A Christmas letter to military wives – Jules G

Here’s a moving post from Jules, who has written about being a military wife at Christmas. I’ll let her explain.

Jules blogs at www.thegigglesfamily.com

As a military wife myself, I decided to write this open letter this year. I’m sure there will be lots of thoughts published for our soldiers, and I don’t for one second think they have easier. Far from it, but I thought wives and girlfriends deserved a little something too:

giggles family to doTo the Wives and Girlfriends missing their Soldier this Christmas,

It’s sh*t. It’s completely, utterly, gut wrentchingly, pit of your stomach crappy. I can’t change that with this letter but I can say THANK YOU.

Thank you for supporting him. For holding back that lump in your throat when he calls so he doesn’t worry about you; sending the care packages to him with extra tears included; calling his grandma every week to check she’s ok and pass on messages; loving his child but craving just ten minutes to yourself; managing ok all day until you find his sock in the washing 3 months into tour; feeling emotional whenever you see couples holding hands on your sad days; going through the loneliness of trying to get to know a totally new community at his new posting; trying to find a Christmas present that can fit in a care package; and missing him at night, literally feeling the hole in your chest.

For waking up on Christmas morning with his side of the bed empty, knowing you won’t get what you’d really like for Christmas.

T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U

Because you’ve supported not just him, but his colleagues by keeping him stable. His commander by helping him concentrate on his job. The country for supporting him while he does his part of trying to keep the country safe.

You’re strong and brave too. Yes in a different way, but a hard way. Trying to be a swan on the surface whilst paddling furiously underneath the water as they say.

Thank you. I hope he’s home soon, well and with the yummiest cuddle ever.

Follow Jules on Twitter @TheGigglesBlog

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Hormones! – Mystery Mum

bump question markAnonymous guest blogger Mystery Mum is getting impatient for the 12 week scan – I’m sure a lot of you will identify with the first trimester anxiety that she talks about. It can be a nervewracking time! This week has also seen her booking appointment to make everything ‘official’. I think some mums-to-be need this first contact with the midwife to make the pregnancy feel more real at a time when you can’t imagine a tiny baby growing inside you! Here’s how our Mystery Mum got on.

Gestation at time of writing: 9+4

General wellbeing: 6/10

In my last post I said that I thought I would be an emotional wreck for a while yet – and that is certainly proving to be true. Being caught in a hormonal hurricane seems to be my overriding symptom these last couple of weeks. I think a lot of it stems from first trimester anxiety, which only really starts to abate after the reassurance of the 12 week scan, but I don’t remember feeling quite so fragile in my last pregnancy.

I was reduced to a gibbering mess after I trod on a fairy light while decorating the tree at the weekend – a problem easily resolved when they no longer worked by purchasing a new set the same day – but my pregnant brain blew it out of all proportion. I just can’t be rational at the moment, no doubt a source of great amusement to those around me who know why I’m overreacting to every little situation.

On the plus side, the nausea I was experiencing has subsided quite a bit, as long as I make sure I eat little and often. My appetite is a bit reduced, and I still don’t really fancy sweet stuff, but having regular snacks seems to help keep my stomach on an even keel. I get easily bloated if something doesn’t settle quite right though, so it’s not all fun and games in my digestive system. Fatigue and uncomfortable boob issues seem to be coming and going now rather than being constant, so hopefully I might be on the way out of the early pregnancy funk.

I was glad to finally get the ball rolling with my antenatal care this week, after feeling slightly cheated last week by a ‘pre-booking’ appointment with my GP, which I had mistakenly thought was going to be my proper booking one. After weighing me, taking my blood pressure and logging my pregnancy on their system, I was out the door with a handful of leaflets about antenatal screening, a community midwife’s contact number, and an empty pee pot to take along to my booking. A bit of an anti-climax after I had been quite psyched up for it.

