Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Thank goodness

For good friends and wonderful family. I don't know what I would do without you all.

So many people have gone out of their way to reach out to us and it has truly made a huge difference to know that I am not as alone as I feel sometimes.

It sounds a bit trite and like a cliché, but it's really the little things that make a difference. Everything, from messages of love and hope, to helping us with work around our house and even to the quiet word games on my phone that have kept my mind busy, all of those have helped to keep us going. Every little or big hug, every kind word and every quiet "how are you?" is a blessing.

Thank you all for reaching out to us from the bottom of our hearts, it has really meant the world in this awful time.

Monday, 26 September 2011

My heart isn't ready

Today I had my post-miscarriage check at the hospital. It's a routine check-up, just to make sure that everything that was meant to come out (tissue matter etc.) during the miscarriage has indeed come out. My worst nightmare would have been my Obstetrician telling me that I needed a D&C. 

It's not logical, but to me it felt like needing a D&C would have defeated the whole purpose of having a natural miscarriage in the first place, (for me at least) because I hated the thought of anything surgical touching what was left of my little girl inside me.I read that the likelihood of anything actually being left behind in my uterus was very low because I would have had some very serious symptoms by now if that was the case, but I don't really know what to expect anymore sometimes.

So my doctor had a look and said that my uterus looks "nice and healthy". To me the ultrasound just looked like a bunch of grey lines, but I suppose that's what the years of training are for. 

He also gave me a look and said "your body is ready". I'm gathering that he means my body is ready to conceive again. But the thing is, my heart is not ready. So where does that leave us?

Again, this isn't a logical thought, very much an emotional one, but at this point in time, planning to have a baby just feels like we would be trying to replace Pip. While intellectually I know that that can never be true, simply because Pip can never be replaced, emotionally...well try telling my heart that. 

It all gets so confusing sometimes. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Some days really suck

It's our wedding anniversary today and hubby is not here. A close friend is grieving at her father's funeral and I can't go over there to give her a hug because she lives in another state and my boss whom I love like a mother is in surgery today to have a malignant tumour removed from her face. 
 Sometimes life just really, really, really sucks. 
One good thing did happen though. The special necklace I was waiting for arrived in the mail today. 
There are two tiny crystals attached. A pink rose quartz for healing and pink for a girl and an aqua crystal symbolising Pip's due date, the birthstone for March.

The words on the back have been hand stamped.

I'm not usually a fan of jewellery, especially necklaces. But I have hardly taken this off since I got it. 

It's almost like the universe knew that I would need to have Pip just a little bit closer to my heart today. The timing was absolutely perfect. 

The website I ordered this from is: La Belle Dame

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

First block finished

So happy to have finished the first block of the quilt today! 

I spent the whole weekend working on it. I haven't quilted or done much sewing in a very long time, so I took extra care and twice as long to make sure that everything was just right.

The font for the embroidery is my own handwriting. I did think of using a typed font from my computer which would have made it a lot easier to transfer to fabric and work out with spacing, but using my own handwriting feels so much more personal. I had to fiddle with the spacing a bit and redo it twice, but I'm really pleased with the end result. 

I also underestimated the amount of thread embroidery takes, so will have to find either matching thread for the rest of the blocks, or perhaps a different coloured thread for each verse, to match each element. Not sure of that yet, the quilt is already going to be so colourful, I don't want it to be over the top.

I found the fabric for the center panel where the embroidery is years ago in Japan and loved the colours. Again another dreamy purchase for a future baby quilt. Little did I know it would be going into a memorial quilt. The peace fabric was purchased online on etsy.

The idea with the corner squares is for the end result to show just the pattern of the circle, which was fussy-cut specifically, after it's been pieced with the rest of the quilt. It's kind of hard to picture what it will all look like from my descriptions, but it looks good in my head :)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Deep peace in my heart

Today I had to go to a work thing. It was far away, I was feeling very fragile because I'd had an emotional day yesterday and the topic of the day was not a pleasant one. I was bracing myself for a difficult day ahead.

After driving for a long time, I got there, settled in and the day began. In Australia, we formally begin events with a "Welcome to Country" where usually recognition of the traditional custodians of the land is formally made. Traditionally this is done by an Aboriginal elder, but usually it is respectfully made by a representative of the people leading an event. A verbal message such as, "I acknowledge that this meeting is being held on the traditional lands of the [insert local Indigenous group's name] people" is said and the message usually goes on to respectfully acknowledge elders past and present, who are the custodians of the land on which we stand and meet today.

