Why do I sew?

Why do I sew?

I have decided to be brave and put on my big girl pants and share the real reason I sew – in short, to mend a broken heart.

The long version is this…my wonderful partner and I struggled to conceive for around five years, endured invasive and painful procedures and suffered three cruel miscarriages.

There are even some close friends of mine that don’t even know this and I know that I am guilty of projecting a very lalala, everything’s fine persona, so why would they?

This picture is always bitter sweet for me – we look so happy – it was April 2011 and  I was eight weeks pregnant for the first time (after a couple of years of trying) and we had just told our families. Not long after that, things took a turn for the worse and our whole life was turned upside down. We had an anxious week of not knowing for sure whether the baby would be ok, but I think in my heart, I knew things weren’t right, and this was confirmed by a second scan. I cried for weeks and went through an endless cycle of feelings of guilt, failure, sadness, loneliness and disbelief.

Just before Christmas, later that year, around the time my due date would have been, I discovered I was pregnant again. It was a surprise and I was very nervous and worried that something would go wrong again. I was only a few weeks pregnant in this picture and had no idea (although the fact that my dress wouldn’t do up properly should have given it away!)

Sadly, we lost that baby only seven weeks in to the pregnancy and life as we knew it was put on hold again. I decided to get some counselling this time around as, even a few months on, I just couldn’t shake the sadness. These sessions were amazing and really helped me to get some perspective and deal with the emotions that I was feeling.

As I had had to have a surgical procedure to “evacuate the retained products of conception” (a despised term by anyone who has had the misfortune to have one), I was then left in agony for months and had to have further surgery to investigate the cause and it turned out I had been left with scarring on my womb. I then needed another operation to remove the scarring.

Following that surgery, I had then been back at work for less than two weeks, when my amazing mum had a brain haemorrhage that nearly took her life. We had a horrendous few months of her being in intensive care, in and out of a coma and going through full rehabilitation. I’m so fortunate that she not only survived but continued to get better and, while she will never be fully independent and still has short term memory issues, she is still with us and is doing really well, four years on.

Mum’s illness really shelved the baby plan for quite some time as we just didn’t have the capacity to even think about it but once things were back on a more even keel, we went back to the doctors for more investigations and some further fertility treatment.

We had two rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination), which were painful, humiliating and stressful (I had to inject myself with hormones in the middle of a car park in Cardiff once, as timings are so precise). Neither round worked and then a couple of months later I fell pregnant naturally for the third time.

My initial reaction to the positive pregnancy test was ‘oh shit’. Not really the reaction you should have, but I just didn’t know if I would be able to cope with the emotional roller coaster again. I tried to convince myself that we could do this, that maybe this time would be different and the third time would be the charm, but my world came crashing down again a few weeks later. I even tried to hide the news from my family this time, as I didn’t want to add any more stress on their already heaped plate. That didn’t work though as they just wanted to know why I had gone into hiding.

Alex and I were both devastated and soon came to the realisation that we no longer wanted to put ourselves through this torture, as it was tearing us apart individually and as a couple.

While I struggle with the fact that I have been pregnant three times but I am not a mama and never will be, I am simply not prepared to endure any more pain and heartache for a theoretical baby that may never materialise. So instead, I chose to channel my energy into getting back to being happy. I had spent so long focused on an end goal that kept moving further out of reach, that I wasn’t really living my life at all.

We had a heartbreaking but therapeutic evening on a local beach where we said goodbye to our babies with a note attached to a chinese lantern.  It felt good to have a sort of closure and an element of drawing a line under the awful feelings of pain and guilt.

So, three years ago, I took up sewing with a renewed purpose, started my blog, got a sewing Instagram account and tried to find the joy in life again. I decided to convert what would have been the nursery into my sewing room. This was a hard step but an important one as I felt I needed to move forward. This is the first picture I posted on Instagram – my beautiful girl helping me sew.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments and days where I get really sad about what happened and what might have been, but now these times are fewer and easier to come back from and at least I know that I am doing my best to be happy. There will always be things that catch me off guard – a pregnancy announcement, a picture of a newborn, walking past a parent/child parking space, wondering who I will pass my handmade wardrobe down to etc, but, I had to make a decision to embrace a different future than the one I had pictured – not a worse future, just a different one. And I think that is really a key point here. Just because you aren’t doing 1) what you envisioned and 2) what society expects of you, doesn’t mean that you can’t make an amazing life for yourself. You always have a choice about how you feel about things and it does take a massive mind shift. I also choose to surround myself with positive, upbeat souls who enhance my life, and I find that the sewing community is so warm and welcoming that it has played a big part in my recovery.

