When there is a rainbow after a storm

When you have been waiting, hoping, praying for light, a moment, an answer to the tough questions you have asked of life recently, you never really expect to be heard. It is like you shouting out but no one can hear you because really, who is listening? But one day you wake up and your prayers have been answered and you are filled with relief, amazement, awe and praise.

Well, you may have guessed… we have been given the pregnancy we have cried for, for so long and our little rainbow child is due in October! We are delighted and ecstatic but at the same time scared stiff!

Finally something has come right, after miscarriage, fertility testing, heartache, tears and pain we have the pregnancy we have been hoping for and it is truly wonderful.

However, when it comes down to it… I am terrified! It is like standing on the edge of a cliff, balancing on one leg and hoping nothing happens to push you over because the reality is, if something did happen, and I topple over, I am unsure I will be able to make my way back up to the top.

Pregnancy after loss is complicated and messy. The mix of emotions can be exhausting. I have tried not to think about the pregnancy too much during the early weeks, as if bonding with this baby could break me somehow. Only recently have I begun to feel comfortable and happy about the changes going on in my body.

The truth is, anything can happen and there are no guarantees in life. I guess the only guarantee for me is that I already love this baby. I cannot wait to meet this baby. And I probably will not be able to stop the storm in my head until I actually hold this baby in my arms but most importantly, that feeling all of these things is OK.

Having hubby by my side to talk to and realising he feels the same way, makes me feel less alone. That we are in this together and honestly, as parents, that is exactly where we should be… together!

Thank you to all our family and friends who have been so supportive, caring and understanding to us both. Especially to those that celebrated for us when we felt too scared to. You are all a blessing and our lifeline and we cannot wait to share our little baby with you.

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Letting Go On The Ocean Breeze

I haven’t posted here for a while and there are reasons for this. My first post for the year was so full of joy, hope and expectation for a great year with wonderful things to look forward to. Truth is, this year has been tough. Tougher than I ever imagined it would be… I never anticipated for one second that I would have a miscarriage. When we found out we were pregnant, we were overjoyed! A sibling for Emily! How wonderful. We started to talk about the baby room, if it was a boy or a girl, how we wanted to spend the next 8 months before baby arrived, how we were going to break the news to Emily when the time was right… But then, everything changed.

That moment you begin to bleed but it takes you a second to register… “But, I’m pregnant, this does not seem right??!!” You go to the doctor and she confirms what you have been dreading… you are miscarrying. It’s taboo, nobody talks about it… like you are ashamed of your body and how it has ‘malfunctioned’ and left you with a gaping hole in your soul. Grief overtakes and your heart breaks into millions of tiny little pieces. All the joy, excitement and hope, shattered.

I am not new to loss or grief. My father has never been around. My mother died when I was 13, my gran shortly after, leaving my sister and I with virtually no family except my wonderful Aunt and Uncle and each other. Life has been hard, a roller coaster and I have hated life and the hand I have been dealt and other times, I feel liberated for my struggles because I am the person I am today because of my hardships. Hindsight is a wonderful thing… Emily was born on the same date my mother died. It was like God saying to me, enough sorrow and heartache, here take this child, be it’s mother. I am giving you something back for your loss.

When you are in the midst of your grief, it can be difficult to see the woods for the trees, and months later, I still sometimes feel this way. I find it difficult to comprehend, to digest and sometimes, I struggle to believe it even happened. “Why me?”. “What did I do wrong?”. “It’s my fault!”. “Was there something I could have done to prevent it?” These are some of the the things that have been on repeat in my head. But the truth is, miscarriage happens… to many woman. I am not alone in my suffering. I never realised just how many woman trudge their way through this life experience in silence, until I started to talk about it. I realised that most woman I know have experienced miscarriage at some point and in some way it is comforting. Please don’t get me wrong, I would never wish this on anyone but knowing that there are other people out there who know what you are going through, can offer words of comfort and advice makes me feel less isolated, less alone and that in itself is part of the healing process.

I am also acutely aware that this happened to Matthew too. Sometimes we can forget that although the dads are not carrying the child, they feel the loss the same way we do. Although he has suffered so much through this, he has been a rock and my strength. We have leaned on each other and we are stronger for weathering this together.

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We recently spent time back in South Africa with family and friends. We took some time out one day in Cape Town and drove around the west coast. We arrived in Melkbosstrand and took a walk on the beach. There is something about the ocean that is healing and restorative. Some of my biggest decisions in my life have been made while walking along one of the beaches of South Africa. As we were walking I separated from Matthew and Emily and took a few minutes to myself. I watched the two of them walk, laugh and collect shells together and my heart filled with joy. I am lucky to have the family I have and I am so grateful for them. And while I still find my mind drifting to our baby and how far I would be in my pregnancy now, I took that moment and let him/her go. Like as if the wind on the beach that day scooped him/her up and drifted out to sea. I cried and then let go. Turned around to face my family and busied myself with helping my daughter pick up the best shells on the beach we could find. We have not fallen pregnant since the miscarriage and I have no idea what the future holds for our family but if you ever wondered if we would like to have another child… My answer would simply be, Yes!… desperately.

