One year on. 

Yesterday marked one year since that horrible 12 week scan and what was to be the start of the worst week of my life. I try not to dwell on it, as dwelling does no good, so I spent the day doing normal everyday stuff. I went to the dentist, met some friends for coffee and had my hair done. And it was ok. 

I’d be lying if I said my mind didn’t wander, but I needed to be busy and wanted not to dwell on things that can’t be changed. I think I succeeded in that. 

So, a year on and a lot has changed. The miscarriage association are still plugging away doing a terrific job of helping and supporting those who suffer a loss, and I had the pleasure of an email from lovely Ruth (to use her full name) a couple of weeks ago updating me on the latest with the educational videos I talked about in a blog post months ago. The videos have been made and are being rolled out to GP’s, Ultrasound technicians and anyone else likely to come in to contact with a woman suffering a miscarriage, any time now. I’m really glad I was able to offer some insight for this project and so pleased that it’s come to fruition. I sincerely hope it has the effect we all hope it will. 

On a personal level, although my loss still at times feels very recent and very raw it was in actual fact a whole year ago now. In that year I’ve got a new house, new job, got engaged, and of course welcomed little Arthur in to the world safe and well. I’m thankful and very lucky to have all that I have, I know that, and I try very hard not to take any of it for granted. Do I still wonder what that baby would have looked like? Of course. Do I still long for him or her? Absolutely. But then I remind myself that I wouldn’t have had Arthur, and he is pretty awesome so I choose to focus on that on the tough days. 

Although this is a morbid anniversary, I felt I needed to mark it somehow. Just let the universe know that I haven’t forgotten. Will never forget. Here seems as good a place as any to do that since here is where my recovery began really. Here is where I found unending support and understanding, here I found friends accross the world. We dragged each other through those awful times, and celebrated together through the happy times. Let’s hope there are more happy times to come for all of us. 

Due Date 

March 22nd is the day I was meant to have my baby. The date that’s been constantly at the back of my mind since last September, the one I’ve dreaded the most. 

If I’m honest, I thought being pregnant again would make it easier somehow but I think that was wishful thinking. It’s a couple of days away and I can already feel the emotions bubbling up to the surface so I’m really glad I had the foresight to book a couple of days off work Monday and Tuesday. I guess it’s different for everyone, and on the one hand I did think maybe being in work would be a good distraction, but deep down it just feels wrong to be getting on with life when I know that’s the day my life should have been changing forever. 

I don’t want to focus on how sad and how hard Tuesday is going to be for me – that’s a given, but at the same time I don’t want to brush it under the carpet and pretend it’s just another day. I kind of feel like I should be doing something to mark it. I just don’t know what. 

So I’ll be at home able to feel whatever I need to feel and grieve however I need to grieve without prying eyes or well meaning friends and colleagues trying to help but not knowing how. I decided that removing myself from that potentially painful situation was probably wise because people don’t understand. With all the best will in the world, unless you’ve gone through it yourself (and I hope you never do) you simply can’t understand. I know all it would take is for one person to say “at least you’re pregnant now though” in that helpful, cheery tone to make my head explode and me to say something I regret to someone who was no doubt just trying to help. 

So that’s where I’m at this morning. Headed off to my first NCT class to talk about all things babies when actually I’m pretty preoccupied with the baby that will never be. The one that nobody will talk about. Of course that then makes me feel guilty for (for want of a better word) “prioritising” my lost baby over my living one today. 

This whole process of pregnancy and miscarriage and pregnancy post miscarriage is a whirlpool of conflicting emotions – guilt, anxiety and stress. I know in the long run it’ll be so worth it, and I know from my own experience that time really does heal, but I also know that this pain will likely never leave me. I’m not sure I want it to either. After all, it’s all I have left. 

As hard as Tuesday will be, once it’s gone, it’s gone. I feel as though it’s the final stage of the grieving process. The last landmark date that I have to deal with. I’ve found a place for my grief and whilst it will always be with me, it’s manageable. I just have to get through Tuesday and then put that grief back in its box. 

 

Mother’s Day 

There’s a very good reason that my best friend, Dee, is my best friend. 

Today is a weird day for me. I’m so lucky to be having a healthy little boy, and so happy to know that I’m a mum…but I’m also sad. Sad that my first little one will never call me mammy. Today is a day that forces me to think about my loss, probably made all the worse for knowing that my due date would’ve been just a couple of weeks away. I’m sure Paul would’ve been making a fuss of me today, excitedly looking forward to welcoming our baby any day now, and that’s hard to contemplate. 

