All of my miscarriages happened before 9 weeks, so when we passed that milestone with Charlie, I was over the moon. The whole team was. I’d never carried that far since losing Scarlett at 32 weeks. But there was still a long way to go. After a stillbirth you know that, and it was really, really hard. All of it. Not physically, I just had a bit of heartburn, but emotionally.
I was on constant alert for 9 months – knicker-checking, obsessing over pregnancy symptoms and later, worrying about movement every day. I had loads of regular scans and saw my midwife or consultant most weeks. Sometimes just a few words would make me feel better. My husband isn’t a big talker, doesn’t share his emotions easily. Over the years and through the miscarriages, we’d learnt how to deal with things in our own way, but alongside each other
I chose to be induced at 38 weeks. By that time I knew the medical team around me really well. I felt safe. I had the birth I wanted and, this time, everything turned out perfectly. Charlie is now a happy, healthy toddler.
Not long after having Charlie, we started trying for another. I wasn’t getting any younger so didn’t want to hang about. And it worked. I fell pregnant with Bertie before Charlie’s 1st birthday, and this time everything was completely different. I’ve spoken with other friends in the same position and they agree. After one successful pregnancy, you get your confidence back. You know you can do it, that your body won’t let you down. I believed for the first time in ages that my body wasn’t useless. I knew I had the support of my midwives and consultants if I needed them, which meant I rarely did! And of course I had a toddler at home, so didn’t have time to dwell on anything.
This time round the pregnancy was so much easier – physically and emotionally. I agreed an end date of 41 weeks, but went into labour naturally the day after my due date. The birth was straightforward, no pain relief, and I stayed relaxed all the way through. I mostly laboured at home and got to the hospital half an hour before Bertie was born. I’m sure my mindset and confidence made all the difference. I finally believed in my ability to have a baby.
As a parent now, the only thing that’s different is the guilt. I love my boys unconditionally but, like all parents, I also get frustrated and cross. I know that’s nothing unique but, having tried for so long to bring my babies home, and having lost so many, there’s a huge sense of guilt every time I shout or snap. Once I’ve calmed down, I think back to those desperate days when I would have given anything for a baby, and I think “how dare I chastise them, they’re all I’ve ever wanted.” The guilt is intense, especially when I’m exhausted and wish, just for a few seconds, to have my old life back. At those times I really have to check myself. I have to remember it’s ok to have tough days. I’ve learnt to take those moments as a sign that I’ve given a bit too much of my energy to others, that I need to take a break.
And so, life continues. Scarlett is still part of our family. I often wonder how she would have been with her baby brothers – would she be bossing them around? Many of my friends were pregnant at the same time as me and their children have started school this year – how would Scarlett have found her first day? I’ve mentioned her to Charlie. I’m not sure how much he understands at the moment, but it’s important to me that the boys know who she was. I’ll make sure she’s never forgotten.