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We’re the lucky ones

Watching Coronation Street tonight brought back dreadful memories and gut wrenching feelings of when I went into premature labour at 25 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy with Jack.

We’d had heartbreak already in our first two pregnancies, first with a Molar Pregnancy and then with a Miscarriage. Jack was our rainbow baby, our ray of sunshine, once I got past 12 weeks I breathed a sigh of relief, but more heartbreak was yet to come.

At 25+5 weeks I felt a trickle, not like the usual discharge you get in pregnancy, this felt different. I didn’t think much of it, I’d never been this far in a pregnancy before, it was my first successful pregnancy, so maybe this is what happens…I thought to my self. Then I stopped feeling him move as much and something within me just told me to go and get checked.

So I rang the Maternity Assessment Unit and arranged to go in, they gave me an icy glass of water and Jack was back to his wriggling ways, by that point it was very busy on the unit so I did feel like a time waster. I got a rather stressed and huffy midwife who told me she had to do a test because I said I’d felt a trickle but that I’d been “the fourth lady with leaky waters today” that it’d be nothing, just some discharge, so I didn’t even ask what the test entailed I just let her to the uncomfortable swab and started to get my belongings together, ready to go home.

The midwife returned with a very different expression on her face, she suddenly turned very pale and before she opened her mouth a consultant walked in and said “Okay, so what time did your waters go?”….What?

After all the grief we’d been through losing two babies, I never thought the feeling of your heart sinking could get any worse, I was wrong.

The next few days were a blur of needles, swabs and doctors…but what mattered, he wasn’t born. All I can remember is being sat with Paul, cuddling, praying that he stayed put. The fact is the health staff intervened, if they hadn’t Jack would not be here today.

With their support and monitoring, Jack stayed in my womb until 29+5 weeks and then was in NICU for 6 weeks after being born at 3.5lbs. Fast forward 3 years and he’s a happy, bubbly, clever little boy, it’s easy to forget the terrifying experience we went through in his pregnancy and after his birth, but watching what Michelle went through on Coronation Street brought back those feelings and memories.

We are so lucky, we were over the 24 week mark in my pregnancy and our baby boy survived. Kym Marsh went through exactly what her character did in Corrie, who better to act it than someone who has been through it? I don’t know how she found the strength but she’s a strong lady who has done justice for every woman who has gone into premature labour.

Watching her go through that just reminds me what could of been, I know the feeling of being told you are in premature labour, I know the feeling of knowing your child might die, but I am the most grateful and lucky person in the world to not know what it feels like to lose your child, for the hope to be gone.

The episode really highlighted a lot of issues with the way couples are treated in that situation. When I suffered both my Miscarriage and Molar Pregnancy I was put in a room of happy couples who were cooing over their scan pictures of healthy babies, during their ordeal on Corrie, Steve and Michelle had to listen to newborn babies crying, it’s heartbreaking that it is the case that couples aren’t given the privacy and proper setting to grieve and go through this heartbreaking experience and even if the health staff wanted to give that to them, the sad fact is there probably isn’t the facilities.

I never thought I’d feel lucky looking back on what we went through when Jack was born, it was heartbreaking and I wish we never had to go through it, but in reality it is a memory, a story we can tell that ends in success, our baby boy is here and he is healthy, a lot of people don’t have that, their’s ends with grief and that is why…we are the lucky ones.

 

 

 

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But you don’t look Depressed…

But you don’t look depressed…

Apparently if you’ve had Postnatal Depression before you are more likely to have it again.

When I first had Depression I didn’t think it was Depression, I thought these were normal feelings after losing a baby, actually after losing two.

Being pregnant again and getting past my “safe point” of 12 weeks during my pregnancy with Jack seemed to help, but then I was taught a harsh lesson about how there is no safe point in pregnancy, when my waters went at 25 weeks and he was then born at 29 weeks. Those same feelings came back and my coping mechanism with life (or lack of) returned, that seems to be my way of spotting when something isn’t quite right with me, if I am suddenly unable to cope with everyday situations.

