BARRHEAD woman Nicola McGowan is no stranger to heartache.

The popular nursery worker longs to be a mum but, over the last six years, has suffered nine miscarriages.

Nicola has made it her mission to help other people across the country cope with the trauma of baby loss.

Now her own little miracle is just seven months away, after she fell pregnant again and doctors told her she is due to give birth in May.

It is welcome news for 34-year-old Nicola, who has been undergoing IVF treatment, and her husband Nikki.

Former St Luke’s High pupil Nicola told the Barrhead News: “The scan that I had at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary this week was a very anxious time.

“It was amazing to see the heartbeat of the baby and know it is healthy.

“This is about the furthest I have gone without a miscarriage, so we are very hopeful this time around that we can finally be parents.

“I have another scan in a week’s time and the next milestone after that is when I reach 12 weeks.

“After that, it is a question of keeping our fingers crossed and positive thinking.”

In 2019, Nicola started the NellyBoxes initiative – named after well-known song Nelly the Elephant – to provide items that can help women cope with a miscarriage.

The boxes, which have an elephant logo, contain things such as camomile tea, candles, a bracelet and an elephant key ring.

Women also get a ‘Certificate of Life’ that recognises the baby they have lost.

Barrhead News: Nicola McGowan is due to give birth in MayNicola McGowan is due to give birth in May

Nicola, who is eight weeks pregnant, said: “We’ve all heard that ‘elephants never forget’ and I want people to know that their babies will never be forgotten.

“To date, we’ve handed out between 30 and 40 boxes, many of them locally, and have another 50 waiting to go into hospitals.

“We would probably have handed out more by this time if it hadn’t been for Covid.

“All the boxes are funded through donations and the community in Barrhead have been great with that.

“I had a big raffle at Christmas and a lot of local businesses took part.”

Nicola, who has lost her nine babies, including twins, through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, is trying to do more on a local and national level to make people aware of the trauma of miscarriage.

She added: “It is estimated that one in four women in the UK will have a miscarriage at some point in their life.

“Studies suggest there are around 250,000 miscarriages every year in the UK, yet there still seems to be a total silence around baby loss.

“People don’t talk about it, women and men often suffer in silence.”

Nicola has spent the last six years trying to raise awareness from her home in Barrhead, supported by 33-year-old Nikki, who is a graphic designer.

“I know how important it is to break the taboo surrounding baby loss and make it something that people aren’t ashamed to talk about,” she said.

“I remember each and every one of the babies I’ve lost.

“My mental health suffered after my losses and I didn’t know how to deal with my grief effectively.

“After all, how can you explain to someone that you’re grieving over someone who was not yet born?”

Nicola, who first miscarried in 2015 while on honeymoon in Cuba, has generated money for the boxes through crowdfunding and local fundraising initiatives.

One doctor in Argyllshire gave the campaign a major donation of £250 and received 10 boxes to distribute to hospitals in Lochgilphead and Oban.

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s ‘Back Her Business’ campaign, which supports female entrepreneurs starting new ventures, has also pledged support.

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