Joining the 1 in 4 – my miscarriage story

On 19th February, I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test. It was the happiest day of my life. My boyfriend and I got a pizza takeaway to celebrate, I started looking at baby clothes. At only three weeks and five days, we started taking bump photos. We told our family, who were utterly overjoyed. I’d never been happier. A few weeks later, Dom proposed. All my dreams were coming true and I felt endlessly lucky.

Best day of my life

The weeks progressed and I just bloody loved being pregnant. I stopped running because I have a tenancy to trip over and wanted to be on the safe side. I felt so smug about that – who wants to run anyway? We picked names, we chose our nursery furniture, my nan bought so many clothes. I’d planned my maternity leave, I’d planned a life. I remember walking into Sainsbury’s clutching my bloated tummy – the baby was the size of a blueberry but to me it was my world and I wanted everyone to know I was pregnant.

I haven’t been able to look at these photos since losing our baby, it hurts but I am so glad I have them
Pure joy

On 10th March, I started bleeding. We went to A&E, who did a pregnancy test to confirm I was still pregnant, and they booked me in for a scan at the early pregnancy unit for the next day. In the night, the bleeding got worse and by morning we felt certain it was over. We went for the scan and I had to go alone due to the hospital’s Covid rules. Partners are only allowed in for 12 and 20 week scans, not early ones. This meant I walked alone through a corridor of couples clutching bulging bellies, basking in their pregnancy glows, internally begging my baby to still be there. And it was. Though small, I saw the yolk sac. No heartbeat or embryo, but they said that was normal at 6 weeks. I was overjoyed. They booked me in for another scan in 11 days and sent me home, saying that the bleeding was nothing to worry about.

The bleeding continued and I eventually got antibiotics for a UTI. This didn’t stop the bleeding, and I was passing tissue and clots. At one point, there was a large piece of tissue which I now believe was my baby. I don’t remember what day this happened. Mum reassured me this was just the UTI. I still felt pregnant. I took selfies in the mirror clutching my tummy, and we continued talking about our plans for the baby’s nursery. I then switched antibiotics and the bleeding stopped immediately. I was so relieved – it must have just been incorrect antibiotics. It would be okay.

Clutching to hope

On 22nd March, I was eight weeks pregnant. Going to our next scan, we were so hopeful. I fake tanned my face and put nice makeup on – I wanted to look nice to see my baby, whose heartbeat would now be visible, along with all its limbs and little head. We planned to go to Sainsbury’s to buy a little yellow raincoat I’d said I’d buy when we knew it was all okay. Again, I had to go alone.

The situation felt off very quickly. Before the scan, the sonographer asked how the bleeding was going, and I proudly said it had stopped, all was good. I remember feeling like her reaction wasn’t as jubilant as I felt it should be. It was an internal scan due to the stage of the pregnancy and I knew from the moment they started that it was over. I stared at their blank faces as I waited desperately for the classic “And here’s your baby”, but it didn’t come. Instead, the first words she said were “Exactly how much bleeding was there, Molly?” It was over. I was handed a black and white leaflet entitled “Your Miscarriage”, patted on the shoulder and sent on my way, with the instructions to keep taking folic acid and try again.

In a lot of ways, I feel lucky that I didn’t know it was happening when it was. I am grateful for my own gullibility. Since it happened, I have spoken to so many women who have been through far worse. Many have to have operations or medical management. I can’t imagine that pain.

At this point I want to explain that up until now, I had been treated by Watford Hospital. My midwife was at Luton Hospital (though I was yet to meet her), but as Watford was closer, we went there for A&E and then the scans took place there. So the day after I was told I lost the baby, I had to ring Luton Hospital to ask them to cancel my further appointments because I was no longer pregnant. Watford Hospital was unable to ring them to tell them for me. That was an incredibly hard thing to do, but I did it. They thanked me for letting them know and that was that.

Five weeks later, I received a letter inviting me for my 12-week scan. Thankfully, my fiancé was with me when I opened it and was there to scoop me up off of the floor. How I would have loved to have gone to that scan. How I’d have loved to see our little Bean squirming around on the screen. But I couldn’t because our baby had died. Talk about kicking me when I’m down? I immediately submitted a complaint to Luton Hospital, and the PALs (patient advice and liaison) team there assured me that it had been forwarded to the general manager and head of midwifery. Two weeks on and I’ve heard nothing.

