Miscarriages aren’t just things that you can forget, and they’re certainly not easy

Most people think a miscarriage is quick and easy, you pass the baby and that’s that – you can move on with your life. Unfortunately that isn’t the case.

In 2014 I found out I was pregnant. I was shocked but happy, knowing I had a little human growing inside of me.

I found out around 12/13 weeks. I had been given my scan date and couldn’t be more excited, even though it was 2 weeks away.

Then one Saturday before my scan which was booked for four days later, everything changed.

I started to bleed.

I called NHS Direct to speak to the doctor, but they said as it was only a little bit of blood I was okay to wait until the scan I had booked. The doctor told me that some people bleed during pregnancy, and that it was normal.

Little did I know that in the early hours of Tuesday morning everything would change.

I woke up with intense stomach cramps, to the point where I couldn’t move.

It felt like labour pains, it was awful – possibly the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life.

My mum had called NHS Direct again, and they sent an ambulance because by this time the blood was pouring out of me and I was almost passing out from the pain.

When I arrived at A&E the hospital staff were lovely. Apart from one, who treated me like a piece of rubbish on the floor.

She came in and noticed I had lost yet more blood and she had said ‘Would you like me to tell you when you’ve passed it all?’ after being told there was still a chance I was carrying a live baby.

I was moved to the ward and booked in for a scan, and after an hour or two I was taken down for it.

During the scan is when the heartbreaking words I had been dreading all morning finally came.

‘I’m sorry but you’ve had an incomplete miscarriage’.

An incomplete miscarriage is where you only lose so much of the baby and you are still carrying the rest, which can make you become septic.

I was given a choice of an operation or tablets to help the rest pass. I wanted to avoid an operation so I chose the tablets.

Unfortunately, the tablets caused me to hemorrhage and I lost a lot of blood.

I was sent home that night after having taken the tablets and within half an hour my mum had to phone another ambulance because I was losing so much blood.

I was taken back to the hospital, where they scanned me again. Apparently, I hadn’t still hadn’t lost all of the baby – so they booked me in for an operation in which I had to wait a week for.

But things worsened and I was sent back to the hospital that night, where I was taken down for emergency surgery due to the dangerous amount of blood I had lost.

The surgery went well and I was released home the following day, still poorly and severely anemic.

Unfortunately my hopes of recovery were short-lived, as not long after being at home I started showing signs of infection.

After an out-of-hours visit to my doctor, it was confirmed that I had a womb infection. I was given antibiotics for the infection but they didn’t work.

And a few days later I was taken back to the hospital by ambulance. My blood suagrs had dropped and I was taken back to the hospital.

Luckily, the issue was fixable there and then without any more surgery.

On my return home, I hoped that this would be the end of it and that I could finally move on with my life.

But ‘moving on with my life’ came in a form I’d never have expected.

I had fallen pregnant again just two months after my miscarriage. Of course, I panicked. I was terrified that the same thing would happen again. The pregnancy start-to-finish was an endless battle of fear.

Miscarrying previously had made me so paranoid that during this pregnancy I didn’t buy anything for the baby until I was 30 weeks pregnant – as I was worried history would repeat itself.

But thankfully, I carried full-term and gave birth to the most beautiful, healthy baby boy.

I will never stop grieving for the baby I lost, and although it still feels raw, having my boy – who’s now one year old – has given me the strength to somewhat deal with the heartbreak. He’s given me a reason to smile again.

Miscarrying has affected me mentally more than it did physically.

Before falling pregnant again I had become extremely suicidal and I refused to leave the house.

I was constantly wondering what I had done wrong to deserve this. After finally admitting defeat, I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with and treated for depression.

I think of the baby I lost everyday. I think of what he or she would have looked like.

Would they have looked like my son? Or even their dad?

Now, I have accepted the fact that some things happen for a reason. I wouldn’t have had my little boy if it hadn’t have happened – and so I feel blessed to that have a healthy, amazing little boy to be proud of every single day.

Words by Shannon Deane

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Every parent has the right to grieve – even if you weren’t ever able to hold your child

The 18th of July was one of the best days of my life.

I found out I was pregnant. Steven, my husband and I, were ecstatic to make our family grow by one.

