Out with 2018 and in with 2019, last year had been pretty good.
Family holidays, mini breaks with friends, camping and the arrival NYE of my niece Molly – perfect year end.
I thought that 2019 certainly had the potential to be an even better one; other holidays planned, home renovations, my little sister was expecting twin girls and maybe just maybe this would be the year that I went from a mother of 1 to a mother of 2.
We only made it through January unscathed. It was Sunday 3rd Feb and I had a message early in the morning from my mum to tell me my sister was in hospital as her waters had broken.
I was confused and dazed, she was only a few days off 24 weeks - what was happening?
My sister was transferred to Manchester St Marys Hospital and told that they were better equipped to help in this “Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes” (PPROM) situation.
My mum said how there was a lot of toing and froing of Drs but not much seemed to be happening and when my mum asked how they planned to help the twins they seemed hesitant and talked about how as the pregnancy was not quite 24 weeks there was a lot of risk.
My mum told them that she would be 24 weeks in two days, that a life is a life and she expected them to do anything they could to give the girls the best chance.
My sister was given magnesium and steroids whilst being told “we need this to be in your system for at least 48 hours before the birth for the best chance”.
Babies born at 23 weeks are always treated compassionately but are not always resuscitated, as the chances of survival are very low and the equipment invasive.
The decision to resuscitate depends upon each baby’s individual situations. This was the case for our beautiful Layla who was still born on Monday 4th Feb, she was held by her mother whilst we prayed as a family for a better chance for her sister.
Each passing hour was an extra hour that the medicines were working their way through Ruby and into her baby that was still alive and fighting strong in her own little amniotic sac.
The 5th of Feb came and went and although in labour Ruby continued to grieve for the loss of her daughter Layla but persevere and hope for her second daughter Ava.
Again; each passing hour was a better chance, Ava now has the full 48 hours behind her with the steroid medication to strengthen her weak organs, she was now over the 24 week mark and would have the best chance upon her arrival.
Ava was born on Tuesday 6th Feb at 6.51am in her amniotic sac, she was kicking away and breathing - they managed to get a tube into her and incubated her.
She was a good pink colour but was not out of the woods. For the next 24 hours we prayed and hoped as a family that through losing Layla we would at least get a chance with our beautiful Ava.
This was not to be the case and after a scan revealed a bleed to Ava’s brain and no kidney function, the decision was made that Ava would spend the last time she had in the arms of her parents. She passed away Weds 7th Feb early evening.
My sister went into hospital pregnant with twins and left less than a week later empty handed. She was not the only mother though to lose babies that week, the NICU staff talked about the girls being with other children at peace in the nursery.
As a family a go fund me was set up for friends and family to help towards a funeral – over £4000 was raised and we have never seen generosity like it. A small personal funeral was held and there is now a family grave where everyone can go and visit to help the healing process.
When you have a child; I feel that there is then going forward a certain expectation, that you will just have more.
I have five brothers and sisters and we literally are “My Big Fat Greek Family”. It’s natural that people would always ask “when are you having another” or comment “don’t leave it too long”.
My son turned 11 this year and although not common knowledge we have been trying to extend our family for almost four years now.
Cameron has autism and we always put all our time and energy into helping him and making sure he has the best start, as he grew and conformed and was in a good place academic wise we decided that actually now was a good time to add to our family.
Trying to conceive is a dark, painful cycle of temperature charts, peeing on sticks and literally sucking the life out of the romance you have to try and become this reproductive machine. I can’t tell you the amount of pregnancy tests I have taken over these last few years, the tears I have cried when celebrating other pregnancies and this is not malice or jealousy – I LOVE that my friends and family have had what their hearts desire.
I cry because I hurt for me.
After Ruby lost the girls and everyone tried to get back to some kind of normality, we were preparing for our family holiday, but something wasn’t quite right following a period where I did not stop bleeding and I made a doctors appointment.
A close friend suggested I take a pregnancy test to eliminate that before my appointment and I half-hearted agreed, why was this test going to be any different.
The seed was planted though and, on my way home I popped into the supermarket; bread, milk, Clear Blue tests. My hubby was confused as I was in the bathroom waiting for this stick and telling him that “my friends said do a test before I go to the doctors tomorrow”, not paying it any notice until I heard him gasp.
Pregnant 2-3 Weeks.
The doctor told me the following morning that we need to do a series of bloods with two days apart from each to see if the HCG levels were on the rise, but I could not have these done as we were going on holiday two days later.
He advised me to go and have a relaxing holiday, that this was the perfect opportunity for rest and booked me in for the day after my return.
I bought about five boxes of cheap tests and packed them into the suitcase, I thought that by testing every couple of days that would keep me sane/calm.
We set off on our family two-week holiday and I was literally the HAPPIEST I had ever felt.
I had a devoted husband and amazing son, life was good I was so so fortunate.
We told our nearest and dearest and we even narrowed down a baby name. We had an intimate meal as a family of three one evening and shared the news with our son.
We learnt early on with his autism not to pop surprises on him, so we always talked about maybe one day him having a brother or sister, this would be a big change for all of us and we wanted him to share in the experience and have that adjustment time.
We made it clear that it was very early days and how like when aunty Ruby was pregnant with the twins sometimes there are issues, another autistic trait is that he is very matter of fact.
My boy; my gorgeous, clever blue eyed boy was so so excited.
We got caught up in the moment, this was something we had dreamed of for so so very long and this was it now, it was happening.
I continued to test every couple of days and those little two lines kept popping up strong until a week into the holiday - the test was there, positive but very very faint.
I panicked; I knew I needed to go and find a chemist and get a digital, I needed to see the actual words. It was a Sunday though and all the chemists were closed on this little Greek island.
It was the worst 24 hours – inside my head that it. I put on a good show of it for the rest of the family and holiday, but I was on autopilot.
I went and paid 16 euros for a digital test and hurried back to the villa.
My heart knew – I knew that I had miscarried, but I wanted to see it confirmed.
I had by this point known about my pregnancy for just 10 days; 10 days literally on cloud 9 mapping out our new future of a family of four, how we would possibly have to move to a new house and thinking about childcare.
I came away on this perfect family holiday literally feeling the happiest I could ever remember, I was returning home broken.
I went to the doctors appointment as previously arranged and told him what had happened in the two weeks I had been away, he apologised and explained to me that this was likely to have been a chemical pregnancy and went on to explain what this was.
Of course; he didn’t need to explain, I know what a chemical pregnancy is and how many women go through this – I read this every month when I’m googling two week wait symptoms.
I was embarrassed now; this was a pregnancy that ended before it could be detected by any ultrasound.
All I had now was pictures of positive pregnancy tests and heartache. I had to suck it up though, play it down.
How could I even compare this to what my sister had gone through only three months earlier.
The thing is, it is incomparable but it’s a loss in its own merit.
With every positive pregnancy test there is an entire world of hope and desire and it doesn’t matter if you are pregnant for 1 week, 1 month or if you lose your child well into the pregnancy – your pain for that loss is real, you should not be embarrassed to mourn.
As my beautiful mum said – a life is a life.