Finding Strength and Passion in Loss

2017 what a year! It was late March and after feeling rough with yet another crazy emotional lead up to my period, I had this sudden realisation that it was much more consuming than usual. Isabelle had just turned one and I had finally started to feel like I was breaking through the post-natal depression that had been ruling my life for the last 6 months, but this felt like an even bigger wave was coming in over me. There were only two other times in my life when it had felt quite this strong, but this couldn’t be the same as those times. That was only during my pregnancies.
Despite being on contraception there it was, later that day, the familiar sight of a very positive pregnancy test. All I could think was, “Three under three and a half. This will be interesting” followed by wondering how the hell I was going to tell Joe and how was he going to take it. I remember him returning from work and I was so nervous as I offered him a drink and broke the news.
The week following was a rollercoaster of emotions. The reality of having to consider our financial position, my mental health and how on earth I was going to care for another child when I was already pouring from an almost empty cup. We even went as far as booking an appointment for a termination as we were struggling to see how this could be manageable without breaking us. But it broke me to even consider that as an option. After a few more days of talking rationally, we decided that although it would make things rather more tight, we could do anything together and we would embrace this gift, so cancelled the appointment.
Weeks passed and we finally made it to our 12-week scan. With no reason to be concerned about the pregnancy, we headed in happy and excited to finally see our surprise baby.
“Charlotte, are you sure about the dates you’ve given us?”,the sonographer asked while working her way over my tummy.
I looked at Joe and my eyes began to fill. There was no question of the date I had given them. She looked back at the screen concerned. Before she had even left the room to fetch an internal scanner, I knew what was about to happen when she returned.
Then it came “Charlotte I’m sorry to tell you I’ve been unable to pick up a heartbeat. I can see where the foetus is, but it has unfortunately stopped growing”.
I tried to hold it together as we had our oldest daughter with us, she was only two and a half, but I couldn’t help but feel this was our punishment for considering our choices so deeply before. Like the baby thought we didn’t want them and had taken the decision out of our hands. We were directed to a side waiting room and asked to wait for the consultant to become free to discuss our options.
The process from there was really hard emotionally. My body hadn’t triggered a natural reaction to the loss so we would need medical intervention. It was agreed I would return a week later for surgery, which would give my body a chance to maybe deal with it naturally before then. It felt surreal going home knowing our baby was still inside me but no longer with us. I kept hoping that maybe they were right, maybe I did get my dates wrong?
Sadly not.
I returned a week later for surgery and to say goodbye to our 3rd baby. There was a silver lining though. Through all the talking, trying to make sense of it all and looking for the positives, we had realised together how much we wanted our third child. Our angel baby may not have been meant for earth, but they had definitely changed the path of our future.
10 days after surgery we flew out to Spain with our two girls. We had questioned whether we should cancel but it was our first family holiday abroad and it offered some much needed time out to rest, recuperate and enjoy happy new experiences as a family. This was exactly what we needed. We spent the days walking the beach, in the pool or exploring the nearby towns, while the evenings saw us sipping cocktails on our balcony, reflecting on life and talking about the future while the little ones slept.
“I think I know what I want to do when we get back” I said to Joe. “We have been through some really crappy times over the last year or so, but I feel like it has strangely made me stronger. I want to use my skills to make a difference. I want to help support other women going through the same struggles I’ve been through”, a feeling of excitement bubbled up inside me.
“Ok,” Joe replied, “explain it to me”.
We sat and talked about how this would work, how I would reassess my client base and get myself out there to support those that needed me. I have always been so grateful for how much flexibility I’ve been allowed to try to follow my dreams and visions.
After that day on the balcony so much changed. I came home with so much fire in my belly. I was reflecting on the struggles of the last year in a completely different way. Where there was once sadness and bitterness I was starting to feel strength and a drive to use the energy for something more. Until that point in time my business had just been about providing a few treatments to earn a bit of extra money, earlier around my full time job and then again around our babies. This was the first time I had wanted to really talk about my skills, my vision and what I believed I could do for other women. 'The Holistic Mummy' was born and I had so many plans for the future.