Fortunately I was able to get a booking appointment early this week and was seen by a lovely student midwife who was very capable and efficient at filling in the reams of paperwork. A health care assistant came in to take my bloods – half an arm’s worth by the looks of it – and after filling three test-tube size vials from my right arm had to poke me in my left for the last sample as my veins failed to cooperate. I raised my only real concern to the midwife, explaining a complication I experienced in my previous pregnancy which, as I suspected, means that I am already considered ‘high risk’ and will be closely monitored. I would like to talk more about this but don’t want to give too much away at this point!

The next step will be waiting for the all-important scan date and an appointment for the consultant clinic at the hospital to discuss my antenatal care and how it might differ from your everyday low risk second time mum. Not sure what to expect but better to be safe than sorry. We didn’t plan dates very well as 12 weeks falls between Christmas and New Year – not the best time of year for so much to be going on but I’m keeping everything crossed for 2015 to start on a high. Also looking forward to coming out of the pregnancy closet so I can actually talk to people about it! Nearly there….

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum

The first trimester is the worst trimester – Mystery Mum

bump question markOur anonymous guest blogger Mystery Mum is enjoying the trials and tribulations of pregnancy with her second child. Here she shares with us the almost inevitable first trimester topic of early pregnancy symptoms – and while she feels lucky in some respects, there is still a lot to cope with! How many of these can you identify with?

Gestation at time of writing: 7+4

General wellbeing: 4/10

Back in the days of just trying to get pregnant rather than actually being pregnant, symptom spotting took over my life. In the two week limbo before we would find out yes or no, I Googled ‘early pregnancy symptoms’ over and over, in the hope that I would have developed another one since the last time I checked and wondered if I was imagining anything I was feeling.

Now approaching 8 weeks, I can tell me from the past that, yes, you were imagining it. In my experience at least, unless you are very unlucky, you won’t genuinely feel much different at all around 4-5 weeks. Since then though, I have been all too aware of how I’m feeling, and I don’t need to Google anything to know just how crappy the first trimester can be. Strangely, I really don’t remember how I felt at this point in my first pregnancy. Maybe like the big birth event itself, nature helps you forget.

Touching a large piece of wood, I have been hugely lucky not to have been sick (yet), but I thought I’d share with you some of the exciting symptoms I am currently putting up with nonetheless.

Fatigue – I’m tired. I mean really tired. Like I nearly nodded off in a meeting at work tired. I get home in the evening and all I want to do is veg on the settee. The good intentions I had of continuing to exercise have already gone out the window as I just don’t have the energy. I’m reliably assured by most websites I’ve looked at that the fatigue will pass and I’ll have a renewed vigour come 12 weeks. We can only hope so. I might have become a sofa cushion by then.

Nausea – I may not have been sick yet but the threat of it is ever present. I haven’t been on the brink of throwing up, but my stomach is not a happy bunny; the best way I can describe it is after you have had a bug and your stomach feels strained and a bit fragile, just generally unsettled. My appetite has reduced but I find I have to eat little and often to avoid getting too hungry as then I just feel ill. It really is quite unpleasant. Stupid hormones.

Food aversions – Rather than craving strange things, I find I have gone off some foods I normally love, namely sweet treats! This I do remember from last time. I lost my sweet tooth completely and the same has happened now. My usual mid-afternoon non-pregnancy craving for chocolate from the vending machine or whatever biscuits and cakes happen to be knocking around the office has gone, replaced by mid-afternoon nausea and a couple of dry Ritz crackers. It’s probably just nature’s way of stopping me eating what I shouldn’t while I’m not doing anything to burn it off. It’s a very strange feeling though just to not fancy a Dairy Milk.

Boobs (file under ‘enormous’ and ‘uncomfortable as hell’) – I’ve been wearing maternity bras for two weeks already. What lifesavers these non-wired, generously-cupped wonder-garments are. Even at 6 weeks, my normally average-sized lady boulders were making a bid for freedom from my regular bras, and the underwire was like a torture device, jabbing me indiscriminately if I moved the wrong way. A properly fitted maternity or nursing bra should be the first purchase of every pregnant woman, and can then be worn every hour of the day if it makes you more comfortable – your unprotected nipples will soon let you know if it’s time to start leaving it on at night.

