I started following Rosie on Instagram a year or so ago. She’s an amazing illustrator, Mum of two, with a quick wit and a gives great podcast recommendations. She’s a person who I wished lived next door to me!
We spoke about Rosie’s two miscarriages in between her daughter and her son, as well as body image and feelings around this about herself.
You started bleeding early on in pregnancy with your daughter and talk me through your thoughts at the time.
I was 6 weeks pregnant- I’d known I was pregnant almost straight away. It was a conscious decision to try and I was well attuned to my body so even though it was early in the pregnancy, I felt like I’d been pregnant for ages. I started bleeding very heavily one evening and phoned my midwife who sent me up to the out of hours service. They told me I was probably miscarrying but would need to go to the hospital to check it wasn’t ectopic. I was in shock. I cried a lot but also felt numb and surreal. I had to stay in overnight because it was a Sunday and they wouldn’t scan until Monday. Why do these things always happen at the weekend?! It’s a full ten years ago now, but I can see the nurse’s face who came to check on me. She was the first person to say that I might not be miscarrying. That sent me spinning even more. “There’s still hope poppet” that’s what she said.
Did the bleeding throughtout that pregnancy make you on edge until she arrived?
Yes in a way. I was on knicker watch all the time! My GP was pretty laid back about it and reassured me that it happened a lot. It still didn’t prepare me for my waters breaking at 33 weeks.
Talk me through your 2 miscarriages. Did you have any feelings that it was your fault (that’s how I felt).
The first was very, early and, again, if I wasn’t so alert to my symptoms I might not have known I was pregnant. I had a really really heavy bleed for 2 weeks and grieved quickly and completely- like a sealed unit of upset. The second was a different story- I was all the way through my first trimester and suddenly stopped throwing up and just knew something was wrong. Again it was a bloody Friday night so had to wait until Monday for a scan. They confirmed a missed miscarriage and I actually howled like an animal. I was so raw and devastated, hadn’t felt pain like it. I felt like a failure.
Did having miscarriages make you scared to try for another baby and were you worried throughout your pregnancy with your son?
I knew I wanted to try again so as soon as I’d had the all clear from the doctors we tried. I was a nervous wreck for the first 12 weeks and burst into tears at my scan because it was like a dam of emotion bursting. I had issues all through the pregnancy- mainly with my pelvis and a few scares regarding early water loss again. I was on bed rest before my waters broke- another sodding Friday and another premature baby. That’s where I’ve retained the guilt I think, rather than with the miscarriages- feeling bad that my body was incapable of carrying them to term and not knowing how that will affect them long term.
How did you miscarry both times? Natural/ D&C/ induced miscarriage with tablets? Do you feel you had guidance/support with how you miscarried and afterwards, be it from family/friends or the NHS.
I miscarried naturally the first time and had a D&C the second. Unfortunately I got and infection and then had an intense allergic reaction to the antibiotics so all in all, it was a grim 6 weeks recovery from what should have been a few days.
My doctor was great and actually gave me a hug and said ‘this has been unnecessarily shit’ which I found to be more helpful than any medical advice. Many friends with similar experiences came out of the woodwork and local pals rallied round and cooked us meals for a week while I recovered. I wrote a guest blog about it as I really wanted to talk about how devastated I felt before the feelings subsided and I know longer wanted to focus on it. So many women experience this and it’s painful to dwell, so I think it gets swept under the rug and ‘forgotten’ about.
Do you have any advice for other women who have miscarried?
The only way to get through grief is to grieve. However it looks and however long it lasts. A miscarriage is the loss of everything you imagined into your family’s future. It’s harsh as hell and it doesn’t matter at what stage it happens. Once you’re pregnant you’re pregnant and that’s a future baby that you have every right to grieve for.
Do you remember the first time you weren't happy with your appearance and was it brought on by something in particular?
I remember feeling self conscious from the age of about 11. My face is very round and freckly and I felt plain always.
How did it effect you growing up?
I styled myself as the clown. Not literally- I’ve never rocked an oversized shoe- but I used humour to both attract people and deflect from my appearance.
Were you open about your body issues with family and friends or did you keep it to yourself?
Kept it all to myself.
You mentioned to me you’ve had feelings of inadequacy in the past. In what sense did you feel inadequate?
Probably same as every other teenager- not thin, pretty, blonde enough?!
Going into adulthood, do you feel these issues held you back in any way?
I’ve been sucked right into the diet culture- do this and it’ll fix you. If only you weighed x amount, you’d be happy
Do you think social media/advertising plays a part to peoples body issues/self esteem?
Of course- it feeds the insecurities and the narrative that beauty is objective and you could attain it if you were only more disciplined.
Having two kids, are you more aware of trying to portray a positive body image?
Absolutely. I try to talk about food choices as health based. I never talk negatively about the way I look in front of them.
Are you worried about your own kids facing the same issues that you've had?
My daughter is aware of the concept of being fat. We have discussed that it is more than possible to fat and beautiful and fat and still healthy and that how you look is the least interesting thing about you. I’m trying to listen to that too! My son is a middle class white man who, at the age of 4, has the confidence of a world leader so I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine. I still talk about the same stuff with him and he’s learnt my mantra- that kindness is the most important thing.
How have you tried to move forward and work through your body issues/feelings of inadequacy?
I’m abandoning dieting and focusing on how I feel. I can’t deny that when I’m within a certain weight range I just feel better- more energy, clearer skin, happier outlook. I’m looking for balance and acceptance. Gratitude for what I have instead of constantly striving for something.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice (to yourself at any age), what would it be?
You’re absolutely and completely enough. Just as you are. Your feelings of inadequacy and self-disgust are just feelings like any others. They’re no more or less valid than when you feel good, so let them in, look at them, acknowledge them then breathe them back out again. You’re far more in control than you think and you can choose contentment.