Wednesday 21 September 2011

Not this time

I woke up early this morning and found to my surprise that my lady has arrived - four days early! I hadn't even had time to wonder whether I might be pregnant this month. I almost feel cheated for not being able to wonder whether every normal sign that my period was on the way was potentially a symptom of pregnancy... not that I do that, of course...

Once again I am of course a little disappointed, but it doesn't feel like as big a deal as I would have expected - which I am surprised about. I thought after the miscarriage only another pregnancy could heal the ache inside of me, but I know now that I was wrong.

The baby we lost was unique and we won't ever forget or replace. If we are to fall pregnant again that will be a completely different pregnancy and a completely different baby. I think accepting that has meant I don't feel in a rush for our circumstances to change. In fact today, I just thought: 'well, it wasn't meant to be this time, better luck next time, and I can enjoy a few guilt-free glasses of wine with the Boy in Sardinia next week'. I surprise myself I am so seemingly relaxed - long may it continue!

Tuesday 20 September 2011

My hero

On Sunday the Boy, my hero husband, ran the Great North Run in Newcastle for the Sands charity. It was an incredible day, and I am even more in awe of my Boy than I was before. Sands is a charity that means a lot to us, having lost our tiny baby Beans earlier this year and also having good friends who have been through the terrifying ordeal of having a stillborn child, and I was very proud that the Boy chose to do this event for such a vital cause.

The Boy completed the race - a half-marathon with most of the first-half uphill! - in two hours 19 minutes. He was a little disappointed with this time, but he was carrying a foot injury and I could not be more impressed by him. He ran with his father and his brother, they were all round in two and a half hours, and between the three of them they raised around £1,500 for really important charities.

The day was very powerful. The Boy and I, as is our way, arrived very early so we had plenty of time to find key locations and work out what was what. Local radio was broadcasting from the site, pumping out tune after tune like 'Run', 'Run to You' and - my favourite by far! - 'Born to Run'. The energy of the participants and spectators was palpable, and I haven't experienced an atmospher like it before.

The presenter interviewed lots of the runners about the reasons they'd chosen to take part, and which charities they were running for. I found myself feeling very emotional as I heard the inspiring stories of the perseverance of the human condition in the face of extreme adversity and loss. Almost everyone there was running for someone who is no longer with us, and I found that quite amazing. I couldn't hold back the tears when at 9.45am 'Abide with Me' was played in memory of those who have died - my heart ached for our lost baby Beans, my friend Alex, my uncle, and the two colleagues we've said goodbye to this year. So much loss, so many gone too soon. And a beautiful piece of music and lyrics - if I recall correctly both written by a man who was dying himself.

But in the sadness of that moment there was a tremendous strength in unity. People from all walks of life together as one to take on the challenge, and to grind out those miles to make a real difference for the greater good. I couldn't help but admire that - in fact it almost took my breath away and I found it difficult to keep my composure throughout the day. After the weeks of dissection in the aftermath of the riots - what caused them, why people behave in such away, why there is no unity in communities or respect for others - I was reminded of the potential for goodness and strength in people, and their relentless ability to survive, endure and overcome. I take such heart and inspiration from their courage.

Friday 16 September 2011

Isn't it ironic?

Just about catching my breath after a tremendously busy week. It was my work annual conference this week and I've been doing even more crazy hours than normal - the joys of being a press officer in the age of 24 hour media! I was in work for 5.30am which was a bit of a struggle. I felt panicked every night that I would oversleep - despite setting three alarm clocks! - and as a result pretty much woke up on the hour, every hour, all through the night convinced I'd missed my wake-up call. It's going to take me a while to recover I think!

This year's conference was even busier than usual. I'm used to quiet times, where I've had an hour off here and there to grab a sandwich, do a bit of shopping, or - when we've been in Brighton - just sit on the beach and look out at the sea and unwind. That didn't happen once this year and it was manic until the close of the day, I was running round getting quotes, setting up interviews and briefing journalists until my voice was about to give out. I would arrive home from work feeling like I'd been through a small trauma, and it was all I could do to muster the energy to keep my eyes open long enough to cuddle the Boy and say hello.

I therefore couldn't help but find a wry irony in the fact that as I was preparing to go to work at 5am on Monday, I did my fertility stick test (been doing it this month just to experience what it's like, and make sure I am ovulating again after the miscarriage) and it came back with the smiling face - my optimum 48 hour window to conceive, at the time I am the most busiest at work for the year. Someone upstairs has a sense of humour I think! The Boy and I did our best to make the most of this, but suffice to say I won't be hugely optimistic about a happy result this month... but I guess we'll see! At least I know that my body is physically back to normal and behaving as it should. Hopefully that means the rest will fall into place soon enough. And so the two week wait begins...

