Choose Love has raised millions to support refugees and created a movement of people putting love into action around the world.
Choose Love does whatever it takes to provide refugees and displaced people with everything from lifesaving search and rescue boats to food and legal advice. Choose Love elevates the voices and visibility of refugees and galvanise public support for agile community organisations providing vital support to refugees along migration routes globally.
Choose Love are a lean, passionate team driving a fast-paced global movement across 15 countries. In just five years, they have reached one million refugees and raised tens of millions for nearly 150 organisations providing vital support at every stage along migration routes from Europe to the Middle East and along the US-Mexico border.
There is just one vision – a world that chooses love and justice every day, for everyone.
CHOOSE LOVE // THE STORE
The Choose Love store sells real products for refugees. Items you choose will be delivered to the people facing winter in the most difficult conditions. This is the world’s first shop to sell real products for refugees and displaced communities.
Every item represents a similar product or service provided by one of the organisations that Choose Love support around the world. When you buy an item at Choose Love, they get it to where it’s needed most.
Over the last five years this pioneering model has provided refugees and displaced communities with the tools to rebuild their lives.
Support is completely essential. Why not gift someone a donation to Choose Love this Christmas, instead of buying that silly Secret Santa that you know will end up in landfill? A ‘secret santa’ gift starts at just £5 and a is a true gift with heart.
You could always buy yourself or a loved one a gift too and it will STILL benefit those who need it the most. Here is a selection of my favourite Choose Love merch.
If you’re not able to contribute via monetary means, please do follow @ChooseLoveacross all of their social platforms and share their amazing work. Every little bit really does help. Thank you.
Choose Love is a restricted fund under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund, UK Charity No 1099682. In the USA, Choose Love, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, and gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
Today marks National Rainbow Baby Day🌈 and it’s hard to believe that almost 2 years ago (to the day) I began miscarrying a very much tried for and loved baby.
A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. These babies are the rainbow after the storm – bringing hope, promise, healing, and remembrance.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in Miscarriage – its THAT common. Whilst this is a day to celebrate, I also wanted to just highlight our own Miscarriage journey for those who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, the trauma of Miscarriage . All my posts are linked here >>> MISCARRIAGE & ME.
This special celebration is a way for mothers (AND fathers / partners / families) across the country to share their experiences, grieve, reflect, and most importantly, celebrate the joy and love for their miraculous Rainbow Babies. A Rainbow Baby brings hope to so many – beautiful examples of how a woman’s body and mind can heal after pregnancy or infant loss. These newborn babes do not heal the hurt, pain or strain of a loss, but they remind us to celebrate life and find joy. They are a rare treasure.
I sit and type away, right now, with my darling baby girl laid next to me – our beautiful Rainbow Baby that we thought would never come. As I look at Edie, I can’t help but think about the sibling she and her brother will never meet. It’s difficult not to look at her and wonder who was in in my uterus before her, and after Eli. It’s difficult not to wonder – not to wonder who they might have been. But then I think again, if we hadn’t lost, would we be where we are right now? Would we have Edie at all? While I would have obviously never wished for a miscarriage, maybe it was a painful bridge we had to cross to get to the love and joy of our new baby girl. This teeny, tiny human, that I’m having trouble with sleeping beside, because I just can’t stop staring at her. This teeny, tiny human that has made our little family complete – that has made Eli a Big Brother – nay, an AMAZING big brother that we’re just in awe of.
Edie will always be a little bit special 🌈 and that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting about the one we lost. But it definitely does make us feel like the luckiest parents on the planet to have our two glorious children.
Sending love and luck to those who have yet celebrate the arrival of their own Rainbow Baby. Edie is proof of joy after loss, don’t let go of your own hope 🌈
I’ll try and be brief with the introduction here, because I’m doing my upmost to avoid all and any negativity right now!
(I’m currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant).
My pregnancy with Eli wasn’t straight forward. We had a lot of complications and constant monitoring. We were high risk. Then came labour. I won’t go into the details, but I had a pretty awful and traumatic labour with Eli. I was induced at almost 42 weeks, I had no say in the labour, it was an agonising 30+ hours with every intervention possible. It all ended in a whirlwind of a dodgy episiotomy and ventouse that saw the room fill with 15+ people and before the threat of emergency C-Section.