I know there are so many women who have been through the same pain and heartache and my heart goes out to each and every one of you. If you would like to talk, please get in touch, as I know how lonely it can feel.

One surprisingly sad thing is that over the last five years, I have lost a lot of friends. People who either couldn’t deal with what was happening to us and kept themselves away, or who ignored the situation or were so insensitive that I withdrew. I do know though, that the friendships that have remained, and those that I have gained along the way, are really strong and are with people I can really count on.

Instagram may be a place where everything seems perfect and it gets a lot of criticism for that. I know that I have been guilty of only sharing a certain window into my life, but what it has done for me, is connect me to a wonderfully supportive and creative community and a strong network of friends.

I haven’t publicly shared our story up until now, as it has just felt too raw, and it clearly still is, as I admit that I have wept while writing this post. But I know, I can dust myself off much quicker nowadays. I do feel though that it is important to share our story for anyone else who is going through a similar situation and needs not to feel so alone in it. You hear a lot of stories where women suffered miscarriages, but went on to eventually have healthy babies and got their happy ending that way. I wanted to show that sometimes you have to write your own, different happy ending.

Much love, Sarah x

Comments

  1. Oh Sarah, you poor things. My heart goes out to you and Alex what a devastating time it must have been for you both. I had trouble conceiving and had one miscarriage so can only imaging what strength it takes to get through that experience more than once. To me it shows how strong you both are, not only individually, but as a couple to manage to endure such pain but stay together. You are so brave to put your story out there even though it is clearly still such a raw memory of that time in your life. Sending you a virtual hug lovely lady xxx

    1. thank you so much Amanda – I’m sorry for your loss too. It’s so awful that so many people go through it. Thank you for the hug, I will cash it in in real life soon hopefully xx

  2. So sorry to hear all you’ve been through, Sarah. It’s very brave of you to share your story and I’m sure it’ll be very helpful for people going through similar experiences to know they’re not alone. xx

  3. Such a brave and heartbreaking post Sarah, made me well up just reading it. A creative outlet is so important and I hope it helps with the healing process. Lots of love to you both!

  4. Thanks for this very personnal post, Sarah. When reading you, it feels like this hasn’t been an easy write for you. On blogs and Instagram, it’s easy to forget that life isn’t all pink and glitter, and that many wonderful people had big trials in their lives at some point. Maybe that’s part of what makes these persons wonderful. I’ve been following you for some time and your sewing projects are always a little light in my day when I discover them. Of course, the most important part is that sewing brings joy to you, but I thought you should know your energy is communicative. (forgive me for my English which might not be perfect)

  5. Sarah, you and Alex are such an incredibly brave couple. By sharing and reaching out to others in a similar position is such a wonderful thing to do. People need to know that they are not alone. In these situations it is too easy for people who are close to you to back off because they think you need space or that you don’t want to talk about it. Wishing you lots of happiness xx

  6. Sarah I just wanted to send a hug to you, from someone else who knows your pain. My hubby and I tried for 8 years, had 2 miscarriages and eventually after god knows how many times at Iui and ivf we did finally conceive and now have twins. (Believe me I know the happy ending stories don’t help)
    I completely understand your feelings about all things baby related. Many times have I swore like a sailor at the passing car with the Baby on Board sign.
    Finding your joy, wherever it may be, can only help you in the long run with your mental health and your long term positivity.
    You are an inspiration on the sewing front, you have great skills and a brilliant eye for what suits you.
    I hope you continue to get well and that great happiness finds you.

    1. thank you so much Nikki – that really means a lot. I’m so glad you got there in the end – so sorry you had such a hard slog getting there. Lots of love xx

