As a Briston-Hill household, Halloween is one of our favourite times of year – mostly helped by the fact that Eli is in a permanent state of “goth”, so of course its his annual time to shine!
Outdoor Trick or Treating is off the agenda this year (damn you Covid), so I’ve been looking at alternative fun festivities for the family. SELFRIDGES in both Manchester (Exchange Square and Trafford Centre) always host great events and as usual, are your one-stop shop with a perfect selection of spooky themed gifts, confectionary from brands such as Ask Mummy & Daddy and Jelly Belly and all the decorations you can shake a witches-broom at. Oh and I must mention that SELFRIDGES also has everything for you to eat, drink and be scary this October to boot too.
Gather the family and head to the much-loved Laudurée Cafe in Selfridges Exchange Square to check out their limited edition Halloween Macarons, served in a glow in the dark box! What’s more, Laudurée will be giving a FREE macaron to any child in fancy dress on Saturday 31st October, simply head to the counter and enjoy!*
As Greater Manchester is (at time of posting) in Tier 3, the following in-store events are all compliant with current government guidelines and measures have been taken to help minimise the risk of coronavirus, in line with guidance from Public Health England and the relevant authorities. As such the wearing of a face covering is compulsory when visiting the stores and customers should only shop in a group from one household or support bubble.
About // Get hunting this Halloween with Selfridges’ Pumpkin Hunt, a perfect activity for all the family to enjoy. Receive a complimentary treat once you have found all the pumpkins and returned your competition card to our Host!
Can’t make it to an in-store event in Manchester? No problem – here is my Halloween Top Ten from Selfridges.com!
For more Halloween gifting and decor inspiration, head to Selfridges.com
Whatever you get up to this Halloween, enjoy yourselves, stay spooky and stay safe!
*Limited to one macaron per child. Redeemable at Selfridges Exchange Square only, for the first 100 children in store.
For clarity, I was kindly #giftedall products that are highlighted in this post above, on behalf of Selfridges Manchester.
This is not a sponsored or paid post and I was not obliged to write this blog post or link back the Selfridges website; though this post may contain affiliate links that earn me a tiny commission. I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m a big fan of Selfridges – both their in-store activities and online offering.
“IT’S NOT A REINVENTION, BUT RATHER AN INTERVENTION”
It’s been a long time coming. I’ve gone to change my username on here a dozen times or more, and “chickened out”. You see, @instagram was the only remaining social channel that I used JUDY PINK as my username. So many people knew me IRL as such, it always felt tricky to change it! While I’m sad to say goodbye to Judy Pink, this isn’t a reinvention but rather an intervention. Today I am, just me.
I thought I better introduce myself – my *actual* name is Claire👋🏻
I’m thirty something and 5 foot nothing. I’m from the North East and (somewhat proudly) reside in the North West🐝 Mama to two and a half-wife of 16 years to another. I’ve recently taken to sewing – I have no idea either – but it’s keeping me sane during this weird time 🤷♀️
So there we have it. Judy Pink is officially no more. And I’m, just me.
I feel so bloody chuffed to be finally writing a POSITIVE birth story. Despite beginning our Hypnobirthing journey at 25 weeks pregnant, I think its fair to say that I doubted how this labour would pan out. I had a traumatic birth with Eli that lasted 30+ hours due to induction at 42 weeks. I won’t go into the story of Eli’s birth, because I have made ‘peace’ with it now and its not healthy to continue to dwell on it (hiya Mum-Guilt, great to see you again).
So I’ll push the previous history to one side and start from the beginning with Edie’s birth now.
