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TRYING AGAIN, AFTER LOSS

(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).

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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:

 

I’d really recommend the One Step Ovulation tests (and pregnancy tests too). They’re cheap, they’re accurate,  they’re clear, they’re easy to use, they worked for us. 

 

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)

 

A very faint, but very positive pregnant test!

 

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.

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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?

 

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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
  • McDonalds Cheeseburger
  • Pickled Beetroot
  • 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!

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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.

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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!

C
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OH HEY BABY // BRISTON-HILL BABE – Due Summer 2019 🌿

“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 🥰

So for now, 2019 – let’s do this! ✌🏼
✖️✖️✖️

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BABY LOSS AWARENESS WEEK 2018 // BREAK THE SILENCE

BREAK THE SILENCE

Baby loss awareness week

9th – 15th October 2018

 

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?!

You can contact me via the comments below, FB & IG private direct messages or via email: claire[at]clairebriston.com

C
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BABY LOSS AWARENESS WEEK // EVENTS

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.

Online events

  • 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 HospitalSign up here
  • 15 October 7 – 7:30 pm Online Wave of Light Group Meditation Further information here

Parliamentary activity & events (invitation only)

England

  • 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.

Scotland

  • 3 October: Event in Scottish Parliament

Wales

  • 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

TOMMY’S

1 in 4 parents will have to go through the heartbreak of losing a child during pregnancy or birth. We need your help to stop these tragic deaths. Please join Team Tommy’s and help us find answers and cures.

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.

Learn more about the impact of our work here: http://bit.ly/2we9Cvk#Babyloss

DONATE >> Make a donation to Tommy’s, The Baby Charity.

THE MISCARRIAGE ASSOCIATION

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 babyloss@sands.org.uk, copying us in on awareness@miscarriageassociation.org.uk.

You can find more details on the Babyloss Awareness Week website.

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 – Friday9 a.m – 4 p.m) or see our website for other ways we offer support.

DONATE >> Make a donation to The Miscarriage Association

BABY LOSS AWARENESS

Share your experience – this could be by telling a friend about Baby Loss Awareness Week, talking about your experience or wearing a Baby Loss Awareness pin badge. You could also use our specially designed social media images on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, work intranet or noticeboard.

DONATE >> Make a donation to Babyloss Awareness.

SANDS – STILLBIRTH AND NEONATAL DEATH CHARITY

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.

DONATE >> Make a donation to SANDS.

THE LULLABY TRUST

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%.

DONATE >> Make a donation to The Lullaby Trust

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BABY LOSS AWARENESS 2018 // MARKS & SPENCER

BABY LOSS AWARENESS WEEK // 9TH – 15TH OCTOBER 2018

As we’re now into October (HOW? I know how, but seriously, HOW?!), I thought I would address a few things. But mainly this blog post is in support of a few items that Marks & Spencer have created in aid of raising awareness this Baby Loss Awareness Week (and month).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4th October, just before Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018 begins, will be poignant for me as it’s a year to the day that my miscarriage finally came to an end (after beginning in the August of 2017).  Although, it doesn’t ever really ‘end’ really, does it?

A year of all the emotions. A year of wondering and wishing. A year of new and desperate hope.

Every year we will continue to acknowledge the baby that never landed in our arms, by joining in with the Wave of Light, annually, on 15th October.

—-

The death of a baby is not a rare event. It can happen to anyone.

—–

*Every year, thousands of people in the UK are affected by the death of a baby or experience pregnancy loss. With the shocking statistic that it will personally affect 1 in 4 of us.

A collaboration between more than 60 charities across the UK, Baby Loss Awareness Week is held from 9th to 15th October to raise awareness about the key issues affecting those who have experienced pregnancy loss or baby death in the UK.

Throughout the week bereaved parents, their families and friends, unite with each other and others across the world to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, at or soon after birth and in infancy.

Now in its 16th year, Baby Loss Awareness Week calls for tangible improvements in research, care and policy around bereavement support and highlights bereavement support and services available for anyone affected by the death of a baby at any stage.

—-

With all this in mind, Marks & Spencer have collaborated and created three items to support raising awareness of such a worthy cause.

Pure Cotton Baby Loss Awareness T-Shirt
M&S // BABY LOSS AWARENESS TEE //
£9.50
Pure Cotton Baby Loss Awareness T-Shirt
M&S // BABY LOSS AWARENESS TEE //
£9.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M&S // BABY LOSS AWARENESS CANDLE // £6.00

Amy Mott specially designed the t-shirt, is a buyer at M&S and has been personally affected by baby loss:

“Having been affected by baby loss I wanted to break the silence around the issue and get everyone talking about baby loss during the awareness week. My design on the T-shirt and candle is a meaningful tribute of the everlasting love that is felt for a baby and can be worn in support of this fantastic platform that offers advice and acts as a support network”.

M&S will also be donating £15,000 to help support Baby Loss Awareness Week. For more information, please visit babyloss-awareness.org.

Whether you’ve been affected by the loss of a baby, you know someone who has, or you wish to spread the message and show your support, this Baby Loss Awareness candle and other candles will be uniting the world through social media on 15th October, in the name of the many babies who lit up our lives for just a short moment. Use the hashtag’s #WaveofLight, #BLAW2018 to share your love and support.

Thank you to Marks and Spencer for supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week. These specially designed t-shirts and the candle are now available to purchase online. Thank you for helping us to break the silence around pregnancy and continue the #babyloss conversation.

*words & statistics taken from https: //babyloss-awareness.org


Read more from my journey:

Miscarriage & Me
Miscarriage & Me // An Update
Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2
Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 3
Baby Loss Awareness Week 2017 // Break the silence
Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 4
JULY 2018:  Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 5
AUGUST 2018: Miscarriage & Me // A letter to myself | Hi-Mama Letters

Support networks:

Baby Loss Awareness 
The Miscarriage Association
Tommy’s, The Baby Charity
Cruse, Bereavement Care
SANDS, Stillbirth & Neonatal Charity

 

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MISCARRIAGE & ME // AN UPDATE: 5

“The thing you’re most afraid to write…. write that”.