  7. I think you are brave for telling your story. Most people who share this kind of story only do so once they finally manage to have a baby. I had IVF treatment in 2006 after trying unsuccessfully to conceive for a year. The IVF treatment was successful in that I responded well at every stage, resulting in lots of grade 1 embryos. I thought, with so many embryos one or two would be sure to succeed. In total I had one fresh round of IVF and a further three frozen embryo transfers (each time two embryos were implanted). None resulted in pregnancy. The first time it failed, after the fresh transfer, I was numb for a week. I lay on the couch and got through by reading children’s books. I kind of reverted to being a child myself and really tried to look after myself. I recognise much of what you say, and last year we had to decide whether to proceed with our one final frozen embryo or choose to dispose of it. Many things went through my mind – what if this is the one that will stick? to, how can I justify spending so much money on something that is likely to fail? But also I realised I had moved on with my life. I realised it had been some years since I’d yearned to have children. When I began IVF treatment I made a decision that it wouldn’t take over my entire life, and though there were a rough 2-3 years (I now recognise I was privately grieving for a full 2 years) I have come through it and have many things in my life that I love and enjoy. I have children in my life that I love (relatives and friends’ children) and there are many times when I’m glad they all leave and I can sit quietly and read a book and enjoy a cup of tea 🙂 I also started my blog around the time I started treatment and when I felt particularly desperate I would make myself think about colour and texture and patterns and adjustments I could make to personalise knitting and sewing patterns. Thanks for sharing your story. I still have many close friends who don’t know mine.

    1. thank you so much. I’m so sorry you have been through the mill as well. It’s just awful isn’t it, but I’m glad that you are finding light at the end of the tunnel too. Much love, and I am here if you want to talk xx

  8. Sarah, I have two children and count my blessings every day (even when I’m at the end of my tether). I had fertility problems and one miscarriage so I know some of your pain. Your decision to draw a line and make a different life for yourselves is…I can’t find the word for it…but I know people who have been eaten up by trying to have children, their lives destroyed. You have embraced life and had the courage and intelligence to find a different way of living. You are thriving in this different life with your lovely partner. I hope to meet you in person one day because you have such a lovely soul. The sewing community is awesome and is filled with people who are bravely living with a diverse number of trials. Perhaps that’s why it’s so kind. May we all continue to find strength and joy through our love of sewing. Big hugs. ❤️

    1. Thank you so much Catherine. It was a very difficult decision, and I’m still not 100% certain that it is the right one, I just couldn’t keep going through it. I’m so sorry you lost a baby too – it never leaves you, does it? x

      1. It’s different for everyone. I felt such a failure that I wasn’t able to hold onto my baby and was haunted by the fact I had flushed him/her down the toilet (as that’s where I miscarried). I was 11 weeks pregnant and I know all was well at 6 weeks as I had a scan. I started bleeding at the theatre (The Vagina Monologues!) and then full contractions at home. And then it was over. I have friends who have lost their babies at 39 weeks. At whatever stage, we are mothers to the little ones because they are so loved and wanted by us. I have a friend who was very determined. She had 14 miscarriages in total. She managed to have 4 children in the end. She has Lupus. She somehow shrugged them off and kept going. We are all different. I did IVF twice. Miscarried the first and bled to 28 weeks with the second for no reason they could find. This one stayed with me and is 8. But my husband and I had agreed that would be our last attempt because I was so fed up of feeling sad. Email me if you’d like to talk and I’ll send you my phone number x

  9. Hi Sarah, thank you for writing such a moving and honest post, I have no doubt it will help others in similar positions. I’ve also lost three babies (a long time ago) so have a tiny idea of the heartache you and your partner have gone through. Sending lots of love, Jane x

  10. Sarah I just wanted to send you a hug and continued positive vibes. You are an inspiration in your strength to find a new way forwards and to share your path with such honesty and candor. I had a miscarriage last november after 10 years of trying to concieve and needed to have surgery afterwards too. Your story resonated so deeply with the toil it takes on your and your partner. I too was amazed and somewhat horrified at the harsh insensitivity or complete lack of anything from some “friends” and all my inlaws who didnt even contact me for a month afterwards despite living 5mins away from me! 10 months later I’ve reached a place where I can forgive them (they are what they are) but I cannot forget. We survive because we have to but well done for doing more than surviving. Wishig you mountains of happiness, adventures and sewing patterns galore. X

    1. Oh Sam, I’m so sorry for what you have been through too – it’s so isolating isn’t it? I hope you are doing well now and I am here if you would like to talk xx

  11. Well done for sharing such a brave post. I too had two miscarriages in the early 1990s and the feeling of loss never leaves, I remember dates and think about how old, what they may be doing now if they had survived. I was then fortunate to have two healthy children but whose pregnancies and births were not without complications. My youngest is off to University this week so I hope my sewing will help me cope with a different type of loss. I think you have amazing sewing skills and love when your vlog pops in my inbox. Keep up the good work and you know there is great friendships in the sewing communities😘

