*This blog post was created to raise awareness of Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15th October). Please note that this is a detailed, personal account of pregnancy loss, and covers sensitive issues*
2018 was meant to be the year that all of our dreams were to come true. Bilia Baby UK had launched and was doing great, our new home was now fully ‘nested in’, our friends and family were closer than ever before, and we were on our way to *ahem* creating of a little bundle of joy to add to our little family. However, sometimes life is cruel, and sometimes, life will send you a rainbow.
Let’s rewind a little bit – because, as you all know, life isn’t quite always the way we like to see it. In early 2017, having decided that we’d like to become foster parents, we embarked on a journey to change ourselves. We applied via Foster Care Associates (please go and check them out!) , and were on our journey to what would be the kindest, most rewarding, challenging, and most importantly, life changing occupations. It was exciting, scary, and motivating. Matt, myself, and Isabella, my beautiful step daughter, were raring to go. We were ready. Ready to see little smiles, be a shoulder for tears about big issues no child should have to face, support little lives, give all of our love and care, and to make a difference to any little person that we could.
The journey to fostering is a long one, and as we came closer to the end of the year, our dreams were also getting closer. Then, whilst on holiday with my family, something changed. Now, the decision to become a foster carer isn’t one to be taken lightly, so by no means am I trying to flippantly explain all of this in a simple blog post – and it is something that we thought long and hard about for years. Ever since we can remember being together, becoming foster parents was always something that was on the cards for us. However, on that beautiful holiday, we both realised that we hadn’t been completely and utterly open with each other and after a bit of a weird, and rare, moment together, this question popped out…
“Why don’t we try for our own baby, before we start fostering?”
It turns out that we had both been thinking about it, but both also thought that the other just wasn’t interested in actually having a child between us. We made the decision to put fostering on hold for the time being and try for a baby in October 2017. The FCA (Foster Care Associates) were incredible, and when we explained our decision to put our application on hold, they respected our wishes without even a questioning tone, and told us that, should we wish to pick our application back up where we had started from, they would keep us on their books until we contacted them again.
I don’t need to go into the details of how babies are made, so I will do you the honour of not sharing that with you. But we were trying. Month after month we were faced with high hopes, and then crushed by countless negative tests. We weren’t trying for long, but it felt like a lifetime (we can only imagine what it must feel like to those who have tried for years), and it feels like your time will never come….
“Roses are red, violets are blue. In October, our wish will come true”
Until, that is, your moment does come, and those magical ‘positive’ lines you’ve been anxiously waiting for finally pop up. On the 2nd February, 2018, we had our positive. We were 4 weeks pregnant. We were happy. We were, once again, ready to take on the world, and give all of our love to a little one. Forever. We followed all of the rules we possibly could, and only told our best friend. No one else knew, even though we wanted to scream it from the rooftops, and life was bloody good…
Until it wasn’t. On the morning of the 15th of February, I woke up with blood soaked pyjamas, and the blood wasn’t stopping. We called our GP, who then sent us to the nearest hospital, which we understood would be able to tell us what was happening. We arrived at the hospital, only to be told that they wouldn’t be able to help us, and got sent to another hospital, over ½ hour away. Once we arrived at the second hospital and after an hour of waiting, we were again, sent away to third hospital, in rush hour, which would take us another ¾ hour at least. By this point, I knew that something terrible had happened. I was in pain. I hadn’t stopped bleeding. I was numb. We knew nothing about miscarriage, other than that it was any parent-to-be's worst nightmare. We had never thought about anything like Baby Loss Awareness Week, as it was never something relevant to us. We knew nothing.
We arrived at the third hospital, and were met with a three hour wait, a nurse who asked me for around an hour if I was sure I was pregnant, and finally saw a doctor who told me to wait until I thought I was 7 weeks pregnant, then take a test. We left the hospital not knowing if we were pregnant or not. We left that third hospital feeling worse than when we first went in. We’d been thrown out into the big wide world with no help or support. We were alone.
“We can’t do anything, and won’t scan you. Take the test in a week. If it’s positive, we’ll scan you. If not, you’re not pregnant anymore.”
Matt, my ever supportive, endlessly loving partner was also hurting, on the inside. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t still be here. I wasn’t able to help him through this. I wasn’t able to help myself through this. He did everything for me, and still managed to hold himself together enough to make me think everything was going to be OK. I did the test, as told by the doctor, with still a tiny glimmer of hope. I sat, for half an hour, waiting for those lines to appear. The lines never came. We had lost our baby. We weren’t pregnant any more, and that was it. No one to talk to, no one to offer support, no one to tell us how to feel. Nothing. No baby. No care.
