Charlie’s Story..

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Today is Charlie’s fifth birthday and running underneath his uncontained excitement and joy are my own feelings of relief and wonder.  His birth represents the end of a close on ten year hard fought for battle to complete our little family.

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It took us a long, long road to have our Bella (over 6 years, 7 miscarriages and after all that, she was an IVF baby) But when she arrived we were finally given the mantle ‘parents’.  To have a second child would be the final icing – if there was any possibility I wanted her to have a companion, someone to spread and share the love, to be there with her when we became old, someone to love her like we did. IMG_0152

When she reached 18 months nothing had happened pregnancy-wise (we had hoped her birth might kick things into gear again..I was sure I stopped falling pregnant because of the psychological kick-back of the losses) so we made plans and turned to IVF again.  I still remember feeling like a fraudulent leper walking into the Infertility Clinic holding hands with my toddler.  I desperately wanted to hang a sign around her neck saying ‘IVF baby – honestly, I’ve  earnt her’.

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The Gods were smiling –  despite a small number of eggs yet again, all were good quality and the treatment worked first time. Much to our astonishment and delight  I was pregnant with twins.  We were ecstatic.  Except it wasn’t meant to be.  Despite being on the magic cocktail of drugs that gave us Bella (Heparin, aspirin and steroids) when we went for our next scan, there were no heartbeats.   I’ll never forget the the nurse saying ‘This is so rare.  It really shouldn’t happen to both, they’re in separate sacs.’  I had to go into hospital for a D&C.  I remember they wanted me to take my wedding ring off.  I refused saying they were taking enough and just to cover it with surgical tape.

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I was so utterly devastated.  It was one of the lowest points I can ever remember.  You’d think we’d be used to it, but coming after Bella, it was such a body blow…  IVF takes such time and emotional commitment – the whole process is so  fraught with dangers and knock backs that it seems as if you’ve been pregnant for months rather than weeks. We really thought we’d cracked the miscarriage problem and had prayed we’d never, ever have to face the trauma of it ever again.

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Holding a glass of ouzo the day of the mirror

  The following month we headed to Greece to get away from everything and have a holiday.  And then something truly incredible happened: I fell pregnant  naturally – and literally knew straight away.  But how could I? I gave myself a strong talking to in the bathroom mirror – stop grasping at straws, don’t ruin the holiday for the others, stop dreaming, your cycle’s up the creek, move on – Whenever I’d been pregnant (Sooooo many times before)  I’d feel sick after one sip of alcohol..but look, I could still drink ouzo… The first weekend after we got back to the UK we travelled to see the in-laws.  I was handed a glass of white wine…and I knew it was true.

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(Photo by the wonderful Alexandra Joseph)

 

It was such a  bitter sweet time…I hadn’t fallen naturally pregnant in over five years…the joy of hope..the trauma of fearing the worst again.  I went back on the drugs as soon as I could..and then it was a matter of waiting. All I can say is that to reach 12 weeks the seconds ticked by like hours..

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(Photo by Alexandra Joseph)

But Charlie was meant to be – though he didn’t make it easy..I had notches on my umbilical cord so I remained on daily heparin injections until my 30th week – I looked like a regular abuser.  Then I got pre-eclampsia so he was finally delivered 2 weeks early by C-Section at what seemed a tiny five and a half pounds..but he was with us, he was alive –  he was an absolute little miracle.

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And now to see us as a family together, you’d never know..you’d just think..my….they’re lucky…

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(Photo by Alexandra Joseph)

And we are.

Laters, Kate x

 

76 comments

  1. Miss Pip

    Thank you. Tears. I love seeing photos of you and your fabulous family. Happy Birthday Charlie and well done mum and dad!

  2. theblackberryboys

    That was just beautiful! I had tears too. You had to fight a long battle to get your family. I guess some of us fight before they arrive and some of us fight after they arrive (like too early)….But it was all worth it, they are both so beautiful. The photos are beyond cute and love your dress in the last one :) Happy Birthday Charlie! :) xoxo Fanni

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I have a picture of Bella as an eight-cell embryo..if we hadn’t done IVF I wouldn’t have that. I know I can write about it because we did have such a happy ending..I know there was a split in the road and we were lucky. I know you must feel the same.. xxxxx

  3. KerryCan

    Wow–I didn’t know anything about your struggles! You’ll never take your family for granted or stop being amazed and appreciative! The photos are gorgeous–what a fine, fine family. Happy birthday to the little guy!

