Hoping…

It’s the 14th November, 6am on a Saturday morning, I’m wide awake and have been since just before 5:30. Why am I awake so early on my day off? Well because the little person growing inside me wants me to be either constantly eating or peeing! Yep, that’s right! I’m pregnant! 

Today should’ve been the day my period arrived, but last Wednesday after weeks of just “feeling pregnant” I decided to try an early test and there it was “pregnant”. 

Honestly, I thought I’d feel more apprehensive but so far I’m mostly just ecstatic! After everything we went through in September, I told myself that if we got pregnant again I wouldn’t get excited and I wouldn’t fall in love with this baby, at least not until we’d passed the 12 week scan and knew everything was ok…I can’t say that’s really worked to be honest! I fell in love as soon as those words popped up on the test and although we’re talking in “ifs” and not “whens” we are unashamedly excited. 

For the first time since the miscarriage I have a feeling of calm and contentment. It started a few weeks ago and I just thought I was moving on, it was finally getting easier. Now I think it was because I knew on some level that I was pregnant. That feeling of total emptiness just evaporated overnight. It’s such a strange thing, but I think I’ve always been pretty in tune with my body and just like last time, I knew. 

Obviously I’m anxious though. I’m being extra cautious this time around – not that I was careless or reckless last time of course. I feel positive despite everything we’ve been through. I can’t explain it, but I just feel like this time we’ll be OK. I guess I have to believe that really. I mean, what’s the alternative? 

This time though, it is different, it’s not a surprise. I’ve been doing everything you’re supposed to when you’re planning to have a baby. I’ve changed jobs too since last time, swapping the killer 12 hour night shifts for a nice Mon-Fri job with much shorter hours. I made sure I minimised all the stress in my life and honestly, it just feels like this time there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be ok. We’re also house hunting and hoping to make an offer on our first house later this week which means that with any luck we’ll be in our new family home come new year. Everything just feels like it’s falling in to place now. I just hope it doesn’t suddenly all get torn away from us again. 

Although I’m writing this, it won’t be posted publicly yet. I wanted to write it in real time and capture how I’m feeling in the moment, but honestly even just writing it out feels a bit like tempting fate. Ridiculous I know. I’m not a superstitious woman, I’m generally pretty level headed and rational, but we both feel like saying it out loud is asking for trouble. Unlike last time when we excitedly told our parents and closest friends straight away, this time we’ve decided to keep it completely between us. Partly out of this irrational thought that telling people makes it real, tempts fate and generally feels like a cause of anxiety, and partly because I don’t want to put our friends and family, and especially my parents who have been so amazing, through that pain again should the worst happen. 

So, today marks the start of the fifth week of this pregnancy. I’m sleepy all the time and having occasional nausea, dizziness and headaches…and I couldn’t be more grateful! I’ll happily take all the pregnancy symptoms ten times over if it means that this baby makes it. I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, I don’t care if it’s twins – in fact there could be 75 in there and I’d be ecstatic as long as they’re healthy! Last time we took it for granted that we’d just have a baby, so we concerned ourselves with the trivial stuff. This time the only thing that matters is that we’re all healthy and happy. That should’ve been all that mattered last time too, maybe we were being taught that lesson the hard way. 

I’ve given the little lentil (that’s how big he or she is right now) a little pep talk. I’ve  used my best authorative mum voice to tell him or her that they need to grow big and strong so that come July 16th 2016 me and daddy can welcome him or her with more love and gratitude than we can currently imagine. Please keep everything crossed for me. 

I’ve already lined up a private clinic for a couple of early scans. We’re very fortunate that we’re financially in a position to be able to do this, and honestly I think it’ll help to quell our worries. I have to wait until week 6 before I can make an appointment for an 8 week scan which is the earliest it can be done. So for now I’m playing the waiting game. Holding my breath for the next week in the hopes that I get that far and can book in that first scan for two weeks later. All being well, we plan to have another scan at 10 weeks which just happens to be the week before Christmas. If at that point everything is ok, we’re planning to tell our parents on Christmas Day. What better Christmas present to my parents than a scan picture of their first grandchild? 12 weeks works out as the 2nd of Jan so with any luck by the new year we’ll be able to celebrate properly. I know everyone will be so happy for us. I really hope we get that far. 

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Let’s hope 2016 kicks 2015’s stupid fat ass! 

Yup! That pretty much sums up what I think about 2015. It started off well, but took a serious nose dive for the last quarter and honestly, that nose dive was so shitty it took the shine off all the good things that happened prior to it. 

