Tag Archives: love

Dear baby…

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Dear baby…

Dear baby,

We’ve been so scared, your Mummy and Daddy. Last year was sad for us and you have been so very precious from the moment we found out about you.

Every milestone has felt like a huge achievement – you’re already the thing we’re most proud of and the most valuable thing in our lives. Mummy is a big worrier anyway, and she’s lost sleep, cried, refused to get excited (don’t be offended please, Mummy was just trying to be brave). She’s been the opposite of her normal self – so pessimistic and cautious. But now, halfway through your stay in Mummy’s tummy, we’re slowly letting ourselves smile and mean it. We’re talking about names, thinking about what we need to buy for you, how to decorate your room. You’ve become a part of us – you’ll make our family of two (plus Archer, your fur sibling), a family of three.

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But there are a couple of things you need to remember to help Mummy and Daddy be brave:

  1. Keep growing – get big and strong and ready for this big bad world you’re joining. Stay healthy and safe in there.
  2. Take care of Mummy – your kicks and roly-polys are already starting to provide reassurance to Mummy. It’s your way of saying ‘Hi there guys!’ and it’s  brilliant.
  3. You are not a rainbow baby – some people might talk about you as if you are. You are not. We will always be a little bit sad about what happened before you took root and decided to make Mummy your home. But it has nothing to do with you. From the moment we first saw that little nugget on the screen all those months ago, you started a whole new chapter for Mummy and Daddy, and we love you for it. Your job is not to fix us, your job is to simply be wonderful, beautiful you.

We can’t wait to meet you, to get to know you. We know we’ll be tired and grumpy and that it’s going to be hard work getting used to you, but you’re going to be worth every second.

All our love, already and always,

Mummy and Daddy xxx

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Hiding my light

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Hiding my light

So 15 October was the day when people all over the world lit candles to create a wave of light – it’s part of baby and pregnancy loss awareness week. Obviously this is a cause close to my heart, an incredibly worthy cause and one that needs more people to talk about it. However, I didn’t join the wave, no candles were deliberately lit for this cause in my house, and here’s why.

In the last 6 months (yes our first miscarriage was 6 months ago in November) the miscarriages have defined who I am. How I feel. What people say to and around me. My reaction to my friends, to TV, to songs, to films. My relationship with my husband. My friendships. My health. There have been some positive lessons learned – friendships have been cemented by the love, support and normality that’s surrounded us. Me and my husband know for certain we can weather anything – because we’ve been through more in our 2 year marriage that most couples cope with in a decade. I know for certain I’m ready to be a mother – because I’ve grieved the loss of my unborn children and everything they could have been. As I’ve talked about previously, we’ve also learned some hard lessons – we’ve been disappointed by people. But it’s made us tougher, more resilient, better at saying no to those people.

My point is, the last 6 months have either been spent pregnant or grieving. That’s not to say the grieving has stopped. I still have my moments, and I’ll never forget our pain. But on Saturday 15 October, the weekend before my birthday, I wanted a weekend about me. The Hilary I used to be – laughing til I cry. Acting like a wally. Enjoying all the cheesiness and tackiness life has to offer. So I planned a birthday day out to Dreamland in Margate – the birthplace of tack and cheesiness. I went on fairground rides with friends all day, drank prosecco, came home for a takeaway with friends. Played Cards Against Humanity. It felt really nice. It did me and my husband the world of good. We felt like, even if just for 24 hours, we were back in the game. Part of the gang again – there were no kid gloves or eggshells allowed.

After an extra couple of days off and some brilliant time with my husband where he spoiled me, I feel genuinely relaxed for the first time in a very long time. I’ve got some kind of peace. I’ve been reading the ‘7 days, 7 stories’ Tommy’s stories that appeared on my newsfeed and acknowledging that this experience is happening around the world and talking about it and addressing the pain is a positive move. One of my very favourite couples in the world announced their pregnancy and while it still hurt that the universe had been so unfair to us, that was quickly overshadowed with genuine joy. Other people deserve happiness and a family. Resenting the people we love will only add to the things we’ve lost. It’s a pointless exercise that will eat away at us and prevent our (and their) happiness.

