Keeley's Story | Baby Loss Portrait Project
This past year has been a complete rollercoaster of emotions. This time last year I was at my lowest point, I had just suffered my fifth miscarriage.
Even though I had a great life; the perfect fiancé, beautiful daughter, great job, house, friends, family, and an amazing wedding to look forward to, I felt broken, empty and cold. Miscarriage number five had just happened and was equally as horrific as the first. People either avoid talking to you about it or assume as you’ve gone through it a few times it gets easier or becomes the norm. It doesn’t. Each one is equally as soul destroying.
Miscarriage one and two all happened at exactly the eight weeks. Each time I was told how common they were and at least I could fall pregnant. Miscarriage number three hit me like a ton of bricks. I had passed the eight-week mark, spending my 30th birthday holiday in Jamaica throwing up constantly. This time we thought we had done it. Maybe it had just been bad luck before.
The 12-week mark came and I had some bleeding. I was told by my doctor to keep calm and that it was probably nothing to worry about. I had a scan booked for the next day, all ready for how we would make our announcement. Something in my gut told me something wasn’t right. As I lay in the same ultrasound room with the same sonogram lady I heard the familiar words, “I’m so sorry”. My heart broke. The room started spinning.
I made the decision to go home and come back the next day for medical intervention. That night my body knew and I started to miscarriage naturally. I lay on my bathroom floor in agony, bleeding, praying to God that there had been a mistake. When I went back to the hospital the next day, because I had already started to bleed I didn’t need the intervention, instead, I was handed a bedpan, sent into the bathroom and told to just cover the mass with a paper towel. ‘Mass’? That was my baby, my love and my world. I couldn’t believe how heartless and cruel I was being treated.
Finally, I could be seen by a consultant and put an end to my misery. Or so I thought. Miscarriage number four happened again at the eight-week mark, on Father’s Day. My consultant decided that we needed to try some hormone injections next time around.
September 2017 miscarriage number five hit, yet again at eight weeks. This time I’d taken the drugs they had recommended, rested, attended all my appointments and I still failed. I made a decision to finally stop. Stop trying, stop hoping and stop wishing that having a second baby would ever be on the cards for me. My heart was completely broken. My mental state shattered.
I put my energy into my wedding and tried my best to heal my heart. During my hen party, while I should have been having the time of my life, I stood in the shower and had a complete breakdown. I cried so hard my whole body ached. I cried until I physically couldn’t anymore. Why me? I was eternally grateful for my eight-year-old daughter, she was my whole world but I longed for another baby. My whole life all I ever wanted was to be was a mother. I wanted a house full of children. I made a decision that the past five years had really taken its toll, not just on my body but on my mental health and I needed help. I promised myself that I would get some help.
I came back from my hen do feeling something wasn’t right, days later I still felt awful. Had Prague and vodka really broken me? My husband-to-be asked if it was possible that could I be pregnant. I obviously dismissed this, we had hardly had sex since my last miscarriage, I hadn’t had a cycle, not a chance. How wrong was I? Carrying out that pregnancy test was filled with horror and sadness, not the usual excitement. Could I go through it all again? The test came back positive immediately. That’s never happened before. Days followed and the sickness hit. Could it work this time?
Days and weeks followed with copious amounts of drugs, hormone injections, and scans. My first being at eight weeks, I felt sick, frightened and detached. I was about to go through everything again, the sadness and pain. I went alone as I felt that was the best way to deal with it. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, I was wrong! There on the screen was my little bean, heart beating and looking strong. I FaceTimed my husband-to-be with tears in my eyes. He obviously thought the worse and his face dropped. That was until I held the scan picture up and told him we had a heartbeat!
The weeks rolled by as did the scans, my little bean's heartbeat getting stronger, my baby was growing yet I was still filled with anxiety, dread, and worry. My consultant said to me weekly to start to relax a little as we had never got that far. My pregnancy was filled with awful sickness, exhaustion, anxiety, and worry. The hormone injections, thyroid medication, and aspirin may have actually worked this time. I counted the weeks down and with every weekly scan, I started to believe that I may hold my baby in my arms.
As the weeks went by and my belly grew my husband started to get more and more excited. We began buying things and decorating the nursery. It took all my strength to even think about the baby. I felt so distant and low, I couldn’t enjoy anything just in case I jinxed it. My mental health was really suffering. I suffered from nightmares reliving our miscarriages. I put on a front and smiled every day. Telling people I couldn’t wait for the baby. In reality, I dreaded waking up on a morning in case something was wrong.
Fast forward to May 31, 2018, at 4:27pm, my beautiful daughter arrived safely and healthy by c-section into this world. As soon as I set eyes on my darling Orla I knew all was right with the world and my heart had finally healed. I literally saw the weight lift from my husbands' shoulders. I thought we would be in floods of tears but we were both just so relieved she was here; alive, healthy and safe.
Without the help and support from my amazing consultant, I wouldn’t be holding my baby. I thank my lucky stars every day that I’ve been blessed, however not a day goes by that I don’t cry thinking of my babies that didn’t make it into this world. I still put a front on and a smile saying everything is fine and that I’m great but in reality, I’m a mother still grieving the loss of her five babies and feeling a whole range of emotions. I give thanks every day that I finally have my rainbow baby but also realise I still need to heal my head and heart.
My story is for all those who have given up hope, who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and who have given up fighting. Don’t. Keep going. Everything happens for a reason and I’m a strong believer that everything is in Gods hands and always having hope gets you through it. Don’t give up hoping and wishing as there is always a rainbow after a storm.
My rainbow is my beautiful Orla Grace, weighing 6lb15oz. A ball of loveliness and pure joy, my little angel.
Thank you to the amazing consultants, doctors, and midwives at St James Hospital, you are all heroes but most importantly, thank you to my husband. Chris, you’re my rock, my saviour and without your love and compassion, I couldn’t have got through it.