Official Motherwell Cheshire Blog
Writing this is hard. I have wanted to talk about my loss from day one, but when I compare it to others, I feel like a fraud.
I guess I should start back when I first knew – I woke from a vivid dream, a nightmare – you know the type, the ones where you suddenly wake up, believing for a second that it’s real, sitting up, then realising it’s just a dream and lying back down again. I dreamt I was in a hospital bed, a baby in a crib next to me, whilst I begged the midwife to let me have my baby – not the one lying there, which I didn’t even glance at, but the other, the one I hadn’t seen, whisked away as soon as it was born – I didn’t even know if it was male or female. Then I was suddenly standing in a hospital corridor, my husband in the doorway to the carpark behind me, holding a baby in a car seat – I had my back to them, I was trying to get back through the other door – to the ward. I was begging the nurse to give me my baby, screaming and crying, she said ‘you have one, be happy with that’ and closed the door. I woke in tears, believing there had been twins and that for some unexplained reason one had been taken, could never come home.
When I realized it was just a dream, I also realized I might be pregnant – not planned, not really affordable or particularly wanted. I went to a midwife, who looked at dates; 4 weeks later I went for a scan. My husband had trouble parking, so they let me wait, but then said I’d have to go in. I prayed he’d park in time to join me. They did the scan before he got there – there it was, a baby, healthy and growing, and then she showed me – next to it, a much smaller foetus, undeveloped, no heartbeat and said the words “I’m very sorry, but as you can see, there was a twin which unfortunately hasn’t survived”. She asked if I was ok; at that point I said I was, I said I knew – I told her in brief about my dream. She looked surprised and then told me the twin had stopped developing at roughly 8 weeks. At that point someone appeared to say my husband was there, and to check it was the right room and could he come in. The sonographer asked if I wanted to tell him or if she should. I asked her to, he didn’t really react. When the scan was over, we were asked if we wanted a photo – we both said yes. My husband took it. We were asked to go and wait in the waiting room as I had said I wanted the test for Downs Syndrome.
The waiting room was crowded – we sat down in the only place with two seats left together. I looked at the photo – my beautiful baby … no twin! I was shocked and upset – the one chance to have a lasting memory of that twin and they hadn’t given it to me, they hadn’t even asked, just cut the dead baby out. I looked around, wanting to get another photo, and saw signs “please make sure you are happy with your scan photos before leaving the room as scans cannot be repeated”. Then I looked straight in front of me –we were sat directly in front of a board with information on multiple births, twins and more, TAMBA. I wanted to cry but no tears would come.
We were called to go into a room by a nurse who explained that because of the twin, they couldn’t do the blood tests – the DNA would potentially give an incorrect result. I was asked if I wanted to talk to anyone about the twin. By that point I was just in shock, I shook my head – I couldn’t speak, and my husband said no, we were fine. We went home.
I remember telling people – I wanted people to know it had been twins, for me, they had to know that there were two babies. My husband told that to his family but not to others. I told everyone. I remember the reactions – a very good but very tactless friend told me “yes, it’s sad but when you think about it it’s probably for the best, you struggle with one baby so wouldn’t cope with two”. Another good friend who isn’t particularly fond of kids and definitely not religious lit a candle for my baby and sent me a photo of it burning – it was so comforting to have it recognized in that way. I was distraught – I cried every night after my children were in bed and my husband had gone to work. I guess at this point I should explain-he works nights, I have two older boys (older, but only 4 and 2 at that point), I use a crutch to walk, and had had post-natal depression fairly severely twice – perhaps now you agree with the first friend? In my head, I tried to convince myself that was logical, it was how I should feel. But I didn’t. I was distraught. My baby was dead. I needed to know if it was just a thing, that my body would reabsorb, or a baby with a soul feeling the love in heaven I could never give on earth. My minister spoke to me. She was reassuring but didn’t give false hope – she said we couldn’t know for sure, but that we could hope it was with God and pray.
Time passed. At the next appointment with my community midwife, I told her it had been twins and then she checked the notes to confirm that. She asked if I wanted to hear my baby’s heartbeat. I did. It took her a while to find it. I think she could see I was starting to panic. She tried to reassure me – she said it didn’t normally take that long, but the noise I could hear was the baby’s blood flow, so it was definitely there and the reason it was taking so long is that every time she found it, it moved, so she knew there was a heartbeat. I hadn’t realized how much I was panicking until she finally found it, and I felt the relief wash over me.
The twin wasn’t really mentioned after that in the hospital, they simply confirmed it had vanished by the 20 week scan. I had regular appointments for gestational diabetes – the team involved in that side of things never mentioned it at all.
