The truth of trying to conceive after loss

Is it positive?

It’s been eight months since my last post on Freddie’s First Birthday Memorial Event and a lot has happened in this short time. The biggest most exciting and scary thing is what I will be blogging about in the future, but first I must explain a few things in this blog post.

In April 2014, my husband and I decided that we would like to start trying for a sibling to our son Freddie who was stillborn in August 2013. We weren’t 100% sure how long it would take or how we were going to cope when/if we got a positive pregnancy result, but we knew that however much we were still grieving for our son, this would never change. We could be grieving all our life so there was no point waiting for it to be okay one day.

The fact that we were both ready was the most important thing. If I am being honest I would have starting trying again the day I walked out the hospital with a memory box in my arms instead of my son, but I respected my husband’s need to wait and in hindsight realise that I had needed time to grieve my loss and make memories for my darling Freddie.

We were aware that we conceived Freddie the first month we tried but knew that it may not happen this quickly again. As each month passed and another negative pregnancy test result was thrown in the bathroom bin, I started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. I’m not talking about where ‘it’ goes but were our bodies telling us we weren’t ready.

In August, the month of Freddie’s anniversary, we prayed that he would show us a sign and we would be honoured with news of his sibling but what we experienced was confusion and worry. At the time I was expecting my period I started bleeding but it felt different to normal and lasted two weeks. By this point I was a bit concerned about what was happening and got checked out, but the bleeding had stopped. I was obviously worried that this was very out of my normal routine (I’ve been tracking my cycle for years) and a part of me thought that either I had experienced a very early miscarriage or that maybe it was my body remembering a year ago when my cycle returned after Freddie’s birth. We will never know but we picked ourselves up and said we would keep trying.

However the next month Rik was diagnosed with a hip/groin hernia and needed an operation to sort it out. This put a hold on our plans for about a month and a half whilst he recovered. My biggest concern was obviously making sure my husband was resting and recovering well but I would be lying if I said that a part of me wasn’t counting down the time thinking it was a lost opportunity. I appreciate that might sound harsh but it’s the truth. We turned our baby making down a gear for the first month or two after his recuperation but it was spirit lifting to know that again we may have a chance.

As the end of the year approached I couldn’t help but count down the months left that we had to conceive in 2014. I know this probably wasn’t helping our situation but I couldn’t help it. I appreciate some people try for years and some can’t conceive naturally at all and don’t want to sound like I don’t, but when you have been so close, so very very close to bringing up a baby and then get it taken away from you, each month feels like a year.

With a new year I decided to have a different approach. I was in the mind frame that I was leaving the baggage from 2014 behind and starting again. In my mind I had a whole 12 months to get pregnant after all! I was determined to just relax about it all. I went through the things we bought in preparation for Freddie and decided to sell a few bits that I didn’t feel we needed to keep.

I also started being more open about that fact that we had been trying. I talked to my mother and told her how hard the months trying had been and she finally opened up about how she had been worried that losing Freddie had put us off trying again. I told her about how frustrating it had been hearing comments from people that we should just ‘get on with it’ when we were but didn’t feel it was anyone’s business.

I hoped that the more I opened up and was honest with myself and others, the less stress I was putting on myself. Rik supported me with whatever I wanted to do and whenever I wanted to do it. We had just wanted some time to ourselves to try and see what happened but were now both ready to gain support and advice. We also decided that we would do Dry January when you abstain from drinking alcohol for the month of January. We do it every year but I had heard some people say that they decided to not drink any alcohol and then fell pregnant so thought it could help. I had been receiving monthly reflexology treatments too up to the end of 2014 which I thought would help me relax.

The end of January and Dry January was nearing and we decided to plan a fun night out at the end of it to enjoy some good food and wine. I took a pregnancy test a few days before my cycle was due to start and it was negative. I then had some spotting over the next few days and thought it was my cycle starting, however it didn’t feel quite like normal so I took another test on the morning of our planned meal. I was now a few days late and it was negative again. So we went out and I enjoyed letting my hair down and enjoyed several glasses of wine. We had a great night.

Over the next day or so I was waiting for my cycle to really get going but it had stopped. I didn’t think I needed to take another test but as each day passed I became more confused. I hated my cycle for teasing me this way and playing with my mind. Just when I was getting used to it being another unsuccessful month, this happens and I am back to thinking ‘what if?’.

