Miscarrying then becoming a parent

I MISCARRIED before I became a parent. As much as I was aware of how common and “normal” it is, there still is so much taboo and uneasiness around talking about it.

The grief you experience is just horrendous. You know that it’s not your fault but it was something that seriously traumatised me. I felt weak for not being able to get over something that happens to so many women but it was without doubt the most traumatic thing I’ve ever experienced.

I also didn’t know anything about it. I thought I was going to die. There’s this awkwardness about talking about it. It’s just so hard. When a person dies there are memories and stories to relate to and which can comfort you. But when it’s a miscarriage it’s really only you that’s had these wee stories in their head. It’s just you that knows your baby – partly because so often we’re encouraged not to share being pregnant in that first three months, which is when people need help the most.

So if a miscarriage happens during those first few months it’s so hard to tell people because you first have to explain that you were pregnant in the first place. It is such a trauma but it’s one that you often have to face almost entirely on your own. It’s grief you don’t really get to share. And being a performer it can be really difficult to put on a front and pretend you’re OK. I lost a lot of confidence.

It affected my marriage in that it took me so long to get over it. Having my daughter helped but you never get over it, I guess. It becomes part of you.

When my daughter was born it was something I just wasn’t prepared for. I thought I knew all about how much love I was capable of feeling but when she was born I realised I really didn’t. It was just out of this world. I’m now on this magical journey with all the beautiful and terrifying and precious things that entails. But nothing else truly matters.

There was also this constant feeling that I wasn’t old enough or adult enough to be a parent which led to the wonderful realisation that my parents – all parents – are winging it.

2 Irn-Bru changing their recipe

The National: File photo dated 09/09/11 of Mark Jephcott with bottles of Irn Bru as maker  AG Barr shrugged off the freezing start to the year and intense competition to report market-beating sales growth. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday May 28, 2013. See

WHEN they changed the recipe to Irn-Bru, from that day on my hangovers became totally unbearable.

No matter where I was in the world, I’d either have a place where I knew I could get it or I’d have a stash at home. When I lived in China, I had cans from Russia sent over. When I lived in France, there were three pubs in Paris that sold it so I’d always stock up any time I was in Paris. And then they changed the recipe.

Now, I basically can’t drink. The hangovers make it not worth it. And it’s Irn-Bru’s fault.

3 Five-string fiddle

I HAD a dream years ago that I played one but I thought I’d totally imagined the existence of this instrument. And then I found a photograph of me with someone in Denmark from when I was abut 17 holding a five-string fiddle and I remembered I’d been talking to them about it. So this imagined instrument was real and I just knew I wanted one.

So I ordered one from a guy called Tim Phillips in Wales who makes them and then spent the next year in tears as I had no idea how to play it and was wondering what I’d done. I’ve been playing the fiddle since I was 13 but it’s a whole different instrument. However, after that year I fell in love with it and named her Astrid.

During lockdown a roll of carpet fell on it and I honestly felt like one of my limbs had been pulled off. I always thought when I heard musicians saying that, that it was such a lot of bollocks but I understand now.

Happily Tim was able to fix it and his daughter was able to do more artwork on it to cover the scars.

Musically, because it’s a different sound with the low, bassy C-string, I am able to do so many different things and that influences the sound of the band.

4 Yoga

I’VE never been into sports or exercise, I’m not competitive. But yoga became something that honestly saved my life when I was at my lowest.

The main reason I do it is because somebody tells you to lie down and sleep for the last 10 minutes!

It was so helpful to have a focus. So for this half an hour or 40 minutes someone tells you what to do. As a self-employed creative and single parent it was just a revelation that I didn’t have to think about anything while I was doing yoga. Someone would tell me “do this, do that”, all the other stuff would have to wait.

Realising that yoga could give me that time out was just beautiful. And I was for the first time in my life using my body and celebrating what my body could do.

Now, if I don’t do yoga for a day or two I can sense the change in my mood.

I was so inspired by yoga and it impacted me so much that I thought

to myself “I want to teach this to children”.

