I feel a mix of nerves and excitement to be sharing this, our very first ever ‘From The Heart’ post with you today. You can read our post introducing plans for our new Sunday feature here.  I won’t comment on that now, for I’d like this post to focus fully on the three amazing, brave, courageous and inspirational women that I have come to know as Becky, Sara and Cat, the ladies behind the Most Curious Wedding Fair.

The Most Curious Wedding Fair is an inspirational, trend-aware event that brings together 180 of the best exhibitors from the new breed of exciting and hip wedding suppliers, all under one roof for the convenience and benefit of creative couples who are planning a wedding.  The event hosts fashion shows, a cafe and live music and is one of the best, most enjoyable and well organised wedding events in the UK. I’m not just saying this – I’ve been attending and supporting the Curious team for some years now (see the evidence) and am very much looking forward to joining them in London in March.

The team behind this event is made up of four creative individuals who have backgrounds in law, design journalism, accountancy, styling and PR. They are Becky Hoh-Hale, 34, who is the founder and creative director of the show (pictured below right), Sara Smyth, 40, head of production for London (pictured below centre) and Sarah ‘Cat’ Brennan, 41, exhibitor relations for London. The team have also recently been joined by Gemma Goodwin, 27, who oversees the Norwich show.  Together they apply their top notch skill set to setting the bridal industry world alight with a pioneering and exciting approach to wedding fairs.

That’s the side you see, at least.

Behind the scenes, there is also the small matter of their other ambitious, creative and simultaneously full time jobs – motherhood.

Photography by Karolina of Hearts on Fire Photography
View Hearts on Fire PHotography in Little Book For Brides
Hair & makeup by Rachel Manix

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

From left to right Cat, Sara and Becky
The ladies behind A Most Curious Wedding Fair

Collectively, the team juggle the busy lives of six children aged 1 to 22. And between them, there’s a whole big story of just how tricky the reproduction and becoming a mother thing can be.  Their experiences touch on issues that could happen to any one of us. Perhaps you can relate through personal experience of your own, or maybe you harbour deep fears that it might happen to you. One of the reasons we’re sharing this post is to highlight how even the most devastating of experiences can lead to the nurturing of even deeper levels of love, gratitude, acceptance and understanding.

There is an overriding theme in each three of the stories below – it isn’t about the rough ride that each of these women have been through, but how lucky they feel for the beautiful babies they have in their lives – just exactly as they are and in whatever way they entered the world.

What’s that old saying, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’; by sharing their experiences with one another, the ladies in the Most Curious team have been able to overcome grief and embark on their personal journeys of healing.  Through opening up and talking about what has happened, they have learned to eradicate guilt, shame and fear and remove the taboo that often clouds honest and supportive conversation around miscarriage, adoption and even giving birth to babies with a potentially life-threatening condition.

Today, these amazing women would like to share their stories and experiences with you. The often silent battles that leave you feeling isolated and alone if not talked about openly can cause deep but invisible emotional scars.  So many people go through all these curveballs on the daily, but unless we talk about it, a certain amount of stigma is left surrounding them. Becky, Sara and Cat are keen to bust open that box and start a conversation about some of the most challenging life experiences that they have been through, all in the name of baby making.

Please be kind ladies and gentlemen, for as much as they want to open up to you today, it has also been an incredibly nerve wracking experience for all three ladies in ‘going public’ like this.

Most Curious 2016 will be donating 10% of all ticket sale profits to The Miscarriage Association, The Williams Syndrome Foundation and Barnados.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Becky’s Story

Becky, 34, has a beautiful four year old daughter Bella, who was conceived naturally after a mere six weeks of trying and a smooth sailing pregnancy ensued. In March 2014 she and her husband John decided it was time for number two and two months later Becky was pregnant again but at eight weeks in, in June 2014 tragically miscarried. She and her husband have been trying to conceive again ever since and it’s been a heartbreakingly long ride, with emotional break downs in dodgy Chinese medicine centres and London Buddhist temples, late night googling and herbal orders from Amazon, spiritual guru Osteopaths, unremarkable therapy sessions and Malaysian Aunties sending numerous ginger orientated recipes from abroad.

After battles with a ridiculously underfunded NHS and some private consultations she has been diagnosed with Polycystic ovaries and her plan with NHS specialists at Homerton Hospital started this year.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

My story is of an ordinary early pregnancy miscarriage. No high drama, no freakish causes or effects, just two and a half weeks of knowing you are pregnant and then all of a sudden you’re not. Of course nothing about it feels ordinary, not to you, the mother of the baby, the keeper of the little light that is yours from the moment you take the test. But you are told ‘it happens’, ‘just one of those things’, ‘not this time’ as if it is ordinary and minor and yes, how sad, but let’s soldier on…

Like everything with motherhood, until it happens to you – being pregnant, being in labour, breastfeeding – no one can prepare you for, or indeed really discusses it, what that physical and emotional process really feels like when you are actually living it. And it is the same with miscarriage, what happens in that toilet, the horror, the feeling of it all falling away, that private moment you will never forget, is a secret only mother’s know. And after it happens, for the most part, we brush it away, we don’t talk about it, it is not a common subject of conversation. We speak about it in hushed tones behind closed doors if we speak about it at all. Just another thing women have to go through that doesn’t tend to get much air time.