I had initially set out to avoid ALL intervention with this pregnancy, including any sweeps. I’d had 4 failed sweeps with Eli and felt it was a pretty pointless procedure, in my opinion. I voiced this in my birth preferences and talked through interventions with my community midwife team. Instead, from around 35 weeks I started drinking in my all of the Raspberry Leaf Tea, I started eating 6 dates a day and then when we hit 37 weeks, I started taking a bath on an evening infused with Clary Sage essential oil, I started eating fresh pineapple (including the core, ‘cos Bromelain), I added Clary Sage to the oil diffuser with lavender, we added Clary Sage to Cowshed body oil and massaged it into my bump and ankles (!!), I used my Medela Swing for 5-10 minutes on each breast in an attempt to stimulate oxytocin and continued to go to bed and meditate using my Positive Birth Company MP3′s.
But at my 40 week appointment, I was HOT and beginning to feel a bit fed up. When asked if I still wanted to decline any intervention….I said “sod it” and agreed to a one-time sweep. Just to see…
I was advised if anything was to ‘happen’ it would do so within 48 hours. Obviously, all of the above are old wives tales – Hypnobirthing science aside, of course! Nothing is going to push your body into giving birth. Your baby will come, when your baby is ready.
At 1pm, 48 hours (practically!) to the minute, I started to have what I thought were Braxton Hicks. Eli and I hauled ourselves into my bedroom and I whacked Friends on whilst he played on Minecraft. We had lunch and I kept an eye on the frequency of the surges (contractions). They seemed regular. I opened up the Freya App on my phone and began timing the surges – they were lasting 30 seconds or so and were 6 minutes apart. I convinced myself this wasn’t labour and decided it would be a good idea to tidy the entire house, hoover, clean my bedroom window and then sew up a pair of James’ trousers that I’d been putting off.
Now it was about 4pm and the surges had continued to stay regular throughout all my weird nesting chores. I texted James and asked him to keep an eye on the trains (we’d had dreadful local flooding the day before) but assured him that I was fine and it ‘probably’ wasn’t even real surges. By 5:30, the surges were more frequent and lasting 40-60 seconds. I texted James and asked him to leave work because the surges were lasting longer and had become more powerful (painful). I was really feeling the effects of ‘Up Breathing’ at this point – I couldn’t get through a surge without it.
James got home just after 6:30pm and made me beans on french toast, incase I was in labour. Then he fannied about making tea for himself and Eli. Meanwhile, the Freya App told me I was in established labour…
By 7pm, the surges were less than 3 minutes apart and I was reallllllly feeling it. I had two paracetamol (LOL) and made James get a rush on with eating his tea and sorting Eli out. Of course James was ridiculously laid back about all of this! By 7:30pm I got in the bath and I asked James to ring Maternity Triage to ask for advice. We both spoke to the Midwives on Triage – they were so lovely and advised I should go in to be assessed.
I said my goodbye’s to Eli – and he kissed the bump for the last time. He told me he was proud of me and that I MUST remember to keep breathing! (I did). He grabbed his suitcase, iPad and monkey and off he went on his own adventure next door!
At 8pm, we were in the car making the 10 minute journey to Stepping Hill Hospital. I had the soothing tone of Siobhan Miller in my headphones and whacked on a eye-mask so I could concentrate – I’d also added Clary Sage and Lavender to one of Eli’s old muslin’s to breathe in. I’d convinced myself I must have been about 5-6cm, especially as the surges were so close together now.
We made it to Triage just after 8:15pm and were immediately seen. I really struggled with the examination due to the frequency and power of my surges. It took my Midwife, Deb, a little while to get me on the bed to be assessed. Eventually she managed and announced that I was JUST 1cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. If this was barely the beginning, I had absolutely NO IDEA how I could cope with the rest of labour. I had to knock that doubt straight out of my head and by 9pm, we were on our way back home.
James put candles around the bedroom, closed the curtains then on the oil diffuser went. I kept the Positive Affirmations MP3 going via my headphones, rocked back and forth on my birth ball and we continued to time the surges. By 10pm James noticed that my breathing had changed and kept putting me back on track. Sadly, I couldn’t deal with him massaging my back or doing the light touch we’d planned on – I was completely in the zone, kept my eyes closed, and was doing exactly what my body told me to do.
