(Trigger warning: mentions Miscarriage and Baby Loss)
October marks the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness, recognising the unique grief of bereaved parents and showing families support who have suffered the loss of a baby. I know from personal experience how devasting the loss of a baby is.
Society has led us to believe that you shouldn’t share the news of your pregnancy until after the first ultrasound. This is most likely because early miscarriage’s occur within the first 12 weeks. Sadly 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriages with 1 in 100 women experiencing recurrent miscarriage (3 or more in a row) but does that mean parents should feel like they have to hide their pregnancy from those around them when they really want to shout it from the roof tops.
And if the unimaginable does happen they then keep the miscarriage a secret, leading to feeling like their baby didn’t even exist. Miscarriages is a taboo subject and rarely discussed openly through fear of judgement or concerns of upsetting others, leading to feeling ashamed and alone. But why should parents who have experienced a miscarriage or a still birth feel this way when they are at their most vulnerable. In this blog I’ll share my own baby loss story in the hope that being open about my experience helps others feel like they can too. But you’ll also read how I now use my own heart-breaking experience to provide the best possible service when creating a special keepsake and providing comfort after the loss of their child. Whether it be through miscarriage or baby loss.
Where my heart-breaking story began
During 2016 & 2017, I sadly suffered 3 early miscarriages whilst trying to grow our family. Each pregnancy ended with being missed miscarriages whereby my body did not show any signs of loss.
Before learning about our first miscarriage Matt and I were excited to learn we were expecting our second child, sharing the news with family, and planning for the future. It wasn’t until we went to our 12-week scan that we heard the words “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat”.
It felt like our whole world had come crashing down, it just didn’t seem real, the baby had died at 8 weeks. The days after seemed liked a blur coming to terms with the fact that I was carrying a baby who had gone and thinking my body had failed me. How did it not know something was wrong and how could it let me carry on for weeks after that everything was fine. Now I've had time to grieve I look at it as though my body loved the baby so much that it refused to accept it had gone. I’ve always said that until you go through a miscarriage you can never understand the emotional rollercoaster you go through. But it is something you wouldn’t wish on anyone just so they could. I’ve always been so open with our journey to get our rainbow Harriett (who is now 5 years old) and it was then I discovered how many others, even those close to me had been through the same thing. It is and has always been such a taboo subject, which it shouldn’t be.
The heartache didn't end there
We knew we still wanted to keep trying hoping wishing that next time all would be ok. Soon after we fell pregnant again, filled with nerves we decided to go for a private scan at 8 weeks because this is where everything went wrong the first time. Watching the sonographer’s screen I was impatiently waiting to hear that little heartbeat. Sadly, there was no heartbeat. In fact there was no baby at all, we had experience a Blighted Ovum. A blighted ovum, also known as an anembryonic pregnancy, occurs when an early embryo never develops or is resorbed and leaves an empty sac. The cause of this is often unknown but may be due to chromosomal abnormalities. Because we were at a private clinic, we were advised we needed to go to the Early Pregnancy Unit in the morning to have it confirmed. There was a chance the pregnancy wasn’t as far along as we thought but due to the measurements of the sac the sonographer was doubtful this was the reason for no baby.
The next morning it was confirmed, we had had another missed miscarriage. I don’t really remember how it made me feel. I know I screamed in the car all the way home from the clinic, I remember having to tell my parents we had loss another baby and I remember having to go through another operation to remove the pregnancy tissues. Which led to complications later in the month prolonging the heart break.
It becomes a wait and see what happens scenario
In the UK, for women to get answers for their multiple miscarriages they need to experience 3 consecutive losses before they can have tests to find out what is happening. The idea that it can happen again without any help was sole destroying.
But we continued trying and shortly after falling pregnant again. We decided to trust that this was our time and not tempt fate and decided not to go for any early scans, we would just wait for 12 weeks. Sadly, the day before our scan I began to bleed heavily, I knew this was a bad sign. We went to the EPU and discussed our history. I remember as we discussed that we had experienced a blighted ovum that she said "Well lightning doesn’t strike twice so we won’t see that again". I think when she saw that empty sac, she wanted to immediately take back her words. Yes in fact lightning had struck twice and there was a big space in the sac where our baby was meant to be. I was experiencing our 3rd loss but this time we had the added fear our whether I was experiencing a molar pregnancy instead. A Molar pregnancy has serious complications, including a rare form of cancer. Thankfully, in this instance this wasn’t the case, but we were still non the wiser as to what had happened. We were referred to the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic in Hertford for tests. Which all came back clear, there was no obvious reasons why were had lost 3 babies. We were offered some blood thinner injections for our next pregnancy in the hope this MIGHT help. At this point we were willing to try anything, I wasn’t even sure if I experienced another loss if I could continue with the heart break. We had always said we wanted 3 children, but with everything we had experienced
I remember thinking just let me have this next baby and I’m done, I won’t be greedy I’ll stay at 2.
