Baby loss awareness week…

Ended today with the Wave of Light at 7 pm. I am currently lay in bed next to Oliver who kept trying to blow my candle out.

1 in 4 pregnancies in the uk end in loss during pregnancy or birth. And yet we don’t talk about it. Why? For me it’s because I have no words that I can say to those close to me. There’s no words they can say to me. There’s nothing that can make it feel any better really, except maybe time. I just don’t think they’d understand the pain and grief. Or maybe I do them a disservice and I don’t talk because I’m scared of going back to the dark thoughts I had then, saying it out loud would be so painful, I don’t know if I can do that.

Anyway Twitter was awash tonight with the Wave of Light. So many families going through the same things. Some were just candles, some had names, some had poems and some were written by people who haven’t experienced baby loss but wanted to show support. It made me feel less alone. I lit my candle for longer than the requested hour and joined the Twitter wave. I found everything I read made me feel so sorry for these people, their stories are heartbreaking. Much worse than mine.

I think we need to stop the silence around baby loss. This week of awareness has certainly made me aware of how isolated people become. How no one knows what to say so say nothing. How people decide how long you can grieve for or tell you it’s nothing to grieve over. Everyone is different and it’s not something everyone can get over.

Don’t ignore it if it happens to someone you know. Don’t say they can try again or “these things happen for a reason”. Use the baby’s name if they have one. Ask how dad is feeling too, he often gets overlooked. Just be there, even if you feel you aren’t doing anything helpful, it will be appreciated- so many people pretend it never happened or disappear.

If anyone reading this has experienced loss of a baby there are plenty of helplines out there and forums where you can get support. You aren’t alone. Just check out #WaveofLight on twitter and you’ll see just how many people are in the same boat as you, trying to stay afloat. I wish for you to find peace.

In memory of Virginia and Edmund, my angel babies.

P.S Please forgive the rambling nature of this post


Miscarriage-it’s not like on tv.

I assumed that miscarriage happened like on tv, you find out you’re pregnant, you bleed, you go to hospital, you come home and try to get on.  However mine lasted what seemed an absolute age.

I didn’t feel pregnant, I took the test because I was late.  It was positive.  I didn’t get any symptoms and after having 5 previous pregnancies I kind of knew what to be looking for.  I went to the doctors anyway, Emily made me, and they did a repeat test and bloods.  After having a previous ectopic they wanted to keep an eye on the hormone level as it can indicate ectopic if it doesn’t get above a certain number.  A week later I was back with spotting and lower abdomen pain and a slight fever.  My GP taking no chances sent me straight to scan to check it was where it should be.  It was and everything looked ok except I still didn’t feel pregnant.  I was booked in for the following week for another scan when they would be able to see a heartbeat.  In the mean time they drew new bloods.  I phoned for the results and the numbers didn’t work.  Pregnancy hormone usually doubles every 2/3 days and mine didn’t sound high enough.  I could hear the nurse on the end trying to do a positive voice “I’m sure if we sat down with a calculator it’s high enough” but I knew then that this baby was never going to happen. No one thought I’d have coped anyway.

At the next scan the blob had grown but I had a “bulky” uterus. “You may have got your dates wrong, come back next week and we’ll see” accompanied by a sympathetic head tilt and smile.  They put your results in a brown envelope to take back to EPAU (they eventually got their own scan machine so you don’t have to sit with pregnant women) and who wouldn’t have a look at their own notes?  Gestation was 5 weeks.  I knew that wasn’t right.  I went back, and I told Leon that there’d be a heartbeat, I know how cruel the universe can be, he didn’t think so.  There was.  Very slow, the sonographer had to have it confirmed by a colleague.  The doctor talked to me and said I may start bleeding at any time, I told her I hadn’t stopped.  And then I stopped bleeding, so I thought maybe, just maybe I did get my dates wrong, maybe his heart had only just got going and it would get stronger.