Of course my baby being born almost 3 months early wasn’t an everyday occurrence, so I cut myself some slack, just because I had the same feelings as when I lost the babies, didn’t mean I was Depressed, right?…Wrong.

I had this amazing baby, finally at home, finally in my arms, yet I felt like I wanted to die. I was so terrified of someone holding my baby and hypersensitive to what people said that I was isolated, but that was okay (to me). My baby had been born early, it was OK to be overprotective, that’s what I thought, and do you know what? I wasn’t wrong, I had every reason to be overprotective, but my fears of leaving the house, even walking down the street were wrong, it was Depression, it turns out it had never really gone, there just happened to be a lot of traumatic things happening around me that gave me even more reason to be sad.

So for a moment I sat and thought about how I may have Postnatal Depression after my first child was born, but I also felt off-colour, maybe I was ill? No…I was pregnant. Jack was three months old and he was going to be a big brother. Well, that answered all my questions, it must have been my hormones making me think like that. They’ll settle down, I thought, then before I had any time to think about myself or what may be going on in my head, or even the joy of a new baby…

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I got the phone call every child dreads, my Mum saying my Dad was having a heart attack. He’d had one before when he was 42, it was very minor and he’d been improving since then, age now 50, I calmly got ready to make my way up to the hospital to check on him, but that wasn’t the case. As soon as my Mum told me, “they said his heart isn’t beating” that’s when I knew it was over, I just knew in the pit of my stomach, he wasn’t coming back.

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So as my bump grew, so did my Depression, but my Dad had died of course I was depressed, it was grief! I’d never thought about the fact that since my first loss with a Molar Pregnancy, which brought with it a Cancer scare, that I had been suffering with Depression all this time, I had the thinking process that once I’d had Mikey I would be OK.

Don’t get me wrong, if you met me on the street or even spent a few hours with me, you’d probably say “You don’t look Depressed”, I was a master of disguising it, partially because I was ashamed, I had two perfect children by this time, what did I have to be Depressed about? And the rest of my fear was telling someone and then once flood gates open, they don’t close.

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There’s also the fear everyone is too afraid to talk about, that your children could be taken away from you, I thought if I told my doctor that I felt like I was worthless and failing in every aspect of my life, that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and I was afraid to leave the house, that he’d think I couldn’t cope and would take my kids away, but this isn’t the case.

Finally I got the courage to go to the doctors over a year after first telling him I felt Depressed and he helped me, I didn’t take antidepressants because I was Breast feeding and didn’t want to stop, but I started counselling, which helped. I found life easier to cope with, I wasn’t afraid to get in a car with the kids in case it crashed, or walk down the street in case someone just took them from me, I felt like I could lead a normal life again, of course I will always grieve for my Dad, but life was manageable again.

So with my fifth pregnancy and third baby, I felt strong, like this time was different. I’d got into a great routine with my boys, they are both great kids, who sleep, eat and behave well (most of the time). There was the everyday stress of life in general, knowing I had to have a Cesarean which wasn’t what I wanted but was safest for baby and planning my wedding, but I was coping.

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So what came next hit me like a tonne of bricks…

My husband Paul and I had a minor argument about 9 days after Nicole was born, it was that minor I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember just thinking “I can’t cope with this…I want to die”. The feelings of anxiety crept back again, I was scared to do things in case something bad happened, yet no-one knew. Since then it’s been like a snowball effect, it’s just got bigger.

There is a stigma that comes with Depression, that you must have a reason for it, it needs to be solvable…but what if it isn’t? I don’t want to feel like this, I hate that I anticipate every situation, conversation and reaction, but I can’t help it. I’ve got Depression…again, and it isn’t fussy who it chooses.

So I don’t look Depressed…

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I can tell you, you’re right I don’t have the face of Depression because there isn’t one, it doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, what religion you are or what race you are, Depression can affect anyone at anytime.

I have three beautiful healthy children, an amazing husband and a loving family, I have every reason in the world to be happy and I am a lot of the time, but when I have a chance to gather my thoughts, or I’m faced with an everyday situation, I crumble.