Bloating and general digestive discomfort – I’m already sporting a generous stomach, as if I’ve just sat down in a comfy chair after a good Sunday dinner. As far as I can tell, it’s entirely made up of highly attractive bloating. My body is further betraying me by making me burp for Britain, regardless of whether I’ve just eaten or drunk anything that may cause it. It’s all very ladylike.

Vivid dreams – This is a weird one. Whether caused by hormones or just as a consequence of the million thoughts going round my head all the time, every night I am having intricate and really involved dreams, that I clearly remember when I wake up, before I start thinking about all the conscious stuff again and forget about them. If nothing else, they’re very entertaining.

Being an emotional wreck – I cry at something about once a day, at least. I find that I am more likely to cry at something nice, as rather than just be happy about it, I blub uncontrollably. The day the John Lewis penguin ad came out nearly finished me off.

Next week I finally have my antenatal booking appointment, which has felt like a lifetime in coming, then it’s all downhill to Christmas and the impending 12 week scan, whenever that might fit in. I can see me being an emotional wreck for a while yet.

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum

I didn’t get my VBAC – ‘Resident Blogger’ Susanne

mummy and elsieResident Blogger Susanne did not have an easy time of her fourth pregnancy. Suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe pregnancy sickness) in the early weeks, she endured the uncertainty throughout the third trimester of whether her baby would have to be born prematurely due to IUGR, a condition fortunately picked up through the use of customised growth charts and extra scans.

IUGR, which stands for intra-uterine growth restriction, can be indicative of a problem with the placenta which prevents the baby from receiving the nutrition it needs, and is one of the biggest risk factors for stillbirth. Babies suffering from IUGR often have to be delivered early and can experience problems associated with being born very small.

Susanne’s emotions were further complicated by her desire for a VBAC, a vaginal birth after caesarean, which became less and less of an option as the pregnancy became more complicated. Having already undergone three previous sections, Susanne knew from the start it would not be an easy road. Here you can read about Susanne’s difficult journey, which happily culminated in the safe delivery of little Elsie Rose at 37 weeks.

Susanne blogs at www.ghostwritermummy.co.uk where you can read more about her experience with HG, IUGR and the subject of VBAC.

Back in May, I decided I wanted a VBAC. Since discovering I was pregnant, I always kind of knew this was what I wanted to do when it came to the birth. But I remember consciously making up my mind and speaking it aloud.

There.

It was out there. My intentions were known. No going back. I wanted a VBA3C. A vaginal birth after three c-sections. A ‘natural’ birth. A ‘normal’ birth.

susanne bump 20 weeksThis was met with mixed responses. Sensible responses from people such as my mother (“Just wait and see what happens. I’m sure it will work out the way you want it to in the end.”); positively positive responses (“Of course you can have a VBAC! Your body was made for it!”); horrified responses from people such as the first midwife I saw (“After three previous sections? There isn’t a doctor around who will support you in that!”); and vaguely amused responses (“Why would you want to do that? Don’t you know the risks?!”).

Yes. I knew the risks. I joined a Facebook group filled with women who advocate VBAC and natural birth. Women who were successfully getting their VBACs after 3, 4 and even 5 previous c-sections. I knew the risks of scar rupture existed, but I also knew they were very small. So I weighed it up and weighed on in.

In the group, lots of women speak of ‘not being allowed’ a VBAC, according to their doctors. These women routinely reply with the standard mantra

            Your body, your decision.

and it kind of stuck throughout my pregnancy. Whenever I was faced with the question over whether or not ‘they’ would let me birth my baby the way nature intended, I told them the same thing. This was MY body and MY choice.

