Miscarriage laid bare – let’s talk about it (please)

The 3rd of May was a day for surprises. Surprises for my husband anyway – I knew before I took that test what the result would be. When he got home from work I gave a handwritten and decorated note to our toddler. “Take this to daddy!”. She waddled out and handed it to him. “I’m going to be a big sister!” it read. His head snapped up and his jaw dropped. “Are you serious? Really!?” He asked. I nodded and he gave me a kiss and we laughed. This would be our 4th baby and wasn’t part of the immediate plan so I hadn’t known what his response would be. “I just love being a dad so much!” was even better than I could have hoped for. We were elated.

A week later I had my first minor bleed. Not unusual for me – we have three children and I have bled in every single pregnancy, however we had suffered two previous losses – a third pregnancy had ended at 6 weeks and our fourth had begun with the loss of a twin. I got in touch with the Early Pregnancy Unit for reassurance and was booked in for a scan.

Sitting in the freezing cold cupboard they used for early scans I said a little prayer for a happy outcome. The lady used the internal probe and after a few seconds said “There is the gestational sac and the yolk. Baby’s too small to be seen yet but everything looks good so far.” She went on to explain there was a small area of blood which would be where my bleed had come from but that it was separate from the sac and should be harmless. I had had this before with my second daughter so was reassured. I was booked in for a scan a week and a half later to check the progress and told to expect possible further bleeding from this little pocket of blood.

I went for the second scan feeling cautious but hopeful. The bleeding had been coming and going so I had some nerves but when I got in there the sonographer put me at ease with a joke about the wedge cushion and the gymnastics required to get on it on top of the bed. Another internal but she found baby pretty quickly. “There’s the fetal pole, just as we hoped!” She said. She thought she saw the flicker of the heart but couldn’t spot it again so put it down to a trick of the eye before showing me my very very tiny baby. I admit I shed a few tears of relief – perhaps I had been more tense than I realised. I was booked in for ANOTHER scan to look for a heartbeat the following week. That was the Thursday. How quickly things can take a turn in the wrong direction….

Sunday, we had filled the paddling pool for the girls and I was going to don my own costume and hop in with them. It is easier to keep hold of the toddler if I am in there and it was a lovely hot day. I went into the bathroom to change and saw blood again. I should point out that the pocket of blood had still been there on scan day so it wasn’t entirely unexpected to see some but this looked different. Instead of the tiny bitty clots I had been having there were a couple of slightly larger ones. A few wipes revealed more. I went outside and told my husband. “I don’t think this looks too good, baby”. He climbed into the pool and told me to go and try to relax. There was no pain so we retained some hope even after a few more bathroom trips. We went to bed that night in a state of “Wait and see”.

Bank holiday Monday. No more waiting and seeing necessary. I had what I can only describe as early labour pains in my back and belly and down through my hip bones and into the tops of my legs. I got in the bath to try and ease it. My husband was in there talking to me when we noticed we could see the blood swirling in the water. He went to get me a pad for when I got out and as he went so a long thick clot emerged. I called him back. There was no question this could have been related to the small in utero bleed – it was just too big. After getting out of the bath the bleeding became very obvious, there was a lot of it, accompanied mostly by midsized clots. I get anaemic quite quickly so he suggested I call 111 for advice on the pains and blood loss.

“OK my love,” said the voice on the phone, “I will get a practitioner to call you as soon as they can”. I put the phone down feeling dazed and got up for another trip to the bathroom.

“Woah!” I yelped as I felt something big and frankly horrible exit my body. I waddled to the bathroom and was horrified by the size of the clots I saw. I grabbed my daughters potty and began crouching over it. I knew they would ask me again to describe the amount of blood lost and this would not only give me a more accurate guage but also make sure if anythinh came out that shouldn’t I would catch it. It genuinely felt that scary. The contents of the potty within 5 minutes looked like something from a horror movie. The phone rang and I described it to the 111 practitioner.

“OK my darling I am going to send you an ambulance”. I protested – my husband can drive me, but she insisted if it had got to that stage ao quickly she wanted me paramedics with me. I was freaked out but I had three little girls who had no idea what was happening. We quickly decided that as the 4yr old had seen the amount of blood from walking in on me before and now the imminent arrival of an ambulance we had to explain it. We couldn’t let them think this was a normal period as they would one day have to have them themselves and it would scare them half to death. We decided since it would show them I was still ok I would explain it.

