LGBT Baby Loss | A Mutual Understanding

This is the story of Charlie and Sophie’s much loved babies, Skye and River. Here, they both share their perspective of love and loss, and how both having experienced a miscarriage provides them with insight into each others experiences.

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First, we hear from Charlie.

October 2012, I had a message on my account on Plenty of Fish, a dating website in the UK. I read it, read it again and decided to ignore it. A week later, I thought I had been a little harsh and I could at least pop the sender, Sophie, a message to say thank you for the interest. We got chatting, then we got obsessivly chatting but there was just one problem – we lived 100 miles apart and I was sick with a chronic lung disease whilst in and out of hospital from Brittle Asthma attacks.

13th November, after texting multiple times a day and Skyping every evening, I asked if Sophie would be my girlfriend. She said yes. Sophie’s birthday was approaching and I asked her what she would like for her birthday and she said, to meet me. So on the 25th November 2012 we met eachother for the very first time.

From day one, we both said that we wanted children and we weren’t ones to wait until we were 30-40 years old. 2013, after travelling the 200 mile trip every weeked to see Sophie, I moved in with her. 2014, the exact day we become an official couple but just two years earlier, we decided to get married and thankfully in the beginning of 2014, the UK legalised same sex marriage.

The first thing we did for trying for a baby, was go to a clinic to see the cost and how things wohld work through them but they refused to help us because we were overweight and on medication. Which personally is absolutely stupid. It felt like they said that we couldn’t be mummies because of our weight and tablets. So unfair.

Even before we got married, we started looking for potential donors and in March 2015 we met a potential donor to see if we would like him. After a few tries, we got pregnant!! Woop woop, our BIG FAT POSITIVE had arrived. We couldn’t contain our excitement. We bought a ton of baby gear. Every time we went out, if we saw something baby related and we liked it, it was ours. Unfortunately, around 4-6 weeks, we lost our baby. Baby Skye. It was awful. We knew something was wrong, so we did more tests at home whilst waiting for our booked appointment for a blood test to come around. Then there was the waiting game for those results. Which confirmed Skye was officially an angel in Heaven.

Following loosing Skye, we felt extremely down. We wanted to know what we done wrong. Why had we been blessed with an angel baby instead of an Earth baby!? We decided to leave trying for a baby for a while.

In 2017, it seamed like the year. The right time to try for a rainbow baby. This time though, instead of Sophie being the carrier, we decided to go for me being the carrier. We found a new donor, which I have to say is getting harder and harder to find a real genuine person who wants to help us without want a few thousand pounds and a quick bit of nookie. They get angry when we say that we don’t want nookie because we really don’t like that sort of thing with a man – we are gay and we only like women!

After having no luck searching the web, our friends offered to help us, if, in return when he and his boyfriend wanted a baby, we help them. Of course we couldn’t say no. With how long weve been trying and the love we have for a baby, we couldn’t say no. So, at the next possible date, our baby journey began again. August was here and after our second month, it happened, our BIG FAT POSITIVE came again. I felt mixed emotions. I didn’t want to be too happy because of our past loss but not feeling happy at all felt impossible.
About a week later, it was night time, I was led on the sofa and something within me just didn’t feel right. Call it a mother’s instinct. The next day we learnt that we lost our second baby – baby River had gained a pair or wings and flew up to heaven.

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We started to think that our dream was never going to come true. We will never be mummies to an earth baby. We started loosing hope. We lost our donor after loosing River too.

Through all of this, from word go, Sophie and I kept things to ourself. We wanted to do a big suprise with our family and friends when we fell pregnant and had our first scan in our hands. Then when we lost Skye, we felt lost. We didn’t know whether to tell our families everything or to just keep it private. When we then lost River, we just couldn’t cope fighting this on our own. We needed support. Loosing two children in a short space of time we felt so alone. The only place we could turn to for support was our families as we know of no LGBT groups with people who have sadly lost babies too. We couldn’t face telling our families face to face so we wrote each and every person a letter telling them everything from the beginning right up to now. Its a little nicer knowing that we can now openly talk about our babies to anyone at anytime as before we kept dodging the subject because of nobody knowing.

If there’s one thing you could benefit from, if you have the availablitly, sharing times like these with family and friends really does make this a whole lot different. Life certainly is easier when you can be 100% open with people.