My choice was to deliver my baby myself. To hold her against my skin moments later and to finally finally understand what it was all about when women spoke of feeling empowered, head over heels in love and like they could conquer the world. To be able to carry a baby to term and to deliver that baby without medication, medical assistance and sterile lighting. To do it the way my body wanted to. That was my choice.

Another regular line heard in the VBAC group came with birth announcements. Babies are born, eventually, after much discussion over how and when and with what interventions, and they are duly announced in the group. We are all waiting to hear. Did she get it? So the opening line of most announcements are either I got my VBAC! followed by wonderfully uplifting words of encouragement to the rest of us still waiting and hoping; or I didn’t get my VBAC but… usually followed by details of whether or not the surgeon ‘allowed’ skin to skin, or whether or not the lady laboured before the decision was made to perform a repeat c-section. So here is my announcement.

I didn’t get my VBAC.

BUT.

But I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. The decision was taken away early into my third trimester and to cut a long story short, my VBAC was pipped to the post by IUGR. Growth restriction meant my baby was too small for a ‘normal’ delivery. Growth restriction meant that my pregnancy had to end early, and a c-section was the only option since my body (scar) wouldn’t be able to handle an induction. Growth restriction meant my announcement in the group wasn’t written the way I’d intended it to be written back in May.

BUT.

elsie rose first 25 hoursBut I got my baby. And she is well. And we love her a lot. And that really does matter, but it is not ALL that matters.

It matters that I didn’t get my VBAC, because I went on a journey to get it. Self-acceptance. Self-awareness. Confidence. I actually, after all these years, believed I could do it. Birth my baby. Scans showed that she was head down, facing the right way and ready to go. During surgery I was told that there was practically no scar tissue at all after my 3 sections. My surgeon was amazed, and told me that my body was in perfect condition for carrying and delivering a baby. And, strangely, that was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me in a long time.

I didn’t get my VBAC but I got something else instead. I got to the end of that path and saw that I could do it.

Follow Susanne on Twitter @Ghostwritermumm

Say hello to the Giggles Family – Jules G

giggles family photoPlease welcome military wife and mummy Jules to Blogs for Babies!

Life’s never quiet living the army life, sailing the ups and downs of having a husband often working away and a Baby G learning new things every day! Baby G is under a year and bundles of fun, easily getting the giggles at the smallest thing.

They make the most of family life together after for quite some time fearing they would not be able to have a family at all. They love spending their time checking out local children’s activities, holding family events, having fun with friends and making a blog and video diary on their YouTube channel for the future.

Jules blogs at www.TheGigglesFamily.com

I’m new here so I guess I should introduce myself *Waves*.

Me and Mr G have been together 6 years, married for 4. After thinking we may not have the chance to have a family, Baby G came into our lives and as cheesy as it sounds, made us feel complete.

We have the same stresses of family life as anyone, but we try our best to make the best of every moment because we almost didn’t have it.

Baby G is now 7 months old and learning constantly. He’s at a stage of frustration, wishing he could crawl and still thinking that if he concentrates hard and makes a grunting sound it will magically happen. He still hasn’t clicked that’s why we have tummy time!

Daddy G is in the military, but currently, fortunately at home with us aside from bits of training, so we are making the most of all being together. He has been posted elsewhere next year so we are gearing up to move with him. If anyone has any tips on packing a whole house with a baby please let me know!

I blog 2-3 times a week, review products and hold giveaways plus networking. We are also vlogging daily in December for Vlogmass. Sometimes it can feel too busy, and other times I just enjoy having my own little project through currently being a stay at home mum.

I’ll admit I’m an Instagram addict (@mrsgigglesworthy) because it makes any photo look beaut and has become a kind of family photo album for us.

I hope you’ll pop back to join us on our journey, our first Christmas together and moving next year. It would be lovely to have you along for the ride.