Following the horrendous confirmation, that I was in fact, miscarrying what should have been our second child; I wrote my first blog post: Miscarriage & Me. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I was exhausted, but could not sleep. “I’m fine” was the biggest lie (and probably still is!) and most-used words that I spoke. Bashing my feelings out on the keyboard of my laptop; my experiences of our Miscarriage – and being 100% honest, no matter how gruesome –  was what I was afraid to write. Because writing it made it all the more real. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in denial of what was happening – it was just so  bloody surreal. But I am so glad I did get it all typed up. Not only was the process of writing the blog posts cathartic AF, but they actually helped people. Who knew the internet could be such a lovely place, in such dark times?

Today marks one year since we finally saw the words we so wanted to see. Pregnant 1-2 weeks popped up on that Clear Blue Digital Pregnancy Test (other tests are available… ).

ONE WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR.

365 days of trying to remember the much-wanted baby… and trying to let go, simultaneously.

I have been thinking a lot about the evolution of moving on from experiences in a healthy way. There was a time in my life when I tried to get over things by justifying them or bribing myself to accept certain things because “it could be way worse.” Then there were the times I spent trying dissect every little piece of something, hoping that if I could break it apart into small enough pieces I could maybe take those pieces and build it into something other than what it was. Right Now, I practice
@cleowade

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So, hows it all going? During the horror of miscarriage, I thought we’d never try again. It really hurt me in a way I didn’t think I could ever be hurt. It hurt both of us. Well, I’m finally feeling well enough, physically, to try again. I KNOW (!!!) Cycle-wise, it’s a bit all over the place still. I have ALWAYS been a 28-day cycle girl. Always. Even once my periods returned after having Eli, it was straight back to 28 days. Since my ERPC however, they’ve been a bit all over… 28-34 days seems to be the norm. My latest cycle being 31 days. They’re still beyond painful though, so nothing ever changes there! So do I need ovulation kits?! Or do we just wing it?! I feel really quite naive all of a sudden… any help would be greatly received with regards to this. I do remember we did the “Temping Method” when we were trying for Eli, but tbh, I cba with that!

Mentally, how’s it going? That’s another story. The mental battle of ‘trying again after loss’, is a cruel mistress. The battle of so desperately wanting to hold our own second child in our arms, rather than just in our hearts is, thinking about all that could go wrong… well, it’s pretty heart-wrenching. I’m scared. I’m really bloody scared. I have so many ‘what if?’ scenario’s going on, that I’m making myself dizzy. And quite tearful when I think about how things could well go. We haven’t even ‘tried’ yet and I’m already beside myself with worry. I’m guessing that’s normal though – for trying for that all elusive Rainbow Baby – even if you weren’t a born worrier to begin with! The fact Eli so desperately wants a baby brother or sister is very encouraging though, it’s certainly helped the process along. And I know he’s going to make THE BEST big brother, ever <3

So, what’s the whole point of this blog post?

Well, I wanted to just give myself a little reminder that, 365 days ago, we were so ecstatically happy. And we can be again, I know we can.

And if you’re going through the same pain of Miscarriage, but  can’t find the words to speak out loud…try bashing them out on the computer keyboard instead. There is ALWAYS someone there to listen, to offer help and support. Especially if you use such amazing resources like Tommy’s or The Miscarriage Association,

Sometimes the words, they come… sometimes they don’t. And for everything in-between, I have to acknowledge my favourite poet, Rupi Kaur, who is just a genius when it comes to getting the perfect collection of words together for you.

@Rupikaur_

 

Peace & Love

C
✖✖✖

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CELEBRATING THE NHS ON ITS 70th BIRTHDAY

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Today, our wonderful NHS turns 70 years old. I want to say thank you, in so many ways, but where do I even begin?

From the births of newborn’s in our families, to the NHS managing the old-age of our Grandparents; through to my Dad and my Father-in-Law both undergoing Triple Heart Bypasses; the NHS has saved the lives of many dear to us.

Over the past year alone, both our families and our friends, have spent a lot of time in the amazing hands of our incredible NHS. James and I, ourselves, both spent time in hospital for our various ailments. I was in and out of hospital with many appointments and intervention and finally my operation for my long, long, long, Miscarriage, over the course of 3 months at the back-end of last year. We started our move to Manchester, this year, with a trip to A&E, resulting in James spending the night and day on a hospital ward on several drips. Bringing this up to recent days, very recent days in fact, my Dad went through his first Hip Replacement operation on Monday of this week. He was home by Tuesday evening. Miraculous. And mostly thanks to the care he’s received, no doubt. He’s literally just texted me “Slept through the night, good eh? Love Dad xxx”. He’s sleeping better than me, that’s for sure! Also, shout out to my darling Tessa who has been feeling the love and care of the NHS recently too.

Post-operation // Broomfield Hospital // October 2017

During my own 32 years on the planet, the NHS has been there for me so many times, I wouldn’t dare to even count. From having my own feet ‘corrected’, routine appointments as a child and all the immunisations, the many chest infections, X-Rays and various types of Scans, chopping the top of my thumb off (at nursery with a potato peeler, hey, it was the late 80s, zero health & safety then pal!) Ear, Throat & Nose issues, having an Adenoidectomy aged 6, sodding Acne, orthodontic treatment and the horrible train-tracks braces I had for 3 years,  treatment for Hay-fever, hearing-tests, eye-tests (and yes, I do need glasses), adult immunisations, The Pill and all the issues that come and go with that, my Smear tests, Endometriosis investigations,  my anxiety, my pregnancy and the birth of Eli (oh and the aftermath that could have resulted in me losing my life), my Miscarriage. For every single ailment, no matter how big or small, how urgent or trivial, I have always been treated as a human being, treated with the utmost care, compassion and sensitivity.  Even at my absolute lowest, my most vulnerable, with blood dripping down my legs, a Nurse ran to my aid and cleaned me up without batting an eyelid, then gave me a cuddle afterwards. NHS Nurses and Doctors have gone above and beyond their call of duty for me… for us as a family. 

Oddly enough, James received a referral letter for a  hospital appointment just yesterday – he will be seen at Trafford General Hospital here in the heart of Manchester; the place we’ve very easily fallen in love with and now call home. What’s the significance I hear you ask? WELL, low and bloody behold – on this day, in 1948, the NHS was born and launched at this very hospital.

Health secretary Aneurin Bevan

5th July 1948 – The NHS is born*

When Aneurin Bevan (above), the health secretary, launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital), it was the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all.