I moved on and for the last two weeks I’ve been doing amazing. My fiancé and I got matching Bean tattoos which really helped us both mentally, and we’ve been working on trying again – which is another story entirely! God knows you’re taught how not to have a baby at school, but very little about how to actually do it! I can’t use TikTok or my Instagram explore feature anymore, because the algorithms have filled it with baby and pregnancy content, but I’m not missing that anymore. I have a choice about what content I consume – what I don’t have a choice about is when the NHS send me letters or ring me about the pregnancy I no longer have.

It is therefore with a feeling of complete incredulity that I am sat here writing this, after receiving a phone call from Luton Hospital asking me why I didn’t attend my scan yesterday? Her words rang in my ears and I asked her if she was joking. “I lost my baby, I have told you twice now that my baby died, why are you asking why I did not attend my scan yesterday?”

At this stage, computer error is not an excuse. The pandemic is not an excuse. Being understaffed is not an excuse. I lost my baby, but they can’t cancel my appointments?

So I’m now left, fully aware I should be 14-weeks pregnant, waiting to see if I get a letter inviting me for my 20-week scan. Since this happened, I’ve spoken to so many women that this has happened to. Some even told me that they are afraid to open their post in case it’s another letter inviting them for a scan. Why, with everything else on our plates, should we be nervous to open our own post?! We are grieving for our children and the NHS is systematically failing all of us.

I can safely say that since I lost my baby, all the NHS has done for me is make my situation worse. They’ve made me cry more tears and lose more hope. But I know I am not alone. The online miscarriage community is a force of nature and I’ve connected with the most incredible and inspiring women. As odd as it seems, I am proud to have become a member of their gang (The Worst Girl Gang Ever), and won’t stop shouting about it until things change.

I wear my badge so proudly.

Canary bliss

My boyfriend and I have been on a few trips in the short time we’ve been together, but never out of the country, so going to Lanzarote was so exciting. I don’t like flying but was looking forward to Dom being able to reassure me of what the plane was doing, as he’s an aerospace engineer. This was all well and good, until he got a little carried away with lessons on thrust and drag, which went straight over my head. Sorry Dom!

On the airport transfer, we sat nervously as the bus pulled up outside each hotel, sometimes hoping it was ours, other times praying it wasn’t. We’d gone cheap, and knew it was over a miles walk from the coast, but it was a four star and had good reviews. Finally, we pulled up outside a gargantuan, sandy walled hotel, one whole side of which was glass. Our mouths dropped as we pulled round the corner to see ‘HOTEL BEATRIZ’ in large letters above the glass entrance – our hotel.

‘Play it cool’, we told ourselves, trying to act as if we belonged in the marble-floored reception with high ceilings and plush sofas.

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Getting to our room, we discovered the reception area was almost a ruse to make you initially fall in love with the hotel. Faded pink, textured wallpaper clashed with the deep green carpet, and we were devastated to find no kettle! (As it turned out, I didn’t have a single cup of tea for our entire weeks stay – don’t worry, I’m getting checked out by a doctor!!) Nevertheless, we had a lovely large balcony on the top floor of the hotel, with a view to both the pool and sea.

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It was one o’clock by this time, and we realised we hadn’t eaten since 5am. So we headed down to the town of Costa Teguise for food and to kick off a weeks worth of drunkenness. Our first meal was something I have always wanted to try, squid ink seafood paella. The ink made the dish entirely black and although this meant it didn’t look appetising, it tasted delicious!

Before heading out, I had donned my brand new, Birkenstock inspired, sandals. This was a huge mistake. By the end of the day, I had at least eight blisters on my feet, each more painful than the last. This meant I spent the ENTIRE holiday limping, reapplying blister pads and generally wishing I could be pushed in a wheelchair!

Costa Teguise is on the windy side of the island which, although we still tanned, made it incredibly irritating to lie by the pool for the first few days. Instead, we discovered balcony-bathing! As we were on the top floor, the sun came straight into the balcony, and the thick walls blocked out any wind.

Balcony-bathing came with another pro – topless sunbathing! After caking my boobs in factor 50, it was the most liberating thing! Couldn’t have done that in the fancy hotel on the coast with glass balconies I’d been eying up, ha!

Another way to escape the wind was to explore more of the country, which took us to La Graciosa, an island off the coast of Lanzarote containing only 800 inhabitants and no real roads!

