It was two years ago today that we lost our first baby. Our little angel. When I think of that horrendous time it feels like it happened in another lifetime. Because even though it shook us to our core and changed us forever it also feels incredibly distant now. It’s amazing what the human spirit is capable of. In just two years our life is unrecognisable. We have climbed out of that dark hole and are in an entirely different place. That is not to say that we don’t still think about that pregnancy, baby, loss, emptiness – we do – but it is now a world away from where we are now.
I remember being told the diagnosis and making the worst decision of our lives. Worst, not because we regret it, but because it broke our hearts to do so. I remember the hospital, the delivery and coming home feeling everything was broken. I remember waking the next day and then remembering what had happened – what was lost – and feeling like things would never be okay again.
And while we wish more than anything that things could have been different we are okay. Better than okay. We have a baby who is the centre of our world. He is not a replacement. He is our second child. He healed us and made us feel like the luckiest parents in the world. To say we adore him is an understatement. He is a new chapter.
One day we will tell him about his big brother. We will tell him how I carried him in my tummy for 5 months. We will tell him that we loved him too and that we were desperate to meet him. We will tell him that he is a part of our family too.
For most of my adult life I was a laid back, stress-free kind of person. Honest! So it is quite bizarre to me that as a mother I am more of a worrier than I ever could have imagined.
My pregnancy neurosis (following our previous pregnancy loss) evolved into a less stressful but equally real anxiety surrounding the well-being of our little boy. Now admittedly that is largely down to the fact that my son is a terrible feeder who would happily exist solely on air! Perhaps if he had a greater appetite I would stress less. However it doesn’t take a genius to realise that given our history and the fact that my son is the product of IVF, I view him as even more miraculous and special than perhaps I otherwise would. I wonder how many other women feel that their parenting is influenced by their route to motherhood. Do the challenges faced in conception impact on the way we view our IVF babies?
Most couples with an infertility problem wait for a long time and undergo lengthy procedures before they finally get their much-desired baby. In recent years, several studies have been published comparing the parent–child relationship and the child’s psychosocial development in families with children conceived by IVF and families with naturally conceived children. The results are not conclusive, and most of the measures in the studies revealed no significant differences in the quality of the parent–child relationship between IVF families and families with naturally conceived children. However in my experience I certainly feel both that little bit more blessed and scared that I have my gorgeous baby.
Unless the IVF has nothing to do with it. My dad is totally neurotic and over-protective so I could just take after him!
We have just returned from our first family holiday to Israel. As we walked down the beach with our baby in his pram I couldn’t help thinking back to the last two visits I made to Israel.
The previous one was in October, I was 20 weeks pregnant and while I was incredibly grateful to be pregnant I was also extremely anxious about the outcome of my pregnancy. As I looked out across the sea I thought to myself ‘I hope I have a baby on my next visit’.
The trip prior to that was last March two weeks after the loss of our baby and it was a bleak and miserable time. I was unsure what the future held, when I may be pregnant again and how I would cope with the heartbreaking loss.
What struck me was how different life was on each of the three visits and how quickly and dramatically things can change. You may feel like things are not progressing on your journey to parenthood, or you may have had a loss that seems crippling. This time next year things may be very different.
When you have lost a baby the grief can seem like a very private thing. People don’t want to mention it in case they upset you and it can sometimes seem like the world has forgotten or dismissed what has happened. I still find it therapeutic to discuss our loss and the baby we were never able to have. Recently I came across an organisation called Footprints on the Heart, whose aim is to provide hope and healing to those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. They organise a 5K Run and Memorial Balloon Release to provide families an opportunity to honour their loved ones. Events like this show how meaningful it is to mark the life of the babies that were lost and openly share their memory with the world.
I realise I appear to have gone missing in action but rest assured I will be back soon! Having a newborn and a blog do not seem to be compatible. However when I figure out what the hell I am doing with this tiny person I will be returning. I really enjoy writing my blog and connecting with all of you who, like me, are battling infertility or rebuilding themselves after pregnancy loss. Until then, good luck to you all, D x
I can’t believe I am writing these words but… last week, on Thursday 12th March, our beautiful baby boy was born!
The labour was horrendously long and difficult, but also totally, completely and utterly worth it. We are now on cloud 9, blessed with the most precious, perfect little man I could have imagined.
I share this with you in the hope that you will recognise that despite the many hurdles, challenges and heartbreaks you can encounter on the road to motherhood there can be a happy ending that exceeds all your wildest dreams. We have had an emotional journey through infertility, ivf, pregnancy loss, grief, fear and anxiety. Thankfully the storm has passed and the sun is now shining brightly. I really hope you will be as blessed as we are now and that you will not let the set backs, failures and the disappointments stop you from having the baby you desire.