I am totally happy with any going through this to contact me and you will have my full support.

We have faith. When the time is right we believe we will be blessed with our rainbow baby. Untill then, pray with us for a stress free journey and safe pregnancy when it happens.

Love to all, and never give up hope.

Charlie Hockaday-Williams
Instagram: charlie19_91warlie

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And now, we hear from Sophie 

It was in 2012 when I joined Plenty of Fish, that my whole life changed. There were few people who seemed genuinely interesting but scrolling through, one person in particular caught my eye. It was the unusual way she presented her profile that initially grabbed my attention, then seeing what she had written and the few pictures she had uploaded made my decision. Nervously, I sent her a message asking her how she was and briefly saying hello. I had really low self confidence so wasn’t really expecting her to reply, especially as she was clearly “out of my league”. A week later I went onto my account and next to the message box was a little “1”. I’d had a few messages previously from people who were simply looking for a laugh (generally at my expense) so I wasn’t hopeful. But when I saw who it was from, my tummy did a little flip! She was AMAZING! It didn’t take long for us to be continually messaging back and forth. On the 13th November she asked me to be her girlfriend and I said yes of course! It was going to be my birthday on the 25th and I wanted more than anything to meet Charlie in person. We planned to meet halfway, in Exeter, and so we did!

We eventually moved in together and on 13th November 2014, exactly two years after she asked me to be her girlfriend, she became my wife! We had a beautifully quiet wedding and an amazing local honeymoon together. We knew before we even married that we wanted a family together so we started to look into our options. We went to two fertility clinics to see if we could receive any help and we really loved the idea of egg sharing, but we were shot down by both for being overweight and on medication.  Our only option was to find a donor. Eventually in 2015 we became pregnant and we couldn’t believe it! We were so excited and over the moon that we instantly started buying anything we saw that we loved! Our collection rapidly grew on a daily basis. But between 5-6 weeks we lost the baby. I felt empty. I kept thinking about things I’d done recently and even things I’d eaten. I was convinced it was something I’d done. We named our angel baby Skye. Both of us struggled with our mental health and our physical health deteriorated too. We started having a few arguments when we had never even had a disagreement. It was so hard and it took a long time for us to come to terms with losing our baby.

In 2017 we decided we wanted to start the process again. This time however we decided that Charlie should carry the pregnancy in case it was something wrong with my body that had caused the miscarriage. We had lost our donor due to the long time that we had to postpone our trying. Luckily a friend had offered to help us and we had a also agreed that down the line we would also carry a pregnancy for him and his partner if it were possible at the time. After a couple donations we became pregnant again! Part of me was as excited as I had been with Skye, but part of me was also so scared and anxious of what could happen. We settled into the knowledge that we could have a baby in our arms months down the line. One night Charlie woke up and said she felt wrong. She said she knew that the baby wasn’t there anymore. The next day we tested and were faced with the negative result. Again we were broken. How could this happen to us again? We had done every bit of research we could and everything to support the pregnancy we had done. But River had left us to live with Skye. Once again we both struggled to come to terms with another loss. We hadn’t shared our losses with our families at the time, and it became so much for us to keep to ourselves that we decided to share what had happened with our families. Our parents were both amazingly supportive and eventually things began to settle again.

We haven’t tried again yet but we definitely will be trying again soon. We know that we will eventually have our rainbow baby and we always look for signs that Skye and River are with us. As a couple we have become stronger and more resilient for events that happen to us. We know that we can get through anything as long as we have each other and support each other.

Love to everyone

Sophie.

When I asked about how both experiencing a physical loss enabled them to support each other, Charie shared this with me… 

With both myself and Sophie having conceived our children it truly did add a completely different perspective to how I saw things. Yes, 100% I was royally gutted and devastated when we lost Skye, but I know now that I didn’t have the high level of emotional attachment in which I had for River. I think because I only had the current role of helping make Skye as we never got far enough into the pregnancy to see a bump, hear the heartbeat or feel any kicks, our lives hadn’t really changed all that much. If you saw us on the streets, we were still Charlie, Sophie, Dixie and Alba, there was no visual knowledge of Skye. I couldn’t feel how Sophie was feeling. I had no idea what Sophie was feeling. I couldn’t connect or have a chance to bond. [Side note, Soph and I have pre recorded songs and stories that Soph has sung and I have read to help with the bond between each of us individually with baby].