So we had some cheap pregnancy test strips in the cupboard and I did a test with one of these. Rik wasn’t home from work yet and as I looked at it, the more I could see a faint second line. It was really faint though so when Rik got home he honestly thought it was negative but I had read somewhere that even if it is faint, it could be a positive. I kept staring at it and tried to convince myself that I was just seeing things so as to not get my hopes up. I had even read that if you take a picture of a test and make it black or white or negative that it is easier to gauge so I tried everything.

Now even more confused I dug out a digital pregnancy test that I was saving for this type of situation and did the necessary. I placed the test on a bookshelf dedicated to Freddie and in front of his picture and in my mind thought he is now in charge of our fate. I kept myself busy for those pain stacking few minutes and as I glanced at the test, the result popped up in front of my eyes ‘Pregnant 1-2 weeks’. I couldn’t believe it. No really I couldn’t. I knew what I was seeing and what it meant but my head was still in ‘i’m not pregnant this month’ mode.

Instead of the shocked, joyful and exciting feelings Freddie’s result brought, this one was met with shock but also with numbness and disbelief. I told Rik the news and I think he just carried on as normal like I had just told him I was going out to the shops or something. It took a while to sink in but over the next few hours the numbness slowly disappeared and the true reality of the situation hit us…WE WERE EXPECTING ANOTHER BABY!

With this came many happy feelings but also many fears as you can imagine. We were delighted as this was the first day of our lives as parents of two children, but this was also the first day of nine months, and more, of worry and so many questions including…

If we allow ourselves to be happy and hope, are we setting ourselves up to have our hearts broken again?

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Freddie’s First Birthday Memorial Event

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I can’t believe it has been a year already. Where has the time gone? In a way it still feels so fresh and raw, but on the other hand like a distant memory.

We celebrated Freddie Leigh Bromley, our beautiful son, on his first birthday on Saturday 16th August. It was a gorgeous day and probably one of the best days of our lives.  We were so lucky with the weather as it was a warm and sunny day making everything so much brighter and easier.

The day started off with being delivered our local newspaper, within which Rik and I had written a piece in honour of Freddie.  Rik and I then visited Freddie’s plaque at Vale Church, Guernsey.  We visit his plaque every week or every other week but it had more meaning on this day.  Rik and I were all dressed up and Grammie (my mother) had visited the night before and filled his vases with beautiful hydrangeas, a flower we had at Freddie’s funeral.  When the sun shines the plaque gets lovely and warm. We brush our hands over the stone and take in the warmth of it when our lips touch it as we give it a gentle kiss.

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We then went on to Bordeaux Nature Reserve where Freddie’s bench is.  It’s a lovely open space with trees, a rope swing and a stunning view out to Herm island.  We spent an hour preparing the area with flowers, colourful ribbons, blankets, Freddie’s baby shower bunting and candles.  It was hard to decide where everything went but once we had finished the area looked stunning.

Two of our friends had kindly agreed to play some instrumental music whilst people arrived.  People later told me that it was so lovely arriving at the car park and following the music to guide them to our location.  Mikey and Sarah were amazing playing some beautiful songs on their guitar and violin. Rik and I speech I then welcomed everyone to the event with the following words I had written: 

Thank you for joining us in celebrating our son Freddie’s first birthday. And yes it is his birthday. He was born and so he has a birth day. Freddie may not be here to celebrate being one year’s old today but WE are celebrating him, his nine month life growing inside me and that a year ago today at 10.27pm, he was born earth side.

When celebrating birthdays we can sometimes forget that our mothers gave birth to us on that day and they are also remembering that day. We will always celebrate his birthday and so we are very blessed to have so many of our friends and family here to celebrate his first birthday.

You may think we wish to forget that day but it was one of the best days of our lives. We met our son, held him, introduced him to our family and kissed him goodnight.

A year on and we are stronger as a couple and stronger as a family. We have learnt what is, and isn’t, important about life, why every moment counts and that having fun, love and laughter is key. So today whilst honouring our son Freddie, we want you to smile and laugh after all he was born with a smile on his face.

Rik then explained the order for the event:

To celebrate Freddie’s birthday we have asked some good friends of ours to perform some music for our gathering today. Firstly we would like to say a huge thanks to Mike and Sarah, for playing some beautiful music whilst you all arrived.

At the start of 2014 Nicole joined a special group of ladies called the Johnny’s Angels choir. A few members of the choir have kindly agreed to sing four beautiful songs picked by Nicole from their summer repertoire. Nicole and I thank you for agreeing to be a part of today. I will now hand you over to Kate Woodcock who will introduce the first two songs which will be followed by a balloon release and then two other songs.