By 11pm, I couldn’t cope with the sheer power of the surges and there was little to no break between them now. I had to switch off the MP3 at this point because some of the affirmations weren’t totally relevant. Instead, I used my visualisations (of St. Ives beach! and also of the placement of my favourite positive affirmation cards around the house) and I kept repeating my favourite affirmations to myself: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me, because they are me‘ and ‘every surge brings me closer to my baby‘. I got James to ring Triage again, they advised that being in our home environment for as long as possible would be better than going back to the hospital again – especially as it had only been 2 hours since we left (and my waters were still in tact).
Reluctantly, I continued to labour at home – we knew I was in real labour so I turned off my phone and the Freya App which had proven to be so invaluable during and up till this point. By 11:30 I found I had too much discomfort in my coccyx and it felt like my bladder was overly full – but I couldn’t pass urine (I couldn’t get off the ball to get to the toilet to be truthful!). I’m not gonna lie here, I was in total agony. My breathing had changed once again and I was actively ‘Down Breathing’, James kept trying to bring it back to Up Breathing, but there was no chance. I was screaming out as I reached the peak of each surge now too. It was an animalistic release – which brought me a real relief too.
I was thinking I needed an immediate Epidural – or even better -to be knocked out for a C-Section. I felt like I couldn’t go any longer*. There was no way any other drug would help me now. I needed my baby to come out and we HAD to get to the hospital. Then POW my waters broke. It was a massive gush of warmth down my legs, which I ignored and continued to breathe and bounce. Thankfully, my waters were clear. PHEW.
*I now understand that what I was feeling here was TRANSITION.
Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour, following early and active labour. At this point, a woman progresses from seven to 10 centimetres, often in less than an hour. The word transition means that her body is making the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent.
As I’d been induced with Eli and the midwives failed to break my waters on no less than 3 occasions, I had no experience of what it felt like to have your waters break naturally. It was absolutely crackers – it was a big pop towards my public bone and I knew then, that she was coming. James rang Triage and told them we were en route again and my waters had now gone.
It took me about 6 minutes to get from our bedroom to the car on the drive. How I managed to get down the stairs I will never know.
Outside was so eery. It was midnight and there was a low cloud – you could barely see in front of you – it was completely silent. James drove SO carefully to the hospital – I screamed at him “this is one time you’re allowed to rag the car about!”. It was quite honestly like a film.
But he kept his cool. He has since admitted he didn’t think I was much further along than the 1cm, so he was relatively laid back.I do have a reputation for over-dramatising situations – so this isn’t his fault.
We got to the hospital and he parked up. I couldn’t get out of the car. I was screaming through my surges and my body started pushing down. I had no control over the pushing. It’s what my body wanted to do. Once through the hospital entrance, James grabbed a wheelchair. I jumped onto it, on my knees and he dragged me to the lift. There was another woman behind us, who was apparently also pushing. She waited for the next lift.
James tried to get me through the double doors once at Triage, but he was struggling, so I jumped off the wheelchair and ran into a room, stripped all of my clothes off and got on the bed, on all fours. I announced I was Hypnobirthing and pushing.
Deb, my midwife, who I’d seen only 3 hours earlier, was attempting to calm me down so she could assess if I was indeed dilated enough to be pushing. She said she could see the baby’s head and that she was going to coach me through the pushing. Sarah, the second midwife on Triage came in and let us know that the lady behind us was also pushing and she had alerted the Delivery Suite about the two of us. But it was too late for me – I was going to give birth in Triage!
I pushed Edie’s head out in 3 pushes – 2 pushes later she was completely out – shocked, but blinking. She’d been born in the wrong department, 10 minutes after arriving. I scooped her up between my legs and rubbed at her little body. She wasn’t breathing – Deb cut the cord and grabbed a towel to try and rouse Edie. After a minute or so, Edie was taken away to Resuscitation.
