• Nicole

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

I am launching my book this week, in time for Baby Loss Awareness Week. It’s the week I use as a memorial for my 7 babies, since I lost them throughout the year.

Its taken me such a long time to get to the point of it being ready. The book went through several draft versions before I was happy with it. I think part of the process for me was that of acceptance. I needed to feel comfortable enough to expose my story, a story which for so long had filled me with shame and remorse for what I felt I should have done differently, what I felt was a failure on my part. Even though in hindsight, I had done everything in my power. That in itself is a journey of letting go, accepting that it was out of your hands.

I started writing a diary for my child, when I was planning single motherhood. I found myself single again at the age of 29, and after a few years of online dating and going on many, many, many, many disastrous dates, I accepted that I was going to need to pursue motherhood alone. At the time I was the only person I knew who, not only was considering single motherhood, on purpose, but I didn’t yet know anyone who had been through IVF. I had nowhere to turn.

I researched adoption and IVF using donor sperm. I really wanted to have the full motherhood experience and have my own child. I read psychological studies, books and accounts by other mums and donor conceived children. I kept a record of every article I came across regarding fertility. A lot of them assumed that a woman my age who had waited so long was careless at best, selfish at worst. They hurt! I had not put my career or my life first. I had been wanting children for years. I had tried for years to positively change my circumstances. I put all these articles into this diary, alongside my thoughts of what I had read, usually including desperately demoralising statistics for my remaining fertility. I hoped that when reading this diary, my child would understand my decision to go it alone.

As I went through IVF with a donor and then found my boyfriend and we started our own journey to parenthood, I carried on writing the diary. Even though I now had a partner, my childlessness was a weight on me which my partner didn’t share. I felt with every cell in my body that motherhood was where I should be and I felt so entirely alone in my pain. He very much wanted to be a dad, but did not have the same sense of failure and judgement as I did around not having children.

With each passing year, I found myself struggling more with my grief over my childlessness, and although I knew I wasn’t the only one, I still felt so totally alone and invisible with this pain. Every time I lost a baby I felt more and more separated from society, even from family and friends. I couldn’t find anyone who’d been through the same. When I found other stories of infertility, there seemed to always be a happy ending which I couldn’t relate to. Or a woman had lost babies but already had a child, therefore she wasn’t grieving childlessness alongside the death of a baby, so again there was a connection in one element, which was sometimes just the boost I needed to see me through that day, but I didn’t feel I could fully relate. I decided that my diary should become a book, for others in the same boat, so that no one would feel as lonely as I had.

I think I was driven to provide support, because I have been there, when there is no obvious path out of the darkness. I didn’t want what had happened to me to have been for nothing. I went through a lot of loss and wanted it to at least have a purpose, not disappear in the mists of time as just another sad tale. I wanted things to change. I wanted attitudes to change. I wanted others to feel heard and understood. I wanted those who were dismissive about the pain of childlessness and baby loss, including those in the medical profession who were meant to be there to support mothers going through this, to see what it felt like from the other side, to understand what their patients are going through. And, its only recently dawned on me, but I wanted to give my babies a legacy they will never have through living, but perhaps their death could lead to a positive change. One of kindness and of love, for anyone struggling with the hand they’ve been dealt.

I am so glad to be out of the pit I once found myself in. I no longer have the same sense of being alone. I feel that I am once again a visible, active member of society. I suspect its because of where I am with my grief. I have worked hard to accept my story. The loneliness was part of my grief. Now I feel it is my duty to reach back and help others climb out of the pit. This is also why I started the blog. There are several different parts to my journey, not everyone may want to know or be interested in all of it, its ranged from unwanted singleness; childlessness and my status in society, Endometriosis, IVF alone with donor sperm, natural pregnancy and IVF with a partner, recurrent miscarriages, grief and now adoption. The blog is more of a dip-in for elements you may want to know, share or understand.

It took me a long time to think that my story is worthy of telling, I’m the person who always responds “I’m fine” when asked how I am, regardless, so that people quickly move on and don’t make a fuss around me. I was very bad at asking for or seeking help and I know that I am not alone in that. Others like me, who don’t know where to turn or potentially don’t have the energy to reach out, need people who have lived through it to turn around and share, to give hope and encouragement. Knowing you are not the only one feels so great. Everyone needs to find their tribe. Not that you would wish infertility or any kind of adversity on anyone, but there is nothing like the comfort of finding a story you can relate to. Of not feeling so alone in your very personal pain. My book is the book I wish I had found. I hope that the people who need to read it, do find it.