It's also necessary (and respectful) for the speaker who immediately follows the welcome to country to provide a response. The person leading the day's event was an Irish lady and she responded with the Gaelic blessing. It wasn't new to me, actually I'd first heard it many years ago and loved it then. But today, it was almost as if each word and each phrase became tangible and burrowed it's way into my heart. It felt like magic in the air and the words brought tears to my eyes.

I knew right then and there that I'd found the missing element that I had to add to Pip's quilt (which I didn't even know I was missing). I spent some time researching the Gaelic blessing and found a few different versions of it. In the end, I decided to go with a mish mash of several different versions.

I can't say why this blessing affected me so much. As she was reciting each phrase, it was almost as if I could feel each element reaching out and wrapping it's peace around my heart. I love how it's focused on the energies of nature and is so lovely and gentle. Plus hubby is 1/5th Irish and every bit of Irish counts, right?

This is the version of the Gaelic Blessing I decided on for Pip's quilt.

The Gaelic Blessing: Deep Peace  

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Deep peace of the light of the world to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace to you

I love the thought of sending my girl deep peace, but when this quilt is completed and I'm able to wrap myself up in it, I know it will also bring my heart deep peace.

Thank you so much Universe and Irish lady for bringing my heart your deep peace, just when I needed it.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Dear Pip

My beautiful little girl,

Daddy and I loved you from the moment we knew you were growing inside me. I miss you every single day and think about you all the time. 

What would you have looked like, would you have had daddy's gorgeous green eyes? Would you have had my curly hair? Would you have been cheeky like daddy and stubborn like mummy? Whatever you looked like or whoever you are as a person, we have so much love for you that will always and forever be yours alone. 

You were so loved, wanted and adored before you even got here. We will never stop loving you and we will never forget you. You are always in my heart, my beloved angel baby. I'm so sorry we couldn't meet here on earth. What I wouldn't give just to hold you in my arms for a moment in time. I can't wait to meet you one day at Heaven's gates.

Stay safe and play with all the other angel babies until then my love,
Love always, Mummy xxx.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

My Miscarriage

The story of my miscarriage starts at our first scan. To begin to understand how devastating this whole experience was for us, you'd have to know how we felt about our baby.

We could not wait for our first visit to the Obstetrician at 9 weeks because we were desperate to catch that first glimpse of our baby. After what felt like forever going over our medical history and details, we finally got to see our doctor and could not wait to get in the hot seat. We happily passed over our USB stick to our doctor so he could download pictures of our baby for us to share with our family and friends and for us to keep and treasure forever. My husband was standing by with his phone ready to capture a video of our baby moving and for us to swoon over the sound of her heartbeat.

Using the wand our doctor could only pick up the sac but no baby or heartbeat. I think the moment I knew something was wrong was when he mumbled to himself, "That doesn't make sense..." After a long silence and some more looking around, he started to ask questions about when my last period was and how far along the pregnancy was.

He gave me the choice of doing an internal scan or waiting for a week to see if perhaps we'd gotten our dates wrong, to come back for another scan. I wasn't crazy about the idea of an internal, but did it because that sinking feeling was growing exponentially with every passing moment. The internal found our tiny pip laying very still, still no heartbeat and no blood flow. Pip was supposed to be 9.5 weeks, but only measured the size of a 6.5 week baby.

He showed us these blue and red dots all around Pip in my body indicating bloodflow all around her in my body, but there wasn't even a single miserable dot on her :( He looked at my husband and said quietly, "I didn't take any photos" and told me I could get dressed. I dressed as fast as I could and the silence in the room was becoming quite oppressive. 

We talked about how the scan did not look good and what it could mean. It could be that we had gotten our dates wrong and weren't really 9 weeks along after all, perhaps just 6 or 7 weeks. But it could also be that our baby had stopped growing. Naturally we latched on to the first option and decided to come back in a week to check if Pip had grown. By the time we left his office, we were both wrecks. I could not stop crying and somehow we stumbled to our car and made our way home in shock.

Needless to say we were in shock for quite a while after that even as we told our close family and friends who knew. All were very supportive although some just didn't know how to react and a few said things which in my oversensitive mode, I may have been extra hurt by. That week between visits felt like the longest week of my life. I had long talks with Pip telling her a little bit about everyone who's waiting to meet her, how much we love and want her and what we'd love to show her in the world once she gets here. To help keep myself positive I put together a playlist of "happy music" on my ipod which I listened to and even visualized our next scan where she'd have a heartbeat and bloodflow and maybe be moving a little. I can't tell you how difficult it was to try to be strong in this time, but we coped the best we could.