For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are brought together under one umbrella organisation to provide services that are free for all at the point of delivery.

The central principles are clear: the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according to their means.

*Historical references taken from NHS History website.

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The thing to also remember is, our wonderful NHS wouldn’t be able to function without SO MANY different people in SO MANY different roles. The Nurses & Doctors, Dentists and Optometrists,  are of course central to the NHS, but then there are the admin staff, the porters, the cooks and the cleaners…  and not forgetting all the many volunteers. You all deserve something a lot higher than a ‘medal’,  that’s a certainty. Heroes. Inspirational. Wonderful. Wonderful. WONDERFUL PEOPLE.  We are so lucky to have the NHS and everyone who works within the discipline. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all, and we are forever in your debt.

So I will sign off, with a heart full of love and admiration for our truly marvellous NHS – Happy 70th Birthday; AND MANY MOOOOOORE

C
✖✖✖

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Miscarriage & Me // Update: 4

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It’s been a little while since I mentioned our Miscarriage. 160 days, in fact, since my last post on here about it all. Because you don’t need me to tell you, life just has to move along. Especially when you have an Eli AND a James to look after too (!)

Since the end of the miscarriage, so much has happened. I’ve had the most spontaneous evening with Harry Styles, The Retreat, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year (fresh slate),  proposed move to Manchester (happening sometime, SOON!), followed by a stay in Manchester Royal Hospital (James, after a visit to A&E), a birthday surprise for my Papa and Mother’s Day. But here we are, almost half way into March. A month I’ve been desperately trying to not think about. But it’s here now and I have to face up to it. So by bashing this all out on the keyboard, I’m hoping I can get some kind of cathartic release.

So March. What’s the significance?

Well, my due date would have been, TODAY, 15th March.

So I knew that, at some point in March, whether that baby came early, or today, or indeed like their Big Brother, Eli, and arrived super late –  we knew had prepared that to have a brand new baba, in March. Today our arms are empty.

But obviously, this is not the case. This isn’t what’s happening this March, at least.

Today, I’ve had messages of love and support and care and its been so nice. I’ve had the head tilt, which has cheered me up without anyone even realising (a la Richard in Friends, see my reference, here) (SIDE NOTE // does anyone else live their days through quotes from FRIENDS? I can’t think of a day when I didn’t reference it at least!)

How have I been?

 

  • Well, physically, I felt battered and bruised for a few weeks post-operation – really exhausted. I slept through the day a lot. Mentally, I was totally drained. But I had to keep going – especially for Eli. I also overate, no rhyme or reason, but I couldn’t stop eating. Boy am I paying for it now as I try and shift off the pounds! Though, I’ve lost 10lbs in 5 weeks, so I’m getting there slowly.
  • Cycle-wise, my periods returned, a few days out from when I expected and they are still a bit strange. As I mentioned lots before, my periods are exceptionally painful (Endometriosis) and usually with an excessive amount of blood loss. While the pain has been the same (!!) as before, the blood loss is somewhat scant. So I’m wondering whether some endometrial tissue was removed during the ERPC operation? Who knows – but my body is still keeping me on my toes.
  • FYI – just after the New Year I received my ‘invitation’ for my Cervical Screening Test. I went to book it and was told to wait until 3-4 months AFTER the ERPC, to allow for the cells around the cervix to regrow following a miscarriage.  I had my Smear test last week – awaiting the letter back. But as usual, it was smashing, no problems with the procedure at all. It took around 2 mins, tops.
  • Following my operation I had a spate of infections (chest/ear/lung/so many colds). It culminated with a Spirometry Test and our darling Coco heading to a rescue centre to be re-homed. The diagnosis was COPD and I have a lung age of 61. Shockingly, I’ve never smoked and I’m only 31. Since Coco was re-homed however, my symptoms have dwindled and I feel much more healthy again! I’m sorry to say its all probably quite likely that I had a pet allergy 🙁 But I’m pretty impressed with my recovery and taking just one inhaler a day now. (Also, it goes without saying too – Mum’s ARE always right, damn!)
  • I became jealous, I guess, and sad – wouldn’t ‘luck’ just have it that so many friends (and IG strangers!) were announcing their pregnancies and births? Of course it would.  Though, as it is fairly obvious, I do absolutely  love a baba (I wouldn’t be craving my maternal duties again if I didn’t!) and it’s so wonderful to see these new babes coming safely into the world. I am honestly over the moon for everyone I’ve come into contact with who has told me of their happy news! But then I feel the intense guilt for feeling this sadness… part of me can’t help but think, this should also be us. We could be sharing our happy news right now too. Aren’t emotions bloody brilliant, eh?
  • Mentally – I’ve all over the place.
    • I’ve had a weeks and weeks where things have been great! Actually never better! But the closer we’ve come into March, the more vulnerable I’ve felt.
    • This week, I feel low and sad and diminished.
    • Without this being a completely sombre update, right now, I feel like I have this big black cloud hanging out with me – following my every move. I can’t shake it off.
    • I’ve had lots of tension headaches, back & neck (tension) pain and intense dreams – when I’m able to actually sleep, that is.
You can always count on Rupi Kaur to put your feelings together for you.

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I confronted my inner thoughts last week, which involved a whole lot of sobbing my heart out – and vocalising exactly I’m how feeling. I’d bottled it up, probably since November. It feels better to share – even if the other person doesn’t say anything at all – just sharing, feels so good. Though, the only person getting the brunt of it all at the minute, is poor James. And of course, he feels all the feels too.  A baby, our new baby, could have been in his arms, too, making him a parent all over again.