Follow Jules on Twitter @thegigglesblog

A little announcement – Mystery Mum

wpid-dsc_0379.jpgOur lovely anonymous blogger Mystery Mum has been trying to conceive her second baby for three months – and happily has a little announcement to make! We are so thrilled and excited to be with her at the very start of this life-changing journey.

So here we are. I’m pregnant!

Third time lucky as it turns out after two failed months of trying, so I know I certainly can’t complain. To be honest I’m still trying to get my head round the whole thing – I took the test nearly a week ago and still haven’t fully grasped that it’s actually happening.

I think it’s because after the initial shock and excitement of finding out dies down, this is actually the worst bit of pregnancy. At only 5+3 as I write this (to use BabyCentre message board parlance), it still feels ridiculously early in the day to get too excited. I still have the nagging doubt, as I’m sure most mums do at this point, that everything is about to fall down around my ears and our little bean will leave us no sooner than they arrived. It’s an awful period of limbo until the reassurance of a tiny heartbeat on a 12 week scan makes you truly feel ‘pregnant’.

But positivity is the only way forward and I’m fortunate that I feel well – other than being dog tired of course, and the fact that my boobs have taken on a life of their own and are currently attempting to make a break from my bra. It will not be too many weeks before my first purchase of the pregnancy will be a properly fitted maternity one to contain the pesky troublemakers. I have no nausea or sickness to contend with thus far which was fortunately the same in my first pregnancy. I had maybe four episodes of sickness the whole way through last time and I can only hope for the same luck this time around!

We have told parents and a handful of close friends our news, and today I told my work colleagues, which is a lot more people than we told at this stage last time. I think I am a lot more of the thinking now that if anything did go wrong at this early stage, I would value the support of those closest to me, just as I would if anything happened later on. There is little point in trying to hide it. We also haven’t told our little man yet, until we have a tangible scan picture to help him understand. On the bright side, it has been lovely getting lots of positive reactions from everyone at work, as everyone is excited for me – people are even talking about knitting little things for the baby which is a wonderful thought.

I am still reluctant to ‘go public’ with the pregnancy just yet though – much as I might like to shout it from the metaphorical rooftop that is Twitter and splash it all over my blog, I think restraint is called for now, to keep it special and personal for just a few more weeks. In the meantime, I am happy to be #MysteryMum!

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum

Living with Silent Reflux – ‘Resident Blogger’ Hannah

hannah reflux 1Resident Blogger and all round lovely lady Hannah is new mum to Toby, now three months old. Poor Hannah and little Toby have not had the easiest of times unfortunately, as Toby has been suffering from a condition called silent reflux, where a baby’s stomach contents come back up their oesophagus but they show no sign of vomiting. It can cause tremendous pain to the baby, and a lot of upset and anxiety for mum, as Hannah explains in her latest post here.

Hannah blogs at www.buddingsmiles.co.uk

Anyone who reads my blog and/or follows me on Twitter may well know about my son Toby’s diagnosis of silent reflux. He was diagnosed at 6 weeks old and now at 13 weeks, I feel it’s time to write about our experiences so far.

The first few weeks of Toby’s life whizzed by in a blur of sleep deprivation, figuring out breastfeeding, scheduling visitors and snuggling our new son. Looking back, he was never a truly settled baby and try as we might with the Moses basket, Toby would only sleep in mine or his Daddy’s arms. By about 5 weeks it was very clear that he was more unsettled than other babies; as we ventured out more and met up with our NCT friends and other new parents, Toby would cry constantly unless being fed or bounced whilst their babies cooed and slept. Still, neither the health visitor nor GP thought anything was wrong at the scheduled checks so we just carried on.

