When Jenny Rudall was going through the most testing time in her life, she realised just how much her horse meant to her...
"I was worried about writing this blog for several reasons. Mainly, being a horse rider, we are part of that breed of people who just like to get on with things. We don’t want sympathy, and I have lost count of the number of times I have ridden against doctors orders. But having spent the last three weeks addicted to Google (so much so my husband had to take my phone away) in the hopes of finding answers, comfort and searching to see if the pain I am in was normal, I am writing this in the hopes that if it gives someone else help in any way then it is worth it.
At the beginning of October I found out I was pregnant. After the initial shock, delight and excitement, the first thing that popped into my head was ‘What about my horse, Finn?'. The aim next year was to do a one star event, so firstly it was how long can you keep riding for… three months, four, or till the bump gets in the way? I was due in June so could I get the second part of the event season in? Would I let other people ride him? Hmmm, I didn’t like the thought of that!
Then it was the awful realisation, can I afford to keep him? I struggle each month as it is to pay his bills and being off work and self-employed - so no maternity pay – can I actually justify keeping him? This was a devastating thought but I had to be practical and face facts.
So in my head I thought I would wait until after the 12 weeks scan then make some decisions regarding Finn. Then morning sickness kicked in. I have ridden with a broken hand, fractured knee, broken bones galore but I couldn’t ride through this. It totally floored me and this made me feel incredibly guilty. I always thought I was tough, but no one warns you how utterly terrible you can feel being pregnant. I couldn’t even walk the dogs let alone do rising trot. So I was coming up with excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t ride, work, or basically even leave the house. Some days I couldn’t even get out of bed - it was a total shock to the system and let's not even go into riding a horse with sore boobs. Men - you will never understand.
At 10 weeks I suddenly felt better, which you may think would come as a relief - but it actually scared me, I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. I could ride normally again and even managed a jump lesson. This panicked me into getting an early scan. This showed a small blob, but a blob nonetheless, and I was told it had a good heartbeat and therefore only a 2% chance of anything going wrong.
So then came the 12 week scan date, I couldn’t sleep at all - I was totally terrified and just knew something wasn’t right. In we went to Bath and my worse fears were realised. The baby was gone. A missed miscarriage according to the midwife and it was like the world was folding in on itself. We were told to return on Monday to see a doctor to talk through our options.
I left it to my husband (the most amazing man I know) to tell the few people who knew – family and a couple of friends – as I couldn’t face it. The next day all I wanted to do was see Finn. We went to the yard and for a whole blissful hour Finn made everything better. I lunged him, as I wasn’t up for riding, and he was hilarious. Kicking his heels up, then being ridiculously affectionate to both my husband and I. If we ever question trying to keep Finn again I will remember this day. I will sell the car, my kidney; anything before parting with him… he makes everything better.
So then after seeing the doctor and everything was confirmed I was booked in to have an EPRC procedure on the Tuesday. I am not going to lie, it’s not fun, but I was in and out in one day and the guys at Royal Bath were totally amazing. They do say take it easy for a few days but I felt simply terrible. Chronic pains, headaches, abdominal pain, far worse than expected and by the Sunday I was back in hospital with an infection – typical.
So back on more drugs and painkillers, which I then had a reaction to, so this meant more abdominal pain and more time in bed. At the end of week two I was back in the doctors still ill with stomach pain. I was convinced it was due to all the drugs I was on, the doctor said to keep taking them and go home and rest… so what did I do? I went and rode Finn. Yes it hurt and yes it was exhausting but mentally it helped and I took myself off all the drugs and after a few days started to feel better.
So now the hardest thing was trying to explain why I couldn’t make my usual workweek at Olympia and why I was not at Christmas parties. I decide telling the truth was the way forward. Why do we as woman feel we have to hide miscarriage? In some ways it makes it easier not having to explain everything but in others it makes you feel very sad and very alone. If one more person says – it’s so common, one in four pregnancies end this way or you aren’t the first and wont be the last, I will scream. Advice for anyone who has not been through this, never say anything like this to a friend who goes through it - IT DOES NOT HELP!
So now I am just so grateful I have Finn. Everyday I wake up feeling awful and have had five of my closest girl friends all message me telling me they are due to give birth in June! That’s the toughest bit seeing them all bigger and not wanting to take away from their happiness. For a couple of hours a day being at the yard makes everything better and when I’m riding I can forget everything. When I bought Finn I didn’t realise I was buying a therapist and a best friend into the bargain as well. I hope if anyone reading this is going through the same thing they can find comfort in hugging a four-legged friend like I do.
But for now, it’s chin up and kick on."