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*Thank you to family and friends who have been such a lifeline and support. We are so grateful to each of you for asking how we are doing, allowing us to talk about it openly and for allowing me to cry on your shoulders. Some of you are so far away but so dear to our hearts.*

 

 

I wish I knew THAT before I had my baby

For mums by mums

So, I sent a little message round to some of my mummy friends to find out some of the things that they know now that they wish they knew before their bub arrived and this is what they had to say…

London mum of one (Me!!)
The pressure of breastfeeding – 
Every mum to a newborn has felt it! In the UK, you are expected to have a good latch before you leave the hospital. If you haven’t got it right yet you will have a midwife that will visit you the following day at home and explain the importance of breastfeeding and how you need to get it right (As though you have never heard this lecture before). Can I just point out that a lot of new mums DO NOT get the breastfeeding thing right immediately. Needless to say, Emily and I were “one of those” problematic patients that really struggled. Emily, my boob and I were then slightly manhandled to get her to latch on which left Emily screaming and me in tears and my confidence completely shattered! It took 2 weeks for us to get the hang of it when I finally found a lovely lactation expert who was gentle and calming. I was speaking to a mum this past weekend who had the same experience and we both agreed that we would never allow anyone to treat us this way again. We would certainly speak up! Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Luckily Emily and I both got great pleasure from breastfeeding once we both knew what we were doing. It can be a wonderful bonding experience if you have the right people supporting you. And if it doesn’t work out… IT IS OK… don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Early weaning (Wait till baby is ready) – So many of my friends were weaning their baby’s early (4 months onwards) and I felt so compelled to do the same. It created such problems! Emily was not ready and with me pushing her she went on a feeding strike and refused to eat. I also tried to follow all of the “weaning guru” books and reduced her milk and expected Emily to be eating 3 meals a day pretty early on. I quickly realised that a baby’s milk is vital during their first year and that they will drop feeds on their own and eat as much as they want. Once I decided to be led by Emily, the process was so much easier. No more sobbing in the corner at feeding time (that was me by the way… I kid you not!)

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London mum of two
Breastfeeding – It can be hard work. Especially if you suffer from infections like mastitis. These infections are incredibly painful and leave you feeling very ill. It is OK to stop when it feels like it is not working for you any more.

Milestones – Don’t worry about when kids reach their milestones (especially if you are comparing your first child with your second). They will reach them when they are good and ready. Every child is different.

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Fatigue – It is a game changer and can make a difficult job even harder! Make sure you take some time to yourself and accept help when it is offered to you. Don’t be shy to ask for help too. If you feel like you need a break, reach out!

Difficult stages – Always remember that This-Too-Shall-Pass… All difficult stages are exactly that, a stage. From teething to fussy eating to tantrums.

South African mum of one
Sleeping routines – This mum read a number of books during her pregnancy and began to stress about small things like a sleep routine so, when baby arrived this was her stressor. Do not feel like a failure if you cannot get your baby down for their allotted naps. All baby’s are different which means their sleep cycles will be slightly different. Also some babies sleep well and others not so well. It is beneficial to get your baby into a routine early but be led by your baby rather than clock watching. They will naturally fall into a routine themselves. Be kind to yourself if things don’t go according to your plans as baby’s have a way of changing the game no matter how prepared you think you are! This mum has found her baby adapts to new environments really well because she is more relaxed.

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South African mum of two
This mum also picked up on the breastfeeding issue and getting the right support.

Antenatal classes – Generally, these only prepare you for the birth which is such a small part of parenting. It would be good if these classes focused on getting through the first few weeks with a newborn as well. She found it a waste of time. I will say that the NCT classes in the UK are also very birth focused but we did cover the first week and the friends that we made, we saw regularly and I have kept in contact with a couple of them so for me, it was great! Look around to find a class that suits you (if you decide it is worth your time and money)

Post natal depression – It is of course easier the second time round but you are so vulnerable when you have your first baby. With nurses/midwives/family members expressing their concerns with your breastfeeding, sleep routines, or simply the way you hold your baby can knock the small amount of confidence you do have. Keep an eye on yourself and how you are feeling. If you are struggling at any point, speak to someone (hubby or a nurse) who can help you. Your physical and mental health are just as important as your baby’s. As they say: “A happy mum makes a happy baby” and I think this could not be more true!!

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I hope this is of some help to you new mums out there!! Do you have anything to add to this list? I’d love to hear your experiences and how hindsight has changed your view on various aspects of birth and parenting.

*Please note that these are the opinions of mums who have gone through their own experiences. These opinions are NOT all my own and that other people’s experience may be different*