But on the 13th of August the worst thing that could have happened did. I started to bleed. Now don’t get me wrong, bleeding in early pregnancy is common and usually nothing to worry about but it wasn’t that way for us. (If you are experiencing bleeding in early pregnancy I would encourage you to ring your midwife advice line to put your mind at ease)

The midwives I spoke to were very blunt and made me feel very scared and put out. They were at first just telling me to stay at home and that the bleeding was probably due to having sex that morning. There was no way we were staying at home. However I was just swabbed and told if I was miscarrying then there was nothing they could do.

I just wanted to scream and shout at her, I know miscarriage can’t be stopped but I also don’t think that any midwife would actually want to watch a woman go through that if they could stop it. All I could do was wait for a phone call Monday morning about a scan.

On the 15th I spent the morning being angry that the local hospital wasn’t going to give me a scan. They honestly wanted me to wait 48 hours then if I was still bleeding contact them at the end of the week.

Yeah, not going to happen! So I rang the hospital I would have had the baby at and the midwife straight away said they couldn’t give me one that day but they could give me one at 9am the next day. I snapped that up so that we could have some peace of mind one way or another.

Our friends were looking after me whilst Steven was at work. Before he had head off to work, he hugged me, and I felt a rush of something that didn’t feel right. Later that day, I found out why.

I headed up to the bathroom and it was like a horror scene. Blood had poured out of me and soaked my underwear and leggings. There was a huge clot that fell on the floor, I was mortified. After I put a new pad in I went about cleaning myself up and the bathroom.

I rang the midwives back because the situation was becoming very scary very quickly. They just said if I soaked one pad in an hour for three hours straight I probably would need medical attention. Within 40 minutes I had passed more large clots and soaked three pads.

Steven was just pulling up when I rang them back and they said ‘Please go to James Cook’, which is the bigger hospital and has an Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU). They also said they would ring them to let them know I was going.

When we got there I was put in a room and they checked my cervix. They removed some small clots and said that my cervix was barely open. I was told to ring the buzzer any time I passed something. The midwife asked if I wanted to stay overnight but I started to feel very detached from the situation like it was no longer happening to me, I just felt empty.

Because I wasn’t losing the same volume of blood, I went home. The midwife also said she thought the large clots I had earlier were probably the end of it but to still go to the scan in the morning to check everything had passed.

Steven and I were barely talking to each other at this point. I have to talk things out, whereas he shuts down. The next morning we headed to the unit again to have the scan. They told me that I hadn’t fully miscarried, that the baby was still there. I had known for a couple of weeks that something was wrong, some days I would get pregnancy symptoms others I would get nothing.

The midwife I had for the scan was amazing. She had suffered a miscarriage herself and was so nice to me which helped. She offered me medical intervention or just to let nature take it’s course. Each comes with its own risk but I chose to let it happen naturally, because well I loved this baby from the second I knew I was pregnant and I will always love them.

I wanted to finish this pregnancy myself even though it wouldn’t have the ending I wanted. However it can take up to 2 weeks and if it doesn’t happen naturally medical intervention is needed regardless.

My mum once told a friend that babies that miscarry were never meant for this life and that they chose the parents they did because they knew they would be loved so much and unconditionally. I feel that is true for me.

The midwife asked if we had any questions but I knew that Steven wouldn’t ask anything. The only thing she hadn’t covered that I wanted to know was when we would be able to let fate decide if we were having another one.

She told me I would bleed for up to 2 weeks after passing the baby. Then up to 6 weeks later I could have my period. Once I had my period it would be safe to let nature decide. She also said the 4/5months after miscarriage are the most fertile.

I knew I’d be gutted if I didn’t fall pregnant again knowing that, but I also just want to relax about everything and let nature take it’s course.

The annoying thing is there is no set way to miscarry. I had very stop/start bleeding and cramps that would stretch into my back and hips. I just wanted it to be over quickly. That isn’t always the case and wasn’t for me.

I began to start crying hysterically whenever I was alone. Part of me thought that my body was clinging onto this pregnancy and I was clearly not ready to let it go. I kept thinking if I went in for medical management I would be aborting my child.

Now I have no problem with those who have abortions because it must be a hard enough choice to deal with. That’s a very controversial topic and I apologise if it offends anyone, but I fully believe it should be a woman’s choice what happens to her body and there are many reasons for women to have that to be a choice.

My baby had stopped developing and it wasn’t going to miraculously start again. But part of me deep down hoped so fiercely that I would be an exception, it would be a miracle. Obviously only in my dreams.

It got to the point where I told Steven this and he decided to give it a few more days then ring them up. Especially as the day before his deadline I started to get really quite ill but the ward wouldn’t be able to do anything on a Sunday unless I was an emergency.