As we’d not been able to have delayed cord clamping because Edie had rushed into the world, I used my B.R.A.I.N and agreed to having Active Management of the placenta. Deb administered the injection of Syntocinon and began massaging my tummy. A few minutes of surges and pushing later my placenta was delivered. While the placenta was in tact, Deb noticed that out came a gush of meconium with it. This indicated that Edie had passed her first bowel movement with the stress of coming out so quickly.
We were all shell-shocked.
It felt like a lifetime before Edie was brought back to us.
When she was finally placed in my arms, I relaxed down. I felt the biggest rush of love, EVER. I’d done it. I’d given birth to our daughter, using Hypnobirthing tools and without any pain relief whatsoever. I’d gone from 1cm dilated to giving birth in the space of 3 hours.
I couldn’t believe it.
I still can’t believe it – almost a fortnight on. It still feels like a totally surreal, but serene, experience. Kind of out of body. I can remember every single detail. Which is something I am missing from Eli’s birth, due to the amount of drugs that were administered.
Deb finished cleaning me up and then we were taken to the Delivery Suite (ironically). Once there, Edie was taken to the warming cot by my new Midwife Eileen, who took bloods and called a Paediatrician down. There had been issues with the PH gasses of the placenta, meaning Edie needed some extra monitoring. Eileen was an Irish midwife who was just the biggest and brightest soul. She was old school and simply magical.
There was a struggle with getting the right amount of blood from Edie so more specialists were called. Remembering my Hypnobirthing kept me as calm as I could possibly be. James didn’t leave her side – he held onto her tiny hand while Eileen repeatedly checked my stat’s and then called for a Doctor to repair the 2nd degree tear I’d received. After a fairly shocking Episiotomy (that landed me with blood poisoning and a week back in hospital following Eli’s birth), a specialist was required for the repair job. I finally got my hands on Gas & Air. I did as I was asked and took 10 deep and quick breaths on the gas, I shouted that it didn’t work in that oh so familiar low-tone and then felt that floating feeling. My Doctor, Sarah, started stitching, I could feel it, so I got my breathing in order using Up Breathing and sailed high and free. Bliss.
I didn’t want to hand the gas back, but Eileen made me. She then brought that Tea and Toast… so all was forgiven!
This experience was so far-removed from my previous labour and recovery. For one, James was addressed at every single opportunity. Which made such a difference.
Eileen ever so sweetly grabbed my toiletry bag from my case and started unpacking the shampoo and conditioner so I could have a shower with everything I needed. It’s such an intense relationship that you form with a Midwife, in such a short time. I felt so overwhelmed with love and support from Eileen – I could actually cry right now, remembering how she cared for me.
We weren’t rushed at all; given all the time we needed, but by 5am, it was time to head to the postnatal ward, MAT2. I went into a wheelchair, pulled by Eileen, holding tightly onto Edie who was now bundled in blankets and her very first baby grow. A red knitted hat was given – this was intentional – we later found out that different coloured hats meant different things. For us, the red hat was a signifier for staff that Edie had needed special care (as well as keeping her little head warm!). We said our goodbye’s to Eileen and settled into the cubicle on the ward. James was even allowed to stay – again, this meant the world to us as he’d been sent straight home following the birth of Eli.
6am and James was snoring in the corner, I watched the sunrise through the gap in the curtains and felt the most intense love for this little human in my arms.
At 6:30am I was introduced to Emma, the Midwife on duty – she took mine and Edie’s stat’s and I was given Paracetamol for the after-pains you experience post-birth. We were also shown to the family kitchen, which was stocked to the brim with breakfast foods and an array of tea’s and coffee – of which James was allowed to access too. I was soon given a menu to choose my main meals for the rest of the day. We were then left to chill for 3 hours until our stat’s were repeated again. I tried to sleep, but it was warm and loud as new patients were added to the ward – along with people having their own stat’s read. I couldn’t stop staring at my new sweet baby girl anyway, so nothing was going to interrupt or impact on that!