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The island was a paradise. The travel company only did trips there on Mondays, which I like to think is so that the island doesn’t become too touristy, but I don’t know for sure. There were a few cafes at the dock, a tiny police station and medical centre, and that was pretty much it, save for petite white houses and bungalows with flat roofs either side of sand roads. It was the most beautiful, untouched island.

We walked (I limped!) forty minutes along the coast until we found our perfect spot, all of this done with only passing a couple of people. The island is volcanic like Lanzarote, so most of the coastline was rock pools, but we finally found some sand. It was bliss. Crystal clear water looking out onto the rolling cliffs of Lanzarote. Perhaps it was this beauty that made us slip up on sun-cream, which led to Dom burning his arm pits – yes, I know, his arm pits.

Driving on the other side of the road is something I’ve never done before, but as Dom hadn’t been driving long enough, now was my chance. We hired a Skoda Citigo which I named Stacey. She was beautiful, but by far the least powerful car I have ever driven. Driving up a mountain, cliff edge to the right, I got down into second gear to climb the hill and, where my little Citroen would diligently power up the hill, Stacey the Skoda ground to a stalling holt. Very embarrassing and scary, with frustrated Spanish drivers behind and a sheer drop to the right.

Our last day took is to the Timanfaya National Park to go up the volcano. We were taken around on coaches and bloody hell it was terrifying. The coaches wound tightly round the corkscrew roads up the volcanos – roads that I would have been scared to drive a car up! I was horrified when I looked backwards to see a double-decker bus behind us, weaving along the exact same dicey road. I don’t know anything about driving a bus, but I know that driver took a double-decker where no double-decker should ever go!IMG_4071

Lanzarote was beautiful. Full of sangria, carbs and sun. A week of relaxation and exploration, which was forgotten incredibly quickly when we got back to where we parked the car at the airport at 12:30am to find my trusty Citroen would not budge. We didn’t get home until 3:30am, and I was in work the next morning. What goes up must come down, I guess.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Birmingham International Half Marathon: 8 weeks to go

8 weeks to go. 56 days. 14 training sessions. Eeek.
This weeks training:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 40 minute run – 3.42 miles
Wednesday: 30 minute run – 2.65 miles
Thursday: rest
Friday: 35 minute run – 3.32 miles
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 5.5 mile run
I had a break-through in training this week. It was the first time I actually began to feel like maybe I can get through this half marathon without walking. Overall, I’m feeling more motivated than ever to train properly and complete the half marathon.
Training stepped up to 5.5 miles this week. It was the furthest I have ran for three years, when I did my 10k. I ran it in 59 minutes, averaging 10:44 minute miles, which I am very happy with.

In the last few weeks I have started changing my diet to fuel myself properly on training days. Using all the knowledge GCSE PE equipped me with, I make sure to eat carbs before training and protein after. The carbs I eat are always complex, like sweet potatoes and brown rice (sorry for the lack of technical terms, my GCSE’s were 4 years ago!). I fill every meal with green veggies and drink as much water as I can. I’ve definitely noticed the difference since eating properly. I feel I can train for longer and the training I do is more worthwhile. 
One thing I am struggling with is running around the area of Birmingham I live in. Each run means getting beeped at by lads in cars on average 3 times in 30 minutes, plus the added extra of getting invited back to some charming men’s houses – what for, I can’t imagine! I’ve started sticking my fingers up at beeping cars, and telling men that shout where to go (I doubt they can hear me through my panting). Due to where I live, my weekday runs are confined to town roadsides, which is not the most enjoyable. But it gets the job done.
On a Sunday, I try and mix things up. I’m usually at home in my village in Leicester on a Sunday, so running in the countryside is lovely. Pervy men are replaced with cyclists who encourage you on with a thumbs up, or neighbours who tell you to keep going. It also means I can run on varying terrain, which is important as I have had problems with my knee in the past.
This week’s 5.5 mile run was just lovely, and shockingly I am not being sarcastic. The weather was not too hot or too cold, and I felt so strong the whole way. Half way through, untrimmed footpaths meant I had to hurdle stinging nettles whilst running uphill, which was less than ideal. Only in the last 10 minutes did I start to feel blisters emerging. I was still mouthing the words to ‘Footloose’ in the last mile, which I’m sure is a good sign. 

Next week’s long run is 7 miles, and I’m in London for it. I’ve found a 7-mile route around the city centre, called the Grand Tour, so I’m actually excited for it. If I finish it, I’m going to treat myself to a new Fitbit – watch this space.