The following Tuesday I was back at the unit again.  They had changed floors and the scan room hadn’t been set up so I was sent down to the pregnant women bit to wait my turn.  Oh I should mention that Emily had come with me on every visit.  She was working at a hotel at the time so changed shifts to fit in with my appointments and my mum had the little ones.  She is someone you want to have with you at times like this as she is amusing- not always on purpose which is even funnier.  We were in the waiting room and a woman was staring at Emily whilst sucking on a juice box.  It wasn’t just looking it was staring and aggressive sucking.  She was whispering to me “why am I being stared at in that way” but I couldn’t reply as I was sniggering with my face turned away.  I suppose you had to be there.  Anyway scan time came and there was no heartbeat.  She got a colleague to confirm and asked if I wanted to see, I did as it was going to be my only chance.  Then they put us in a room with sofa’s – a bad news room- and did her report.  I had seen gestation 5 weeks, gestation 6 weeks and this one said Gestation 0 weeks.  I was offered 3 options, wait and see, medical management with pessaries or vacuum.  I wanted to go home so took the pessary option.  I had to have bloods done first and they’d take an hour to come back.  Emily phoned work and said she may be late, explained the situation and told them to “fire her then”.  I asked what was wrong and she said they’d been “nobs” but I know she would have risked her job for me.  She needed to be there for me.  Leon had been phoned and told to pick up the little ones etc.  I got the pessaries eventually and given a shed load of codeine then sent home.  Come back in 2 weeks for a check up.

So on the 24th November, I had really bad, what felt like labour pains and copious amounts of bleeding.  It was truly truly awful.  The codeine didn’t really touch the pain, and I couldn’t sleep, probably because I’m a self recriminator and I was trying to figure out what I did wrong.

2 weeks later I had a positive pregnancy test at the hospital, scan sent home come back next week.  We watched some good Christmas films, me and Emily.  She kept my spirits up, and the littlest vampire was on which was a trip down nostalgia lane for us.  They Kept coming back positive, and on the 29th December I had a scan that showed a small “mass” that the doctor said would pass naturally.  Hurrah!  Finally discharged.  Errr……  After a Consultant had seen the file he wanted me in for an extraction the next day- buggered up Christmas, now New Year too.  Dropped off- no one allowed to stay, picked up a couple of hours after surgery.  I’d given Leon my engagement ring to keep hold of and he’d lost it somewhere. No big deal.  In the car, nothing to say.  Got home, nothing to say.  Took codeine, went to bed.  Spent the next few days in a fog.  My mental health did get progressively worse (that’s a different tale) but I never realised how long miscarriages last. And just how emotionally draining it is to go back week after week, to be given hope then it be taken away, not to mention the physical toll.  Feeling like a failure, again.  Being given a number of a counsellor you’re never going to call.  Feeling so alone.  Crying over nothing.

“It’s probably for the best” “you can try again” “you’ve got four already- be grateful” are phrases you don’t really want to hear.  I don’t know how couples go through it, time and time again.  They have my admiration, they must be so strong.I plant another tree and plan another tattoo.  Maybe I’m just daft- I know not everyone even sees it as a baby til a lot later, but I do.  I saw him on screen, his heart tried so hard to beat.  He just couldn’t do it.  In my darker moments I think “maybe he didn’t want me to be his mummy, maybe he heard people saying I couldn’t cope, maybe he felt unwanted”  I know it’s stupid thinking but it’s when I’m low these thoughts come.  I have four beautiful, healthy children that drive me insane at times.  I love them and am so grateful for them but it doesn’t mean I can’t take a moment every now and then and think on what could have been.  I know that without my parents, my partner, Emily and my aunt and uncle I couldn’t have got through it, I may not have a large support network, but what I have is small and mighty.

I looked around that waiting room every week and hoped and prayed that those women would have a different outcome and that they’d get to hold their angels.  I really hope they did.



After the first loss

So I was kept in overnight after the operation. For my birthday tea I had some iced water and a mint.

They had prescribed medication so I was still in bed the next day waiting for the drug round. The lovely surgeon called by and explained the procedure, asked how I was and offered to show me pictures. I asked to see them, then he put them back in my file. He told me the “tissue” had gone to pathology, considering the subject he was as sensitive as he could be. He was actually the nicest person I met during it all. He then went on to explain that the human body is very clever and that over time it was more likely that my left ovary would release eggs as my body would realise  it was pointless using the right side. I don’t know how true this is and I was in my late 30’s anyway so it wasn’t really going to affect me. I was done. I was heartbroken. I wasn’t going to try again.

