Heartache is something that Pendle mum Sasha Hardingham knows only too well about.
Having gone through not one, but four miscarriages, over the course of two years, it is easy for her to remember all the feelings of grief and despair that come with losing a baby.
But now, to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week, the brave and inspirational owner of Sasha’s Accessories is sharing her story in the hope others will see that no matter how tragic the situation, strength can be built again. Her motto “Never Give Up” is, in fact, now etched onto her skin, surrounded by four rosebuds in memory of her unborn children, and three roses, for her “miracle” children who came after years of determination and fighting spirit.
Sasha was diagnosed with Systemic lupus erythematosus when she was on the brink of “giving up”, but thanks to one trip to Airedale Hospital and one committed consultant, she found herself finally being given the answers she was longing for.
Among other symptoms, she had been having headaches so bad that they would cause her to black out, muscle ache and body pain unlike anything she had experienced before, and she also began to lose some hair.
She was told she had depression, she went for cancer tests, but following her fourth miscarriage at 18-years-old and 24 weeks into her pregnancy, she finally said “enough is enough”.
When she was eventually given the news she had SLE, she was also told that with the disease can come potential problems within pregnancies. These include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, and even the risk of both the baby and mother dying.
The mum, who lives in Green Bank, Barnoldswick, said: “When the consultant told me I had lupus, I broke down crying - finally someone was listening.
“I had had four miscarriages, and after the fourth I remember thinking ‘I’ve had enough’. I had given up on life at that point.
“I said to my partner ‘go and find someone who can give you kids’. I had got to a point where I was really bitter, where I felt like it was me against the world, like noone was listening or believing in me. When I went to Airedale he took it seriously, and life changed then.
“I was about to give up, but that trip changed things round - now ‘never give up’ has become my motto for life.
“I would be lying if you don’t get those moments when you feel low. Sometimes I can watch a soap and someone has miscarried, and you do feel like you are there again. But then I think, I have just got to get on with it.”
When Sasha did fall pregnant again, she was given all the help needed for a high-risk pregnancy - being put on the right medication and being given the necessary injections.
She is now blessed with three beautiful girls - Chelsea (17), Paige (13) and Amy (11) - although all her pregnancies did come with their own complications.
But despite all the trauma, Sasha remains upbeat and grateful, happily recalling the weights, times and dates of each of her babies who did get given a chance at life (Chelsea: 4lb. 1oz., 3pm, July 28th, 1997, Paige: 51b. 13oz., 7-31pm, December 27th, 2000, Amy: 61b. 4oz., 3-48pm, April 28th, 2003).
Now, she wants others to know that there is help out there, from lupus awareness groups, through to groups raising awareness of miscarriage. And that no matter how horrendous life may seem, there is always something or someone to guide you through.
“At the time, you do feel so alone and you don’t realise there is help out there”, she said. “Hopefully me talking will give people hope.”
In April this year Sasha went into remission, but has recently been given the news that her lupus has returned.
She will be shutting shop at her current base at Shackleton Hall, Colne, today, but will continue her Sasha’s Accessories venture at Barnoldswick Market in the very near future - where she will work a couple of days per week. But regardless of her latest blow, Sasha has remained as courageous as ever, revealing: “For the first time in my life, I feel solid, I feel strength.
“You can either wait to die, or get on with your life, and that is what I am doing.”