Time moves on

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Its been nearly 2 months since I last wrote. So much has happened and so much is still the same.

So where are we at?

We took a holiday to Ibiza. It was so good to have quality uninterrupted time together. We watched sunsets, ate good food and relaxed. I honestly thought it would be a good idea, but clubbing in Pacha made me feel like shit and I had a panic attack. Its hard to feel good about things you shouldn’t be able to do. Once I was there, the only place I wanted to be was home with my babies.

That happens a lot. You feel bad for feeling good. You want to hold onto the pain and not forget them.

I’ve thrown myself into work. A lot of good things are happening there. We’ve opened a second studio in Cambridge and I get to work alongside some seriously creative people. The team won 5 awards and were finalists in a few more. I’ve been asked to speak at a Telegraph event and an idea for a mastermind I’ve had for a while has become a reality.

Most days that’s all I have the mental capacity for. Get up, walk the dog, get to work, do a good job, come home. I still cry most days. There are things that happen daily that kick you right in face. Clients I have to pre-warn about what’s happened, as last time I saw them I was 14 weeks pregnant and massive. In a client meeting a few weeks ago I was asked if I had children. It took my breath away, and I still don’t know how to answer properly.

Ironically, we have a client who is based at Addenbrooke’s, where we lost Ava. Just last week we had a pitch there. I got through it then cried in the car as usual. No-one had even remembered that it might be hard for me there. Time moves on for some.

Lee has been so busy this summer with his business. He’s been to Italy and Dubai for destination weddings, I’m so proud of him. Its been hard being alone but my parents have been up a lot.

I have still not seen my friends. I don’t know how to put myself back in that world and I don’t know if they understand that. There are two new babies on the way, due near ours. I can’t be part of those conversations and honestly, they do not want to hear about the things I need to talk about. If they text, I don’t always reply. I find it hard to ask them what they’ve been doing, I care, I love them, but I can’t hear about it.

I don’t know where this leaves us, I hope they understand.

Tamba’s bereavement service has been a life saver for me. I was matched with a befriender, an amazing woman who has been through exactly what we have. She is kind and she lets me talk and cry. I can tell her all the things we are feeling and she understands completely. I wish I could change things for her. I wish we didn’t have to help each other, but I am so glad to have her.

It’s getting close to our due date, and Christmas is looming. Last year should have been our first child’s Christmas, this year the twins first. It was always my favourite time of the year, but I can’t do it this year. No cards, no tree. We are running away and I am glad about that. Our beautiful old Lab Buster went to sleep last week after 13 years, I so wished he’d make one last holiday with us. I miss him. I’ll be working as much as I can in the run up to it, keeping busy is the only thing that seems to stop me thinking.

We have been shown such kindness throughout the last few months. My friend Lisa knitted tiny blankets for cherished gowns baby loss packs in honour of the girls, and Naomi gifted us beautiful paintings for them and our first lost baby.

I’ve started to think about what I can do to raise awareness, how I can help others like us. I hope I can, but its still too soon. 

8 weeks

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It’s quite ironic that I’m back to counting in weeks.

Work is proving to be a huge distraction. It’s been ridiculously busy since I came back and it gives me something to fill my time with at weekends when Lee is out shooting weddings. I can paint on my face and stick on a smile to get through meetings. They won’t know I’ve cried all the way there and back.

Thursday I saw a client who I’d last seen a week before we lost the girls. It took me 20 minutes to build up the courage to go into their offices after crying in the car.
Should I be back so soon? Probably not, but what’s the alternative? If I was employed I’d have been entitled to maternity leave, but sitting around at home was making me worse. I’m getting overly anxious about stuff and easily worried. A huge banking issue my first week back pretty much gave me a mini breakdown one evening.
Everyone wants me to be normal, so I try my hardest to be that. Anyone reading my Twitter or LinkedIn posts would see the confident me. But work is a “safe” place, I can put up my barriers and plod on.
So are things better 8 weeks on?
No. Not better, just different. There’s a sadness hanging over everything we do.
I still cry every day.
I still don’t sleep.
I still wake up and think they’re here.
I still haven’t seen my friends with children or friends that are pregnant.
I still don’t respond to most texts or messages because I don’t know what to say.
I still blame myself.
Facebook has become a no-go place for me. I have to check in occasionally for work stuff, but there’s too many photos and reminders, same with Instagram. I don’t check my phone as much as I did.  You can be having a “good” day at work, when you’re floored by a message and you’re suddenly rushing to the toilet in tears.
People say that time helps. I think time makes it worse. People move on, but we stand still.

