World Mental Health day – Let’s get personal – Miscarriage

October 11, 2022

World Mental Health day – Let’s get personal -Miscarriage

(Warning , this isn’t the usual light and airy, fine art post, instead a bit gory and very honest.)

It was world mental health awareness day yesterday and it got me thinking about how we are currently experiencing a mental health crisis with a global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% since covid.

One of the many ways that has been evidenced to help people is by shared stories. So I thought I would share a post that is a bit more of a personal one. It’s been well documented that social media can effect mental health in a negative way; if you are in bad place mentally then scrolling through images that seemingly portraying everyone else having a happier and more fun time than you can be very damaging.

I am aware that on my platforms as a wedding and family photographer, I almost feed this more, I create fairy-tale images of beautiful happy couples and smiling families with gorgeous babies, all seemingly having the perfect lives. There’s rarely behind the scenes of chaos that can be going on.


So, I thought I would touch on a subject that’s kind of taboo but I know first-hand how mentally hard and alone you can feel seeing all these happy families and babies and yet how heart breaking it can be. Photos of my gorgeous family on here can make it seem so easy and like everything fell into place. I think it’s important to not always filter life as it can make others feel like they are the only ones going through tough times.

I am going to touch on miscarriage as this is quite apt with the fact I photograph so many babies and families.

Miscarriage is one of those oddly taboo topics. No one speaks about it and yet many families have been through them.

I recall having my first one. This was probably the most emotionally impacting having never experienced this before. At the time I didn’t know anyone who had been through one and felt in the complete minority, that my body in some way was failing me. I very much have the mindsight that I can achieve anything I want to do in life and am very strong minded but nothing prepared me for the horrible feeling that my own body had failed in something everyone else’s seemingly found so easy.

Having had a private scan and seeing the fluttery heartbeat of our baby (blueberry as we called it) we had come round to the idea of being parents, it had been a bit of a surprise and we were not prepared for children yet living in a tiny one-bedroom flat in finniseton, me working 6 day weeks and late night down at the coast. And yet as soon as we saw the wee flutter on the screen we fell in love with blueberry.

Midnight the day of our 12 weeks scan I began to haemorrhage in the bathroom, my poor husband came running to find me on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood desperately trying to stem the flow with a towel and failing. I think shock must have started to set in as everything felt very dreamlike as I heard Scott’s voice crack on the phone to the ambulance telling them to hurry. I was carted off in an ambulance. My husband returned home later that morning where he cleared up the remnants of our baby off the bathroom floor, it’s something that he has never got over and still cannot watch programmes or films with any depiction of miscarriage in it. A week of being in and out of hospital due to “product being stuck” as the medical notes put it and that was it. We were left with a horrible empty grief and feeling very alone. None of my family or friends had spoken about this subject and I knew no one who had been through this. And yet as word got out, we started to receive a few private messages of support from a few people who had been though similar which oddly gave us a bit of hope as we no longer felt like it was just us who had experienced this horrible situation.

My second miscarriage I was on an overnight shoot modelling, at 8 weeks pregnant I knew what to expect so just kept on with the shoot silently praying I didn’t ruin the costume I was wearing.

My third and probably the trickiest happened as we arrived at our hotel in Paris, ready for a day at Disneyland the next day with a very excited 3-year-old who was desperate to see Elsa and Olaf. At 7pm, we had only just unpacked our stuff and taking Robyn down for a quick swim in the pool before bed it started. Knowing full well what was happening I made sure Robyn was distracted swimming with daddy, called my insurance company to make sure I was covered then got my blood soaked butt in a taxi to the nearest hospital in Paris.

9 excruciating hours later alone in an unfamiliar hospital,  after requesting a number of second opinions as the nurses told me in broken English “theres your baby, its fine” to which I pointed out “ I don’t think it is, there’s no heart beat, could you get someone senior please to double check!”

Finally at 4.30am It was confirmed that our baby had died at 3 months. Senior doctors asked when my flight home was, and I was ordered to return to the hotel and bedrest until my flight home in 27 hours times. Throughout the night poor Scott had been worrying frantically trying to work out what hospital I was in by using he’s limited knowledge of French to phone any ward he could to track me down.

Now knowing that we had lost our baby I refused to disappoint my three-year-old Robyn by not being part of her Disneyland family memories, I had promised we would hunt down Elsa, watch the parade and fireworks and generally have a day that was sponsored by Frozen. So on two hours’ sleep and wearing the biggest pad in the world, we had the loveliest day in Disneyland creating family memories for Robyn with quite a number of bathroom breaks. Below are the images I shared on social media which show nothing of the horrors that actually had been happening very much proving that the world people show on their social media is heavy filtered and unlikely to really show the reality.