I didn’t have a follow up after my ERPC, I didn’t actually even speak to my GP about the trauma we’d been through. (Should I have? Should I have been sent an invitation for a follow up appointment of some kind? What happens in your local authority? ). I feel like maybe the grief is only just hitting me now – perhaps because when the due date has been and gone, then it all becomes real and in turn, gives us some kind of closure. Because that’s the end of the life-cycle, as it were. If that makes any sense at all. This all got me thinking, I have nothing physical to ‘show’ for my loss. So I contacted PALS at Broomfield Hospital, to see if I could access my medical records, notes, multiple scan imagery. See if there is any ounce of explanation following my ERPC (and the subsequent investigation that was to allegedly follow).  I kept my eyes firmly closed for a lot of the scans and procedures – willing it to be over. Anything any specialist pointed out or illustrated on the screen was a blur and didn’t register with me. Apparently I should have been offered copies of my scans – I’m now wondering if this also would have helped mark our loss and support our grieving process. Also, you can also ask (or may be offered) a Certification –  according to The Miscarriage Association,  this is a kind of ‘ death certificate’. For some parents, the sadness of pregnancy loss before 24 weeks is increased by the fact that there is no documentation that acknowledges the loss of their baby.  We recommend that NHS trusts create and offer some form of certification for parents who would like this. Tim Loughton MP has recently tabled a Private Member’s Bill which includes a request for a report on whether the law ought to be changed either to allow the registration of pre-24 week pregnancy losses (so it’s a personal choice) or to require it (so it is a legal requirement). The Miscarriage Association ran a survey on this to collate personal views – more details on this can be found, here.  The PALS team at Broomfield got in touch with a really lovely email – which was followed up by a call today from the Matron of Gynaecology. She’s invited us into the hospital to go through my notes and any questions / concerns, with my consultant (who was also the consultant we had for when I was pregnant with Eli), Miss Joshi. I was taken aback by the phone call and became quite emotional with the Matron. The kindness of strangers will never cease to amaze me.

To our Baby Briston-Hill (PRAWNER #2), you never did arrive in our arms – but you will be forever in my heart. I will live in wonder of who you would have been  – you’ll always be my favourite what if? my little darling.

Our little fam is pretty special – I’ll be squeezing these two extra hard today 🖤

Thank you for reading thus far; and thank you for the bags of support and love we’ve received. It means the world 🖤 Eli is going to be the BEST big brother (EVER) when it happens. And not a single one of us can wait. As the wonderful mind that was Professor Stephen Hawking, so perfectly put it,

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

 Professor Stephen Hawking

So this is what we’ll do.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

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Support networks:
The Miscarriage Association
Tommy’s, The Baby Charity
Cruse, Bereavement Care
SANDS, Stillbirth & Neonatal Charity

Donate:
You can donate directly to The Miscarriage Association, from my FACEBOOK PAGE, HERE.

See also:
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 3

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Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 3

As I’m currently bed-bound, I thought I’d try and get my brain back into some kind of ‘gear’ and write an update on my miscarriage journey. The final one, I hope.

See also:
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2.

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After lack of bleeding from my Medical Management, we went into the scan on Monday 2nd October kind-of hopeful.  We had the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Anita-Rao, along with our Sonography staff. Dr Anita-Rao had all my (many) previous scans in front of her, I knew by the movements of the scanner and her face that it wasn’t good news…

She put the probe down and moved the screen towards us. The sodding sac was STILL there. But it gets worse… not only was it STILL there, but it had GROWN. The empty sac had increased. I couldn’t believe it. I’d lost so much tissue and blood during my Medical Management, so how could this have happened? It was all kinds of insane. I went into that bubble of your own, where you can hear the sounds of conversation – but can’t make out the words. According to James, the Consultant explained that the hormones given during the Medical Management had encouraged an increase in amniotic fluid – thus enabling the sac to grow/fill with fluid. She showed us a heat map, indicating no blood flow, no heart beat, no life. By this point I would have been 16 weeks pregnant – the sac had increased in size from 7 weeks and 1 day (at the 12 week scan) to measuring 8 weeks. Dr Anita-Rao advised the only way to go forward with this now was Surgery. The dreaded (ERPC or ERPoC, which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. You might hear it called it a D & C too) which is under anaesthetic.

Dr Anita-Rao then said “Ok Claire, let’s get you sat next door and make you a bit more comfortable”. To which I jumped off the bed and shouted “WHAAAAAAAT!”. As I was in my little bubble, I didn’t catch what the conversation actually was, and I thought they were going to take me off to theatre, there and then. Obviously, my first thoughts were – “My darling Eli! – he’s at school – I need to see him”.

What they actually meant was, they wanted to go back to the Quiet Room to discuss the procedure/dates/times.

Midwife Amelia came back to us, once again – so wonderfully compassionate and with genuine empathy. We discussed the Surgical Management of Miscarriage and she handed me the instructions for patients ahead of General Anaesthetic. I was booked in for the morning surgery on Wednesday 4th October – therefore, had to be at Broomfield Hospital for 7:30am (being Nil By Mouth from 2:30am).

LOOK AT THIS LIST.
JUST LOOK.
My favourite thing on this list? The SILVER LINING in this whole experience…. take a look at number 5:
5) I will undertake to refrain from the following activities for at least 48 hours after the anaesthetic (please note that depending on the nature of the surgery this period may be longer);

  • Not to drive a car, motorbike or bicycle
  • Operate machinery or cook
  • Engage in any sporting activities
  • Return to work
  • Drink alcohol or take drugs, other than those prescribed
  • Sign any legally binding documents

YAAAAAAS to no driving, cooking (and cleaning) or signing of legal documents. Though, this did implicate James working – thankfully he works for a very understanding company. We don’t have any family down here, so we’re reliant upon eachother in times of need – and our friends help out around us as best as we can all manage.

So that was that. We had all our questions and concerns answered by Midwife Amelia and given well wishes for the future. I also had to not apply any perfumes and wash with this ^ Octenisan – in aid of protecting against MRSA.

Wednesday 4th October
A301 – Theatre & Day Surgery – Broomfield Hospital

Upon arrival at 7:30am, we were in a large waiting area of A301. My name, along with around 30 other names, was called and we were escorted by the Pre-Anaesthetic team to ‘Recovery 2’ ward, waiting area. There were separate waiting area’s for Males & Females (adult surgery, only), the signs said this was in line with ‘protecting dignity’.

We were both acknowledged as being there – despite me being the patient. Which I thought was really kind of the staff. We both sat on a green chair each – all freshly cleaned (with green warning stickers to say so). I reclined the chair and waited for my first set of assessments.