“Listen girls,” I began, “an ambulance is coming for mummy shortly. You know that bleeding you saw before? Well there is a lot of it so they have to make sure mummy won’t get poorly because of it. You see, mummy had a baby in her tummy. She doesn’t anymore though. It went to Heaven. That’s why I am bleeding. You know how I told you about periods, and how the blood was like the body changing the sheets to make the bed for a baby if we wanted one? Well this is like that, except there were more sheets to change.”

“So we were going to have a baby brother or sister?” Asked our 6yr old, “but now we’re not? But why, mummy?”

“The baby must have been very poorly sweetheart. Too poorly. It’s heart hadn’t yet started beating and it will have felt absolutely no pain. It’s a sad thing. I am very sad. But sometimes things just aren’t right and the body has to stop holding on to the baby and let it go to Heaven.” They gave me cuddles but seemed more concerned with me being sad than actually being scared or particularly sad themselves. The ambulance arrived and my husband ushered them out so I could be questioned and checked over without having to worry what they might see or hear. His mum who lives next door had spotted the ambulance and come to make sure we didn’t need her help so he briefly explained and she offered to take the two older girls next door with her so he could come back in to see how I was doing.

I was giddy, and trying hard not to cry, and still having the contraction type pains. Each of the stronger ones seemed to send more of the large clots leaving my body and each time I yelped, half with fear and half with disgust. At one point it made me retch. Although the paramedics were happy with my readings they relayed the blood loss to the doctors at the hospital who told them to bring me in, to my dismay. I had hoped to be told that since my stats were ok I could just go to bed and let nature take its course. They were so nice though – they gave me time to breastfeed my 17 month old – which relaxed me and sent her off into a nap – and advised me to get a book as A&E was busy. After a quick root around my husband found me his Kobi and my Kindle, my phone charger and my pads so I could take spares. As the tot was asleep I told him to stay with her and check on the girls (who I could hear playing through the wall). Tbh I wanted to be alone with my thoughts and knowing the girls were able to go straight to him if he was needed helped me feel better about leaving. Off I went.

When I got to the hospital it was chaos. Bank holiday surgery closure meant every knock, bump, cough and sore throat was in A&E. The nurse asked me what I was in for and when I said 111 had sent me because of blood loss during a probable miscarriage she replied “that explains a lot – 111 sends everyone in “Oh, you have a cold? I will send an ambulance for you”. I tried to tell her I had offered to stay home but the docs had insisted but she had already turned on her heel and left before I could finish. I was lightheaded, dizzy and felt like I needed to sleep  but she came back to ask more questions. I explained the blood loss and the dizzy feeling but someone else walked in and asked how many weeks I was. “6 or 7, we weren’t exactly sure…” I started but she had gone again. The first nurse did my blood test and stuck a cannula in my arm for “just in case”. Again I told her I felt very lightheaded and started to add that my ferritin levels sometimes went low even if my haemoglobin iron levels looked good (and it had caused me to collapse in the past after blood loss) but she showed no sign of listening. I was told to give a urine sample in the toilet and then sit in the waiting room. So much for being alone with my thoughts. I felt the eyes of someone with a broken leg, someone on a drip, someone waiting for stitches and half a dozen other people upon me. Here was a somewhat pale but otherwise healthy looking woman with a tendency to grip her stomach, breathe deeply and waddle to the toilet. I felt like I was wearing a sign saying timewaster. Every now and then I would think about why I was there and duck my head so nobody would see the tears. I shouldn’t be here. I had only just seen my baby and it was fine. I should be home enjoying the day with the family. Finally a few hours later a porter arrived to take me to a ward. Eh? Nobody had told me I was going to a ward. In fact nobody had told me anything. Still, I aim to please so I hoppes on the proferred wheelchair and off we went. We got to the ward and a bed had been made up – I was alarmed – was I staying? What had my blood test revealed? What was going on?! I stopped someone but they told me someone would be along shortly to settle me in and then I would know more. I sat. And I sat. And I sat. I texted hubby to tell him what was going on and that nobody had spoken to me yet so I wasn’t really sure what was happening myself. He tried phoning the ward to see if someone would tell him, but nobody answered. Soon an hour and a half had passed and still I waited to be acknowledged. I decided it was fair by now for me to approach the nurses to ask as I had nothing with me if I was there all night and visiting hours were nearly over, plus if I was coming home later hubby needed to arrange for the girls to be watched while he picked me up.