The psychological impact was that I no longer felt like a proper woman. I couldn’t keep hold of a baby, I’d lost half my reproductive system I felt like a failure. No one understood although looking back I’m more forgiving, what do you say to someone who has been through that. “Focus on the kids you’ve got” ” some people don’t get any” “you can always try again”.

All I had to show that she’d existed was three little scars, they’d done a laparoscopy, and gone in through my c section scar and a positive pregnancy test which is in a little bag with my pregnancy notes. I couldn’t talk about it. I know people have different views on what constitutes a proper loss but I don’t judge them on their opinion. As soon as I see that positive on the wee stick I’m planning. Up to that point I never planned on not having a baby in my arms a few months later.

I also think that because so much has happened over such a short time I never get a chance to process anything before the next disaster is upon me. This year I decided to start trying to make sense and come to terms with things. It may take longer than a year but I need to find some sense somewhere or I’m going to lose myself in what if’s and why’s.

I think the ectopic pregnancy was one of the harshest things I’ve gone through. To put it into perspective for my husband, Leon, I told him that. He knows so much about my life and that statement let him know just how bad it was. “Really? Even worse than……” yes dear, even worse than all that other crap.

The first loss

I think even in todays enlightened age there are still taboo subjects we don’t discuss in polite society.   Death, feelings and mental health are just three I can think of off the top of my head. By not talking about things that affect us they stay bottled up until something gives.  Some things are too hard to talk about, sometimes we don’t have the words.  Sometimes we think no one will understand so we don’t bother even starting the conversation.  I have tried talking about this before (just a little) but I get resentful when I end up having to be the comforter instead of the comfortee.

April 2013.  We had just moved house, we had a 1 year old son and I was pregnant with my fourth.  Despite the house being filled with boxes and being all higgledy piggeldy we still managed to throw Oliver a decent first birthday bash with a cake that I had managed to turn out in time despite the chaos.  Things were looking up.

I’d just got my appointment through for my 12 week scan a couple of weeks away.  5th May I woke up feeling “funny”.  I mentioned I had a bit of abdominal pain to my husband but with the moving and a very robust 1 year old, I thought it was probably just that.  By lunch time I had shoulder pain and at dinner I couldn’t eat for feeling sick.  We decided to go to bed but lying down was painful and I couldn’t breathe.  I asked my husband to take me to A&E – he was convinced it was just muscle pain but after rolling his eyes he gave in and took me.

Our local hospital no longer has maternity services so they sent me to the next closest one.  The nurse was reassuring, the pregnancy test was showing positive, I was upright and just in a little pain and “the scan tomorrow will tell us more”.  They admitted me anyway –  it was about 4am by this point and he went home to sleep and check on the kids, after promising me everything was going to be ok. (our eldest was watching them- she still lived at home then)

Bank holiday Monday- no scan.  The doctor that came round said it was probably appendicitis.  I tried telling her it didn’t feel like my other pregnancies and that it felt wrong but she talked to her minions and told them to get a consult for appendix.  They refused to come down until a scan was done as ectopic seemed more likely.  Knowing they weren’t going to do anything I discharged myself and went home with a promise to go for a scan the next day at my local hospital.

7th May-incidentally my birthday.  Went for the scan, couldn’t see anything in the womb, didn’t bother scanning the tubes. “probable ectopic” was what she wrote on her little form.  A lovely nurse explained what was likely, what would happen next and promised to not let my car get clamped as I wasn’t allowed to drive myself to the next hospital for the procedure.  I rang my husband who had just started a new job and told him we couldn’t afford to lose his job so to come see me after work.  I was taken to A&E where they put a canular in “just in case” and I went in an ambulance to the hospital that had “appendixed” me the day before.  From when I arrived it was all stations go…..Mr Consultant consulting and taking another history, surgeon asking his questions, nurse measuring my calves for bed socks.  Hubby had been sent home from work and was there to tie my gown on (wrongly) a quick hug and I was in surgery.

And that was it.  One day I was convincing Leon that Virginia was a brilliant name for our daughter, and a few hours later she was gone.  There was no time to process anything.  Everyone had been so reassuring and he had promised me that it was going to be ok that I thought maybe it would be.  It really wasn’t though.  I told him to never make me another promise as I would never believe him again.

Time for a break