Time Norfolk: ‘I have come a long way from the beginning’

10pm the sun has just gone down, looking at a calm sea from the cliff top at Mundesley.

10pm the sun has just gone down, looking at a calm sea from the cliff top at Mundesley. - Credit: citizenside.com

As we look at the work Time Norfolk do for those who have experienced a pregnancy loss through miscarriage, termination or still birth, one former client tells her story.

She said: 'The day I made contact with TimeNorfolk is a day I remember well.

'I was anxious picking up the phone to dial the number, thinking: 'Am I making a fuss?', 'Should I just have gotten over this miscarriage by now?' and 'I'm sure there are other woman who need and deserve support more than me.'

'I now know through counselling that these thoughts were unhelpful and untrue, but at the time were powerful and making life harder than it needed to be.

'When I called, the person on the other end was so kind, gentle and understanding – just what I needed.

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'Speaking the words out loud as to what brought me to make the call was so painful, but a relief to be sharing it with someone outside my family and friends, where I was worried about upsetting them or holding things back.

'At this stage, my husband and I had been trying to conceive for over three years, had undergone an array of invasive tests and health issues, and had gone through our first round of IVF treatment, which was briefly successful, but sadly ended in an early miscarriage.

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'We had been so thrilled that it had worked and then indescribably devastated that our longed-for baby had been taken away from us just when we began to trust that our dreams had come true.

'The months after the miscarriage were so tough. Somehow we got through each day and plastered a fake smile on for Christmas, family gatherings and so on.

'Inside, nothing else mattered and as the months passed, I felt like the world had moved on, but I hadn't, couldn't and was so angry, sad and irrational.

'I smiled publicly and said the right things, but behind closed doors collapsed in tears day after day. All I thought about was the baby and everywhere I turned I saw other people's children, pregnant women or people talking about babies; I felt like a failure.

'When I began counselling I felt for the first time that I was understood.

'I was given time and space at my own pace to explain and work through my grief. My miscarriage was validated as a true loss, the loss of a baby, something special and cherished rather than an embryo or a ball of cells, which is somehow how I felt others wanted me to see it.

'That didn't help me feel better, and whatever my family and friends said, however well-meaning, they often got it wrong or just didn't get it.

'We spent time during the counselling sessions talking about the stages of grief and loss which helped so much.

'To feel I was normal and explained why I was feeling the way I was; it was also so helpful to hear I wasn't alone in feeling this way.

'The counselling felt like it was my space.

'We covered so many issues and my counsellor was brilliant at adapting each session to what I brought to the session to talk about.

'During the counselling, I underwent my second IVF cycle. This sadly failed and I became very unwell as a result of a surgical complication and needing hospitalisation.

'After a break from counselling I was welcomed back without question, and I needed support more than ever as things had changed so significantly.

'While I grieved for the failure of the IVF and my embryos (babies) not sticking, I also began to grieve the loss of further treatment and the idea of not having a biological child.

'Slowly, with my counsellor, I worked on accepting and managing the feelings of anger I had.

'We tried different techniques and eventually things began to shift so I was no longer stuck in those emotions.

'My self-care improved, my relationships improved and my life slowly came back to something that resembled hope.

'One of the biggest and most helpful things I have learnt and accepted through counselling is that overcoming a pregnancy loss is not a neat, straight line.

'It is messy, and up and down, and sometimes you feel like you take a step backwards before moving on again.

'Knowing and believing this is 'normal' means I have learnt to be kinder to myself and take each day at a time.

'Towards the end of my counselling, things are more helpful now and at the beginning of this journey I wouldn't have thought it was possible to feel happy again.

'I'm not happy every moment of every day, and some days are harder than others, but I am beginning to come out of a different life to the one I had expected.

'I have only been able to do this by going through the grief work. I know for me that I will have to continue to take care of myself, to keep my negative thoughts in check, and do the self-care I need to keep moving forward and that is OK.

'The infertility, the IVF, the miscarriage and the complications along the way have changed me, but with the counselling and support I have been so lucky and grateful to have, it has helped me to work on changing me for the better.

'While I will always be sad that things didn't work out as we had hoped, I am now able to accept this and not blame myself or anything else.

'To be able to sit with it and be okay that it is what it is, has taken a while to get to. I have come a long way from the beginning.

'One of the biggest things that counselling has helped me to do is find my own ways to mark and remember the lives of the babies we lost, and being able to acknowledge and honour them has been important.

'I have done little things and big things as part of this: writing messages and tying them to a helium balloon on the date the baby would have been born had she lived, making creative keepsakes and getting a special tattoo.

'I will be forever grateful to my counsellor and the service for supporting me through some of the most painful and traumatic times of my life, and for helping me to find hope again.

'I feel I have my own set of skills and my confidence returning to keep working on moving forward. For anyone grieving the loss of a pregnancy, in whatever circumstances, I hope they are able to reach for help and be fortunate to have the support I have been lucky to receive.

'It is the most amazing service.'

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