It was VERY medical. I was never given options – I accepted what was told to me, because heck, Doctors know best, right?
We knew no different. We actually thought it was a ‘normal’ labour!
Following the stress of Eli’s pregnancy and in hindsight, the trauma of his birth, plusmy miscarriage in-between; falling with this my third pregnancy, I KNEW something had to change.
My anxiety was through the roof when we began trying again; despite my medication and an abundance of self-help. The anxiety was surely inevitable following a miscarriage, yes. But the anxiety surrounding labour didn’t need to be there. This is where Hypnobirthing comes in…
I started researching into Hypnobirthing properly as soon as I got the second line on that pregnancy test back in November 2018.
My initial belief was that Hypnobirthing was all about being hypnotised during labour… L O L. No, it’s definitely nothing to do with being hypnotised. But after reading the birth stories on forums and blogs, I still sat on the sceptical fence… I mean, what even is this HIPPY, DIPPY, BALONEY?!
The more I read, the more I became obsessively intrigued by it. To the point where, yep, you guessed right, my anxiety surrounding labour took a real back-seat.
Having used The Yes Mum cards for daily affirmations I ordered the book: Your Baby, Your Birth. I would pick the book up and fall asleep and it became clear I needed something more engaging. I also wanted to do something that James could get involved with at the same time. Local classes were really expensive and not at convenient times for us. It’s certainly worth mentioning here too that James found my labour with Eli horrendous. He felt totally helpless and all he could do was sit beside me with his hands turning white under my constant clench. Him being there was all I needed at that time, but he will be first to admit that its scarred him somewhat – he definitely experienced birth trauma too. This time he wanted to be helpful, to have a real role in my pregnancy and subsequently, the labour.
Then pops up The Positive Birth Company on Instagram. Boom. I began following and was hooked. Incidentally, Siobhan had been following me too and very kindly offered for us to give her Digital Course a try.
I obviously jumped at the chance! I’d read that starting a Hypnobirthing course would be best from 28 weeks onwards. But as we had it at 25 weeks, it seemed daft not to begin straight away.
Once my profile was all set up on the Digital Pack, I familiarised myself with the platform. From a user point of view, it’s a really neat and simple platform first of all. It’s organised perfectly and so easy to use. The branding is spot on too – which really helps when you’re trying to learn but also ‘zone out’, the colours and fonts used are quite obviously well-thought through. I was so impressed with how thorough the course looked – six sections with everything you could ever possibly need to know (and more!) surrounding pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.
It came to bedtime so we grabbed the laptop, put candles on and cosied up in bed with the first of the 6 sections in the Digital Pack. Each section is from 40-60+ minutes long. So you want to dedicate some real quality time to this. We decided we would look at one section a night – where possible; spreading it over days where needed, so it wasn’t too much information at once.
We were immediately into it. Siobhan has such a gentle and clear tone – plus the information was exceptionally thorough and we really, really enjoyed learning. We were pausing videos along the way to recap what we’d learned so far- and again when we had decisions to plan between us. Learning to use more positive ‘birth language’ still has me on my toes at times – for instance, we refer to contractions as a Surge – it just rids the questioning of any negativity and apprehension that could slow labour down. Likewise, talking about the ‘power’ of a surge, as opposed to the amount of pain I’m in, will help me to understand how my body is working to birth my baby – allowing my body to be in total and instinctive control of the labour.
I think we’d both agree that one of the most interesting sections for both of us was the SCIENCE section. We both learned SO MUCH about the female body and what it goes through during pregnancy, labour and birth. I honestly can’t believe I’ve reached the age of 33 , having had one child, not knowing some of the actual childbirth process. I feel like Siobhan really needs to take elements of this course into schools – its been a true education for us!
One of the best bits of this course has been getting to grips with the roles each of us will ‘play’ once labour begins. My only job here is to remember my Up & Down breathing and to keep calm, relaxed and at ease. Whereas James has an actual list of things he will be seeking to fulfil – something he’s genuinely excited about and so grateful to have responsibility for; especially following the helplessness he felt during my labour with Eli.
It’s also worth highlighting here that Hypnobirthing isn’t just for ‘normal’ vaginal delivery – this is an education that will take you through all aspects of labour, whether that be via water, land or theatre – whether thats planned theatre or unplanned. The relaxation tools and techniques will enable you to have confidence in your OWN decisions during labour and birth (and postpartum too!). The tools will give you back the control of your labour. This feeling of being in full control is something that I’m finding very empowering after such a dreadful labour with Eli.
