Trying Again After Loss

Trying again after loss can be a very touchy subject, and can add to the taboo as many people around the couple try to avoid the subject as they are worried about upsetting them. When you do mention the possibility of trying again, everyone seems to have an opinion, and you can find yourself doing what you think others want and expect… rather than what you want for you and your family.

When is the right time to try again? Only you can answer this question and the answer will be different for everyone; it will depend on many factors including:

  • What gestation you were when you lost your angel?
  • Have you healed physically?
  • Did you need a caesarean section?
  • How do you and your partner feel about trying again?
  • Are there any genetic tests which need to be done first?

I have known people who try again straight away, and also people who have chosen to wait a while; whatever you choose has to be right for both you and your partner. There is no medical reason to wait if the doctors have cleared you physically, so the only thing that you need to worry about is how you will feel emotionally going into another pregnancy.

When we told people that we were going to try again we had a whole range of comments, it seemed like everyone had an opinion! Some were good…. And some were not so good! Ultimately, it is down to you and your partner and other people really need to either support you in your decision or keep their opinions to themselves!

After we were told that Sophie has passed away we were sent home for two days while awaiting the induction. This was probably the hardest part for me as I could feel that inside things had changed; my stomach was hard and heavy, Sophie was slumped to one side, at the bottom which made it very uncomfortable, and emotionally just knowing that she had passed away but was still inside me and frightened of what was to come was extremely difficult. Emotions can make you react in a way that some people can’t understand.

During our time at the hospital before we were sent home the doctor was discussing the possibility of trying again and at the time I was adamant that it wasn’t going to happen… EVER! Well, you can imagine Paul’s surprise when the following day I turned around to him and said ‘once Sophie is born I want to try again straight away’ he was very shocked by this and thought that I wasn’t thinking clearly… which I now know I wasn’t! My emotional state at the time was, as you can imagine, all over the place. I remember feeling very guilty for admitting that I wanted to try again so soon, but after speaking to the Midwife I realised that actually, those feelings, are very normal.

These are some of the questions I asked myself to decide when the time was right for me. However, this was after a stillbirth, when I had gone through labour and birth, my milk needed to dry up, and I needed time to heal physically and have the post mortem and all the genetic testing done; after our miscarriages we tried straight away… so these questions can be adapted depending on the gestation.

When is it right to try again?

This is something that is personal to each couple, and no one else should try to influence them in any way. I am hoping that this post will help to answer this question.

Are You Physically Prepared?

With the physical aspect of trying again it is best to be guided by what your doctor recommends. My doctor recommended waiting until after my 6-week postnatal check-up, but each doctor will have their own recommendations based on your own personal circumstances, the reason for your loss and the method of delivery. They may also recommend that you take vitamin supplements for a set period of time to replenish the stores which reduced during pregnancy.

Are You Emotionally Prepared?

Your doctor can assess your physical state, but your emotional state is just as, if not more important when trying after a loss. In all honesty, no one knows for certain how they will react when they conceive after a stillbirth, miscarriage or infant death; psychologically it can affect you for the rest of your life, and although you move forward, when you conceive these feelings may come rushing back. However, there are a few questions that you could ask yourself when preparing to try again:

  •  Have you had a chance to work through some of your grief?
  •  How would you cope if you were to experience fertility problems?
  •  Are you ready to cope with the stress of another pregnancy?

Talk about your feelings with your partner

Do you both feel the same? It’s important to discuss and listen to each other. I know Paul was shocked and overwhelmed by my eagerness to try again so soon. Women can sometimes become obsessive and carried away, while very often, for the man, it takes time to want to try again. So, you really need to listen to each other in order to agree on a course of action that you are both comfortable with.

Emotions while Trying Again

Trying to conceive can be torturous and frustrating… even for people who haven’t experienced a loss. Women can easily become obsessive as the months go on (charting, taking temperatures, buying ovulation predictor kits etc). Very often people lose sight of the intimacy and sex becomes robotic… this can make things much harder, not just to conceive, but also your desire to be together. For couples who have experienced a loss this can be even more challenging…. You want things to happen, but at the same time are scared of them happening. It is far better to just relax and let nature take its course; and you will then find that you enjoy the process rather than allowing your emotions to get in the way.

