April 12th

My story is not unique. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. If you think of miscarriage you might have an image of what it entails, a belief of what the process looks like. You might be wrong!

This day 2 years ago I presented myself at my antenatal unit for an ultrasound. This ultrasound was not the happy occasion I had experienced on my previous pregnancy. I was told they could not see a heartbeat. Not only that I was told that there was two but one had not progressed at all. We were devastated. We were told that we needed to come back in 7 days. This time allows them to assess if there is any growth within that time and it gives the baby a chance to try to beat the odds. The lovely Dr told me that we could discuss the options next week. I walked out of that hospital knowing there would be no happy ending. I knew how far along I was. I had no doubt about my dates. A silent miscarriage but inside I was screaming.

I spent 7 days at home preparing for what was to come. My husband went back to work knowing he would need some time to be with me the following week. I spent that week on google. Searching for any instances where medicine had gotten it wrong. I also googled what happens when they didn’t. What is the procedure? What will they do? I walked through the doors of the hospital 7 days later and again took my place on the ultrasound couch. This time there was a Midwife, Sonographer and a Doctor in the room. Their faces told me all I needed to know. They explained there was still no heartbeat. My pregnancy was unviable. They explained that the first baby had already begun to regress. I nodded and tried to remember every word I was hearing. When the Dr had finished speaking I asked what I needed to do now. What would happen next? At this stage the Dr glanced at the Sonographer and back to me. Nothing! They were going to do nothing. They explained that because the first baby had already begun to regress it had given slightly more space to the second and so it had measured less than half a millimeter in difference. For this reason they could not do anything for me. They explained that although my pregancy was certainly unviable, they could not help me. They gave me another appointment, appologised and explained that their hands were tied. As I gathered my bag, I remember the midwife saying that hopefully it would begin naturally and I wouldn’t have to wait.

I walked to my car and anger began to build in my stomach. I had words stuck in my throat and I couldn’t get them out. We drove home in silence. Once I walked inside I remember my husbands face.┬áHe couldn’t understand. My sister called. She couldn’t understand. My mother put the kettle on. She couldn’t understand. My best friend text. She couldn’t understand. My husband called his mother. She couldn’t understand. Why was I in limbo? Why would nobody do something? Why was I not given my options? Why was I sent away? My daughter couldn’t understand why I cried. My husband couldn’t figure out what he could do. Nobody could understand. The questions they asked were simple. I needed help and care and understanding and compassion. But what I got was the reality of being a women living in Ireland. Nobody could help me because of the 8th amendment.

I spent the following days questioning everything. If I needed something from the shop, should I go? What if I begin to miscarry while I’m there. I need to take my daughter to school. But should I? I met a friend one morning. I cried in Costa Coffee. She cried in Costa Coffee. Should I have even been in Costa Coffee? I needed to accept and come to terms with this loss. How could I? I was still carrying my pregnancy. I remember my sister visited. “What can I do for ya Aoif?”…..Nothing. Nobody could do anything.

I was admitted to maternity on the 24th April having begun to miscarry myself. I spent hours having pains, while my husband sat by the side of the bed and we listened to babies cry in the rooms around us. I remember thinking, I shouldn’t have to do this. I still think I shouldn’t have had to.

Miscarriage is hard. It is unspoken. It is painful. The idea that we live in a country that can add to this pain is harrowing.
The 8th amendment is not about for or against abortion. It is about care for women when they need it.
Take a look around at your wives, your sisters, your friends, your daughters, your cousins. The women you work with. The women who do your hair. The women who are your doctors, hairdressers, the women who teach your children. My story could be any of them. Now take a look at your brothers, your husbands, your sons, your nephews, the guys you drink with, the guys who work with you. They could be the ones sitting beside the bed of a women they are desperate to help and can’t. You know these people. You are these people!

If we do not repeal the 8th amendment nothing will change. In years to come if my daughter is ever that women, or my son ever has to hold the hand of that women, I pray they can access medical care when they need it.
The only love I was shown at that time, was from my family. I loved my babies. But the law certainly did not, love us both. My babies had no life. And I had no right.
Today I remember my 2 babies who didn’t make it into this life. And I pray that we repeal the 8th for the sake of my two babies who did.




That tiny blinking dot……

I saw it! A little blinking dot. Confirming a heat beat. It was as if a weight had lifted. For now at least.

Walking into EPU was surreal. The last time I was there I was confirming bad news. This time I was desperate for some good. I was feeling optimistic and went for the traditional “belly scan” first. Cause ya know, I had “drank buckets of water” of course it would work. The truth was that I had drank, but like most pregnant woman I was peeing every 7 seconds, or so it felt, so a full bladder was probably not on the cards! So the old trans vaginal probe was produced! Lucky me……

Considering how many times I have had this done since the start of the year you would think I would be cool with it! Well no, I am not! I still get awkward, and weird and embarrassed! In fact 2 weeks after my miscarriage, I was admitted to hospital as I had developed infection. You would think that after all I had gone through I might be a little more used to having all eyes on me, but no! Yet again this probe was produced immediately by a male doctor, and I believe I tried to kill the awkwardness by making a joke that he “hadn’t even bought me dinner” Yeah! True story.

Anyway, back to now! I lay there yet again staring at the ceiling making small talk about the weather and the wedding I had been to, until out of the corner of my eye I saw the little beat. Our ultrasound tech confirmed that it was the heart beat. I held back tears. This was the sight I was so longing to see. Our little baby confirmed. When I finally began to think again, I asked her to confirm that it was one and not two! Last time the fact that we started out with two was a complete left fielder! It was confirmed it was just one this time. If I am honest it was a relief. Not because multiples are not amazing but because I wanted everything to do with this pregnancy to be different from the last. So just one, and a big old heat beat!

