How can you miss someone you've never met?

“How can you miss someone you've never met?

'Cause I need you now but I don't know you yet…. How can you miss someone you've never seen? Oh, tell me are your eyes brown, blue, or green?”

Questions feel an absolutely beautifully apt way to start my story, it is a long one but one I cannot shave down and I need to give justice too.

Since the middle of 2018 we have been trying to start a family, at first it was all fun and very “normal” but as each month passed we started to think there must be a problem as from what we are led to believe this should be the easy bit. People appear to make a decision one month and boom they get it. Or that’s what social media can portray anyway.

After a year of trying we went to our doctors and got referred for assessment, which after a few months resulted in us finding out there were some infertility issues which may mean we would never naturally conceive. The consultant was amazing and said he had every confidence IVF would be a successful route for us BUT my BMI was way too high to refer us for this immediately so I would need to go away and get this on target.

It was devastating having this news and not feeling in control of my body or the situation but there was still hope so we had to make a plan. I had to do everything within my own power to gain some of that control back.

This is where my fitness journey began. From literally that day. I spoke with close family and started doing personal training sessions with a healthy diet to follow. At this point I was a good 10 stone from my target. It felt a world away but I had to make this work, I had no choice so I broke it down into manageable chunks and didn’t put too much pressure on myself. I started to enjoy it, I wasn’t just doing it for the obvious initial reasons but for just ME. So much so I took the opportunity to sign up to the beginners running course in January 2020 which would tie in with my bucket list item of running the GNR and unbeknown to me become a massive part of my life. The weight was starting to come off but I was also getting fitter both physically and mentally.

Even though it was very unlikely every month we held out hope that science was wrong and nature would come good but nothing. As we came into 2021 I only had 2 stone to go and we could go back to the doctors. I therefore resigned to the fact IVF was our route and went on an intense exercise and diet regime for the month of January to hit that final milestone.

On the morning of the 26th February I found out I was pregnant.

Everything was so surreal. Leading up to that moment I was late by nearly a week and for the first time ever I didn’t even really acknowledge it (in the past I would be testing and very aware but was never ever this late), I never said to Stephen I was late and I remember doing bridges with a weight for an exercise and not using the weight as it was resting on my tummy and something was just saying don’t do that but from very very deep within. On that morning I went and did the normal food shop and picked up a test, on the way home I would not let my mind go there. I wouldn’t be pregnant. This wasn’t going to happen to me.

When I turned the test over and saw the positive line I cannot even explain the feeling (a feeling I still got for weeks after every time I replayed that moment with the same stick). I was euphoric, my dream had come true. This was it. I went straight to the shops (after doing a couple more tests!) to get the obligatory outfit, booties and balloon to reveal it to Stephen when he finished work. It was the longest day of my life. I cannot hold my own water normally but this was special it had to be perfect. I had never even once thought how I would tell him as I had given up on this happening. Some say that’s maybe why it happened when it did but I don’t entirely believe that. And even if it was it could never be repeated or passed on as wisdom as how do you ever truly stop wishing and thinking of something you really want in life?

I kept asking Stephen how long he would be at his Handyman jobs so I could be ready. I couldn’t rush him it had to feel normal, even though he would never have guessed. I even went for a little run whilst waiting where at a very special place now in Murton I cradled my tummy for the first time actually knowing my little longed-for baby was growing in there. I don’t think I have ever smiled or will smile like that again.

I watched Stephen pull up outside our house and thought if only you knew how much I am going to change your life when you come through that door. I wish I had set up a little camera to capture the moment but my memory has captured it perfectly. The night before a toy Stephen used to play with at his beloved late Grandma Alma’s house fell off the shelf and into our hallway in an unexplained fashion, he sensed she was around. When he came through the door I said I think you were right that Alma was around last night, he was like what do you mean whilst following me into the living room where I said she has left us a little present and you are going to become a Daddy.

Stephen was in utter shock, burst out crying and hugged me tighter than ever. It was magical. It was perfect. This was what we had waited for, the relief poured out of him. His face I will never ever forget.

I could only have been a few weeks but we decided instantly our parents and close family were to be told. They knew we had been trying for so long so it wouldn’t come as a surprise as such but of course it actually would. It was the best evening of my life driving around them all handing over a boring plastic bag pretending it was nothing for them to pull out the ‘born in 2021’ bodysuit and the puzzle to fall into place. Again all their faces engraved in my memory and heart forever. We both went to sleep that night feeling like no dream could beat our reality. My Mam affectionately nicknamed them straight away and it stuck, Peanut was with us from day 1.

