For my girls 

  Peri and Dee are my oldest friends. More like sisters really. The friendship we have is pretty special and very rare and I know all three of us will never take it for granted. We grew up together all living in the same street, the street where our parents still all live and 25 years later, one of us married, one of us living in Sussex and one of us going on this terrifying and tumultuous journey to parenthood we’re still every bit as close. 

I’ve decided to blog about them because they’re part of my story too and last night for the first time in I can’t even remember how long, the 3 of us got together without our other halves and had dinner. It was nothing fancy, I cooked and we stayed in, but it was just what I needed. 

From the minute I got the awful news that my baby was gone, it was Dee that took charge. She sent a message around to the people who knew I was pregnant and let them know so that I didn’t have to. Everyone sent me thoughtful messages just so I knew they were thinking of me, but beyond that, it was Dee that they spoke to for updates on how I was doing. She was sort of like the PA for grief, taking calls and fielding questions. I don’t know how to express how much of a difference she made, but she did and she knows I love her for it. Both girls checked in on me daily and did everything they could to try and help. Peri being far away probably felt especially helpless, but she was there for me every step of the way. I never once questioned her love and support. 

My girls were so excited to be aunties and honestly, they’d have been brilliant. They were devastated at the news too, and both have cried with me. Both wished they could take away the pain and make it all better. Unfortunately nobody can take away that pain, but what they did for me during those darkest days means so much. Peri suddenly became practical (anyone who’s met her knows this is most out of character!) cleaning my kitchen (yes really! Peri, cleaning!) and buying me new clothes and underwear that didn’t remind me of being pregnant. Dee got me new pyjamas for the same reason, and then since I was camped out on the sofa for weeks, also got me a beautiful blanket to wrap myself up in. She and her lovely husband also got us a gift voucher for a beautiful hotel in Penarth for an overnight stay with food and spa treatments so that when we were feeling up to it, we could have a bit of pampering after all we’d been through. So that’s where we’re going tonight and honestly we can’t wait! We both opted for an hour long full body massage that I think will do us both some good. My poor body has been through a lot this last few months so a bit of TLC is just what the doctor ordered. 

Last night we talked about our loss, we talked about what might’ve been. I’m so glad that these two girls know how important it is for me to talk about my baby. I totally get that people don’t know how to talk to you when you’ve lost your child, everyone’s afraid to say the wrong thing or upset you, and as a result they just pretend it never happened. I have to say, I’ve been very lucky in that respect as most people are in my life have found a way to talk about it with me, but I’m well aware that isn’t the case for everyone. What my girls seem to just instinctively know is that talking about it isn’t a bad thing. Even if I get upset and have a cry, that’s ok. It’s not them upsetting me, it’s the situation that’s upsetting. They get that, and so we talk, and it helps. So if you know someone who’s gone through a similar experience, please don’t be afraid to talk to them about it. Please don’t feel you have to pretend that they were never pregnant because frankly, that’s just insulting. Tell them you’re sad for them, tell them you’re sorry. You really don’t need to say anything else. A hug and a sympathetic ear is perfect. 

I wish everyone had friends like Dee and Peri – I really think the world would be a better place for it. I’m so glad they’re in my life, and so glad that after all these years of friendship and living apart that they’re always there, no matter what. 

Whatever comes next in my story I know I’ll be ok. I’ve got an amazing family, and two of the best friends a girl could ask for looking out for me every step of the way. 

So girls, thank you. Not for anything in particular (because there’s too much to list!) but just for being you. I love you both xxx


A glimmer of hope…

As you will all know from my very first blog, I was very keen to make sure that my feedback was sent to the right people to get some positive and much needed changes to the way in which the NHS (and for all I know, private health care too) treats miscarriage. My experience was terrible, and sadly I’m learning more and more than it was not unique. It seems that the attitudes of medical staff towards early pregnancy loss is pretty awful all over the U.K.
When you get that heartbreaking news all you want is some compassion, some  understanding and some kind words. Sadly it seems that cold and clinical is about all you’ll get though. I’ve tried to contact the health minister for Wales (surprise surprise no response from him) and the chief of nursing for Wales, and Yep, you guessed it – no response from her either. But I am determined to make sure that someone listens to me and does something about this unacceptable situation so I once again turned to the brilliant people at the miscarriage association. A lovely lady called Ruth gave me her email address and asked me to send my feedback to her with the promise that she would make sure it got to the right people.