Buy my book now:

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  • Nicole

I’ve written my blogs so far about the past and some of the more painful elements of my journey, so I thought I needed to counter this with something positive about the future.

I’ve had to work hard to feel the positive, but I knew that I had to absorb and process my story. I had to be ok about not being able to have my own biological child, before I adopted a child, because I didn’t want my child to ever feel that they were plan B, that they were a substitute for what I had been unable to have. They are what I want. A child, a family, motherhood. Writing has played a huge part in processing my childlessness and baby loss.

Its easy when you start the adoption process and start reading all the recommended books to focus on the tough stuff. I am very nervous about how broken my child could be and how I’ll cope with any behavioural impact of the potential abuse and neglect my child may have experienced or simply because of the trauma of being removed from everyone and everything they know and love and moving in with someone completely new and unknown. Such brave little souls, needing to trust that adults will look after them as they have no other choice, whilst also having been let down by the adults who were meant to care for them. New routines, new smells, new bedroom, new emotions. Their bravery is humbling.

I am under no illusions. Parenting is a tough gig, regardless of how you came to be one. But, just sometimes, I allow myself to dream. I allow myself a little look through the rose-tinted glasses of happiness and excitement. Of having a baby seat in my car, at last; of finally pushing a pram with my child in it; of hearing the word “mum”; of feeling a tiny little hand in mine; of waking up with the knowledge that my baby is there, in their cot/bed, waiting to start the day with me. The joy of hearing a beautiful giggle. I live close to a primary school and in summer with the windows open I can hear playtime. It’s a bittersweet sound. I love it, its so joyful, so normal, but for such a long time it has hurt beyond belief to hear it. I am so looking forward to this precious sound being restored in its rightful place, as one of the best.

I love reading, I cannot wait to read books together. I want to play in the garden together. I cannot wait to see my amazing boyfriend be the patient and kind father I know he will be. I can already see that he will be good cop in our good cop: bad cop parenting routine. He will have just the right mix of fun and discipline. He will have a huge impact in grounding our child when they have a meltdown because their past trauma is too tough to deal with.

I don’t yet know what age or gender our child will be but I’ve been looking at children’s bedrooms on Pinterest all the same , I know the style I want, I’ve stopped short of buying anything yet. Yet! I suspect as soon as we’ve got some carpet down upstairs, I won’t be able to resist for long! I cannot wait to start filling the room with toys and books. I even cannot wait for my living room to be covered in toys. Well, more toys, since Chloe (my dog), pulls out all the toys she is going to need for the day from her toybox, every morning and scatters them over the living room rug, ready to be played with at any chosen moment. I love how much our living room floor looks like a family home when she does that.

I’m excited about awakening my inner mum. A part of me that I have always felt would make my soul stop its endless searching, for its missing part. I cannot wait for a random stranger to ask me, “do you have children?” and to finally be able to say “yes!” and to continue by telling them my child’s name and age and if possible, list all their beautiful traits which make me so proud that they are my baby. “Yes, I am a mum”. Words at times I felt, I may never get to say. A response to a question, which has so often made me feel ashamed of my story.

I think the most exciting thing, is that I already love my child. I have loved them forever. All I need is for them to be here so I can love them in person. I cannot wait to shower them with their rightful love. I am looking forward to getting to know them. I cannot wait to look into their eyes. To see the missing part of my soul reflected back at me. I cannot wait to hear their voice. A voice that will spark joy when I hear it. A voice which I think will feel familiar the moment I hear it. My baby’s voice. I want to know every part of them, in a hope that with love I can support them to not feel shame for their past, which is so often the case. To feel pride as they face things they have felt scared about. To help them process their own story and hopefully support them in becoming confident and kind beings.

I don’t know how to put into words the feelings in my heart as I write this, the joyful anticipation. These days, I am wary of too much excitement. I felt excitement with every one of my pregnancies and each one was crushed. It does tend to shape your experience of excitement, when 100% of your most exciting times turn to devastation. But you can’t keep a good emotion down and the excitement is building the closer we get to our Panel date. My motherhood is the closest it has ever been.

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  • Nicole

Recently I’ve been struggling with the grief of my babies. I feel almost like I should apologise about this since they were all pre-12-week miscarriages, surely that doesn’t warrant grief, certainly not for years? However, I always felt as if I had lost a fully formed, living, breathing baby. This may sound odd, but at what stage of pregnancy does a baby become a baby to its mum? Is there ever a stage when a woman is ok about losing her baby? I remember my mum telling me she had had a miscarriage between my sister and I and that she thought it was for the best, there was obviously a reason the baby had not lived. I always thought I would feel that way too and I did initially, for my first miscarriage. I actually felt hopeful that next time would be it, my body would know what to do.

However, I was then told by a consultant that I would never carry my own child. Suddenly that lost baby a few months earlier became my only baby. Suddenly the loss of an immediate hope became the loss of a life-long expectation, the loss of my future and the loss of my motherhood and identity. Suddenly the grief overwhelmed me.

I went on to lose another 6 babies before switching my path to motherhood from carrying to just having and loving. The grief has at times felt insurmountable. I, like every other griever, felt like my grief was the worst, there could be no pain worse than this, because it was my world which had collapsed around me, my world where the lights felt forever dimmed. But there is no hierarchy of loss. Where there was love, there will be grief. End of. Everyone may feel it differently, or deal with it differently. There is no right or wrong way, only your way. Whatever it takes.

I didn’t just grieve my babies, I grieved any future pregnancy; I grieved my motherhood and my place in society. Childlessness in a world of families is endless grief. Not only women my age, but slowly women 5; 10 and 15 years younger were becoming mums. I saw the life I had anticipated slip away. Even once we agreed to look into adoption, I grieved being a ‘real’ mum (inverted commas since a real mum is nothing to do with biology but one who provides love and care), and being her from day one. I grieved going through the rights of passage of a new mum, the birth or c-section, the hospital experience, breast feeding struggles, all the firsts. I grieved my genetic link. The family bond. The family characteristics. I have even grieved being able to pick my child’s name.

At the time, saw triggers everywhere, I came off social media for a few years, I learnt to deal with it as I could. I could sense pregnancy announcements before they came and would stop texting to ask how a friend was, so I could avoid receiving the “we have news” message. I slowly came out of the dark fog of loss and now feel fine most of the time, but there are still times when my grief gets triggered and the emotions are as intense as they ever were. Thankfully I never stay there so long now. I never know when it’ll hit. I can see expected triggers like pictures of new born babies, scans, pregnancy announcements and not bat an eyelid (sometimes). But then I'll see a picture of something seemingly innocuous, a wedding day, a couple full of promise and hope, not a baby in sight, but I feel winded. Maybe because grief at its deepest feels like a lack of hope. A lack of colour.

Grief is such a horrid emotion and yet nothing reawakens your senses so much and, as healing happens, nothing makes you appreciate life more. It will touch everyone at some point in their life. Grief is not always due to a bereavement. You can grieve after any loss, be that a relationship, a redundancy, a friendship.

I didn’t know whether to post anything on grief. It makes people very uncomfortable, even though everyone will feel it. As if it’s a feeling to be ashamed of. Just as baby loss is still not discussed openly, nor is loss of any sort. You get an initial amount of sympathy and understanding and then there’s an expectation that you move on; that you cheer up; that you no longer mention it. Anyone who has experienced a deep loss will know that although there is initial shock, the hardest thing is that life moves on. So yes, you go back to work, you start doing ‘normal’ things again, but that doesn’t mean you are ok, exactly the opposite, you have a mirror life where you do everything you did and yet you are constantly aware a huge part of your heart is not coming with you.

I unfortunately don’t have any secrets to share about grief or how to bounce back. It’s a journey you have to go through, there are no shortcuts. All I can say is that for me, it has become easier. For a long time I didn’t want it to. My pain was my only link to my babies, to my motherhood. But like it or not, healing has happened. The grief still surfaces but I am much better at coping. I have learnt self-care. If I need a break from social media I take it. If I need to pick what I watch on telly carefully, I do. I try not to deny my feelings anymore, since that only ever seemed to keep them simmering for longer. I look them squarely in the eye and say “lets do this” in the confidence, now, that I will feel joy again.

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