The next few weeks passed in an absolute state of perfection. It was lockdown times so I could hide Peanut from friends and work very well. We were in our very own perfect bubble. I had no sickness and even if I did I would have taken it all to have what we had tried for so long for.

I started a journal to Peanut of what each week was bringing, started reading all the pregnancy bibles, watching one born every minute and I did start buying things….it started with the pram and then in fact we bought pretty much everything……you see we had been trying for nearly 3 years, pregnancy was just on pause for me, when I saw that positive result the fast forward button was hit. I had the cue to actually do everything I had imagined in my head. That longstanding social convention I broke and I enjoyed it. I remember the day I went and got most things, I used Facebook marketplace, it was just me with a list in location order to go and collect everything. A very close second best day ever for me. I loved it. I played some songs that had special meaning now to Peanut such as Barry Gibb ‘To Love Somebody’, I talked to them and I lovingly collected in awe all their beautiful items. It felt so much more special driving around the North East individually collecting than ordering online/in a shop and we saved a fortune!

We had our first appointment with the midwife who confirmed I could continue my exercise as long as I didn’t push myself which I never did. I pretended to be drinking alcohol around friends when I could and I even faked a migraine to get out of a barbecue when I knew I couldn’t pretend to drink as my friends would know something was up if I was not drinking. Emma Crawford not drinking! Instead that day whilst Stephen attended on my behalf me and my Mam started washing some of Peanut’s clothes and bits we had bought. Seeing all the clothes hanging on the washing line made my heart melt. We decided because we could get away with it due to COVID we would not tell our friends until our 12 week scan, we decided to keep to the socially accepted timeframes. My biggest regret.

We had a perfect plan of how to tell each set of friends and were all geared up to tell them in the week after the scan. This was all part of how I spent my days and nights daydreaming now, imagining my friends faces who have supported us so much whilst trying, joining some friends on their own pregnancy and motherhood journeys – actually being able to physically be part of it and not just be the bystander, watching my tummy grow (after all that hard work!), feeling them move and kick for the first time, Stephen touching, kissing and talking to my bump, adding to our name lists, talking about the birth, everything. We had tried for so long and now everything was just so overwhelming but in the most idyllic way. Life was perfect.

But just as out of the blue as it came, it ended and a week before our 12 week scan we started to lose our Baby Peanut. Life would never be perfect again.

It started with a tiny amount of blood, I wasn’t even too worried, it sounded pretty common. Considering our battle to get pregnant I was very relaxed in pregnancy and never let any negative vibes wash over me. The midwife got us in for an early scan the next morning and I remember being in the car with Stephen saying I am sure they are fine, this will all be a story and they will be being a little tinker from the start.

Stephen wasn’t allowed into the unit for the entire appointment, which was so wrong, but he was there when we first saw Peanut. We knew something was wrong straight away but not the full extent. We had to see another consultant and Stephen wasn’t allowed into that bit. I will never forgive the hospital for not letting my husband be with me then. I was alone as I was told I was having a possible miscarriage. I just didn’t and couldn’t take it in. Possible? Why only possible? I didn’t understand any of it. I was pretty naive looking back, I wish I still was though. This just couldn’t be happening. This was our time, this wasn’t how this was meant to be. I was told I would need to wait 2 weeks for another scan to confirm. Maybe I had my dates wrong. I knew for a fact these could not be, we had been trying for so long I knew my dates exactly but if it meant Peanut could be ok I would hope I was wrong, I could deal with that.

We came away and sat in the car at Blast Beach and let the body autopilot switch off and just let our emotions take over. As beautiful and perfect as the day we found Peanut was this was the heartbreakingly opposite of when we lost them. Our whole life turned upside down and the next week was the worst week of my life. If only I knew how much harder it would get.

There is too much of a story to tell of what happened over that next week, but it was soul destroying. I was on a ridiculous rollercoaster of trying my best to remain positive but kept getting hit down. There was a constant limbo of not knowing if Peanut was still here (how is it fair you don’t know what’s going on inside your own body? Where were my maternal instincts?), until the final moments I always had to hold out hope they were, this couldn’t just end. I prayed to every god, every beloved departed family member that this was not happening. Any waiting to know if your little baby is ok is absolutely horrendous, it was a living nightmare and took over me. The night before all hope was gone I played the Ewan the dream sheep’s heartbeat to my tummy hoping that would make their heart beat, that was one of my final moments of being pregnant.

The hospital never told me what to expect (well may be a very down played version which was nowhere near the reality), what would happen and how bad it could be. To this day I do not see any real facts on what a woman goes through when they lose their baby. I was hospitalised overnight at Durham Hospital. It was the most terrifying, horrific and painful night in all senses. Stephen was luckily able to be with me the whole time and despite what he was losing was really my angel that night, holding my hand all night long. I watched the clock strike every minute above our side room door, I longed that this wasn’t happening, I hated to think what this now meant. I really didn’t want to be here anymore.