I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t very far along in the pregnancy, or simply because there’s no such thing as a ‘bedside manner’ any more, but I felt abandoned. I don’t believe that any miscarriage should be treated differently. I DO believe that there should be more help available to those who are going through the same thing as I did. The Miscarriage Association were helpful, as were Tommy’s – you should be able to click through to both websites to check them out, too. However, seeing someone face to face, right when we needed someone, would have been exactly what we needed. Someone to validate the pregnancy. Someone who could tell us that we were normal for feeling the way we did.
And so, I’m not ashamed to admit, I spiralled into a downwards pit of despair. I didn’t want to work anymore, as part of me felt that everyone would be able to tell that something had happened, and would ask me about it. I didn’t want to be at home anymore because the memories, whilst our pregnancy was only short lived, were branded into every inch of the house. I didn’t want to see my friends or family, because they would know that I was hiding something. I didn’t want to be me anymore. I drank, I smoked, I changed, and I went into full-on self-destruct mode. I was ignoring Matt’s cries for help, and our love life had disappeared.
“Happy Birthday to Delly! Happy Birthday to you!”
The 27th March is my birthday. My rock of a husband had tried, on several occasions, to cry for help, to pull me out of my pit, to make me see that this wasn’t my fault, and that we had to carry on with life, together. It didn’t work, but I respected him for it. Through all of his own pain, he did something marvellous with my best friend. They threw me a surprise birthday party, with all of the people who I love, and love me in return, in one room. Just for me. It was like something had clicked, and whilst I still felt tremendous pain, I realised that whilst I had no love to give to myself anymore, that somehow didn’t matter. Everyone else did.
With some reality restored in my mind, and some of the fears that I had been feeling starting to dissipate thanks to some good old fashioned hard talk – I began to feel like I had things back on track. WE felt like we were getting back on track. We decided to start trying for a baby again. We initially thought that we wouldn’t putt any stress on ourselves, this time, and if it were to happen, it would happen. Oh how wrong we were. I had replaced my bad coping mechanisms (or anti-coping mechanisms) with another – obsession. I’m still unsure as to which is most unhealthy to this day. It put a strain on our relationship. It put a strain on my relationship with everyone. It went on, for months. Four months, to be exact. This time, every negative test was even more excruciating than when we were first trying. Every month was agony. Waiting was agony. Planning every moment was agony. I reached my pressure point. I snapped.
“I need you to see someone for some help.”
I didn’t think I needed help. I didn’t think I needed anything. I thought that there was just no point any more, in anything. It’s hard to describe it; I had so much love for everyone around me, but became jealous, hurtful, spiteful and hated everyone for being so happy. We had a rather frank conversation with my best friend, which took me by complete surprise. As she was the only person I would listen to at that point in time, it shocked me that she was so outright with what she said. She said that she needed me to get some help. She needed me to put myself first. She needed me to save what I was destroying, and demanded that I book an appointment with my GP to talk about grief counselling. I was oblivious to the fact that anyone could see that I was in pain. I was oblivious that I had replaced bad habits with bad habits. I was oblivious that people could see that I had wept, for weeks, and my face was raw. I had shut down. I had disappeared.
I approached the doctor’s office with caution, as I didn’t want to just be pumped with anti-depressants – my obsession told me that they would be dangerous for the baby if I got pregnant. I didn’t want to repeat what I had gone through on that day again. I didn’t want to tell them how terrible they were for sending me away to hospitals that didn’t help me when the little life I was growing was, literally, falling away from me. What would I say? How would they be able to help me, when all I could feel was a primal instinct? How would I describe the details of that day, when all I wanted to do was bring my baby back?
“You’re an amazing person, and what you’re feeling is normal. I have faith in you”
The doctor sat opposite me, in her fantastically colourful headscarf, her face that felt oh so familiar, and with a warmth that I could feel filling the room, and didn’t take her eyes away from me. She was incredible. I haven’t, in my 30 years on this planet, ever met another doctor, dentist, nurse, or receptionist quite like her. It was like she could see through all of the pain I was feeling. It felt like she had felt it too. She said the words above like she knew me. She explained that she didn’t think I needed any therapy, counselling, or drugs. She told me I was normal. That what I was feeling was valid. She told me that she knew I would feel better. She told me she had faith in me. I left that office feeling new. It was odd, but I felt like me again, but stronger.
I had let go of the pressure of trying to conceive again. We weren’t planning days and times. The word ‘ovulation’ wasn’t allowed to enter our house, and I’d deleted my tracking apps to make sure I wasn’t tempted to go back to that bad habit. We did, however, have a bit of fun at the summer solstice as the weather was exceptional this year – we stayed outside until the sun went down, playing, laughing, and dancing for the first time in what felt like years. I had found a solstice fertility spell that we were both giggling like little children about (I can imagine that that sounds like the silliest thing, but hey – I’m a sucker for the weird and wonderful!), and thought we’d have a go. I have to admit, I did worry that it would trigger the same old obsession again, but we both went into it, whole heartedly and full of love, rather than desperation. On the day of the summer solstice, and two days thereafter, we each recited a little chant to the male and the female gods, lit a little candle, and hit the sack. If anything, it calmed us, and cuddling up together by candlelight was an experience neither of us have ever done for fear of setting the house on fire (did I mention that we’re both a little neurotic?). This was different. It felt different. It felt like us, but new.