I rang the ward on the 22nd and had a cry to one of the midwives about how I was feeling regarding the tablets and all the random thoughts I had been having. She put my mind at rest by saying that right now it was a foreign body that was going to cause me harm.

The next day I came to the EPU and went through all the consent forms. Steven and I agreed it might be better to take the tablets in hospital and miscarry there. I signed and took the first tablet which was to stop my body from producing the pregnancy hormones.

The day after that, the 24th, I came in around half 9 in the morning to take the next 4 tablets. I was waiting for about an hour before I was seen.

That wasn’t too bad but hearing all the heartbeat monitors next to the waiting room was horrendous. The midwife was the same one I saw when I first began to miscarry which was incredibly reassuring. She listened to me cry and gave me a hug. She told me as long as I wasn’t too far from a toilet Steven could come see me on the ward or anywhere on the hospital grounds. That gave me some comfort.

Being by myself was the one thing I didn’t want but the people I would have had with me (other than Steven who was doing something equally important) either had to work or had no way of getting to the hospital. I brought my notepad for a book I’ve been writing, my mp3 player because I’m an Apple hater, and some things to eat to keep myself entertained instead.

I took the first 4 tablets of the day and was told to expect cramps, I was told when I started to experience pain just to let them know so I could get painkillers. Now usually I bust through pain but because of the situation I decided I would just take them, even though I waited for ages to actually do it because part of me needed to do this myself.

I had to do my business in a bed pan and I was told that if I had passed anything to buzz the nurses. I was also told that some women experience diarrhoea, she said I could have Imodium for this. I laughed and explained that I had a stoma. She was intrigued about the whole thing and digestion of food etc. I said I could have Imodium and I should be able to tell if I need it. (Yes I very much needed it in the end and had to wait 2.5 hours for some!)

I started feeling cramps within half an hour of taking the tablets.but other than a few bits of stringy blood there was nothing. Steven and Ra-Ra, my daughter, came to sit with me when I was having the second set of tablets at 3pm. Nothing happened. At 6:30 they checked my cervix with a speculum, not pleasant.

Ra-Ra laid with me and hugged me to ‘make sure I didn’t cry’. The midwives couldn’t decide whether I had a clot or if it was just blood.

A doctor had to be paged. We then waited till 21:10 to be told I had to stay overnight and do the whole thing again.

Okay, I thought. That’s fine. I went to empty my bag and as I sat on the toilet blood and clots  just happened. Typical just as Steven was leaving. The midwife checked and said as it wasn’t heavy she was happy for me to leave the ward to see them out.

When I came back upstairs I got ready for bed, had a lovely offer of company from one of my sister-in-laws but I couldn’t make her stay with me overnight. I rang my friend to keep her in the loop. Then around 11pm I moved in the bed. I managed to soak my knickers and pyjamas even though I had a pad on. The midwife said that clot wasn’t the baby either. So sporting a gown and some trés chic ‘netty’ knickers I went back to bed with my tummy feeling sore. I’ve never felt so empty and detached from something in my whole life.

The next morning all I did was sleep. I was woken up to start the tablets again in the hope it would make things happen quicker. At around lunch time I passed what I thought was the baby (it wasn’t) but I was told when I do pass it; they put it in a little white box, then it goes to a chapel and is blessed before being cremated which is nice knowing it is all done respectfully.

Eventually around 2pm I was told I passed something of the baby. I couldn’t believe that I still had more to go through. I had an ‘episode’ I guess where I collapsed onto the toilet. My arms fell back and I was slumped unable to move for what felt like forever. I felt so heavy and helpless. The student midwife I told didn’t pass this information on so I don’t know what it was but I do still worry about that. Roll on till 8pm more clots and nothing else, it’s insane just how many clots you can produce. They eventually did another speculum exam and were able to remove more ‘product’ as they call it.

I was monitored for an hour and allowed a shower before I was then discharged. I was told I can bleed for up to a fortnight and to do another pregnancy test in three weeks and let them know the result.

I was umming and ahhing about writing this but if women or the men that are suffering this horrible event in life don’t talk about it and don’t let others know they aren’t alone it can be a harrowing experience.

I’ve been told I’m coping well. I’m sure it will hit me further down the line but right now I want to raise awareness and let you know if you are going through this talk to someone, let it all out please don’t suffer in silence.