Mike and Sarah will then kindly play again whilst we invite anyone who would like to write a message to Freddie on a tag and attach it to his tree.

Please feel free to hang around afterwards and make the most of this beautiful area. This gathering is a very easy going affair so relax, enjoy and join us in celebrating our cherished button-nosed Freddie Leigh Bromley!

Johnny’s Angels choir sang ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and then ‘Amazing Grace’.  I had wondered whether I should sing with the choir or not, but it was actually really lovely to step back and listen to them as their audience.  I was definitely touched by their singing and had to get a hanky out pretty much as soon as they started singing their first song!

Johnny's Angels

Rik and I then released a balloon with our tag tied to the bottom.  We counted to three and then got everyone to shout ‘FREDDIE’ as we released the balloon into the sky.  We were so lucky with the wind as it took the balloon out and across to Herm so everyone got to watch it go off into the distance.  

Here are some pictures from the release…

Continue reading Freddie’s First Birthday Memorial Event

2013 made me stronger because……

I can see a rainbow
I can see a rainbow

As the last few hours of 2013 approach, I want to reflect on what a year this has been for me and my family.  You may think I just want to see the back of 2013 and wipe it out of my life, but in fact I want to do the opposite.

Yes some events of 2013 have broken my heart and changed me forever, but it’s not all doom and gloom.  If I just sat here and dwelled on the bad, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed everyday.  There have been some days I have wanted to stay in bed and hide myself away from family, work, chores, friends, life, news and just thinking, but if anything, 2013 has taught me what to get out of bed for.

2013 made me stronger because………it gave my family hope, happiness and excitement when we were still raw from my auntie passing away from cancer in Dec 2012 and attending her funeral in Jan 2013.  It was so hard having such good news to share with my family when I know they were still grieving for the loss of auntie Bun.  I was torn between being so elated to be expecting my first child and feeling so sad that she had lost her brave and courageous fight.  The news of bringing new life into the family made us strong and happy again.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise that there is a time when you must admit to yourself that for all your best efforts and interest in something, if it becomes a chore and you start to not enjoy it anymore, it is not a failure to walk away.  I am proud that Rik and I set up the Guernsey Dub Collective Volkswagen club in 2012 but the lack of enthusiasm and support was draining us both.  We could have carried on and dragged it along but what was the point when we weren’t getting any pleasure from it.  It took courage for us to be strong enough to walk away from it knowing that we had tried.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..after carrying my son for 39 weeks and 5 days I lay silently in bed breathing through my contractions throughout the night of August 15th whilst I let Rik sleep so he was rested in the morning.  I was scared and excited but I now know that I am brave and strong because I worked with my body and started labour spontaneously on my own.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because………after carrying my son for 39 weeks and 6 days and being told my son had passed during early labour, I supported my husband whilst he broke down and sobbed in my arms.  I didn’t realise I was strong enough to keep it together for the both of us.  I couldn’t have made the decisions about my body that I had to make that day if I hadn’t kept it together.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..three weeks after loosing my son, I found out that I no longer had job security and coped with the fear and confusion this came with on top of everything else.  I dealt with the news in a mature and dignified way and now have the opportunity to stop and look at the options available to me.  I feel more determined to look after myself and be valued.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..when I was trying to pick myself up things kept knocking me down but I kept picking myself up.  I was constantly seeing doctors and specialists getting tests, scans and checks done but this, and constantly being on antibiotics for a while, didn’t break me.  I found strength in the fact that I was being looked after, needed to recuperate and that things could only get better.  I was finally given a good clean bill of health in December.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..after waiting for three months to get the full post-mortem results, I have not been deterred from trying for another baby again in the future, even though what happened could happen again.  I now have a lot more knowledge about my body and pregnancy and will be monitored more in any future pregnancies.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise what a blessing it is to have children and that if I am lucky enough to be pregnant again, how I must cherish every moment as you never know what the outcome is.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise the importance of life, to not get weighed down with things that don’t make you happy and make you grow as a person and appreciate good friends on a stronger level.  2013 has shown me true friendships and that the best things in life are free.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it gave me the courage to reignite a passion for music and singing and to audition for a local choir in 2014.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it taught my family that life is short and we must embrace the time we have together.  By doing this, it has brought my family closer together which makes me happier.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because………it reminded me how lucky I am to have Rik by my side to experience life’s highs and lows with.  It made me appreciate him more and love him deeper, and made us stronger as a couple.  I know that we can get through anything now.  I thank 2013 for that.

