As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018 I have been so lucky to have some really inspirational families willing to share their stories of loss and parenting, having been blessed to go on to have their rainbow babies.

This next story I am blessed to share is from Lydia, here is her story…

My name is Lydia, I’m a wife and a Mum to three. Life was pretty amazing. My husband and I just love spending time with each other and we worked hard and played hard. We finally decided to get married and try for a family….that’s when we stepped on the rollercoaster that is IVF.

If you’ve ever been through it you’ll know it is incredibly demanding both physically and mentally…..oh and chances of success are slim and everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant….nightmare.  It turned out however that IVF would be unbelievably successful for us, we only ever had one failed embryo transfer.  We did however have three miscarriages and Anya who was stillborn.  It would seem that she would change our lives forever. She made us examine ourselves, our lives and our friendships. We were determined to grow our tribe.  We carried on with the rollercoaster of IVF and trying for a family for seven years, until we finally completed our tribe.

After a previous loss we had made it to the finish. I was 37 weeks pregnant, classed as full term. I’d just finished work and was taking a week of holiday before my maternity leave started.  A few days into the holiday she decided it was time to make an appearance. I’d never been in labour before, was I really in labour? As time passed it would seem that I very definitely was. I remember it being early evening, I was keen to stay at home as long as possible, I wanted as natural a birth as possible.  By 10pm I decided to call delivery suite, I don’t remember much of the phone call but I do vividly remember being asked if baby was moving, she was.  At midnight I called again, my contractions were close, we could go in.

We arrived on the delivery suite and were ushered to a room, the midwife introduced herself and came to listen in to baby’s heartbeat, she tried another machine, no heartbeat on either.  She went to get a Sister, sadly it was her job to tell me that the baby had died but that I needed to wait for a doctor and the on call consultant to come from home.  I remember feeling numb, I just curled up on the bed still having contractions, this baby was coming regardless.  How could this happen? I’d done everything ‘’right’’.  More heartbeat checks, it felt like just about everyone had listened to my very quiet bump.  I decided that it didn’t matter now I’d have an epidural.  It wasn’t to be, our beautiful daughter Anya made an appearance by 3am there wasn’t even time.

She was just beautiful, we’d waited so long and been through so much to get her.  She weighed in at 7lbs.  She was placed in a cold cot.  We spent the next twelve hours with her, calling close family. How do you even call your family to tell them you’ve had a baby girl but….she’s dead?  Leaving Anya that day knowing we wouldn’t see her again was the hardest moment of my life.

Pregnancy after that is horrendous…going through IVF again, more losses.  Finally, a pregnancy that will make it.  But I couldn’t enjoy it.  I was petrified, petrified it might happen again (yes, it sometimes does!!).  I spent my pregnancy anxious and scared. Extra appointments helped but really I just tried to make it one day to the next.  Surprisingly my last pregnancy would be the one to push me to my limits. Our children both arrived four weeks early to try and help prevent  a reoccurrence and to try and keep my mental health intact.

My second child was…to my relief, a boy.  It was definitely easier.  I was relieved and so grateful that Lucas made it safely, even if it was with a period of time in neonatal.  It was a blessing in disguise. It allowed us time to adjust without lots of visitors. This was so important for us, we were overwhelmed. He was here, he was ours and he was alive. Our focus had shifted.  How did we now make sure that both our children figured in everyone’s lives? This question is still a work in progress.

People try incredibly hard to empathise but actually they don’t really know how you feel.  They don’t know that you spend your days trying to make sure people don’t forget your first born. The greatest lesson I ever learnt was sadly to lower my expectations of others.

Our third and final child was to be a girl, Zaria.  This was tricky. Memories of our first daughter Anya came flooding back.  I struggled. I love my children with everything but she pushed my boundaries. About four months after she was born I was diagnosed with postnatal anxiety.  I think this will be around for some time yet. I just try and focus on the important stuff….family first.

It’s the birthday parties, the first day at school, the first steps, the list is endless and will probably go on forever. These are the days other people remind you of what you’re missing out on.

The day a friend or relative out of the blue mentions her is a day your heart smiles just a little bit more.  The day my other children talk about her my heart just beams.

To them it’s normal. They have a sister, she’s called Anya, she isn’t here. We go to visit her grave.  They make things to put on her grave. We talk about Anya lots.  She isn’t the elephant in the room in our home she’s a huge part of our lives. I remember in the very beginning asking the question ‘’how do I take her with me?’’ it seemed like such an enormous task at the time.  The answer was simple really.

She lives with us in our lives.

Life is still pretty amazing, we have better friends and we changed our work-life balance to spend more time with our children. We feel truly blessed.

If you have connected with this story and you would like some support yourself, you can follow me, Helen Grimshaw, on social media by clicking the links below
If you are planning your rainbow pregnancy, are already pregnant or have your baby here safe, you are welcome to join my closed Facebook group, by clicking the image below. A warm welcome awaits.