My minister has promised me that when my son is baptised, we can include the twin in the ceremony – I don’t know how, but I’m glad, although I know it will probably have me in tears and confuse a lot of those attending. She was lovely – no body, no burial, but she organised a private ‘funeral’ - she did an order of service, just herself, me, my husband and our boys, at the church. It was simple, but perfect. My husband told me he hadn’t realized how much he needed it until he attended – until that point it hadn’t felt real to him. I guess men really do feel things differently. The minister asked if we knew if it was a boy or girl, or if we had a name, my husband said no. I knew what I was having with my first two...with this one, I didn’t - I kept veering from one to the other. This was a non-identical twin, so in my mind the reason I couldn’t decide is because there was one of each – we'd have to wait for the birth to see which had survived.
When our son was born, the midwives in the birth suite and nurses on postnatal knew nothing about the twin, or didn’t mention it. His health visitor didn’t know until I told her. There is nothing on his birth certificate to state he ever had a twin.
I took a photo of the pages of my notes that mentioned it – I should have checked at the time, but I wasn’t thinking – now I can see they are blurred. I needed people to know the twin existed, so I included them in the birth announcement. My mum was surprised – she had forgotten he was a twin, and wondered if it would surprise others.
Each of my children has a stamp used on their birth announcement - for my son, I chose a rabbit looking up, but I needed something for the twin too - I chose a butterfly. The twin also needed it's own words in the announcement. I spent hours trawling the internet, looking for how to word it. In the end, I went with a simple quote, which I had already had made into a Christmas ornament. The final announcement had the rabbit looking up, at a cut out butterfly swooping down. Inside was my son's birth announcement - on the inside cover was his twins stamp, a beautiful sparkling butterfly, and the quote "Not all twins walk side by side, sometimes one has wings to fly". I didn't need to find more words than that, it was enough to tell people and to invite them to acknowledge it.
When we went home, the tears started again, when I looked down at him, so small in my arm, my other arm hanging loosely by my side – space for another baby; space on his playmat; space in his basket – Ok, he’s grown, he fills those spaces now, but the gaping hole in my heart is still there. I love him. I grieve for his twin. I feel guilt that he isn’t enough. I feel guilt that people with one baby who miscarry loose everything and carry on somehow and I make a fuss about a twin when I have a beautiful healthy baby. I feel guilt that I ask for my baby to be remembered with theirs when I carried a baby to term; I didn’t have to go through a physical miscarriage – my body reabsorbed the twin. I feel so unbearably sad. I feel my heart is broken. I look at him, and just sometimes I see a shadow. I have to remember – I'm not sure how yet, but that baby is there, with me, part of me forever, and I need its brother to know too. I need him to know he is enough, he is loved, but that he had a twin whom I will always love and miss too.
When I count to where 8 weeks in the pregnancy was, it’s this week, baby loss awareness week, and I really do believe we need to talk about it. I’ve seen people say it in various ways, and here’s mine – I'm a mum of four; 3 boys and one angel. I’ll never forget.
Reading. Books. Where to start…at the beginning of the story perhaps? Books have always been a massive part of my life. My dad was a big reader and my mum even more so…I don’t ever remember a time she didn’t have one or 3 books on the go! I have so many book memories ranging from early childhood, right up to now. Beautiful memories of my father reading to me, books that got me through breakups, friendships, teenage angst. Books that have been a companion at 2am during the lonely breastfeeds and sleepless nights with my children. Making memories with my children, reading to them, looking at the pictures and listening to my 4-year-old “reading” to his 2-year-oldbrother in the morning (he narrates the bits he can remember). Reading has helped me through being bullied, boredom ( I was an only child), understanding my body (will never forget the look on my dad’s face when age 10/11 I used my Christmas book vouchers to buy “The Usborne Facts Of Life” 😲), teenage years (do you remember Judy Bloom’s “Forever”), happy times, grief and so much more. My son’s primary school head teacher, at the reception introduction, told us the best thing we can do for our kids over the summer is share and talk about books. It teaches children empathy and makes them think about the world around them. The books don’t even have to have words in it! For children, there are books like Nick Sharratt’s “You Choose” with minimal words where children make choices about what they would wear or where they could go. Another is Story Path by Kate Baker & Madalena Matoso – one of our favourite books. It’s like a picture maze of a story that you make up as you go along,and the children choose characters and storylines.
But what is this magic effect that reading can have on us? How does it relieve stress and make us feel better? Can it really help our mental health?
