The Lost Stars (Infertility and Miscarriages)




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Not one, not two, not three, not four but five…five lost and much wanted stars that I never got to meet. I write this personal post as writing often is a form of therapy for the soul. It’s partly a way for me to cope through this loss and not fall into a downward spiral.  For those that know me well know that I am someone who loves to smile and laugh and help others. I’m very down to earth that’s just me. I’m by no means Super Woman but I do have a Wonder Woman mug and I love my family and being a mum.  I do feel like I’ve recently acquired extra powers to help me get over losing my babies one by one. It can be a very lonely battle sometimes when I’m left to think things over. Fortunately I am able to get up and get on with my life and won’t let any sadness get in the way of me leading a good life. After all I have a little boy who by some miracle made it through the odds who still needs me to love him and care for him so that’s just what I do.

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National Fertility Awareness Week is Monday 31st October to Sunday 6th November 2016 a movement started to raise awareness of the couples who struggle to become parents. Fertility issues are all too often misrepresented and misunderstood. It’s common for media attention to be focused on stereotypes but this is far from the real picture.  The week provides a time for those with infertility to talk to their friends and families some may not know of the battles that are going on in the background.  I’ve written about how Jay is my miracle rainbow baby, how I still to this day pinch myself that he exists. There are a lot of people we know who don’t actually know what we have been through emotional and financial to get to hold our son. His very name in Sanskrit mean Victorious which I think  suits him well. I am proud being an older mum and although there are days I wish I had started a family earlier I know that every person has a different life story we don’t all meet our life partners in our teens or 20s, we don’t all face infertility but one in six UK couples do and one in four pregnancies end in loss. It’s a lottery.

I discovered surprisingly that I was pregnant with my first baby in February 2011 6 months into marriage, but Mr M and I didn’t have time to celebrate as I lost the baby at 6 weeks. I was then diagnosed with PCOS at Great Portland Street hospital in London and it was the first time I  started to seek treatment as it was apparent that my journey to becoming a mother was going to be a tough one.  Friends stopped telling me they were pregnant for fear of upsetting me but that was not what I wanted I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I would get asked a lot when Mark and I would be starting a family and not to leave it too late. I would struggle to answer that as I didn’t want to go into all of the medical issues. After two years of various treatments including injecting my stomach with medicine and taking Clomid I felt like giving up. I had attended countless appointments and tests which felt like a whole lot of effort and tried numerous alternate therapies like acupuncture and reflexology.  I don’t like meddling with nature but I pursued my dream and eventually on a second cycle of Clomid in June 2013 I saw my positive pregnancy test lines at 2am one morning.  I was incredibly happy and despite a difficult pregnancy gave birth to a healthy boy in March 2014.

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Since September 2015 I have suffered four miscarriages the most recent being last month two weeks after my 40th birthday when I lost a baby at nine and half weeks. Following some intense cramping and spotting I went to A&E one Sunday afternoon but couldn’t be scanned as the department was closed.  This added to my stress of not knowing what was happening inside. I tried to stay calm and not think the worst but deep down I knew I was about to go through it all over again.  The following afternoon I was seen and scanned. I was devastated to hear those words again “I’m sorry but there isn’t a heartbeat anymore”. Little Jay was sitting next to me not knowing just how sad his mummy was as I wept in front of the nurse and took a moment to compose myself leaving the hospital feeling broken.  I turned down the offer to stay in hospital overnight and was asked to hurry home soon after I had taken the medication to let things take their course. The physical pain was excruciating not to mention what I saw.  I had to unravel all my plans return the baby names book back to the library throw away my notes with the names I’d selected, return maternity clothes I had bought in advance and cancel the pregnancy update Apps on my Iphone.  The hard bit was breaking the news to my husband but through it all he has been fully supportive and caring. We were both quiet that evening, Mark made me dinner but I struggled to eat as I sat looking down with my tears falling into my plate, we couldn’t talk and sat numb with grief. It was I felt incredibly cruel especially after such a wonderful birthday. I have questioned my faith in God for the first time ever.

