Miscarriage

Thanks to The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman for this article about her experience of miscarriage. It is raw, honest and very moving, and she raises important questions about why it is that we don’t talk abut miscarriage. Why is it that women are often encouraged not to mention that they are pregnant until they reach 12 weeks because of the risk of miscarriage? It assumes that we would want to keep losing a baby secret, that it is something to be hidden and not talked about. For some people, this may make things easier but for many others, not being able to talk about something so heartbreaking can make it even harder to cope.

Miscarriage is devastating whenever it happens in pregnancy – and if you’ve taken time to get pregnant in the first place, it can feel even more overwhelming. If you, or anyone you know, is affected by miscarriage, the Miscarriage Association, can offer support and advice and is a really helpful source of information.

Do you want to run away from Mother’s Day?

It’s the run up which is just as bad as the event itself and it can seem as if there is no escape from Mother’s Day, but if you are anywhere near Liverpool on Sunday, there is something you may want to know about. It’s called the Mother’s Day Runaways service, will take place in the Lady Chapel at Liverpool Cathedral and it aims to offer a safe space for those who find Mothering Sunday difficult.

Whether you’re grieving the loss of a mother, the loss of a child, or a baby through miscarriage, whether you’re struggling with infertility or childlessness, singleness or a difficult relationship, whether you never even knew your mother or whether there is another reason why you might find Mothering Sunday painful, this quiet, reflective service has been designed with you in mind.

It will be an informal gathering, where you will be guided through an hour long service and you can find out more from Saltwater and Honey (and you can find out more about them here.

Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley

This is a book about swimming, about how Alexandra Heminsley overcame her fear of water and learnt not only to swim, but to enjoy swimming outdoors in choppy seas, cold rivers and dark tarns. Heminsley’s earlier book, Running Like a Girl, is about running when you don’t think you’re a runner and Leap In is the swimming version. It’s her honesty, the detail and her beautiful writing which make this such an engaging book; I could completely envisage the sweaty attempts to squeeze her body into a wetsuit, the feelings of panic in deep water, the anxiety about her bare feet when she does her first river swim.

Leap In is about pushing yourself, about facing up to difficulties – and we learn more than half-way through the book that Heminsley is going through fertility problems and IVF as she continues her swimming journey.  At that point, her battles to overcome her fears have an undercurrent of a more fundamental challenge.

Heminsley doesn’t tell us much about her fertility problems or the experiences of tests and treatment, but what she does say is rich with meaning for anyone who has been there. “When I think about never having a child, a sort of breathlessness, almost a vertigo, comes over me,” she writes, explaining in just one sentence the overwhelming hollow bleakness of infertility. She has a positive pregnancy test after her second IVF cycle, but miscarries – something she deals with in two poignant paragraphs in which she describes the sense of crushing grief and how this transforms her relationship with her body which she feels has betrayed her and which she now rejects.

I really love this book – it manages to be funny, sad, inspiring and thought-provoking. The last chapter of the first part ends with Heminsley pondering what lessons swimming has taught her and where her future lies. She says she doesn’t know if she will ever have a child, or even the strength to try IVF again, but her attitude to life is that we must Leap In, living life as a participant rather than a spectator, that we must not give into our fear of the unknown and must be courageous when we need to adapt or amend our plans and discover our inner strength and resilience. These are certainly thoughts to ponder for anyone who is in the midst of fertility problems.

Leap In is published by Hutchinson.

 

 

Leap In

If you haven’t already seen this fabulous article from The Guardian by Alexandra Heminsley, it is worth a read.

You may have come across Alexandra Heminsley before as she wrote a previous book, Running Like a Girl,, about her experiences of running (which I found really inspiring as someone who is not remotely sporty but who has discovered an unexpected love of running – albeit very slowly…).

This article is about her new book Leap In, which deals with swimming and fertility treatment. We learn that she has been through two rounds of treatment, one of which resulted in a positive pregnancy test followed by a miscarriage. There is always a feeling of connection when you read about someone going through fertility treatment – we all understand something that others never really can – and I found her article incredibly moving. She talks about her changing feelings as she goes through the unsuccessful treatment and miscarriage, about how she feels betrayed by her body and rejects it. Describing all this through a focus on swimming somehow makes it an even more powerful read. When she talks about the “sort of breathlessness, almost a vertigo” that comes over her when she thinks about never having a child, she captures in just a few words the vast hollow emptiness and fear which are so familiar to many of us.