I wanted to share this beautiful sculpture called ‘The Child Who Was Never Born’. As an art student, Martin Hudáček of Slovakia was moved to create a sculpture to draw attention to the devastation losing a child can bring. The sculpture shows a woman in great sorrow grieving the child she never knew. The second figure, the child, is created in a translucent material that adds an angelic presence. In a very touching, healing way, she comes to the mother, to offer comfort.
It has been 1 year since we lost our precious first baby. Bizarrely it feels like it was a long time ago and yesterday all at the same time. The traumatic experience of terminating the pregnancy (for medical reasons at 21 weeks) and the sadness that filled our lives was so heartbreaking that I cannot believe we survived it.
However a year on we are different people. We still carry the pain but it is not raw and crushing like it was. We still talk about what happened and we still are in disbelief about what we and our baby went through.
A year on and our life is different too. We are two weeks from expecting another baby. The experience of losing our first baby has made pregnancy a difficult time. But the hope of a new baby has helped us heal and restored our faith. This baby will never replace the baby we lost and there will always be a profound sense of loss for what could have been.
So today, like everyday, we think of you and the love that will always exist between us.
Wow she took the words right out of my mouth! After enduring the heartbreak of three miscarriages Emmerdale’s Adele Silva is finally looking ahead to the birth of her first child, despite her past traumas having made her cautious. Like me she is less than six weeks away from welcoming her first child and like me she has found that suffering previous baby losses, three consecutive miscarriages in her case, has stifled the potential joy that comes with making last minute preparations for the new arrival.
Here are some of her feelings which she shared in an interview with Lorraine Kelly.
‘As soon as I got pregnant again I had this massive plan of action on what action to take, stages to go through and so on, so each stage has kind of been bittersweet because although you’re like “brilliant I’ve got to this point” or “brilliant I’ve got to that point” you’re still not completely out of the danger zone.’
This is my last week of work before my maternity leave commences. I can’t really believe it has come around, but then again I can’t believe that any of this is real. So while I am excited to have some feet up time, as my teaching job is fairly active, it feels very bizarre. During my last pregnancy I got so ahead of myself thinking of maternity leave, the birth, the nursery and life with the baby. This time I am never thinking more than a week ahead as I don’t want to take anything for granted. That is why people who ask me about events that are more than a week or so ahead get met with a slightly panicked expression or a total dismissal. Family and social events in the future are so abstract that I can’t even imagine them. Thinking that far ahead makes me extremely anxious and it brings up all my fears that the happy ending we are desperate for will be cruelly snatched away once again. So for now I can’t commit to anything beyond the imminent future. It’s just too damn scary.
Work has provided me with sanity and a much needed distraction from the consuming nervousness which may have prevailed. Let’s hope that the final work free weeks are not too slow or anxiety ridden. Who am I kidding? I fully expect a few freak outs!
Marina Fogle recently described her grief following the loss of her baby boy last summer. At 33 weeks, she suffered an acute placental abruption where her placenta detached from her uterus starving the baby of oxygen and causing a life-threatening haemorrhage.
The following quotes show the process of coping with the horrendous grief she faced. She says:
“Until that point I had had very little experience of profound sadness. Shocked to the point of numbness, I have since felt myriad emotions.”
“Crying, when it comes, is crucial, it’s a natural release. I frequently have a really good sob; it’s very physical: it is like feeling nauseous and knowing instinctively that you will feel better if you let yourself be sick. I believe that crying provides me with the release to expel my sadness so that I’m equipped to relish what is good in my life.”
“Grief is exhausting. You’ll find you need much more sleep than you used to. It can also affect your brain, your ability to remember things and to concentrate. This perplexed me so much that I worried for a time that my extreme blood loss had resulted in some brain damage. It was reassuring to know that it is normal and will slowly improve. I warned those around me that if I was forgetful, distracted or absent-minded, to forgive me.”
“This is a time to spoil yourself: book a holiday, get your hair done, lose yourself in a box set – and if you feel like eating ice-cream for breakfast, do it. It won’t make everything all right, but lots of little boosts will help you feel more human.”
“Don’t be afraid to talk about what has happened to you. At the beginning it was hard, but now I know that each time you talk about it, you will adjust a degree emotionally. You will never ”get over’’ your loss, but slowly you will come to terms with what is your new normal.”
“On August 24 my world shifted on its axis and I’m gradually accepting that, in one part of my life, I’m extraordinarily lucky, with a loving husband, Ben, two perfect children Ludo, and Iona, 3, and the most wonderful family and friends. But in another part, we’ve been catastrophically unlucky. No one could have predicted the sudden death of our son and the events that ensued; it was sheer bad luck. These two dichotomies don’t balance each other, creating a kind of ”OK’’ equilibrium; they coexist in their extreme forms.”
Wise words from a brave and courageous woman. Let’s hope there are happier times ahead for all those battling grief and loss.