Category: Health

Blood Stains and Pin Pricks (by )

Trigger warning: miscarriage.

I didn't even get to make the announcement that I was pregnant - social media has picked up the pregnant thing but not the miscarriage bit and is sending me targeted adverts. I am having nightmares about babies being the on the other sides of mirrors, windows, veils and not being able to reach them. I am managing maybe one meal a day.

I want the painful cramps to go away but feel guilty as they are the last part of that little life that I failed. All I have left is blood stains, pin pricks and bruises and they are all disappearing but I'm not sure that I am healing. Several people have told me not to think on it too much and to just be grateful for my girls but I hadn't even gotten my head around having another baby before it was taken away and worse because of the complications I have suffered in the past I was terrified of being made to go through labour and things and was scared of having the baby but then I started to get excited and now... now there is just a hole.

Alaric says, that his little rice grain deserves being cried over. Initially he didn't cry and Mary asked why I told her Daddy is like Apple Jack (a My Little Pony character) and does his crying on the inside but that he was crying none the less we just couldn't see it. She pointed out that Jean tends to cry on the inside too - and this certainly is true. When he broke later that night she came down because she heard him and tried to get him a cat but ended up patting him and hugging him.

I managed to get in the bath last night - I am still in waves of pain but am ok physically in between. The support have been overwhelming and important especially for Alaric who almost drowned in silence when I was ill with having Jeany and the aftermath.

It was a lot of pain and medical stuff for no baby.

The honest way I feel?

I am in pain, I am falling apart, I don't fit into any of my clothes, I am letting people down, I've given up some fantastic opportunities - to try and save the pregnancy and now they are lost to me along with potential future projects from the same people, worrying about that makes me feel selfish but I am angry and hurt and bewildered too and disappointed that I can't do the epic things. I can't physically help with the housework and so everything is on Alaric who is also still trying to work - his colleagues have been fantastic - the school noticed he was suffering. I'm a mess if I'm honest I didn't want to wash the blood stains off even though it is my blood but somehow I am thinking of it as the baby's blood.

I feel I am over reacting and under reacting and I can hardly walk. I need to cancel the midwife appointments and ultra sound and so on. I don't really want to talk to people/strangers.

Kids make me smile, I am missing Jean because she is on a sleep over and I am making a visual poem to remember the baby by. This was worse than the suspected ectopic and that wasn't particularly brilliant. I need to do something. I feel like I've had my insides washed with a brillo pad - I am not actually quite sure exactly what they did.

I'm scared people wont want to see me that they will hide themselves away from me. I am worried about how I will react to certain things.

Most of all though I feel like I've gone through labour and don't have a baby to hold and I know the baby wasn't even really a baby though as Al said he was more worried about this one because it did have a developing nervous system and really hope it wasn't in pain. Again if we find anyone using this as anti abortion stuff we will go spare: pregnancy is a potentially life threatening thing no one should be made to go through that if they don't want to.

Still I wish it could have lived, we love it - we already love it. After I had the bleeding/threatened miscarriage with Jean's pregnancy we agreed to love the little pregnancies because that might be the only time we had with them. But I didn't really know for long enough with this one - it's been such a fast chain of intense emotions.

And the picture is not the little book of poetry I'd planned but it is all I really have to offer.

I think miscarriage is unique in that the thing you are trying to get better from is the last remnant of the thing you longed for and the grief is mixed with the physical healing in complex and varied ways.

One of the nurses told me it is really very common but no one talks about it so every woman thinks she is on her own.

This thought chills me.

Empty Handed (by )

TMI and Miscarraige trigger warning.

Note: post was written over several days and is not completely chronological in order - started on Thursday 9th Nov.

Yesterday Morning the NHS gynae team at Gloucester Royal Hospital saved my life - it was impossible to save my kinder surprise, though the sorrow of which is I hadn't known I was pregnant for very long before the problems started. It's amazing how joy can evaporate leaving a pit of despair that seems bottomless.

We already knew the baby was probably dead but there was still some hope and we were awaiting the scan. I don't know if I had a temperature with the cough or whether the damage was actually done at the end of September when I did have a fevery chest infection but did not know I was pregnant. That in same ways would fit too but then it could be my irregular periods or the endometriosis or maybe incompitable blood groups. Or maybe there was just something wrong with it in the first place. We can't really know.

Everything I can control and do right I do do right - no smoking, no drinking, eating healthily and exercise. And though I know people stressed that I was continuing to run workshops and act and go on field trips and hike even after knowing I was pregnant - the Drs assure me that a healthy pregnancy would be fine with those things - something else was wrong - something out of my control.

This leaves me with a hatred; I kind of had this hate anyway - I know they are suffering in their own ways but the rage I had with mothers who smoke and drink during known pregnancies has intensified. This has been there since I was being wheeled passed such a person whilst pregnant with Jean. To see them there on tottering heels with a cig in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other sporting the bump between boob tube and mini skirt whilst I had followed all the advice and was crippled and unsure whether I'd ever see my baby... after the scan on Sunday I found it hard to even look at one of my best friends because of this, she'd been unable to give up smoking and was in my house at my request and I found it so hard talking to her and I don't want to feel this rage.

I was continuing to do all the things because I thought remaining active was the best way to prevent the separated pelvis from becoming too bad. As soon as problems presented themselves I began to cancel the more physically demanding stuff. Ironically this means I have just stepped back from some amazing opportunities to try and save a baby that I have now lost.

Yesterday morning I was in a lot of pain, I'd started loosing clots but it wasn't bad enough to be seen again. I sat and did some colouring in and tried to sort out ballet classes for Mary and do adminy things. I had what I term a "period poo" and went and moaned about this to Al as that was all I needed on top of everything and I was worried I might have now picked up a stomach bug.

