Today marks National Rainbow Baby Day🌈 and it’s hard to believe that almost 2 years ago (to the day) I began miscarrying a very much tried for and loved baby.
A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. These babies are the rainbow after the storm – bringing hope, promise, healing, and remembrance.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in Miscarriage – its THAT common. Whilst this is a day to celebrate, I also wanted to just highlight our own Miscarriage journey for those who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, the trauma of Miscarriage . All my posts are linked here >>> MISCARRIAGE & ME.
This special celebration is a way for mothers (AND fathers / partners / families) across the country to share their experiences, grieve, reflect, and most importantly, celebrate the joy and love for their miraculous Rainbow Babies. A Rainbow Baby brings hope to so many – beautiful examples of how a woman’s body and mind can heal after pregnancy or infant loss. These newborn babes do not heal the hurt, pain or strain of a loss, but they remind us to celebrate life and find joy. They are a rare treasure.
I sit and type away, right now, with my darling baby girl laid next to me – our beautiful Rainbow Baby that we thought would never come. As I look at Edie, I can’t help but think about the sibling she and her brother will never meet. It’s difficult not to look at her and wonder who was in in my uterus before her, and after Eli. It’s difficult not to wonder – not to wonder who they might have been. But then I think again, if we hadn’t lost, would we be where we are right now? Would we have Edie at all? While I would have obviously never wished for a miscarriage, maybe it was a painful bridge we had to cross to get to the love and joy of our new baby girl. This teeny, tiny human, that I’m having trouble with sleeping beside, because I just can’t stop staring at her. This teeny, tiny human that has made our little family complete – that has made Eli a Big Brother – nay, an AMAZING big brother that we’re just in awe of.
Edie will always be a little bit special 🌈 and that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting about the one we lost. But it definitely does make us feel like the luckiest parents on the planet to have our two glorious children.
Sending love and luck to those who have yet celebrate the arrival of their own Rainbow Baby. Edie is proof of joy after loss, don’t let go of your own hope 🌈
Today is 15th March. The due date given for our second pregnancy✨
Today could have/would have/should have (???) been a first birthday for a little one we will never hold. A little one we will never meet. A little one who gave us hope and dreams.
Having had such wonderful news at the 20 week scan of our third pregnancy on Tuesday; it’s safe to say this week I have been on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. Pregnancy after loss is such a tricky and confusing and emotional time to try and navigate your way through. Happiness and sadness. Guilt? It’s a weird one. But I’m allowing myself to feel all of the feelings.
I know a few of my friends IRL and on here are going through a tough time this week. So this page from @rupikaur_’s “Milk and Honey” is for you too. Do not resist giving yourself space and time to think – to grieve – to feel anger, hurt, pain and happiness too.
If you can’t see the image above, the verse reads:
it is part of the
human experience to feel pain
do not be afraid
open yourself to it
I’m allowing myself to remember today. But also to breathe the relief in that I have a beautiful, healthy 🌈 baby, wriggling inside me right now. And I’ve never felt more lucky 🌿
(If this is your first time here on my blog, HELLO! I had a miscarriage in August 2017. It wasn’t ‘over’ until the ERPC in October 2017.. This is a lengthy post – as always, I am sharing our experience as a means to continue the conversation of trying again after loss).
OK, I’ll start from the very beginning…
A year ago (January 2018), I stopped drinking. I started taking the recommended dose of Folic Acid and additionally, Vitamin B12. (Just incase). The “better” eating happened. Then when we moved to Manchester in May, I began the exercise – cycling to school and back twice a day was also helping my mood! I’d been on the pill for a few months post-miscarriage to get my periods back into a regular routine, but came off them at the start of 2018. Every single person you speak to regarding your miscarriage will tell you, “you’re most fertile after having a miscarriage… you’ll fall again quickly”.
We decided that we weren’t going to look at fertile days, or take ‘trying’ too seriously. After my Miscarriage, I didn’t want ANY added stress or pressure. We wanted it to happen on our own terms… after all, “you’ll be amazingly fertile after a miscarriage“.
But after our trip to Florida in June, I started to get a bit anxious about trying again and opened up my FLO app to begin tracking my periods, mood, health and everything in-between. From then on, we began trying on the most fertile days of the month.