Things became really tough quite quickly and soon Toby was pulling away from my breast screaming, arching his back and going almost rigid. It was horrible to see and it felt like a personal rejection to me. I was told to work on my latch but I knew that the latch was fine. One day, I noticed Toby’s tummy gurgling during a feed, then he pulled away and sounded like he was going to be horrifically sick but nothing came out. When this had happened a few times, I called the health visitor and she immediately said it was silent reflux. It was that simple!

hannah reflux 2I had a phone consultation with a GP and Infant Gaviscon was prescribed, but after a few days of even more screaming – we’re talking 10 hours a day – alongside constipation, we stopped the Gaviscon as any possible benefits were totally outweighed by the terrible pain he was in from constipation. I called the GP back, ready for a fight, but he immediately got us an appointment and prescribed Omeprazole.

Seven weeks later, we’ve had good days and bad days; the Omeprazole does seem to have helped and since, Toby’s also been put on Dentinox for colic. On the bad days, Toby has cried and screamed for hours on end and I won’t sugar coat, I too have cried very many tears. I have told myself repeatedly that if silent reflux is as bad as it ever gets for Toby then Phil and I are very lucky, but when you watch your son screaming in pain and crunching his legs up, unable to open his bowels or have a full feed then it’s heartbreaking.

As the stress took its toll I accepted that I couldn’t keep exclusively breastfeeding because it meant that I couldn’t have a break, allow Phil or our families to help out on the bad days so that I could rest. Some people continue to feed no matter what and I commend them, but I felt incapable of being the best possible Mummy to Toby if I was an emotional wreck. We began combination feeding during our family holiday a couple of weeks ago and that was a huge turning point. With shared responsibility at night and on the weekends, I can have a bit of time to breathe, to reset my head and to go back in with more strength to help Toby through this.

Whether it’s the feeding, the elusive 3 month mark, the medicine or complete coincidence, Toby does seem a lot better. Toby now sleeps better, smiles more and is developing at an amazing rate. Sometimes he cries, he is a baby after all, but the frequency of the gurgling tummy has reduced and Toby seems so much happier. Phil and I obviously don’t want Toby on medication long-term, but for now things are working and I think we’ll wait until weaning commences (which I’m so excited about!) then speak to the GP and figure out a course of action.

hannah familyFor any parents reading who are experiencing the horror of reflux, please do accept help, fight if doctors won’t listen to you and take each day as it comes. I hated it when people told me it would get better, but it truly is doing and I feel like the Mummy I was born to be, with a perfect, beautiful, smiley son who I love to the ends of the earth.

I’m doing a reflux series of posts on my blog, the first of which was my very first vlog, so please have a read and do get in touch if you want to chat.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles

Find out more about reflux and silent reflux from the NCT website

Stillbirth. My story, my son Louis – Claire Copland

Claire pic 1In recognition of Baby Loss Awareness Week, it is an absolute privilege to be able to share Claire’s story. Claire is mum to two beautiful little girls, 7 year old Amelia and Poppy, 2, who she describes as her world. She helps her lovely husband run his advertising business and strives to be happy, as most of us do, but Claire hasn’t always been happy.

Claire says, “I know what it’s like when life kicks you down. You feel alone. My first child, Louis, was stillborn at 41 weeks in September 2002. He was an apparently healthy baby who was fine one moment, and then gone the next. Words fail to describe the pain of losing him. I have been lucky to go on to build a happy life, full of the joy my family give me but it hasn’t been an easy road. 

We are a family full of all the normal issues, fun, fears, good times and bad times; but most of all we are a family full of love.”

This is Louis’ story.

Claire blogs at www.joyandpops.com

It recently occurred to me that in the 12 years since I lost my son Louis, I have never told our story from start to finish. Always the abridged version to fit the audience, just the details that I think they will be able to understand or even want to hear.

So here it is, from the top.

I found myself pregnant at 20 years old. Despite not being the previously maternal type, I was thrilled. I was in a fairly new relationship with ‘A’ (for the sake of his privacy) but we were crazy in love – that specific young crazy love where you think everything is going to be fine. I made plans to defer university until the following year, we moved to a new city, got a beautiful puppy called Molly and rented a house. We set about becoming a family, rose-tinted glasses firmly in place.