I have an amazing, awesome, nearly five year old daughter Bella and waited longer than many people to get back on the wagon. We started to try for numero 2 at the end of March last year, and in the third month of trying, I was 8 days late and did a test when John got home from work. Bella was overtired and screaming for her bedtime stories and wanted ‘MUMMY TO DO IT!’ so John went to look back on the test and came into the room grinning, to the soundtrack of Bella wailing and chucking books. Not the best timing, but job done.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Becky and her daughter Bella

So followed a wonderful week and a half of getting out heads round the idea, feeling excited and worrying about having two children, how Bella would feel, having enough space, having enough money, but wonderful all the same.

And then some spotting.

I had some spotting with Bella and it was scary, but I went to the doctor’s, they gave me a scan and one of the best moments of my life was seeing and hearing a heartbeat, so loud and defiant it felt deafening. I made an appointment to see the Doctor, tell him I was pregnant and perhaps mention the bleeding. ‘There isn’t any point in having a scan’, he said, ‘it won’t stop you from having a miscarriage. And it would only show that you were still pregnant, if you are, at that point in time, and wouldn’t be able to tell whether you are about to miscarry or will indeed eventually go on to have a miscarriage.’

This blatant disregard for the aspect of reassurance or knowledge the scan would provide me as the person carrying this pregnancy, this tiny baby inside my body, was not cool. However, he did say the words which would come back to give me some comfort in the following weeks. That I must never blame myself if I did have a miscarriage, that there is more often than not chromosome abnormalities or other problems – nature’s way of making sure you get the best one you can.

I could have done a pregnancy test, but at that point, the bleeding was almost non existent. Over the next few days the bleeding got far worse and I ended up at A&E on the Wednesday evening.  My cervix was also closed tight, which is a good sign, so I felt reassured and just to double check I was booked in for a scan the following morning.

The scan showed that the egg sac was fine – plump and round and there was the shape of the wonderful little guy in there, but difficult to see because the ‘yolk’ was right in front. Every so often there was what looked like the flicker of a heartbeat behind the yolk and we laughed with relief. The Sonographer said, everything looked promising and good for 5.5 weeks pregnancy. Alarm bells rang – I was at least 7.5 weeks, probably closer to 8. She said that could be ok if I ovulated later in the month I fell pregnant.  Yet again, we let our hopes come back.

By the next evening, the bleeding got, for want of a better word, more gloopy, much more frequent and I started feeling like I was having period pains. Bad times. Thursday night I had proper cramps.  John was away so I slept with Bella in my bed to feel close to the life I had already created. Proof that I could do it. If I kept new life near, life made of the same stuff, maybe just maybe, some of it would rub off and keep this one alive too.

Friday came, John took the day off work and we went to the Early Pregnancy Unit again. Another examination, cervix still closed, but lots of swabs to wipe away the blood as there was so much. A more sombre tone to the conversations, no jokes, lots of silence and waiting. John held my hand much tighter and we sat closer together, trying to unite against what we feared was coming.

Another scan, everything looked the same but no heartbeat this time. It was a different Sonographer who said it was possible there wouldn’t be a heartbeat at 5.5 weeks, so come back at 6.5 and they could check growth. But that evening as I Iaid on the bed with a maternity pad on, I felt cramp, ‘squirt’, cramp ‘squirt’. I cried and let resignation set in.

How could a baby still be in there? I stood up and hurried to the bathroom as I felt a rush of everything come out. Blobs and clots, it was just as if someone had pushed the eject button. I sat on the toilet and wept in a blur of toilet paper and pads, hit flush and I called John in. We cried, looked at a suspicious looking fleshy ‘clot’ on the tissues I had kept and held each other in a moment of gore, devastation and surrender. And there we were – a couple who had lost a baby. It was the start of a long process of grieving.

And that is where the story could end, but I believe it shouldn’t.

I don’t want to get too heavy into culture of faith, but at times of great tragedy, I do turn to the spiritual element of my part-Chinese upbringing. In Chinese culture, miscarriages are treated as a major physical and emotional event.  After a baby is born, women have a 30 day resting period, literally translated as ‘sitting for a month’. They do not leave the house and eat several recouperating meals of ginger and chicken a day  to replace the internal ‘balance’ and nutrients they have lost post-partum. This also gives them time to get to know their baby, do their best to get a good milk supply (if needed) and basically recover and adjust to this new way of life. Chinese women who have miscarried are advised to do this for an even lengthier 40 days, because not only has your body gone through the same process, there is the emotional aspect to take in to account as well.

While I didn’t confine myself to the house for 40 days, I did eat the ginger chicken several times a week and this way of thinking gave me a ‘pass’ to take it easy and allow a good amount of time before I thought about feeling ‘normal’ again. But in those raw and dark days that first followed, I cried on the phone to my dad, ‘please ask my aunties what I can do to honour and commemorate that baby, that little life, send it on its way, it doesn’t know where to go. Getting flushed down the toilet is just not enough.’