September came and I still hadn’t fallen. Now, I understand that this really isn’t a long time, compared to other couples who try and try and try for years. But I’d fallen pregnant with my first two pregnancies within 3 months of trying. Granted, I was a lot older now – but I am only 32 still. Not exactly elderly! I lost a little weight and continued cycling and enjoying walks in the great outdoors (thanks to our new National Trust membership!). I knew fine well that out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within 1 year. The rest will take longer, or may need help to conceive. But at the back of my mind, the whole “shouldn’t you be mega fertile now?” voices were constantly trolling at me and I couldn’t help but worry that something else was going on in my body, that:-
I had no control over (ie, my Endometriosis or something more sinister…
Something had ‘broken’ during my ERPC procedure that had left me with some kind of scarring…
Or worse, had everything actually ‘come away’ following the ERPC operation?
So, September onwards, we began tracking my ovulation and BBT (Basal Body Temperature). I bought a few packs of the ‘cheapie’ ovulation kits by One Step and the results were so interesting – see below:
The only problem with tracking your Ovulation is that, your day begins by thinking about your fertility… This meant, I couldn’t really escape my own pressures of falling pregnant. It was alllll I could think about. To the extend that I began to distance myself from outside of this little bubble. You can clearly see where I began a minor social media hiatus!
I was tracking everything via the app. Every little niggle! You track so much and think about it so much, that your body eventually convinces you that you’re pregnant. (Hence the early testing in September and November). But when you’re tracking everything, you’re reminded every month when you’re bloody period arrives that you’ve failed again this month. It’s the most heartbreaking few days – every time you go to the loo and get that little reminder that your body wasn’t up for fertilisation. To top it off, we had Eli listening to my tummy to check if a baby was in there… he’s been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now.
On Thursday 15th November, I was making Eli an outfit for BBC Children in Need. Looking back at my tracking, I’d had a few ‘off days’ . I’d had period type cramps and felt so light-headed. I wasn’t due on my period for another week but thought I could be coming on early. Then on the evening as I was finishing sewing, I managed to stab my hand with a pair of exceptionally sharp fabric scissors. Normally, I’d be fine and get a plaster. Blood does not bother me, heck, once you’ve watched 24 Hours in A&E, you can muster pretty much all of the blood. The DRAMATIC scenes that ensued are frankly, pure comedy. I was freaking out so much. I had to lay on the bathroom floor for fear of passing out. Never, have a I ever been like that.
The next day I went to the GP to see if I could get a Tetanus injection – just incase I was pregnant. I didn’t want to get an infection. Luckily, it turns out I was up to date. Phew.
Something still didn’t sit right with me about the way I had so ridiculously overreacted the night before. So at lunchtime, I went upstairs and did a quick One Step pregnancy test. I was 99% certain it would be negative as I’d had the cramping… it was also the very first time I’d ever done a test without James by my side.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as the second line appeared in 2 1/2 minutes. Again, I nearly passed out and laid on the sofa to compose myself. I thought I better ring James. I thought he’d go mad with me for doing the test without him…. I’d kind of played it cool on the phone. I’d convinced myself that the cheap test couldn’t POSSIBLY be correct. And 5 whole days before my period was due?!
I convinced myself it was a false positive. It HAD to be, right?
At school home-time I told Eli we needed to pop to the chemist to get something for my tummy… he immediately said “Why, is there a baby in there now?!”. “I really hope so darling”, I responded.
I got 4 of the Superdrug own pregnancy tests – the same ones we’d bought when we fell with Eli. So I had some trust in them. I’d used a variety when I fell pregnant in 2017 and going back to the Superdrug own brand tests made me feel a bit safer, weirdly.
I waited on tenterhooks for James to get home from work – and with an evening urine sample, the results were… (see below)
The second line was so faint, I couldn’t see it and had to put the picture under all of the filters on photoshop to see it. But, as I said when I fell with Eli, you can’t be a little bit pregnant, can you!?
We told Eli our news immediately. We wanted to be open and honest with him – especially as he had seen me go through our miscarriage. We told him that we would tell all our family and friends at Christmastime as a present! (And you can’t tell anyone when its a present, can you!?) HOW Eli managed to not tell anyone before Christmas, I will never know. But that kid man, he is just a total boss.
Speaking of which, I went on Timehop and we realised that we’d done our first pregnancy test with Eli on the SAME weekend – 18th November 2011. Strange; we must have conceived this baba around the same time as we conceived Eli.
Over the next few days, POW, the pregnancy symptoms came in thick and fast.I felt so sick. I was so tired. And continued to track pregnancy tests and my symptoms – just incase.
I had every single pregnancy symptom going; and then-some.