Then we had lunch and I sat and sorted the craft supplies for the workshop with the Scouts I was supposed to be running the next day - I was sorting stickers, pompoms and goggle eyes into various tubs. I wasn't lifting crates and wasn't even sure at this point whether I was physically going or sending Al with instruction sheets for the various things I'd gotten ready.

I felt sick and saw my bleeding had increased slightly so I went to see Al who said we'd phone the hospital again after his next meeting which was in 15 mins. I came back in and changed my pad but before I could sit down I felt a rush of blood. And went back to the bathroom - I'd drenched the pad and it was running down my legs. I phoned Al and said we need to phone now and go to the hospital.

I changed pad again and then again whilst he was phoning - the emergency number we'd been given told us it was daytime so to phone and leave a message with the early pregnancy unit and they would phone back. This is what we did but I'd had to change my pad again and knew this was bad from previous bleeding issues after having had Mary so we bundled me into the car and went to A&E. On the walk from the car park to the department I felt something come out of me, I felt like I'd given birth to something, I knew the pregnancy was smaller - much smaller than it should have been so I flipped out screaming "somethings come out" I thought my womb had prolapsed with the accompanying pain and the size of what came out.

At the desk whilst Al checked me in all I could do was cling to the side and whimper due to the contractions I was having - these were not full on all stomach like I had during Jean's birth but they were worse than the womb flush cramps I had after Mary. The whole thing was somewhere pain wise between the births of my two girls, except I knew there would be no little baby to take home.

They put me in a wheel chair and put me in the waiting area and we waited. At some point there was another pad change whilst being seen by a nurse - Al had to wheel me into the loos and help me. I was loosing handfuls of black/brown jelly clots like I did after I had Jean except these were much bigger.

Mainly with miscarriages nature knows how to take care of things, I could still feel the thing filling my vagina and I was still petrified about what it was. Selfishly I was now worried about whether this baby was going to take my womb with it, I didn't think my life was in danger at that point - I know my body can take far more of a beating than this before things got bad. The pain was different from the suspected ectopic I had which was a searing pain down my left hand side followed by cramps of a bad period variety (I have bad periods so probably a very bad period to others).

I was taken to a side room off of A&E which was busy with stressed looking Drs in it - I think the wait times and capacities are worse than when we first moved here - I believe there has been at least one A&E closed in the area in that time and this makes me furious as I watch the paramedics having to fill the gaps with patients whilst waiting for the Drs - everyone was maxed out.

By the time the Dr came to see me I had soaked through my pad, uber fluffy pyjamas and made a considerable mess of the wheel chair, my legs, socks, shoes and even the floor.

Up on the trolly the nurse helped me remove the sodden mess and something fell out, I freaked again trying to push myself away from the lump that to me did not look like a jelly clot - I had forgotten about placentas and things, I knew it was too big for the baby/fetus/blob and again that fear that it was my womb. I was in quite a lot of pain as well at the time. They assured me it was ok and placed it in a bowl for the Dr etc... to look at.

The Dr examined me, including speculums and dragging material out, he like every other Dr had trouble finding my pesky cervix; it likes to hide for my smear tests too and I have to do some fun gymnastics for them to get at it. It was decided I needed an injection to increase my blood pressure and help my body push it all through. Kind of inducing a micro labour from my understanding.

It made me feel sick but then I was feeling like I might vom anyway.

They informed me it was a miscarriage - I have a horrible feeling I actually said "duh yeah" to the Dr.

The nurse was literally scooping up handfuls of red/black gunk and shoving them into a bag, it was hanging down in boulbous strings like silly putty or play slime - a bit like some horrible monster from a horror movie. I found myself stressing out that they were going to put the baby in the bin even though I knew it was minute and possibly not there at all and already dead.

Alaric has been struggling to eat since.

He showed me stuff from his workshop book to help distract me and keep me conscious - a large old book with black binding and little embosses logo - the nurse thought he was reading the bible to me. I kept crying randomly.

I thought the Dr said his name was god - I think because I'd been reading up on Islamic stuff for my novel I heard him say Allah - I think he said Ali or something. Certainly someone was called Ali because Alaric responds to that name and kept turning around when it was called).

There was a lot of faff about chaperones and covering my dignity, which I just wanted to scream was unnecessary but understood was really there to protect the Drs as well as patients. Also I don't think I really had the energy to scream at all about anything.

The wheel chair was cleaned up (by Alaric who was in his stressed being uber helpful mode) and I was taken up to a ward to a room of my own with bathroom. As they wheeled my chair in I started to cry - it looked like the sort of room I'd had when I had Mary - the sort of room that should have one of those little hospital cots in - I was going through all this and there would be no baby to hold.

The poor girls who had to put up curtains in the room where trying to be sensitive and give me space or someone to talk to, in the end they only hung one curtain and came back later to do the bins.

I lost more clots and was wearing huge pads and hospital disposable bloomers (which are see through) by this point. No trousers, just blankets to cover me up - I told Alaric I thought it was the end of my Eeyore pyjamas.

I needed the loo - I made a huge mess and called the nurse as I physically couldn't clean it up and Alaric had had to leave to get the kids all sorted out - it was night time I'd got to the hospital at 2 pm. I don't remember all of it.

Nurse told me we had to keep all the clots and discharge etc... so put a stack of pans next to the toilet and I worried that I'd mucked things up by flushing the clots away.

Issue - I needed to pass all the bits of sac, baby etc... in order to stop bleeding and producing the clots of which there was a lot. And they needed to check all of it to see if I'd passed the "products".