They immediately knew the protocol – there was a special a set of ritual actions to follow; physical, tangible, markers and things I could do beyond the thoughts in my mind. So three weeks later we set off for the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple in London. The ladies who ran the place, or Dharma sisters, didn’t look confused or think I was silly, they didn’t look at me in pity – my request for the ‘right thing to do’ following a miscarriage felt very normal, straight forward and understood. There were specific customary instructions, a ceremony that has existed for thousands of years. The Dharma sister said to write mine and John’s name and the words ‘The Baby that I have lost’ on special yellow paper and to put it with a candle at a certain altar at the temple and say all the things I needed to say. This altar is where there is constant chanting, where many families put their recently deceased loved ones names, young and old, to mark their passing, pray for their souls to find peace and go to the right place. The Dharma sister actually said that in the case of miscarriage, the particular reasoning is that the baby became disconnected from me and this process will ensure that the baby will be looked after by someone, benevolent spirits and deities, until we are reunited.

I’m not saying I believe that with this ritual my baby has flown up somewhere to sit on a cloud with Buddha, but her words made sense of a lot of the emotions I was trying to fathom. Any child you make, you need to be with you, to feel in your arms, to be by your side, to nurture until it no longer needs that nurturing. But I didn’t get to do that and now that baby we made is just simply gone and that is maybe where the biggest feelings of loss and emptiness spring from. You are disconnected, no longer bonded and empty handed at the end of it and on some level I couldn’t bear to think of it all alone. The ritual and those words acknowledged that and offered some comfort.

Everyone is so different and some people might read this thinking, wow, take it down a notch lady, it is sad, but this is too much!  Of course all experiences and especially grief is so personal and subjective, but for me there was a strong feeling of, how can that be it? What can I do for closure, to end that chapter that was in full beautiful flow in my heart and head, and that has been cut short so suddenly? When everyone else stopped talking about it and professionals had done all they could, I felt I’d been left alone and stranded.

That period after miscarriage is a lonely time. I talk about it where ever I feel it is appropriate, to try and normalise it for myself and others – and that helps. And that is why I felt I wanted to share my experience today, because this happens to so many of us at all stages throughout our pregnancies.

Regardless of faith and beliefs, time is the biggest healer, for sure. I think the Chinese have it right. And you should be able to say to your boss ‘I’ve had a miscarriage, I won’t be coming in for three to four weeks’.

My silver lining is that as a previously over worked, sometimes dissatisfied and moany mum, I have received the gift of gratefulness for the miracle I have been given, which is Bella. And hopefully somewhere along the line not too far away, we will have something else to be thankful for.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Sara’s Story

Sara, 40, has a rather handsome and strapping 16 year old son, Lucas, from a previous relationship and now has two daughters with her lovely husband Rob. Sara’s journey with Rob has had its fair share of extreme highs and lows, suffering two tragic miscarriages and 13 months of trying to conceive her feisty and delicious two year old Delilah. This was preceded by seemingly everyone around her announcing pregnancies, crying sessions on her bathroom floor and moments of madness ordering fertility drugs online (which she luckily didn’t have to take as she found out she was pregnant with Delilah before they arrived!).

After such an overwhelming time Sara tried quickly for her third baby and as is often the way fell pregnant with the charming and gorgeous Carys quickly, when Delilah was just 8 months old. In her third trimester Sara had scans which flagged up some concerns about the size of the baby, which led to checks for chromosomal abnormalities. During an agonising final few weeks of the pregnancy, they were given the ‘all clear’, only to be called back in to say that actually, Carys had Williams Syndrome, a condition similar to Downs Syndrome, with learning difficulties and possible heart problems. Rollercoaster doesn’t even cover it. Carys is now one and a delight to be around, a real trooper and a fierce and vital member of the Most Curious brood.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Sara and her daughter Carys

It is hard looking back now, with 3 beautiful, noisy children filling the house, to recapture the utter despair and ache of losing a much wanted baby. The world collapsed, I honestly could not see the light. I didn’t want to talk about it as verbalising it made it real. Even now I prefer to remember in solitude, those two lost babies. The first was a girl and we named her Evie. The other we never knew but I tend to think of a little boy. But here we are now with two more little joyous bundles, one currently blowing wet raspberries up my nose! We have rebuilt our world, albeit an unexpected one, and whatever the trials and tribulations of everyday parenting, I am so grateful for our life now.”

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

I think this is why we didn’t really have a huge reaction to the shock diagnosis of Carys’ Williams Syndrome when I was 37 weeks pregnant. As long as she remains healthy and her heart condition is managed then we feel very grateful indeed. Many WS babies need early open heart surgery to stay alive and we have so far avoided any surgical intervention. Carys is sweet, soft, happy, loving and gives pretty much the best hugs ever. All the children bring us joy every day and that is something we never take for granted.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Cat’s Story

Cat, 41, has been thrown a fair amount of life’s punches, from all sides of the baby-making coin. She herself was adopted by a lovely mother and father who had their own tale of unexplained difficulties conceiving. Then at seventeen, during her final year at school, Cat fell pregnant with her first love. Growing up in Ireland, options were slim and Cat had to make the tortuous decision to give her beautiful baby daughter Aoife up for adoption, believing this was the only way she could give Aoife the life she deserved.

Cat now  has another daughter, eight year old Sophie, who rocks the world of the whole Most Curious team. Things didn’t work out with Sophie’s Dad and our all-round tough tiger-mumma has been a single mum since Sophie was a baby.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

I know what it feels like to long for a baby but for very different reasons to Sara and Becky.  In 1993, aged just 18, I gave birth to the most amazing, beautiful baby girl, a baby girl I chose to give up for adoption. As you can imagine this was the most difficult, excruciating decision I have ever had to make. It was overwhelmingly heart breaking, but at that time I believed the only way I could give my precious baby girl the life she deserved was by giving her up for adoption.

