I have a few creative projects on the go – This is the first one that’s come to fruition – and it starts with a lockdown story that began roughly eleven years ago……
A pregnant infertility survivor and a pro natural birth obstetrics consultant at a high risk pregnancy unit meet to discuss a birth plan. The infertility survivor would like a c-section; she now has a lack of trust in herself and wants to hand over responsibility to the doctors. The consultant wants to convince her to believe in herself and her innate capabilities. The infertility survivor hands over a print out of poems, describing the pain of her infertile years and the agony of her recurrent miscarriages. They talk. The consultant even uses two of the poems in a book she’s publishing. The infertility survivor has a successful c-section…..and my son Charlie is born.
Over a decade later, in lockdown, the Consultant, Dr Susan Bewley, finds my poems again and gets in contact. The poems are pulled out of a drawer and we agree that they are still as relevant today as they were all those years ago. So, with the help from Dr Bewley, they’ve been edited into a book….I took the decision that as they were poetry, they’d never get published down normal routes. So today, Songs For My Unborn Children has been self-published via Amazon and now they’re available to buy!
Doing it this way also means I get a say in all the art work, from the cover to the supporting instagram account.
So they’re out in the big wide world: Part memoir, all poetry, they cover the complete arc of infertility, from the pain of waiting, the grief of miscarriage to hospital visits, treatments, IVF, and finally the joy of a successful birth.
In the foreword, Dr Bewley writes:
‘Years ago, I was privileged to be given an early version of Songs to my Unborn Child from Kate during the course of her pregnancy, and to be allowed to use some for a book on Reproductive Ageing. She opened my eyes to the long, complex shadow that infertility, miscarriage and medicalised conception cast way beyond the immediate experiences. Doctors don’t bring ‘meaning’ to our everyday routines that clash with each patient’s exquisite vulnerability; it’s not a strong part of our skill set. But Kate provides another route to compassionate understanding. Few artists can paint pain, but this poetess succinctly describes the emotional roller coaster of suffering, endurance and recovery that will resonate for women who’ve experienced it, and induce empathy from those who haven’t. She gives voice to Everywoman’s shame and taboos. Even though she was one of the lucky ones for whom IVF did work, for most it does not. Every million cute IVF babies celebrated in the news and advertisements are accompanied by another several millions of futile cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and wounded souls. And emptier pockets. Although a proud mother now, Kate wears her scars. She doesn’t gloat or forget her trauma, or the ‘sisters in suffering’ who follow her. They might, or might not, take a similar journey to eventual peace but will recognize themselves. Read, cry, learn, repeat.’
Yep. It made me weep.
Songs is divided into five sections: Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF failure, Treatment, Afterwards and Pregnancy. It is ultimately a success story, but I hope the journey and the emotions will be recognised by all who have or who are walking this terrible path.
Please share, pass on to someone they might help, if you can’t buy – follow, anything to help get the word out, and I will be eternally grateful.
A big day.
Laters, Kate x
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
(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..
(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.
And now to see us as a family together, you’d never know..you’d just think..my….they’re lucky…
(Photo by Alexandra Joseph)
And we are.
Laters, Kate x