Being Depressed doesn’t make me a bad mother, I love my kids, I look after them and I do everything in my power to make them happy. There isn’t even a question in my mind that I’d rather be anywhere or doing anything else than being with my kids, but the stigma of Depression leaves people feeling like they don’t deserve their children and this just isn’t the case.

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If you are suffering with Depression, you need to talk to someone. Whether it is a family member, friend or a doctor. Let someone who cares know how you are feeling, there is no way out of it alone, I’ve learnt that the hard way, I’m about to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in the hope I can put these horrible feelings behind me.

The only way to fight it is to talk to someone, Depression wants to isolate you…don’t let it.

Here’s some support links:

MIND

PANDAS

Mothers for Mothers

PNI

House of Light

APNI

The SMILE Group

 

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7 things you should never say to someone who has suffered a Miscarriage

7 things you should never say to someone who has suffered a miscarriage

1) It’s mother nature’s way of saying it wasn’t your time.

**Spoiler Alert** Mother nature is about as real as Santa Claus. People like to say mother nature delivers you a little present every month as a nice way to say you’re going to have a period, you’re going to bleed and it’s going to hurt. A Miscarriage is NOT a period. My body makes me have a period every month all by itself, my body can’t make a baby all by itself. If I lose a tooth you aren’t going to put a pound under my pillow and tell me the tooth fairy has been, so don’t tell me mother nature decided it wasn’t my time. We made a baby and it died, it was our time…but it was taken from us.

2) At least you weren’t too far along.

I knew I was pregnant, I was ready to be mum or maybe I wasn’t but who cares? I was going to be a mum. I felt the pain of my baby dying, I might not have felt my baby move, I may not have even got the chance to see them on a scan, but my baby was there, growing inside of me and then…my baby was taken from me. Excruciatingly, devastatingly taken from me. To me the number of weeks pregnant I was doesn’t change the fact I lost my baby and it certainly isn’t for you to judge the ratio on how far I was to how much pain I should feel. You can’t feel my pain, so don’t try to measure it.

3)Well, you can always try again.

But we wanted this baby, we’d prepared for this baby. This wasn’t a pizza we’d burnt that we could just go to the shop and get another one, this was a life growing inside of me. It’s amazing how many people actually have the balls to say this comment and not realise they are offending you. When I lost my Dad, people didn’t tell me it’s OK you can get another one, but yet when I lost my baby they felt that was replaceable. Even if you do go on to have other children, they are exactly that….other children, not replacements.

4) You would really get along with my friend, she had a Miscarriage so you have loads in common!

Really? I would get along with someone because we both have the same loss? We might share the same pain, but what else do we have in common? Losing a baby doesn’t just happen to one “type” of person, we might get along, but Miscarriage happens in 1 in 6 pregnancies, so according to your theory those people would all get along. It’s devastatingly true but Miscarriages aren’t fussy about who they happen to, no-one is safe.

5) What did you do wrong?

You and me have both wondered this then…I’d love to know what I did wrong, at least then I could blame myself, but I can’t. I did everything how you’re supposed to, I was healthy, happy and excited to meet my baby, but if I hadn’t already felt like this could be my fault you have just now put that doubt in my mind. Not only have I lost my baby, but now you’re telling me it must be my fault, it’s not. It’s hard enough to accept that people are just trying to help when they are dishing out “possibilities” of why this might have happened, deep down I know they are just trying to help in their own way, but this explanation offers nothing but blame, blame onto a woman who has just lost her baby.

6) At least you can have a drink now.

Don’t get me wrong, getting blind drunk, might take away my problems for a split second, but it will just bring with it a whole host of other problems. Being able to go out and party properly is not on my priority list, I would give up ever partying again just to have my baby. You are trying to justify me losing my baby with a night out, you may just be trying to help, but think about what you are saying.