We weren’t waiting long before I was ushered off to a side cubical and given details of who I would speak to and having my ob’s taken. After a bit of back and forth between waiting areas (and a lot of apologies and friendly chatter), I was sat down finally in another cubicle and awaited a chat with my Anaesthetist. Dr John finally came along – he had a familiar face – a bit like that of Actor James Redmond. I talked through how petrified I was of ‘being put to sleep’. He talked through the process, reassured me no-end and I felt so much better about the entire situation. I signed some forms and he said he’d see me again, just before theatre.

I then awaited a chat with my surgeon, Dr Mistry. Dr Mistry, again settled my nerves about the actual procedure. We talked about the fact I was left in quite a state after an Episiotomy gone very wrong, following the birth of Eli (which left me with early-caught-Sepsis and a very damaged undercarriage that was left to heal ‘on it’s own’ for neigh on 2 years). (Yep, not had a lot of luck on my side to be honest!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was then told that I was at the bottom of the list for the morning surgery. My last meal was at 9pm the night before (having only had a bit of water when I got up at 5:30am). By this time it was 10:30am and I was SO THIRSTY! I drink a lot of water, every day – more out of habit than anything else! But it was driving me crazy not being able to even wet my mouth.

I was given lots of updates and eventually told at 11:45am that I was ‘next’.

12:15 arrived and a lovely lady came with all my notes to take me to theatre. James and I said our “I love you’s” and off I went. I know it was a straight forward procedure, I know it wasn’t complicated, but the fact I was being put under anaesthetic, as a MOTHER, petrified me. You just don’t know how your body will react to things like anaesthesia.  What if I didn’t wake up again? That was my big fear. Not the pain or discomfort. The FEAR of being put to sleep.

I thought I’d be taken down to the theatre on a bed, but instead, I had to walk there. It was a short walk. But I balled my eyes out the entire way. The nurse who took me along was brilliant – she wrapped her arms around me tightly and told me that she knew it was scary, but it would be fine. I needed her comfort. We walked into a room marked, Theatre 18.  Once inside, she explained that this was the Pre-Anaesthetic room, where I would be put to sleep – once under, I’d then be taken through to the actual theatre. She took off my sliders and undid the back of my hospital gown and helped me up onto the surgical bed.

She stayed with me for a little while – then the Anaesthetic room began filling with medical staff. I looked around at the mass of machines and equipment. I could see the theatre ahead of me, through some double doors. A few members of the surgical team went through the doors – the light above now highlighted ‘IN USE’. I closed my eyes each time someone went through the doors. I didn’t want to ‘go to sleep’  to the view of the theatre. It was insanely bright and white. And frankly, it scared me. Maybe I’ve seen too many hospital programmes!

My lovely nurse then said her goodbye’s and passed me over to Julia. Who prepped me with chest electrodes, a blood pressure band & finger monitor and tucked me up under a blanket. She gave me tissues and stroked my hair. I was trying my hardest to be strong. But my god, it’s so hard when people are just so bloody lovely and all you’re talking about is your wonderful family.

Dr John prepped my arm for the cannula, as we talked about our trips to Cornwall. Everyone chirping in about their own experiences – so laid back! There were around 6-8 staff in this tiny, dim-lit surgical room by this point. My surgeon arrived with another doctor. All smiles.

Dr John administered the cannula (OUCH) to my left arm; and washed my vein out with saline. I remembered that cold feeling running down my arm, from when I had the drip during labour with Eli. The chatter was constant – this time turning to accents and how we’d managed to ‘end up’ in Essex. I could feel another fluid going down my arm and began fighting to keep my eyes open – focussing my attention on that ‘IN USE’ sign above the theatre doors – for I knew when that was out of focus, I’d be gone. I asked “have you given any anaesthetic yet, because I feel a bit weird?”. I then remember thinking, ‘they’re all chatting away to me so they can tell when I’m asleep – so I’m going to keep on chatting, so they can’t trick me’. It must have been Pre-Surgery logic… or something.

The last words I heard were “It’s now going to feel like I’ve just given you a few large Gin & Tonic’s, ok?”. I remember nodding and feeling really cosy… and that was it. Out like a light.

Fast forward to 1:30pm and I was on the first Recovery ward. My waking words were repeatedly “I love the NHS” and “Save the NHS” and “compliments to the staff”.  YAAAAAAAS to #SAVETHENHS. The nurse who was looking after me told me to stop being apologetic (!!!) and that I was fine and everything went as it should have. She then asked for my consent to check the pad that I’d woken up with. I was bleeding a normal amount – phew. She then told me it had taken a little while for me to come round. I was surprised, shocked… and then felt so incredibly sick. She grabbed one of those egg-cup dishes and kept checking my blood pressure. It was slightly high. My temp was 37.8. I felt so, so sick and dizzy. But just so relieved to be awake! She said they’d already given me painkillers and anti-sickness medication – then she administered a little more anti-sickness medication  for me. I then began feeling a lot better. Soon after, my stat’s began to normalise. In the time that I was settling down, I saw 3 patients transferred to the recovery ward post-surgery. It was so interesting to see. The quality of care was just incredible. The teamwork, the processes and attention to detail was above and beyond.

By 2:30 my nurse was happy to have me transferred back to the Pre-Anaesthetic ward, where James would be called to come and find me – I can’t remember her name, sadly. I wish I could. I was wheeled back to the ward in my post-surgery bed, feeling ridiculously happy? Not sure if this was a side-effect of the anaesthetic or if it was pure relief and the joy of feeling proud of oneself.

I played an ill-timed joke on James before he arrived on the ward – of which, he’s still pretty annoyed with me about – so I won’t go into it. Hah. But here I am, about 90 mins post-surgery. I had to be linked up to oxygen for a little while after as my level’s hadn’t settled.

But man-oh-man, that first water since 5am was SO GOOD. I drank a litre in a matter of minutes. It must have been about 3/3:30 by this time and I was told I could eat! SO EXCITED. I had a cup of tea and toast on their way. I don’t think ANYTHING will ever beat that tea & toast you have after childbirth – but this one, was pretty damn close!

James spread the butter and marmite while I supped on that lovely, perfect, cuppa! Oh it was so good. I had little pain/cramping. Nothing major – and like I say, I felt pretty bright in myself. I just couldn’t wait to get home to my boy.

I had a few after-care instructions to go over with the Senior Staff Nurse on the ward and would then be discharged. I signed a form to allow the Pregnancy Products to be disposed of, after investigation. I was given all the warning signs and symptom’s to look out for post-surgery – and told to expect bleeding for around 7-10 days.