Alaric thinks the actual baby bit would have been in the first chunk I lost - it looked more solid than anything else. He carried it up the stairs - this is important to him - since we'd found out I was pregnant he'd been talking to it, even when we weren't sure if it was alive or dead or a zombie baby he spoke to it and told it it was alive and to hold on and how much we loved it.

He told me and the Dr that he thought our little Rice Grain had other things to do and that he wished it well.

Up in the ward room they came to take blood and found my veins hiding due to fluid loss so then came the fun bit of finding a vein to put a cannula in - the first attempt at putting it in failed - I'd wanted it in my left hand so that I could still bend my arm (I've been cannula-ed up before, I know how it goes). It was a no go and has left a lovely bruise - it was a pink robot butterfly - for some reason I felt the need to explain to the Dr that cannulas were robot butterflies, something which harks back to me being in hospital as a four year old.

She said my right hand looked a no go too - apparently I'm too delicate ie my hands are too boney and it is painful if the vein is right up against a bone - also my veins kept running away from the needle - though I think that was later on. It ended up in the crook of my right arm. More bloods where taken and a fluid sack attached to a drip. I was damn thirsty but they were already considering giving me an op so I was Nil by Mouth.

I got pain killers and then morphine, I would try not to writhe on the bed or call out in pain. Everything I passed had to be kept so they could see what products I'd passed. I felt like I was leaving a horrible mess for them each time but none as bad as the first time and the amount of clots was reducing.

They asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 where I was with pain - I said initially 5, then it went up to 7 but my pain scale I think is a bit skewed - for me 8 is unable to talk, 9 is can't open eyes but can understand what is being said and 10 is there is nothing but the pain in my existence. When the Dr came to try and manually clear me out (this was another attempt after the initial one in A&E) I reached an 8 - my damn cervix, I felt like my entire insides where being pulled out when she grabbed it with the tong things. I thought I was going to pass out or throw up as well.

I got morphine to take at this stage.

I got more fluids, I got nurses popping in for chats - I cried every time I was on my own - I read my book on terrorism - it was a Thriller easy read with both Christian and Muslim extremists as the bad guys and a brit muslim as the hero along with a US author. It was a good plot line but read like a point horror - just what I needed.

Alaric came back at some point and gave me PJ and clean underwear and the dussy cuddly toy which I had been snugging at home when in pain. The nurses loved the dussy, so did the Drs.

He'd packed my pregnancy PJs; I couldn't help but point this out, i.e. the ones my mum made me when I was having Jean and that are really thin cotton so only tend to get worn when I go into hospital. They have paddington bear on them. He's tried to get me old pjs and bought me a pair of his and his pants to wear as well so I wouldn't ruin any of my wonder women or star wars knickers etc...

I slept a bit, the pains seemed to be easing off and the clots got less and less.

They let me sip water until midnight when I had to once more be nil by mouth just incase.

I was awoken for morning obs and it all seemed fine. I felt a lot better, the Dr was sorting out a scan for me and we were hopeful that I'd avoided needing an op. I felt well enough to attempt changing into non blood stained PJ bottoms... I did this and went a loo with the idea that I could perhaps wash myself a bit. But were as the clots had been getting smaller and smaller to just little flecks during the night I now "gave birth" to several fist sized clumps - and they were not my fist size, they were quite sizeable wrestler hand size clumps. I frowned at them and walked back to the bed having noticed that my canula was letting blood up my fluids tube and I was damn thirsty, so thirsty it was all that began to occupy my mind, I felt sick - I needed to drink.

I pressed the buzzer to get my fluid bag changed and to tell them about the clots. I sat on the edge of the bed unable to get back into it - I suddenly felt weird. When the nurse came I explained and mentioned the feeling weird and suddenly sweating hot as a little side thing.

I had ringing in my ears but I often have ringing tinnitus. The world was greying. She got me in bed laid it flat, grabbed the obs kit to check my blood pressure. It was low, she checked the other arm and it was even lower - I know the second reading had a 30 in it.

Suddenly the room was full of Drs and nurses, extra canulars where put in - these were green I think, they could take faster flows, nurses where literally squeezing bags of fluid into me, they made me feel cold. I told them I thought I was going into shock but I couldn't understand their reply, I started to shiver and cough. An oxygen mask appeared. and I noticed my nails were blue tinged. I thought "that's not good" I thought "I'm not going to get to write poetry stories for this baby," then I thought "stop that! little Mary needs you, you have stories to finish for her and Jeany," the world was a swirl.

They were trying to explain things, they looked inside again, I wasn't opening up properly to let everything out - just like with Jean's labour. I thought "this is a lot of medical stuff and pain for no baby" they kept trying to draw me out with conversation - the Dussy was important for this.

It was less painful than having Jean, more painful than having Mary. I kept apologising for everything - I'm not sure why I do this - there was a nasty philosopher who said that if you truly want to see who someone is then you hang them over a cliff or make them confront their death (or something like that) and only then do you truly see who they are. Every time I get close to that cliff I start worrying I'm being a nuisance and apologising and trying to clean things up and be helpful - I am not sure what that really says about who I really am.

Alaric uses this to gauge how ill I actually am - a gritted teeth fine is much better though still not good but a sorry is a bad sign and an Ok is probably the worst.

Once I was more with it I could see there were 2 drs and 4 nurses all in my little room, "nothing like a bit of excitement first thing in the morning!" was one phrase that made me smile.

But that was it I was going for the op. I was now being fed fluid through pressure cuffs?