7) At least you have other kids

For the parents who have already got children, they face one of the biggest stigmas. People think it’s OK for them to lose a baby, because they’ve already got one, or two or three. NO! They’ve lost a baby, if anything it’s heartbreaking for them in a different way, they have evidence in front of them of what they have lost, they look at their children and how they were once a black and white image on a Sonographer’s screen and now they sit cuddling that child, that’s what they’ve just lost, they were ready for a little person for their sibling to love, a whole other personality to join their family, instead that won’t happen, they were ready to change their whole lives around and add another person to their family and now that person is gone. Their pain isn’t any less, their pain might be different..but so is everyone’s.

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Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about

Pregnancy, something women can do that men can’t, so people assume it’s OK to ask about and of course they mean no harm, but a lot of women are fighting a battle you know nothing about.

The heartbreaking truth is, there are so many battles, you can never be too careful when speaking to a women about having a baby, there are so many scenarios, anyone could be suffering silently and you know nothing about it.

The couple you ask “When will we be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet?”

For all you know they may have trouble conceiving, they may have tried IVF, it may have failed.

They may have lost a baby, they may have lost several.

Or maybe they aren’t ready yet, they might not of even had that conversation, or maybe they have and have decided it isn’t their time yet. But still this is the question they get asked at every coffee with a friend, family function or by nosy strangers.

The women who’s going into her late 20’s, or her 30’s or even her 40’s, you tell her she better get a move on, her biological clock is ticking.

What if she has a health condition? What if she doesn’t want to tell you about it? But yet now she has to make the decision of whether she has to disclose that information to you or brush it off and make some excuse for why she isn’t having children, yet inside her heart is breaking.

Maybe she doesn’t want children, yet has to justify this reason to you. But why? Shouldn’t this be her decision? If she feels like talking about it, then she can.

What if she hasn’t found the person she feels is the right person to have a child with? Why should she have to settle and rush the decision on who she should make another human being with, because society is pressurising her?

Or maybe, just maybe, she isn’t ready yet, she doesn’t know when she’ll be ready, but when her time comes she’ll know. She shouldn’t have to have her life mapped out just because you ask her.

The couple that already have children, the first question is always “So when are you having another?”.

Really? Why is that the first question, why isn’t it about their life right now? Why can’t their life be perfect right now, just the way it is? Why is there the constant…what’s next, about someone’s life?

There seems to be common assumption that because a couple have had a baby, that they can easily have another, this isn’t always the case. Secondary Infertility is extremely common.

Can you imagine how heartbreaking it must feel for people to assume…”well you’ve done it once why can’t you do it again?” How frustrating must it be knowing your body has done that and all you want is for it to do it again, yet it won’t.

Or even worse, people give the “Well at least you’ve got one(or two or three etc.)” who is anyone to judge whether someone can be heartbroken that they can’t conceive, it doesn’t mean they don’t love the child they have with all their heart, if anything it means they love that child so much they want another mini human to love unconditionally like they do with their other children.

The men, people seem to think that men are a free for all when it comes to insulting conception comments. They are the other half of this couple, they are feeling the pain just as much as their partner is. Just because they don’t carry their child doesn’t mean they won’t feel the pain of a Miscarriage or yet another negative pregnancy test.

Or what is to say that men can’t have a yearning for children, yet they haven’t found the right woman to do it with?

Even insults about their ability to be “a man” because they haven’t managed to father a child, how is that any different to saying a woman is “less of a woman” because they can’t conceive. Both are unacceptable untrue comments, that unfortunately still get said.

Pregnancy, usually the first question is “What are you hoping for? Boy or Girl?”, but if you’ve already got a child it is automatically assumed you really want the opposite gender for your new baby, it could never just be the case that you just want a healthy baby?

Pregnancies can be so complicated, sometimes all you need is for someone to ask if you’re OK, or how you are doing. Not “I bet you can’t wait for it to be over” or “You’re so big are you sure there’s only one in there?” or “You’re so small, are you sure you’re that far along?”. All questions said completely innocently, but to a pregnant woman can be upsetting and offensive.

Most people don’t mean to offend and you can’t be aware of everyone’s situations, I’m guilty of innocently saying a comment that I hadn’t realised may have hurt someone’s feelings. The point of this post isn’t to stop people speaking and expecting people to tip toe around each other, but just to be aware that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so just be considerate and think before you speak.