Saturday, 23 June 2012

A Rainbow Baby

I think I'm finally starting to allow myself to accept that maybe this baby will make it. 

It struck me at a random moment today that when I was pregnant with Pip, I used to sing "You are my sunshine" to her. I don't know why that song or when I really even started, I just know that in that final week of doom right before we received confirmation that she was indeed dead, I sang it over and over to my belly, almost imploring her to stay with me. You'll never know dear how much I love you, so please don't take my sunshine away... little did I know that she was already gone.

With this baby, whom we've affectionally started calling "jellybean" or bean for short, I caught myself singing "Somewhere over the rainbow". Again it wasn't a conscious choice. Just something that sort of happened before I realised I was doing it. It seems a fitting song for a rainbow baby, maybe, hopefully... Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true...

The past 3 weeks have been difficult. My pregnancy sickness (I refuse to call it morning sickness because it's not just in the mornings!) has gotten steadily worse. It wasn't just the nausea. I hate it when people say "just" the nausea as if that's something that's so easy to cope with. It's that awful feeling that sits low in your belly and just keeps building all day. I was vomitting acid once on a good day and about 3-4 times on a bad day at the start. Towards the end I was vomiting up to 12 times a day even when I didn't think I had anything left to bring up. There was the heartburn, the acid reflux and worst of all was how my mouth would produce a ton of saliva. Constantly! It was really gross and I hated that the most. 

I was also loosing weight as the weeks went on and eventually it all came to a head on Tuesday when I couldn't keep anything down at all. Not even the water I was drinking to try to stay hydrated. So finally we headed to the hospital and my doctor admitted me that night. For the next 2 nights and a bit I was on a continuous IV with anti emetics administered through the IV. My diagnosis was "Hyperemesis Gravidarum". I hope that most people won't ever have to know what that term means, because it's a really bad feeling. Trust me. 

I was finally able to come home yesterday with a bag full of anti nausea medication my doctor assured me is safe for the baby. My right hand was so swollen that my knuckles weren't clearly visible and I couldn't touch my forearm without pain. That was the hand that they used mostly for the IV, they only swapped to the left hand early the morning I was discharged. I was told that I had "baby veins" which were hard to find, so in the end on the night I was admitted they had to call in an Anesthetist to find a vein so that they could start the IV.

I'm not complaining. I would happily go through much worse if it would mean having a healthy baby. I am so grateful for this baby that I would never wish any of this away, but I think one can be grateful and also feel like utter rubbish at the same time. 

My biggest worry through all of this was whether my baby was alright. The next morning after I was admitted I was wheeled down to the ultrasound room. I told the nurse I could walk but he was horrified and told me he'd loose his job if they saw me walking. He seemed like a nice guy and I didn't want him to loose his job, so I sat and he wheeled. Again I had to have the dildo-cam (transvaginal ultrasound). I hate those things so much because they always hurt me. I always ask if I can insert them but they always want to do it and it isn't until I'm gritting my teeth and crawling up the bed to get away from it with tears running down my face that they look over and say "Huh...this is really hurting you!" No shit Sherlock. What do you think I was trying to tell you?

Thankfully I had a doctor who was human this time. I love that in my hospital ob/gyns do the scans not technicians. She allowed me to insert it and was nervously watching, "Please don't drop it". "Don't worry I've got a good hold on it". Within minutes bean's sac popped up on the screen. 

For one utterly bone chilling moment it looked exactly like we had an empty sac. I tried not to freak out, but old fears are hard to release, especially in the same environment that they occurred in. But sat there repeating the mantra I had been saying in my head from the time I was wheeled down from my room, "Please be alive", "Please be alive", "Please be alive"...

The doctor didn't seem concerned and was doing measurements. Then finally she zoomed in and there was our little bean. I actually saw bean move and just like that all my worries were gone. My baby is alive! She poked around a bit more and did some more measurements. Finally she pressed a button and I could hear bean's little heart galloping away. 169 beats per minute! It was the sweetest sound I'd heard. I don't know whether it's the hormones or the fact that I never got to hear Pip's heartbeat, but hearing Bean's heartbeat is so emotional and I could feel the tears running down my face. The doctor gave me a funny look but didn't say anything. She was probably used to hormonal women bawling at the sight of their babies.