What Others Think

It is a fact that everybody will have their own opinions on whether or not you should try again. However, ultimately that is down to you and your partner. Until I decided to write a post about this there were very few people that knew we were trying again… mainly because I didn’t want, or need to hear their opinion! Of the people we have told, we have had a range of opinions… from the supportive ‘we will stand by whatever you decide’ to ‘we think it’s a complete mistake’ but ultimately it is our decision, and with the doctors promising that I will be closely monitored, I think we may regret it if we don’t ‘try’ once more.

How to Know When You’re Ready

This is a really hard one to answer! You will have days when you are obsessed about trying again and really want it to happen asap, and then you’ll have days when fear takes over and you are terrified about conceiving and losing again. These are both completely normal emotions. Most people who have lost a baby ‘just know’ when the time is right; it’s a gut instinct that takes over. However, I am under no illusion that pregnancy will never be the same again, I will worry about every single thing and will no longer be ‘relaxed’ once I hit the 12-week milestone.

Final and Most Important Question

Do the rewards outweigh the risks? This is a personal question that only the couple can answer! Once you feel that the answer is yes, then you are ready to try again

How do Other People React to the News of Stillbirth, Miscarriage or Infant Death?

I have personally found a whole range of reactions; and the reactions tended to be different depending on how far along I was into the pregnancy. When we had our first miscarriage in 2015 I was 10 weeks pregnant; this was classed as a missed miscarriage, meaning that the baby had stopped growing but was still inside my womb; I had to have some medication (misoprostol) and wait for the miscarriage to happen… I found the reactions from others to initially be one of shock, but very soon they started to offer help and support, their reactions were very positive and they ‘kept me going’.

When we lost Sophie there was a lot of shock and disbelief… I was so close to my due date that this news really hit a lot of people quite hard. Even more so as I told them that I was booked to be induced and would have to go through labour to deliver her… everyone was just so shocked at that! I don’t actually know how else I was expecting her to come out, but I wasn’t expecting to have to go through labour! After Sophie was born my family and close friends were just amazing, and they reacted in a way in which they wanted to help. However, not everyone was like this! The first time I walked to the shops was about a week after she was born; and I noticed that people were now avoiding me, trying hard not to make eye contact and one lady even crossed the road so she didn’t have to make small talk! This upset me a lot at the time as it made me feel abnormal! I realise that people often don’t know what to say, but it’s always better to say something rather than nothing!

With my miscarriages since Sophie I have had comments such as ‘maybe you can’t have any more children’ or ‘maybe it’s time to stop now’, some people are supportive about us trying again, and some are not! But I tend to block out the negative ones and these days I don’t let people know if we have a positive test! It’s my way of protecting myself!!

I asked the members of Sophie’s Angels about other people’s reactions; some members would like to remain anonymous and some have said I can use their name. So below is what some of the members of Sophie’s Angels say:

Brittany: When it comes to still birth and infant death it’s something people don’t want to think about happening. When it does happen it makes people uncomfortable. In our case some of my family didn’t agree with me keeping my daughter in the room after she passed and they didn’t want to see her. When I played a video of her pictures at her funeral some people were very uncomfortable. They didn’t even look. I don’t think people know how to react because it’s hard to think about ever losing an innocent child. I don’t think they know how to approach it.

Anon: I get stuck when someone asks how many kids I have. I don’t want to hide Audrey but at the same time people either make a big scene with a very loud “oh my god I’m so sorry” or they get quiet and seem to want to avoid me or the whole topic of kids altogether. I definitely prefer reaction number 1 over the 2nd one. Loss mom’s already feel alone when people avoid us or talk about us like we are not there furthers the isolation!

Laura: Often people change the subject and feel uncomfortable around those who have lost a child. Everyone seemed to just act like it hadn’t happened especially those close to me. People need to know that we as parents to an angel sometimes need to talk about our precious babies.

Shayna: My experience was just three months ago . It was my first loss to my second born son. . We went to our 20 week scan and was told there was no heart beat and due to chromosome issues the sexton hadn’t formed . My Dr gave me 2 options , d&e (c) or delivery . My partner only had two days off and they kept saying that d&e was the faster option. I couldn’t do that to my baby so I chose delivery. I scheduled it for those two off days but felt so scared and wasn’t ready to let my child go . I say Fate happened and my oldest unfortunately caught a high fever so I took him to the ER when I should of went to l&d. I waited 2 weeks and finally miscarried on my own then went to l&d when I started bleeding . I delivered a beautiful baby boy who was completely perfect . His umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck twice .
People asked me while I waited what I was going to do and most agreed d&e would be better to get back to my family faster. My mother in law even asked why I would want to go through the pain of seeing and holding the baby. (She had a full term stillborn) but I don’t think I would of done it any different . I wanted my son . I’m grateful for his life inside me and I’m grateful for the chance to have held him and seen his beautiful face . I tell people I have two sons but one just happens to be my angel.
I WOULD LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE DON BE SORRY FOR ME BECAUSE I NOT SORRY TO BE HIS MOM!!