Now then – I got home expecting to be filling pad’s and pad’s with blood. But again – I’ve had nothing. No idea if this is good or bad – but Dr Google tells me that this can be pretty normal. Infact, bleeding can sometimes begin a few days post-surgery, resulting in heavy bleeding with clots and a lot of pain. So with this in mind, I’ve sadly had to cancel my @LuckyThingsBlog night out tomorrow evening in aid of stayed rested.  I just can’t run any additional risk of infection at this point.

So here we are today, Friday 6th – 2 days post operation. I feel ok in myself, still.  I woke several times in the night with bad cramps – but after a few painkillers and a bit of To Kill A Mockingbird, I could cope and go back off to sleep. I feel generally achy (hips & back, must be from the procedure positioning) and my pretty bruised – I also have a massive ulcer in my mouth, from where the breathing tube went down my throat.

I have moments of sadness and waves of positivity. I’m mostly sleeping. Not really got a major appetite – though, as usual, I can drink my weight in water. So that’s fine. I’m not allowed to have a bath / stay in the shower for too long (again, risking infection due to open cervix) and I’ve got to keep those dashing surgical stockings pulled up to my knee’s (which is also fine, considering the cold snap – I have pleasantly toasty legs!).

I’ve been sent the most amazing Get Well flowers, plants, cards & chocolate. But mostly? I’m overwhelmed by the kindness I’ve seen in messages and comments – from friends and strangers alike. I appreciate every single one.

This has, so far, been my Miscarriage journey. Whilst I wouldn’t wish this experience on even my worst enemy, I do hope that in sharing my experiences, I have helped someone else. Just one person. This has been a truly cathartic process – and necessary for me. For me to heal and come to terms with things. It’s not for everyone – but if you feel the need to share, then please, please do. Miscarriage is such a common heartbreak that can happen to anyone. 1 in 4  of us – maybe even 1 in 3 of us. But we’re not just statistics – remember that. Sharing your story can make such a difference – not just to others who are going through the same horrendous journey, but also to those charities such as Tommy’s and The Miscarriage Association – that, as I’ve said before,  support crucial research into Pregnancy Loss – something that would not be possible without YOUR stories too.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kindness, guidance, advice, laughs and positivity. I’m not entirely sure what kind of awful position I would be in if I didn’t have the support of my friends and family both offline AND online. It’s meant the world to me – to us, as a family.

As before – it’s good to talk about things. So please do keep getting in touch and sharing your experiences. It’s the only way we’ll learn.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

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Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2

Could not have picked cards that were more appropriate // YES MUM ORIGINAL Pack

I thought another ‘update’ was due from me & my miscarriage journey as quite a few things have happened since my last post >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update, (posted on 14th September). I’m sharing my experience because:-

1) It’s been cathartic for me to write everything down and actually go over what’s happened, as some days are a bit of a blur – especially with all that hospital jargon.
2) The only way to learn is from others’ sharing their own experiences – I had absolutely no idea how common Miscarriage was/is. It’s only through sharing that I now know so much more and understand so much more. It’s also been of great support for me (and I’m told by others – which has overwhelmed me like you’d never know). By allowing people in and allowing them to also share in their journey has kept me going.
3) Charities such as Tommy’s rely on people sharing their own story, to aid their crucial research into Pregnancy Loss.

This could be lengthy as I get up to date – but as I say, typing it out helps me to move along and have a bit of a ‘brain dump’, as it were.

Oh those ‘Quiet Room’ paintings again…

19th September
Re-scan // Broomfield Early Pregnancy Unit
The re-scan was done in EPU this time. Despite bleeding lightly, pretty constantly, since 27th August, I was quite shocked to hear that my scan was looking no different to the scan I’d had two weeks previous (the 12 week scan).

As the empty sac still measured at just 7 weeks, and by dates, I was now 14 weeks, the midwives advised that we need to now take some further action as it looks like my body (ridiculously cruelly) still thinks it’s pregnant and that sac ain’t shiftin’.

We were then lead to that dreaded ‘Quiet Room’ once again; where Midwife, Amelia, came to discuss my options once again. There was absolutely no pressure, but she did remind me that as things weren’t ticking over naturally and had been stationary for longer than expected – therefore leaving me open to potential infection. Ugh.

We talked things through – I was then booked in for ‘Medical Management’ Part One for Friday 22nd September; followed by Part Two on Sunday 24th September.

(Here is some explanation on Medical Management of Miscarriage – including some of that lovely hospital jargon, simplified. Scroll on to continue with my ‘story’).

What is Medical Management of Miscarriage?

“You may choose to have medication to remove the tissue if you don’t want to wait. This involves taking tablets that cause the cervix to open, allowing the tissue to pass out.

In most cases, you’ll be offered tablets called pessaries that are inserted directly into your vagina, where they dissolve. However, tablets that you swallow may be available if you prefer. A medication called Mifepristone is sometimes used first, followed 48 hours later by a medication called Misoprostol.

The effects of Misoprostol tablets usually begin within a few hours. You’ll experience symptoms similar to a heavy period, such as cramping and heavy vaginal bleeding. You may also experience vaginal bleeding for up to three weeks.

In most units, you’ll be sent home for the miscarriage to complete. This is safe, but ring your hospital if the bleeding becomes very heavy.

You should be advised to take a home pregnancy test three weeks after taking this medication. If the pregnancy test shows you’re still pregnant, you may need to have further tests to make sure you don’t have a molar pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy.

You may be advised to contact your healthcare professional to discuss your options if bleeding hasn’t started within 24 hours of taking the medication.”

– Information taken from NHS Guidelines for Medical Management of Miscarriage // Treatment.

What happens?

Medical management involves a single visit to the hospital. During this time, you will have pessaries (tablets) inserted inside your vagina, or you may be given the tablets orally if you are having vaginal bleeding.  These work by making your womb contract and push out the pregnancy tissue.  You may need more than one treatment with pessaries or oral tablets before the miscarriage happens.  You may choose to stay in the hospital or go home following the administration of medication.  If you prefer you may take the tablets home and take them yourself at home.  Bleeding may continue for up to 3 weeks after treatment.

Does it hurt?