When I think about it incredibly I had managed to fall pregnant naturally all those times without any fertility treatment at 39 years of age and this amazes me as I had such a hard time trying to conceive before. All my test results have come back fine to indicate no health problems but of course this does not take the pain away of dashed dreams.  I watched a video by the Miscarriage association which summed up how Mark and I felt. I’ve made a donation in the hope there will be more research into this area.  It’s important to remember that men also suffer and the impact this can cause on relationships is immense. I read a blog post by Al from The Dad Network who wrote of his experience. My heart aches for all those that are going through the same thing.

I genuinely feel it’s important to talk about experiences and not suffer in silence. It’s a tough subject to navigate alone. I know that I am able to talk openly but for many people it’s not so easy. I guess we all cope with things differently. It’s the way of the World that you start seeing many pregnant women around you and there have been many pregnancy announcements from friends of mine which is of course lovely but I am not angry for I know that each baby is a gift and I appreciate just how precious life really is.  The only time I felt anger was in the days following the miscarriage when I was upset at how my body had let me down yet again, it’s a feeling of failure and nothing can really change that. Even with my positive outlook on life I struggled those first few days especially the next morning waking up and realising there was no longer a baby in my tummy.

I am grateful to the friends and family who have helped me through the darkness I genuinely feel that by them being there for me checking in on me has helped me immensely. I wanted to share something that was sent to me by my beautiful thoughtful friend Nina. She sent me her favourite book The Alchemist all about following your dreams. I also received from her a box of items and a beautiful card which of course made me cry but made me appreciate that even when things don’t go to plan. You must still work on making yourself better.

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Recurrent miscarriages and all the events that have followed are nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. If I hadn’t become a mother at this point in my life perhaps my view would be much different and my mental health would not be well. In the days following the recent event I played and laughed with my son and this was a really good for my mental health Jay has very much helped me cope with our loss.  My son pointed at my tummy the other day and said baby in tummy. I told him there was no longer a baby and he looked at me confused. I didn’t cry.  I am facing the reality and moving on.

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If you’ve experienced infertility yourself to achieve the family you have now, you know how important it is to connect with other people who “get” infertility. National Fertility Awareness Week is the perfect time to think about how you can give back to and help those who are still going through what you’ve been lucky to get through. There are social media campaigns like #fertilityin5 using 5 words to describe how you feel.  There is also The Hidden Face campaign which will use the hashtags #NFAWUK #HiddenFace all illuminating the emotions and the day to day actualities of struggling with fertility problems.

I hope that with Jay’s generation there will be a lot more treatments and help available to men and women so they don’t have to suffer loss like we have.

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Although I do often say never say never I have made peace with my self and accepted that we will be happy as a family of three and I know that’s perfectly fine.  I have moments when I think how could I love another baby as much as I love Jay but of course it’s possible.  I will still think of all my due dates and 29th April 2017 will be added to the list.  Such personal events have made me stronger rather than weaker. I believe in positive thinking and surrounding yourself with good energy. For women who have never experienced infertility, I hope they never do. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t take a moment right now during National Fertility Awareness Week to help raise awareness, spread the word, and make a difference for millions who want nothing more than to be a parent.

#NFAWUK #HiddenFace #fertilityin5

Thank you for reading my story.

Love

Bella

~X~

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My Motherhood Identity

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“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

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I came across the above quote recently reading a magazine and after a particularly exhausting month of caring for a teething toddler it got me thinking about how becoming Jay’s mother has meant my role in the World has changed. I’m trying to learn to navigate not just the logistics of life with an almost 18 month old but a new emotional terrain.

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I can’t obviously wear the experienced mother’s hat yet as it’s still the beginning and I feel unbelievably lucky to have carried Jay to full term even after suffering a miscarriage and dealing with infertility issues.  Looking after a newborn with severe reflux though was mighty tough but that stage passed after 10 months.  Looking after a toddler who has been teething from 3 months old has been challenging to say the least but parenthood is a roller coaster from extreme highs to the lows.