Honestly, I’m in a weird emotional state at the moment and I’ve been trying not to dwell on what might’ve been, trying not to be silly or ungrateful for what I have now.

 I didn’t really think anyone else would think about it. I don’t mean that in a horrible way, it’s not that I think people don’t care or anything, it’s just that people’s memories are short, their lives are busy, and unless they’ve experienced that same loss they just don’t understand. And then Dee text me to say that she’s thinking of me and my first little one today. It touched me more than I can say. Yes I had a cry, but to know that my baby is remembered by others too is a really lovely, comforting thing. That message also allowed me to feel what I’ve been trying to avoid feeling. By having someone else acknowledge my grief, it feels ok to have a cry. It feels ok to not be strong today. For that, and so much more I thank my oldest friend. 

I guess today is going to be hard, and I have to accept that and try to look for the positives. At the same time, I wanted to honour our loss too. 

I’m thinking of you all today, all you special women who’ve helped and supported me through what was the hardest time of my life. Today is a tough one, but we’re strong. We’ll get there.  

 

So, that was Christmas! 

It’s been a while eh? I’ve been AWOL lately for a couple of reasons. One is that honestly, there really hasn’t been much to say pregnancy wise. I think everything is ok, and aside from the usual anxiety I’m feeling pretty good. Still suffering with nausea and sickness (which I’m thankful for as I hope it means everything is ok) and still tired a lot, but otherwise no spotting or cramps, no backache…I’m feeling fairly positive. We have our dating scan a week today and as it draws nearer I am feeling more and more anxious. I keep reminding myself that we saw a very wiggly baby and a strong little heartbeat at 9 weeks and since then I haven’t had any sinister symptoms so everything is probably OK, but I can’t help but worry. 

We told our parents over Christmas. Paul’s mum got a bit tearful, both my parents looked shocked and confused and then excited and now just anxious. That makes me really sad. I totally understand why they feel the way they feel, hell we’ve felt it for 11 and a half weeks now. I get it. Nonetheless, I’m sad that my parents can’t just be excited and happy at the prospect of their first grandchild being born. As heartbreaking and awful as a miscarriage is at the time, it’s impacts are ongoing and far reaching. I suspect this pregnancy will always be tinged with a little sadness and worry until little one is here safe and live and healthy. 

So, other than pregnancy woes, we’re moving house in a couple of weeks so we’re in the process of packing up our flat and getting ourselves organised ready for the big move. Needless to say, it’s a stressful time but I’m determined to stay as relaxed as possible. I’m taking absolutely no chances with my health or my baby’s health. 
We had a really lovely if a little strange Christmas. Strange because my lovely Nan was taken in to hospital with pneumonia and although she was out after a week on the 23rd, she isn’t really herself again yet. She’s weak and tired and apparently that can take up to 8 weeks to subside. So there’s been a lot of back and forth and worrying about her whilst trying to make the best of our Christmas and make hers as good as we could. Paul and I stayed at my parents house for a few days where my mum spoiled us, fed us and generally looked after us. I have to say, it was kind of like being a kid again having my mum run around doing everything for me…and it was bliss! It meant we got to have a real break because I wasn’t constantly thinking “I should be packing that, or washing this, or cleaning that” and the break definitely did us some good ahead of a busy few weeks. My parents made this Christmas much easier on us, and for that I’m so so thankful because I dreaded Christmas after the miscarriage. The thought that I should be six months pregnant and have a lovely big bump was something that I knew would get harder and harder. I didn’t really want to be around all the usual crowds of people, and I really didn’t feel much like celebrating. In the end, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I did avoid crowds, and I did have a quieter Christmas than usual because it’s still really hard, and even being pregnant again doesn’t take away the pain. It helps I think, but it doesn’t ever go away. If I allowed myself, I could still sit and sob for that first baby. 

I don’t know when we’ll start telling people the news, and I don’t know when I’ll post these blogs I’ve been writing for months either. I still feel like saying it out loud and having people know is just tempting fate. Silly superstitions, but honestly everything makes me panicky this time so I’m going to go with my gut. It’s never steered me wrong before so when I feel strong enough to share my news I will. 

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.