and I enjoyed this pregnancy with the laid-back attitude that comes from having been there and done that. Both of my boys were way too comfy and were ten days overdue before I finally went into labour and Alex was exactly the same. I was eight days over and starting to feel fed up when I finally went into labour. I actually considered myself lucky at the time that he hadn’t kept me waiting quite as long as his older brothers.


Early labour started on Sunday, finally the baby we had waited so long to meet would soon be in our arms, I couldn’t wait to see the reactions of his older brothers William & Thomas. In bed that evening I timed the contractions trying to keep quiet and allow Rob to get some sleep; knowing only too well the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn. By the time morning came I knew I was getting to the point where we should go to the hospital, we rang my Mom to come and look after the boys and put our carefully packed hospital bag in the car along with Alex’s car seat.


I was bouncing on a birthing ball when the midwife came in and sat down to ask me the usual questions. How often are the contractions? How long are they lasting? Are baby’s movements ok?


I stuttered.


I didn’t know. I had been concentrating so much on breathing through the contractions I hadn’t noticed Alex’s movements. Despite this the midwife didn’t outwardly show any concern and I didn’t feel any. In our excitement, I hadn’t eaten or drank anything that morning so we decided on some tea and toast and hopefully we would have felt Alex again by the time she came back.


When she did come back I was desperate to say he was wiggling as normal but the truth was I still hadn’t felt anything at all other than contractions. A second midwife listened to Alex with a pinard, she seemed to hear a heartbeat and we both felt Alex kick which reassured me that everything was fine. The midwife in charge then listened with a doppler and after a lot of trying she couldn’t find a heartbeat. I feel so naïve looking back, I was totally oblivious to what had happened. Surely I should have known that something was wrong. Stillbirth was so far from my mind at that moment, it wasn’t even a possibility. After two scans with different scanners we were finally given those words. The words that no parent ever wants to hear. The words which broke our hearts and forever changed our lives. The words which sealed our entrance into the club that nobody wants to be in.


“I’m really sorry but your baby has died”


I remember the complete disbelief so clearly. What do you mean he’s died? No, he hasn’t. Get him out! Save him! You hear amazing stories of babies defying the odds all the time, Alex was a perfectly healthy, full term baby, I was sure they could do something. There wasn’t. Alex was gone and there was nothing they could do. I was in a room full of people and all I wanted was to be alone with Rob, I needed the labour to stop; I needed time to process what I had just been told.


There was no stopping though, we were taken off the labour ward, away from the healthy crying babies and into the Willow Suite to deliver our sleeping baby. I’ve had two babies without an epidural before and it wasn’t on my well-prepared birth plan this time either. I begged for it. I didn’t want to feel the pain. The shock and grief felt more than I could bear without the pain of labour added into the mix.. But it was too late, Alex was born before I could have an epidural. Looking back now I’m so glad that I didn’t get chance. I felt Alex being born in the exact same way I had felt his brothers before him and he deserved that. He didn’t deserve to be blocked out.


Alexander Robert Anthony Maguire was born at 10.58am on Monday 7th November 2016 weighing a chunky 8lb 10oz. Alex’s arrival into the world was quiet. I think a part of me still thought they had got it wrong, I hoped that there would be a miracle, so I stayed silent waiting for him to cry. I think we all did. He was everything I imagined him to be. A beautiful button nose, perfect kissy lips, lots of dark hair and delicate long fingers. I thought maybe there would be some undetected defect which would explain what had happened but there was nothing. He just looked asleep, which cruelly made it seem even more possible that he might cry. I loved him, rocked him, kissed his nose and patted his little bum in the way only a mother can but he was still gone.




And with that realisation my thoughts went wild. Why? How? Should I have known that something was wrong? Could I have prevented it? Should the midwife have picked something up when I saw her two days earlier. Should the sonographer have seen something on the scan we had a week earlier? Did I do something to cause this? If I’d come to hospital earlier would they have found that he was struggling? When did he pass away? Did the first midwife really hear a heartbeat and feel a kick? Did he suffer?


I find this one hardest parts of Alex being stillborn, the never-ending questions, the guilt, the blame, the unknown and the unanswerable.


But despite all of this, I am so proud to be Alex’s Mommy. Once I emerged from those early days of complete despair I began to see that Alex’s life would change us all for the better. Something good and bright had to come out of the complete darkness we felt after his death. And to show how proud I am, I talk, and I have told Alex’s story to anyone who will listen. Most of the time their reactions are caring and sympathetic but I often get the impression that they think I am just an unlucky statistic to have experienced something with such small odds. Sadly, that would also have been my reaction before Alex. Little did I know that 3600 babies are stillborn every year in the UK, 10 babies a day! We have one of the highest stillbirth rates in the developed world and the West Midlands, where we live, has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the country.


I feel completely deceived. If we have one of the highest rates then why don’t we all know about it? Why isn’t it advertised and talked about? Why aren’t Phil & Holly talking about it on This Morning and Loose Women debating it at lunchtime? Why is there so little research into why this is happening? As expectant mothers, we are told so much about cot death and yet it is far less common than stillbirth. I hope that talking about Alex and sharing his story will not only help other families through their grief but also that my voice will join lots of others who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness with the hope that the government will fund much needed research into stillbirth.




How It All Started

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I would like to use my first post to tell you a little about our beautiful Alex and why I am doing this. We have just returned from a family holiday to Crete and in my quiet moments I have read, as i often do, other blogs detailing peoples experiences surrounding stillbirth. People writing about their lives following the devastating loss of a child has been one of the most important things for me following our own loss. It helped me to feel less alone, it helped me to realise that my feelings were normal and most of all it helped me to see that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. I began to see that the hurt from Alex will never go away and we will always feel his loss deeply but the pain will become less acute in time and we will be able to find a new normal where we feel fulfilled by life again.

I have often thought that I would like to write about Alex and how we have all coped following his birth with the hope that we can help other people dealing with child loss. Alex made me realise that I can, and I should do more. I should push myself, I should challenge myself and I should (cliche I know) live life to the fullest. Life is short and I now not only live life for myself but I live it for Alex. So why not? If I can help one person drowning in the rough seas of grief following stillbirth then this will all have been worth it.

Alexander Robert Anthony Maguire made us wait, he was 8 days overdue and I was starting to get really snappy at the ‘isn’t baby here yet?’ questions. He finally decided to make an appearance at 10.58am on Monday 7th November 2016. He was 8lb 10oz and perfect in every single way. The only difference was that Alex never cried, he never opened his beautiful eyes, he never snuggled into me for his first feed, he never wrapped his long fingers around mine and he never got to come home with us. As our third baby Alex’s pregnancy was a breeze, after all I had been there and done that twice already. After two low risk pregnancies and straight forward births prior to Alex there was no need to think that this time would be any different. I used to get comments on what a natural mother I was and how I made it look so easy, it would be easy again, surely. Little did we know what life had in store for us all.


Rachel & Alex xx