We now occasionally let a ‘when’ creep into conversations about our future family, not just ‘ifs’. It doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten. It doesn’t mean it’ll change anything when the time comes again – we still need to be cynical and prepared for the worst and we’re still healing.

But for the first time in half a year, we feel like us again. Defined by the things and the people we love, not by our pain.

Celebrating soulmates

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Celebrating soulmates

It’s a popular notion that a soulmate has to be something romantic. And often it is, but I don’t think that’s always the case. Additionally, I don’t think we have just one soulmate, I think we have a few.

The Ancient Greeks got this, I reckon that’s why they had 6 words for love. It’s ‘philia’ or deep friendship that I’m talking about here.philiaWhat is a soulmate?

For me, a soulmate, for whom you feel ‘philia’, is someone who just gets you. With them there’s no judgement.

Wherever you are with them it’s a safe haven – what’s said to a soulmate stays with a soulmate.

You can rant and rave your heart out about your colleagues/family/in-laws and they know you just need to rant. They don’t judge you or call you names for it, they let you vent. You can act weird and while they might call you out on it, they accept your weirdness (some of them might even out-weird you).

Their advice is honest, frank and fair. It isn’t always what you want to hear but it doesn’t hurt to hear it. They deliver it with compassion, understanding and often a good dollop of humour.

Even on the days when you feel like nothing can make things better,

your time with them is like the tightest bear hug.

You leave feeling like a weight has lifted, life makes more sense and you can face another day.

My soulmates

For me, my husband is absolutely one of my soulmates but that’s not based on our romantic connection, it’s based on our friendship and mutual respect and understanding. He tells me when I’m headed down the wrong path. He backs me up when I’ve been wronged and helps me respond with dignity (instead of like a crazy banshee); and he supports my dreams and aspirations. With him,

I’ve never felt small, or insignificant, or worthless. I’ve just felt loved.

These are the reasons why he’s my soulmate. (Throw in the fact that I fancy the pants off him, that I love him beyond ‘philia’, and that he’s the only person I want to see when I wake up and when I fall asleep; et voila, one husband!)

Read through the things I’ve said about my husband above (before the husband-specific stuff)  –  I bet the people who spring to mind aren’t necessarily romantic partners or interests.

This year has really highlighted to me who my soulmates are. They’re people whom I feel completely comfortable around. People who have never been the root of any anxiety attack or worry. People who tell me it like it is, but with kindness; leaving me safe in the knowledge that they’re not going away to talk about me or hurt me. They’ve watched me cry, listened, understood when my pain has made me unreasonable but gently steered me away from saying anything to hurt my loved ones or myself. They’ve talked me through my options and helped me heal myself.

It’s like going to the GP but without the 10 minute appointment limit and cold stethoscope.

Instead they’ve just helped me uncover the answers I already had.

I guess my point is this – when you’re hurting, or confused, or need a sounding board; remember the incredible resource you have in your soulmates. Don’t take for granted how valuable they are and don’t think that just because you’re in a long term relationship, you can only rely on your partner. If you’re fortunate enough to have an awesome partner AND one or two incredible soulmates, you’ve got all you need.

The things we have learned…

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The things we have learned…

 

I don’t want this blog to become solely about our miscarriages and subsequent journey to parenthood (fingers crossed, touch wood, wish on a star, do some kind of baby version of a rain dance). But for now, that’s kind of our life.

So in a slightly more philosophical (and hopefully less sad vein) here are a few things I’ve learned from our journey so far

You’re not alone

The pain and the sadness and the fact that, at the end of the day, it’s your body in pain and your mouth they’re putting tablets in, and your veins they’re sticking needles in; can mean you feel incredibly lonely. Even the best partners in the world (and mine is awesome) can’t take that Eeyore style black cloud of isolation from you completely. I just want to tell you that you’re not on your own.

I was overwhelmed by the messages I received after we published our first heartbreaking post. Women I haven’t spoken to in up to 13 years were messaging me to let me know they’d been through it. It was like a post-battle debrief where we shared our war stories, talked about our wounds and scars, and gave each other hope to get back out there and keep fighting. These women are warriors, and my new heroes. A great blog to read is Charlie O’Brien’s, who is now a parent but had her own challenges getting there.

People will disappoint you…

Sadly, some people in your life will disappoint you. They’ll ask tactless and painful questions, throw clichés at you, ignore that anything has happened or (worst of all) try to be part of your pain, never understanding that you’re not suffering it willingly and it’s not theirs to ‘own’. It’s easy to lose your rag but remember that however it comes out, very few (if any) of these people intend to hurt you. Their words are well intended and come from kind places. Nonetheless, if they get too much, take a break and a deep breath and do what’s right for you and your partner.

…But they’ll surprise you too

The smallest and silliest things will pick you up on your worst days. My aunt, uncle and cousins sent a giant bag of M&S chocolate which arrived a day or so after getting back from holiday (and crashing even further back down to earth). The chocolate itself (while yummy) wasn’t a magic cure, but the reminder that so many friends and family were thinking of us and doing what they could to care for us made a whole world of difference.

Give yourself a break

You’ll have a string of good days and then, out of nowhere, you’ll have a day when the tears/anger return with a vengeance. From what I gather, this is normal. Your brain will take time to process the loss you’ve suffered and while healing does begin relatively quickly, it’s not an immediate outcome. In the meantime, don’t be too hard on yourself. If, like me, you’re used to giving 110% in everything you do, drop down to 80% instead. Everyone else will still think you’re doing a great job, and you’ll give yourself a bit more energy and thinking space.

You can still be you

Guilt is a terrible thing. It eats away at us at the worst times. My inner monologue over the last couple of months is not a show I’d buy tickets to – it goes along the lines of “It’s my fault”, “I’m broken”, “He should leave me”, “I just laughed – what must people think?”, “I got drunk last night. I don’t deserve to be a parent anyway”.

Unfortunately there isn’t an off switch for this guilt, but you can try to counter it with more positive thoughts and behaviours. Getting back to ‘normal’ life is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Go out with your friends, laugh with your partner, smile when your pet does something weird and funny. And Stop. Feeling. Guilty. Like so many things, your loss was out of your control. You won’t forget it but you can move on – worrying about the whys and wherefores won’t do anything except cause more hurt and distress at this point.

Don’t put life on hold

My biggest challenge as we move into what I’ve affectionately named ‘phase two’ of our recovery, is living our life without planning around a hypothetical pregnancy. The thing is, whether this month, next month, in a year or in two; the world knows we’re ‘trying’ now (urrrgh, hate that phrase). That means that every night out when I don’t drink, every event we leave early because I’m tired, every baggy top I wear (!) starts the rumour mill. And it reflects on your own feelings too – “What to do for that birthday/Christmas/catch up with friends?” “Maybe we shouldn’t plan the all day drinks – what if we’re pregnant?” “Let’s not book that holiday, I might be pregnant”.

You know what? That’s an impossible way to live. Do what you and your partner want to do. Book your holidays (that’s what insurance is for), plan your nights out (you can always change / move plans) and live for the now. Who knows what’s happening tomorrow.

Fight the good fight

And finally, fight the right fight for you. For us, after ‘only’ two losses, that’s meant giving up battling healthcare professionals, and instead using our energy to take care of ourselves. For others, regardless of their experience, fighting is what helps them survive it all. You have to do what you both feel is right. Don’t be led by doctors who tell you no, or by family who push you to keep battling on. Fall back on your experience, your feelings as a couple, and do what you need to heal and find your smiles again.

In the meantime, here’s a song that’s struck a chord with me in the last couple of months (click on the pic below).

x-ambassadors-lyrics

Heartbeats and hopes

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Heartbeats and hopes

“We’re very sorry but we can’t find a heartbeat”, 9 words that will ironically, stop your own heart for the briefest of moments. I can say this with certainty, because it’s happened to us twice now. In only four short months we’ve lost two babies. And yes, I’m aware that biologically they weren’t babies – one was no more than a cluster of cells, the other was a ‘foetus’ – the ugliest of words to describe something so incredibly beautiful.

But to us they were our children, our first children, and now the children we’ll never get to name, to tease, to watch grow up, to tell off and to lose sleep over. From now onwards, my medical notes will say ‘Two pregnancies, no babies’. They’re the reason we’ll never get excited about a future pregnancy, and the explanation behind the inherent change to our naturally hopeful and happy personalities to cautious, cynical and bitter ones instead.

I’ve ummed and aahed over whether to share this publicly – it’s incredibly personal, and laying our hearts and personal pain out there for all to read is a big decision. But as a couple who has now suffered through the pain of 2 miscarriages and found that the only balm are the testimonies and case studies of others who’ve felt the same, it seemed important to share our story.

Number one

The first time was early – some bleeding at home, a fruitless trip to A&E where I was told to go home and see what happened, an early scan to confirm my body had done its job by itself and got rid of our first baby. We were sad, we woke up in the night and held each other but we bounced back – not everyone knew. We could survive the ignorant and unwitting enquiries about when we’d have a family because we still believed we would.

Number two

The pain of number two is still raw – it was only a week or two ago, but the situation was horrendous. Following our first experience, we paid for an early private scan at 8 weeks. All was good, the heartbeat was strong – we got photos of our little blob and told only some immediate family and very close friends. The consultant assured us that after hearing a heartbeat at 8 weeks, the risk of miscarriage was only 2%. We should try to stop worrying. And we did, we let the hope creep back in. We were still careful but we booked our 12 week scan, I attended my first midwife appointment.

The 12 week scan rolled around. Nervous and desperate for the reassurance we both needed, we walked into the room to meet our sonographer. After muttering under his breath that “It’s too small” “Hang on, no, very small”, I knew something was wrong. “I’m very sorry, there’s no heartbeat” he said with very little sympathy or emotion. The screen showed measurements at 8 weeks 3 days – only 3 days after our first scan. Neither of us spoke, made a noise, cried. We just stared and nodded. So inherently British, I’m even pretty sure I said thank you. He called a colleague to confirm, took us to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and a kind nurse took us to the quiet room to discuss our options.

Unwanted options

None of the options was ‘preferable’ – I’m not a clinician so I won’t go into details, but they’re essentially surgery, tablets (at hospital or home), or let nature take her course. Due to fly on a much needed holiday the next day, and given that in four weeks my body had failed to do its job so far, we ruled out the natural option. Our fragile hearts and minds just couldn’t sit around, go to work, smile and get on with life knowing we were waiting for the pain and an end to it all. I’ve never had surgery, never had an anaesthetic so we ruled that out too. Tablets it was, and taking the course in hospital throughout a day seemed the most efficient and safe way to do it. We rang our friends, postponed our holiday and told them to go on without us. We rebooked flights for a couple of days later hoping all went to plan.

I’m not sharing everything here, but it was a day (and overnight stay) filled with pain, tears and blood. A day I’m certain I couldn’t have survived without my husband to hold my hands as contractions took over, to wipe my tears, kiss my forehead and tell me I was amazing, and he was so proud of me. And my mum, who spent the entire day rubbing my back, hugging me and telling me it was OK to be angry, to sob, and insisting I ask for pain relief when I was trying to be brave. Both were struggling to watch me in so much physical and emotional pain and obviously, my husband was experiencing the same loss I was; but between them they provided the strength and love I needed.

Looking forward

This isn’t an advice post – if you’re going through this right now, I am so so sorry for you. Every experience will be different so I’m no expert – just don’t do it alone, accept help and hugs and don’t try to be brave. You need to grieve and feel everything  to move on when you’re ready.

For us, we’re stronger than ever. Our silver lining is that this didn’t tear us apart, it made us more sure of our love and partnership. The nights when I’ve woken him up sobbing he hasn’t shushed me and made me go back to sleep. He’s hugged me, turned the lamp on and put Family Guy on the TV because he knows I need distraction, and that sleep isn’t coming.

We haven’t lost all hope – two miscarriages are sadly quite common and the NHS don’t investigate why until a couple has 3 miscarriages. We’re hoping we don’t reach that number, but for now, ours is not to reason why. We need to heal. We still hope to add an extra number to our little family but if we don’t, we know we’ll survive.

When we’re ready we’ll try again but I need those we love to understand that it won’t be congratulations and excitement – we don’t need advice to stay positive because frankly, it ain’t gonna happen. We are going to need to stay cautious and cynical. It’s the only way we’ll survive this again. Please accept that and leave us be until we can let ourselves believe it’s really going to happen.

Without wanting to sound like a really miserable awards ceremony, thank you to everyone who sent messages, personal stories to give us hope, and flowers, chocolates, prayers and love. To our friends we (eventually) joined on holiday, thank you for reminding us it’s OK to smile – we didn’t need to sit at home wearing black and wondering where we went wrong. Your love, easy company and laughter has been a huge part of our initial recovery and we’re massively grateful for all of you.

There are no words to thank my mum – thank you isn’t big enough. I love you – it was an awful experience but I’m incredibly glad I had you by my side.

To my husband, I’m sorry we haven’t got our happy ending. I’m sorry our short marriage so far has been so incredibly difficult. Thank you for being so brave and strong, for suffering with me and talking and listening. Thank you for opening up, for taking care of me, and letting me take care of you. We’ll get there, and if we don’t, we will always have each other.

A year in review

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A year in review

Last year’s post at this time wasn’t particularly positive – and with good reason. So instead, this year, in no particular order, I’m sharing my favourite moments:

The birth of the babies

It’s been a year of arrivals for people I love dearly. So here’s to Riley, Sofia, Joshua, Elizabeth and Beatrix (and a special shout out to Chipette, who’s on her way and due to meet us all in February).

Babies

My very own (four legged) arrival

For my birthday in October, my lovely hubby surprised me with a house rabbit. Aside from my engagement ring for Christmas a few years ago, Archer is my favourite present ever. The little furball has become a fixture in our household, even featuring in some selfies.

Archer

An American adventure

In November/December we travelled across the pond to spend some quality time with our lovely, lovely American friends. Cue an epic road trip, in-truck munchies, numerous photos, lots of laughs and a sad parting at Baltimore airport when we said goodbye. Followed shortly by incredible memory-making and sightseeing with my lovely husband.

Niagara

If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere!

That’s right ladies and gents, I’ve been greedy on the holiday front this year. Back in May we went for an extra long weekend to the Big Apple with my best friend (and sister in law) and her hubby. We walked and shopped til we dropped (literally in Gemma’s case), we saw, we drank, we ate and we celebrated. It was awesome.

New York

Another Castle

In August my brother married his gorgeously stylish girlfriend Jenny. The event itself was fabulously swanky; and the hen, stag and bridal shower that surrounded it, oodles of fun! Congrats guys!

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An epic year

And the Robinsons celebrated a whole 365 days since our very own beautiful day in 2014. Despite family drama, a house move and new jobs, we survived! We celebrated by eating and drinking our way around Jersey (and seeing even more fab friends!)

A new job

After some very happy years in my previous role, it was time for me to move on. I secured a new job, in a new sector, and I was terrified! But seven months in I feel happy, settled and excited about what my team will achieve this year. Go us!

new job

Etc etc

It’s been a year of making memories for us. We were determined to have fun and to celebrate being young newlyweds with a wide circle of beautiful, caring, fun and hilarious friends and family. And we’ve fulfilled our promise to ourselves. From drunken selfies with Naomi, to rugby watching with Angelo. From submitting Disney-themed piano bar requests with Cat and Clare, to celebrating both my sister’s and my brother’s 18th birthdays. And from finding my dad a permanent and appropriate  place to live, to celebrating Christmas with him eating and joining in at my table. It’s been a year of highs – they may not write a book about me, but this chapter will always make me smile.