I think about that couple sometimes, just starting out in the world. We may have been naive/crazy but we really loved each other and we were happy.

We were also extremely poor. Our families, initially not overly pleased with our news, rallied to help us with baby essentials. We decorated the nursery with a nautical theme using donated half-empty tins of paint. ‘A’ spent days decorating the room and painting an old chest of drawers. It was late summer; I can still remember the smell of autumn appearing in the air and David Gray’s song ‘Babylon’ was the soundtrack as he worked. The first signs of autumn (and that song) still remind me of that time – it was filled with happy anticipation.

It was apparent that we were having a rather large baby. In fairness, I was absolutely huge. I know everyone says that but I really was. I went from 8st 7lbs to 13st 11lbs – totally massive. I had sciatica and could barely move. My due date came and went, not unusual of course. I had an appointment to discuss induction scheduled for 9 days overdue at the hospital.

As he walked, I shuffled, along the river that weekend – with Molly bounding around us – we talked about how our son would be born the following week. “One way or another” I said, which seems so prophetic now. Again, I think about that young couple and I feel so sad for them.

The morning of my appointment I was sitting on the bed when ‘A’ walked into the room. I blurted out that the baby wasn’t moving. I had tried lying down, poking my tummy and downed a large glass of cold water. Nothing. ‘A’ told me not to worry and reminded me that everyone keeps telling us that he’s so big he’s got no room to move, and we’re on our way to hospital anyway. We were going to the right place after all.

At the hospital we sat in the waiting room, ‘A’ chatting away, genuinely not worried, but I felt cold and clammy with a fear I just couldn’t articulate. When we were called into the consultant’s room, I told them I couldn’t feel the baby move so they got me on the bed and listened for his heartbeat.

I now know what deafening silence sounds like. Silence so loud I can still hear it now.

Pooh-bear-stillbirth-quoteReassuring words and a scan arranged in the next room, only to confirm what everyone already knew. A lady saying sympathetically how sorry she was and leaving the room to get the midwife. I tried to stand up but my legs failed and I’m in ‘A’s arms on the floor screaming. I know I’m screaming but I can’t hear my own voice.

We are taken from the scan room to another smaller room. ‘A’ starts calling our families. Everything is such a blur but when I look back I think how hard those calls must have been for him to make. My Dad was visiting from abroad and had been due to have lunch with us, he was on his way to our house when he got the call and came straight to the hospital. He walked in the room and I collapsed on him in grief.

I never knew you could genuinely collapse in grief until that day.

The only saving grace that day was that I was already in labour, so no induction or waiting. Things actually moved quite quickly and I was taken to the SANDS room (a special room donated by the charity SANDS). When labour became more intense I was taken through to the delivery suite. I went to the bathroom on the way and stayed in that tiny room for so long they threatened to break in! I was hiding from myself, in pain on the floor. I knew once I left that room I was going to have to deal with what was happening – obviously it was all happening anyway but hiding in that little room felt like the better option.

I did eventually come out and labour progressed. My mum had been away on a course but rushed back to arrive in the evening. I had an epidural just before she arrived so was a bit more comfortable but when I saw her I broke down; I told her I couldn’t survive it – I knew I didn’t mean the labour.

It was just ‘A’, me and two very kind midwives for the delivery. I wouldn’t push, I didn’t want him to be born. I wanted him to stay inside until someone told me it had all been a mistake. I knew once he was born it would all be true and the real hell would start.

Louis was born into silence. He was silent, we were silent. Everyone was crying – even the midwives – but after the brutality of giving birth, there was not a sound to be heard.

They brought him back cleaned, wrapped in a blanket and lying in a Moses basket. He was wearing a little blue knitted hat and holding a bunny. He had lots of black hair, chubby cheeks and podgy wrists. He was a beautiful little boy. He was big at 10lb 11oz. There was, however, no way to pretend he was just sleeping; he looked dead and that shocked me. I would have liked to pretend for just a minute.