Friday 9 September 2011

What goes up...

What goes up... must come down, as I discovered to my cost yesterday. Having spent most of the day on Cloud 10, looking down at Cloud 9, I merrily made my way to Shoreditch to meet some old work colleagues for a good catch up. I was fine when I left work, but after an arduous but not out of the ordinary tube journey (Lord love the central line in rush hour) I started rapidly going downhill.

I found myself uncomfortable and upset, even though surrounded by good friends, and I began to fluctuate between feeling incredibly angry or really sad. I became irritable and tetchy, at times feeling like I couldn't breathe and at other times wanting to stand on the table and scream to that everyone in the pub would hear. I'm not sure what happened but I kept thinking about the miscarriage and our lost baby Beans, and also my uncle and my friend who I lost earlier this year.

Perhaps it was guilt at having experienced happiness earlier in the day, perhaps it was because I saw some pregnant people on the tube, perhaps it was because our due date is only about six weeks away now, perhaps it was because I always anticipated I would be heavily pregnant at our annual conference - which begins next week - and of course as life has worked out I am not even slightly pregnant... I don't have the answers, but the questions are certainly there and I'm sure my friends now have questions about my odd behaviour and why I left the pub so early and so abruptly. Hopefully they will understand - but then I still don't really understand myself.

I guess grief is a complicated thing, I know that from my experience as a bereavement counsellor. And some of the feelings I am experiencing now resonate with how I've felt in the past when I've been bereaved, and what my clients have told me about their losses. I have to accept it's going to be difficult. I have to remind myself of my blessings - the Boy is amazing and we had a brilliant chat last night when I got home, my relationships with my family and the Boy's couldn't be any better, I do have lovely friends and great colleagues, I enjoy my job, our flat is lovely, we have a lot of fun together - and yesterday's windfall means I am completely debt-free, bar the mortgage, for the first time in 15 years. Sometimes I wish my head ruled my heart - while life might be more boring, it would certainly be easier!

Thursday 8 September 2011

The jackpot!

Today is a GOOD day! It began by making me smile, with a retweet from Pearl Lowe who I adore - am quite a novice on Twitter and this was the first time a 'celeb' had engaged with me. But the day was to improve ten-fold.

For more than a year I have been in a battle for compensation with HSBC over payment protection insurance that I was mis-sold when I took out a graduate loan after completing university. I was fooled into thinking I had to take out this insurance to guarantee the loan, when in reality there was no such requirement. At times I have almost given up this struggle as I have found the correspondence and numbers of hoops to jump through quite overwhelming. But I'm never one to walk away from a fight, and today I reaped the benefits of my persistence. I had anticipated a settlement offer from the bank to be about £1,000, so you can imagine my amazement when I was told the figure would be substantially more! It took every single iota of self control for me not to scream down the telephone, and pretend this was what I had been expecting all along!

As soon as my conversation with the bank ended, I called the Boy and then much screaming ensued as I shared the happy news. We're both in shock and disbelief and I think this will take some time to sink in. Money is probably the thing we worry the most about, so to have a windfall like this will make a real difference. I suspect the majority of the money will go into clearing any remaining debts and into our savings, but I'm hoping there'll be enough for a special trip somewhere. The Boy has never been to New York and I'd love to take him... we'll see. For now it's all I can do to stop grinning inanely like a doped up Cheshire cat!

Fickle as I am, I wonder if this is the start of things changing for us. It's been a pretty dreadful year, losing my uncle, two colleagues, the baby, and then a friend to suicide. There have been more tears than normal shed in 2011, and at times I have really felt the strain. Maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of a different phase and hopefully the happy times will come rolling back again. And where good news begins, perhaps more will follow...

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Green eyes

Confession time. I'm experiencing a bit of the old green-eyed monster today, and I don't I like it. In the past couple of days a few friends and colleagues have confided in me that they and their partners or husbands are ready to start trying for a family. And I don't know why, but rather than feel happy and excited for them (as I want to and as I should) I feel jealous - and also anxious that they will fall pregnant before me and the Boy.