I’ll be posting a book review soon, but in the meantime, do read the article.

Have you been affected by miscarriage?

If you have been affected by miscarriage, would you be able to help by completing a survey about priority setting around miscarriage? The link to the survey itself is here but if you are interested in reading more about it, this may be helpful from one of the lay members who has been sitting on the group leading the project.  The aim is to improve the care and treatment for women who experience miscarriage and those affected by it, and to set the priorities for research that will make the biggest difference.

Woman who have had a miscarriage themselves and their partners, family members, friends and colleagues are invited to complete the survey along with professionals involved  in caring for women who have experienced miscarriage and professional bodies, patient groups, charities and other organisations involved with miscarriage.

Getting pregnant at 49 – how it really happens…

120px-Pregnancy_test_resultWe’ve all seen the stories about babies born to celebrities in their late forties – or even fifties – with no mention of how they got pregnant. It can make it seem as if having a baby at an age when most women are on the verge of the menopause is effortless when in fact the celebrities concerned will almost certainly have used donor eggs in order to conceive.

Now Sonia Kruger has spoken out about this – and I admit, I hadn’t heard of her, but apparently she is an Australian television presenter who hosts Big Brother and is described by the Mail as a ” fashionable 49-year-old” (because of course not many 49 year olds are “fashionable”….). Responding to a magazine headline which referred to her “miracle pregnancy”, she has gone public about her history of fertility problems, miscarriage and the fact that she was told by doctors that for any woman over the age of 45 the chance of IVF success using their own eggs was zero. She says her pregnancy is  “science, not a miracle” and has been open about the fact that she needed donor eggs in order to get pregnant.

You can read more here and here

 

Pregnancy loss

I’ve only just seen this incredibly moving article in The Guardian about the experience of miscarriage – you don’t need to have been through the loss of a pregnancy yourself to empathise with this piece. It does make you think about how little other people appreciate or understand what it feels like to lose a baby – especially when this happens more than once. Well worth reading – thanks Amy for writing it.

If you are affected by miscarriage, the Miscarriage Association can offer really valuable help and support.

The wave of light for baby loss awareness week

800px-Triptic_of_candlesI wanted to add a post this week for Baby Loss Awareness Week. Today, October 15, is the international Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and this evening everyone can take part in a “Wave of Light” by lighting a candle at 7pm to remember all the babies who have died during pregnancy, at, during or after birth.

Experiencing a miscarriage or losing a baby is a devastating thing to happen to anyone, but if you’ve been finding it difficult to get pregnant and have been trying to conceive for a while before this happened, it is a very bitter double blow.

By lighting a candle tonight, you can join a ‘Wave of Light’ around the world in memory of all the babies who have been lost. You can be join together with others by taking a photo of your candle and post it to Facebook or Twitter using #WaveOfLight at 7pm.

London workshop on involuntary childlessness

If you are in or near London and are experiencing involuntary childlessness, you may be interested in a weekend workshop run by fertility counsellor Gill Tunstall.

Running in SW8 on October 18th and 19th, it is for anyone who has experienced infertility, failed fertility treatment, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature menopause, stillbirth, terminations for medical reasons or otherwise neonatal death, or unwanted childlessness–whatever the cause, including lack of a partner. The intention is to allow participants to explore their emotions, and to open up the possibility of moving on in their life.

Women, men and couples are welcome. Partners are particularly encouraged to attend, and all sexual orientations are welcome.

For further information  see http://www.gilltunstallcounselling.co.uk

We are failing women who lose a baby

Nearly half of women who have had a miscarriage are made to wait more than 24 hours to have a scan to check what has happened, according to a new survey of more than a thousand women for the website Mumsnet. The survey also found that one in five women had to wait for more than three days to get a scan – and once they were in hospital nearly half were treated next to women who had ongoing pregnancies.

Women who miscarried at home were often not offered adequate pain relief, and just 15% who miscarried at home after having a scan felt that they had the right support, information and pain relief to manage at home.

As anyone with any vague stirrings of empathy would appreciate, emotional support is essential after losing a baby but despite the fact that 58% of the women who responded wanted counselling, just 12% were actually offered it.

The results of the survey show a shocking lack of care and support for women who are going through a traumatic experience – and Mumsnet are suggesting people tweet the following politicians to ask for their support to change things for the better –  Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt), Andy Burnham (@andyburnhammp) and Norman Lamb (@normanlamb)