By 9am, James wanted to grab Eli from our amazing neighbours next door and freshen up. At 11am he returned and our glorious children met for the very first time.
To say I was emotional at our little family all meeting for the first time, would be a total understatement. I cried the happiest tears I imagine I’ll ever cry. I am so proud and so happy and so full of love, I’m not sure how I haven’t burst yet!
As Edie had needed special care, she was closely monitored by specialists – they found that her temperature was going up and down (only very slightly), but enough to warrant an extra night in hospital.
This was completely fine by me. It was a welcome stay. I wasn’t rushed out – in fact, the nurses told me we could stay as long as we wanted to! This really helped with my anxiety and stress. I felt like we had real personal care here – by professionals who were passionate about our wellbeing. We weren’t just another ‘number’ – which is how we felt at the hospital where we had Eli. (I am trying not to dwell on that past experience!)
Unfortunately, our first night, just us two, was not so successful. Edie screamed the ward down from 11pm until around 6am. I think she was over-tired and nothing I could do would overcome that. Two midwives came to the rescue and she eventually calmed down. I tried my best not to get stressed over it, but when you’re on a ward, its difficult to not worry about everyone else! I ended up walking up and down the hospital corridors for a few hours. As soon as I fell asleep, James and Eli arrived for the day.
We had a full day of monitoring to get through before we were allowed to go home. Edie’s temperature eventually stabilised and all my stat’s were good. We then had a the Newborn hearing test and as Edie had received special care, a Paediatrician had to sign her Newborn Check off before we were discharged.
Everything was signed off and we were given the A-OK to head home in the evening!
We got home and all our neighbours came out to greet us. We had fish and chips and we all slept mega soundly. It was just the perfect start to our new family life.
In complete honesty, I would not have had the same pregnancy OR indeed birth experience without The Positive Birth Company. I may not have had any of the TEN birth scenario’s that I wrote preferences for, or planned for (didn’t get to use the LED tea lights, playlist, oils or massage, birth pool or delayed cord clamping) but this was still such an incredibly positive birth. An amazing labour and birth and so far, postpartum period.
From the Digital Course to reading the daily positive birth stories, I would not have been able to do it without the PBC and the Freya App. I felt so prepared and at ease this time around. I was genuinely excited for Edie’s birth and I’ve probably never felt more ‘zen’ in my entire life – which is quite the statement, coming from me. I feel a peace with both my birth experiences and the Hypnobirthing tools I learned will live with me forever! I’ve even used several affirmations and the breathing techniques since having Edie.
I have never, felt so empowered and strong and brave in my entire life – and I doubt I ever will feel like this ever again.
So thank you Siobhan and the PBC for allowing me to have confidence in myself and my own decisions. I cannot recommend The Positive Birth Company enough. From our little family of four to you Siobhan, THANK YOU!
For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad.
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!
A few weeks back we had our 20 week scan and we’re ridiculously excited to say, we’re having a baby GIRL! 🖤🖤🖤
An ACTUAL baby girl! ⚡️🖤✌️
I’m almost 23 weeks pregnant now and still feeling waves of disbelief that I have a little girl growing super well inside me. But believe me when I say, we would have been happy either way. Especially considering how long it’s taken to get to this point – a healthy baby is all we wish for.
Eli has been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now and he will be the BEST Big Bro, we just know it. He reckons his little sister is going to be “annoying” but we know he’s happy deep down 😂 Oh and he refused to have his photo taken with the scan of his little sister (!!!) because he was down with the pox 🙈
I always vowed that if we had a girl, I wouldn’t be into dressing her in all that pink stuff! Well, when I said that, I might have been lying because so far, all I have bought is PINK! Ha. It’s all just too cute though man!