For years afterwards I longed for a baby, I just felt so empty and lost without Aoife. I can remember never noticing so many mums and babies until afterwards, I seemed to see them everywhere and all I wanted was to be like them, to have my baby with me and be her mum. So I know that longing, that desire for a child that seems to take over your every thought.

I know the idea of adoption can seem very alien to some people, they believe the old adage that blood is thicker than water and could never contemplate giving their child ‘away’. But adoption is not about giving your child away, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s about taking the time to consider what would be best for your child, making a choice based on what you feel is in their best interests, and not on what you want.  Of course I didn’t want to give Aoife up for adoption, I loved her with all my heart and never wanted to let her go. The problem was I also wanted what was best for her and at that time I didn’t believe that was me.

The fact that I am adopted too definitely gave me a different perspective on the situation, I knew what adoption was like.  Growing up I never felt any different because I had been adopted, if anything it made me feel special because I felt like I had been chosen by my parents to be their daughter.  I knew that giving birth to a child doesn’t make you a parent, bringing that child up is what makes you a parent, loving that child, being there for that child, these are the things that matter, not whether you are blood related.

I also knew how much my adopted parents loved me. I knew how much my mum in particular longed for a child, how difficult it was for her that she couldn’t conceive. However, she often told me that she was glad that she didn’t conceive any children naturally because if she had she would never have been able to be my mum.  And I knew there was a couple out there who were in the same situation as my mum and dad had been all those years ago, who were longing for a child to love and cherish, who were everything I wasn’t, who had everything I didn’t have, how could I deny Aoife that chance in life?

As I have gotten older and I look back on that time in my life I have realised that I didn’t believe I was good enough for her. I know it sounds cliché, but I really had no belief or confidence in myself or my abilities, I didn’t believe I could be the mother she deserved. And so I chose to give Aoife up because I genuinely believed it was the best thing for her.

It broke my heart and I wonder now sometimes how I ever did it.  I can’t say I regret what I did because I don’t believe in regrets, I believe that we make the best decisions we can based on what we know at the time.  However, if I was to meet someone now who was in the same situation as me back then I don’t know if I would recommend adoption to them, it’s an incredibly hard thing to do and also incredibly hard to live with.  I miss that baby and that little girl I never had the chance to know so much, and I always will. I remember Aoife playing me a video of her when she was around 2 or 3, and what I particularly loved was hearing her talk, but my heart ached too for that little girl whose voice I had never had the chance to hear before.

I was incredibly fortunate though – the couple that did adopt Aoife were amazing and gave her more than I ever could have dreamed of.  They gave me so much too, I have a wonderful relationship with Aoife and this is only possible because of them.

As part of the adoption agreement I asked for a yearly update, just a couple of pictures to see how Aoife was growing and changing, and maybe just some news on how she was doing.  Aoife’s parents gave me so much more than that though and I know that played a huge part in helping me to cope.  Aoife’s mum wrote such wonderful letters and they sent me so many beautiful pictures.  As a toddler Aoife would put ‘X’s and ‘O’s on the back of the pictures sent to me, as she got older she would send me Christmas cards and write letters. It was so wonderful and brought me so much happiness.  I never dreamt I would be allowed to have so much contact with her and it’s because of Aoife’s parent’s kindness and openness that I have the wonderful, precious relationship I have with her today, I am forever grateful to them for that.

What was even more wonderful, and a real turning point in my life, was that when Aoife was 8 her mum got in touch to say that Aoife would like to meet me, I couldn’t believe it!  That day, 21 September 2001, was one of the most special and life changing days for me. We all went for pizza and it was just wonderful in so many ways. To see this beautiful, happy little girl, to sit and chat with her, hang out with her, hug her, just be close to her, well, it was simply amazing, a dream come true. It was also lovely to see Aoife and her mum together, to see the great relationship they had and how much they obviously loved each other.  Afterwards I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, a weight I didn’t realise I had been carrying until it was gone. I knew Aoife was happy, I had literally seen it with my own eyes and that brought me so much peace.

From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Cat and her daughter Sophie

After all those years longing for a baby the ironic thing is that when I did finally become pregnant again with Sophie, having a baby was not in my plans at all.

However, at 31, I was very different to the scared, naïve 17 year old girl who had become pregnant all those years ago. I had grown and changed, and learned so much in those intervening years and knew I was good enough to be a mum. Ideally I would have preferred not to be a single mum but that’s just the way it had to be. I did want Sophie’s Dad involved in her life though and I’m happy to say he is, she has a great relationship with him and his family.  My own family have been a huge support too, my sister and my parents, and if it wasn’t for their support Sophie and I wouldn’t enjoy the life we do.

My girls are definitely the best thing that ever happened to me. They have brought me so much joy, happiness and contentment, and also taught me so much, especially about love.

 

_________________

These are the stories of just three women, imagine how many more stories there are out there left ‘behind the scenes’?

I hope that these stories have inspired you today – connected with you on some level. If you have or are going through anything similar now, I hope they offer you reassurance and comfort. My love and thanks to the Most Curious Wedding Fair team – ladies, I cannot wait to see you next month.

Just a reminder to reader that you can find out more about the Most Curious Wedding Fair here and that the team will be donating 10% of all ticket sale profits to The Miscarriage Association, The Williams Syndrome Foundation and Barnados. You can engaged with the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I would love to read your comments below. Do you have an experience of motherhood or trying for a baby that you would like to share?

If you’re afraid of posting publicly, please feel free to share your thoughts anonymously.

You can also engage through our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.

Love Annabel x

 

(Gemma, by the way, is rather sensibly yet to embark on her reproductive journey).

Leave a Comment!
From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love (Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love Wedding Talk )

Annabel/

Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, two daughters Eska and Leanora and three dogs. If she's not being a Blog Queen or practicing her photography, you'll find her fighting her way through a renovation dust cloud as she and her family transform their forever-home.

Read more posts by Annabel

More inspiration

Join the Discussion

46 thoughts on From The Heart: Miscarriage and Adoption, Fertility Troubles, Motherhood and Love

  1. Thank you for this article. Trying to have a family has been a heartbreaking experience for me and reading these women’s honest and raw experiences has made me feel not just less alone but also reminded me how strong and resilient women are, have to be, in the face of gut-wrenching reality sometimes.

    1. I am so happy to read this Anon – that this post has comforted you if just a little. Thank you so much for taking time to read the feature today and to comment too.

      Sending you so much love,

      Annabel xXx

    2. Thank you for your comments and sharing your experience. I am so heartened to hear that the article has made you feel less alone in this situation. Wishing you strength, love and many good wishes for the future xx

    3. Thank you for you comment Anon – I’m sorry you’ve been through tough times as well, it is good to hear that the gut wrenching reality was something you connected with, that was one thing I both wanted to convey, but also worried it might be too much, the actual reality of what miscarrying a baby is like, to take away some of the taboo. much love going out to you x

      1. Your miscarriage description reminded me of mine, and you’re right, it isn’t something you read about in many places even though so many women go through it. Thank you for being so honest x

    4. Hi Anon, I’m so sorry to hear your experience of trying for a family has been heartbreaking and I’m so glad our stories have helped to make you feel less alone. None of us know the strength we have within us until we’re tested and I know one of the things my experiences have taught me is that I have the stength to get through anything, to keep fighting on and that it is so worth fighting because we will find happiness and joy again. Sending you love, Cat xx

  2. Wow. Three very inspiring ladies! This made me shed a few tears as it hit a few chords with myself.

    Wonderful post.

    I am also adopted and intend on one day adopting myself. My natural mother tried to have an abortion but what told she was a couple of weeks two late so I count every day of my life as a complete blessing. My adoptive parents, who I see as my real parents, have allowed me and given me the opportunity at a beautiful life. Not without hurdles and hardships but my life could have been very different.

    Motherhood, and it’s challenges, should be shared by women more. The idea of strength that is portrayed from these three ladies (and their families) is nothing short of amazing.

    Bless you all and hopefully I will meet you one day in the wedding world!

    Best,
    Charli (Charli Photography)

    1. What a wonderful reply Charli – thank you for trusting us and being brave enough to share your own experiences.

      Every life is precious gut stories like this truly put the essence of that preciousness into perspective.

      Sending you so much love today,

      Annabel xxxx

    2. Thank you so much Charli, what struck us was that all three of had gone through such major things, that’s 3 out of 3! So surely this is something that should be more spoken about and if that’s something we can help raise awareness of then we are very happy. Thanks for sharing too. Lots of love xx

    3. Hi Charli, thank you so much for your lovely comment and for sharing your experience. I really connected with what you said about your adopted parents being your real parents, I feel exactly the same about my (adopted) parents and also about Aoife’s Mum and Dad, they are most definitely her real parents too. I also totally get what you said about how you had a beautiful life, although not without difficulties. Life is never perfect and no matter how you become part of your family, whether you are born into it or whether you become part of it in a different way such as adoption, there will always be ups and downs. The vital ingredient is love and knowing you were loved from your beginnings. Take care, Cat xxxx

    1. Thank you for commenting Anna, we really wanted people to feel they were not alone. This is life with all its ups and downs! You are definitely not alone, and knowing we may have helped even just for today, is everything we wanted and more . Big love to you! x

  3. This article…wow! where do I begin as I can hardly sea through the tears. Such strong women and so inspiring and it’s also nice knowing you are no alone in life’s journeys. It’s so hard to speak about these things as not many do.
    I had a son at 19 and had full intentions of raising him but ended up with severe post partum depression so I decided to do an open adoption. I am very lucky it has turned out amazingly and has helped in making him the kind and considerate 15 year old he is today…at 4 years old he said to me “thank you mom I have more people to love” This memory shall never be easy to remember, as it still makes me cry with some regret that he couldn’t be all mine but it filled me up with so much pride which I still feel today. 15 years on my husband and I just had our first baby together, our wee Louie. We had an awful scare just 3 weeks after he made our world complete when we were told he might have Cystic Fibrosis. Our world came crashing down during all the tests he had to go through but we are so thankful all the further tests came back showing he is only a carier. Our fears pushed us to start raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis trust and we shall be giving away a few shoots a year for families with children affected by it.
    Again thank you so much for writing this post. It has made me feel stronger in knowing I am not alone in those motherhood hardships. It’s incredible to know just how strong we all are when we come out the other side positive and inspired.