After completing all 6 sections of the Digital Pack, you can quickly review specific sections in the Course Notes Booklet (which you can download and print – we’re taking a copy with my Maternity notes) – which is great for back-referencing. There are also a series of MP3’s included too, which have been so invaluable during my pregnancy – especially these later weeks when I can often get into bed feeling deflated. I listen to the Positive Affirmations for Pregnancy MP3 on repeat when I’m in the bath or for an hour or so, as soon as I get in bed. This normally soothes me into a lovely slumber (before I’m awoken shortly after for my first loo-trip of the night!). I can imagine this MP3 being perfect during labour – I’d been looking at Spa Music to play – but actually, I think I’d prefer to have the MP3 running in the background as a reminder that I’m getting closer to meeting my baby.
On top of all of this, you also get a (now editable!) downloadable PDF template for highlighting your birth preferences; should you wish to prepare any. Obviously, you can do this yourself, but the sections on the template are perfectly set out and clear to read in a rush. My midwife was very impressed when I presented them at my 36 week appointment (!). My birth preferences have completely changed since starting this Hypnobirthing course – and again since reading the positive birth stories on the closed Facebook community page (which you also get access too once you sign up for the course!). Reading these stories every day has been so helpful in cementing the notion that I CAN do this and I WILL do this – whenever my baby decides is the right time.
To surmise, I can quite honestly say that this Digital Course has changed our lives. Obviously; we have the birth bit to come. But I have to say that the course, by @thepositivebirthmama (and her amazingly soothing voice), has provided such wisdom, scientific facts, relaxation tools and the foresight to retain control this time; for both @jameshill.tv and I. Weirdly, I am actually excited for labour to begin – however and whenever it does happen✨ And I most certainly would not be feeling this way had we not studied this course. I’m not even sure I would have gotten through the last 20 weeks so easily without it either. How many people can say that?
Thank you so much @thepositivebirthcompany for making me feel so different this time around – and the tools you’ve taught us both will continue to be helpful for life in general postpartum, I’m certain 🖤 We’re both shocked at how informed and relaxed and prepared we feel.
I will be doing a full write-up post-labour, however it pans out! But for now, I cannot recommend @thepositivebirthcompany enough. Currently pregnant? You MUST go forth and seek for yourself!
MORE FROM THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY
Upon completing the course, I purchased the Little pack of positivity directly from The Positive Birth Company website. Each pack contains 28 cards, each with a positive affirmation for pregnancy. I immediately placed the cards around our house where I would see them as a little reminders; reducing anxiety and boosting confidence around birth. The more confident you are, the more relaxed you will feel. The more relaxed you are the better your birth will be.
Now that I’m mentally prepared for labour – I also wanted to share the accompanying App by the Positive Birth Company. The FREYA app is currently available on the App store. I’ve used it frequently when tracking Braxton Hicks – again, its simple to use, effective and we know this is going to be an essential when labour begins for real. During the timing of surges, the Up Breathing soundtrack is so useful – especially if you don’t want your birth partner to attempt to do it for you (we tried and I found James’ voice too distracting – and we also creased up when he attempted to read out the positive affirmations too).
“Freya is the world’s first hypnobirthing-friendly surge (contraction) timer and virtual birth partner. She will coach you through each surge with a simple breathing technique and help you to relax in between with positive affirmations, calming visualisations and guided relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the more efficient and comfortable your labour will be. Freya will help you to remain calm and in control throughout. She will also keep track of how frequently your surges are coming and how long they are lasting. She will even let you know when it might be a good idea to contact your midwife! Freya will be with you every step – or surge – of the way!”
Expert hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Positive Birth Company Siobhan Miller has made it her mission to change the way women around the world approach and experience birth. Through her teaching she seeks to educate and empower women – and their birth partners – so that they can enjoy amazing and positive birth experiences, however they choose to bring their babies into the world.
Siobhan debunks common myths about hypnobirthing and explains why she believes it can make every type of birth a better experience – from a water birth at home to an unplanned caesarean in theatre.