“Excuse me… sorry to bother you, I don’t like to pester and I know you have been busy but I have been here an hour and a half and nobody has spoken to me. I don’t even know if I am in the right place…”

The nurses rounded on me, defending the doctor as if I had attacked.

“The doctor is very busy, she is covering two wards, she will be with you when she has time!”. The doctor, who was sat behind them, stood up and asked “Has nobody at all been to you, checked you blood pressure, anything?”she asked.

“No,” I said quietly. “I wasn’t trying to rush you I just… I just have kids at home and I don’t know what’s happening with me tonight, or why I am here by this point even”. The tears fell again. I just wanted to go home and curl up and cry without the feeling I was being watched. She told me she would be with me in five minutes and she was. She conducted a speculum exam and told me (as I had already known from my less frequent pains and trips to the toilet) that the bleeding had lessened and I could go home but to come back for the scan that had been booked what felt like a million years before.

That scan was today.

It shouldn’t be getting to me as much as it is. I knew. I have cried til I couldn’t breathe because I knew. Husband has stayed home from work with me all week to just be there for me while I cried and ranted. But somehow hearing the confirmation from the same sonographer who last week showed me my baby that today there is nothing left knocked the wind back out of me. I had a last minute surge of hope for a miracle last night and this was that hope being pulled out from under me like a rug. I am devastated. Heartbroken. Angry. Denial has passed (at least for now) and with it went bargaining. I have emailed the amgulance service to thank and praise the paramedics and already been told they are going to receive letters of commendation from their boss as a result of that praise which made me feel like I was in control of something and had done something good, but for the moment every joy is tinged with either sadness or hostility or both. Why me? Why again? Why not, I guess.

The reason I am writing this is much the same as the reason I wrote to EMAS about the paramedics. Something to do. People don’t talk about this stuff. We tell our birth stories and describe the discomforts of pregnancy but when it  comes to when the unthinkable happening early on we have to resort to forums to talk about it. But my babies existed, they may not have been with me physically for long but they will remain with me forever in my heart. Why should that be an uncomfortable topic for people? So I am sharing this experience and even one of the most raw and personal photos I have ever taken of myself (if it works). The picture is that trip to the toilet when realisation hit and hope left. It is an ugly photo but none of my words can express the devastation as honestly as the photo does.

If you are reading this because you have been there, I am so sorry. Please talk about it and let’s not let miscarriage continue to be treated as “our little secret”.

Love to you. Xxxx

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Rice Krispie Chicken Nuggets

Last night I was on the look out for something different to do. I had some lovely fresh chicken breasts available but having had pasta the day before didn’t fancy that and the weather was too warm for the Monday night “roast” they had been bought for. I hit up Google for some ideas and came across suggestions for various crunchy cereal coatings for chicken and fish and as luck would have it we happened to have plenty of most of the options suggested! The ones I found all suggested marinades and herby additions which me and Poppy would probably have enjoyed but the key to making dinner for the fusspots (husband and Izzy) is to keep it simple! It worked and was a hit all round, even with the littlest, Bluebell, who was able to gum down some extremely slim cuts (I am nervously embracing baby led weaning). I served them with mashed potato and loads of veg, some of which Izzy actually ate too! So here we go…

For the four and a bit of us I used:

Three good sized chicken breasts, a bowl of rice krispies, 1 egg, a splash of milk, flour and some frylight spray oil.

