January 16, 2020
“Have you been having any pregnancy symptoms?” the sonographer asked. 
My Miscarriage Helped Me Build A Better Life
My husband and I laughed. “Well I’ve been throwing up for eight weeks, signed off work and have barely been able to function, so yes.”
The knowing smile I was looking for in response didn’t come. And as I looked up at the screen and the gaping black hole staring back at me from my twelve-week scan, I knew there was no longer anything to be cocky about.
There was no baby. Just an empty sack, and my bruised ego. They called it a ‘missed miscarriage’ – missed because there had been no pain or any physical signs, just high hormone levels and a confused body cruelly producing all the symptoms of a healthy pregnancy. 
If there hadn’t been pain before, there certainly was now. In the blur of that lunchtime appointment, I remember thinking how offensive that term was: “missed” implied I was too stupid to notice what had been happening to my own baby. The growing bump that I’d convinced myself of was, of course, non-existent and calling it “the baby” for all those weeks felt ridiculous now I’d discovered it probably hadn’t formed past the four-week mark. Perhaps I was stupid after all. It’s not that I was an awful person, just blissfully happy – and blissfully naïve.Before 8 October 2012, I felt untouchable. I had my dream job, found myself a wonderful man, had the perfect wedding, bought a house – of course a baby was next up. And so when ‘pregnant’ came up on the test I almost took for granted because, in my head, getting pregnant and having my happily ever after was a sure thing. I had never had my heart broken, had never lost anyone close to me and I’d never wanted for anything in life. Any disappointment I’d experienced before that day was a bad bit of feedback at work or a friend pulling out of a long-awaited date in the diary. Nothing raw. Nothing life or death. It’s not that I was an awful person, just blissfully happy – and blissfully naïve. 
“One positive you can take from this is that women usually get pregnant very easily after having a miscarriage,” the nurse told me a week later.  I had just woken up from having my ERPC – ‘evacuation of retained products of conception’, another offensive term that made my trauma sound more like a routine clean out than my world turning upside down. I hung onto her every word, but I wasn’t part of the ‘normal’ society she’d painted such a hopeful picture of.
Getting pregnant again wasn’t the walk in the park I’d been promised. My ‘perfect’ world had suddenly been tainted. I became depressed, bitter, obsessed even. Shocked to the core, my whole outlook on life shifted considerably: I held a grudge against fertile friends, anyone with good news to share – baby-related or not – was pretty much black-listed, and it affected my marriage too. Every conversation was ruined by the ‘b’ word, and between the acupuncture appointments, hypnotherapy sessions, constant diet changes, temperature taking, and emotional breakdowns (not to mention all the dodging of friends with children) we were utterly exhausted. But among all of this, these two years of sheer sadness, something else was happening to me that I was unaware of: I was growing up.
Suddenly, I had a whole new level of experience in something I’d known nothing about before. This was raw, and nothing like the wedding magazine, love letter bubble I’d been living in pre-scan. Suddenly, I was able to provide first-hand comfort to others going through the same thing, if they ever wanted it. There was no longer this rose-tinted haze – my eyes had been opened to real life, and I realised it was actually doing me a world of good.Where I used to go in all guns blazing during conversations, I started to listen to people harder. For once I wanted to hear their stories, their opinions, their advice. I’d stop the usual channel-hopping and listen to the woman on TV talking about her recent ordeal, or the man on the radio describing how he was feeling. Suddenly I could relate – albeit usually in a roundabout way – but a life experience is a life experience, and I realised that to simply be listened to is the most valuable thing a person can do for the other. The listener learns from what they’re hearing and the person wanting to be heard feels less alone. And listening helped me feel less alone too. Pre-scan, I saw myself as a good person on the whole – but it’s almost as if I wasn’t qualified to be a better one until I’d experienced such raw pain. 
I upped my reading game too. Rather than thinking happy thoughts and dodging anything to do with fertility in magazines or newspapers, I discovered that forcing myself to be educated on what I had gone through was vital. I learned about why it happened and, more importantly, discovered that so many others were going through it with me. Forcing myself to read more, not just about fertility issues, also opened my mind to the significance of our complete lack of control – whoever you are, good and bad things can happen at any time, no exceptions. Take risks and enjoy life, I learned, because who knows? Who knew that having something so devastating happen to you could actually make your outlook on life a lot healthier – happier, even?Who knew that having something so devastating happen to you could actually make your outlook on life a lot healthier – happier, even?Fate played a part too. Things happened in my career – promotions, opportunities – that I would have missed out on if I’d had that baby. Any problem at work suddenly seemed trivial, which gave me the tools to deal with things rationally. I was no longer the stressed, everything-must-be-perfect employee, I was the one with a level head who knew first-hand that worse things could happen and that whatever the problem, it could get sorted quickly and calmly.
Let’s make one thing clear: if I had to go through it all again, I wouldn’t. But I genuinely believe the way I evaluate this thing called ‘life’ has benefited as a result and frankly, I’ll take all the positives I can from it. Not only am I more measured about dealing with the things that have come my way since – a significant death in my family, money worries, friendship issues – I am also now fully aware that nothing is perfect and nor do I want it to be. It’s fair to say that day shocked me into living my life with some much-needed self-awareness, and my head firmly screwed on.
I’m now a mother of two. Even now I cannot believe I am typing those words – let alone how I got there. But despite the long list of new things to worry about that comes with being a mother, there hasn’t been a single day since having each of my beautiful children that I haven’t felt overwhelmingly fortunate to be in this position, nor will I ever take for granted again the sheer enormity of creating a life. 
I’m not sure I would have taken the time to feel that if I hadn’t felt that first heartbreaking loss.
Philippa Pearne is a freelance journalist and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram
Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on ukpersonal@huffpost.comMore from HuffPost UK Personal I’m An Introvert, But Here’s Why I Gave In And Made ‘Mum Friends’ Black And Brown Mums Like Me Are Judged Differently. Here's How I Know My Anxiety Is Stopping Me Enjoying My Pregnancy
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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