Happy

 

Here’s to you, Mr Robinson

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Here’s to you, Mr Robinson

Today we celebrate our first wedding anniversary. One year ago at this time I was sipping on champagne, wearing a onesie with ‘Bride’ written on the back and chatting to some of my favourite women in the world. I couldn’t wait to become Mrs Robinson. And I was right to be excited.

Hilary-&-Andrew---25th-August-2014---564

We had an incredible day. As cliched as I know it is, it was genuinely the best day of my life. And I can say that with some authority, as there have been a large number of days since which have been utter shit. If you’ve ever read my blog, you’ll know that it’s been an amazingly hard year for my family. However, that’s not what I’m going to tell you about. This post is in celebration of my Mr Robinson. It’s an anniversary gift of sorts, which I hope says everything I don’t say enough, and offers a little insight into what I think makes a good husband. (And before I start this list, it goes without saying that I fancy the pants off him – no need to go into detail, my younger siblings and mother are probably cringing already).

1. He just knows

There have been times when I’ve been so battle weary, so tired and emotionally drained that there are no tears left. I’m not angry, I’m not sad, I’m just exhausted – right down to my bones. He knows at those times that I simply can’t hold a conversation. I can’t make a decision, or answer a question. At those times, without any prompt or request, he just squeezes me in a huge bear hug. It’s become one of my favouritest things about him (and yep, I said favouritest).

2. People love him

It sounds really patronising, and I’ve wracked my brain to make it sound less so, but to no avail – whenever he meets my friends or colleagues or family for the first time I just feel so bliming proud. He asks about their lives, he has funny anecdotes to share, he’s sincere and caring and generous. I’m so proud to be his wife. Even now, nine years into our relationship and a year into our marriage, I look over my shoulder and expect to catch my metaphorical fairy godmother telling me I’ve outstayed my wish.

andrew and hilary at cake boss

3. He’s a wally chops

The very fact that I just used the phrase wally chops tells you that I can be a bit of a silly sausage. In my husband, I’ve found an equally quirky character. He laughed when we were packing to move and I wrapped myself up in bubble wrap and shouted “Babe, I’m ready!”. When I sing the entirely wrong words to a song (Labrinth’s “Throw ones on it” line in Earthquake, anyone?) he just smiles and sings the same words next time. When I decide it’s necessary to skip down the road, he grabs my hand and joins in. He doesn’t bat an eyelid when I pull my pyjama bottoms up under my boobs, pull a gurning face and dance across the living room. In fact, if I’m lucky, he yanks his shorts up to his chest and joins in.

4. He’s kind

It’s a really simple point. Any man who doesn’t just understand why you need to send your sick/heartbroken/depressed friend some flowers, but also transfers you money so you don’t skint yourself sending them; is worth hanging onto. He sends me pictures of cats and dogs that need adopting because they’ve been abandoned or abused. He remembers to ask me how my siblings/friends/family are when they’re going through some crap. In short, he has the biggest heart – it’s one of the best things about him.

andrew sticking tongue out5. He makes me laugh

I appreciate that a lot of people are funny. I mean, I crack up at James Corden and Allan Carr on the TV. But when I’m having a really bad day, even they don’t make me smile. My husband on the other hand, can make me smile even when I’m crying my heart out. He knows just how to drag a smile out when I’m adamant I don’t have any left. Frankly, he’s hilarious.

6. He thinks I’m beautiful

God help him, even at my absolute worst he thinks I’m pretty. When I know for a fact I’ve put on half a stone. When I have a spot on my chin that would need its own passport on a foreign trip. When I’m sweaty and have random hairsprayed curls stuck to my drunken, sweaty head. Even at those times I’ll catch him looking at me and it gives me butterflies. He looks like he’s won the lottery. Christ knows why, but he sees something in me that I rarely believe about myself.

So here’s to you, Mr Robinson. Happy anniversary! Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Thanks for managing me at my most high maintenance, and loving me when I didn’t even love myself. Thanks for pushing me to be the best I can, and encouraging me to follow my dreams. Thanks for giving me so many laughs, for building beautiful memories, and for just being you. Let’s keep doing what we’re doing – here’s to many more anniversaries!hilary and andrew in K box