Sunday we went to look at cars. My mini is dying and we’d planned  to get a bigger 4×4 for the girls. Now it’s just for the dogs.

We’d told the salesman we had dogs and needed a car with a bigger boot. He said if we’d told him we had 2 dogs and a couple of kids then he’d advise we get the bigger version. I have no idea how I didn’t burst into tears. They were in my eyes, and Lee couldn’t speak either.
Monday I had an MRI. I broke down at the sight of myself in hospital gown and then I sat outside The Rosie and sobbed on a bench like a nutcase. Then I had to pull myself together and go to Tesco on my own, hoping the whole time I wouldn’t bump into anyone I know.
Wednesday was the 2 year anniversary of losing our first baby. It was also the day we received the girls postmortem results and
collected their ashes. It’s too soon to decide what we’ll do for them, but for now they are home and that feels right.

5 weeks later

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It’s been 5 weeks since we sat in hospital sobbing for our lost girl Lily and 4 since Ava. It feels like yesterday.

I couldn’t bring myself to update the blog, but I did write notes on my phone some days. Looking back at them now makes for sad reading.

14th July

Every morning when you wake up, just for a second you forget what’s happened. But then it hits you like a train.

They’ve gone. And they’re never coming back. And you are empty. There’s no life inside you.

I have cried all day today. 

I’ve asked myself a million questions. Why has this happened to us? Are we such bad people? Is it my fault? Is there something wrong with me?

Why couldn’t I look after them? That’s all I had to do, just project them and keep them safe. I couldn’t even manage that.

15th July

I blame myself. I have lost 3 babies now. 3 tiny angels.

Maybe this will never happen. Maybe I’m just not good enough to be a mother.

19th July

Distraction is the only thing to stop the tears. Our ensuite has never been so clean, and I fucking hate cleaning.

I’ve started drinking. It’s my go to in times of despair. I’m such a walking cliche.

I want to scream.

A midwife is visiting me today because my milk ducts are blocked. My breasts are full of milk for my babies, but there are no babies to feed. 

Lee went out tonight. I drank a bottle of wine.

20th July

We arranged our twin daughters cremation today. This is something no parent should ever have to do.

22nd July

We’ve cancelled the wedding completely. Neither of us has the heart to plan it without them being there. It doesn’t feel right anymore.

23rd July

I’m so desperately sad today. I miss them, I miss them inside of me. I keep replaying their births over and over in my head. All I see is Lily’s tiny little foot poking out of me. A tiny perfect foot.

25th July

I see so many people wishing their children not to grow up so fast. Please just be grateful they do. Ours will never have that chance. 

Mornings are the worst part of the day. I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to start another day without them. 

27th July

Today is Lily May & Ava’s funeral. I didn’t think our hearts could break anymore than they have.

There’s so much irony in the dates things fall on.

The 27th was due to be our 20 week scan. It ended up being the girls cremation instead. The date in a few weeks when we find out their postmortem results. That will be the same date we lost our first child 2 years ago. It feels like someone’s playing a massive joke on us.

Last week we ran away. We’d booked a few nights away in Aldeburgh to rest and celebrate after we finally made it to the 20 week mark. I thought it might help to get away from everything/one. I can tell confirm if you’re scared of seeing babies & children, Aldeburgh is not the place to be in summer holidays. I have burst into tears at the sight of a breastfeeding mother, at a tiny girl with her mum in the pool, at families.

People ask how we’re doing, how we’re feeling, how we’re coping. It’s all that anyone can do really and we’re so grateful to be in peoples thoughts, but I don’t know how to answer. Do I say I’m ok? Or do I tell them I sob each day and some days all day?

We’ve had so many messages that I’ve ignored. I’m so sorry.

This is the reality.

I have bad dreams. I wake around 3/4am, lie awake with my mind filling with them until Doris wakes at 5.30. I have flashbacks to those days, to losing Lily, seeing her tiny foot. I hear the words of the midwife over and over in my head from the night we lost Ava. Hearing that she’d gone before I felt her slip away.

Lee would kiss my bump, now I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror because I’m not the same anymore. As a wedding photographer he has had to carry on working throughout all of this and it’s taken it’s toll. 

Anxiety kicks in when I’m left alone, yet I don’t really want to see anyone. I’m scared to see my friends. I’m scared as some are pregnant and due when we were and I don’t know how to cope with that. I love them dearly and I’m happy for them, but how do I watch their bumps grow when ours is gone. It took 2 years after we lost our first child to start to feel like I fitted in again with my friends conversations. I’m back to being an outsider.