First I got some little helpers to smash the heck out of the rice krispies in a sandwich bag with a mini rolling pin. As they reduced the cereal to fine crumbs I diced the chicken into good chunks and floured them. Then I asked the biggest (Izzy) to prepare the egg with the splash of milk, she whisked together well, and put it on a plate with a rim. I transferred the floured chicken chunks to the egg plate a couple at a time and made sure they were totally covered. I put the cereal crumbs onto a big plate and put the eggy chicken on there, turning with a fork to coat them (I originally started out with my fingers but they were so covered in egg that the crumb kept coming off the chicken and coating me instead – the fork worked well to leave the crumb on the chicken where it belonged!). I had a couple of baking trays greased with a few good squirts of the Frylight oil standing by and as the chicken nuggets got dusted I placed them on there. Once they were all on the trays I gave one squirt of oil from above just for moisture and browning and popped them into the preheated oven (190°C) I left them in for 10 minutes before turning them over and giving them another 10 minutes but it will depend on how big, small, fat or thin your strips are. We like ours quite chunky!

Already been asked for them again and it was nice to get the girls in the kitchen with me on a project that required so little assistance from me so I could do the sharps and hots without lots of interruptions! Any recipes for an easy tomato ketchup I could whizz up would be gratefully received!

Xxxx

Mummying around

I am trying to think of something insightful to say. Or witty. Witty would be good. But you got me up at 4am. Four o’bloody clock. 0400hrs. Whatever way you say it it is TOO GODDAMN EARLY. You didn’t want to settle after your feed, you didn’t want to play either. You just wanted to yell at the unfairness of the clammy heat that stuck our skin together until the sweat that came between us made you slippery.

We partied for 2hrs. TWO BLOODY HOURS of yelling at me over youtube videos of lullabies, soothing piano music and eventually Ellie Goulding and Andrew Belle because, well, you weren’t bothered what was on so I might as well try anything.

You wiggled and strained. We rocked and nappy changed, fed and paced and yes even admit I turned my back on you briefly to see if you would get the message that it was time to go back to sleep. I am not good at things like that though so moments later had you scooped back up in my arms, shhhshing and lulling and hoping I would accidentally hit on the right way to soothe you.

Because most of my parenting is accidental if I am honest. How was I to know the crafts and art would go down so well with your big sisters? How was I to know that the meals they love the most would come from throwing stuff at a pan and seeing what happens? It wasn’t instinct that led us to find out you love the old Sony Bravo advert with all the bouncy balls (though who doesn’t watch that ad and wish they could re-enact it down their street?), but rather me googling everything that popped into my head to chill you out. Well at last it worked anyway and now here we are, early enough for you to get an hour and a half before I need to wake you for your sister’s school run but too late for me to squeeze out a few last zzzzz’s. If you had asked me at 4am if I would be ok with starting my day then and there I would have been horrified and said “You are joking aren’t you?” But actually now it has happened I don’t feel so bad. I will notice it more later but for now I am only noticing a few less horrifying things.

You are my last baby and though you are almost always in my arms our cuddles are often lost in amongst all the busy-ness of being a mum of three. I hold you while I read to your sisters, make lunches and do the school runs. I hold you while I feed you and myself in the afternoon and evening. But these night time and early morning feeds are our time. The pause button has been hit for the world around us and I can gaze at you. Learn what you are about. When I hold you I am cuddling you, soothing you and while at first it is frantic in the hope of sleep still being a possibility, as the possibility fades I find so does that harrassment. Because it no longer matters if you sleep, because I won’t, so I relax and start to enjoy those clammy sticky cuddles and the feel of your hot damp hand on my cheek or pulling at my nose. Nobody else needs me right now. Only you. Right now I am all yours and you are all mine – just as it was every night for nine months. My singing is songs you and I love, instead of having been picked to be least grating to daddy, least babyish for your 6yr old sister but still simple enough for your 3yr old sister to join in with. You aren’t pulling away from me looking for something to crawl towards or pull yourself up on, or searching for something completely inappropriate to chew on. For the past few hours it has just been you and me and what could be a sweeter way to start my day? I love you little lady, let’s do this again tomorrow (or maybe the next day?!) Xxxx

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Me and Blue getting our cuddle on

 

To the other mum at the traffic lights…

It was almost like looking in a mirror.