So, what is hypnobirthing? Essentially, it’s a form of antenatal education, an approach to birth that is both evidence-based and logical. Hypnobirthing certainly doesn’t involve being hypnotised; instead, it teaches you how your body works on a muscular and hormonal level when in labour and how you can use various relaxation techniques to ensure you are working with your body (rather than against it), making birth more efficient and comfortable.
Siobhan’s advice and guidance will change your mindset and enable you to navigate your birth with practical tools that ensure you feel calm and in control throughout.
By the time you finish this course you’ll feel relaxed, capable and genuinely excited about giving birth.
So last time I packed my hospital bag for labour, I packed WAY TOO MUCH. We ended up taking a medium sized suitcase, a bag for me, the changing bag, a bag for James AND a bag full of food and drinks and snacks. We didn’t even open the suitcase during labour and James could have done without a bag, I could have done without a bag and I’m SO GLAD we have a PROPER changing bag*this time around (its mega organised).
*Kindly #gifted by the wonder women at Tiba + Marl
Don’t get me wrong, you do NEED to take a lot of STUFF into hospital with you, if thats where you’re choosing to birth your baby, of course! If you’re opting for a home-birth, then:
I envy you (!!)
You will have everything you need at your immediate disposal…
…although, some of the below items may still be useful for home birth – and could be useful to have packed incase of a hospital transfer too.
So here we go, a list for the Mama, a list for the Baba and a list for your birth partner – plus a list of things that are good to have sorted and at hand for when the time comes. I’ll add in links for you to quick shop where possible too!
Car Seat – we’ve gone for another MAXI COSI car seat this time as we loved the security of the one we had for Eli, but the laws have all changed since he was a newborn. Just a reminder that many NHS trusts will not allow the baby to leave the department WITHOUT proof of a car seat for safety reasons.
To have ready to hand //
Cash for car park
Pen & Paper – just incase you need to leave a note in a hurry
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!
List of important phone numbers on paper
In the lead-up to your ‘due window’, ensure you have enough fuel in the car
Headphones & Eye Mask for the journey to the hospital
Is there anything I’m missing from above, that might prove absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards? Comment below or send me a message and I’ll get it added in!
For ease – you can check my most favourite essentials out via the SHOP, here>>> HOSPITAL BAG
For clarity, this is not a sponsored or paid post – but does contain some Affiliate links. I was also kindly #gifted a few items, as highlighted above – this was not in exchange for payment or a post. They’re just damn lovely and generous women!
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in however, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love with these essential baby items!
Having suffered quite badly with SPD throughout my pregnancy with Eli, I was already feeling those familiar pregnancy aches from quite early on in this pregnancy. From around 10 weeks in, I was beginning to struggle with sleeping so looked into pregnancy pillows. I’d had a pretty flimsy one last time (7 years ago, there weren’t many sleep supports on the market!). It did it’s best, but it definitely didn’t offer me the support I really needed. So, as long as there was good enough evidence/positive reviews, we agreed we would pay the extra and really invest in the pregnancy pillow this time around.
I asked the question – Can you recommend a brilliant pregnancy pillow please? – to my IG stories following. The top three answers were:
I wanted to wait until post-12 week scan to order, because I still had pregnancy anxiety. After a lot of further research, and although the most expensive of the pillows we looked at, post-12 weeks we ordered the BBHugMe Pillow in the luscious Dusky Pink colourway. (The pillow also comes in several additional colours – there are also additional spare colours available too – I’ve added these all to my SHOP. CLICK HERE). We felt there was more than enough evidence to suggest it was the best one for me – plus it could be used post-partum with the babe being able to relax on it/Eli being able to relax on it/us being able to relax on it, as well as a support whilst feeding.
We managed to get quite a good deal on the pillow by going via Topcashback and then had a promotional code for Jo Jo Maman Bebe itself! The pillow looks great in the bedroom, it really doesn’t look out of place aesthetically – like my old one did – it looks like its just a luxury additional pillow! It also looks smashing on the sofa, where I have been using it more frequently when laying watching TV (when I’m not swaying on my Yoga ball of course).
I’m now 30 weeks pregnant and I can quite honestly say that this pillow has changed my life. Nay, it’s changed the life of Eli and indeed, James too! We all absolutely love it.
At 30 weeks, I’m currently up once in the night for a toilet trip – by this point with Eli, I was up several times. I’m not saying this scientifically, but from my experience, I’m going to put my excellent (current) bladder routine down to the BBHUGME Pillow. The way it supports my bump and pelvis MUST be working alongside in support of my bladder too.
