Thursday, 31 December 2009

i just sorted out our budget. we're hundreds of pounds overspent this month.

i just posted on facebook 'how did christmas cost so much?'. but really i know. it's because i didn't have the energy or the strength to do my shopping in good time, so paid over the odds for stuff i could have got cheaper on the interweb. and because i bought more stuff for paul because a) i knew what he got for me and it cost a lot (he does do great christmas presents) and b) because i wanted to make up for what we've lost. he was (and is) the same. i know it doesn't work like that, but... what else can we do?

and it's because we've been coping by spending large amounts of money on things we don't need. books. cds. dvds. clothes. i know it's not healthy or sensible. but our baby died.

we're coping as best we can.

Thursday, 24 December 2009


On Wednesday night last week, I posted on facebook that it was hailing really badly. The hailstones were bouncing off the ground outside. I was glad to be inside, in the warm, not needing to go anywhere.

That was the start.

On Thursday I went into town (for a dentists appointment, nothing festive). As I stood at the bus stop, waiting for my bus home, I updated my facebook status to say that the sky looked like snow. It had that yellowy cast that often means snow is on the way. Sure enough, just after I sent that message, white flakes started to fall, getting heavy by the time I got home.

It kept on snowing. On Friday I went to Jesmond for a christmas meal. The snow was still powdery and dry, mostly, but in places it was compact and icy, scary to walk on.

On Saturday it stopped. I went into town in the afternoon, desperate to get some last few things for Christmas (or so I thought... I still was buying yesterday). When I was in one shop in Eldon Square, one of the assistants turned to another and said 'I hope it's still snowing outside!'. I considered telling her that it wasn't snowing when I'd come in. That it was quite bad enough, anyway. But when I came out and walked along Blackett Bridge, I saw that outside it was snowing again. Heavily.

I'd never seen snow lying on Northumberland Street before then. It normally has so many people walking along that any snow gets trodden away sharpish.

Not that evening.

On Sunday, I think, it did not snow. But the snow was still lying on the ground. On roads that are normally gritted, too. All along the pavements, still powdery. Still dry. Not like snow is normally in this country once it's lying for the fourth day.

On Sunday night, the temperature in Newcastle fell to -6C.

On Monday morning, I got up for the winter solstice sunrise at the coast. The snow was still powdery in the early morning dark. It sparkled in the street lights as I walked.

It wasn't forecast to snow that day, but as I left the house the first few flakes were falling once more. It snowed constantly for at least an hour and a half. Then the sun shone, for the rest of the day. Bright white, reflecting a blinding glare from the snow.

That night the temperature was -6C again.

Tuesday it didn't snow. We weren't forecast any more snow, but the temperature wasn't forecast to rise high enough for it all to melt yet, either. In the main shopping streets in Newcastle there wasn't a trace, but round the edges, it was still there. If you looked.

Yesterday it didn't snow. The air was still bitter, the snow on the ground still thick and slippery in places, so I stayed at home, in the warm.

I've never known snow last this long in populated areas. No, not even here in the frozen wastes* of the North East. It's always been gone in a day or two, except maybe in a few isolated places. But this time, although the main roads might be clear, many of the minor ones that would normally have no trace of snow still have snow compacted under the weight of hundreds of cars. The pavements, dry and powdery for days - nothing like the grey slush snow in England turns to almost immediately - are still treacherous, still covered in frozen snow.
*Yes, I'm being ironic. It's not that bad here!

Today. Christmas Eve. The car wasn't iced up when I left to give D a lift to work first thing; just a thin layer of frost, easily scraped away. The snow on the ground had started to look thinner. I was sad. I didn't want a huge amount of snow, but it would be nice to have some on the ground on Christmas Day. But as I left the house to come into town on the bus, an hour or so later, it was raining. Cold, stinging rain, but rain none the less.

That's that, I thought.

It rained at the bus stop. It rained as I was ferried into town. But then, half way in, it started to look whiter. More like sleet.

Then the sleet turned to snow.

It turned back a couple of times. Just to keep me on my toes. But it snowed for a good 45 minutes or so. It was snowing as I started to type, sitting in Starbucks (...where else?). It's turning back to sleet right now. But I still hope that our garden will be white tomorrow morning.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and I thank you all for reading and for your support in this difficult time. It means the world.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

SANDS campaign

SANDS is the Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Charity.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, currently has four different documents that deal with people who have had a stillborn baby (clinical definition: a baby born dead after the 24th week of pregnancy). Each of those uses a slightly different wording about whether parents should be able to, or encouraged to, see and hold the baby after its birth. Some parents won't want to; that's fine, but some of the wording implies that parents should not be able to, even if they want to.

NICE has agreed to meet SANDS in the new year to discuss this. But SANDS obviously wants to demonstrate that there is support for parents to have this right.

Please sign this petition to call on NICE to clarify its guidelines so that parents who want to can use this right.

Thank you.

four weeks.

It was four weeks ago exactly. Four weeks ago that we had the midwife's appointment that ended up with us venturing up to the hospital, expecting everything to be fine. Knowing everything was fine.

Four weeks ago that we ended up in the scan room. Still not expecting anything to be wrong. But there was. There was.

It was only four weeks ago. How is it only four weeks ago?

How can four weeks have passed already?

Christmas day is exactly a month since it happened.

I'm kind of scared.


The worst thing -

No. Not the worst thing. Everything about this is the worst thing.

One of the many worst things about this is the loss of time. The feeling that we've lost a year in the race* to have children. A year that, in my early thirties, I just don't have.

By the time it happens again, by the time I actually have a baby in my arms (pleasepleaseplease), I'll be pushing 35, if not actually 35. And no, that's not much different to the 34 years and one month I would have been if this baby had been destined to be born. But it does make a difference. '35' is that magic number when suddenly you're considered to be old, in childbearing terms.

It's just so frustrating.

I miss this baby so much. It seems crazy, to miss something that was only ever a potential baby. Something that was destined never to be.

But I'm angry with it too. For wasting my time.

*I know it's not a race. But this was the word that came out, and although I considered changing it, it felt like the right word.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I feel bad for being in the internet right now. For being able to blog and post photos and write, generally. Even when half of what I'm writing is about my miscarriage. About how crap it all is.

This really helped. There is no normal. There is no 'you should be feeling this'. 'You should be acting like this.' No one has said that I shouldn't be doing this. But I'm good at feeling that I'm doing something wrong.

I'm coping with this as best I can. And it really, really sucks. One of my friends said to me something along the lines of that I have to go through this - I can't just wake up and I'm all better. It's a process. A grieving process for someone I've never met. A grieving process for the person I wanted to be.

Talking online is part of that. For better or worse, it just is. It's part of who I am, what I do. I blog. I talk to friends via facebook, via email. Some days I meet friends for coffee and talk, and cry. Some days I write in my journal, and cry.

Some days I blog, and cry.

I can't explain it. But it helps.

Monday, 21 December 2009

It's official: Borders is closing

I'm sitting in Starbucks (in Borders) at Silverlink right now. They just killed the music for one of the staff to do an impromptu little blues-y type number about how the store is closing tomorrow and how there's 70-80% off everything. Everyone in the store (including the Starbucks staff) stopped to listen, and applauded him at the end.

I can't believe it's actually true. I may have sounded flippant on the photo site when I called this kicking me when I'm down - but I really do mean it. At times like these, you cling to the familiar, to comforts that help you feel better, and this place is one of those. I know I'll find familiar faces on the shelves - both people I don't know and people I do (and many more, but if I start linking everyone we'll be here all day). I know I can plug in my netbook and sit with a coffee and write, or just sit here and peoplewatch or read. It's one of the things we do at weekends - D browses (and picks up endless piles of books - if everyone spent here like we did this would not be happening. Is that good or bad?) while I sit upstairs with a coffee and write, until he comes and joins me and grins, trying to hide how many books he has behind his back.

That's not going to happen any more. Waterstones is good, don't get me wrong, but it's not the same. It means a trip into town, and there's not a coffee shop inside.

If I was rich, I would totally buy this one shop (maybe along with those on Team Valley and in York) and make it work. Somehow.

Goodbye Borders. Weekends won't be the same without you.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A change of mind

I've changed my mind.