I couldn't reach my next book to read - The Book of Dust and with the canulas and fatigue I couldn't have held it up even if someone had passed it to me so it sat there with the Dussy on it and I thought of going back to South Africa and seeing the whales properly, I saw a whale give birth but I still haven't seen an orca and Lynn had told me about them at sunset and how their white turns pink as they jump out of the waves - I want to see that.

I felt a pang of guilt as I lay waiting for the op. I wanted this to all be over, but for it to be over I had to get rid of the last remnant of my baby. It was like I was wishing it away.

A lovely nurse came and changed me, managing to thread my t-shirt around all the pipes and canulars - the blood pressure tube was on my leg - I'm not sure how it got there but she explained it was so it didn't hamper the fluids going into my arms. I think I panically told the Drs about my blood group - don't give me O positive it makes me ill, I know my blood looks like O positive but I'm allergic to it!

Apparently I was down as O negative anyway.

I'm not sure I was making a lot of sense - but I know it was potentially important.

I had to do swabs for various super bugs - I think I may have done this twice at various stages. I panicked that I hadn't told them I'd had contact with MSRA before they started doing stuff because I know it can be a problem.

I explained about my c-section scar and then about cleaning mum's cancer wounds - no idea if it was relevant. Again not sure really how coherent I was.

I got stressed that I was leaving blood all over the hospital and mucking up all the white sheets. I couldn't go to the loo myself but the amount of fluids they had pumped into me meant I needed the loo a lot - I had to call for bed pans. I don't like weeing in bedpans, I never thought I'd want a catheter fitted but I found myself wistfully thinking about them.

They couldn't get hold of Alaric to tell him I was having the op - it was school run time and he'd left his phone at home because he was stressed. The headmistress apparently stopped him to ask if he was ok which quite frankly he is not. For me I was losing/had lost the baby, for him it was the baby loss and a very ill wife.

I knew he should know I was going into theatre - I got the nurse to get my phone and texted him saying I was going to theatre - I wanted to text that I loved him but knew he'd panic so didn't. When none of us had heard back from him and I was being whisked away to theatre I regretted not sending the "I love you" and couldn't remember what the last things where I'd said to him or the kids and I just wanted to get home for snugs.

I had forms to sign and a million questions to answer and both ends of my bed being wheeled around the hospital. The anaesthetic drs where really nice and in the end the bit I'd most been dreading and didn't want to happen - the op. was the least traumatic bit of the whole experience. They injected stuff into my canula, explained I'd have a breathing tube put in and gave me oxygen and talked gently to me until I went to sleep.

Part of me always worries I won't wake up - I think that is because of the almost dying during the op. as a four year old and waking up days later - that missing time is always there when I have hospital stuff - I can't help it.

There was kites and clouds on the ceiling, I held onto the fact that I have a kite picture I need to ink and turn into a colouring sheet for the girls. And drifted off and woke up and it was done - I had a bit of a sore throat and a blocked nose.

I was allowed to drink again and when I got back to the ward I was even allowed food. I thought I'd wolf it down but I didn't - Alaric turned up as I was being settled back in the room with the food. He'd gotten the message and phoned the hospital and they'd told him he didn't have to wait until visiting time (3-4:30 or something like that).

I didn't have a clue what meal it was, as in was it lunch? Dinner? It turned out to be lunch, I barely managed a 3rd of it. But I did drink the soup and my cup of tea. I was still woozy so was still bed panning it. Alaric thought I was a def. staying in for another night so went off to get the kids for a visit.

But my bloods had come back fine and I was starting to feel a lot better the Dr asked me if I wanted to go home - I was now feeling narky and fed up with being in the room - I knew Al was getting pizza for dinner - I wanted pizza and a film with my family.

I was using the loo again and there was little blood and only minute specs of clots etc... I drank all the water, I wanted to rip the canulas out. They came and took them out for me and I got myself dressed though it was a confused getting dressed and I think I put back on dirty cloths - certainly Alaric helped me rechange when I got home.

Al turned up as they served me dinner - you could tell I was feeling better as I was cross and snappy. I struggled my way through most of the main course and left the soup, roll and stashed the pudding for Jeany, much to Alaric's bemusement.

We were waiting to be discharged, first clanger - the Dr who'd spoken with me earlier said I'd have pain relief to take home - by this point I hadn't had anything since the op. and was feeling it - I asked for pain relief but it didn't appear I might not have been allowed anymore and then the discharge nurse said that I couldn't take and pain relief home and that I should just take paracetamol.

"oh ok" I said whilst thinking "bloody hell paracetamol isn't going to touch this".

Second clanger which I found harder to deal with was to do with how the remains/gunk was going to be dealt with - at some point the previous day - I can't remember when exactly a nurse had sat down and gone through things with me so I'd signed a form saying I would like the remains to be cremated and scattered in the garden in Cheltenham but I knew there was a second form about being informed when it happens.

Now somehow I assumed this meant there was a little service we could go to. The poor nurse realised that this is what I thought and had to tell me that we couldn't attend it but that a chaplain would phone to say when it had happened. I was crushed by this - unbelievably crushed - more crushed than I would of thought possible.

Also I wanted to know what had caused it - the suspected ectopic between the girls had been so much easier (I was and am still really upset about it - there is a gap in my children that shouldn't be there) - but it had grown in the wrong place, end of story. But this one - this had felt like a nice pregnancy - the best and easiest I'd had, there wasn't much morning sickness, my breast hurt sure but that was nothing. It had suddenly all been blown out of the water.