And whats even better is, I get so comfortable, so easily and quickly, that I’m drifting off to sleep in a much more relaxed way too. I’ve often had to read/watch TV/listen to music to fall asleep – I’ve always need distractions to ease me off – but not now! I can happily and proudly say, I fall straight to sleep, on my own, no distractions necessary! I can see this pillow in bed with me for the long run… sorry James!
SO, to surmise, I’d say so far, this is the best pregnancy item that we’ve ever bought. Yes, its more pricey, but you cannot put a price on the comfort, support and peaceful slumber I’ve been able to get from the pillow this time. This pillow can be adjusted to just how you like it as the beads inside are flexible – this means the pillow will grow with all shapes and sizes throughout pregnancy and beyond. It comes with a carry bag if you’re travelling about – and guess what else? The cover is machine washable – praise be!
For product details, information on the design of this product and the experts behind the BBHUGME pillow, please read below.
MORE ABOUT THE BBHUGME PILLOW
Developed by natural and medical health professionals
Bbhugme was created by three chiropractors from Norway, Hilde, Ann Kristin and Elisabeth, who shared a deep interest in chiropractic care of pregnant women, moms and babies. They saw many teary, sleep-deprived women who were suffering from pelvic and back pain before, during and after pregnancy. The three realised that the women needed even more support and care – a long-lasting, take-home solution that could support them beyond the care they get at clinics. This was the origin of the bbhugme pillow.
A better pillow
The three chiropractors got together with designers to make a unique pillow that mothers could count on for support. The pillow comes from focus on the details that mapper. The right shape, filled with a specific size and type of mirco-beads, gives sturdy, but flexible support for every body type. The pillow fabric is elastic, yet strong enough to avoid being ripped when used. Allergy- and eco-friendliness are also important. For nursing the baby, it helps if the pillow can be strapped around the body. Zippers and velcro aren’t soft enough, so we use a tie that allows mothers to remove and wash the outer sleeve.
The hard work that went into the design process was recognized in 2015, when bbhugme won “Best Design Award” from The Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture.
Serving mothers around the world
From serving Norwegian customers, the company has grown and is now expanding into Europe and the USA. Sales through retailers, chiropractors and online are growing quickly. What remains the same is that we’re a company driven by professionalism, passion and care for the pregnant women and mothers that we created bbhugme for. It’s their stories of relaxation, contentment and comfort that have made this project worth it.
Meet the experts
bbhugme® products are tested and quality approved by out panel of specialists in health, motherhood and design. They know a lot about caring for women and new families. They’re also curious and caring, always out to learn more – and share what they know.
DR. HILDE TAVARES
FOUNDER | CHIROPRACTOR
Hilde is an innovator, instructor, speaker, entrepreneur – and mother to three lively children. She’s practiced family wellness care in Norway since 2002 and has an advanced degree in musculoskeletal health in pregnancy and paediatrics.
“I’m passionate about supporting and caring for women and their partners through pregnancy, birth and infancy.”
ANN KRISTIN HOMDRUM
FOUNDER | CHIROPRACTOR
Ann Kristin is a chiropractor, author, speaker and entrepreneur, who has dedicated her life to learning and teaching about conscious health decisions. She specializes in chiropractic care for pregnant women and children and breastfeeding support.
“I believe in enjoying family life to the fullest, through a natural and healthy lifestyle.”
PSYCHOLOGIST | PSYCHOTHERAPIST
Tine is a specialist in neurology and cognition for the female brain with hormonal influence. She runs a clinic in Oslo, offering
therapy for individuals and families, in partnership with other experts in pregnancy, yoga and holistic medicine.
“I’m dedicated to supporting and preparing pregnant women and new families for a new phase in their lives.”
ÅSA LIND MELIN
In 25 years, Åsa’s nearly done it all, in midwifery, birth, pregnancy care, and women’s health.
She’s trained in baby massage and Shiatsu massage for pregnant women, worked in delivery wards, managed a private practice and operated her own midwifery practice, and counselled clients on pregnancy and birth.
“I help prepare families for the rollercoaster that starts with a new baby arriving in the home.”
—– For clarity, this is not a sponsored or paid post – but does contain some Affiliate links.
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in however, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love with this product!
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”