The pictured Big Bro Tee is from the gorgeous @lennieandco; which we bought it ahead of our last pregnancy in 2017. It’s been sat in Eli’s wardrobe, waiting for a happy baby announcement since. Incidentally, the 20 week scan that we had, was originally scheduled to be Friday 15th March – which was our due date for my second pregnancy. It would have could have been a 1st birthday for that pregnancy🌈 I had to get the date changed. It just didn’t seem ‘right’. It all feels a little bit happy sad🖤
(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!
“If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
OH HEY BABY! 🌿
It’s been nice carrying this wondrous little secret for the last 13 weeks & 1 day, but it felt even better seeing this 🌈 baba doing somersaults at our 12 week scan, last Friday! ✨
This isn’t the first scan we had during this pregnancy though. As this is a pregnancy after loss, I was given a scan at what we thought was 7-8 weeks. The measurements however tallied up to being more like 6 weeks, though a strong heartbeat could be seen. While this was a relief to see such a teeny, tiny flickering heart beat, I couldn’t stop feeling anxious that something wasn’t right. Was the baby not growing adequately? How could my dates not be right? We’d been doing Ovulation Tests as it took so much longer to conceive this time (I’ll be writing a post on this later). James tried to reassure me with lots of logical explanations for all of my worries. Then I went back into my pregnancy app (I use the FLO Heath app for Apple which iPhone Health) and realised that my dates were a week out, d’oh. And so the baby brain begins!
Can we just talk about the difference in the scans?! The 12 week scan dates this baby to be 12 weeks & 6 days. The first scan dates the baby to be around 6 weeks. So in 6 weeks, a whole baby has completely formed and I find it so extraordinary. To see the baby bouncing around in my tummy with two hands and two legs and a whole spine and ribs and heart and brain and NOSE. It’s just so magical and I don’t think I will ever get over how amazing a sight that is.
3 months have slowly gone by, filled with a heccuva lot of nausea (way worse than Eli), the biggest food aversions to everything, ever (way worse than Eli), tiredness (way worse than Eli), major anxiety (way worse than Eli) and my heart filled with an insane amount of hope (just like with Eli)💫
Our new little babe has the same due date we were given with Eli too – so that’s been LOLs😂
Eli is ridiculously excited to be a big brother – and has been looking after me like a proper little boss!🖤 Oh and @jameshill.tv is pretty made up too 🥰
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
IMPOSSIBLY BRILLIANT HELP & SUPPORT NETWORKS // THERE FOR YOU 24/7
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%.
“Shy bairns get nowt”. For those who don’t understand what this means… I shall explain! This well known phrase (an overused phrase by oneself!) translates to: a shy person doesn’t get anything without asking for it.
I absolutely LOVE this mug. My dear friend Christie bought me it for my birthday this year, but due to Royal Mail being HORRENDOUS the birthday gift not only arrived smashed to smithereens but as we were out at time, it was put into a food caddy that was FULL of food at the time. (I honestly don’t know where to begin with that one!).
A few weeks ago, we went back to Newcastle for the first time in 6 years, where we had once lived for 4 years, to visit our lovely friends Christie (who sent me the mug!) and Adam. Our Motherland is a 1 hour drive from Newcastle, so we used a lot of Geordie lingo to begin with, but living in Newcastle gave me a proper tongue from the Toon! This mug is perfect for me and I couldn’t wait to get it replaced!
I managed to get the mug back Daaaaaahn Safff in one piece, I’m hoping it remains the case!
Wot Ma Like is an ingenius brand from husband and wife team, Jo & Nick Burrows, who set up the Geordie Mug company initially, before expanding the dialects to include accents such as Yorkshire, Scouse and Manc to name but a few. Their items are definitely one-of-a-kind and make such great gifts and treats for your home. We’ll definitely be purchasing more items for ourselves and others! I do love to give Independant, small and local brands a shout out – so if you’re a new/small/local business, please do get in touch!
You can find my “Shy bairns get nowt” mug as well as other Geordie products on their website: wotmalike.co.uk and you can follow them on Twitter @wotmalike