The house was cleared of baby things (except those I wanted to keep) while I was in hospital. People brought flowers and sent cards, all of which was very kind. For a time people spoke Louis’s name and listened to me speak about him, but even the closest of friends and family moved on leaving me behind, trapped in that moment of grief.

I wish I could say in the weeks, months and years that followed I rose above this terrible situation. The truth is I sank. For a long time, I just hit the depths. My relationship with ‘A’ fell apart by Louis’s first anniversary, I was barely surviving financially and I felt out of control emotionally. At 21 years old I had lost so much, so quickly.

Claire pic 2I did rebuild my life but I was right when I told my mum I wouldn’t survive it. I didn’t. The person I am today is not the same woman who walked along the river at the end of that summer, waiting for her son to be born. I am a better person in many ways. I am stronger, but I am not the same.

Follow Claire on Twitter @JoyandPops

Read another blog post by Claire at Joy and Pops for Baby Loss Awareness Week

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A plea to Mother Nature – Mystery Mum

bump question markMystery Mum is now into her second month of trying to get pregnant with her second baby. I think a lot of you will identify with her feelings of frustration and the emotional rollercoaster of trying to conceive, even at this early stage. We’re eagerly awaiting the next update!

So it turns out we couldn’t get lucky first time again.

Those of you who read my first post last month will know that we conceived our first baby almost without thinking, and I was still cautiously optimistic when I wrote that post that there was a chance it could happen again. Well, it didn’t, and I have learned my lesson for our second time of trying – Calm. The Hell. Down.

Riding on a wave of excitement and giddy anticipation I couldn’t wait to take a test, and did it as soon as I thought something might show up, about 4-5 days before my period was due. Negative. Not to worry, I thought, it’s still pretty early. I tested again on the day my visitor should have arrived. Negative again. And again two days later.

Now I was late, but without a positive test I just couldn’t relax. I felt emotionally all over the place, bursting into tears, then finding the whole ludicrous reaction to nothing in particular completely hilarious. I mentally ticked off each early pregnancy symptom I thought I was experiencing. There were more than a few. My nipples had taken on a life of their own and were protesting in discomfort at the slightest touch; I felt fatigued, bloated, anxious and more. If I wasn’t pregnant, what was going on?

At more than a week overdue, I caved and splashed out on a more expensive digital test, as if that might tell me something the cheaper supermarket ones would not. It didn’t. In fact, seeing the cruel words ‘Not pregnant’ spelled out in front of my eyes was about as much as I could take in my heightened emotional state. I resolved to wait until the following week and make an appointment to see my GP. Something must be wrong.

Maybe feeling like there was no more hope that I actually could be pregnant allowed me to relax just enough – the following day my period arrived. I had had a 37 day cycle, when I’m normally pretty regular between 26-28. Mother Nature had played a cruel trick – or had I brought it all on myself?

I was actually relieved that I had finally got my period – even as it meant we hadn’t got lucky – as it also meant that I had a resolution to over a week of emotional turmoil. We could move on. We could start a new month afresh. Maybe the fact that I felt so wound up about the whole thing had actually knocked my hormones out of whack from the start – had I ovulated late? Maybe. Did it delay the arrival of my period? Possibly. All I knew was I couldn’t go on like that month after month. We all know stress is not the friend of conception.

So this month I have learned my lesson. I’ve consciously tried to be more chilled out about the whole baby-making palaver, and kept my excitement and apprehension in check. I’ve stopped obsessively reading pregnancy websites, stopped symptom watching, stopped fretting about whether I am or not, and just got on with life. I won’t be taking any early tests. Hopefully all will be resolved again one way or another next week.

Maybe we’ll get lucky this time and maybe we won’t. Yes, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t, but not working myself into a frenzy about it has got to be better than the way I felt a few weeks ago. Let’s just hope Mother Nature’s on my side this time.

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum