I was in my late twenties when Jason (my now husband) and I started trying to conceive. To our delight, falling pregnant happened sooner than we imagined.
A sickness bug had been going around so when I started being uncontrollably sick, we thought it was that but after several visits to the GP, we discovered I had a severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum.
I was sick day and night, and on several occasions, my electrolytes became so low, that I was admitted to the hospital to be rehydrated via a drip. Smells would make me so sick we couldn’t so much as turn the oven on, even with anti-sickness medication – nothing we did would stop it.
It was incredibly hard, but I was still happy
Despite the severity of the sickness, I knew it wouldn’t last forever. I was so happy to be pregnant. When the time came, I had the water birth I hoped for and our firstborn was a beautiful baby girl.
I was still breastfeeding when I unexpectedly fell pregnant again. For my first pregnancy, we tried not to tell anyone for 12 weeks, which backfired because of the sickness. This time, we told everyone, and that I thought I was having twins. We had no way of knowing at this point, I just felt certain.
At the first scan, it was confirmed. Twins!
I was unbelievably excited, but again suffered from hyperemesis – and this time I had a baby to look after too.
We were informed multiple pregnancies are higher risk, but also reassured as they were non-identical twins and each had a placenta, there would be less risk of one receiving more nutrients than the other, as can happen with identical twins. So, except for them both measuring longer, placing my dates 2 weeks ahead of my estimated due date, my scans all appeared to be as well as could be.
Then I started having pains
Early August 2003, it was a cold day and a friend had come to see me. We both agreed I was huge – already much bigger than full-term in my previous pregnancy – and I still had months to go! As the day went on, I knew something wasn’t right. I started getting pains which became more frequent, so called the hospital for advice.
The person I spoke to at the hospital did not seem at all compassionate and I felt my concerns were dismissed. I ran myself a bath as advised and the reality of what was happening hit me. I burst into tears. The bath did not help and the pains were still increasing. I called the hospital again, only this time, the labour ward. A very kind and helpful midwife answered and suggested I go straight to the hospital.
The hospital confirmed I was in labour
When I arrived, the twins’ little heartbeats were both stable and showing no signs of distress, but it was soon clear that I was, as feared, in labour. Drugs were administered to try to stop labour from progressing, and there was talk of a cervical stitch, but it was too late. I was going to have to give birth.
With both pregnancies, we had wanted to keep the gender of our babies a surprise. Our first twin was born, a little girl – but there were no signs of life. Then followed twin 2, another little girl. She was gasping, born on the cusp of viability she too, devastatingly, did not make it.
We were both traumatised. Heartbroken and with helpless disbelief, I held my sweet yet lifeless babies – Violet and Daisy.
The world no longer seemed the same. I was no longer the same
Those around me did not seem to know what to do or say. Violet and Daisy were continuously in my thoughts, I was broken and knew I needed to channel my feelings. Not having professional help, advice or support, I didn’t know what to do. I felt I was expected to just carry on - silently.
As an artist, if I couldn’t talk about things out loud, finding a creative outlet was how I processed and expressed my deepest feelings. I turned my hand to make jewellery, something I had always wanted to try. This was my therapy and if I ended up just making a few items and giving them as gifts, it was fine by me. I bought equipment and named my little venture, Violet Daisy Chain.
Making jewellery didn’t take away the pain, but it transformed my grief
Creating something beautiful using gemstones and precious metals - materials I loved, enabled me to make Violet and Daisy part of my life. I made pieces for my family and friends and their families too. I was able to say and write Violet and Daisy’s names, and create something meaningful and lasting in their memory.
In 2004, we tried again for another baby. It was an anxious time and not easy, but in 2005 we were blessed with our fourth beautiful girl.
For some years I made jewellery with the hope of selling online but, as the girls grew older, I went to work in a school finding I had less time. In 2011 I experienced major health issues, changing my life beyond recognition. I was no longer able to leave the house unassisted. I kept a journal and wrote poetry to help me process what was happening. It took many years to accept and adjust.
I wanted to share my experiences to help others
In 2019 I set up a Facebook page: Violet Daisy Chain – All pregnancy and baby loss counts.
I had an idea of what I wanted to do but found myself becoming emotional and frustrated, especially with how tiring everything was. I felt vulnerable and worried about how others may perceive me and felt nervous with every post shared. I wondered if it would be easier to give up, but again, it was in the very thought of helping others I found strength.
I also joined other bereavement support groups, and it was in the Tommy’s and Twins Trust groups where I realised how much interacting with others with similar experiences, helped me, even after so many years.
Writing was a big part of my life
My mission was to write, illustrate and publish a book, to depict the unseen and unspoken pain and devastation of baby loss. To raise awareness and be a voice for those who suffer in silence, and to help others understand.
In May this year, with the help of some wonderful and inspiring people, I achieved something I wasn’t sure I would and published my first book: Two Worlds One Mother. A symbolic journey of a life in two worlds.
Thank you, Tommy’s, for your support, and for giving me this opportunity to share my story so we can continue breaking the silence around baby loss.