In total I had four scans in a week and each one was heart breaking. Nothing like my day dreams. Nothing like I imagined or deserved. On the last one which confirmed Peanut had gone I couldn’t even look at the monitor I just faced an empty wall that matched my heart. I now hate ultrasounds.

The next few weeks were horrendous. Every morning I would wake up with a split second of not realising my reality and then it would hit me all over again. The thing that brought me so much happiness from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, had gone forever. When I was pregnant just the mere thought of Peanut made me beam, I longed for that feeling again. I longed to be back in our special bubble, to have held onto it even tighter, to have shared the small amount of time we got with true happiness with our friends, to know our future had children. I felt like I had falling through a trap door into silence and pure loneliness. Sometimes it feels so far removed that I ever was pregnant or that this ever happened to us but at the same time my heart doesn’t forget, it honestly aches every day.

My belief system was shattered, I stared into a world I never thought would happen to me and I just can’t unsee it. I long for that innocence, naivety, to go back to that time when I didn’t know such pain existed. I miss that old me. I miss the person before this loss and infertility. I miss experiencing life without the heartbreak of true loss and of not yet being pregnant and the darkness of “but what if that day never actually comes?” I have experienced loss before but for the past in lifelong memories and reciprocated love whereas this time it was grief for losing my future, of losing someone I had never met but loved so much.

I say this with not a word of exaggeration. I think of Peanut every single day. Sometimes just for a few minutes and they make me smile but my heart drops. Others for hours and I do have a breakdown. Many a time I sit in ball on the floor just holding myself and letting all of this emotion go. I am not afraid to say that. It does make me feel better, I need to feel it. I know now this is perfectly normal and I will continue to feel any emotions I should feel. All my feelings are normal in grief. I definitely felt like I didn’t want to be here at the start, I just wanted the pain to stop. I have never felt suicidal thoughts or anything like that but I have hit a bottom I didn’t know existed and I know for a fact if it wasn’t for Stephen, my amazing family and exceptional friends that bottom could have been even lower. I couldn’t see how I was meant to get over this and live. I felt numb, useless, silly, angry at the world, heartbroken and above all else empty.

Nobody could say anything to make it better, nothing could make it better and I still don’t think anyone truly knows what you’re going through unless they go through it themselves. The loneliness is very profound and I don’t think that will ever change. At first I did lock myself away and could have continued going down that line which would have been a whole different journey but with my wonderful support network I did slowly enter the real world again. I remember for a good few weeks though I hated smiling and laughing, it felt so wrong. Even when it was happening naturally I would suddenly remember mid laugh and it would hit me dead and knock me sick. Only you know what your thinking and unfortunately you can be very unkind to yourself. I do think I have gained an impressive poker face.

People who know me know I was not maternal at all, I am not even the best at interacting with children but I did always want them, I just wasn’t in a rush. Now it feels so cruel that if I had known of our fertility issues we maybe should have started trying sooner. This may sound strange but I have always wondered how you can instantly fall in love with your child. That unconditional love. My Mam always told me it would happen and I scoffed at her. I now do not wonder; I know unconditional love.

I love Peanut like no one else. I don’t know anything about them, not even their sex. I hoped though that they had a mix of both me and their Dad in them, my sense of humour and banter with Stephens kind heart (and only listening to Disney fairy tales not his) but they impacted my world and heart beyond belief. I have never felt such happiness and love as they have brought me and I have also never felt such emptiness and anger. I do not understand why the world decided after nearly 3 years we could now be pregnant, and then take it so viciously away. At first I believed I would rather not have been pregnant at all as it just felt like life was playing a cruel joke on me by giving me all my dreams one day and then providing a nightmare the next. I believed I was in a better place when I was just ‘trying’ and didn’t know the harsh reality that pregnancy doesn’t always equal baby.

Now all I think is why? Why us? 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, why did I have to be the 25%, but then again why didn’t I? At the same time I miscarried, Baby Azaylia was also cruelly taken away. I just kept thinking if something as terrible as that can happen why would and should my baby be spared. When I was pregnant, I believed all the quotes of ‘trust the timing of your life’, it all felt very magical that it happened just before our IVF journey but I now believe that life can just be shit. You will never know why, who knows if it makes you stronger and I am yet to know what lesson I have learnt from it all. It seems a harsh lesson to teach me the unconditional love I didn’t understand. I am beyond happy Peanut came into our lives, they literally were here for such a short amount of time but have forever left love in my heart. But also such a void. Even if we ever do have our family Peanut will always be the first and I will always think of them, miss them and wish I had more time with them.