I was stood on one side of the road and you were stood on the other. I, like you, had my pram and was flanked by two children – five year old on one side of me, three year old on the other. The three year old was screaming “mummy I want a cuddle!” with one breath and then, Miss Contrary that she was, bellowing “No mummy – leave me!!!” when I actually dared try to engage her. You were trying to placate your toddler boy and I could see your fraught face though I could not make out your words over the din of traffic and my own noise maker. We caught each others eye briefly as we waited for the green man to tell us we could continue the march to school and that is when, I think, we each saw ourselves in the other. Finally the beep as the green man appeared – the starter pistol telling us to get the banshees and go. Halfway across the road we met and I said “Something in the air?” just as you said “What’s up with the kids this morning?!”. You summed it up perfectly with your half joking, half deadly serious “GAAAAAAARGH!!!”.

For a few fleeting moments I had a comrade, a sister in arms, in you the perfect stranger and it made me smile in spite of myself (or, more accurately, in spite of bloody stroppy little madam to my right!).

I hope your day got better. Mine did, mainly thanks to bribery and Peppa Pig (not Dora the Explorer as after much brin wracking I now remember her to be the cause of the frackas in the first place!).

TTFN xxxx

A new flower for my garden

We recently welcomed a new flower to the family. Bluebell Hope arrived after the encouragement of an induction for health reasons (mummy’s – baby Blue is perfect!) three weeks ago. It wasn’t the easiest pregnancy – from being told it appeared we had  lost a twin just over a month after falling pregnant after checking out bleeding, anxiety on the health of the remaining baby, SPD, predictions of a 10lb baby even before being diagnosed late with gestational diabetes which can make them even bigger if not managed correctly (yikes!) and subsequently having a few scary hypos due to being overcautious with my sugar levels before finally being told it would be adviseable to deliver a week or two early – but baby Bluebell (actually born weighing a perfectly reasonable 8lbs 14oz) was worth it.

I will no doubt blog a birth story when I come to reminisce on it one day in the not too distant future as I found it very hard to find positive induction stories online before mine. Rest assured for those awaiting their own miracles – labour hurts but it is no worse when induced than if you pop on your own! Every labour is different regardless of the woman or surroundings so when people say it hurts more to be induced bear in mind they don’t know what it would have been like without the intervention. Be positive, breathe and remember every contraction brings tour miracle closer to your waiting arms :).

TTFN xxxx

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School… The Return

PhotoGrid_1441302176270So as this is the first time I will ever get to write about Izzy’s first week BACK at school after the summer I thought it needed to be marked. To begin with I thought about a post about how, despite this being her second year, she still seemed so small going in. How the classroom was totally alien because instead of the handprints and paper plate face masks there was actual school WORK on the walls. How it was bigger than her old class and so made her look lost in the middle of it even in the din of 30 classmates and their parents bustling about noisily looking for pegs and drawers.

Then I thought I might add about how I blamed the hormones for getting choked up at the thought of my biggest princess, my first baby, growing up through the maze of school years, already one year behind her and a self-declared “big kid”.

But today we got her first piece of homework and we are currently an hour into it. And we haven’t even got to page two yet! My nerves are rattling trying to keep up with the “well done” and “clever girl” comments and sound enthusiastic. I actually want to take the pen and finish it off myself if I am honest. Truthfully what 5yr old comes home and wants to sit for over an hour doing homework? And I can’t say we will do it tomorrow because it requires her to remember the words of a story they told in class yesterday (yes we could try figuring out what words made sense in the blanks but I tried that to begin with and was informed “the old something planted a something” made no sense. She isn’t wrong but she is five so didn’t understand the concept of “filling in the blanks”.

And once we have done this she has a reading book and a phonics book to read over the weekend as well – and next weekend she will also have spellings to learn. Where is the time for running, jumping, climbing trees? For making the most of the end of summer? When do we get out the fingerpaints and dress up as princesses? “Get fit, get active!” they say. WHEN?! At only five years old I am seriously considering whether I ought to be introducing DSE assessments of the suitability of her home working environment to ensure she doesn’t get a bad back from sitting hunched over the table!

The next generation will be drones who get four years of play followed by a lifetime of hard labour (with minimal time for retirement), who have to eat their veg because lack of exercise makes the odd treat in their diet potentially lethal.

Actually do you know what, we have done a page of reading and writing on this stupid bloody homework and there is a weakening sunshine and moderate heat left in the garden – run free little one!!! The next 12 years (minimum) will be full of homework, an early finish tonight won’t hurt!

TTFN xxxx