The answer is they don't know - the risk factors I tick are illness - I was ill at the end of September, ill enough to not go to work I really wanted to go to. Had that done the damage? Was that why the baby was so small? Had it stopped growing properly at that point? Or was it the suddenly coming down hard with it again on the Thursday - I was ill enough that someone who knew me randomly stopped me in the street to ask if I wanted a lift home because I looked so sick. I just started sneezing and coughing hard, it was like a sledgehammer of flu. Alaric thinks this is what did it - he thinks that it must have been this because of how correlated it was with the bleeding. Cough/bleed/cough/bleed/cough/bleed. I'm sure which scenario is better. When I say cough I don't mean a little tickle - the cough was deep an hard and continuous - I could hardly talk to the Dr on Friday and there was nothing they could give me for it.

Or is it my shonky womb with it's erratic bleeding or my stupid weird can't make up it's mind blood group? I don't drink or smoke and I try and eat healthy and exercise and so on. What went wrong? They said it wont have been the work I was doing - that is fine for a healthy pregnancy - so am left wondering what happened.

Left feeling like my body just randomly poisoned our baby, or that I did something wrong but I can't really find what I should have done differently without it causing other problems like making the separated pelvis worse.

I cried in front of the girls when I got home - I couldn't help it, Jean had saved a Mrs Tiddiwinkles 50p for me and Mary dumped a confused looking cat into my lap but neither of them wanted to really look at me - they had Minecraft. Alaric got annoyed with them - they both sneaked in for cuddles a bit later on and then argued about who got to snug at me. I was still having regular waves of pain which I couldn't hide from them.

Alaric made me a bed up in the spare room so I'd be more comfy, he put the dussy and my crotchet octopus on the pillow and made sure there was a stack of books and things. The spare room has the cot in it - it is currently a children's sofa covered in cuddly toys. It burned me and I cried until I slept. When I woke up I had forgotten and then I saw the flapping dressing on my arm and the streak of blood, just one little line ending in a spot where a needle had gone in. Tears without sobs came and that was how Jean found me when she came to see me before school.

I feel I am failing them as well - our family almost grew but now I am just the cause of pain and extra work load for everyone.

This is the Facebook update I composed - I didn't really want to post anything on there are was actually more open on twitter but people were worried and needed to know - I tried to text or Al phoned and emailed people before hand but as always we missed people accidentaly.

I'm out of hospital - I once again have the NHS to thank for my life - emotionally I am not good and physically been through the mill and may not be over yet. I am hiding at home - for those who want to know more and don't already know I am writing something but it is mainly for me and will be shared when it is shared which might be never. But me and Alaric Blagrave Snell-Pym have had an emotional roller coaster the last few weeks going though surprise, fear, joy, horror, hope and now despair as we left hospital empty handed. I will be hiding for the next week recovering.

Grain of Rice (by )

Written Monday the 6th but was not put live because there were people we felt we should tell first before they saw it anyway else and because we weren't really sure we wanted people to know at this stage. I'd also been writing poetry since Friday 3rd which I will see about putting in a blog post.

Grain of Rice

So I found out I was pregnant and as also happens... I find out - I start bleeding. Really very lightly, so light I wasn't sure if I was seeing things.

But I was coughing... bark bark bark, coughing right down deep in the core of me so that my c-section scar hurt, so that I'd pee myself. I've had a cough all the way through since September but mostly it's just been an annoying tickle but it was a chest infection in September and it suddenly hit me hard whilst I was in town. Fortunately one of the people I'd been working with at Frightmare spotted me and thought I looked unwell and gave me a lift home.

I'd sneezed a couple of times and the coughing hadn't yet arisen to it's full intensity it was still just a cough - the main issue was that I felt suddenly like all the life had gone out of me and my pelvis had clicked and walking was once again damn painful. My separated pelvis had never fully gone away so a cracking pelvis wasn't that strange.

I got home and the cough got worse and worse and that night I was struggling, it hurt my pelvis and scar with it rattling lot of coughing fits. The chest infection seemed to be back I went to bed early but the blood appeared so so light - we phoned the Drs...

I could barely talk for coughing - I was steeped in misery at the thought of the cough I developed at the beginning of Jean's pregnancy and what that had meant for me. The nightmare of blood clots and oxygen monitors and samples of arterial blood being taken.

The blood quickly snatched my attention as the new fear was that I was losing the baby - but I had spotting with both Jean and Mary - I had full blown periods with Mary's pregnancy but I also had a suspected ectopic and years of delayed periods followed by bad periods where I dared not take a pregnancy test. There was supposed to be a two year gap between Jean and Mary - I think that says it all really.

So I found out I was pregnant and then there was blood - like every other time I've done a pregnancy test - seriously what is it with that?

Currently the Drs can't do anything for the cough - it has subsided a lot. Then it was the waiting game - I had to wait until Sunday morning to get my scan to check. The baby was smaller than expected, with no obvious heart beat. Saturday I lost gunk, slime and old blood.

I'd been feeling cold for days, so cold Jean had lent me her hoody - this was before the blood appeared - I wonder was I already bleeding inside.

I'd been having a bath Saturday evening when the gunk arrived, I had a slight cramp, Mary barged in to go to the toilet - she's six and always needs the loo if I want a nice relaxing bath. She said, "Mummy you've pooed in the bath" I looked and there was gunk and I swallowed the horror and coughed and thought "oh my god I've just miscarried in front of my six year old".

Sunday was the halloween and fireworks party I'd promised the girls; I didn't really want to cancel it - I thought I'd lost the baby I thought I might have to have the DnC thingy again where they wash your womb. My friend came over uber early with her little baby to baby sit the girls and let anyone in who arrived at 10 for the party if we weren't back.

I told people I wouldn't be making cakes and the floor would likely not be hoovered. Alaric's friend hoovered for me and he made us all nice nutritional food to sustain us and Alaric got to talk to them and remain sane.

