Inspirational stories: Many of us have them but may not even realise how important they truly are or are too modest to shout it from the roof-tops. Successes should be shared and enjoyed, especially when certain hurdles or obstacles have had to be overcome to get there. Your story could help others reach their full potential. For this reason, I wanted to find some truly inspiring people who have a story that needs to be told. Each week I will bring you a different story with a different angle but one that you will just have to read.
In our final week of the inspirational series we hear from Laura who blogs over at Five Little Doves. Her story is of loss and gain and how her dream of having a big family finally came true…
As a child, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say the same thing – a Mummy. There was nothing I wanted more than to have the family I always dreamed of, surrounded by children, and a home filled with love and laughter. At the age of twenty-three, engaged to my boyfriend of five years, we were over the moon to discover that I was pregnant with our first baby. And we shouted it from the rooftops!! We spent those first twelve weeks decorating the nursery, filling the wardrobes with tiny little rompers and the cutest baby bootees, so excited and so exceptionally naïve. Thirteen weeks later, when we were told that our baby had died, we were in complete and utter shock. “You can always try again,” the doctors had reassured us, “Miscarriage is very common.” And, although we were sad, and so very disappointed, we took comfort in the fact that we were still young, that there was no reason why our next baby would not survive, and just three months later we were over the moon to be pregnant again. We were far more cautious this time round, keeping the news to ourselves until after our twelve week scan, and yet the following Spring, after a textbook pregnancy and a straightforward labour, our first son, Lewis, arrived into the world and we felt like the luckiest parents on the planet.
We married in the Summer, with Lewis in our arms, and the world, so we thought, at our feet. Knowing that we wanted a sibling for Lewis, we began to try for another baby quite quickly and fell pregnant shortly afterwards. Losing a second baby came as a shock, and yet again we were reassured that it was very common, that there was no reason why it would happen a third time, or a fourth, or a fifth. Basic blood tests showed no obvious issues and we were simply told to keep trying, which we did. And despite our worries, and much to our amazement, our next pregnancy continued to progress and we finally allowed ourselves to believe that we were to be blessed with another son by the Summer.
At twenty-eight weeks pregnant, with concerns over measuring small, I began to have regular growth scans. We weren’t overly concerned, preoccupied with a toddler, and confident that we had passed the point where anything could go wrong. As my due date approached I began to be monitored twice a week at the hospital, where I would sit, wired up to the monitor, watching my sons heartbeat rise and fall, shooting up and down with his kicks and squirms, and I would leave, reassured that everything was just as it should be. And then, one beautiful Summers day, on the 18th of July, when the flowers were in full bloom and the birds were singing without a care in the world, our whole world ended.
“I’m sorry but your baby has died”.
Looking back now I have no idea how our legs carried us out of the hospital that morning, into the car and home to pack a bag. We sat side by side on the bed, totally silent, staring at all of the lovely things we had bought for our baby that he would never wear, never use, never need. We put on brave faces for Lewis who was packed off to my parents and we drove silently to the hospital where I would have to give birth to our second son and then leave the hospital without him. Thirty hours later, after a gruelling induction, at 3.44pm on the 19th July I gave birth to our son, our second born, our Joseph Allan. And he was so beautiful. A full head of dark hair, a perfect button nose and the most beautiful ruby red lips that were just waiting to be kissed. His skin was still warm and I shall never forget placing him on my chest and breathing in that newborn baby smell and wishing I could freeze that moment forever. Like all new parents we counted his fingers and toes, we “oohed” and “ahhed” over his long eyelashes and we beamed with pride at what a beautiful baby boy we had created. And we stayed there like that until day turned to night, his body grew cold, and we slept with our baby between us for the first time. And the last.