Needless to say, I’m hoping for a better year for us all next year. Not that I want to be all doom and gloom. I am an eternal optimist after all, and a natural born fighter to boot, so I’ll keep plodding along being thankful for the things I do have. With that in mind, I’m really wishing my amazingly supportive friends and family all the luck, love and happiness in the world for the coming year. They deserve so many good things. They’re always there and always awesome but never was that truer than in September when my whole world crumbled. I seriously wouldn’t have survived it without my amazing man and family by my side, and that handful of truly fantastic friends who just let me be. Whether I was happy or sad or crying or screaming, they just let me be. They have been and still are so understanding even when I’ve been an antisocial, miserable hermit! They lost the Cerian they knew and loved for a while there, but I think she’s breaking through the surface now. For their unending patience, I can’t thank them enough. They will never know how much they helped me or how thankful I am to have them in my life because there just aren’t enough words to explain it. 

I go in to this new year with a feeling of being at peace. Life is messed up and chaotic and sometimes really really shitty but if it wasn’t then maybe we wouldn’t be the people we are today. I hate that I, and so many of my friends, old and new, have had to know the pain of losing a child, but it has shown me that I’m capable of such all consuming love that the loss of it is utterly devastating. So, if I’m looking for a positive here then that has to be it. Because what could be more amazing than knowing you have that much love inside you? 

So here’s to a better 2016. A happy, healthy one full of happy tears not sad ones. Here’s to a fresh start. X

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.

https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/survey/matrev-consult-pregnancy-complications-bereaved

https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/survey/nhs-maternity-review/consult_view

http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

*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. 

Paint Patches

This week has been really, really hard. I don’t really have any reason as to why this week should be harder than any others, but it was. Maybe it was because I got my period last weekend. The first one after a miscarriage is pretty awful because of the nature of it, it brings back all the awful memories (which by the way aren’t fading anywhere near quickly enough) of the miscarriage itself. It also throws your hormones all out because, clearly, you haven’t been through enough yet, you’re not emotional enough so let’s pile on the hormones too! Sometimes the human body is as cruel as it is amazing. 

I struggled through work, fighting the tears every day as I sat at my desk until a kind word from my old boss tipped me over the edge and opened the flood gates. That was Thursday, so then on Friday I thought “Finally! I just have to get through today and then I can go home and let it all out.” And that was a good plan…until one of the girls on maternity leave popped in to the office to catch up with everyone. She stood by my desk talking about her two month old baby. It was excruciating. 

Don’t get me wrong, firstly, she has no idea what I’ve been through and secondly even if she did, her life hasn’t changed as a result of it and it’s only natural that she’d want to share her happiness with friends and colleagues. I know all that and as a rational, logical person I can understand it.  It really doesn’t make it any less excruciating to hear though. Thank God I had something else to focus on – I’ve never studied a spreadsheet so intensely in my life! 

On top of feeling really emotional and generally crap, I now also have the confusion of feeling desperate to be pregnant again. I didn’t think that would happen so quickly (if at all) to be honest. We were told to wait until I’d had a period before trying again and we both thought that seemed really, really quick. I couldn’t imagine wanting to get pregnant again so soon and had quite a few freak outs at even the thought of it. Now though, only 5 weeks later, I feel ready. I feel positive that despite losing our first child, this time it’ll be ok. I don’t know whether that’s some pre programmed survival instinct to stop the human race from going extinct, or whether it’s my desire to have a baby overriding everything else, but whatever the reason I feel like next time it’ll be ok. 

When you lose a baby, certainly from a mother’s perspective anyway, you’re left with this emptiness. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it but it’s a sort of black hole inside you. It’s a void that you know only one thing can fill. I don’t know if every woman feels it, but for me I knew I was pregnant instantly. I felt pregnant, different, wonderful. (And yes, also sick and tired and emotional) That’s what makes the emptiness so all consuming I think, to go from feeling pregnant to feeling nothing is a really hard thing to get your head around. It’s unnatural after all – normally when there’s no longer a baby inside you it’s because you’ve given birth and you have this tiny little person to look after. I also can’t help but think that by now I should be able to feel my baby moving. I know that’s not constructive, and I try not to dwell on it, but I feel robbed. We should’ve been painting the nursery by now. The paint patches remain on the wall – a painful reminder of the plans we were making, the unopened tin of paint still sits in the room I can’t bring myself to enter. 

I don’t know if we’ll try again yet, I don’t know if when we do we’ll get pregnant straight away. I don’t know if we’ll have to endure another miscarriage. There are so many things I don’t know, but what I do know is that I love Paul and I love our baby. The ten weeks I had of feeling blessed, lucky, excited, and hopeful were the best of my life. I can honesty, hand on heart, say that I’ve never been happier than I was for those 10 weeks and despite the 6 weeks that followed being, without doubt, the worst of my life, I don’t for one second wish that I’d never been pregnant in the first place. 

I’m determined to make next week a better one. So today I’m taking the power back from the grief. Those paint squares and that tin of paint? I’m going to do something about them. I’m going to clear out the room that breaks my heart, and I’m going to open that sunshine yellow paint. I’m going to think of it as a fresh start because I know deep down that room is going to be a nursery one day, so I’m going to paint it in that cheerful yellow and dare myself to leave the door open and not shudder every time I pass it. Maybe I need to confront that last remaining link to my first pregnancy. Maybe it’ll help the healing.