Sunday morning was more wee testing and the scan - I'd already convinced myself that the baby wouldn't be there. Initially all they could see was the sac and the bleeding which was on another part of the womb. So I had to go and wee for an internal scan - on the loo I lost a solid lump about 2 cm with little white bumps on them.

So I was surprised when they said there was something in the sac... a very small pregnancy - the size of a grain of rice. But there was no heart beat but it is small it maybe a pregnancy that has stopped growing, it maybe just a younger pregnancy and it may or may not be still alive. It may just be too small for the heart beat to show.

I wonder about the bleeding spot and the gunk I've lost, Alaric is convinced it is the same as happened early on with Jean where it appears we lost a twin. He is hopeful - I am not - I have to wait 10 or so days to go back and see if the pregnancy is growing, whether the baby is still alive.

This means I am sitting here not knowing whether the cramps and bleeding are turning into a full miscarriage, or whether there is a little baby developing or whether I have a dead baby sitting there or worse combo a zombie baby that is neither properly dead or alive but has the potential to poison me with its decomposition.

Some of the gunk was stinky, mostly it's been fresh blood I've lost. I am in pain, physical pain. I keep swinging from desolation to little peeks of hopes and dreams about finishing my baby discworld toys I've been sewing. I am getting angry at friends who have babies but didn't give up smoking and stuff - I get like this - I feel a rage and hate and a ITS ALL UNFAIR as I watch others do things "wrong" whilst I do everything the Drs say and struggle so very much.

This is not fair on my friends who I know have their own struggles.

I opted to see this one even though it may well not be viable - as Al said the ones that are nebulous between Jean and Mary we struggle with because we don't know how to remember them or how many actuals there were but this one we can remember - he wrote all the stats down for it so we'd have at least that.

Miscarriage and still births are often not talked about or seen as a thing of shame and this is unhelpful in the healing and to be honest the medical research around it all. I am fortunate that mine have all been early on issues but it still hurts like hell and I just remember all that pain between Jean and Mary when I didn't even know how to talk about it or what I was supposed to feel and I don't think I'd actually processed all of that until now.

As you can imagine I am a bit of an emotional wreck, I keep apologising to Alaric which I think he's starting to find frustrating - he wont let me do any house work or anything which I'm finding frustrating but I understand - plus when I have sneaked in a bit I just end up coughing up my lungs again. And yes I fear blood clots like I had with Jean.

Again the issue that the records from Jean's pregnancy are all missing much to the Drs horror >:(

So yeah unhappy Snell-Pym's and yes the kids know - considering they knew/suspected I was pregnant before I did and they can see when I'm not well it isn't really fair to keep stuff from them. Death is part of life, grieving is something that kids are often denied and I don't think that is healthy - a new baby or the lack of affects them as well as us.

Just sitting here hoping it's not a zombie baby and fearing its a gone baby. Oh and one last thing - yes I am referring to it as a baby but in reality it is a bundle of cells at this stage and things around pregnancies are always hard times for the parents weather they are wanted, not wanted, surprises or forced -so if I catch anyone using this as an anti-abortion thing I will go spare - a woman's body is her own. Plus I'm sure that's the only way to safely deal with zombie babies :'(

Being Ill is so Frustrating (by )

So I have a shonky immune system - I tend to pick up chest infections and stuff that makes others ill for a few days can take me out for weeks. This hasn't been so bad since finding out I can't eat gluten but it is still there.

And it is incredibly frustrating... so last the week before last I was a little run down, I got a cyst and a sore throat, everyone else got a sore throat and a slight cough. They got better within a couple of days. The stupid cyst got worse and then popped (which was a relief) and I was just left feeling a little chesty but that was it.

I thought I was basically better, but only just, so I went to my rehearsal for the acting job I love. Now I could have not gone to it and done a rehearsal plus shift on Saturday but that's a long day and I have to avoid stupid long days due to the head injury etc... and I thought I was better so I went to the rehearsal which was outside in the rain. Before the session was even over I started to feel stuffy headed and to cough, sneeze etc...

Roll on yesterday where I spent the day curled up coughing my lungs up, with ear ache, nausea and no to little voice. I had a slight temperature, I've felt worse - in the past when I have pushed myself whilst feeling like this I have ended up sick for months and ended up with full blown pneumonia and in hospital on oxygen etc... I never want that to happen again so I will confess I am a bit more of a scaredycat/I need to rest person these days. Plus I don't really think it's fair to infect others and part of the problem I have is that people go out when they are sick and infect me with my dodgy immunity!

Our cultures entire work ethic is just power through! Dose yourself up and get on with it - but that is incredibly damaging to everybody and down right dangerous for those with low immunity.

But... but... I also can't stand letting people down and so yesterday morning having slept through the school run and being barely able to stay upright I was still trying to work out how to work. I had a workshop booked for the evening. Then I sneezed and it was EXPLOSIVE and I thought - damn I must be infectious I can't go and infect people, I'm a bio hazard and I had to contact people and say I couldn't run the workshop... and this hurt - it hurt like hell. I was letting people down.

At the same time I'm trying to think on this as damage limitation - if I don't cancel one or two things now then I might well be wiped out until after Christmas and that would mean letting down a hell of a lot more people.

This morning my temperature has broken and I managed breakfast properly, but I am coughing and snotting still and the coughing has pinged something in my back and I think if I go and try and run about in a wet field for a few hours I will be very ill... so I have just texted to cancel the acting shift for tomorrow - the shift that was the whole point of going for the Wednesday rehearsal :'(

I really really wanted to do this shift and not just from the not wanting to let people down point of view - I love this work, I love the acting and it's opening night and it's the night that people are coming to see me and now I wont be there and I'll miss all the professional photographs and so on.

