You're holding your breath the entire time, until you safely deliver

In 2019, Helen and her husband were devastated when they lost their son Lillen. Helen shares her motherhood journey and how she discovered Tommy’s helpline and resources.

Lillen, our little one

In 2019, I fell pregnant. It was a healthy pregnancy, and there were no causes for concern. We lived in London at the time, and I was wearing the Baby on Board badge. It felt like a badge of honour, and I had immense pride because I always wanted to be a mum.

Then, heartbreakingly, we lost our baby at 19 weeks. It transpired this happened due to a weak cervix which was devastating.  

I was pregnant with him for 19 weeks and 1 day. I always count the 1 day because every day pregnant with him was a blessing.”

Lillen, means little one in Swedish. We didn't want to know the sex of the baby. We just thought, well, that’s our child, our little one. And then through the loss, we found out that it was a boy.

Before we lost him, of all my pregnancies, it was the one that I felt the most elated, the most joy and the most freedom – thinking that I could do anything. Our son Lillen gave me the greatest gift, it was a feeling I’ve never really had again and I’m so thankful that he gave me that.  

Finding Tommy’s website

And it was from the loss of Lillen that one of my dear friends told me about Tommy’s. I had never heard about them until then.  

She shared Tommy’s website with me, and she talked to me about her own experiences, and we bonded in a way that we had never done before.  

I’m eternally grateful for her telling me about Tommy’s. And through that journey, through the work from the hospital and through therapy, I was able to have the desire to try again.  

The arrival of Maya

When I became pregnant again, doctors had suggested monitoring my cervix.  

Because of the loss of Lillen, I was anxious. With the help of my husband, we pushed to get my worries heard and for a further examination, which was lucky as it turned out my concerns were valid.  

The doctors quickly gave me a cervical stitch, which helped me carry to full term. I gave birth to our beautiful little girl, Maya in 2021. Who, crazily, was born on her due date, Valentine's Day.  

The fact she was born on Valentine's Day was just poetic, because of everything that my husband and I had gone through, it was like she personified love. She’s an immense amount of joy to us and she's just a blessing.  

Sometimes, I look at Maya and think, you really had to fight to be here.”

We were so close to losing her and if I hadn't pushed to be heard, I don't know where we'd be.

We know our bodies more than and better than anyone else. I wish more health professionals would listen to black women more clearly and question things more deeply.  

There was something on the Tommy’s website and a woman described her experience of being pregnant after loss: “you're holding your breath the entire time, through the pregnancy, until you safely deliver.”  

That's what it felt like for me and my husband Niclas. And when I was able to give birth to a healthy child, our Maya, we were finally able to breathe. We both felt immense elation and euphoria when she was born. 

The Helpline and trying again

After Maya's 1st birthday, we wanted to try again. But I had a miscarriage after 8 weeks, and then a chemical miscarriage 2-3 months later, and then 2 more miscarriages, all within the first trimester.  

FIVEXMORE posted on Instagram about the Black and Black-Mixed Heritage Helpline, and so I reached out to Tommy's Midwives to try to understand what was happening.  

I spoke to Amina, one of the Tommy's Midwives and she was incredible.”

She gave me such a high level of support, and explained to me how to escalate things, how to get a referral and what were some of the things available on the NHS.

At the time, I felt such immense powerlessness and loss of hope. But after the call, I felt empowered by what she gave me: the tools I could arm myself with and how I could be prioritised and seen by a consultant.

A referral to Tommy’s

Through all the referrals and the escalations, I was able to speak with Professor Siobhan Quenby in January of last year. She instigated a number of tests, and I had a full suite of blood tests, as well as a pelvic scan and I was prescribed progesterone.  

I'm now in a place whereby we’re just seeing how things go. We're not actively trying, and it's helped me feel that there's no pressure.

Without hesitation, I would recommend the Helpline. I wish more women knew about it – especially, women of colour.”

I think you come out of a loss feeling like what the on earth has happened and wanting a shoulder to lean on. As well as wanting advice without having to go into such great depth of explaining what happened.

If I could just help just one woman by letting them know about Tommy’s and the Helpline, then I think that would be incredible. What my friend gave to me by telling me about the resources and the tools that I didn't know were available, has been monumental in helping me live with grief and rebuild myself.