Books are amazing and there’s a lot of positive studies to say that reading and bibliotherapy (using books as therapy) can relieve mild - moderate depression and anxiety, however it’s important to mention that it’s not always a cure-all and shouldn’t take place of medicine, so please consult your GP or other health professionals for advice.
I’m quite an emotional person and not always particularly rational. As an almost 40-year-old, I’m still learning to take a step back and admire friends that keep cool calm heads without unintentionally blurting things out. Reading gives me the space to do this. If I’m feeling upset or worried, I can pick up a good book read for a bit and then the problem doesn’t seem as huge. I often say things without thinking and am also fantastic at procrastinating. After numerous self-help books (some of which were very useful), I recently read the fictional book “Meeting Mungo Thunk” by Keith A. Pearson. It was life changing. Also,hilarious. But I wasn’t expecting life changing – just thought the storyline sounded interesting “Adam Maxwell isn’t a bad man – he’s just a man who doesn’t stop and think….”. without giving the plot away, after I read it, I realised how much I was like the main character and it made me want to stop procrastinating and go and do stuff and achieve things. That’s the power of books. You can see things in them that reflect your life or open your mind to new ideas. It’s also relaxing to take a step back from all the technology we’re inundated with and switch off from social media. Reading is a wonderful form of escapism. In a second, you can be on a desert island, in a city, on a boat, in space…all at the touch of a book. As a mum of 2 young boys, it’s not always easy to find the time to read and as I have mild dyslexia, I sometimes need to read and re-read a page 3 times over but it’s blimmin’ well worth it.Apparently we should aim for 30 min a day – but honestly even if I can squeeze in just 15min I’m happy!
According to this article on the BBC website, reading can improve confidence, self-esteem, help us sleep (though if it’s a good book you might be up all night to finish it 😆) and reduce feelings of loneliness:
And another article from in The Stylist mentions poetry being used in therapy:
Poetry is perfect for so many situations - some of my best comfort reads are poetry. Feeling hormonal, a bit crap and slummy-mummyish? “Phenomenal Woman” – Maya Angelou:
If I’m having a bad day then Spike Milligan’s “Have A Nice Day” always makes me laugh and cheers me up:
Kids going nuts and driving me mad? Or just generally feeling a bit lost? No probs – then it’s “If” – by Rudyard Kipling:
The best bit is – it doesn’t matter what you read. If I’m totally honest, I don’t “get” reading Shakespeare – I’d rather just go and see it and even then, probably wouldn’t understand half the words and I’ve not read many classic literature books. It doesn’t matter whether its Jane Austen or Jilly Cooper. 50 Shades of Grey or The Picture of Dorian Grey (the first one I read, the latter I got bored part way through and gave up). Charles Dickens or…well you get the idea - the main thing is to just enjoy or get something out of what you’re reading. Reading doesn’t suddenly make a problem disappear, but it helps us look at things from another perspective or make us realise that we aren’t the only ones going through it. It’s so beneficial that The Reading Well programme has been set up by The Reading Agency. According to their website it’s a scheme to help you “use reading to understand and manage your health and wellbeing”. You can ask your GP or other health professional for a Reading Well Books on Prescription leaflet and books should be available from your library:
For more information please visit their website:
Another great thing about books is that you can read themalmost anywhere…In a park, on the train or bus, at home, waiting rooms, in bed, I’ve even been known to get a book out while waiting in shop queues! Got the kids with you? Then maybe not quite as relaxing but have a kids’ book handy in your bag. Books are brilliant for a bit of quiet time. Even my bonkers and very lively 2 year old will occasionally sit still to flick through a book. Occasionally he lobs them at me, but he does have his favourite stories already.
One thing I always struggle with online is when someone doesn’t accept a friend request or they remove me as a friend. I can obsess over it for days, wondering what I’ve done wrong? Did I say or do something to upset them?
Then my thoughts drift to all the previous people who have done the same. Is it just me? Am I unlikable? Am I unlovable? Is it because I am unfiltered and I am forever saying the wrong thing? Is there something wrong with me? In all honesty, these people probably aren’t even close to me, and not everyone likes the same things-otherwise the world would be boring (or so they say)
Why do we take it to heart so much? No one likes to be rejected. Perhaps because of my BPD I take it more personally. I worry more about what I say because I wonder if I am acting ‘normally’ or not.
From now on, I will try really hard to let it go, and not allow it to overtake parts of my life, worrying about something that I can’t change. Social media can be a good resource tool, but at the same time it brings its own set of problems for those who already have mental health conditions, and it can actually be the fuel for starting them in some people.
So this weeks advice, try not to get too hung up on the online life and live in the real world a little bit more. Advice we could all take notice of, and care less what others think of us, especially those who we barely know.