It's not October I want to go back to. It's the me I was that afternoon. The he that D was. Sitting in the assessment unit, bored as anything and hungry for our lunch.

Because we genuinely, truly, 100% believed that everything was OK. That the baby was just lying too low down to hear its heartbeat. It really hadn't occurred to us that anything could be wrong. Or, no - it had, but we'd discounted it. My midwife had said it was probably OK. The midwives at the unit didn't look worried. They seemed to be in no rush to get us in for the scan. Surely if there was any chance something was wrong they would have whisked us in by now. And anyway. We were way past 12 weeks. No pain. No bleeding. There was nothing wrong. How could there be?

I had considered sending D back to work when the midwife sent me to the hospital. I felt guilty for stopping him from going back - he had work to do! and everything was OK! - but he never considered not coming with me.

I don't know what I would have done without him.

I can't believe that, if (pleasegodno) we ever find ourselves in that situation again, we'll be able to believe that there is the slightest chance that everything is OK.

It's going to be hard.


Word verification has been switched on. I've been having to delete more and more spam comments and it's annoying me. I don't want to stop people from commenting anonymously (although noone ever does, really!) but if this doesn't stop them I will.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


While delaying childbearing does increase the risk of miscarriage, it does not mean you deserve one. ...

It is worth remembering that women who delay childbearing usually do so in order to achieve a better balance in their lives. ... This benefits not only themselves, but their children; we may be at the lowest risk of miscarriage in our early 20s, but few of us would be the best mothers we could be at that age. Studies have shown that older mothers are likely to be more calm, relaxed, patient, and confident. They are also more likely to make time to enjoy their child, and are better at encouraging speech and independence in the child. ...

Whatever your reasons for waiting, they were the right reasons for you, and it is admirable to manage your life to try and achieve the best balance. While these chances may increase your risk of miscarriage, they do not mean you deserve one, or that you don't deserve children. And perhaps these same choices will make your home a happier one when you do become a mother.

This quote is taken from the book Avoiding Miscarriage by Susan Rousselot. It arrived in the post today and I read it from cover to cover as quickly as I could.

This quote in particular made me cry and cry.

I didn't even know how much guilt I was feeling about waiting until I'm in my thirties before trying. But it was the right choice for us. We weren't ready to take this step before now.

Rousselot wrote the book because it didn't exist when she needed it. When she couldn't find a publisher or an agent who was interested, she self-published it.

I'm still terrified that this will happen to me again. A book can't cure that. But I feel a tiny bit more positive now. That maybe even if this ends up happening to us again that I'll cope.

I still have a lot of grieving to do. For my own lost identity (I was going to be a mother; now I'm not. We were going to be a family of three; now we're not.) as well as for the baby we've lost. But I'm starting to feel that once the grief has started to ease, that we can take that chance. That we will be able to try again.

If you have concerns that you will have a miscarriage,
buy this book. If you've had a miscarriage and you're scared you'll have another, buy this book.

If you're a publisher or an agent, please contact Susan Rousselot. This book is well written and well presented and immensely important for the thousands and thousands of women out there who have suffered a miscarriage.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

October wasn't all that long ago.

I keep thinking about that week we were off. I ate a lot to fight off queasiness, and we bought a car. Noone knew yet, except our families, and a couple of friends. It was still our secret.

We joked, talked, laughed about our baby.

Two weeks later, we saw - him? her? (it hurts that i'll never know) - on a scan. Tiny arms, legs, heart. Beating away. We went back to work, showed off our pics to our respective colleagues. We weren't quite at the 12 week mark, but we knew the odds were in our favour. Our risk of miscarriage less than 0.6%.

If the scan picks up a heartbeat and the baby appears to be the right size according to your dates, this can be very reassuring. Research has shown that if you see a heartbeat at 6 weeks of pregnancy, the chances of the pregnancy continuing are 78%. A heartbeat at 8 weeks increases the chance of a continuing pregnancy to 98% and at 10 weeks to 99.4%. So things could still go wrong, but as long as there is a heartbeat, the risk of miscarriage decreases as the weeks go by. (from here)

Ten days later. You left, but remained. It was another four whole weeks before we found out what had happened.

I want to go back.

I don't want you to be gone.