I was in my late 20s when I discovered yoga and I realised that if I’d known how to do this all those years ago then I might have turned out differently.

So I did a course in it and now I go around nurseries and primary schools and teach the wee ones so that they can do it when they’re tiny and use it all through their lives.

5 Heartache

THERE’S nothing like it. It is just the worst pain in the world. Whether it’s romantic heartache or seeing someone you love being sad or missing someone, it’s just an unbearable, overwhelming kick in the sternum that you just don’t think you’ll get over but you do. You just always do.

You grow so much from it, you learn so much from it but you just cannot see past it at the time. But for me, looking back on all the heartache I’ve ever experienced, you think “well, I survived that”.

It happens, it’s part of life and it’s good to remember how bad it was and to learn from it. Whether that’s making sure you spend time with the right people while you can or not making the same mistakes again.

For me, heartache is one of the things that has given me strength rather than the desperation I felt at the time.

6 Binning social media

GETTING rid of social media has been such a revelation. I look up more, I look at photographs more, I study artworks and I talk to people. I watch my fire all the time. Just sitting watching the flames dancing.

I also have a lot more patience with people and I just live so much more in the moment.

I don’t have as many opinions around me, I don’t tap into people’s anxieties. It’s also made me embrace the life I have. I haven’t been sucked into fear or worry because I’m genuinely staying clear of so much superfluous information.

I don’t miss it in any way, shape or form. I think everyone should at least give it a go.

7 Climbing Ben Nevis

The National:

I’VE always been lucky with my metabolism but I’ve never exercised. And then I climbed Ben Nevis, not realising what a challenge it would be and how damn hard it was. Now, I didn’t love it but I didn’t die.

So now it’s become a benchmark for me. If ever I have a challenge of any sort, I think to myself “well, you’ve done that so you can do this”.

I hated going up but I loved coming back down. I’ve done it three times now and that feeling you get when coming dows is so special. It’s just pure freedom and adrenaline, knowing you can fall at any minute but the feeling of the wind and the sun is just sublime.

8 Leaving Glasgow and returning

I AM a born and bred Glasgwegian but all through my teenage years I was desperate to spread my wings and go everywhere else in the world.

I was lucky in that I did get to live all over but I did start to realise that when I spoke to people abroad about Glasgow there was this real sense of pride.

Then I came back and I didn’t expect to settle in Glasgow but I did. It took me a wee while but once I got over the shock of being back then I started to realise I didn’t want to live anywhere else.

Glasgow is just so small in comparison with other major cities but there’s such a beautiful wee world in the city.

There’s always been a brilliant music scene in Glasgow – it’s always been a hub of culture.

All the reasons I used to love London, the anonymity and things are all the reasons I hate it now. I love that in Glasgow you can barely walk past someone without having a conversation. And there’s always someone who knows someone who knows you. There are so many sides to this city and then there’s the fact that within 20 minutes you can be in the most beautiful countryside. It’s just dynamite.

9 Knocking my teeth out

I LOST my front teeth in a Vespa accident and it changed my life. I had always been terrified of the dentist and that had to change as I was in there every day for weeks trying to salvage my teeth.

Now I can’t eat corn on the cobs or apples, which I loved. We had corn on the cobs at my wedding and my husband had to bite the corn off and spit it into my hand!

I’m always so conscious of my teeth and fearful they’ll fall out but they never have.

10 Kinnaris Quintet

The National: <Headline>

BEFORE starting the band I was always playing the fiddle but nobody, apart from in the Irish scene, really knew who I was.

Starting the band allowed me to forge my own way of creating, instead of doing other people’s stuff. With that came a responsibility to my bandmates as it wasn’t just myself, we were all really invested in it. And it all happened so quickly. We really didn’t expect it to be as successful as it’s become.

We were so surprised at how people reacted to the band and at the bookings we got. It’s definitely changed my life completely. This is now the main thing that I do. I’m always super grateful that I’m able to do it.

It’s allowed me to be able to do what I want to do.

Kinnaris Quintet play St Luke’s on Friday at 7:30pm as part of Celtic Connections. Their second album, This Too, will be released later in 2022.