Walking out of the hospital I looked at my husband and he somehow looked taller. Like he had grown taller in the last couple of minutes. I think he was walking tall for the first time in months. His excitement was contagious. We decided to go get ice-cream and take our little girl to Emo Court. It was the perfect end to our perfect day!

But now a couple of days on I am back down to earth with a bang. The fear has crept back in. I am back to telling myself not to celebrate this time. To remember that bad things happen. I am back to reminding myself not to glance at baby things in shops or daydream about whats to come. I am nervous again.

Apart from the emotional toll it is all taking, I am feeling sick. I am tired and I am feeling like I need to go to bed for a week. It is not hard to imagine why though. At this point the body is doing amazing things. I am growing a human for gods sake! Even now the mind boggles!

**Although written in real time this piece was not published at the time of writing……. So your a little behind the times**

Today was not the day to sacrifice my penguin

I had decided that I needed to get my ass in gear and finally loose the baby weight. I had decided that 4 months after she was born actually, and now over 2 years after that initial decision I was going to make it happen! Now don’t get me wrong, I had tried! I tried all the diets that I just knew would work “this time”……

It started with Slimming World. It seemed everyone and its dog had been loosing stones on Slimming World, and were managing to eat bowls of pasta and Curly Wurlys to beat the band. Sur all I heard about was “speed foods” and “healthy extras” and “syns” so I took myself off to my local group and after hearing the stories from the other group members I was hooked. I was going to get the weight off and would be sitting in that group circle in a few weeks the envy of the newbies! I arrived home after that first meeting armed with recipe books and confidence all I had to do was eat and get skinny in the process. WINNING! Turns out, you had to work! You couldn’t eat all the food and loose weight! You did need to watch portions, you did need to ditch the rubbish and be sensible and i just couldn’t do it. Slimming World just didn’t win out because what I didn’t realise was that I needed head space and motivation, two things I didn’t have with a reflux baby and a husband who couldn’t handle his life post baby. But more of that another day.

About 6 months after my failed slimming world attempt I decided I would try the “I will no longer allow a carb to pass my lips diet” I did this diet before I got married with good results. I lost over 30lbs so doing it again would be a breeze. And the first couple of weeks it was. But with Christmas season and my own mothers dinners, the trusty carbs sneaked their way back in. To be fair, dinner in my Mam’s would include roast potato, boiled potato, mashed potato, sur I didn’t have a chance. Anyway long story short, Carbs 1, Me 0!

Heading into 2015 I decided that I would give the old “clean eating” a go. Everyone was jumping on this bandwagon, far be it for me to be left behind. To be fair, it was really good. The weight came off slowly but I found myself constantly being thrown off course with holidays and communions and christenings and bla bla bla more excuses to drink wine and eat cake! By December just gone I was exactly the same weight as when I started in January! Even writing that is demoralising!

I made a promise to myself that I would stay on track in 2016 but didn’t jump straight in. I spent the last few weeks deciding how I would approach this years weight goals. I decided to do Dry January. To be honest as much as I like a glass of wine, it doesnt kill me not to have it, so not a massive sacrifice. I then came to the conclusion that I would follow the IIFYM lifestyle. For those of you who don’t know IIFYM stands for IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS. Something about it really appeals to me. You can eat, you just keep within your daily macros. Simples! Armed with a little knowledge (thanks google) I downloaded a free app and input my stats and hey presto I was ready to go. I decided to start this morning. Although its Friday and although I have to face in to a weekend of getting used to counting up the macros in my food I thought why put off tomorrow what I can do today. And then motherhood kicked in……..

12.30am that was the time she woke last night. My other new years resolution was to get my almost 3 year old to sleep in her own room. And having started this last Sunday we were now 5 nights in. The previous 5 nights were relatively OK. Yes I got up about 5 times a night BUT I always managed to get her back to bed. “Mammy I need a drink”, “Mammy I need a snuggle”, “Mammy you didnt give Lambie a kiss goodnight”, “Mammy get in beside me”, “Mammy I need another drink”, “Mammy I had a bad dream” and on and on it went for anywhere between 30mins and an hour. Last night however was a new experience! Last night between the hours of 12.30am and 4.55am I was met with a new kind of toddler determination. It was somewhere between the child you see in the supermarket having a melt down and the incredible hulk. She was sleeping in my bed and that was that! In the past I probably would have given in at around the 2 hour mark hence the reason I have an almost 3 year old who is only now learning to sleep in her own room. Last night I was determined to win out. When I finally did manage to get her to drift off and get some shut eye for myself, which felt like 30 seconds she was back in. This time with the “morning mammy, open your eyes its morning” She was right, it was morning. It was 7am and she was up for the day.

It was when I boiled the kettle for coffee that I realised that today was the day that I start counting my macros! Of all the days to start a new diet I picked today. I pushed on and logged into the app and started logging what I was going to eat today. First question “is today a training day” Are you kidding? NO! If I dress myself today I will feel like I have done my bit. No, I would just scrape by today doing minimum amounts all the while eating in accordance with my allowance!

4 times already I have had to put the penguin bar back in the press. Its only 3pm and already I am giving myself silent pep talks “put it back fattie” The penguin is safe for now. It has always been a coping measure for me to eat my feelings. In fact I had started to do it at expert level. Not anymore. So far today, sticking to my macros. It is in the back of my mind though that I still have dinner time, getting dressed for bed time, brushing teeth time, putting to bed time, staying in bed time, all ahead of me, That Penguin may not be safe after all……..