But if I don't take the time off now I risk not being able to do any of the run - but I've just canceled my first shift!!! How unreliable does that make me? 🙁

I've said that if I am suddenly a lot better I will come in still but at the moment I still can't breath properly. I am hoping that I'll be better for Sunday when I'm running a craft workshop (inside) - kind of trying for damage limitation here - but I feel pretty crap emotionally as well as physically now.

I feel like a failure when I can't do things.

Day 2 of being curled up in my nest.

20 yrs Ago… (by )

20 yrs ago, me and my friends Nikki and Helen went nervously to our school to collect our GCSE results. I at least was petrified, I believed that everything hinged on the results. I'd had noise bleeds and panic attacks trying to get through the damn things.

The added pressure for me was that I had a hell of a lot to prove - it wasn't just my future that was at stake - it was me myself - it was my self worth.

I am [dyslexic](, very dyslexic, I have ADHD and dyspraxia too - I was not statemented for the dyslexia at this point. There was no extra time or allowances for SPAG made, some of the papers I sat I'd only gotten to the centre of the exam paper before the exam time run out. I also had several stints on walking aids and crutches due to the hypermobility and general clumsiness of dyspraxia.

I'd only sat 8 GCSE's (counting double science as two GCES) in place of the ninth I had "Option Support". I'd been talked out of doing geography because of the amount of writing involved in it.

Also I tended to get lots of chest infections and had extremely bad periods where I would throw up meaning I often missed big chunks of school.

I was bullied unmercifully - I was one of the poorer families, I had mostly home made uniform, I wore NHS glasses and had frizzy hair. Every one thought I was thick - I saw what other people were like - I was pretty sure I wasn't thick (most of the time but sometimes I thought I was the stupidest person on the planet).

One girl would steal my bag and copy my homework, her spelling was great but my finding things out and reasoning was much better than hers. She would get full marks, depending on the teacher I could score 0 for my spelling nullifying the answer for them. Most of the teachers were great and incredibly supportive but not all of them. My bag would end up in the bin, sometimes it would be hidden, sometimes it was thrown on top of things and kindly teachers had to retrieve it. I had stones thrown at me and my hair set on fire, I wasn't the only one.

When I started the school my parents were informed I'd be lucky to be sitting GCSE's at all. I needed to prove the world wrong about me.

I worked on my coordination with my little brothers help, I worked on my reading - I was desperate to read - I could see there were films where you could see inside peoples heads inside books and they were quiet so you could "watch" these films anywhere.

My dad made me alphabet and spelling cards and my mum and nan sat with me for hours trying to get that click of recognition were letters and words were concerned.

The head teacher Ms Winstone was on my side and this was a tremendous help. But I had little to no drama, music, second language lessons as I had to go and do extra English. I had to go to The Red Room. I actually loved the Red Room and the ladies who helped me in there. There was a chicken game with spelling eggs that I think one of the ladies sons had made. I loved it!

I respond well to gamification.

But the Red Room was the "special room" for special people who couldn't be anything and needed to be put in their place in society.

In year 8 when I was 12 yrs old my friend lent me two point horror books The Boyfriend and The Girlfriend. I decided that what ever it took I was going to read those books! I was going learn to read.

It took me three months to get through the first book - point horrors are for young teens and are between 1 and 2 hundred pages of largish, well spaced type. It was so so damn hard, I had a red ruler that I used to follow the words - to make it clearer which line I was reading. It was a slog.

The second book I believe only took me 3 weeks, by the following year I had it down to 3 days! But... I was reading all the time - I still wasn't a fast reader I just devoted a lot of time to it, I read walking home, I read whilst waiting for my friends, I had books shoved in the pockets of my blazer. Within five books of starting this "proper reading" I was reading long epics such as The Eight and Weaveworld, I read classics such as The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories. I began to collect books to read, from charity shops and library sales. I discovered that I don't really like most "classics".

This reading transformation is not as clear cut as this makes it seem. I would never have loved books if it had not been for the books my last year Junior School teacher Miss Savage had selected for me or the help the librarian at that school had given me - the use of high content low word count books was amazing and I loved [Bangers and Mash]( and Tim and The Hidden People. And the help to over come speech problems and so on via looking looking after ducklings all played a huge huge part.

And I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a archaeologist, opera singer and astronaut. I did not know the difference in Infant school between archaeology and palaeontology and the boundary is a tad blurry! I wanted to be an opera singer so I could design the sets, cloths, and write the stories as well as sing and act. These are still pretty much all my aspirations.

I don't let go of dreams easily, and getting to secondary school had been a near miss with suggestions that I needed to go to a "special needs" school. To be a geologist I needed to get to university and even I at infant school age 4-7 yrs old knew that you couldn't get there from those types of schools (this was the 80's).

So GCSE's were a pretty big deal and I was terrified on the day I went to get my results - I was determined to do four A'levels but I was starting from a bad base of doing less GCSE's that most people to begin with.

Due to the tremendous improvement in my reading skills I had been put up into first set for Science from third set - something that was a big gamble for the teachers and something everyone had to have meetings about. Some considered it wasn't fair and there was the issue that bottom sets are often not taught everything because they just don't have the time to get through everything at the pace needed for students who can't read through huge texts books by themselves etc...

This meant I was trying to catch up on 2-3 years worth of science foundation as well as learning the stuff for the actual exams. I really loved my science lessons and ended up in what was called the "super set one" who did more in depth stuff like cosmology and A'level and degree level questions just to stretch you a bit - the down side? You lost lunch times for the classes.