—– I’m running the Birmingham International Half Marathon in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It would be amazing if you could sponsor me, which you can do by clicking here xxxxx —–

Birmingham International Half Marathon in T-14 weeks

On 17th July I signed up for the Birmingham International Half Marathon, taking place on 15th October. I planned to blog after each week of training, but only now, in week 4, have I had time to post one. 

So this is it, I am signed up for my first ever half marathon! It has not sunk in yet that in 14 weeks, on October 15th, I will be running 13.1 miles… The furthest I have ever run is 10k (6.2 miles), but that was about three years ago.
In true ‘all the gear but no idea’ style, last weekend I headed straight to Sports Direct and bought a brand new pair of running trainers – pink, of course.
I am going to be following a 12-week training plan I downloaded from BUPA. I will be training at least twice in the week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) plus a longer run on a Sunday. I can currently run 3 miles, so that will be my baseline. As I have 14 weeks to go, I am using the next two weeks to make sure I am at the right fitness level to start the plan, and get myself used to exercising more frequently, especially as I have been doing less cardio recently in favour of weights. For the last year, my treadmill cardio has been interval training: 45 second sprint, 30 second pause/jog.
Today was my first day of training, but due to health issues I wasn’t able to start with the 30 minute run at a regular speed I had planned. For the last two weeks, I have been suffering with light-headedness and general weakness to an extent that I have been nervous to drive. I’m also suffering aches and pains in my back as well as my right knee, from an injury I sustained last year in New Zealand. Today, I went to the doctors and had a blood test for anemia, thyroid problems, and a few other potential causes. I am so desperate to find the problem as the sooner I know what it is the sooner I can fix it and start training properly!
Week 14 Training, Tuesday:
·      Exercise:
o   20 minute speed walk (6.3 on treadmill) on varying inclines up to 4.5%
o   10 minute run (7.5 on treadmill)
·      Distance: 2 miles
·      Time: 30 minutes
·      Calories: 190
I felt surprised with how well I coped with today’s training, after I had blood taken this morning and felt particularly ill at work today. I needed to be very careful as over-exertion can make you feel light-headed even if you aren’t ill, so today’s training was very light. It felt so great to get out of the office and put my running shoes on, even if I was on the treadmill. For the 20 minute speed walk I used a programme on the treadmill where I was ‘running’ around the Grand Canyon. I’m not going to lie, the pixelated treadmill screen did little to transport me from the poorly air conditioned, sweaty gym with hot pink walls, but it was a nice idea. The inclines varied depending on what part of the Grand Canyon I was ‘running’ on.
The 10 minute run was just enough before I began to feel faint. I did notice the benefit of my new trainers. They are my first pair of road-running trainers and are incredibly lightweight and well padded.

Despite this illness forcing me to take it slow this week, I am feeling very positive. Exercise works wonders for my mental health, so training for this race is going to benefit me both mentally and physically. I am excited to see and record the changes in my body and mind over the next 14 weeks. As for sponsorships, I as yet only have £1 I donated myself to check my text donations work!

Tenerife: Beach Balls and Beer Bellies.

2012

Five years ago, when I last visited Tenerife, I was about to turn sixteen. My fourteen year old brother and I got drunk for the first time in our lives on all-inclusive alcohol, which we got hold of using an adults wristband. He threw up black, slimey sick on our hotel room floor. I fell in love with each and every boy my age that I saw.

This trip was a little different. Firstly, my now eighteen year old brother didn’t come, and it was just my eight year old brother and I, along with mum and dad. This time, getting off the plane in Tenerife felt a little like getting off a plane in Skegness, only Skegness in a major heatwave. Crimson beer bellies and bottle openers shaped like willies. Signs for McDonalds 10 metres away, alcohol served with breakfast, photos of what your cocktail is meant to look like, but never will, on the menu. In other words, a holiday for people who want a tan, but don’t actually want to leave England.
2017
I flew out on the Friday separately to my family, and within ten minutes of landing my mum informed me that on Sunday we would be going to our hotel’s sister hotel to a meeting about buying a villa there. ‘Are you joking?’ I asked. There’s not a chance my family would ever consider that, or be in the financial position to do so. ‘No,’ mum said, ‘if we go, we get a free breakfast and £50 off tickets to Siam Park!’ That’s more like it, I thought, anything for a freebie.
The trip to the sister hotel was lovely, if you could convince yourselves the over-exaggerated smiles were genuine, and not just because they wanted you to buy a villa. On arrival, John (a Scottish expat who had emigrated to Tenerife with his third wife just 6 months ago) shook hands with my dad, my mum and I, and high-fived my brother. The receptionists asked us for our life stories and told us theirs in thickly-coated, northern accents. They told my brother he could go and use the hotel Wii, or watch a DVD, or connect to the WiFi, like each option was a special previledge we couldn’t get in England. ‘I think we’ll just go in the pool’, I said.
Like most girls, I set my mind on finding my Spanish prince. Pickings were scarce. Between a sweaty restauranteur who shouted ‘eat here, Barbie!’ at me down the street, a twelve year old boy who made a ‘call me’ sign at me whilst I was on a run, and a cockroach which I swear was giving me the eye, my choices were not exactly plentiful. I chose to stick with my one true love, sangria.