A week later, we were back at our doctor's office. This time the wand didn't pick up anything at all. An internal picked up the sac but no baby. It appeared that Pip had left the building, so to speak. The sac itself was also measuring smaller than before and our doctor said that it appeared to already be collapsing on itself.

I don't know how I managed to stay calm enough to talk, through tears, but nonetheless remain calm enough to hold a conversation when all I really wanted to do was rage at the world. We talked about where to from here, we were given the option of a D&C but although this may sound strange, I just could not bear the thought of any surgical instrument touching what was left of my baby in my body. We did not know when my period would start again and were warned that a natural miscarriage could range from bleeding to painful cramping and heavy clotting. Our doctor talked us through what we could do and pain relief options.

I believe our miscarriage is medically known as a "missed miscarriage". Our doctor told us that there was no reason why this was happening, it wasn't because of anything we had or hadn't done. Sometimes babies grew without essential genetic material and organs don't form properly, so they don't survive. There was a very high chance that even if our pregnancy had continued, our baby may have been "incompatible with life". Don't you love medical terminology? 

I am so very thankful that our doctor was so patient, kind and compassionate with us. He was so human and gentle as he explained everything. We never felt rushed at any point and I never felt like I was dismissed or treated in a clinical way, which I know other people have felt and can't imagine how much more distressing that would be in a situation like this. He had a waiting room full of patients to see, but I will always be grateful that he gave us as much time as we needed, passed the tissue box over, said he was so sorry for our loss like he really meant it and did not charge his private consultation fee for our appointment, aside from bulk-billing the government. I will forever be grateful that my doctor was wonderful.

Although it wasn't looking good that week, I don't think a parent's heart ever stops hoping that maybe, just maybe a miracle would happen and somehow we would walk away from this with our precious baby. We had so many lovely people thinking of us and so many prayers which were very gratefully received and much appreciated. 

Four days after we saw our doctor, my period started. Five days after that my miscarriage took place. 


 ((Please be warned that the following description of my miscarriage is quite graphic and some may find the content upsetting. If you don't want to know the details, please stop reading here and just know that it was painful, upsetting and horrible.))


It started shortly before midnight. I was in agony with the cramps so took two panadols (haha) and tried to get comfortable but couldn't. When I was curled up into a tight ball in bed, I wanted to be on the toilet. When I was on the toilet I wanted to be in bed. It was almost like someone had turned on a tap in my uterus and the bleeding just went crazy and didn't stop. The cramping came in waves and the whole thing felt like a "mini-labour" even though I've never experienced childbirth myself so can't tell but that's what I think it felt like. There was nothing I could do but try to breathe through it the best I could.

I started to pass clots which grew in size to really big clots towards the end. At one point I was even throwing up at the same time but couldn't leave the toilet because I couldn't change pads fast enough. So eventually I just sat on the shower floor and rode it out. 

After a long time when it felt like the very severe cramps were getting less painful and I was able to stand up again without doubling over, I left the bathroom. I remember glancing at my face in the mirror and noting how white my lips looked. But by that point I had lost so much blood plus the heat from the shower made me feel very lightheaded. 

I almost made it into the bedroom from the bathroom but must have fainted on the dog's bed (thank god we've always had her bed outside ours from the time she was a puppy so she could be close), because one minute I had my hand turning the bedroom door's doorknob and the next I was laying on my dog's bed looking at the ceiling thinking "this is really comfortable, maybe I'll just stay here for a while..." *licks in the face from puppy* Ok maybe not... But that part was funny and I can smile about it at least. Poor girl I must have scared the crap out of her. I just don't remember how I got there. Eventually there was a break in the cramps for long enough that I managed to collapse into my bed.

I was alone that night, half by choice and half by circumstance. Hubby was away for work overseas in a trip that had been scheduled a long time prior. In a way I was very, very thankful that he wasn't around to see all of that. There's nothing worse than seeing the one you love in agony but not be able to do anything about it. 

I was so exhausted that night that I slept the sleep of the dead and woke up the next morning when my alarm told me it was time to get ready for work. I remembered looking at every clot and thinking, "Is that my baby?". I also remember my tummy looking completely flat that morning too (something I never thought i'd be sad about). 

I did go to work that day because I was feeling okay enough to do so. But mainly because I needed the routine and structure plus something to do. I was not ready then to fall apart and process the fact that my miscarriage had literally felt like my baby was being ripped out of my body. I was not ready to process the fact that my baby had well and truly gone. I was not ready to process the fact that I was officially not pregnant or expecting our first child any more.

I do remember one primary thought running through my head and that was, "I just want my baby back". I would give anything to just be able to hold my baby in my arms for a moment in time.