My reaction disturbs me and I wonder why this kind of news impacts on me so much. I'm not generally an envious person, and I rarely find myself jealous of other aspects of people's lives. I have many friends who are  better off financially than me, have more high-powered jobs than me, and who move in more glamorous circles or take more exciting holidays than we do. But in the last few years I've stopped giving myself a hard time and comparing myself with others, and I've learned how to relax and be content with my lot. And I really am happy with that lot - I treasure my relationship with the Boy, my bonds with my family are the strongest that they've ever been, I have a loving and reliable circle of friends, my work is challenging but regular allowing me to also have a happy and full social life, we have a great flat and we have enough money to do (most of ) the things we want. In fact rather than feel jealous, I tend to feel either an irritating smugness or a knowing thankfulness at how great my lot is, and imagine if envy was ever to be part of the picture it would be other people feeling jealous of me.

But since we lost baby Beans, the baby issue has become a very difficult one for me - I talk to the Boy about this and we laughingly call it the 'b' word, to keep the issue light and in perspective. While it's ok to be around friends who have small children, I am finding it very difficult to be around pregnant people that I know, or to hear news of friends' and colleagues' new pregnancies. I hate that. I feel so sad, when I really want to be pleased and excited - as people were for me and the Boy - but maybe it's still too raw, and reminds me what has been lost and that if life had worked out a little more favourably I would still be pregnant now.

And I suppose that's what bothers me about closer friends starting their journey towards parenthood and the anxiety around them having children. If they fall pregnant before the Boy and I, I won't be able to avoid them or the issue, and I will have to be stronger Still and try and take it in my stride. At the moment I can get away with the avoidance defence tactic - but that won't be the case forever and I will have to face up to what we have lost. But maybe that's what needs to happen as perhaps then - and only then - when I can do that, I will be almost there in managing my loss.

Monday 5 September 2011


I'm feeling quite a lot brighter this week. The sun is shining on London town today, and a restful weekend with the Mr has really helped.

We had a lovely time with the Boy's parents on Saturday that was especially enjoyable. They came up to London in the afternoon and we took them on a walk down the bottom end of the South Bank, through Hays Galleria, along down to Tower Bridge and Shad Thames, and finished off the trip with a few glasses of prosecco in Browns, before a three-course dinner back at ours. It all felt very civilised and I definitely feel more like myself. This weekend it felt like there was time to breathe, and I needed that. I forget how easy it can be to overload and I often don't realise that's what's happening until it's too late, and I'm overburdened.

It's another reminder - hopefully I'll actually get the message one day - not to let life get too busy, and to make sure that there is time for strolling and relaxing. And living life in the slow lane; the fast lane is definitely overrated.

Leisure, by W. H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stop and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows;

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see in broad daylight,
Streams of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance
And watch her feet, how they dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full or care,
We have no time to stop and stare.

Thursday 1 September 2011

First up

I've been feeling pretty out of sorts today and haven't quite been able to put my finger on what's wrong. I felt grumpy as soon as I woke up and I've been finding myself getting irritated very easily as the day has progressed. Having a wander round the Brunswick Centre on my lunch break I had to stop and call the Boy as I felt on the verge of tears and it was all I could do to keep it together. I couldn't work out why I was feeling so overwhelmed and sad, which added to my frustration.

But it's just hit me like a slap in the face that today is the 1st of the month. Our baby Beans was due on the 1st November, so - while I'm sure he or she would never have arrived on that date, particularly if its timing was anything like its parents! - today I would have been seven months pregnant, and we would be just weeks away from meeting our child. I hadn't consciously remembered this when I woke up and I hadn't even thought about our lost baby today... but somehow inside of me, my subconscious and my instincts know the sad significance of this date. We had been so excited to think about meeting our first baby on the first of the month, but it's painful to think back to those butterflies and giggles now.

I wonder when the anniversaries will begin to fade - on Friday, similarly I felt most unlike myself and changing tubes at Westminster on the way to a beautician's appointment I was grasped by the same unexpected and stifling melancholy. It took me then some moments to realise that it was the 26th of the month... and therefore four months now since we'd had the heartbreaking news at our scan that our baby had unexpectedly died. Westminster has always been one of my favourite places in London, I love the juxtaposition of the old parliament buildings on the north side of the river, and the contrasting brashness of the London Eye on the South Bank... but now it reminds me of going to St Thomas's Hospital for those final appointments that were so sad and difficult.

I hope it begins to get easier from here on and the calendar in my subconscious becomes a little less accurate and the alarm bells begin to ring a little more quietly. I am frightened about what the due date will be like. At least the Boy and I have that day off so we can be together and comfort each other, and pay a visit to the tiny grave where our baby Beans lies until we meet again.