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Before the daffodils bloom

Posted on 29 Jan 2018 in Inspiration

A tale of life and weathering

For years I watched the life cycles of daffodils- I had planted them in my pots at the beginning of 2012 and watched them break through the soil , bloom and then die, falling back to the earth to begin the cycle again in the next season. With every little nudge of progress they made I had prayed that by the time the flowers re appeared there would be some drastic shift in my life and all that had once been lost would come back.

This blog is a strange one. Not painting related as such but a need to seek closure in my own head and complete my own cycle.

I’ve written before in the blog “ Thank you for the button nose” about our beautiful daughter that was born and died when I was 22 weeks pregnant, this was certainly the lowest point of a long 7 year journey but the life lessons in between had equally as much impact in the long run.

 

 I’ve been with my husband for 8 years - we had previously dated many years before but as men do at the time he thought ‘ I may be a little bit young’-in retaliation obviously I told all my friends what a dick he was anyway whilst spending the next 4 years chasing my own thoughts as to where he was...who he was with and would I hopefully bang into him when I was out that weekend...this obsession was helped slightly by the fact that I worked with his sister so I had some intel.

Lucky for me it turned out that the whole time I had been daydreaming of him, he’d been thinking about me too ( according to his sister ) so years later we finally crossed paths when we were both single and that was it, instantly we knew what we had missed all along...each other.

We fell pregnant so easily, the first month of trying in fact and it was a whirlwind of morning sickness, weight gain and planning for the future.

In my naivety the 20 week scan was a chance to see what we were going to be welcoming- like any new parents we presumed or maybe didn’t even consider that there would be something wrong. What could go wrong? Well as it turns out a lot. The silence of the sonographer and even the atmosphere In the room was deafening- whilst I was watching this little human wriggle around on the black and white screen I knew they’d spotted something.

We were told that Tallulah ( strangely as I’m writing this the song we played at her funeral has just come on my itunes ) anyway …..she had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia . In English her diaphragm hadn’t closed over as it should and consequentially her organs that should be below it had migrated there way through a tiny hole and were growing in her chest cavity – all the precious things like her heart , her lungs and her wind pipe were squashed .

Following many appointments and deliberations with the consultants we were told her chance of survival at full term was low. Now what would we do ? Maybe they could fix her, maybe she would have life long issues or simply she could die anyway . As her mum, the parent that had felt all those kicks and movements I couldn’t bare the thought of just giving up on her but eventually my heart and my husbands came to the conclusion that maybe the best thing for her, to stop any suffering would be to let her go.

Writing this down for anyone to read is hard. Even nearly 6 years later it’s all so familiar .

I understand that some people may not agree with this or that you may even feel like we didn’t give her the chance. I can tell you that the thought of having to watch her die or watch her in pain and even the thought of not being able to protect her destroyed me.

I was induced and gave birth naturally. Having writhed around in pain all night long I was just putting off the inevitable and the moment I knew she was ready to come out I remember looking at my husband who was knelt beside me and we just looked at each other realising that from this moment I could no longer protect her … I could never have been prepared to let her go.  

 She was beautiful . 27 cm long, weighed in at just over a pound and the most perfectly formed little face and body I have ever seen – oh and that button nose was magic.

Following her post mortem , we were told everything was actually much worse than they had initially thought . She wouldn’t have survived, her organs were just too damaged. Realising that we had made the right decision was a relief but naturally I think somewhere deep down we had known all along that this life changing creature was going to impact our lives in ways unimaginable.

The weeks that followed were the darkest of my life. I was pressured to return to work and all I really wanted to do was to go to sleep and never wake up. Every waking minute I thought of her, I couldn’t sleep for months and suffered anxiety until eventually I found solice in a councillor.In hindsight I needed time to recover, to heal my heart more than anything but I wanted to be pregnant again so desperately, to feel the kicks and the life inside my now very empty stomach.

We did get pregnant again , but I miscarried early. We decided to get married and I was glad for the distraction of planning something, having a new hope for the future. I fell pregnant again before the wedding and we were due to have a 12 week scan on the week after we got married. In my total and utter disbelief I began to bleed on the morning of our wedding whilst I was getting ready. I couldn’t quite understand that surely on this day our future was in the balance again. I was scanned 2 days later (the morning of our honeymoon) to be told that I had experienced a molar pregnancy.

Leaflets and leaflets later we understood that yes I was pregnant but rather than the egg developing a baby, due to some defective element I was in fact covered in cysts near the egg and that they would all have to be removed via surgery. There never was a baby being created just a whole load of shit that basically tricked my body and altered my hormones to mimic a pregnancy. Due to the nature of the cysts we were told I categorically couldn’t get pregnant until my hormones returned to normal and this would take 6 months and be monitored by weekly blood tests.

 

   My once very complacent attitude to the ease of getting pregnant and being healthy was shattered, I was broken. I finally understood that the world can be cruel, that we were in for a long road ahead and that there was nothing I could do to change that.

Fast forward 2 years and it turns out I was really not very fertile at all .

I had really irregular periods and I knew something wasn’t right. Months of tracking and trying had resulted in nothing. I was depressed, hopeless and quite frankly ready yet again to sink to the bottom of the ocean.

I have some amazing friends and an incredibly supportive family that were incredible but the ache that over ran my body day in and day out was unbearable.

I have spoken to so many people about the struggles of getting pregnant. It’s a minefield – it can be a dark and incredibly lonely place. I hated seeing pregnant people, I died a little inside when my friends were expecting and more than anything I loathed myself. I loathed my broken body, my shattered heart and I missed her . I missed the physical need to direct all this love that had been left behind when Tallulah died to something tangible.

Having literally begged my doctor to test me for issues I finally got a referral for fertility treatment at the end of 2013. The clinic were amazing.

It hurt to walk past all the pregnant couples waiting for scans to the adjacent corridor but I finally had hope that maybe this broken body of mine could be fixed. The other thing is that I knew that some of those couples were in for a journey that they were not expecting – some people leave knowing the sex of the baby like they had planned and some like us would be having their hearts broken. I felt sad for those people even if they didn’t know it themselves yet.

I had another miscarriage just as we went for fertility treatment ( There is some irony there given that I never ovulated and had just been referred ).

It took 6 months and I was ready to jack it all in by the 5th month.

Nobody prepares you for the wait and the invasion of your body- like a necessary evil.

It was never a pain factor but following the previous couple of years I was truly sick of having internal scans and bloods. You think fertility treatment can be a quick fix,but not always .

In the grand scheme of things you are actually in the perfect place without realising, you’re in experienced hands and maybe if you can just keep going month by month, if you can keep hold of that hope then everything will be worth it.

 

Valentino was born in October 2014 and following another 3 month round of treatment Sullivan was born in November 2017 …. So we have a 3 year old and a 3 month old.

 

The point of all this …..hmmmm. I finally feel at ease with my world.

I have seen life for its hardship and all its’ glory. When I planted the daffodil bulbs years ago I used to watch them bloom wishing that as they grew and eventually flower that I would be a mum by that point in time. I watched them bloom and go back to the earth numerous times and then the cycle would start again. The future still existed I just didn’t know what was around the corner.

When I was having treatment there was a poster on the wall that read, “ The only thing more painful than having children is not being able to have children.” I have never forgotten that. I have been complacent and naive. I have been a bereaved mother and a childless one.

And even throughout all the of the above I painted. I had to. I think as humans we have to have a focus, we can’t be left to our own heads day in and out, there must be some distraction.

On the dark days there had to be a reason to keep persevering through life. It wasn’t all awful, obviously I laughed, smiled and had great periods of time when I could box and temporarily throw away all my sadness before our children entered our lives – even if they do there’s always the ‘ what if” elements. I think hope is so important. And faith in yourself.

I really had no idea that I would tolerate so much. There are always people that suffer more than you, none of that is ok but ultimately life could be worse – we are lucky after all. I know my story likely isn’t uncommon. I have a friends that almost gave there lives for their children that I worship the strength they have shown and friends that have lost their children like me and they keep going.

 

When I see daffodils now it just reminds me of these life lessons – don’t lose hope.

I will never look at a woman again and think they have it easy – who knows they may have planted there own daffodils.