Christina: No one imagines losing your child it’s not something to go through alone it’s very upsetting as of everyday there’s always one little baby’s heart stops beating and I think hospitals should do more during the 9 months of pregnancy

Anon: In my experience people avoid you / the subject when they see you 1st…then they message you apologising for avoiding you because they didn’t know what to say!! I’ve never been offended by anyone’s behaviour EXCEPT that of my father in law, brother in law and grandmother in law……they have not visited, telephoned, text, offered my fella any support…he banned them from attending the funeral ( grandmother had the cheek to ask my mother in law!)

Miranda: Some people don’t know how to respond to miscarriage because they might not have even known you were pregnant. I consider most initial responses to my losses to be from shock. I usually just take hold of the conversation immediately by talking about my angels. I think people tend to be more comfortable if they know how YOU feel about your loss. I’ve lost two beautiful babies and I still struggle when someone has a loss because I never know how someone else is grieving.

Anon: was a shocker when I told my father. I really struggle to talk of it. For me, it’s not one loss, it’s 5. My husband’s family pretended my miscarriages never happened.

Mendy: It’s still so new for me. But I find myself sharing our story at random times. Last time was at my work Christmas party, random ride share moment, but the one that I experience most is, my Boss and I had a “get to know me” conversation. Her mouth dropped and tears formed so fast she alarmed me. I then reactively apologized “I didn’t want to make her sad”. She shares her story of her miscarriage. Even says that her story is still nothing like mine but she can understand the possible mood swings.

Anon: Everyone reacts completely differently. My dad and my brother struggle we don’t do death well in our family we are very matter of fact so losing a baby at 29weeks was a tough one. They are in to protective mode and just want to take the pain away something they can’t do and I can tell they feel helpless. Was so late in the pregnancy we had to tell Facebook as we had already announced that we were expecting. This brought up a number of things. It’s amazing how many old friends offer support and you suddenly realise the amount of people who have lost a child at some point. However one friend who I was very close with in secondary school it annoyed me. She had not acknowledged me being pregnant with my sunshine or any photos of her. She even avoided me at the park. Hadn’t acknowledged I was pregnant with Joshua but when she found out id lost him sent a message starting with “heyyy chick…” for me I felt this was for her benefit and she wasn’t thinking of me at all. Then some of my closest friends have been brilliant just letting me talk and crying with me . But my friend said when I messaged her all she wanted to reply was wtf are you kidding? Obviously she didn’t lol.

Conclusion

It is obvious from my own experience, and the experiences of others that I’ve spoken to, that just as no two people grieve the same way, no two people react the same way either. We all have different ways of coping, and we all have different was of reacting to bad news. However, one thing remains constant… it is always better to say something rather than nothing!

How I feel – 22 Months On

How has it been 22 months since you left us? On one hand time seems to have flown by and on the other it has gone in slow motion. It’s a very bizarre thing! I am trying to find the words to say how I feel; I have written and rewritten this so many times, and the truth is… I just don’t know!! I still have so many emotions, and so many triggers. People don’t tend to see the real me! They see the happy, strong, organised me; but they don’t see the ‘me’ behind closed doors! They don’t see the ‘me’ who is jealous of every single pregnancy announcement, and the don’t see the ‘me’ who suffers with anxiety, who is so protective of my other children, and paranoid about something happening to them that I had a panic attack when there was an incident at my son’s school… my son wasn’t even involved but it still caused a major panic attack. These are the things that I keep to myself, these are the feelings that people don’t realise affect me, this is the ‘me’ that I tend to hide.

Because I’m still not sure exactly how I feel, I will start by talking about the feelings and emotions that haunt me, before talking about the positive way I feel… as I’m sure that the good outweighs the bad!