I know that there are people out there who experience so many other worse situations, like multiple miscarriages, or lose their baby prior to or at birth. Our baby was found still at 9 weeks and the pain that we feel at having lost her is unfathomable, I cannot imagine how very painful and devastating it would be to lose a baby at a later stage.

Whether or not someone chooses a D&C or a natural miscarriage is a completely personal choice. Knowing what I know and have experienced, I still don't know if I would have opted for a D&C. I made the choice that was right for me at the time and if you are in a situation where you are wondering what choice you should make, I would suggest talking to your doctor (if your doctor is not kind and supportive like mine was, please, please get a second opinion if you can, there are great medical professionals out there who would love to help you) and choosing what feels right in your heart. No one can make that choice for you but yourself and whatever you decide will be the right thing because you can only do the best you can in any given situation with the resources you have at that given moment.

Again, I'd like to say that if you can relate to any of my story in your own journey, or in the journey of someone you know and love, I am so very sorry for your loss.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


While waiting for the fabrics to arrive, I'm wondering how I'm going to make this quilt work. The primary fabric will be the apples with the pips, but each one I have chosen has a special meaning and I want them all to have their place in it without looking like a psychadelic mess.

I'm also thinking about what the quilt top will look like as a whole. I do like patchwork, but I want to do more than just machine
piecing. The plan is for it to be hand quilted, but that's jumping ahead a bit. So handwork may mean a bit of hand applique in the quilt top perhaps.

I like that idea. The most obvious choice is a heart-shaped applique pattern on a block. But that doesn't seem enough. A heart for love, so maybe a heart with wings for love lost?
That could work. I like the look of this little doodle, maybe for the quilt it will need to be a bit longer, depending on the size of the blocks. Maybe some stars too, for hope.

I don't want to go too crazy with the patchwork because the fabrics have so much character. I think I will stick with a simple nine patch design around the appliqued blocks. Perhaps a border or two after that, depending on the size it already is and that should give me a lap sized quilt at the very least.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

1st piece

When my baby died while she was meant to be growing inside my body, it felt like a piece of my heart died with her. Some days it felt like every cell in my body was bursting with pain. The more time passed, the more the shock wore off and the more that pain grew. I knew that I had to do something to help myself process this grief that is so very raw.

I'm a quilter. Or I was a quilter. I'd made a couple of quilts, all for family and friends, but somehow had never made one to keep for myself. I'm an artist, I dabble with different medias but have never really followed one path long enough to call myself anything in particular. I'm also a doer and a maker. When I'm bored, I find stuff to do (my husband calls this "looking for trouble"). When I feel restless, I make stuff.

And so as I waited for my miscarriage to happen, I toyed with the idea of making a quilt for Pip. The idea of pouring all my love and energy into making something beautiful to honour her memory was very appealing.

With that in mind, I started browsing etsy
to see what I could find and before the day was over, this maybe quilt has already started to form a life of it's own. The only thing I started off with was apples, because Pip is so named because she was the size of an apple pip when our pregnancy was confirmed with a bloodtest. I wanted to find a fabric that had apple pips on it and found this one straight away!

Then I started looking for love and found this...

It's a bonus that it has peace too, because that's also one of my wishes for Pip.

Coincidentally both of those have pink and aqua in them which are so appropriate because we felt that Pip was a girl right from the start, so pink for a little girl and aqua because her birth stone would have been Aqua (estimated due date was March 23rd 2012). Red for love and a touch of yellow for hope which I'll hopefully find before too long. The only one I couldn't find was something that symbolised angels.

They're all quite "busy" fabrics, so I will somehow have to find a way to balance them out with more soothing fabrics, but it's a start.

I ordered them wishing that I was buying them for a baby quilt of a different kind. From the time I started quilting, I started hoarding fabric that I loved and had to have. So I have a stockpile of different pieces of fabric, each one picked specifically for a quilt I had in mind. Even though I wasn't ready to make my own baby quilt back then, I did have my weak moments where I caved and put away a special piece of fabric for the day when I would start to make my baby his or her own special quilt. It breaks my heart that this quilt will be a memorial quilt. It feels so wrong that my first baby quilt for myself it isn't going to wrap my baby up in love. When it's finished there will be no special little person for it to belong to. Instead it will be the very first quilt I have made to keep for myself.

Nonetheless, I am really looking forward to receiving the fabrics in the mail and making a start. My plan is to handquilt it once I've finished putting the quilt top together, which will take me forever, but that's not the point. As Mel said in her blog, this quilt will be my labour of love. I only wish that I was making a baby quilt and not a memorial quilt. But every quilt has a story and so the story of Pip's quilt begins.