Although it was never confirmed I was
convinced that I was unable to have boys, and that was the reason behind the losses. So when we fell pregnant again and found out it was a girl you can imagine my relief, this was going to happen for us.
But pregnancy after loss no longer has its magic, you’re always on edge that you’re going to lose the baby. Thankfully, in 2018 Harriett arrived safely (not without some drama with a ruptured placenta, but that’s another story) we have our beautiful rainbow baby.
Now more than ever I am determined to help other through their own baby loss
I use our own heart-breaking experience to provide the best possible service when creating a special keepsake and providing comfort after the loss of their child. Whether it be through miscarriage or baby loss.
I have worked with a number of families over the years who have experienced the loss of a Baby.
Julie Owen came across my work back in 2021 and asked me to create a keepsake bear made from the clothes that belonged to her daughter who passed away over 20 years ago. Hannah was born prematurely and sadly passed away at just 16 weeks old after complications with pre-eclampsia. Julie had kept hold of her clothes for all these years and felt ready to finally have something made from them. Julie had her keepsake bear weighted to Hannah's weight when she passed away so she could remember holding her in her arms again.
Julies says “I didn’t want to put her down, the bear is the most precious thing I have. Hannah Bear resides on my bed with her blanket round her. I just wish I had done it sooner.”
I wanted to create something special for parents who suffer an early pregnancy loss
I absolutely love the comfort my work brings but I felt that this wasn’t enough, I know that those who suffer early miscarriages may not have anything significant to remember their baby. For instance, they may only have that positive pregnancy test, a scan photo and maybe even items they planned to announce the pregnancy with.
To this day I have nothing from my 3 angel babies, and I hate that. This is why I created some special bereavement boxes to allow other families to keep hold of those trinkets of their angel baby.
To continue to spread awareness I have chosen CHUMS Charity as my chosen charity to fundraise for through my business.
CHUMS’ mission is to improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, one of the services the charity offers is a Baby loss Bereavement Support service. A service that supports grieving families after the death of a baby through late miscarriage, compassionate termination, stillbirth or Neonatal.
“We are incredibly grateful for the partnership with Tracy’s Treasured Keepsakes, as their generous support means that every purchase of a keepsake elephant not only brings joy and comfort to the recipient, but also directly contributes to our mission of providing essential support to those navigating the heart-breaking journey of baby loss. Together, we are breaking the silence around baby loss and fostering a culture of empathy, understanding and healing”.
I will be working hard to raise as much money as possible for this amazing charity through my work, but how can you help?
For every Elephant Keepsake ordered 10% will be donated to the charity. With so many reasons to have an Elephant keepsake made, having those old baby clothes made into a keepsake seems very poignant during this awareness month. Simply order your very own Elephant Keepsake from your sentimental items of clothing you have in storage.
If you are or have experienced a loss please don’t struggle alone, I am here for you. I understand it can sometimes be tough to talk to those who know you about sensitive and sometimes upsetting topics. that is why my inbox is open to anyone who wants to tell me their story, with no judgement, no obligation to go into too much detail. Just know I am here for you, and you are not alone.
If you have been impacted by the content discussed in this blog post and are seeking additional support, then I encourage you to explore the following links for bereavement services in the UK.
CHUMS Charity - Offering a service inn and around Bedfordshire that supports grieving families after the death of a baby through late miscarriage, compassionate termination, stillbirth or Neonatal
Sands - Sands offer support for anyone affected by the death of a baby
The Miscarriage Association - The Miscarriage Association provides information and support to those affected by pregnancy loss
Tommy's - Tommy's offers support and information on pregnancy complications, including baby loss.
Child Bereavement UK - Child Bereavement UK provides support for families when a baby or child dies or is dying
These UK charities are dedicated to helping individuals and families navigate the challenging journey of baby loss, offering valuable resources and a compassionate community.