We have no idea how to begin again. 

Monday I go back to work. Part of me need the distraction, to do something, to have something else in my head. The other part of me is going to struggle with the role I play in the business. Sales. Meeting clients, networking.

I don’t want people to think I’m “better” because I’m back. I don’t have any choice, that’s the price of being self employed. 

Secrets

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I haven’t been entirely truthful with you for a while.

We found out at around 5 weeks that I was pregnant with twins. Sky high HCG levels and an early scan showed 2 tiny little lives. It was such an incredible gift, I don’t think we could have been any happier.

I thought we’d tell you after the 12 week scan, but with all the complications we still felt nervous about saying it out loud. We decided 20 weeks would be the right time and we were so close.

Devastatingly our baby girl Lily May Allison decided to come into the world way too early on Friday 30th June, stillborn at just 16 weeks + 4 days. Clearly a headstrong girl just like her mother with the “always early” trait from her dad. She was perfect in every way right down to her tiny fingernails.

I can’t describe the pain we are feeling. The grief is completely overwhelming despite trying to stay positive for our other baby. I can’t bring myself to explain what happened that day, it’s too raw.

I was taken to a London hospital where I’ve been since the 30th. Lee has been with me the whole time. I was transferred to Addenbrookes on Friday.

Our other little one seemed to be a fighter, but she was always at huge risk. Sadly she just wasn’t strong enough. Ava Allison slipped away on Sunday evening stillborn at just 18 weeks.

The things we’ve had to do this week are utterly heartbreaking. Agreeing to postmortems, arranging cremations. All for our precious girls we’ll never get to hold. No parent should have to do this.

How do we even begin to get through this? How do I answer questions about where my bump has gone?

We don’t know what the future holds for us and this will be the last blog post for a while.

X


Thank you’s
There are endless people to thank, names I’ve forgotten instantly in the panic, but faces that will stay with me forever.

Thank you to my friend Andy for staying with me, calling Lee, calling my parents, just being there.

To our parents for taking care of the dogs and dropping everything to help us. We love you.

To the St Johns Ambulance team in Hyde Park, your speed and care was incredible and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you did that day.

To De De, Yemi, Lucy, Rita and the entire team on the Anna Zunz ward at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. We’re so grateful for the care and kindness you’ve shown us. For allowing Lee to stay with me day and night, for allowing us time with Lily to say goodbye, for explaining what has and what could happen as much as possible. Thank you.

To the team at Addenbrookes, thank you. I don’t have enough words to thank you for your care, especially Janet from the bereavement team.

23 hours in the delivery ward

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I would love to tell you that as I turn 15 weeks we’ve been able to relax a bit, but that’s not been the case! This pregnancy doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of being an easy ride.

Last Saturday afternoon I had a had another bleed, exactly the same as the last two. Nothing unusual had happened that morning, I’d spent it drinking tea with neighbours and friends that had popped in to meet Doris. Lee like most Saturdays was at a wedding, so when this happened I was on my own. I called the emergency clinic which had just closed being after 2pm, but eventually got to speak to a midwife on the delivery ward how advised me to come straight in. I need to say a huge thank my mother and father in law for dropping everything to get me to the hospital.

I was examined and kept in for monitoring overnight. It being the delivery ward things were pretty crazy up there, but we were lucky to be able to get an emergency scan the next day. Once again, everything was ok, baby wriggling around quite happily which is amazing.

I am seeing a private specialist next week. No-one can explain why this keeps happening and the trauma it brings each time is horrendous. We’re so happy the baby is ok, but we need to understand if this is “normal” and is going to keep happening every 3 weeks, or if there’s something wrong that can be rectified.

12 weeks

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I can’t quite believe we’ve made it this far. As I type I’m 12 weeks a 5 days pregnant. The tiredness has lifted a bit and I’m expanding rapidly.

We had another scare just before we hit the 11 week mark, exactly the same thing happened all over again at 5am one Saturday morning. Despite being scared, we tried to stay as calm as we could and called the emergency clinic at The Rosie at 8.30am. They asked me to come in as soon as possible so they could carry out a scan. Lee had a wedding to get too so I ended up going alone.

I’m really grateful of the care I received and so happy to say that everything was ok. The only upsetting thing is no-one can really tell us what it is or why it’s happened twice. We don’t think we can fully relax as we don’t know if it might happen again.

I thought I’d be a lot more nervous hitting week 11. It did bring back a lot of sad memories but we both just tried to focus on the positives. We’d already seen the baby and seen a heartbeat a few times by now.