They say one in four women experience miscarriage. I don’t feel like a statistic and if you or someone you know has suffered one they shouldn’t either. Just know you are not alone, it’s an incredibly sad and unfortunate situation.

No matter how early or late you find out it has happened please know you didn’t do ANYTHING wrong. Miscarriage is such a sensitive and taboo subject and it shouldn’t be.

Women should be able to grieve their loss like any other parent. Because even though you weren’t able to hold your child or watch them grow does NOT make things any easier. You are filled with all the what ifs and what would bes. Also already having a child, again doesn’t make things easier.

Your body was able to conceive a baby and that’s still something to celebrate. If you want to it may be a good idea to do something in memorial whether it’s just you or your partner too. One of my best friends is a tattoo artist and gave me a little memorial under two tattoos I have for Steven and Ra-Ra to help me with my grief.

I take away from this that my body is healthy enough to conceive a child so right now that gives me plenty of hope for the future. I have tried to remain  positive throughout even if it was only around other people.

I’ve written this not for sympathy but to try and raise awareness that it can happen to anyone. That it is OK to talk about it and that your feelings are important.

There are plenty of people and groups out there you can talk to. Reach out if you need to please, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Words by Stephie Simpson

What losing my mother at a seriously young age has taught me

You want to know the worst part of losing your mother at a young age?

At just age 12 I was faced with one of the worst experiences of heartache of my life, which made me crumble into a thousand pieces.

The loss of my mother had a huge impact on me and my life physically and mentally.

I lost my mum to an extreme form of various different cancers for which she battled against for 8 years. I then had to grow up without her and live with all boys. How was I going to survive this? How was I going to learn about all of the things I hadn’t learned about yet?

Who was I going to speak to about all of my girl problems? Boyfriend problems? Who was going teach me how to do this or how to do that?

I couldn’t speak to my brothers or my dad about certain things, for they were too embarrassing. It’s then I knew my life would never be the same without my mum next to me for the rest of my life.

Was a life without my mum worth living? Living without a mother was like a sea without water. Empty.

Every step I took felt like a marathon. I felt as if grief was my only friend and I was never going to get past it. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, and when I eventually went back to school after 3 months of grieving I couldn’t get my head down.

I went from being quiet in school to constantly playing up, getting thrown out of my lessons, not turning up to my lessons and sending my education down-hill.

This wasn’t me. It wasn’t what my mum would have wanted.

I was getting upset and frustrated. I needed to speak to someone that wasn’t a boy. I needed my mum back.

The pain of it all was ripping me apart.

I just thought to myself, how am I ever going to feel right again? When will I get my life back?

It’s then I realised that I could speak to my dad and brothers about the things I would have asked my mother.

Why would they judge me? Why should I get embarrassed? They were there for me for a reason.

Losing my mum taught me how to look after myself, how to do things by myself, to grow up faster than the other people my age, become the mother of my house as living with boys isn’t the easiest.

From that I’ve learned how to be the person I am today. Nothing will change the pain that comes from living a life without her, but knowing she’s beside me every step I take makes it that bit more easier.

Don’t give up, it’s true when they say it gets hard before it gets easier. You just need to give yourself time and have patience.

Parenting is hard – but parenting when you have a chronic illness is even harder

Becoming a parent is one of the hardest but equally rewarding jobs you can do.

No matter what your health status it can be a trying time; when you have this little dot of a person yelling at you for the fact you cut their bread wrong or they NEED to stay in the park forever.

Your little baby is slowly becoming a strong-willed independent person, most of the time this can be hilarious even though you constantly tell them to stop growing up and stay your tiny baby forever.

But try having ANY form of chronic illness and this becomes a whole new ball game.

I suffered through my pregnancy with flare ups but everyone (including me) thought it was pregnancy pains and the fact I had a huge scar down my tummy to contend with.

The whole of my daughters short 3 years I have been ill. I haven’t much patience to begin with when I’m in pain, but couple that with working, being tired and being diagnosed with pouchitis made me feel like the worst parent ever.

I’m sure we parents have all been there, been wound up a bit too tight for whatever reason and snapped at our little darlings (terrors) and felt bad afterwards especially if it had nothing to do with them.

When I started to go downhill rapidly (that’s what it felt like for me) health wise whilst waiting for my surgery I felt like the worst mum ever.

My husband picked up the slack massively (she is a daddies girl so it wasn’t too much of a hardship!) I couldn’t play with her due to being in debilitating pain. I refuse to take pain killers when I’m alone with her and back then I was on morphine so I would suffer till Steven, my husband, came home.

I would snap at really insignificant things that if I was fine I probably would have ignored. I hate that for such a long time she was scared to sit with me in case she hurt my tummy, honestly the look in her eyes as she shrunk back from my hugs pointing at my belly is something I will never forget.

She became tearful as she learned what the hospital looked like and knew that even though it meant more daddy time, I wasn’t going home with her.

I felt like after my Ileostomy surgery everything would get easier I could be the mum I always wanted to be, unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be – or at least not yet!

I am only 5 months in after all. I’m so tired all the time, I’m hoping that at some point I will work out what helps me feel less so.

Don’t get me wrong we have climbed a local ‘mountain’ by ourselves and then again with her dad, done the race for life and had days out. I make the most of my good days, but the days that aren’t so good I still snap and feel like I can’t do either her justice as a mum or I feel like I can’t cope.

I know I am not alone in this feeling, I guess I’m just glad that she is that little, that as we look to the future she will have the healthy, happy, hopefully more patient(!) mum that she and any future children we have deserve.

I hope that she doesn’t wholly remember the bad days I have had or may have but can understand that throughout this journey she is the best thing to have happened to me (and her dad) and I love her with every fibre of my being.

In any case I know I must be doing a good enough job as she is happy, healthy, bright as a button, loving and polite, what else can I ask for really?

Words by Steph Simpson

The dark side of pregnancy: How anxiety and depression ruined the most important time of my life

My story should consist of what should’ve been one of the happiest times of my life, but it wasn’t.

Having a baby should be one of the best experiences in life but it doesn’t always go that way and that’s okay.

It all started with falling pregnant with twins in May, I never thought I would be so worried about losing the baby. I would always look at dates and check the percentage of miscarriage at that stage, if I felt a twinge in the day.

I know it sounds really odd but I really needed something to take my mind off this pregnancy otherwise how the hell could I go through 9 months of worry?

July came and I sadly started to bleed, this resulted in me losing one twin early on and the fear and anxiety of losing the other one set in. From then on it felt like I was trapped in my mind and no words could make it seem better.

Autumn came and went with more worry, hospital visits and stays.. at one point I remember the consultant saying “We need to get to 24 weeks, then the baby might survive in neonatal care, before then we can’t help you.”

Those words stuck with me and I was then spiralling into a depression, willing the baby to stay a bit longer.

After a few weeks the danger seemed to pass. I went back to work and that seemed to help my anxiety as I could focus on something else. Even though on the outside I looked fine, inside I was crumbling at the slightest thing and waiting for more trouble.

This in turn affected my sleep and I would wake every hour, sometimes I just couldn’t get back to sleep as my mind kept racing – something that still happens to this day.

Christmas was actually quite relaxed and everything seemed happy with the baby until Boxing Day. I noticed the movements had slowed down so I decided to make a note of this. It got worse and worse so I went into hospital and they confirmed that the CTG results weren’t great and that I should have steroids in case the baby had to be delivered.

I mean, how much more could I hide away inside my head without bursting? I really needed this baby out.

We’d found out we were having a little girl and I was having checkups at the hospital every week to make sure her heartbeat was fine. They were satisfied but unsure as to why suddenly I didn’t feel much movement. I like to call this a mothers instinct, and it should NEVER be ignored.

Night time was awful, I would wake up 3 times and cry at the thought that I couldn’t feel the baby.

I would cry out for my husband to help me get her to move. I’m sure that was my anxiety kicking in full steam now. I was inconsolable at times and imagining the worst, researching into stillbirths constantly and clinging to hope.

It was eventually decided I would be induced at 39 weeks, so Sunday 7th Feb I hoped my labour would begin.

After the date was given, I felt so relieved and ready for this ordeal to be over, my mind needed to settle as I felt very unwell.

I was induced around 7:30am which in my opinion was painful but I was ready for anything, within an hour I felt back pain and cramps which was odd. The midwives just thought it was nothing so I waited. By 9am I couldn’t stand as I was in more pain, I wasn’t allowed any pain relief and I do believe that the midwives thought I was making a big deal.

The pain became more intense and every 4 minutes, the midwife kept saying “You’re not in labour, it’s in your head”. That in itself was the wrong thing to say, I knew what my head was saying and I knew in my heart that something was wrong. My baby had stopped moving altogether.

1pm came and I took the pessary out and I was okay for about half an hour, but then the pain surged and by this point I was holding onto the bed asking for any pain relief they could give me. Again I was ignored.

“If you’re in labour I’ll get you examined but this will take hours or even days so you need to calm down,” I was told.

I was examined and was found to be 2cm which is nothing in labour terms but they said they weren’t sure why I was in so much pain. They told me they would get me checked over.

As soon as the midwife went off I felt like I needed a wee. And then suddenly, it felt like my waters had broken. Only to my horror my husband came to see me and looked like he was about to faint… all I could see was blood dripping off the bed.

Within minutes I had a crash team sounding the alarm and getting me to delivery. The pain was so intense, all I wanted to do was push. I thought I was screaming so loud, but it was later revealed that I didn’t make a sound and kept passing out.

The pain was trapped in my head.

The sad part is I can still remember this, trying to call out to people but nothing coming out, a recurring nightmare.

As soon as we get round there I was examined and found to be 9cm (within 40 minutes) and was surrounded by a whole team of midwives and surgeons putting drips into my arms, trying to stop the blood.
The baby’s heartbeat had dropped dramatically and I remember the worried faces and the scream to get me in, so I was rushed to have a category 1  C-Section.

This in terms means the mother and baby’s life is in demise so from when the call was made the baby had to be out within 30 minutes.

I don’t remember much of this. I was in such a dreamlike state that I saw my nana and another mystery woman at my bedside (this I believe is my husbands mum who passed away very young).

Recovery was hard and I received a formal apology the next morning from the midwives for not believing me. My head and heart were right and all that “it’s in your head” really highlights that anxiety and depression is still not understood.

Cut to today where my beautiful daughter Winter Marie who is 8 months old, I still suffer with depression and anxiety and even nightmares about that day. I still worry about her and sometimes I still think that I can’t cope.

I then have to remember that we are just human, these thoughts and feelings are normal and no I’m not mental. I just have a very active mind and realise that I should focus on what’s positive!

I don’t believe my anxiety will ever totally leave me, but I’m learning to cope and live with it and just get through each day.

This experience has made me stronger and ready to face life in a different way.

Dad, please stop drinking, I need you to be the parent for a while

Naturally we all rely on our parents to be there throughout the good and bad times in our lives.

We expect them to be there to catch us when we fall and praise us when we achieve something, and be strong for us when we don’t have the strength ourselves. For some people it would be hard to imagine their lives without the support of their parents. Many of my friends are still living at home and enjoying the luxury of having their meals cooked or their clothes ironed for them. This is something that I long for everyday as I answer my dad’s drunken phone calls at 3am and have to calm him down as he cries hysterically about how much he no longer wants to live.

People are always telling me that I should be lucky that both of my parents are still living. But do I really feel lucky?

My dad is a very charming and friendly man. You could meet me him in the street when he was sober and never even think he had any kind of issue in his life. Like most, I love a good night out and having a drink makes me a little less anxious of my surroundings but alcohol affects people in different ways.

I guarantee in your social circle you’ve at least got one person who cries when they’re drunk, one person who won’t stop talking when they’re drunk and the person who doesn’t normally smoke sober is out the back having a cheeky fag.

So how does it work when alcohol completely changes someone’s personality to the point where if you met them drunk and then again when sober, you’d think it was two separate people?

I had to grow up well before my time and by the time I was 16 a lot of my peers used to tell me that I was far too mature for my age.

My dad has always had a problem with alcohol and when drunk he loses his ability to make any rational decisions and becomes very depressed.

He then looks for someone to vent his feelings to and that person is usually me. The one thing that everyone overlooks about the situation is that I’m supposed to be the child. I may be 20 years old but you are never too old to need your parents in your life. I don’t get to enjoy the conventional father-daughter relationship like so many others that take it for granted.

I get this kind of sinking feeling when I first discover that he’s had a drink that day. I’m not sure why as I’ve learned to live with the fact that alcoholism is an addiction and he’s going to do it whether I like it or not but it’s like a little reminder that it’s another day of my life that I’m not reason enough for him to stop.

It’s another day of the hysterical crying over the phone and the worrying that this could  be the day his body gives up as it’s simply had enough of him abusing it. If it’s hard for me to deal with I wonder how hard it must be for him.

On one hand I want to put all of my own feelings aside and focus solely on supporting him but on the other I want to be able to live my own life without having to worry about his. I spend many minutes of the day feeling guilty for not answering the phone when he calls or ignoring his messages but I’m allowed to be selfish sometimes, right?

I’m always telling myself and others around me to remember that he has an illness and that it’s not as simple as putting down the bottle.

However I torture myself wondering why it can’t be that simple.

I don’t have any children of my own but I wonder about the day when I will. I wonder if it’ll be easier or harder for me to understand how he feels on a daily basis when I am a parent myself.

Will he even be alive when that times comes to be a grandfather to my child?

The older I get, the more I start to worry about the important milestones in my life that he could well miss out on. I’m engaged to my partner and although I’m not actively planning the wedding, I’d like to be able to share that day with him when it comes. Just something as simple as being able to walk down the aisle with my dad is something that I would cherish forever.

I know of people similar in age to me whose parents have died and in a way I feel rather selfish for even moaning about mine when I have something they don’t. Not only do I feel selfish but it makes me angry towards to my dad that there are people who are losing their lives daily from illnesses that they didn’t cause themselves and he’s abusing the otherwise perfectly healthy body that he has.

It’s inevitable that in most cases our parents will die before us and we have to get used to the idea of them not being in our lives forever but how do you get used to the idea that your parent is speeding up that process with no regard as to how you’ll feel when it does happen?

He knows the risks of what he’s doing when he first purchases the alcohol at his local shop but I will never ever simply get used to the idea that at that point he chooses opening the bottle over a relationship with a daughter who loves him more than he knows.

Words by Sandranne Clark

Losing my mother to cancer when I was a child is something I will never recover from

I remember when she told me and my brother. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

My mum had  cancer. My world was crashing around me I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I was so young, my brother even younger and she was our everything.

I felt so angry because when she told us she told us with our very close family, friends and their children and at the time I hated the fact she had given me and my brother the worse news of our life. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t given us this news alone.

Looking back now I understand why she did it. She wanted my brother and I to have support. She wanted us to not feel alone, and have a friend to go through this with.

Watching someone you love fake a smile and tell you everything is okay is heartbreaking. I watched her go in and out of hospital for chemo. Knowing that If I had a cold or a tummy bug I would have to go stay at my dads because she had no immune system.

I would watch her continue work, right through even when she was at her worst. The constant hospital trips took there to toll on her, taking away who she was slowly and surely I was losing my mum to a struggle I could do nothing to help or stop.

I would distance myself, I didn’t want to see my mum ill, it made me feel uncomfortable.

It’s horrible to say that and when I was younger I hated that I felt like this. How dare I think of my own feelings, how dare I not want to spend time with my mum, when she was dying in front of me and I was helpless.

Her health deteriorated and I watched as her hospital visits became longer and longer. She ended up being bedridden just before my 15th birthday, she pushed to stay out the hospice, she wanted to spend my birthday with me and for that I was thankful.

A day after my birthday she was taken to the hospice she was giving up, she had been fighting for so long she wanted to be at peace. I would visit her the next few day thinking she would be home soon, but little did I know the end was coming.

Her last day I remember so clearly. We took our afternoon trip to the hospice, most of my family were there. I didn’t think anything of it.

I chatted with everyone, happy to see family I hadn’t see in a while. Then it was time to go and I turned to my mum and said “See you later, love you”, and that was it. I went home. I don’t even know if she heard me or knew it was me speaking. Until I grew older I didn’t realise how much pain medication she was on just to make her comfortable.

I thought I would see her tomorrow. But I wouldn’t.

That morning at around 2.30am I was woken up to news that would rip me in two.

My heart was empty. My mum was gone. I needed my mum, I couldn’t do it without her she needed to be there she needed to guide me in life, smiling with me at my achievements, comforting me with my mistakes. It shattered my world and I thought I could never stop hurting.

Death is a funny thing, see. You never heal. You never forget. It just gets easier day by day, week by week. I bottled my feelings up and never told people how much I was hurting, until I broke down.

I went for counselling and it helped a little but I couldn’t open up. I couldn’t let someone in.

When I closed my eyes I saw her face, ill and fragile. The image of her in that hospice bed filling my nightmares.

It took years to get to the point where I could remember the good times, the times when she smiled. And that slowly healed the emptiness she had left.

The memories helped me cope with her death, they helped me realise that I am doing her proud, no matter my mistakes.

My mum, although she wasn’t in my life for long, she made me the person I am today. I am strong because of her.

Words by Frankie Blight