After so many losses, I am still triggered by pregnancy announcements and birth announcements, I still struggle to see new born babies, and although I recently held my friends baby (who I adore) it is hard. I am sorry if this comes across badly; I am truly very happy when someone is expecting, and when their baby is born; but I still feel that pang of jealousy… I don’t show it, but it’s there! My anxiety became quite bad recently, and I finally (after months of my husband pleading) saw the doctor, I am now on anxiety meds and waiting for an appointment for therapy to help with my panic attacks… This was an important but difficult step for me to take, as I like everyone to think that I’m in control and everything is ok!

Now we move to my other children. As you know, I have 3 boys Brett (18), Brendon (12) and Aiden (4); all very different characters but all lovely in their own way. Brett is going through a hard time at the moment, we are trying to get an ‘all over’ assessment by the doctor (we have an appointment tomorrow), because since Christmas he has been really unwell. We’ve been to the doctors 3 times so far, but I’m hoping that by seeing a different doctor tomorrow we may get better results! He needs referrals to lots of different departments to find out why he’s so unwell; and hopefully get him back to college. I worry about him so much because he IS very unwell, and we don’t seem to be getting answers! My middle son Brendon is very outgoing, he enjoys sports and loves to take a football to the park with his friends. This causes me so much anxiety, I ‘have’ to take a step back and let him have fun… but it’s so hard! I like him where I can see him, and I can’t see him if he’s out playing! I try not to make it obvious; going out with your friends is a good thing… but to the ‘me’ that I hide, it is scary! Now we move on to Aiden; he is a ‘character’… that’s they only way to describe him!!! But, my goodness he seems to find danger at every turn! He is always hurting himself, knocking things over, bumping into things… these are normal things for a 4 year old, I know that, but I still can’t help feeling worried! He is probably my biggest worry at the moment, as he doesn’t seem to recognise danger, and he is always putting himself in dangerous situations (Opening the oven door, running in the road, putting his fingers in the hinges of the door etc).

Losing a child changes you, there is no doubt about that… but one of the biggest changes at the moment is the paranoia that something might happen to one of my other children… and this I find hard to shake.

Now I’m going to move on to the things I am grateful for. I am very thankful that I have such an amazing, loving family. Paul and I have become closer throughout the losses, and as I know this can tear relationships apart, I am really pleased that this hasn’t happened with us! My children are happy and healthy (apart from the health concerns with Brett, but we will sort that one out!!), and we are very close as a family; we always keep the lines of communication open so that helps a lot! I am also grateful that I can speak to my mum and step-dad, my dad and step-mum and paul’s mum and dad about anything and everything! We really do have a fantastic family and I owe a lot of my strength and courage to them! They have supported me with anything that I wanted to do, and been there to wipe the tears!

My friends are amazing! I have both friends that I see, and online friends in the loss community… after losing Sophie I ‘lost’ quite a few friends and was upset for a long time; however, the friends that I have now are the most amazing people! It is true that you find out who your friends are when something tragic happens!

I am really happy that I have been offered an unconditional place to study Midwifery at Canterbury Christchurch University in September. Not many people would be happy to receive an ‘Anatomy and Physiology’ book, or a blood pressure monitor for Christmas… but for me… I was over the moon!! I’m excited and nervous!

Sophie has also given me the opportunity to help other people, which although it hurts like hell sometimes, I feel very privileged to be able to do it! Sophie’s Angels has grown so much recently, and although biased, I feel I have the most amazing admin team! They are always there for people, and we all truly care about the members of our group; some of which have become good friends, or formed friendships on the group. It has been great to see the group change and develop! Our Angel Sophie has also grown which is fantastic! More people are hearing Sophie’s story and more people are interacting with the page. Our Twitter Page is slowly growing and I’m finding this to be good way to communicate with a range of organisations and people. I am thankful that we have had media exposure, and were in the Mirror Online twice last week! This article focuses on Sophie’s Story, and this one focuses on the things not to say to grieving parents.

I am extremely grateful with the support that has been shown for the Petition, there are far too many preventable stillbirths and this need to change. At the time of writing this we have 3,069 signatures… still a long way to go, but it is rising and it is gaining awareness! If you could sign and share it then it would be really appreciated.

So, yes, there are now many things that I am grateful for! And although I still get ‘triggered’ and find some things really tough, I can see that we have a happy and positive future ahead!

Forever loved and forever missed my gorgeous girl, but you are making a difference and you legacy will live on xxx

How to Know When It’s Time to Try Again

This is something that I have been asked a few times recently. ‘How do I know when the time is right to try again?’ This is a very personal question, and the answer is going to be different for everyone. So, with this post I am going to give a very general answer based on conversations that I’ve had with various bereaved parents.