My skin burst into the worst cystic acne ever. Mostly on my lower cheeks and jawline.
‘Morning Sickness’ – except, it’s not just the morning, is it. It’s ALL DAY and ALL EVENING.
The Exhaustion – I was falling asleep after dropping Eli off at school and then again straight after tea.
Extreme bloating – by 7pm, I was looking mega preggo.
Food aversions – the smell of cooking is just the WORST. Couldn’t face meat. Couldn’t face big meals. Ended up surviving on plain boiled rice and rice cakes. Good job I was taking ALL of the pregnancy vitamins by this point.
Couldn’t face Tea or Coffee (still can’t do my beloved (now decaf) Coffee, even the smell is nauseating).
Brushing my teeth became the enemy – every single time I’d bork.
Sheer, unadulterated, brain fog – not being able to articulate what you want to talk about or not being able to remember why you entered a room; or even why the kettle is in the fridge is somewhat frustrating and also kinda scary.
Increased thirst – which is quite something for me as I’m always guzzling water as it is!
Extreme Overheating – I had repeated ‘hot flashes’ that made me feel so faint. Luckily, touch wood, I’ve not fainted.
A weird one now – an version to LEGO. ACTUAL LEGO. It wasn’t that I had a want to eat it or anything, but the sight of Lego made me so, so nauseous! I had to have Eli pack it all away and not play with it in front of me. SO WEIRD. I have no idea what caused it or why. But 5 weeks on, I’m finally becoming ok with the Lego being around again.
By 10th December, we were being seen at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Stepping Hill Hospital for an early Scan. By my app, I was exactly 7 weeks pregnant. I felt anxious but the full-on symptoms gave me hope that we would perhaps see a pregnancy sac.
And low and behold, as soon as the scan went on, the heartbeat was found. The tears of relief rolled down my cheeks. We were so bloody happy.
It’s difficult to put into words how you feel when the Sonographer say’s… “and there is your baby with a strong heartbeat fleeting away”. The scan looked more like 6 weeks than 7, but we were reassured that the baby would likely catch up, or the conception date could be a little out – did you know that sperm can travel for 7 days before fertilisation?
Fast forward to Christmas Day and I’m 9 weeks pregnant. I’m mainly surviving on:-
Orange ice lollies
Jamaican Ginger cake
Ginger beer (not ginger ale, ginger beer)
Raw carrots – in abundance.
Apples – but must be cut up
Bananas on rice cakes with a dash of honey
Plain boiled rice and soy sauce
Yoghurts with peach compote
Orange drinks – Fanta or Capri sun
Chewy sweets – Haribo, Randoms etc
I can only drive if I have original Tic Tac’s
Chips & curry
Chips & gravy
Chips with salt & vinegar
Salt and vinegar crisps – (preferably, Disco’s)
We also got to finally let our parents know we were with child. Which again, was another big relief. We spent the rest of the festive period SO relaxed. Which is just what I needed. This was mostly my view:-
Never spent so much time in bed, in my life. We decided ‘bed rest’ was for the best. This baby is so precious and I just didn’t want to overdo it by rushing about at my normal pace, lifting loads at will – up & down the stairs with laundry or the Dyson. I had also stopped cycling for fear of falling off etc. By week 11 I was just so tired, that being in bed was definitely the only place for me to be honest!
Also, is there a better way to spend your pregnant-life than in pyjama’s?! These ones are still my favourite, from NEXT. They also still fit, at the minute, hurrah!
Almost up to date now. We had our 12 dating week scan on Friday 18th January, again at our local hospital of Stepping Hill. I felt sick with nerves and worry and anxiety – what if there was nothing there like our last 12 week scan? I couldn’t speak. James and I spent the 10 minute car journey in silence, him asking if I was ok… then muttering “you’re scarily quiet… “.
As is rather usual, scans were running a little late, which is totally reasonable given the detail they require. I forbid anyone to get frustrated with this – even with a full bladder!
We were called into the scan room and soon as the sonographer addressed us I broke down in tears. She had asked a question about my previous pregnancy and what happened at my 12 week scan. To which I blubbered through the details of my miscarriage – she looked perplexed. Then we ‘clicked’ that she was in-fact referring to the issues that came up when we had the 12 week scan with Eli – his NT measurement was high, so we were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH) . Because of the sensitivity of time, the referral was organised for the very next day. The appointment at UCLH would include a detailed scan, counselling and the invasive Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) procedure based on the results of the scan and our consent. CVS would be able to tell us if there were any genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.