And wasn’t it good. Didn’t you hear? A litre of sangria a day keeps the doctor away, or at least that’s what I was told. Oh, and then there was the pasta. Mum and I very rarely eat carbs with dinner at home, so Tenerife was a good excuse to splurge. Creamy prawn, tomato, garlic and spinach pasta helped keep the boys away – the garlic was cut in thick slices instead of crushed. Though I said earlier that my heart wasn’t won over in Tenerife, I forgot about Canarian potatoes! Potatoes boiled in two tablespoons of salt and very little water, also known as perfection, or obesity.
I also mentioned earlier that we got £50 entry to Siam Park, Tenerife’s waterpark. I’d been before and was incredibly excited. Last time I went to Tenerife, Oscar was too young to go on any of the bigger slides with me – now, he was just too scared. So my dad was forced to accompany me. The only one I could get him to go on was a steep, wavy slide which you road down on your belly. £50 off was not enough to convince mum and dad to buy fast-track passes, so we joined the mile-long queue up an incredibly steep hill, in nearly forty degree heat.  
Dad is 58, and good for it. You can tell he likes his beer, but Oscar keeps him active. Not, it seems, active enough, however. The hour queue, in which we stood facing forwards, up a steep hill and therefore stretching our ham strings, led to him limping for the next two days. When we finally reached the top, we got down on our bellies (on mats) and tried to push off. Dad went flying. Meanwhile, I flopped around like a fish out of water trying to push myself off and down the slide. Not very flattering, and perhaps another reason why I didn’t find my Spanish prince.
On the fourth day, mum was horrified to discover she had let her eight year old son burn on his back. He was promptly shoved into a water t-shirt which he was not allowed to take off, despite the zip at the back irritating his skin. In what may have been a way to punish herself, mum burned also. She decided to buy a t-shirt to cover up, so we marched down to the shops. T-shirt choices were almost as scarce as the Spanish princes. Did she want a pink tee with a bejazzled kitten on the chest, or a bright red one with Bart Simpson mooning? She settled with the kitten, and thankfully wore it insideout.

On my final day, I was treated to a trip to the hotel my family would be moving to when I left. We had been staying in a 3 star apartment, and the splurge had been saved for the 5 star all-inclusive hotel when I left. The hotel boasted two nudist areas (because one just isn’t enough), basketball courts, tennis courts, and a handful of restaurents. Walking in to reception and looking up, you see what appears to be a ceiling full of water. That is, until you start to see bodies in the water, and realise the swimming pool is on the roof top. Thank god it wasn’t the nudist pool.
I watched, green-eyed, as mum and dad handed their passports to the Spanish lady on reception – one of the first actual Spanish people we saw on the trip, it felt like. ‘Where is her passport?’ the lady asked, gesturing to me. ‘She’s not staying here’, dad replied. Thanks, dad! As what I can only guess was supposed to be a condolence for not being allowed to stay at the hotel of dreams, I was allowed a glass of welcome orange juice reserved for guests on check in, win!

I exaggerate, of course. It was a lovely holiday. Thanks for reading! 

Saying goodbye

On the first day of my last year of secondary school, I found out my best friend was moving to New Zealand. I’d like to tell you how it feels to find out something like that. To find out the person you trust most in the world, the only person that has stuck with you through thick and thin, the person who you consider the other half of your pair, is moving to the other side of the world. It hurts. But that is obvious. It opens a hole in your heart that is deep and growing. You can try and try and fill this hole by creating happy memories using the time you have left together, but in reality these moments are slipping down the hole. It means every time you both laugh together, or have a chat about boys or the future, at some point one of you will catch the eye of the other and do that half-smile that means “I’m going to miss this.”