***Trigger and content warning – miscarriage and neonatal death***
Hello, lovely readers, it’s been a while, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about why I’ve not been blogging very much over the past year. The trigger warning above gives a fair indication of why, and I’d urge you not to read on if either of the topics are too painful for you.
In June 2017, my husband and I found out I was pregnant – it was a wonderful, bewildering, exciting time for both of us. We nicknamed the baby Stormy (a Doctor Who joke), and looked forward to our 12-week scan at the end of July, when we could start telling people. Although I’ll be honest, we’re both rubbish at keeping secrets, and definitely told more people than is recommended before the scan (for those of you who are wondering what I’m talking about; people generally wait until after the 12-week scan to tell people, as the chance of miscarriage drops significantly at this point).
On 25 July 2017, we went to the hospital for the scan, waited while the jelly was smeared across my tummy and the sonographer looked for the baby. And…nothing. Where there should have been a tiny baby, there was a big, empty space.
We found out we’d had a missed miscarriage; either the baby had never properly formed, or it had died very early in the pregnancy. We were sent to a quiet room to wait for a specialist bereavement midwife, who talked us through what had happened and told us our options (waiting to see if my body worked out the baby wasn’t in there and the miscarriage occurred naturally, or surgery to make it happen).
We went home, and after waiting for two days, where I drove myself mad running to the loo every five minutes to check if anything was happening, I called the hospital and asked them to book me in for the surgery. On 28 July 2017, we went back to the hospital (thankfully avoiding all the excited expectant parents at the ultrasound desk) and waited for me to be wheeled down to the theatre. Special hospital pants and compression stockings were involved.
I was devastated. While my husband was disappointed but chalked it up to ‘one of those things’, I obsessively examined everything I’d done over the previous few months. I’d had a glass of Prosecco before we found out I was pregnant, and had gone to a spa the weekend before I did the test – was it that? Work was stressful and I’d travelled an awful lot – had that had an impact? More irrationally, I wondered if I’d been too excited about the baby, and it was fate’s way of telling me not to get ahead of myself.
Eventually, I picked myself up and dusted myself off, and we decided to try again in a ‘no pressure, we’ll see what happens, no big deal’ sort of a way – in much the same way I used to switch my mobile off when waiting for a text from a boy as a teenager (‘See, look how cool and unbothered I am!’). In my head, if fate didn’t know how keen I was to have a baby, it wouldn’t take it away.
And just before Christmas 2017, we found out I was pregnant again, although I’d suspected for a couple of weeks. We spent the festive period grinning at each other (in between naps – I love sleep at the best of times, and was absolutely shattered as I began growing a person).
As a naturally anxious person, I worried that what had happened to us before could happen again, but my midwife did her best to reassure me that, although it could happen, it was very unlikely.
The 12-week scan felt like it took forever to come around, but eventually, on 5 February 2018, it did. And there it was – a teeny, tiny baby with a strong heartbeat. Sighs of relief all around, followed by excitement from our family when we told them a baby was on the way (after last time, we hadn’t told anyone where we were going).
We were a bit early for the scan, as it turned out – only 10 weeks instead of the 12 we should have been, so we had another two weeks later. Everything was fine again, and I started to get a bit excited, if still anxious that something would go wrong.
As the pregnancy progressed, I had to stop wearing my vintage and retro clothes as they no longer fitted (I began wearing trousers for the first time in a very long time), and found I just didn’t have the energy for writing my blog, or doing my hair and make up in my usual style – as soon as I got home from work, and at weekends, all I wanted to do was sit on the sofa, with my sore, swollen feet in a bucket of iced water.
We found out at our 20 week scan that we were having a girl. I started buying lots of vintage style clothes for her and began the search for someone to restore a vintage pram we’d been given, and it felt safe to be open with people about our impending parenthood. I let my husband post a photo of me online wearing a ‘baby on board’ badge – something I’d been avoiding until then.
Then fate stepped in again.
Dorothy Rose Beverley was born on 31 May, when I was 27 weeks pregnant, taking after neither of her chronically late parents.
She weighed 2lbs 7oz, and was absolutely beautiful but very, very poorly. Dorothy died in our arms a couple of hours after she was born, and I will forever be grateful for all the work the NHS team did. They went above and beyond for us and our little girl, and thanks to them, we (and our families) got to spend lots of time with her. They’ve also been incredibly helpful with Dorothy’s funeral arrangements, and a host of other things you never contemplate having to do for your child.
So, that’s where I’ve been – now what next?
Readers, please bear with me as I navigate this new normal; my blog will still be a place for vintage and vintage-inspired loveliness, but there may be other, more difficult topics too, which I hope may help people in a similar situation.
If this is you – firstly, I am truly sorry for your loss. These are some of the resources I have found helpful in the first few weeks:
- Sands – the stillbirth and neonatal death charity: https://www.sands.org.uk/
- Miller’s Stars – for help with purchasing memorial items: https://www.millersstars.co.uk/ (this is a charity my friend and her husband set up after their son Miller was born sleeping. Her blog is heartfelt and helpful)
- Tommy’s – funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death: https://www.tommys.org/
- Miscarriage Association – for help and advice if you’ve had a miscarriage, molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy: https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/
Please, please also talk to your partner, family and friends. I know it’s painful and difficult talking about all the big, big feelings you’re experiencing right now, but it’s worth it in the end – and do seek professional help if you need it.