Once the miscarriage starts, most women have quite strong period-like pain and cramps and some find the process very painful, especially as the pregnancy tissue is expelled.  This is because the womb is contracting and pushing (imagine tightly clenching and then relaxing your fist a few times) rather like the contractions of labour.  You are also likely to have heavy bleeding and pass blood clots.  You may see the pregnancy sac and it may be larger than you expect.  You might see an intact fetus, which may look like a tiny baby, especially if you are miscarrying after 10 weeks.  You may take Paracetamol or Co-codamol for pain relief, but you should not take Aspirin or Ibuprofen as they may make the treatment less effective.

Some women react to the medication with nausea and/or diarrhoea.

Are there any risks?

The risk of infection after medical management is low, at around 1 in 100.  Signs of infection are a raised temperature and flu-like symptoms, a vaginal discharge that looks or smells offensive and/or abdominal pain that gets worse rather than better. Treatment is with antibiotics.  In some cases you may be advised to have an ERPC.  You will probably also be advised to use pads rather than tampons for the bleeding and not to have sexual intercourse until the bleeding has stopped.

There is a small risk of haemorrhage; a recent study reported that 1 in 100 women had bleeding severe enough to need a blood transfusion.  If you have very heavy bleeding or severe pain and/or feel unwell, or if you just find it hard to manage, you may ring your Early Pregnancy Unit for advice, 111 or 999 if necessary.

Medical management is effective in approximately 80 to 90% of cases.  Where it is not, women may be advised to have surgical management – an ERPC.

What are the benefits of medical management?

The main benefit is in avoiding an operation and general anaesthetic.  Some women prefer to be fully aware of the process of miscarriage and may want to see the pregnancy tissue and perhaps the foetus.  Some women feel this helps them say goodbye.

Some women see medical management as a more natural process rather than having an operation, but more manageable than waiting for nature to take its course.  It may be helpful to know that if the treatment doesn’t work, you may be able to opt for ERPC.

Disadvantages?

Some women find the process painful and frightening, though good information about what to expect can help.  Some women are anxious as to how they might cope with the pain and bleeding, especially if they are not in hospital at the time.  Some fear seeing the fetus.  Bleeding can continue for up to three weeks after the treatment and women may have to have several follow-up scans to monitor progress.  This can be upsetting.  Some women will end up having an ERPC as well as medical treatment.

– Information taken from NHS Guidelines for Medical Management of Miscarriage // Obstetrics & Gynaecology Department

I was given the usual consent forms ahead of being  handed the Mifepristone along with anti-sickness tablets. I then had an hour to rest and had the typical stat’s taken before/after. All was fine and I was sent home. I had no pain, no nausea and more importantly, no bleeding in the 48 hours ahead of Part Two.

Although I was willing for SOMETHING to happen, nothing did. We went for lunch with my parents (who had visited for the weekend); and we even had a child-free trip to the CINEMA! (FINALLY saw Dunkirk, which is just the most incredible slice of cinema I’ve seen, ever, I think). The distractions didn’t offer up anything.

So we went back to the hospital bright and early on Sunday morning. I was mega nervous. I had a nervous tummy, sweaty palms and little-to-no conversation in me.

Sunday 24th September
Gosfield Ward – Early Pregnancy Unit – Broomfield Hospital
The ward was pretty silent when we arrived at just before 10am. Eerily so. No sooner had we arrived before I was changing into a hospital gown and laid on the bed in my private room. I was given more information about the procedure and had my stats taken. After the birth of Eli, I was admitted to hospital for a week  to treat  near-death early-caught-Sepsis. The experience left me with ‘White Coat Syndrome‘ – of which I have to explain to EVERY caregiver who has the joy of taking my blood pressure – “White coat hypertension, more commonly known as white coat syndrome, is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, though they don’t exhibit it in other settings. It is believed that the phenomenon is due to anxiety that those afflicted experience during a clinic visit”. I have to say, I do feel for these poor individuals – I’m not the easiest patient to deal with!

By 11am I had ordered my lunch (from a pretty extensive and surprisingly appetising hospital menu!) and was awaiting the doctor to come with my medication to kick-start the ‘induction’, so to speak. I weirdly felt quite relaxed… I think it felt like there was finally light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I was riding on nerves and adrenaline/anticipation.

The pessaries were inserted (all 4). Yes it was uncomfortable – and slightly painful – but it takes just a few minutes. So its completely bearable. I would then have to lay flat for an hour – hour & half.  Within 10 minutes the bleeding started. It suddenly became very, very heavy. We called for a Nurse (Lucy), who got me up out of bed and took me into my  private en-suite.

I was then given the ‘pan’ of which I would need to collect all tissue – which would then be taken for assessment. I’m sure all will agree that dignity is something very foreign when enduring anything child-baring related. This wonderful Midwife sorted me out at my most vulnerable – in the most caring and gentle way. She made no fuss and made me feel at ease; whilst giving me a ‘wet wipe’ bath to remove the blood stains from my legs and back. Sorry if this is a totally grim read – but I want to be honest. There’s no shame in any of this – and sadly, it’s just the way it is. This is the process. I won’t go into the whole NHS funding/Nurses wages thing – but my god, these wonderful, wonderful humans – they deserve the world. The things they must see, on a daily basis. I can’t even comprehend. What incredibly skilled and insanely caring people. Unbelievable. #SAVETHENHS

I spent my time back and forth from the bed to the en-suite for the next hour, when we managed to get the bleeding under some control and I could rest on the bed with maternity pads/bed pads. My lunch arrived – and I was ravenous. James went to the Hospital M&S to grab himself some lunch and for a bit of a breather too, I imagine. It’s all pretty gruesome and definitely something he’s coped with exceptionally well considering he was once very squeamish (he may well be squeamish still, not sure how you can’t be looking at what we went through this weekend – but he did a bloody marvellous job of comforting and supporting me throughout).  The Chilli I ate for my lunch was beautiful – really hit the spot and cheered my mood right up – as did the Harry Styles album I had streaming.

The afternoon was again spent back and forth from the bed to the en-suite (I couldn’t just stay in the en-suite, I wanted to be on the bed and cosy) with Nurses coming and going – checking my progress – checking the tissues I’d expelled and the bleeding – but not overstaying, which gave us some well needed privacy that I really valued.