You are the only person who knows how you feel about trying again, and therefore you are the only one who knows when the time is right. However, there are some things to take into consideration.

• How does your partner feel?
• Have you had all the tests available so that you know any risks in future pregnancies?
• Are you happy with your care team?
• Are you confident that you will be well looked after?
• Do you feel ready, emotionally, for another pregnancy?
• Are you physically healed from your last pregnancy?
• Are you taking any suggested medication?

The main thing is that you, and your partner, feel ready. Rainbow pregnancies are not easy; you are no longer naïve about things that can happen, and this can be very stressful. I would urge you to work with your doctor to make sure that you are fit and healthy, and that any concerns are taken seriously; as this will help to ease your mind.

Some people feel ready immediately, others want to wait a while. What I will say (and I’m being a complete hypocrite here as I wanted to try straight away after Sophie!), is that it is best to wait for tests, especially genetic tests, to come back first; this way you can be sure that the care plan your doctor puts in place for you, is tailored to your individual needs.

I wish you the best of luck when you do decide to try again, and I’m keeping everything crossed for you!

Research into Loss

Tommy’s conduct research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth; they have four research centres (London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and the National Research Centre which is the largest in Europe). Hundreds of doctors and midwives work together across the Tommy’s research centre network to improve pregnancy outcomes for both mother and baby.

There are specialist clinics within the centres for women at risk of pregnancy complications, they also have the opportunity for people to join in research trials.

London

The Tommy’s Preterm Surveillance Clinic – This is held at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital, and they have been providing care for over 10 years. Tommy’s states that ‘In 2017, the total number of referrals from women at high risk of giving birth too early doubled compared to 2016. We are now seeing an average of 200 referrals each month’.

The hypertension in pregnancy clinic – This is based in St. Thomas’ Hospital and helps women with high blood pressure. They have helped 150 women since 2015.

The diabetes clinic – This is based at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation Trust, the clinic helps women with diabetes, women suffering from endocrine disease and other disorders like cholestasis. ‘The research carried out in the clinic has been a driving force for the adoption of universal screening for gestational diabetes’ Tommy’s

Manchester

The Placenta Clinic – This is the UK’s first placenta clinic and was opened in 2009; they work with women whose babies have growth restriction, and study the placenta carefully to reduce the risk of stillbirth.

The Rainbow Clinic – This is based at St. Mary’s and they provide care to women who have suffered a previous stillbirth or neonatal death.

The Lupus in Pregnancy Clinic –Tommy’s is supporting this clinic which helps women with the autoimmune disorder Systemic Lupus Erythematous and related diseases. Tommy’s supports the clinic through access to our research midwives.

The Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service – This is based at St. Mary’s hospital in Manchester, and offers extra monitoring and pregnancy care to women with a history of high blood pressure, and those at risk of related complications. Tommy’s states that ‘MAViS is currently home to exciting research funded by the National Institute for Health Research’. Tommy’s supports the clinic through access to our research midwives.

Edinburgh

Tommy’s Metabolic Antenatal Clinic – This clinic helps women with severe obesity, they have specialists in pregnancy care and diabetes, as well as midwives and a specialist dietician. 25-30 women each week are seen in this clinic. Last year women attending this clinic were 8 times less likely to have a stillbirth than women attending clinics not specialised in helping obese women.

Tommy’s Lothian Preterm Birth Clinic – This clinic aims to continue reducing preterm birth and late miscarriage rates, to improve the quality of care for women and to develop expertise in managing complex cases.

Miscarriage centre clinics

Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research has recurrent miscarriage clinics in three different sites in the UK. All of these offer close monitoring and care during the early stages of pregnancy to women who have previously suffered miscarriages. They are also able to take part in Tommy’s clinical trials, which hope to provide women with reasons for their loss. The clinics are based in:
• Birmingham Women’s Hospital
• University Hospital Coventry
• St. Mary’s Hospital London

If you would like to be referred for one of these clinics, then please visit: https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/help-and-support/clinical-trials

If you would like to take part in one of the trials, then please visit: https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/help-and-support/i-would-take-part-tommys-trial

To sign a petition I made to cut the stillbirth rate in the UK, please visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/cut-stillbirth-rates-by-half