Peanut was only around 11 weeks old but they were real. They were my baby. I am a Mam. I didn’t just lose them at 11 weeks I lost them at birth, first Christmas, first birthday, starting school, holidays, 21st birthday, getting married – just living, all the dreams I had for them. Most importantly though the small things, the things you could take for granted, rocking them to sleep, patting their bum, smelling them, pushing them in their pram, watching them grasp their daddy's finger…..even the rough bits, sleepless nights, dirty nappies, making my house dirty and unorganised and demanding tat from nursery to be put on walls…….if it meant I got to keep you, I would put up with anything. That is why they always will be with me, just in a sliding doors world. A world of possibility but a world that can be full of only nice things. They only ever knew love from us, never hate or hurt and they never will.

We did start trying again almost immediately as although it feels like a form of self-harm each month the want of baby Crawford is much more forceful than the pain of not. A lot of peoples typical well-founded response was well at least now you know you can get pregnant (no digs at anyone who said this as of course it’s true and I know came from a place of love) actually makes it harder as it again feels like life is playing with us each month, it might actually happen but it doesn’t. I just feel silly every month now, I feel embarrassed in any hope I get.

They obviously will have always been there but everything baby related is in high definition now. Every day someone new is pregnant when I open social media, everything on TV has a related theme, every day I want it more than the last. On this note though please though don’t ever feel I resent you if you have what I want, I am always happy for you, I know what that happiness is and you hold that as tightly as you can, I am just sad for us that is all. This is just when my poker face is at its finest.

You never ever get over this, it’s part of me now and I must evolve around it. I would rather not but life isn’t as easy as that, you must get back up. I went to a baby shower a few months after this and it was hard. Extremely hard but you have to get back to life and navigate your way around it the best you can. It doesn’t mean I will always want to do things in the future that may be hard as sometimes I will need to be selfish. I can only attempt at being strong but don’t ever think I am over it.

I could write and talk about this all day. I do not want this to be our dirty secret. I have learnt that this is not spoken about enough at all. I will openly talk about what happened to anyone and will always talk about Peanut with the zest of the life they should have had. They were and are a member of my family. I will not conform to the 12-week rule of secrecy anymore as this gives the misconception that if a woman suffers loss it should be a secret. I would share the news to my nearest and dearest right away now, it could again be taken away from me but I will revel in any happiness for as long as I can. Obviously, it is entirely up to the woman if they wish to disclose such a tragic story, every person has a unique way of dealing with this which is never right nor wrong but myself personally has found hearing from others a real support and I would truly advocate this. Hearing how others have tried to retaliate to this new world they find themselves in could very well be someone else’s survival guide. When this all happened, I remembered a post I read on Facebook a while back from a mutual friend who will to this day not know that I went back on their history to find it just to re-read their story that did not mean as much as it does now when I first read it. I wanted to feel not alone. They have a beautiful baby boy now and that provided some hope to our situation.

I only recently discovered the Rainbow Running Club via The Worst Girl Gang Ever podcast (EP2). As I listened I knew this was something I wanted to be part of.I had started running (for the first time in my life!) in January 2020. It's helped me pre and post loss have focus, time for myself, rebuild my relationship with my body and lose myself in a world of possibility and dreams. So I feel that I would like to share this world and provide an opportunity to speak to other ladies who are walking the same uneven path as me by volunteering to arrange Rainbow Running Club events local to me. Please feel free to message me anytime if you would like to come or have any questions at all! If you would like to attend but are feeling a bit nervous about it, please just get in touch, no one needs to be alone in this.

Who knows what the future holds for us, it scares me to even consider it. It’s so sad that if I ever was pregnant again the pure happiness would never be the same again because within seconds, I would be so frightened. No positive test result is the same as your first one after a miscarriage. That given is another thing I have cruelly lost but worrying is like walking around with your umbrella up just in case it rains. We will keep trying and hoping, hoping that hope is just as relentless as grief, hoping that in some cryptic way this was all worth it. To look at our baby and show them how much they were wanted and how incredibly loved they were then and are now. I hope I am a changed person from all this for the better, I long for that version of me as much as I miss the one before all of this. We have each other though so if it never happens for us everyone will now know why and our plan of travelling the world for a year at 40 will come off but rather than the suitcases out the attic, I hope we can bring down our babies bouncer, play mat and other beautiful items that are just on hold up there.

I am sorry you did not get the chance at life but the one sentence I hope you know Peanut is if love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.


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