So Sunday morning I sat with a cup of coffee and wrote the whole sorry story in what ended up being a very lengthy email to Ruth, including my suggestions for how I think improvements can be made. I was realistic in what I asked, I appreciate that the NHS is severely under resourced and as such made sensible recommendations as to how they can make inprovements that won’t cost them anything at all – Mainly by just being more human! Not really rocket science is it?!

Anyway, lovely Ruth emailed me straight back with some really positive news that I had to share with you all because in this sisterhood of sorrow it’s too easy to get stuck on the negativity, and I think we could all do with a little victory to help us along.

It was a very long email full of information so I’m giving you the bullet points – she told me about the NHS maternity review which is being undertaken by NHS England, but as Ruth pointed out, if England makes changes Wales will have to follow suit. There is a survey online where women and their partners can leave feedback on their experiences around pregnancy, birth, labour and loss. Naturally I filled it out immediately, and I urge you to do the same. The more people who leave honest feedback, good or bad, the better.

As well as this, Ruth is going to several meetings with health care professionals to discuss the maternity review and offer suggestions based on their experiences at the miscarriage association. Ruth has assured me that my email will be a big help, and that she will be using the points I’ve raised and passing my feedback on to the relevant people. Hurrah! Finally someone who’s listening and wants to help.

The miscarriage association are also producing three videos which will be sent to healthcare staff who are most likely to encounter miscarriage. These include GP’s, sonographers and paramedics, to advise and better inform them of how to handle this delicate situation. Once the first three have been reviewed, there are plans for more of these videos to be produced too.

I can’t tell you how happy Ruth’s email made me. Obviously it doesn’t make the pain and loss I still feel go away, but knowing that something positive could come out of such an awful thing, and knowing that I’m making a difference really brings me a lot of comfort. When I set out with this blog, it was to break the silence around miscarriage and do my best to make sure that improvements to the healthcare system in the U.K were made. It’s a long road and of course I’m not giving up on it yet! I’ll continue to contact as many influential people as I can, and I know that the miscarriage association will keep doing everything that they can too. They really do offer a wonderful service and honestly the support I’ve received from them has been amazing.

At the end of this post you’ll find a link to the miscarriage association, where you can donate if you feel so inclined – after all, they are a charity who’s amazing work can only continue with public support. I’ve also included the link to the NHS maternity review – One to the pregnancy and birth survey, and one to the pregnancy conplications and bereavement survey. To reiterate, this is an England only review, however you can complete the survey and input your postcode and the hospital you’re referring to even if it’s in Wales, Scotland, Ireland. So, I figure it’s worth a go – who knows, maybe the information will be passed to the relevant people anyway.

*Update* I’ve just received an email update saying that my email has been forwarded to the team responsible for making the videos. The comments back from the scriptwriter were that mine was the most touching case study they had read, and that they will be using my email and my experience in the videos, and thanking me for helping them to make a difference. I’m so thrilled by this! I feel like it’s a really important step.

Insomnia, anxiety and guilt, Oh My! 

  So, I woke up at around 4am needing a wee. It’s now 5:30 and I’m still wide awake, and since my alarm is due to go off in an hour anyway I’ve decided to get up, have a coffee and vent my worries here. 

I’m worried that I’m pregnant. I’m also worried that I’m not. (I know, try being in my head right now it’s a barrel of laughs!) 