After fireworks we got the bus back to the hotel where I started to feel unwell. The next morning as we waited for our coach to the airport, I started to feel twinges. Much too my horror, on the coach I felt the horrible familiar feelings of contractions starting. Sitting next to my oblivious 3-year-old sweating, I started to loose blood and fighting contractions every few minutes. My knight in shining armour husband quickly stepped in and gave me his hoody to wrap round my waist to disguise my blood-soaked jeans which at this point were drenched down to the knee (so sorry coach driver about your seat!) and kept Robyn amused looking out the window whilst I tried to not pass out with the pain.

After a very quick discussion at the airport where I insisted Robyn and Scott needed to get on the flight and I was not going back to a Paris hospital (I don’t speak any French and previous evening had been so unpleasant in hospital I wanted back to the nhs in Scotland) and Scott refused to leave me that I made it clear we just needed to keep moving and get on the flight. I had to smirk in my head at the riot I must have looked, staggering through the airport like an extra from the walking dead. One wheelchair and a very shocked looking security woman who after patting me down discovered the mess I was in but quickly ushered us through later and we boarded our flight. As we started to ascend, Robyn excitedly looking out the window, I felt a huge gush of blood and felt our baby come out. Holding back silent tears and trying to keep it together so as not to draw attention to myself, we sat calmly and notified an air steward politely and discreetly asking if we could possibly have some assistance waiting at the other end in Glasgow. We must have looked too calm (not sure how, with my clammy face and watery eyes!) as she asked why and when we told her, her face dropped in horror and immediately went to notify the pilot. We lucked out, turned out the  pilot was a woman who apparently had been through a miscarriage herself and could not have been any nicer. They took Robyn up to the cockpit and once she was back in her seat the air staff plied her with pringles and treats. We can not thank the staff more for all the kindness and attention they showed us. They were angels. Robyn thought this was the best flight ever and probably now has the wrong impression of the attention you receive on flights!

We kept out cool and remained seated throughout, yet again nervous about wrecking the plane seat!

Upon landing Staff kindly kept us until the plane had emptied and then airport assistance was waiting, ready with a wheelchair. From there I ordered Scott to get Robyn home and hopped in a taxi to the QUEH where I finally got to remove my blood soaked jeans and hand the contents to the lovely nurses who confirmed it was our baby.

I do remember saying to Scott at the time “well if we are going to go through one of the saddest experiences in our life, at least we are doing it in the happiest place in Europe!”

Why am I sharing such a gory, morbid story?

Because I am fully aware looking at the images I share in my family photos, you would never know that to get to our perfect family unit we had to go through some trauma. That no matter how perfect social media may make something look, that if you pull back the curtain behind the scenes, every family have their own personal little battles, wither that be infertility, miscarriage or other issues, and if sharing my story makes another parent who has been though similar feel a little less alone or helps give them a bit of hope in their grief just now after losing a baby then I have done something right by sharing our own story.

Throughout each loss I continued to shoot weddings and newborn photography. Oddly enough being around others happiness made me feel a little better, being welcomed into other peoples worlds distracted me from the pain in my own at that time.

Be kind to yourself, look after your partner as they are grieving the same. If younger me had read stories of others that had been through similar I may not have felt so alone or broken at the time.

Social media unfortunately can make you feel jealous or envious of others lives in comparison but always remember you are rarely seeing the truth. Social media is a heavily filtered and edited view into someones life. People rarely show their struggles and prefer to share the happy and fun things. So if you are scrolling through Instagram and its bumming you out, turn it off and remind yourself none of it is real. Its a tiny snapshot into someone’s life, not the reality and dont dwell on it or compare. Your mental health will thank you for it.

At the same time social media has the power to help by being an outlet to share hard experiences to possibly help others through theirs.

 I certainly don’t dwell particularly on these memories, and didn’t let them get me down for too long after them as very much aware life goes on and I needed to pick myself up fast. I try to see the silver lining with things. They also made me very grateful for all the good things I have in life. They made me see another side to my partner, I usually take the reins but my partner had to in these intense moments where I was at my most vulnerable and I got to see the hero side to him coming to my rescue and being by my side throughout. Our shared experiences cement us more and more. I am incredibly lucky as they have brought me to how I am today, a little bit tougher with life experience and so so lucky to have my beautiful rainbow girls who fill our world full of colour, laughter and character. Because of what I have been though I never take a day with them for granted as aware how lucky I am to have them at all.