    1. Thank you so much Helena – so nice to hear from you. You are right, it is something very personal to you that you never forget. xx

  12. Hi Sarah
    It’s Lindsay here, Harriet’s mum (we met at the Sewing Weekender).
    You are so brave to share your feelings on your blog post, but as you’ve seen everyone is so supportive and lovely. I am always amazed at how the sewing community is full of such caring individuals from all ages and all walks of life. Whenever Harriet posts personal blogs about her disability and how it affects her, we are overwhelmed with all the love and positive responses from so many wonderful people who we’ve never met!
    I hope you feel glad that you shared, and take strength from all the lovely and kind messages.
    You rock!
    Lots of love xx

    1. Hi Lindsay, thank you so much for your lovely words. I have been absolutely astonished by everyone’s kindness. I’m so glad Harriet receives nothing but love too – she is such a wonderful girl and a real credit to you xx

  13. Bravo for raising a difficult subject and sharing what lies beneath your passion for sewing. Like so many others who have responded, I too have been through early miscarriages and the repulsive procedure to “evacuate the retained products of conception”. In my case, the 3 miscarriages were bracketed by 2 perfectly normal pregnancies, giving us 2 daughters and the happy ending you were denied.
    But I completely recognise the way this can dominate life for years and the need to draw a line under that. Our fourth attempt at our second child, though successful in our case, would have been our last for just that reason.
    I make a point of talking about my miscarriages whenever the subject arises because it is so common and I think its a taboo we should break through. Easier for me, though.
    Many people have their path through life blocked by fate. Some are permanently affected by it. Those like you who can find the resilience to embrace an alternative path deserve our admiration and support. You have mine.
    As a fellow Bristol sewist, I hope our paths cross someday. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy your excellent blog.

    1. Hi Odette, thank you for taking the time to write. I’m so sorry for your losses too – I hope you are ok. Yes, it would be lovely to meet up. We do keep saying we will organise another SewBrizzle meet up. I hope you are on the Facebook page, if not, you should join to keep updated for meet ups. S xx

  14. So many people have expressed something like what i want to. Here’s my facts – 6 miscarriages, death of my mother, then a baby boy. 11 more miscarriages, loads of downer life experiences, and 11 years later a surprise baby boy with my new husband (we are in our 40s). But here – when i had my 8 week ultrasound and the baby had a heartbeat I wept openly – I could only dread another miscarriage.

    I have all the same stuff and emotions and reasons I sew.

    Isn’t it nice to make something and the only dread is that it might not be perfect? Isn’t t nice to share good news and happy images with your insta-friends? Positive thinking and Positive expressions are what make life awesome – and make the crap surmountable.

    1. Hi Heather, god your last paragraph – ouch, that hits the nail on the head! I’m so sorry you’ve been through similar – glad to hear you are trying to keep positive though x

  15. I was so so moved reading this Sarah and so sorry to hear of your heartbreak. It is so inspiring to hear how you have worked hard to give yourself a postitve focus on life and you are an example to us all. Thank you for sharing, lots of love xx

  16. Thanks for so bravely sharing your story. It takes great strength and a willingness to heal to be so open. I wish for you all good things.

  17. Just catching up on blogs and so sad to read of all you have been through. I too had 5 years of infertility, IUIs, surgeries, a miscarriage of my first baby. As I turned 40 I had to draw a line under it all and envisage a different future for myself as you describe because I just couldn’t take the sadness and utter loneliness of going through it all. My story did end differently as I extremely miraculously had two healthy surprises in my 40s, for which I am so grateful, but that sadness and the pain of that experience never totally leaves. When I hear stories like yours I feel so strongly for you, because I know just how much it hurts. Sending you much love, Nancy x

  18. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I have had a traumatic 18 months; loosing 5 grandparents between us and 2 miscarriages. We are trying to decide whether to try again and if we are strong enough to put ourselves together again if it goes wrong. Reading your story has given me hope that if we do decide to stop trying, we will be ok. Leading a different life to the one we thought, but that we can still be happy.
    Thank you for being so brave, open and honest.

  19. Hi Sarah, I just found you on YouTube and thought I would check out your blog. You are such a brave soul to share such heartbreak. I am glad you decided to pick up your sewing because what you share brings joy to so many. God bless you!

  20. Brave girl
    Took me a long time to read this for many reasons None are to do with you, but to do with my own personal pain. I am proud to know you and have you in my family
    Much love Sewing girl 💕

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