    Chantal

    1. Oh Chantal, what an incredibly moving response – you have been through so much and maintain an incredible outlook. I am so thankful you have shared this here today and have HUGE, huge admiration for you.

      Women harbour so much inside through fear of making themselves look week, or as though they made bad decisions – we’re so much stronger when we start supporting each other, listening, understanding and never judging one another.

      Thank you so much for sharing this incredible, inspiring story today Chantal.

      All my love,

      Annabel xxxx

      1. (Apologies for the spelling errors above. Really was tough to type out)

        I had to add on to your lovely response Annabel (thank you) It is so true we harbour so much inside and often so much guilt at decisions or blaming ourselves for things out with our control. I carried guilt around for 12 years of my first sons life underneath my smile. It was only when I let go I could truly move on and think of having another child. So in speaking about it and letting it all out I have discovered is the best remedy…hard but worth it.

        I hope other women will read this amazing post on those 3 incredible women and see that.

        Chantal xx

    2. Wow, you are an amazing lady Chantal and so so not alone. Thank you for sharing, I know Cat will definitely be wanting to reply to you too. Honestly, we are so moved to know this is doing something positive, even just for today, if we have helped people recognise how strong they are or feel less alone then we are very very happy. And thank you for your great response as well Annabel. You know all the right, lovely things to say, I am feeling a bit shell shocked and can’t find the right words, the response has blown me away! xxx

      1. Wow thanks so much for your lovely response Becky! It is most definitely doing something positive as I am sure some women are too scared to speak out. It’s all in emotions wise when you even start thinking about having babies so when it does not go smoothly it’s devastating. The three of you has brought light to just how strong we all are!! xx

    3. Wow Chantal, you haven’t had it easy! And thank you for sharing the fact that you also gave your baby up for adoption, I know I was very nervous about going public with the fact that I did this. People can be so judgemental about adoption, saying that if you really loved your baby you could never give them up. But this is so wrong, it’s for exactly the opposite reason, the reason you do it is because you love them SO much. My birthmum wrote to my parents and said “she loved me too much to keep me” and I think this sums up so perfectly why people make the excruiating decision to give their child up for adoption.
      I also suffered from post natal depression after having Sophie, thankfully not severe and because of the fact that I actually suffer from clinical depression I was aware that it could happen and was watching for it. It was incredibly difficult though, especially in the first few weeks after Sophie was born and it is another issue we don’t talk enough about it. Another story for another day, eh?! :-)
      Congratulations on the birth of your youngest son Louie, how wonderful, and I am so glad to hear he is well. How wonderful too that you are doing something to give back and help people with Cystic Fibrosis.
      With love, Cat xxxx

      1. I think you have totally nailed it with the reason behind why we decided to give our babies up for adoption. You love them so much that you are unselfish enough to realise that they will have the best possible life with someone else. This should most definitely not be frowned upon. I LOVE the letter your birthmum wrote you. My gosh what a lovely thing to have done for you and also for you to have met your daughter at the age of 8. She must have incredible parents to be so open about it at such a young age. I have to say I love this knew thinking people have these days. It’s so much more open and tolerant which is lovely. And yes PPD is another kettle of fish that people just don’t talk enough about!
        Thanks for the congrats and well wishes. We are utterly besotted with our wee Louie and he gets to meet his big brother this summer when we go to Canada. We face time a lot though and his big brother got to meet him in the 4D scan when he visited Scotland this summer which was a lovely moment.
        Thanks again to the 3 of you for opening up so candidly.
        Chantal xx

  4. A powerful post with three brave ladies. My experience in the world of fertility has been exceptionally difficult. We were told that having our own child was extremely unlikely and the loss you feel when you know the road is going to be long and difficult when your desperate to conceive hangs over you. I have met the strongest and most inspiring women on my journey. I’m lucky to be 20 weeks pregnant with a donor baby but gain something people know very little about. This post celebrates women and families who deal with one of the hardest journeys anyone will make when it isn’t smooth. It also highlights how it isn’t easy and even if you do easily get pregnant there are so many other things that people may have to deal with. It raises awareness. So thank you lovelies. Xxx

    1. Thank you Naomi, and congratulations! I can so imagine that the road has not been easy – you are brave too! women are pretty bloody amazing aren’t they and we carry this all around, soldiering on with or the ‘normal’ challenges of daily life too. Lots os love xx

    2. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Naomi, it is wonderful news that after everything you have been through, you are 20 weeks along in your own pregnancy now. Sending you so much love and best wishes for a remaining 20 weeks xxx

  5. I think as a girl you grow up thinking of how many children you are going to have and just assume that once you decide that you want one, you’ll have one. Once a fully, grown up adult you realise how much ‘luck’ you need on your side to have a plain sailing, straightforward conception, pregnancy, birth and beautiful, healthy baby. Personally I don’t know many women who haven’t experienced some kind of difficulty at some point along that emotional journey. Thank you to these ladies for sharing their incredibly touching & personal stories. I really do believe that they will resonate with so many other women/couples and hopefully help them to know that they are not alone. Also, that we all deal with our own traumas/issues/difficulties in different ways, there is no right or wrong. We all have to do what feels right to us at that time. Sending much love to everyone out there that needs an extra bit at the moment xx

    1. That has been the biggest eye opener for me – realising how exceptionally lucky it is to fall pregnant at all, it feels like the odds are already stacked against you when you try. We struggled trying 12 months for our second and I had a very difficult pregnancy, giving birth to her at 8 months – this was after we fell pregnant right away with our first and had a text-book prefect pregnancy. Nothing is guaranteed.