My science teachers believed in me - or at least let me think they believed in me. And this was a confidence boost but at the same time put an expectation for success on me that was probably all projection from my own expectations of self. I knew I couldn't fail because I'd let down all those parents, grandparents, teachers and friends who had helped me. My nan died during my GCSE years so it was important not to let her down - she had won a place at grammar school but had been denied it as she was just a girl and the eldest of a large brood who needed caring for. I had to succeed for her.

And yes my friends helped me - they helped me by letting me catch up with notes copied from the board when the maths teacher was bullying me in year 8. They helped me face down the bullies and snuck sweets into the cinema with me. These were the same friends who came with me so we could collect our results together - Nicky and Helen who were both fire bearers at my wedding.

No one in my family had made it to university, it was not something you did, I could not fail, I could not fall but I was sure I'd have to do it part time whilst working because how else did you do university?

I wasn't even sure if people like me could go to university but I never let the impossible slow me down. I would have to find away.

We marched into the front of the building through the official visitor entrance, giggling with nerves and being too loud (or at least I was) and we picked up our envelopes. I couldn't read the results, my vision had blurred with fear or blood pressure or nerves.

The results? 5 Bs, 3 Cs and a D - the D was in History where Id had to write essays and hadn't gotten very fair with the paper - however I was borderline for a C and the teachers suggested we get it remarked. This cost £30 I think and was a lot of money to us but we did it - it came back still a D.

This was higher than I'd expected, and higher than most of the teachers had expected due to that only getting to staples in the middle of the papers thing, oh and having a panic attack in one exam and having been in A&E with a stupid injury from trying to run to an exam when our friends mum forgot to pick us up.... and so on.

The only exception to this was Art - I was actually predicted A for art but I didn't realise that I needed to write up the art work - my portfolio was lit. just all the pictures I'd created and sheets of practice eyes and colour work. That was it - that was the art but there was supposed to be writing too. No writing, no A.

Science was BB - but only because I took the higher paper - I did not finish the exam paper - every question I had managed to answer was right. Maths I'd only gotten to the middle of the paper - Intermediate paper - I got a C again my teacher made a big point that I had gotten everything I'd answered right.

The biggest surprise though was English Lit. I got a B!!! I got a B with a reading age of 12 and a spelling age of 8 - yes I took my GCSE's with a spelling age of 8 much to my English teachers horror! Part of this was the subject matter - I loved my GCSE books - To Kill a Mocking Bird, Of Mice and Men, An Inspector Calls (and Shakespeare - I actually like Shakespeare but I tended to turn it into little comic book strips so I could work out what was actually going on). The anthology had included the poem No Streamin' There - a poem about someone in lower sets who realises that even if they are not good at school the graveyard shows it doesn't really matter because everyone is just dead! The Oakum Room which had me obsessed with womens' right in the Victorian era and the absolute horror that many in my class thought the protagonist (a young mother in a workhouse) was to blame. London - one of my all time favourite poems and The Cream Cracker Under the Settee - a story that still haunts me and was part of the inspiration for how I wrote Alfie's Triumph (though obviously the actual story of Alfie was built up from an actual person and event).

I loved the GCSE reading so much that I'd also been working my way through the entire list of potential texts and not just the ones I'd been assigned - I was still doing this when I moved to Gloucestershire and sadly lost the list somewhere in the move. This how I ended up reading some truly amazing books!

Seriously people check out the books! (Libraries and few downloads... amazon links below).

There was also a lovely film of The Cream Cracker Under the Settee and an audio adaption which you should look out for!

Teachers got hugged on the day of my results - of course not the cute biology teacher I had the biggest crush on ever 🙂 He'd compounded the issue by being the main teacher to rescue my bag for me when it was thrown on roofs etc... he was also only about 22 and not butch! (think a short gothier dressed Alaric), I could barely talk or even look at him!

I was elated, ecstatic and amazed! I had 5 B's, I only just had 5 B's and I had Cs in English and Maths - this meant I had just scraped enough to sit my four A'levels. My friends thought I was mad (the normal at the time was 3) but the head Teacher Mrs Winstone thought it was a great idea and informed me that she had done the same. I was in the top 20 students of the school for my results and there was a special cup for progress The Craven Cup so of course there was a prize given award to go to the following academic year. I chose a book on Geology and it was awarded to me by an Eastenders actor (played on of the first gay roles on British TV) and just happened to be Mr Hogg's (the deputy head or head of year (I can't remember now)) son 🙂

It was amazing that I got through and that I achieved - but here's the thing as I see young people I know stress and panic about exams I think that it is not worth it - it is not worth the health of our kids. Exams are not a good judge of how academic a person is, and academia is not a measure of how intelligent someone is. There are so many paths you can take in life and education should be about the learning and more so... the learning how to learn - not about stressing that you are going to be stuck in a pit of poverty and waste your life and be a big fat failure. This is what is sold to kids, this is the fear that drives our youth to education and it is not a sustainable system.

So I found myself congratulating kids and for others giving them examples of other routes they could take and pointing out they were not failures just because of some stupid piece of paper! Exam learning doesn't stay in most peoples brains - they've crammed and it is slinking away by mid afternoon the next day - not committed to long term memory and actually a lot of it is just fact checking - you don't need that in you brain - you need to know how to fact check but not the instant fact recall! (obviously if you are going into something like the military then how you recall info and behave under stress is very important but that is in the training!)

20 yrs ago I got my GCSE results - my 12 year old bought home a GCSE maths book from school - it was what she is currently learning in class. She likes exams, she doesn't see them as a stressful thing - I hope we can keep it like that for her.

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