By 3pm I was in need of painkillers. The cramps were getting really painful – not unbearable, but I didn’t want them to get to a point where I was in need of severe pain management. So the Midwife (Pankaja) nipped the pain in the bud with 2 paracetamol and liquid morphine.

Not long after, I was given the menu for tea – even though I’d anticipated I’d be home by now. So I reluctantly I ordered Chicken Tikka & Rice and a Rice Pudding. Yep three meals with RICE, in one day –  YOLO.  I’ve got to praise this hospital food – seriously! It was super tasty, a great portion size, hot and not in the slightest bit sloppy, soggy or plasticky – which is what I’d encountered previously. My body definitely appreciated the good food too.

By 5pm, I was given a pretty painful internal. Which even the painkillers couldn’t fend off. A huge light was brought in on wheels along with the paraphernalia you’d normally see when having a Smear Test…and/or having your waters broken. The doctors agreed that the bleeding would continue and were satisfied with my progress thus far – my Cervix was open – so that was a good position to be in. Though, they were not convinced that the sac had passed and began discussing the repeat procedure of the pessaries – which would mean an overnight stay. While the staff debated my situation, Eli arrived with my parents. They were going home that evening. Thankfully the bleeding was nigh on stopping and the pain had eased. So he just saw his Mama in her “really pretty” hospital gown – and my god, I was so happy to see him and we had the BEST cuddles. His affection made me forget about it all – made me zone out – for just a few moments. (He also said I looked pretty in my hospital ‘dress’. There’s a first!)

By 7pm, the Registrar had decided against an overnight stay and repeat procedure – I’d had too much medication for one day. Therefore, I’d be discharged with a letter, antibiotics and a repeat scan for 2nd October. So I have until the 2nd to finish expelling whatever is left.

I was discharged at around 8:30. I was shattered and it was a surreal journey home – it felt like 4am or something. I then slept. Slept and slept and slept. Never have I ever slept so much. I even SLEPT THROUGH on Sunday night, something I’ve not managed since well before Eli arrived. So that was weird too.

Since then – and up until today, Wednesday 27th – I’ve had little/no bleeding once again. Though I’ve had the odd cramp, back pain and baaaaaaad head. So once again, I’m in limbo. Has it all expelled? Is it over? Is it stuck?! Has the sac come away? Has my cervix closed up again?! Am I anaemic with all this blood loss? Is that why I’m so damn tired? Guess I’ll just have to wait it out until 2nd October when I get scanned again. (I’m also eating allll the kale, cavolo nero and spinach I can muster to get my iron on the up, incase!). If there are still some bits of tissue remaining/the sac still clinging on, then it will be off to surgery for me – for the dreaded Surgical Management (ERPC or ERPoC, which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. You might hear it called it a D & C too) which is under anaesthetic.

Because we’re British and Tea makes everything OK again.

 

One thing I would say is though – Men/Partners do tend to get ‘ignored’ slightly during processes like this. I know I’m going through it harder – physically – but mentally, we’ve both lost out. We both desperately wanted that baby and we’ve both had the pregnancy loss. Both had the miscarriage.

Throughout the 30+ hours of labour with Eli, James was offered a cup of tea just ONCE. I was offered dozens of cups, despite being nil by mouth. The same happened again during this process – I was offered loads of tea/coffee. James wasn’t ever offered either – it was Sunday and the coffee shops closed early. So I really felt for him – he was going through it too – and yes, tea generally does solve a lot of things! If nothing else, it warms you up from the inside and gives you something to zone off with, even for just a few minutes. So perhaps it could be worth taking a flask of tea in – or whatever beverages/snacks you both need – should you be reading this ahead of venturing through this procedure too.

So there we are, thats where I’m up to now.

As before – it’s good to talk about things. So please do keep getting in touch and sharing your experiences. It’s the only way we’ll learn.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

 

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Miscarriage & Me // An update

Sharing my recent “bump” which was approx 11/12 weeks for #BumpDay in support of #MaternityHealth

————

I just wanted to give a brief update since my post last week: Miscarriage & Me. 

First off, I have to just say a big huge THANK YOU. Thank you to every single one of you who has commented or messaged or emailed or called me. I can’t tell you how grateful we are for the support and kind words. Once again, never ever underestimate the kindness of strangers. I’ve had so many messages of support for me sharing the post. For encouraging discussion. For highlighting what will/can/might/might not happen.

Miscarriage happens because of science. It’s not something you can stop from happening – I hope those who have experienced this horrendous plight know that.  Also, Miscarriage is more common than people realise. It happens to at least 1 in 4 pregnancies. Many miscarriages are unreported and some go unnoticed as it happens so soon. Experts think that the real figure might be 1 in 3*.

Miscarriage is not taboo. It is so important that we discuss this. To help others understand… to help yourself to understand. Without sharing stories, how can we learn? How can the medical professionals learn and continue their research into Pregnancy Loss? So sharing experiences, that is my biggest take away from this whole thing.

————

Just over a week on, how am I doing?

I’m going down the “Expectant Miscarriage” route with hope I have/am miscarrying naturally.

Well, I count myself as very lucky. So far, I haven’t bled anywhere near as much as I anticipated. As I touched on in my original post I have Endometriosis. So have been awaiting just the worst pain and the worst bleeding/tissue loss imaginable. I’ve had the back aches and extreme tiredness but again, nothing as bad as I’ve been expecting. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m going through a slow miscarriage – or whether its building up to some kind of cruel crescendo. I guess I’ll know more when I head back to the hospital next Tuesday for my re-scan and review.

So for now, I’m stuck in limbo. Not knowing whether its started, ended/ending or if it’s not even begun (properly). And this is the worst feeling – the not knowing. Just as bad as not knowing if you’re ok in the first place – before the bad news.

The entire pregnancy journey is basically just a whole load of anxiety and stress and endless knots in the stomach, isn’t it?

I feel like I need to do something good out of all of this. I know charities such as Tommy’s & The Miscarriage Association have a few ways to get involved. But if anyone does have any ideas that I can support, please let me know.

In the meantime, please do continue to share your stories. You can comment, message, email or bloody carrier pigeon your experiences or words to me. Always remember, sharing is caring.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

 

*Statistics taken from Tommy’s // The Baby Charity. Information on Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss >> More details, here.