      Like you too, I know so many, many people who have had struggles, majorly long roads to get to the point of holding a baby in their hands- years and years of IVT and repeat miscarriages, adoption – let’s not forget the ‘A’ word too (abortion). Many women abort in their teens then struggle to get pregnant when the time is right.

      I’m just so pleased we’ve been able to use Love My Dress as a way of helping women feel they are not alone – thank you so much Katie for commenting xxx

  6. Wow! Such heart felt stories…sat here with tears streaming!
    I understood, sympathise and totally get what it feels like to go through those heart aches and also the happiest of feelings.
    My husband and I tried for five years before we had a successful pregnancy test…honest those two little blue lines will forever be one of my most memorable moments, especially after a pharmacies worth of negative ones!
    I also have PCOS and it’s made my life hideous at times. (Becky I have recently come across new info that’s really helping me with it…Vit D, Inositol, Folate & Omega 3).
    Reading this blog today has made me really think about just how lucky I am, it may have taken what felt like forever to conceive but my daughter Faith was worth the wait…and although we didn’t expect it her brother turned up two years later! There was lots of heartache, soul searching and tears but now I believe it’s what makes our family that much stronger and closer…I type this whilst asking said children to stop jumping on my sofas and fighting with each other!!

    Three wonderfully successful ladies with beautiful stories! Thank you for sharing and inspiring others.
    Ps what a lovely addition to your blog!
    Much love Danielle X

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Danielle. It sounds like it’s been a long road, but with the best ending! Haha I am still at the stage of endless negative pregnancy tests, so I hear ya! And am taking Vitamin D supplements too, and I will look into the others, thank you. It helps me as well to know I am not alone too! xx

    2. Hehehe! Your ‘I type this whilst asking said children to stop jumping on my sofas and fighting with each other’ makes me smile.

      I’m up out of bed this morning having had little quality sleep as our 5 year old crawled into our bed half way through the night. Part of me wants to weep (I need my sleep!) but staring her sleeping as I crept out of the bed this morning reminded me how damn lucky I am. Moments like this will pass and it’s hardly a hardship having the sweet, warm body of a child seek comfort from their mummy and daddy in the dark of night. Incredibly precious. I kissed her cheeks and counted my lucky stars.

      I’m so happy to hear you found happiness and joy in the end after your struggles Danielle, what wonderful news.

      Love Annabel x

  7. I have never ever felt more proud to be a Most Curious woman. Knowing these stories already didn’t take away from the impact of reading them all in one go. Everyone’s stories and the comments afterwards have been so gently and beautifully looked after so thank you Annabelle for this platform – I feel sure it’s doing great things. Xxxxxx

  8. Thanks for sharing these personal stories-I actually have met 2 of the lovely ladies above . (happy to say who I am privately if you would like to know).
    I cant have children and it kills me when people are so insensitive, you know, all the throwaway comments ‘oh didn’t you want kids then?’ ‘oh youre lucky you get a lie in’ etc etc. Now I am at a stage where I don’t really know my place in society as a woman as I am not a Mother, I am not a typical career woman, I am not young, I am not old. I can’t be part of those Mum’s groups, Im not a ‘mumpreneur’ and I don’t get to meet other women as there aren’t any equivalent groups really.
    I have never really discussed it publicly but I’m now getting to the stage where I feel I should just say it sometimes and not gloss over it like I always have.
    I’m not all doom and gloom as it might sound from this but infertility is a very unknown area and its not something you ever hear about unless you sadly end up in that club (!).
    One bit of advice I would give anyone is to really push your GP for fertility checks and dont take no as an answer because you never get that time back!

    1. Hiya Anon, thank you so much for your support and I am so sorry to hear of your fertility problems. You are definitely right to say push for tests. I have what they call ‘natural killer’ cells, charming name really, but basically my body was rejecting my babies. I had to go private to find this out as the NHS make you wait until you have ‘recurring’ miscarriages which I think is 3. Hopefully articles like this will raise awareness of all these different issues and give other women some hope or at least comfort that they are not alone. If you are coming to London please come and say hi and do let Annabel know if you want us to know who you are! :) xxx

  9. Thank you so much for highlighting these issues, each and every story from these exceptionally brave women is important and shows the struggle that so many women go through at a very emotional stage in their life. Like many women I always thought it would be easy to get pregnant, decide when you are ready and off you go. Apparently not for everyone! It makes it all the more harder when it seems like everyone else is finding it easy but I don’t know their stories either, just as they don’t know mine. We need to be easier on each other, share in others happiness and sympathise and support in their grief and heartache. It is so heartening to see that in the comments xx

  10. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing these experiences. I recently got as far as my 12 week scan only to be told the baby had no heartbeat. It was heart breaking and, months later, I’ve started to realise how low I actually was during that time. But it is encouraging to hear of other women’s stories and how they came out the other side.
    Unfortunately due to the type of miscarriage I had (called a partial molar) I can’t try again for a while, but I’m worried when I get pregnant again I’ll spend the whole pregnancy worrying! So, as I said before, it is helpful hearing other experiences and openly talking about these things so that women, and their partners and families, know that they are not alone and there is always hope and light. Thank you! And I wish you all the best! X

    1. This happened to my sister in one of her pregnancies – she found out the baby had stopped growing c.7-8 weeks at her 12 week scan – the day after she’d told everyone she was pregnant. It was devastating for her, so I’ve had a glimpse of the heartache you’ve been and are going through Bec – sending love and strength to you.