    • Maison Bentley Style

      They were a long time ago now..but I think struggles like that go so close to the bone for such a long time, they have a huge impact..I stopped driving for a long time as I was continually expecting bad things to happen..it really knocks you for six. I think, after the baby years as well, I’m only really just getting my ‘self’ back xxxxx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      His size was a little unexpected – particularly as I’d been on monthly growth scans because of the umbilical problems – we had to go out and buy him prem baby gros so we could see his hands! xxx

  4. evelenmargaret

    Happy Birthday Charlie ! Many Happy Returns.
    I know such battles! It also took me 9 years to get Celeste, with two miscarriages , before and a battle as well. I know very well what some mothers go through! Mariangela came 5 years later, but all of a miracle I conceived both just out of the blue, when no one expected, as the treatments didn’t work! The battle continued through the pregnancies with gamma antibodies and had a C section both times. But in the end what counts for all parents are healthy children ! They are God sent , a miracle every time . Enjoy the day , my best wishes to all of you. XOXO.

    • Maison Bentley Style

      There is no rhyme or reason – but it is so very hard xxxxxxxx for you. They both know their history…but I wonder what I will tell Bella as she gets older and has to think of her own future. If she wants to be a mother (not everyone does) then I’d recommend not leaving it too late…but who knows what life has planned for her? xxxxx

      • evelenmargaret

        I can totally understand you as I have two daughters. They know my problems as well and to be honest I gave them your post to read it. My younger daughter is quite against motherhood up to now! But the fact is that at some time they will have to face it perhaps. It is not sure that they are going to have the same problems . What is important is how determined one is to go through and whether you have someone who truly loves you on your side. I was in a state of madness every time a pregnant woman was around or one with babies. I absolutely wanted a child, it is a vital feeling, it is life. The best you can do is to be open with them , after all they know that they are children of true love! XXX

  5. Sean Smithson

    This was just fantastic Kate. A really moving and lovely post. I’m so pleased for you and your family. And of course, Happy Birthday Charlie! x

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Thank you Sean..I was one of the lucky ones…but I think I would’ve got there somehow – adoption was always a consideration for me. If you have that drive, nothing will stop it xxx

  6. holzfeder

    Happy birthday to Charlie and congratulations to all four of you for being part of such a beautiful family. For those who, like me, had no happy end at the end of the baby-battle it is good to see that sometimes it does end well. Enjoy your kids! -I know you do :-) -

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Just to see your comment makes my heart weep just a little bit because words could never cover it, so I send love xxxxxxx I wish there was such a thing as a magic wand xxxxx..and possibly a time machine! xxxxxx

      • holzfeder

        Thank you, dear Kate. I think I am over it (or at least try to and it sometimes even work). I had the very same experience with a doctor telling me “it is really strange that none of them have heart beats”, so I guess it is not that strange.

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Lucky is the word..I’d say it pretty much rested on the flip of a coin. The Husband always moans that he needs to win the lottery..I tell him he already has..three times!!…I’m not entirely sure he agrees…! xxxxx

  7. thelinencat & rockcottageyear

    Happy Birthday to Charlie (it’s my Charlie’s B-Day tomorrow!) and wow, what a story behind your wonderful family, I’m so pleased you have your beautiful little unit and so sorry to read how much of a struggle it was to get there. I hope you all have a fabulous day together. Bethx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Happy birthday to your Charlie too! I do love the name Charlie! It’s funny, if Bella had been a boy, she would’ve been called Charlie..and my feelings never changed! xxx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I have absolutely everything crossed for her. Wow – triplets! Now that is quite something..there is a brilliant website set up in the States called Queen of Stirrups…will have all the Blogs for multiples etc..I found it a huge source of information and support. I’ll be thinking of you all xxxxxxx

  8. laurenkahan

    Oh, Kate. What a heart wrenching yet beautiful story. People rarely talk about how HARD it can be to have a child, and all the emotional ups and DOWNS that go along with it. Love how you ended it though… “And now to see us as a family together, you’d never know..you’d just think..my….they’re lucky… Yes, you are. xx Happy Birthday to Charlie!

    • Maison Bentley Style

      When you’re in the thick of it and there’s no guarantees…it’s heart breaking..because everything in our society is linked to the family..holidays..cinema..books..theatre..friends..there’s no escape..and people find it incredibly hard to say the right things – it’s like walking round with a raw wound that no-one can see instead they keep stepping on it or tripping over it. I’ll never forget, and just hope to be there for others as and when xxxxx

    • ursularosien

      Born! Sorry I hit send by mistake! Children are a true miracle. Wishing you an early happy mum’s day! Thank you for sharing your journey.