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Then when we lost Skye, again, I couldn’t feel what Sophie was feeling. I couldn’t get a sense of what she was going through internally as its not something I had ever experienced myself. I felt lost and very useless particularly for knowing what to say and do for Soph more than anything. To top things off, when we lost Skye, we had ZERO support. Firstly with family and friends (this is by no means their fault) because they had no idea we had even been trying to conceive let alone actually conceiving Skye. Soph and I had planned to keep it a secret and then when we had got our first scan in our hands, we had something planned to share the suprise with those closest to us. As for any support from the medical personnel, we equally had nothing. Just the initial, “I’m sorry, it looks like you have had a miscarriage”. Walked out of the appointment and that was the last thing anyone ever said anything to us. We felt we couldn’t tell our families and friends. We couldn’t find the words to explain the initial good news followed by the devestating news so, we kept it to ourselves. On top of this, we couldn’t bring ourselves to sell the baby gear that   we had bought so it sat in the spare bedroom. It was a constant reminder of never holding our baby in our hands.

After 18 months of not being able to bring ourselves to try again, when the time felt right, we wanted to stick to our original plan for not telling anyone until we could suprise them with the scan.

The reason we decided to go with me carrying our second baby was for two reasons, the first being that following loosing Skye, Soph’s periods never really came back to the “normal” she literally had months of non stop bleeding of variable levels. She was being put on different medication to try and stop the bleeding which meant that she was no longer for that moment in time ovulating. Thankfully it worked out that despite my multiple health issues, I had had nearly a year of “perfect” health for me so we figured it must have been a sign.

Once we found out we were pregnant again we literally couldn’t believe that we had been given a second chance. We made sure that I had plenty of rest and did everything in our power to ensure we gave our baby the best fighting chance. Its such a strange but uplifting feeling when you know you have a little one onboard, its a feeling that you only know when pregnant. I was finally feeling what Sophie was feeling. I could understand the level of emotion that was running through her body as I too was now experiencing it.
The night I knew that we had lost River, I was sleeping downstairs and it was the middle of the night when I suddenly woke up and just knew. I no longer had that uplifting feeling. Just emptiness. I didn’t know what to do as Soph was upstairs asleep and we still hadn’t had our stair lift installed for me to be able to access the upstairs. I didn’t want to shout up to her in the middle of the night as I knew she would panic. With needing to tell someone, I sent Soph a message saying “we’ve lost the baby, I can just feel it”. At somepoint overnight when Soph went to the toilet and saw she had a message, she came downstairs to lie with me. I went to sleep with so many emtions but waking up to Soph having snuck downstairs and holding me until we woke really helped me to no longer feel alone. No words had been spoken, we didn’t have to. We both now knew how it felt physically and emtionally to loose a baby as the carrier. It was like a new level of our partnership had been created. A mutual understanding.

Again though, we had no support from any professionals. Completely nothing. The only support I could find was by chance. It was October, Baby and Infant Loss Month and as I was ordering a candle from one of my friends on Facebook for a friend of mine who lost her 6 month old daughter. The converstation just came up about Skye and River and that’s when I found out that she works with a charity called “Our Angel Bears“. The team at Our Angel Bears instantly sent us a little package with kind words and two tiny little bears. That is when Soph and I decided to make the shadow boxes, and we put one of the bears in each of Skye and River’s boxes.

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Unfortunately though, the second loss was hitting us really hard. About three months after loosing River, we decided to write a letter to each of our friends and family (who would have initially been given the scan suprise), a detailed letter going back to 2015 when trying to conceive for the first time. In the letter we said we didn’t want to be bombared with texts and phone calls as we knew we wouldn’t cope, but, many of those we sent the letters to sent a single text with either a heart or an ‘I love you’ or something similar. Although we still hadn’t verbally spoken to our friends and family about Skye and River, once those letters had been sent, it was like a dark cloud lifted from above us.

We felt that we could talk about Skye and River and be able to not feel as though it was our fault. We felt like new parents telling the world about our babies, only our babies had beautiful wings.


 

This post is shared as part of the #LGBTBabyLoss Blog Series. To read more, or to submit your own experiences, visit the LGBT Baby Loss Blog Series homepage here

 

#LGBTBABYLOSSstories of love and loss

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