The morning of the 30th we both felt a bit nervous. It’s such a big milestone to get to and we were desperate for everything to be perfect. And it was.

So now we wait for 20 weeks, and to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl.

 

A&E

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I wasn’t going to write about this because for the past 2 weeks I’ve been trying to block it out of my mind. Lee’s encouraged me too in the chance that it may help someone else.

2nd May I fell asleep on the sofa about 9pm – this is pretty standard behaviour at the moment, I can barely keep my eyes open. Lee woke me at about 10pm and I headed up to get ready for bed.

The next few hours became a horrendous trip down memory lane. I was bleeding and heavily. I passed something terrible, I can’t and don’t want to describe. We sobbed together and I screamed over and over again.

Lee rushed me to A&E. Yet again he was the calm to my terror. My heart bursts with love for him for the care he takes of me, yet I feel so sad for the things he’s had to see.

The next few hours where filled with tears and numbness. We sat in a cubicle in A&E waiting to see someone, anyone that could reassure us. Of course they couldn’t without a scan and the wrong assumptions were made.

We were sent away around 3am to wait for a call from the emergency clinic in the morning. You see this isn’t classed as an emergency – it’s not threatening to the mothers life. I will never forget being told that for the second time in my life and feeling pure rage fill me.

We did not sleep. We decided to go straight to our IVF clinic the next day but had an agonising wait till 2pm for a scan appointment.

To our absolute shock, we saw a perfect scan and heartbeat. The relief was completely overwhelming.

What I’d passed was a clot. A particularly large clot, possible caused when I was taken off the Clexane blood thinners or could have been caused at implantation. Nothing to worry about, but everything to be terrified of.

While this is a horrid thing to write about and read, the important thing to focus on is getting seen quickly and staying as calm as you can until you are scanned. There’s always a chance that it’s not what you think it is, and I am so glad that was the case for us.

9 weeks already

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I feel bad for not writing for so long, but truth be told I’m totally exhausted. It’s taking all my energy to get up, get the dogs sorted, get to work and then get home, only to fall asleep on the sofa!  Lee is being incredible and pretty much not letting me do anything, which is lovely but putting a lot of pressure on him. All good practice for what’s coming next though.

Our 7 week scan went well and all is just perfect. We have another scan at 10 weeks then we’ll be back in the hands of the NHS care for the 12 week scan and rest of the pregnancy.

It doesn’t feel weird talking about being pregnant this early anymore, I’m quite comfortable telling people especially when I’ve had to avoid lifting anything! I have noticed a few people look a bit shocked when I say how many weeks I am though. Maybe its because I’ve been blogging about it, but I forget not everyone I meet knows that.

Doris the tiny terror is settling in well. We still have early mornings but toilet training is getting much easier now she can go out for walks, and I found the most amazing doggie day care centre just 5 minutes from the house! If you live in Cambridge and need dog care or dog training, check out Norman’s Dog Day Care in Over. The people are so kind and caring and Doris loves it!

Easter update

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The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. I think we’ve both suffering from sleep deprivation.

We picked up Doris last Friday and we’ve been knackered ever since. She is a cute, funny, crazy little thing. It’s so weird having such a tiny dog running around. We have to watch where we step all the time in case we squash her!

The first night wasn’t too bad, she slept in her crate from 11.30-5.30am, actually a lot better than I thought. But Saturday was a whole other story. She cried, barked and whimpered in her crate for 6 hours solid. It was the saddest noise we’ve ever heard, so heartbreaking.

Sunday was due to be our test day, but we couldn’t wait any longer to find out so tested Saturday morning. We also wanted a little bit of time for only us to know if it was good news.

And it was. I’m pregnant.

I can’t describe how happy we are, although I think the news was slightly overwhelming due to the lack of sleep. There were a lot of tears.

I’ve been in to the clinic for a blood test to confirm and our first scan is in a couple of weeks.

There’s such a long, long way to go but we’re staying positive and taking each day as it comes. I want this to be a happy time but I’ll admit I feel very nervous and I don’t think that will ease until we make it to at least 12 weeks. There won’t be any scan photos on Facebook or big announcements, we’re all too aware of how tough that is on others that are in the same position.

It does feel a bit weird telling people this early, but that was always going to be the biggest dilemma of writing this blog.

I want to thank everyone that’s taken time to read or comment on our story, it’s been truly heartwarming to receive such lovely words and we’re so grateful.

Whatever comes next, I’ll carry on writing.