Finally, 2013 made me stronger because………it gave me the courage to see a rainbow and that there is still hope, happiness and excitement for 2014.  I thank 2013 for that.

Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy

Lights of Love 2013
Lights of Love 2013

Rik and I want to share with you something that we wrote in honour of our Freddie.

We had hoped to write something for his funeral but ran out of time so when Tania Shires from the local Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) charity asked us to do a reading at the Lights of Love carol service, we knew that this was our opportunity to finally write something special to read out for Freddie.

‘Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy’ is written by us both and is several short one line letters to Freddie.  It is written in a way that suggests Freddie has not gone from our lives forever but is merely off on a journey.  We were worried it was a bit self-indulgent for the service but hoped that those attending would relate to it, or at least parts of it.

Here is our special reading for Freddie, hope you like it.

Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy

Dear Freddie I hope you don’t mind us writing to you but you’re not here you see. (N)

Dear Freddie I know you can’t respond, but you don’t need to, I know you can hear us. (R)

Dear Freddie I was expecting you but you left before I could say hi. (N)

Dear Freddie I cherish the time we had together, speaking to you in your home. (R)

Dear Freddie I am sorry mummy and daddy raised their voices during your last week here. (N)

Dear Freddie I know that you love us, there is no doubt of that. (R)

Dear Freddie I hope you are enjoying your new home and not making too much of a mess. (N)

Dear Freddie I know your home here was ready, but you had to go somewhere else. (R)

Dear Freddie I keep finding things of yours all around the house that you left behind. (N)

Dear Freddie I know that just like your Daddy you love to dance. (R)

Dear Freddie I cried the last time I saw you, I should have smiled – I apologise. (N)

Dear Freddie I rocked you when I held you, it felt like the most natural thing to do. (R)

Dear Freddie I’ve been telling lots of people about you, they all send their love. (N)

Dear Freddie I can’t believe the amount of people your short time here has affected. (R)

Dear Freddie I wish you could be here as we are all missing you terribly. (N)

Dear Freddie I wish you could have stuck around, you know we would have had so much fun. (R)

Dear Freddie I want you to visit us, your aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents again very soon. (N)

Dear Freddie I wonder what you would have been, a fireman, a doctor, a dancer maybe. (R)

Dear Freddie I’ve been looking out for you and I think I may have seen you a few times. (N)

Dear Freddie I cherish our time together but some days are tougher than others. (R)

Dear Freddie I’m keeping myself busy but I am always thinking of you and your new friends. (N)

Dear Freddie I bet you are being well looked after, that’s my boy. (R)

Dear Freddie I really hope you will be a big brother one day, a job I know you will be great at. (N)

Dear Freddie I know this hole will never be filled, my longing will never pass. (R)

Dear Freddie I know how hard you fought to meet mummy and daddy, we are so proud of you and love our brave angel very much. (N)

Sleep tight. (N and R)

Written and read by Nicole & Rik Bromley in honour of Freddie Leigh Bromley.

The Lights of Love carol service held last night at Forest Church was the second of its type.  It is a non-denominational candlelit service of carols and readings, lead by Rev Linda Le Vasseur, to honour our loved children who are no longer with us, before we celebrate Christmas.  Eight other Lights of Love services took place simultaneously in Huddersfield, London, Stirling, Nottingham, Portadown, Cardiff, Norwich and Liverpool.

It was the first time we had attended this service and we were overwhelmed by how special it was.  Hundreds of candles were placed around the church lit for our loved ones. You were able to write a personal message and hang it on a Christmas tree surrounded by candles.  This tree would stay in the church throughout the Christmas period and tags could be added by visitors to the church.

The service included eight readings and six carols plus Aindre Reece-Sheerin singing Gabriel’s song, a circle dance performed by the Guernsey Circle Dancers to Berceuse and Kim Spaargaren singing at the end.  Everyone that attended received a Lights of Love Christmas tree decoration and was invited to light a candle in memory of loved ones.

Attending this type of service is not only a time to think about lost loved ones but to feel safe with a group of people who understand what you are going through.  It was truly special and I look forward to attending next year.

Lights of Love 2013 - Message Tree
Lights of Love 2013 – Message Tree
Lights of Love 2013 - Freddie's Tag
Lights of Love 2013 – Freddie’s Tag