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The Early Morning Days

I don’t want to wish this time away but sometimes I have moments where I do miss aspects of my old life.  I wonder when I will get to replace the changing bag with a pretty handbag again or accept an invitation at short notice and get my glad rags on and spend more than 5 minutes painting my face. While I have come to terms with the things I have had to give up, I can also see the way my goals have become so much richer, because there’s now a very special little man that looks at me with such lovely innocence and I’m overwhelmed at how much this little sponge already understands.

I am here but I am a different version of myself. 

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I am Physically STRONGER

Let’s face it the body is never the same after having children.  However I have come to realise that I have become stronger.  Popeye would be impressed with my right arm. The ability to carry out tasks one handed was tough at first but now it’s not a problem.  This body works hard and childbirth well it was for me a 37 hour physically demanding endurance event. I’ve never known anything quite like it and my Gold medal, my son was worth every second.

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I am Forgetful

My Post baby brain is not great, I am not as good at remembering things and I do a lot more going upstairs and then forgetting what I was going upstairs for. I have previously opened the freezer door with an over glove and once found I had placed my mobile in the biscuit tin discovered after four days.  I experience frequent moments of brain-ache trying to remember the million and one things I need to do. I recently found a  memory training book  which I had purchased some time ago and forgot I had it. This is now being read in the hope that I can keep the brain cells a boost.

I’m a List Maker

I have two note books and keep a diary for appointments.  I STILL write a daily record of when I change Jay’s nappy and feed him for the simple reason *please see above*.

My mum wanted me to have one too!

I Cook more

I’m not a great cook but I am much more keen to cook than ever before. My diet has changed in that I am eating less sugar and both Mr M and I want to remain in good health for Jay.  When I’m in my 50’s Jay will be in his early teenage years yikes! therefore I am much more health conscious and want to stay and feel young but still believe in saying ‘everything in moderation!’

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My Inner Child

Motherhood has brought out my inner child. As an older mum I want to be able to stay fun for Jay and find myself being very silly with him some days whether it be making blankie fortresses/tents/ playing hide and seek, and doing the congo as we head into the kitchen in the morning. I watch children’s programmes morning to evening and pretty much know the theme music and songs word for word engraved in my mind.  Nevermind chart music, I sing Wind the Bobbin, Zoom Zoom and other rhymes.

I am Anxious

Anxiety levels have inevitably gone up and  sometimes off the richter scale. I do find some days overwhelming and scary trying to keep on top of chores and day to day life . I am working on managing that as I don’t want to worry unnecessarily. The health visitor once said to me worry is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do but won’t get you anywhere.  My mum would tell me pre-motherhood that I wouldn’t really know ‘worry’ until I had a child…thanks mum. My former worries and concerns now seem superfluous by comparison. Lets face it there will be days that just go down the toilet, those days which don’t go as planned and will cause frustration but I’m to remind myself that tomorrow is another day so to forget about what’s happened and move on.

I have more Patience (well sort of)

I thought I was a relatively patient person pre-Jay but my goodness I know what Patience really means as there are days where I like most parents are tested to the max. I am starting to focus more on my breathing and take deep breaths and count to 3 when it does get a bit too much. A recent example was when Jay would not go to sleep (this teething business has been awful) and at 23:45 hours he started laughing and blowing raspberries at me….he went to bed 15 mins after. There was also two weeks he didn’t want to eat solids and I was literally bringing out platters of different food items throughout the day in the hope he would get something into his little belly. Patience is a virtue they say!

I Drink Less Alcohol

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The thought of having a hangover and looking after a toddler gives me the shivers. Having a glass of wine is more of a treat and as it’s usually just one glass then I make sure it’s a large!