And just like that all was well with my world. My baby is alive! Swimming around happily and floating upside down in there. My husband joked that the reason I was probably feeling so sick was because bean was doing summersaults in there. 9 weeks old and already so energetic. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come? 

Hubby couldn't be with me during that scan as he was at work, but later when he was visiting during lunch, the nurse came around with a doppler to check the heartbeat again. It took her a while to find it, but I won't ever forget the priceless look on my husband's face the moment she found it and the sound of bean's racing heart filled the room. 

Gradually I am slowly starting to believe that maybe, just maybe this one might make it. I still speak in "if's". "If the baby makes it..." I still am very well aware that there are no guarantees and that everything can go to hell in a handbasket in an instant. But for now, there is a small measure of peace. My baby is alive. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

Right where I am 2012: 8 months 3 weeks and 3 days.

8 months, 3 weeks and 3 days ago our baby left my body in a missed miscarriage. That is the exact moment my life divided into a "before" and "after". BP - Before Pip and AP - after Pip. 

Before Pip, I was so incredibly excited to be an expectant mum. I was naive and so innocent about the miracle of life. I don't think I took it for granted, but not knowing the million and twelve things that could go wrong makes one drift through pregnancy on the hazy cloud of bliss. After Pip, every day is a miracle. A very scary miracle that I am well aware could be snatched away at any time. 

Before Pip, my life hadn't been without it's challenges. But After Pip, all of those experiences paled somewhat in comparison. Before Pip, I was secure in the knowledge that I was surrounded by family and friends who loved and supported me. After Pip, I am anchored in that love and support. Yes, there have been people who have drifted away, people who did not know how to act or what to say and so said stupid things and acted in a hurtful way, but for every person I lost, I feel that I have gained at least 2 new friends who humble me with their gentle compassion and quiet support. I am still meeting new friends everyday, other women, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, fathers and husbands who are trying to make sense of things the same way I did at the very start. The people I meet who are further along their journey give me hope and the assurance that yes life continues and no, your heart never forgets. Then there are those who have endured multiple losses. What you have survived and healed from seems nothing short of miraculous to me. One baby dying was horrible enough, I cannot imagine how heart breaking and horrible it would be to experience that loss again and again and again. Your strength and courage humble me. 

8 months, 3 weeks and 3 days ago I had no idea how I would survive this. The pain was so big. It felt so much bigger than me. It was oppressive, it was overwhelming and I couldn't look past it to see a future that could ever have happiness in it in the same way. And I was right. In a way happiness isn't the same. I don't think it will ever be the same again. But happiness is there and it does exist. Slowly, slowly the little things that used to make me happy are making me happy again. The laugh my husband loves has returned. There may be fewer tears and now I can think of my girl, say hello, I love you and I can say thank you for giving me the opportunity to have been your mummy for those short weeks. 

For reasons that we will never know, our Pip stopped growing in-utero at 6 weeks and 5 days. My doctor said that there was no reason. Sometimes these things just happen. There may be no reason, but I want a reason. I need a reason. Why did this happen? What did I do? Or what did I not do right? How can I make sure this never happens again if I don't know what to avoid or what to do? 

Right now it's especially frightening as we recently found out that we are expecting baby #2. Some people probably think I'm crazy for saying that, you know - as if we have a baby #1! Those people don't understand that I will always have a baby #1 and nothing can ever change that. No matter how many children we have or don't have from here, I will always be Pip's mummy and she will always be my first baby, just as this baby will always be my second. If they can't see that, then they are the ones who are not seeing clearly.

My cycles have always been irregular but are mostly around a 26 day cycle mark. That means that I could even be 7 weeks and 3 days along today. For a traditional 28 day cycle, it would mean that I would be 6 weeks and 3 days along today. We won't know for sure how far along we are until we have our first scan, so we're falling onto the 6 weeks and 3 days mark until we know better. 