Once we’d explained everything, I was asked to get myself comfortable on the bed. I couldn’t. I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was sobbing and shaking and sweating. I was so scared of being scanned. It seems ridiculous and all I could do was apologise. The worry I’d been bottling up the last 12 weeks had come to the surface. The constant anxiety at every niggle – the worry that my symptoms suppressing. Was I losing the baby? The constant anxiety of every, single, toilet visit – inspecting the tissue incase theres any trace of blood. Apologies if this is *too much information*, but I’m just giving an honest insight to the daily struggles.
Eventually, I came round and shakily got onto the bed. The warm gel was applied to my tummy and the Sonographer went to work. Within seconds (felt like YONKS) she showed us our babe on the screen. Firstly, I was so SHOCKED at how large the baba was. It never, ever, ever, becomes less amazing. I was sobbing again and clenching James’ hand so tightly. The relief of seeing that baby, an actual child, on the screen, is unbelievable. Secondly, the baba was bouncing about and flailing it’s arms so much – which was brilliant to see – but made it difficult for the Sonographer to get the measurements she needed.
The Sonographer managed to get the length measurements and gave us a due date of 27th July. The EXACT due date we were given with Eli. I mean, what are the odds of that?! The dates made my pregnancy 12 weeks & 6 days. A little further along than we thought!
The baby flipped the wrong way, then FELL ASLEEP, meaning the Sonographer couldn’t get the crucial NT measurement. She asked me to go for a walk and to drink some more cold water to try and get the baba moving about again.
So cold water was had and I waddled up and down this flight of stair no less than 50 times. We were called back in and I felt giddy this time – excited to get a second viewing of this wonderful babe. Except, the baby had moved into another awkward position. The Sonographer made me dance, tilted my body at odd angles, inserted a ‘soft play’ cushion under my knees and finally, made the bed go so far backwards I was slipped off, head first. Baby eventually played ball and it was confirmed that the NT measurement was low-risk, being 1.5m. Again, relief flooded my veins and I felt dizzy. (Although, that could have been due to the blood-rush from the bed being tipped up!).
So here I am. Week 14. Already with huge bump – yes there definitely is one in there – and feeling slightly less queasy, but still a lot tired.
By sharing this (ridic long) blog post, it has been cathartic for me and if it gives hope to those who have been through loss, then that would make me really happy too. A new pregnancy, does not replace the one you lost. To have a million worries is normal and expected. Just look after yourself Mama, because I certainly am!
I write this post as tears begin to flood my eyes. Warm, salty tears rolling down my cheeks, streaking the make-up mask I wear daily to keep me feeling/looking/seeming normal. To plaster a happy face over my sad one. This very time last year I was recovering from the ERPC operation that physically ended my miscarriage.
A whole year on, mentally, it’s still very raw, it’s still very fresh, it still very much hurts. A whole year on, I’m still longing for – unashamedly needing to have my arms full with a newborn son or daughter, a brother or sister for Eli. My heart aches. When you lose a child, at any stage, you are left haunted by wonder. Wonder who they might have been. That’s what makes it so hard to move on…
It’s been such a long time since we started trying for our second child – our journey began back in March 2017. And here I am, sat at my laptop around 580 days (thats 19 months, in new money, not that I’m keeping check) later – still wishing, still hoping, still feeling huge pangs of guilt because I’m covertly jealous of women that I spot with a beautiful bump; or those with a new babe in arms. It’s easily taking up the majority of my thinking throughout my day – not to mention rudely interrupting my sleep too. Tell me I’m not the only one who dreams mosts nights about parenting a brand new bebé?!
Never would I have imagined it would be such a long, drawn out process. I’m not just talking about the physical aspect of miscarriage – because that definitely sucks and takes ages to recover from too – but the mental heartbreak.
As I’m sat typing this, many other women, couples, families are also going through it too. Around the world. As I’ve mentioned many times, 1 in 4 of us will go through it at some point. 1 in 4 of you have been there. You too know the physical pain, the emotional pain.
Miscarriage and baby loss does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone. It is not rare. So, I wanted to write a blog post dedicated to you, as today marks the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018; which is held annually, globally, to remember those very tiny lives lost in pregnancy and soon after birth. The week will culminate with the annual Wave of Light on Monday 15th October at 7pm. See further details below.
I’m not sure how else to say it – but thank you for all the kindness shown to us over the past year. For listening and sharing. 365 days on, I’m still overwhelmed by the messages and and I’ll never forget it.