      • Maison Bentley Style

        Thank you Ursula. They are the yin and yan of life – ultimate joy..and ultimate..mess! she says looking at the chaos around her..but I wouldn’t have it any other way..xxx

  9. Sally White

    Happy Birthday to Charlie! We share the same birthday and reading your story has made the day even more lovely. Have a wonderful wonderful day xxx

  10. Anna G.

    Thank you for sharing your story! i’m happy for you and all young family😊 Happy Birthday to Charlie 🎉💝

  11. Laura Lynn

    Happy Birthday Charlie! What a beautiful post and what a beautiful family. Thank you, Kate for sharing these photo’s and your stories. You are such an inspiration and I love you. Hugs!

  12. sincerelykymberly

    Kate, this was beautiful and well written. I’m so glad you shared with us these pictures and the story behind then. I’ll admit I’m actually going through something similar to your infertility issues that has me down. In the end, everything is well and thank goodness for that :)

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I send you love Kymberly..it is a hard, hard road..and I found it very lonely until I turned to the internet and the support boards for help..that anonymity really helped me and gave me a chance to vent. People really want to understand, but the truth is, unless you are there yourself, you don’t. I send you every love and hope xxxxxxxxx

      • sincerelykymberly

        Thank you for the sweet words :). Should a positive thing come to life…I’ll be sure to share to you and the rest of the world on my blog :). Till then, I can only stay positive and understand that His plan > than my plan :)

  13. happyface313

    Very touching, have watery eyes. Thanks for the special photos.
    Truly happy you survived all of these ups and downs (especially the later). Happy Birthday to Charlie :-) and lots of happiness to you and your lovely family :-)

    • Maison Bentley Style

      These things are sent to try us..but I am oh so grateful to be out the other side. If you’d told me that I would eventually be a mummy to my two I would’ve walked over hot coals..it was the not knowing that was so very hard.. xxx

  14. Cortneybre

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us…your pictures are so moving and I’m so happy your family is happy and complete. Happy Birthday to Charlie also! I remember when my (now 12 year old…has it been that long?!) was that age…Such sweet memories to cherish. :) …Cortneybre…

  15. kirsty warman

    Friends of ours, their youngest had his first day at school on Monday – he exclaimed to his Mum that evening – ‘it was the best day of his life!’. Wishing Charlie a stupendous birthday. Kxxx p.s. a truly lovely post, sad, traumatic – but ultimately, happy days!

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Thank you..it’s hard to believe they were both really that small! I still have Charlie’s first prem babygro in my underwear drawer..it looks like something a doll would wear! xxx

  16. Abbi

    This was a beautiful read. I am currently trying to get pregnant and it made me feel very hopeful.

    • Maison Bentley Style

      It’s so strange..you do everything to stop getting pregnant, thinking it could happen at the drop of a hat…that it’s a huge shock when it doesn’t. If you need any words of wisdom (which are little ones at that) I’m here xxxxxx

      • Abbi

        That’s such a kind offer, which I might just take up depending on how the next few months go. Thank-you! Xxxxxxxxxxxx

  17. silkpathdiary

    Apologies for my tardiness – Belated Happy Birthday Charlie! I shed more than a few tears reading his story. Well done and I couldn’t be happier for you and your gorgeous family! xx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Thank you! Strangely I think I value their birthdays more than I do mothers day..mothers day I think of everyone trying and how horrible it is not to be celebrated..their birthdays I can celebrate them as well xxxxx

  18. jackiemallon

    Wow! Everyone has a story, so many layers. Thank you for peeling back a few to reveal this battle that I cannot even begin to imagine the strength it took to win. Your children are so beautiful, it’s unfathomable that they were a result of so many challenges. Your family looks pre-destined to be. I admire and respect you, Kate. BIg belated birthday huggles to Charlie and you all XOX!

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Thank you xxxxx – I was a creative who couldn’t create and in the dark times, I took the wind utterly out of my sails. I’d say infertility is one of the few things that doesn’t get easier with time..instead you see it falling through your fingers like sand. I would’ve taken any little ugly duckling that came my way..and I am still utterly astonished an amazed with our outcome xxxxxxxxxx

  19. redlipstickmama

    Happy birthday Charlie!! You seem to be a fighter just like your parents. Kate I am moved beyond words; thanks for sharing your powerful story. We need women like you sharing their heartaches and joys to make us feel stronger. Fertility treatment has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Beautiful post, beautiful pics, and even more beautiful family love. Xo

  20. fashionassist

    Wow, what a story Kate! And reading your reply to Jackie above makes me think of this quote…
    “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” ~ George Santayana
    Some of the greatest works of art have been done in the most difficult of times…
    and that could most certainly be said about you my creative friend ;)
    Blessings and joy on you and your amazing masterpiece/family!!~xo