Over the coming months that passion continued to grow. I had never been great with the whole branding and market side of business, or even the confidence to be visible, but the vision of who I wanted to help had become so much clearer that it started to come through more naturally and the business started to grow. Suddenly I wasn't afraid to offer advice to others or share my experiences anymore and the number of women I was supporting kept growing. It felt magical to have finally found my calling and I was excited to see where it led. I invested in some training in crystal healing, to pair with my essential oil support and started expanding my knowledge in aromatherapy to support women in an even deeper way, not just physically but emotionally too. I didn't believe enough people were talking about the mental and emotional strain of these taboo subjects, so I became that listening ear and then also supported them with my holistic services and tailor made products.
In 2019 our rainbow baby arrived earthside. We had respected my body following our loss and given it a year to recover before trying again, but now she was here and she was everything we never knew we needed. Because of the path the last pregnancy had taken, I paced myself this time and allowed myself to enjoy the pregnancy more than I did with either of our others. Meditation, crystal work and essential oil support became part of my daily life and I was feeling fantastic for it. When it came to her birth, labour wasn't as calm as we'd hoped and after 4 days in hospital she was born by emergency cesarean, but the recovery time I was told I had to take meant that I didn't feel guilty about resting and I got to actually enjoy my baby bubble. I spent weeks just soaking her up. She was completely perfect.
I believe everything happens for a reason and just maybe our angel baby was sent to open our minds and hearts to another, so that this beautiful rainbow could then follow and complete us.
Two months after our baby was born, Joe decided to give me one of his firm nudges business wise and he launched my website. Now I had never planned to jump back in quite so quickly after birth but with his promise of support, we embraced it and I started to plan bigger.
I was lucky as she was such a relaxed baby. She spent most of her days feeding or asleep on me, but I found that it worked for us and those gorgeous snuggly endorphins actually raised my vibrations and my work vibe. We had found a lovely balance and were enjoying the process.
Just after Matilda turned 10 months old in March 2020, we were hit by the pandemic and went into the first lockdown. The idea of trying to entertain a primary school child, a pre schooler and a new toddler around work and nowhere to go but home felt pretty daunting, so I decided that I wasn't going to push the business for a while, until I had found a way to balance it all. But the universe had other plans. While others around me were struggling with not being able to work, I was being faced with a new challenge. The demand for my services and support had suddenly sky rocketed. All these mums stuck at home trying to balance working, the children being home full time and somehow fitting in some time for themselves, they all suddenly needed my guidance. Self care had become the service everyone wanted help with.
My social media inboxes were flooded with messages from people either looking for natural support for themselves, or those wanting to send help to friends that were struggling mentally. This was what my path had been heading towards. Now was the moment.
The pandemic experience has definitely been a hard one, but once again thanks to the mindset shift following our loss those years ago, I've been able to see it and approach it with more positivity than many others. I've been able to step into my power and offer my skills and support to so many, in what has been an extremely difficult and challenging time. Which is exactly what I had felt called to do for such a long time. Since things have started to settle down and our two older girls were able to return to school, I have been able to give a bit more back to myself too. I started making more time for myself again and giving myself permission to fill my own cup first, before I expect myself to help others. I even managed to justify investing in some more training, to extend my services to cover pelvic health through aromatherapy too.
Every year since that day back in 2017 my path has become brighter and easier to follow. My calling and passion continues to get stronger and the number of those I help gets bigger.
Motherhood is hard. No matter whether it’s planning to have children, trying to conceive, navigating pregnancy, coping with labour or loss, or just the general craziness of family life. There is real exhaustion in those early years. Add post-natal depression or the feeling of not being enough and it can feel like climbing an insurmountable mountain. You question whether you’re enough as a mother, enough as a wife, and enough as a woman, all with the expectation to be able to juggle everything. I am extremely lucky to have my 3 beautiful girls, including our rainbow baby following our loss, but I am so grateful for my life experiences because they gave me my passion and my fire. They created the path I was meant to find and follow. They took me from being just another holistic therapist, to becoming an advocate for feminine wellbeing. A support for those women that needed someone to help them cope with whichever stage of motherhood they are in. They made me the very best version of myself I could ever hope to be and if I can pass that feeling on to even just a small handful of other women out there, then I have succeed in a pretty incredible way.
Written in 2021 for Rise: An Anthology of Women's Stories collated by Katie Oman available on Amazon.
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