Here we are in a new country, trying to make a new life in a foreign land. I didn't dream that we would fall pregnant again this quickly. I am overjoyed and I am terrified at he same time. I was lucky enough to find a good ob/gyn who was recommended by a friend. But still the trauma and horror of loosing one baby has never truly gone away. When my new doctor asked about Pip, I cried. Which is silly because I knew she would have to know and that she would ask. I was prepared enough to bring a copy of my medical notes from my GP. In the pile is a note sent by my previous ob/gyn to my GP back home stating that I had a "non viable intra uterine pregnancy. She (i.e me) prefers to wait for spontaneous resolution and has chosen not to have a D&C". I cried when I talked about my baby because to me she wasn't a non viable intra uterine pregnancy. She was my baby. She was a little person with organs, tiny hands and feet and a little heart. I cried and they were not gentle, graceful, delicate tears. It was the ugly cry that makes it impossible to speak past the sobs, the ugly cry that makes you sound like you're suffocating and the ugly cry that you never ever want to cry in front of another person. It was not one of my best moments. But my doctor listened, passed the tissues and told me that she can relate, as she herself had experienced two miscarriages. I was in the company of a kindred spirit. Thank you universe for bringing us together. 

I am mostly okay now, but I have never forgotten. I am blessed to see my baby everywhere. Some people call their babies angels, I do sometimes and sometimes I don't. I can see how she might be an angel now, but I can also see that maybe she's just who she always has been. I don't need a concrete definition to love and hold my baby in my heart. Whenever I see things that have an apple design, especially apples with little pips in them my heart smiles. Whenever I see anything about angel babies, I remember and I send a prayer of peace upwards. The other day I was in an accessories shop, just one of those generic shops that sell necklaces, earrings and other bits and bobs. I found a little leather bracelet with silver charms hanging of it. Each silver charm said either "Peace" or "Dream". My mind immediately thought of my little Pip. I hope she is at peace and I can now dream of a future. I bought the bracelet because it made me smile. Right there in that shop I said hello to my little girl, thank you and I hope you're at peace now. I love you and I blew her a little kiss. 

6 weeks and 3 days is a terrifying time right now because our first baby died at 6 weeks and 5 days. I haven't stopped hoping and praying that this little one will beat the odds and keep growing past the 6 weeks and 5 day mark. Please keep growing way past that mark. 

My heart is in two places. I have definitely come to terms with our loss and mostly I feel peace and hope now where there was pain and hopelessness before. But I also feel like I'm just a step away from hearing those dreadful words again. "I'm sorry there's no heartbeat". Where most people happily announce their pregnancies to the world at 12 weeks, I know that we probably won't until at least 20 weeks, if we even do at all. After the NT scan and after we know that signs are pointing towards a healthy and growing baby, maybe. Even then, knowing so many families whose beautiful babies have died at 22 weeks, 26 weeks, 34 weeks, 38 weeks and even at 40 weeks, I know that there won't be any real guarantee until my baby is in my arms. Happy, healthy and alive. And even then, is that even a guarantee that you're past the "danger" mark? 

For now we're going back to the basics and breaking it down to small pieces. For now all we're focusing on at our scan is a baby who is alive. Please God let our baby be alive. 

This is life at 8 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. My words don't sound very happy and cheery for that I'm sorry, perhaps I haven't spoken of the good moments enough but there are other posts on this blog which do that. What have I learned? I have learned that hope does exist. Tomorrow can and may be a brighter day, but it may also be a horribly shitty day. I have learned that there are no guarantees in life. I have learned to live in every moment and to have hope for the future, but to also make allowances for when everything goes to hell. Life can and will get better, but I have learned right where I am that peace and hope are possible. For today, that is enough. 

Angie at still life with circles started this blogging project called "Right where I am". She wrote a post last year and this year at the same time, she reflects on what is different and where she is now. Last year at this time I had no idea what I was in for and I didn't know that this baby loss community even existed. This year, I'm glad to be a part of the project. I am so grateful every single day for this community and for the love and support I have found in your words, your stories and your generous hearts.