“Lord and Lady, Mother and Father, Life Divine. As two are made one, we seek your sacred blessing”
Three weeks later, I threw up. I didn’t know why, but as someone who has become accustomed to throwing up quite frequently when I was younger, it didn’t bother me, and I thought nothing of it. As another two weeks passed, I began to feel very strange. I thought it was the heat, as the summer this year was completely ridiculous, and I was struggling with it. Then it dawned on me – either my period was late, or I had forgotten when I was supposed to expect it to arrive, which wouldn’t be a surprise as I have a very poor memory.
It was Matt who suggested that I take a test. In all honesty, I didn’t think I wanted to. I thought that it would just bring every painful moment running back to me, so I left it a few days. Then curiosity got the better of me….
We were pregnant again. Everything melted away, and I felt whole again. We were both absolutely petrified, but the excitement was like nothing I have ever felt before. I took one more, a week later (what I thought was about 7 weeks, longer than how far I had got with the first pregnancy) and it was as strong as anything I’ve ever seen. I booked an appointment with the GP, and saw the same, incredible doctor that I had seen previously. She was so happy for me, and I was grateful for her. She booked my first appointment with the midwife for 8 weeks, which went really well, and then subsequently, reached the 12 week mark with our scan (we were actually 13 weeks by that point). It was amazing, and we both were in tears. Happy tears. Tears that showed our pain, and the relief we felt when it fell away.
We’d rushed to my parents’ house straight after our scan, as no one knew we were pregnant yet. We’d kept it all in, as we didn’t want to have to explain to everyone, should the same have happened again this time. They were thrilled. The next day, we got to tell Isabella and Matt’s parents. It was the best feeling ever. That was, until we got home. Something felt strange. After a rush to the toilet, I just sat there in shock. I was bleeding again.
How could this be happening again? What did we do to deserve such pain? Having a miscarriage changes the way you feel about being pregnant. Everything is 100 x more scary than before. Every little feeling is scary. I had lost count of the amount of times we had said to each other that we were frightened. We went straight to the hospital that we’d hoped to give birth in, and were taken through to a bed almost instantly. I was in a state of shock.
I was lucky, as I had the most incredible people around me. My best friend took me to the hospital, and Matt met us there 10 minutes afterwards. I do remember sitting, in silence, not knowing what to feel. After an abundance of tests, including bloods and an internal examination, they announced that they would be sending me home. The only information I was given about what was happening was that I had had a ‘threatened miscarriage’. I’ll admit that this fell on deaf ears, and I only heard that once again, my baby was not going to make it.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I didn’t want a repeat of before, and certainly needed to know before I left the hospital what the outcome was this time, but there was nothing else that they would do for me. I couldn’t bear waiting another moment to know if my baby was ok. Matt booked us in for a private scan that week, as neither of us were sure what was happening. We went to NuGen Ultrasound and they were amazing. They kept the screens facing us turned off until they found a heartbeat and baby moving. When they turned it on, our worlds changed, once again, for the better.
Fast forward to today, the 4th October 2018, and we had our 16 week appointment today. Hopefully, this little beauty (a boy, by the way) will be happy, healthy, and still putting up a fight. Our rainbow baby. Our shining light.
One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.
I, myself, was a rainbow baby. I now know so many people who have been through miscarriage. I don’t think that anyone knows that miscarriage is as common as it is. I also don’t believe that, unless you’ve been through it, you truly know the pain, no matter how far along your pregnancy was. We need to talk about it more. We need people who are on-hand to explain what’s happening. We need things like Baby Loss Awareness. We certainly need to train our doctors and nurses on the necessary ways to treat people who are about to experience their worst nightmare. We need people to help those who are helping us through miscarriage, when their world is ending too.
We need more help, even if it’s from each other.
Hopefully, events like Baby Loss Awareness Week will help people to start talking about their experiences, and help others to feel more comfortable in understanding their feelings.
If you’d like to help us to spread the word about Baby Loss Awareness Week, please share this blog post. You may not think it, but you’ll be helping someone to open up to a conversation somewhere, to get help, and to feel something.
If you'd like to share your story with me, I'd be happy to receive them. I am putting together a piece on 'pregnancy after loss' here at Bilia Baby UK, so any stories would be welcomed with open arms and a keen ear. If you would just like to talk, I'd like that too. My email for all of the above is email@example.com
I hope that this blog post has given you some hope, too. Our beautiful rainbow baby is due on the 15th March, 2019, and we’re so excited. Nervous, but excited.