We bathed him and dressed him, took prints of his hands and feet, a lock of his lovely dark hair and photos that would hurt too much to look at for such a long time. We talked to him, told him about his big brother and how much he would have loved him, about his grandparents who had been counting down the days to meet him and about the life he would have lived. We desperately tried to give him as many hugs and kisses as we possibly could and yet as we said goodbye for the thousandth time and closed the door behind us, we knew that it would never be enough. We buried him a week later, in a tiny white coffin, surrounded by our family and friends. We watched in disbelief as they lowered our baby into the ground and we left him alone in a cold, dark cemetery and walked away. That thought haunted me for such a long time, the idea of him all alone there without his Mama to hold him and keep him safe. I would lie awake at night torn between my two-year-old son sleeping beside me or my newborn baby alone in the dark. There were times when I contemplated joining him, when I felt that there was no other option and no other way to make the pain stop. They were the darkest of days, the blackest of thoughts and I still look back in disbelief that I survived them. Despite our original thoughts that we couldn’t go through another pregnancy, as the month passed, and our arms ached to hold a baby in our arms, we tentatively began trying for another. Holding that positive pregnancy test had brought mixed emotions, excitement and hope, fear and worry, and yet we had been given the utmost of care, constantly reassured with early scans. Seeing a little heartbeat on the screen had been so emotional, the hope that although this baby would not replace Joseph, perhaps he or she would help to heal our hearts. Losing that baby, just weeks later, had hit us hard, and yet we were not quite ready to give up. My husband and I had plodded on, falling pregnant and miscarrying countless times, the grief no longer bringing us closer but simply driving a wedge between us, pushing us so far apart that by the time Lewis was four years old, after eleven years together, our marriage was over.
My divorce hit me hard. Not only was I grieving for Joseph, for my husband and the future we had planned, but I was grieving for the baby that I would never have, the brother or sister that Lewis so desperately wanted. And that was tough. Faced with the decision to sink or swim, I found the strength to keep going, and within the year Lewis and I had our own home, I had re-trained as a teaching assistant and was working full-time to provide for my son. It wasn’t easy, in fact it was inexplicably hard at times, but I was determined that my life would not end there, just thirty years old, that I would not allow my grief to define me.
So at the end of 2010, when an old friend from school had asked me out on a date, I knew that I had nothing to lose. By the end of the night I knew that this was the man I wanted to spend my life with. Three months later he moved in with Lewis and I, asked me to marry him and, even more surprisingly, I discovered that I was pregnant shortly after. Caught up in the whirlwind I allowed myself to believe that this was it, our happy ever after, and so when I lost that baby, it brought back so much pain and heartache. And when we lost the next baby, and the next, and the next, I wasn’t sure how much more I could cope with. After losing Joseph, and fifteen miscarriages, our only hope came from a specialist doctor who, after offering me every test possible, advised me to inject with Clexane during my next pregnancy in the hope that it would make a difference. And, after falling pregnant yet again, as the weeks passed in a blur of worry and anxiety, we simply lived from one day to the next. With every scan I held my breath, never allowing myself to believe that we would be lucky enough to hold this baby in our arms. Twelve weeks, twenty weeks, twenty-eight weeks, scan after scan, convinced that we would receive the news that our baby would not be coming home with us. And yet in February 2012, at thirty-five weeks pregnant, the decision was made to induce me, to get our baby out while she was healthy and well, and there are no words to describe that feeling when she was placed in my arms, her eyes wide open, screaming blue murder, and healing my heart in a way I never thought possible. We named her Eva, our first little rainbow, the little sister that Lewis had waited six long years to hold.
And twelve weeks later, with Lewis by our sides, Eva in our arms, and Joseph in our hearts, we stood before our family and friends and promised to love each other forever. When Eva was just six months old it came as a huge shock to learn that I was pregnant again, and I instantly began on the Clexane as a precaution. Fifteen months to the day after we had welcomed Eva into the world, our second daughter Megan was born, and our family was complete.
Or so we thought…
Twelve months and four days later, on the most beautiful of days in the late spring, our son, Harrison Joseph, arrived into the world, our bonus baby, completely unplanned, the biggest of surprises, yet the missing piece to our jigsaw. Now, with a two, three, four and twelve year old in our home, there is love and laughter in abundance. There are days when I look at my children, and I have to pinch myself that they are all mine. Yes, it’s hard work, and manic, and outright impossible at times, but it’s everything I ever wanted, every dream I never dared imagine would come true, and I am grateful for every single moment, good and bad.
Every single day I think of the babies that I didn’t get the chance to meet, the fifteen little ones who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it into the world, and I think of Joseph, who would have been ten years old had he been here. And I have no idea what our lives would be like with him in it. I have no way of knowing if he would be dark like Lewis, or blonde like the girls, blue eyes or brown, tall or short, whether he would be outgoing or shy, whether we would still have walked the same path had he lived or died. What I do know is that he made me stronger, he made me wiser, he made me kinder. He made me a better parent, a better partner, a better friend. And he is a huge part of our past, our present and our future, always.