I am less Spontanious

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I can’t just do stuff at the drop of a hat going out clubbing and that’s me in Ibiza above.  Much more planning is required attending any events. I’m not actually a party girl quite the opposite in fact, a homely soul at heart so I don’t mind ‘staying in’. My random outings are a thing of the past.

I am Realistic

Time doesn’t wait for anyone and I certainly feel there is not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my daily list but I am realistic about things and try to be productive  working faster in getting jobs done. I am a perfectionist which can be a bit of a curse as things don’t always go to plan of course and I am left feeling deflated. There is of course the monotony of motherhood that feeling of GroundHog Day but I know like so many parents out there that what we need to remind ourselves that what we are doing is so  worthwhile.

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont

I am forward-looking.

Past experiences can shape us but I always try and see the positive even when clouds are grey.  I do think about the future as well as remembering to live in the moment. Before Jay, I lived my life for myself. I wasn’t a frivolous person, but I definitely put serious thought into deciding what heels would go with my skinny jeans. All of that has changed  as I now think about the World Jay will live in when I’m long gone. I recycle more as silly as this sounds but I hope it will make a difference for the planet when Jay is living his adult life. I realise I have also been donating more helping children in need of care and protection.

I am a Daily Cleaner

I can’t seem to function in a cluttered space and feel I am constantly tidying up which has increased ten-fold since having Jay. I know that I need to ‘let go’ on having a completely clean and tidy house all the time but it’s pretty hard for someone like me who is a tad OCD about cleanliness.

My Body is different

I managed to get back to my pre pregnancy weight fairly quickly and currently stay trim using aids like the Slendertone, the Nutri Bullet, and by using a skipping rope which I’ve blogged about.  However the trauma my petite frame endured during child birth with forceps and an episiotomy was just too much. I still think I walk funny and let’s not mention the joys of bladder weakness and more hair growth in the wrong places.  When your mum also starts giving you Tenna Lady as well as anti wrinkle cream you know that things will never be the same.

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I wear less Makeup and prefer comfort over style

I can’t remember the last time I used mascara as I have ridiculously watery eyes and now paint my face in approx 5 mins. I have mastered the 3-4 mins shower in comparison to the 30 mins I used to take not very eco-friendly at all. I won’t mention how long I would take in the bath! I know they say less is more but some days I do need extra help and I actually do love makeup.  Yes I do own numerous pairs of  black lycra leggings but don’t we all? and wearing a mishmash of comfy house clothes is just the norm now. I have even ventured outside without makeup which I would not have dreamt of doing before Jay came along.  There are still times I realise once outside that I am wearing my top inside out or back to front covered in all types of toddler messes.  Whilst dealing with his reflux I constantly had to change my clothes as well as his with all the milk throw ups not to mention his wee and poo episodes.

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I’m a Stay at Home Mum

I was planning on returning to work after my year long maternity leave although deep down my heart ached as I wanted to be a stay at home mum and would have had to return to my role as a PA full time. The situation went in my favour as I was made redundant and luckily Mr M said he would support me whatever I wanted to do.  I was happy with my decision to want to look after the baby we created and he sent me this recently which made me realise I had made the right decision for us.

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baby on board

It would have been hard to do all the commuting I was doing in and out of London working the long hours that I did. I figured that I had waited so long to be a parent and I want to be there for Jay’s milestones watching him grow.  He does love being around other children so I take him along to classes and play groups.  I’m sure at some stage I will return to work  but after 15 years of office life my priorities have changed and I do love looking after the little tinker with all the ups and downs.  I have a new found respect for stay at home parents as well as parents who go out to work.  Both have their Pros and Cons and  can be exhausting mentally and physically. We are all doing what we need to do for our children.

No one said parenthood would  be easy, it’s on the job training and I have to thank my lucky stars that I have been given the chance to raise a child after wondering what it would be like after so many years.   Mr M and I have a life long dedication to make a caring, responsible, honest human being out of Jay.

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How do you think you have changed since you became a mother or a father?

Feel free to leave any comments or advice!

Bella

~X~

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To all the Wonder Women out there!