I’m an over-sharer by nature, sometimes to my own detriment, but mostly, apart from this whole blogging process being cathartic for me, I also wanted to share because thats how we learn. We learn from others’ experiences. What I found, was that Pregnancy & Baby Loss was exceptionally un-talked about. It’s 2018 and this is still seen as taboo and very private – is that a British thing? Or is this the opinion people have worldwide? It’s crazy, don’t you think? Not to talk and share openly? To grieve and take time to do so.
In general, I am ridiculously British about things – I’m pretty naive, I’m pretty prudish. I get bashful at the mention of S-E-X. But THIS, this, I NEED to talk about. I also need you to talk out too. SO! Let’s get together to break the silence of miscarriage & baby loss during this, Baby Loss Awareness Month.
I’d like to propose that my blog serves as a platform for you to be able to share with me… and importantly, with others too. If your experience has proven too difficult to talk about openly, I am more than happy to publish stories anonymously. Whatever works for you – just PLEASE talk. Though I’m certainly not known for being concise, yours does not have to be lengthy – just a few words from the heart to help yourself and others heal. It will definitely be a comfort and support for those reading – whilst also being therapeutic for yourself. Personally? I have found true solace in these online realms. I can’t be the only one?!
Charities such as the below also have ways to get involved this week, in support for Baby Loss Awareness Week. Events that (are known) you can join are listed on the Baby Loss Awareness site, here.
9 October 8 pm Join a webinar in the comfort of your own home: Baby Loss, Miscarriage and Stillbirth. With Dr Raj Rai – Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic, St Mary’s Hospital. Sign up here
15 October 7 – 7:30 pm Online Wave of Light Group Meditation Further information here
Parliamentary activity & events (invitation only)
8-12 October: Display in Upper Waiting Hall in House of Commons, Westminster, on pregnancy and baby loss and the National Bereavement Care Pathway.
9 October: Debate in House of Commons
11 October: Event sponsored by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss in the House of Commons to raise awareness of baby loss with MPs, followed by a remembrance service for MPs, peers and parliamentary staff.
3 October: Event in Scottish Parliament
3 October: Debate in Welsh Assembly
10 October: Candle Event sponsored by Mark Drakeford AM at Main Hall, The Pierhead, Cardiff
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Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is a devastating experience. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, up to one in four women will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth.
Tommy’s exists to change the unacceptable statistics connected to baby loss.
Thanks to the support of our incredible community, our research has lead to a reduced stillbirth rate of 22% in Greater Manchester between 2010 and 2014 and a 23% reduction in premature births in high risk women attending our London clinic during 2014-15.
Stories of good care
During Babyloss Awareness Week this year, the 40 participating charities and groups are calling for improved care following the loss of a baby during pregnancy, or during or shortly after birth.
As part of this campaign, we are asking people to share their experiences of good care they have received, perhaps from a midwife, sonographer, friend or colleague. If you would like to get involved, please email a story of less than 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, copying us in on email@example.com.
Wave of light this Monday
Last year we made a special video slideshow using hundreds of candles that lit up our Facebook page in memory of babies lost far too soon. If you’d like yours included this year, please add a note ‘For the video’ when you upload a picture.
While Baby Loss Awareness Week can be a special time of remembering and speaking about loss, we understand that it can also evoke painful memories. If you need to talk, please feel free to call our helpline on on 01924 200 799 (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m – 4 p.m) or see our website for other ways we offer support.
Sands is the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. We operate throughout the UK, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, working to improve the care bereaved parents receive, and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.
Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, was founded in 1978 by a small group of bereaved parents who were devastated by the death of their babies, and by the total lack of acknowledgement and understanding of the significance and impact of their loss.
The Lullaby Trust provides emotional support for bereaved families, promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep and raises awareness of sudden infant death.
Working with the NHS, we run a national health-visitor led service for bereaved parents, Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme, which supports families before and after the birth of their new baby.
We are committed to supporting research to understand why so many babies a year die suddenly and unexpectedly in the UK and to find out more about how to prevent these tragic deaths.
The Lullaby Trust operates nationwide across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We run an information line for parents and professionals (0808 802 6869) and a dedicated line for bereaved families (0808 802 6868). Both are free to call from landlines and mobiles.
We campaign tirelessly, lobbying government to keep sudden infant death on the public health agenda. Since we formed as The Foundation for the Study of Sudden Infant Deaths (FSID) in 1971 we have been pivotal in reducing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by over 80%.