I was so happy when I found out last time that it’s bizarre to me that now the overriding emotion is anxiety. We haven’t been “trying” but to be honest, we weren’t trying last time either! That said, I have been taking conception multivitamins and avoiding alcohol, minimising my caffeine intake and avoiding the same things I did when I was pregnant…

Initially I decided to steer clear of booze because on the few occasions that I drank wine after the miscarriage it just made me even more emotional. Let’s face it, nobody wants a hysterical woman sat at the dinner table with them! So I’ve avoided alcohol and I’ve felt better for it. I decided to start taking the vitamins fairly soon after the miscarriage, and it genuinely wasn’t because we were planning to start trying straight away – honestly our heads were (and probably still are) too pickled to contemplate it.

 Right after the miscarriage I went through so many emotions, but the big ones were sadness obviously, guilt that I hadn’t done enough, and anxiety that it’ll happen again. I felt that by taking the vitamins I regained some modicum of control because even though we weren’t trying, if my body was prepared for pregnancy and it did happen again at least this time my body would be ready for it. Maybe that would mean we wouldn’t have to endure another miscarriage. 

Now as I sit wrapped in my fluffy dressing gown, with my captain caveman hair and twitching tired eyes I can’t help but think that this happened last time I was pregnant. I’d wake at 3 or 4am needing the loo, I’d be wide awake and not able to get back to sleep, I’d be like a zombie all day, and then I’d give up and go to bed by 8pm only to start the whole cycle again. On top of that, I seem to be tired all the time no matter how much I sleep, maybe that’s down to work and trying to get back to “normal”? Honestly, even after two months I still have days where I don’t feel like I should be back in work. What I’d really like to do is stay at home in my pyjamas with my mad bed hair and not have to put on “The Show” all day long. It’s exhausting having to smile and be pleasant when the last thing you feel is smiley or pleasant! 

If you look up early pregnancy symptoms, I can currently tick a few off the list. Back ache (which feels just like it did last time), headaches, dizziness, sore breasts, fatigue, nausea, suddenly things taste funny to me again, and of course the latest one; insomnia…I’ve read lots of blogs about miscarriage and lots of women say that their bodies have tricked them in to believing they were pregnant again after a miscarriage. Cruel eh? So maybe that’s what this is. On the other hand, maybe it’s not. 

So now I’m torn between being happy/terrified that I might be pregnant and being happy/terrified that I’m not. 

Except that’s actually not true is it? I’m bullshitting even myself here. I wouldn’t be happy to find out I’m not, I’d be devastated. Maybe that’s what’s really keeping me awake. As my period looms ever closer (9 days and counting) the thought of not being pregnant weighs heavily on my mind. I feel like I’ve had this emptiness and longing since the day of the 12 week scan and I’m worried that I’ve been subconsciously hoping to get pregnant all this time, and finding out I’m not is going to completely unravel me. The me that I’ve worked so hard to put back together. Even if it does feel like some of the pieces don’t quite fit like they used to. 

A problem shared…

This week would’ve marked the half way point of my pregnancy. Understandably, that’s thrown up some emotions that I’m trying desperately to keep in check. 

It’s heartbreaking to think that by now we should’ve had our second scan, should’ve known the sex, should’ve started decorating the nursery. I should be out on my lunch break buying baby clothes. But I’m not. 

I’m trying to stay positive though and not think about the “should be”. Easier said than done mind you. So, in light of my current mood and to mark this sad week with something positive I’d like to share a message with you all that I received last week. I’m sharing it because a) it makes me feel *slightly* better knowing that I’ve made a difference to someone and because b) I think it’s really important to highlight how much talking about miscarriage is needed. The more we talk, write, share our experiences the more people we touch.  

 This isn’t the first message like this I’ve received, and sadly I’m sure it won’t be the last. Every single person who’s contacted me (and there have been many) has touched me with their stories and as much as they thank me for helping them, I owe them ten times the thanks for helping me. Taking the decision to share my journey was scary, but the response I’ve had is just phenomenal. So thank you all for taking the time to contact me and for being brave enough to share.