      The truth is, we never stop worrying once we start on the baby making path. We worry before we conceive, we worry after we’ve conceived, we worry the entire pregnancy and then when a child arrives, we have a whole new set of worries.

      My worry right now is that my fertility is slipping away from me. It’s a funny thing – being 41 in every other respect doesn’t bother me at all and I feel fitter, healthier, stronger, more focussed than ever before – but there’s this invisible clock ticking away and constant reminder that my baby making facilities are slowly packing in. That, I worry about. I’m not really ready for that part of my life yet!

      1. Thank you for your response and for sharing your worries Annabel! You are right we will always find something to worry about. And every stage of a woman’s life brings up new challenges. Trying not to let the worry take over is a challenge in itself!
        I had told my family and workplace I was pregnant, so I feel for your sister having to go through telling people after. I felt as though I had let people down, even though I knew it was silly to feel that way. Mind you, that being said, because they knew I had been pregnant the support and love I had was incredible, and it helped my husband as well to cope with how to support me.
        Thank you again for sharing this article, I agree with Katie, you just assume that everything will be ok and your family will just happen, but it just doesn’t always go that way. Not that people should start off thinking things won’t go to plan, but that if they don’t then there is the support and advice out there.
        Lots of love to everyone xx

  11. A great and sensitive article which I can relate to enormously. Also, brilliant to read it on a blog not dedicated to the subject of Motherhood and it’s trials. I hope that it might reach women who may not be looking for advice or shared experiences but who will be surprised at the comfort it brings on reading it.

    1. Thank you so much Kate – I was pretty nervous about putting this out there – not everyone wants to read this kind of material on a wedding blog I guess, but I’ve always gone with my heart on Love My Dress and really want to use what we have here to reach out to other women and build a supportive community.

      I really appreciate your feedback, thank you xxx

  12. Such a lovely heart felt read. I love when women speak up about the crapness of things in real life. It happens to us all and talking helps….everyone at least a bit.
    I’m no different I lost one at 13 weeks last year and it’s been awful since. It wasn’t a planned pregnancy but the excitement was still there. I have no idea if I’m meant to try again as I’m unsure if having a baby again would even fit with what we have already made of life. So at 32 who knows what will happen. But I know that the more I’ve talked about it the better I have felt.
    Lovely ladies for the open feelings and words you shared xx

  13. Excellent feature, thank you very much to Cat, Sara and Becky for sharing some difficult and upsetting but very valuable and much appreciated words- they resonated deeply with me and clearly, many others. I don’t have children myself but its been the subject of many deep discussions recently- as someone said on facebook- you spend such a long time worrying about getting pregnant, and then it often turns out to not be the straightforward path you imagined after all (although happily, it is for others). I really feel its so important to bring this stuff out in the open.

    And thanks Annabel, for being happy and brave enough to post this kind of discussion- weddings are fab, but they’re part of the bigger picture of life and I think a blog that isn’t afraid to discuss the other parts of life (happy, sad, difficult) is long overdue and much needed.

    xx

  14. I have found this article really helpful, especially Sara’s story. The comments above are so true, from the moment you conceive you never stop worrying. I was lucky enough to fall pregnant with my second child, a girl, within six weeks but had a very difficult pregnancy. I had only lost my dad six months before and grieving for him with pregnsncy hormones was not fun! I had psychosis after my first child was born so was worried the second time round, but everything went so smoothly until Annabelle got bronchiolitis in November and ended up in intensive care. She has now been diagnosed with hypotonia and developmental delay and tomorrow has an MRI scan and genetic testing. She’s only 13 months. She brings us a lot of joy but I am currently really struggling with her diagnosis and the uncertainty and tests that go with it.

  15. This article has come at a good time. I had a miscarriage back in November (the first time I’ve been pregnant) and since then I have been struggling to come to terms with it. Grieving has been an incredibly isolating experience, as it feels like the only person who really knew our baby was really there and growing, was me.

    My husband and I are starting to try again, but I’m really gutted that the happy innocence of trying to start a family has gone. It now feels like there is so much more riding on the coming months, in a way that wasn’t there the first time around. I can only focus on trying to stay optimistic and hope that the next time there is a happier outcome.

    Thank you all for writing so frankly about your experiences and breaking down some of the taboos about family and fertility.

  16. Dear Annabel and all the ladies at Most Curious Wedding Fair. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your fertility/baby experiences on Love my dress. I am so humbled to read all your detailed accounts. This subject is very close to my heart so it’s very comforting to know you are not on your own. So many women and families go through heartbreaking journeys and I commend you all for coming forth and sharing your own on Annabels blog. I’m sending you all huge hugs of support and love X

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *