“There’s a house inside my mummy
Where my little brother grows,
or maybe it’s my little sister
No one really knows
My Daddy says I lived there too
When I was being made,
But I don’t remember very much
About it, I’m afraid”
(Excerpt from “There’s a house inside my mummy”)
Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Sometimes a voice in your head tells you it’s coming even before it’s possible to really know that it is. Sometimes you ignore that voice because you’re not entirely sure you’re ready to hear what it’s saying. But that ball is still soaring through the air headed straight for you. And then it hits.
I could tell you about the doubts, the weighing of options or the long talks. I could tell you about the pure exhaustion and the gut wrenching fear. I could tell you about the paranoia, the chaos or the loneliness. The physical pains, the weight of growing yet another life in an ageing body.
But I’ll tell you about the unconditional love. The quiet excitement, the humble joy I feel for this growing baby. The pride I decide to carry this rounded body with. How i look forward to birthing, to meeting this beautiful, brand new person, to our first touch. But first to cherish these weeks and months ahead. The very last. An unexpected surprise.
Made from love, born into love.
Baby, you are wanted.
It’s taken ages to write the story of our wedding, but here it is. Better late than never.
Saturday December 13th, 2014, I married the love of my life. The story of the wedding however begins the Wednesday before. (Ok, sort of on Tuesday when i got my wedding dress and it wasn’t exactly the dress I had custom ordered, but that’s a minor detail in the whole matter.)
As some of you know 2014 wasn’t exactly the year for us. It was the year the kept kicking. But we kept getting back up. I tend to joke that we do things to the extreme, I guess the wedding was yet another example of that. Sort of. It’s a long story.
Wednesday before the wedding our son spent the day with two of his grandparents at the aquarium celebrating his birthday as they wouldn’t be here by the time his birthday rolled around. I can’t remember exactly what the rest of us were doing, but it probably had something to do with wedding preparations. We had takeaway Thai food for dinner. That evening I remember commenting on how I thought Anakin seemed a bit hot. Not feverish hot, just a tad off. The evening rolled on, Anakin was asleep and I went to bed. I must have had about half an hour to an hour sleep before waking back up. My mummy radar sensed something was off. Anakin was restless and kept swallowing. He felt a bit hot still, but it was the constant swallowing that worried me. Unable to go back to sleep I stayed awake to monitor him. Then at 12.30 am all gastro hell broke loose. (We had no idea that was what we were dealing with at the time.)
Anakin woke up with a scream and started vomiting all over the bed. I woke my partner (yes, partner, not husband yet) up and told him to go get a towel. He jumped up still half asleep and ran out of the room. We keep the towels in a closet in the hallway right outside our bedroom but for some reason it was taking him a while to come back with anything. In the meantime I was trying to calm Anakin down and keep the vomit from going absolutely everywhere. Poor Anakin was frantic and panicking. My partner finally came back wearing plastic gloves and handed me two wet wipes. Yep, two wet wipes. He scampered back out of the room and finally got a towel. Sleepy brains don’t make sense. 🙂
We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and reassured him that everything was ok and went back to bed. I still couldn’t go back to sleep so I kept monitoring Anakin. About half an hour must have passed before he woke with another scream and started vomiting again. We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and went back to bed again. Another half hour or hour passed before the same thing happened again. Anakin freaked out and I held him while my partner ran around frantically trying to find more towels and sheets. When he came back to the room both Anakin and I were covered in vomit as I had Anakin on my lap and he has just vomited in my hair and down my back as well as pretty much everywhere else. I had vomit in places I have never had vomit before. The same thing happened two more times and by that stage we had run out of sheets and our bed was covered in towels. Around 4.30 in the morning everyone fell back asleep.
Thursday Anakin was still sick and upon having an icy pole, which was the only thing we could get him to eat, vomited on me again. By this stage it had started coming out his other end as well.
Friday was the day we were supposed to get the venue ready. I was directing everything from home. Being 8 months pregnant and having a bad case of pubic symphysis dysfunction and pelvic girdle pain, I decided it was better for me to organise things from there. I got up, had breakfast and a shower and as soon as I got out I vomited. Uh-oh. I thought it was probably just pregnancy and stress related and got ready. The house was buzzing with people coming and going. Our friend and wedding cake maker was putting the final touches on the cake. I was drawing out a floor plan showing where the various decorations would go and feeling increasingly crap. I tried to eat some dry crackers and found it hard to focus on everything going on. Anakin was at home with me, he’d stopped vomiting but still had it coming out the other end and the day was getting closer to nap time. While going through what was going to happen the next day with our toastmaster I started getting worse. It was becoming clear that whatever Anakin had I had too. At this stage I was feeling fairly horrid. Everyone eventually left and I got ready to put Anakin to bed with me. I could no longer drink or eat anything without vomiting. For every sip I had three times that would come back up. Anakin fell asleep and I laid in bed trying to have small sips of water only to have to run to the bathroom a few minutes later. I messaged my partner and told him what was up. Around 3pm I was feeling so bad I decided it might be a good idea to call my midwife. She told me that it was important that I kept fluids down as dehydration could be dangerous to both me and the baby and could induce labour. Unless I could hold fluids down by 5pm I would need to go to hospital. My partner came home with hydralyte for me to drink which made me vomit even more. I could barely stand up. Our cake baker came down with gastro too as soon as he delivered the cake to the venue and was flat out in bed between trips to the bathroom. 5pm rolled around and it was clear that I needed to go to the hospital.
At the hospital they checked my blood pressure and pulse. My pulse was racing, I was dizzy and I felt like drinking the entire content of a pool. I was quickly put in isolation and given fluids through an IV. I was also hooked up to monitors and told to keep trying to drink and to buzz every time I had to go to the bathroom. (Let me just say it’s not ideal to have to wait for someone to unhook you when you’ve got gastro and time is of the essence, but I somehow managed.) One bag of fluids later and I thought I was getting better. I was thirsty as hell and couldn’t have enough to drink. “You’ll be home in no time after these fluids.” Everyone knew we were getting married in the morning and that getting well was of utmost importance. Then I started vomiting again. A lot. Two more bags of fluids later and I was still there. We got a message that my father in law had also fallen to gastro. Then my mother in law.
I was then told I couldn’t leave until I could hold my fluids and that baby had tachycardia and they needed her heart rate to stabilise. My partner and I were both thinking the same thing, but none of us said anything. We both knew that unless I got better and unless baby settled we wouldnt’ just have to get married in the hospital but we’d most likely have a premature baby by the morning. Somehow through all this we managed to keep our cool. We talked about what to do if I wasn’t released and made back up plans. I was still vomiting and things were still coming out the other end.
Later I was transferred to the birth ward. You can’t stay more than 4 hours in emergency apparently. I was put in isolation in a room that was rarely used and that had the most uncomfortable bed you can imagine. I decided to send my partner home so that he could get some sleep and so that our son would wake up with him there. We had to leave abruptly and I didn’t tell him what was going on. This way at least one of us would have a semi clear head the next day. Our plan at this stage was for me to be released at 7am, go home to sleep, get ready and get married. (We somehow thought a 7am release was possible. Of course it’s not because you have to see a doctor first.) But I was still sick and baby was still not doing well. I was no longer allowed to drink anything but could have ice cubes and I kept having crazy, intense Braxton hicks contractions at regular intervals.
Some time after my partner left I was taken off the IV. I was given a brief of what needed to happen before they would release me. I realised that it wasn’t looking very good. Around 1.30am I managed to stop vomiting. The rest of the night was a battle between mind and body, and I was swallowing like you’ve never seen anyone swallow before. Baby’s heart rate started to settle and I somehow managed to get an hour sleep in the worst bed of all time.
Morning rolled around and I was waiting to see a doctor. When you don’t eat or drink your body starts eating your reserves and the doctor explained that this needed to stop before I could go and I also needed to be able to keep food and drink down. I was more nauseous than you can imagine butI tried to eat something. I was also dead tired from not having slept and looked like hell on wobbly legs. After that it was a waiting game. My partner and son came to see me. They told me my mom had started vomiting too.
And so we waited. I called on the midwives explaining that I needed to leave, I was getting married in 4 hours… then 3 hours… Stress was adding to it all. I needed to shower and get ready! Eventually we were seen by the same midwife who received us and who then arranged for my release after more medication to help with the nausea.
The only reason they were letting me go was because I was about the get married. It was 11.30 and the ceremony started at 2pm. I left with an army of prescriptions to stop anything from coming out either end and with promises that if I got worse I would have to come back. We got home, I showered and got ready. I felt like death. Our friend, and baker, was still in bed. We couldn’t serve the cake, but had thankfully ordered cupcakes to supplement the cake anyway. My in-laws were still battling gastro on their end, but my mom was somehow holding it together.
We somehow managed to get to the venue by 2pm and by 3 we were husband and wife.
We got married under a big tree showered in spots of sunshine surrounded by people we love from near and far. The ceremony was everything we wanted it to be, light-hearted, full of laughter and most of all, a reflection of our love. It was important for us to include Anakin in it all so Anakin got his own ring and got “married” too.
Besides the fact that we had the worst lead up we had an amazing day. How I managed to stay on my feet is beyond me. We sectioned off bathrooms for those of us who were sick and tried not to shake too many hands and in the end had a magnificent day. Looking at the photos there is no way you can tell the mayhem that went on before, the lack of sleep or the hospital stay. My husband gave the most romantic speech which culminated in him telling me how beautiful I am even when I am naked and covered vomit. You can’t beat love like that. I never got to give a speech because I was too busy trying not to vomit (which would have sent me back to hospital), but I will one day. One day I will give him the speech he deserves.
By 8.30pm I was dead on my feet and went home.
In the end I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life. I wish I wasn’t so tired or so sick, but none of that mattered. The smiles you see say it all.
And I somehow managed to still get up with Anakin the next day after yet another night of broken sleep. (This time due to kicking baby and a celebratory husband and houseguest, but in the scheme of things, I’d rather be woken up by baby kicks and song than by vomit any day.)
I’ll leave you with the gallery 🙂 (click on an image to enter the gallery.)
30 weeks – a belly series.
Our littlest love, who sleeps in my belly, wakes with a stretch and a kick (or ten). A little astronaut floating in her bubble, waiting and listening to muffled voices to the constant beat of my heart. Love unseen growing bigger every day, here in my belly house.
Our littlest love, grow bigger and stronger in there,
in my belly house.
A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.
Anakin: In a few short months you’ll no longer be the baby, but a big brother. A big boy, about to turn three and about to have your life turned upside down by the arrival of your little sister. I don’t think you quite get what it involves, but your affection for the baby bump makes my heart explode. I get your apprehension, I’m a bit apprehensive too, but we’ll do fine. We’ll do better than fine. I have no doubt you’ll make the very best big brother.
It’s been a turbulent time with big emotions for a little person. For us all really. So many things happening at once; my partner finally returning, wedding preparations, baby preparations, birthday talk and getting ready for two months of overseas visitors. It’s a lot to take on for someone not quite three, it’s a lot to take on for me too. I’m finding myself pulled closer as Anakin has become terrified that I will leave him, even for an hour or two. I’m also receiving a lot of anger and confusion in response to everything going on. It’s becoming clearer to me how carefully we need to navigate the next few months ahead, always making sure that number one stays, and feels like, number one. Keeping routines, slowing down, not taking on too much. And most importantly, never, not even for a second, let Anakin feel as if he is being set aside from us, from me in particular. He is so protective of me these days, perhaps aware in some sense that soon he’ll have to share. After my partner was away it has become even more important for him to know that we are here, that I am here, to take care of him. So whatever is going to happen over the next few months, this is my main focus.
At 28 weeks I get easily tired. Without a rest when Anakin naps I’m not worth a dime come three o’clock. Sleep is broken and allusive, but despite the general forgetfulness and pregnancy brain, I am feeling great and still thankful for the time we have left as just three. I too am finding myself overwhelmed by everything about to happen, perhaps even a bit scared. Scared that I won’t be prepared to be the mother of two, that I’ll be too tired from everything happening before the birth, that there will be no break between visits and birth, that she’ll come early, that she’ll come while we’re away and so on. These kinds of thoughts race through my mind more often these days and I occasionally struggle to keep them in line. I just have to remind myself to keep breathing and that whatever happens I’ll be able to manage. Learning hypnobirthing is really helping as I find I can calm myself quickly if I remind myself just to breathe slow and breathe deep.
As chaotic as our lives will be it will also be a wonderful time shared with family and friends. It may all happen at once, but they’re all good things, the best things. Wedding, birthday, baby… bring it.
There is a strange shift in respect and boundaries as soon as a woman becomes pregnant or at least as soon as she looks pregnant. I would go as far as saying there’s an outright disrespect of the pregnant woman and her body happening and it seems to just be the norm. Personal space vanishes and you become fair game because there’s another human growing inside you. Comments, groping, nothing is sacred. Sound like it doesn’t make sense? It doesn’t.
“Oh my, you’re huge!” “You’re so big!” “You look about ready to pop! Any day now?” “Twins?” “Must be a big baby!”
Everyone’s a bloody expert on your size and the general consensus is that you’re either way too big or way too small for wherever you are in the land of gestation. You’re rarely ‘just right’. And women seem to be the ones leading this field of so-called “expertise”, probably because they’ve either been pregnant themselves or simply because they’re women. If it sounds like I’m irritated it’s because I am. In fact, I’m pissed off.
During my first pregnancy I had just gotten to a place with my body image where I was comfortable in my own skin. Years of being told that I was too skinny, had too small boobs, had this or that wrong with me was finally starting to wear off largely because I was with a man who never, not once, made me feel as if I looked anything other than just right, he even made me feel beautiful and comfortable naked. That is no small feat after years of being told the opposite.
When we excitedly expected our first baby and morning sickness came to visit I was worried about my weight, but we didn’t own scales so it wasn’t until 12 weeks that I was weighed and found out I was 47 kgs. I freaked out. No one told me there was a problem, but in my head all those “too skinny”, “anorexic” ghosts came back in a big way. So I started eating. A lot. It didn’t help that the first 20 weeks were filled with fortnightly check ups to make sure my cervix was holding (it was very short) and I felt alone, shit scared and depressed. I was studying and so my days were largely spent at home, shuffling between the kitchen and the computer. We still didn’t own scales so there was no way for me to track my weight except through my Wii fit who promptly told me I was becoming overweight because there is no pregnancy setting on the damn thing. Needless to say I stopped using that. Being of a very tiny frame in the first place I quickly gained a bump which I adored more than anything. Except when people groped it uninvited. Around 6 months I started hearing how big I was, that it had to be twins and all that. By that stage I looked like this:
This is me at 24+3 with Anakin. Too big? I wouldn’t say so. I kept eating. I grew out of my size 8 pants, but then again they were size 8, right? But I kept eating. Before that I also heard a lot of “you’ll be back to your normal size by the time you leave the hospital” “You’re so skinny in the first place it will all just vanish once the baby’s born” from people who knew me. No pressure at all to lose all the pregnancy weight as soon as the placenta was born… But then it got to a point where the comments went in another direction. And they were far from subtle or nice.
Yes, i did gain a massive amount of weight and in the process I started getting new issues about it all. No one wants to hear how huge they are. Would you go up to a plus size person and say “oh my, you’re so fat?” Why is it so different because you’re pregnant? And it was more or less constant, from strangers, from family… I mostly played along and even said it myself, but it was doing a number on me big time.
Once Anakin was born it took me ages to look anything like my regular self. The tummy didn’t go down fast and despite losing weight at what was probably a normal pace I had a long way to go. When Anakin was around 16 weeks I was just over 63 kgs, but still not looking anything like my old self. I had lost a huge amount, but my brain was so messed up from hearing how big I had been that all I saw was those extra kilos and my new mummy pouch.
Fast forward to this pregnancy. I had just started to come to terms with my new body shape and my slightly bigger size when we got pregnant again. I was 60 kgs and thought I looked ok, even normal. Long gone was the size 8 wardrobe, but I was ok with that. The bump got pretty bumpy pretty fast. Subsequent pregnancies will do that as your muscles aren’t what they used to be. My ghosts came back along with all the other drama that went down in those first weeks. Morning sickness was back with a vengeance, worse than the first time around. And as we got further along I heard myself saying things about my body that wasn’t nice at all and growing concerned about gaining weight again. And the closer we got to 20 weeks the more I started hearing how big I was.
Last weekend I got it all in one go. 25 weeks pregnant and “any day now?” “Twins?’ “Must be a big baby!” I’ve gained 7kgs so far and this was me last friday, at 25 weeks, no Photoshop, just me.
I met the lady who runs my prenatal gym classes after that assault of unwanted opinions, a slender, super fit mid twenties lady 30 weeks pregnant and who looks amazing. She’d just been told the same thing. There is nothing remotely huge about her. Nor is there about me. We’re just right. Different pregnancies, different bodies, different babies, different everything. No woman is the same, no pregnant body is the same. And I am so tired of fighting this war with my brain about gaining weight again because I am constantly told how big I am that I can’t help but repeat it myself. We’re supposed to get bigger, we’re growing humans! Our bodies are supposed to change! There is nothing wrong with a bigger bump!
Let us feel beautiful because frankly when I look at the above image I don’t see huge or big, I see beautiful. I see life, I see happiness. But I need images like these to feel that way because as soon as I have to get dressed in the morning I find myself concerned about wearing maternity dresses because they make me look bigger and it is fucked up! I dress in things that hug the bump rather than fall off it because I just don’t know how I’ll react to the next “big” comment I hear. It’s tiresome. And it’s maintaining this messed up body image that’s etched in my brain.
I take these photos so my daughter can see what I looked like carrying her. So that she can see what we looked like when we were two bodies in one, and I take them to give evidence to myself that I am just right. And to remind myself that my pregnancies are beautiful, that they look beautiful. A body in blossom, not a body gaining weight.
Luckily I still have that man who without fail makes me feel just right. I just wish the rest of the world would stop playing the experts and instead of calling a pregnant woman big, call her beautiful.
(Image taken from Hip to be Round – A Maternity Boutique)
Alternatively just shut the hell up.
I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. It’s been a tough one to write, but a necessary one. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to share it or if I just needed to write it, but here it is.
Days… weeks… months. Pregnancy is all about time passing. How many days, then weeks and months. It follows you throughout the entire process from last menstrual period (LMP) through conception to estimated due date and delivery. Every check up or scan (if not done by the same person) starts with questions concerning time passed and number of pregnancies. At least in the beginning. Then follows the occasional awkward assumptions made by well wishers once you announce, if you announce.
This pregnancy those questions and comments carry a shadow with them. The dark side of pregnancy, the largely unspoken. Miscarriage.
It’s not something we talk about much, is it? I’ve been wondering why. Why is it so common to suffer in silence? At first I thought maybe it was because the people it involved would hurt too much by having it dragged out again and again, but now I’ve come to think it’s more about everyone else. It’s awkward, it’s painful and faced with someone carrying that hurt most people don’t know what to say or do and would rather be spared. But I have no intention of sparing anyone. Why should I? I need to acknowledge our loss because it’s not going to be undone, it happened and it will stay with me. And it happens to so many people that I think it’s important we start talking about it more. It shouldn’t feel as if it’s something you need to hide or keep to yourself. It hurts and keeping it a secret won’t make it hurt any less. I know people who have miscarried and I’m sure out of all the people I know there are many more. But it wasn’t until it happened to me I understood the full impact of it. Every time I’ve found out I was pregnant I’ve been ecstatic. It’s always taken me a few days to start believing it’s true, I’ve always done at least 4 pregnancy tests, but it’s always made me happy. And it’s never been something I’ve felt that I needed to keep between myself and my partner for 12 weeks. It’s funny how it’s almost expected to be kept a secret for the first 3 months. When I told my big brother at 9 weeks this pregnancy he commented on how early it was, as if I wasn’t meant to say anything for another few weeks. But those 3 weeks wouldn’t have made me any less pregnant at the time I told him. And it’s not like whatever happens before 12 weeks doesn’t count. I’m not sure I understand this expected 12 week silence.
Without double checking a billion different stats to compare and contrast (but getting my numbers from here) as many as 70-75% of conceptions end in miscarriage, about 30% of pregnancies, and 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage whereof 80% of those occur in the first trimester. (To make sense of these numbers have a look here.) That’s a lot.
I found out I was pregnant when I was one day overdue. I doubt I’d miss a pregnancy once my period is due because once I’m back in my cycle it’s pretty regular and it’s not like we weren’t hoping for a baby soon anyway. We’d taken some precautions for a while because neither of us wanted to have a newborn when we got married and life would be hectic enough with overseas visitors, but our maths were a bit off when we thought “oh heck, if it happens now it’ll just miss all that.” And Bam! it did right away and Shit! it didn’t miss all that. Perhaps part of me already knew something wasn’t quite right. I remember telling my partner the day before we found out that I was pretty sure it wasn’t happening this time because I was having a lot of cramps. But lo and behold, no period came and the tests started coming back positive over a few days. We were thrilled, but I was also stressed by our horrible timing. The baby’s due date was about 1,5 weeks after the wedding meaning it could come at any time and there would be heaps of people here. I have very strong feelings about not wanting any overseas visitors here at all this time around. I want us to have what we didn’t have the first time and that is time for ourselves to adjust and enjoy the newbie for a few months without pressure and people in our space. But nevertheless, I was happy. We saw a doctor and got the whole pregnancy circus going. You gotta roll with the punches right? Sometimes great things happen that don’t necessarily fit your perfect schedule. And we really wanted this baby. So stress slowly gave way for joy and excitement.
A sunny Friday rolled around. I’d been feeling a bit off and complaining about pains for a while, but the doctor said it was normal and to just take Panadol. I saw some friends and shared the news. To my big surprise they were expecting too and the afternoon turned into a celebration. I couldn’t have been happier. We’d been talking about how much fun it would be to be pregnant at the same time and now it was happening. The night came and our son had just fallen asleep. I remember standing at the top of the stairs in the living room talking to my partner when I felt a “pop”. And that was the start of the worst weekend I can remember having in a very, very long time.
Part of me knew what it was and I went to the bathroom immediately to discover that I was bleeding. My heart sank. I told my partner who tried to work out what to do. Knowing that nothing could be done if it was a miscarriage and that it very well could just be a small bleeding that would stop, we nervously decided to wait to the next day before doing anything. Dragging Anakin out of bed to go to the hospital wasn’t something I wanted to do unless I had to. And part of me was in denial. I can’t remember much of the evening. I kept going to the bathroom and I didn’t sleep much that night.
When I got up early next morning there was enough blood to warrant a trip to the hospital. Sitting in the emergency ward I felt like a zombie. We were called in for a blood test and an examination. As I laid there after what was a rather long and invasive examination looking at my bloodstained knees while a midwife and a doctor stood over me talking I just felt cold. I kept a straight face, a very matter of factly tone and desperately wanted them to let me get dressed and go. I do that, I put on a seemingly cool facade, I somehow manage to temporarily hide that I am about to fall to pieces. I can fool the best of them if I want to. Comes from years of practice, I guess. We were due another blood test in 48 hours to check hormone levels. The doctor assured me that it may not be a miscarriage, but deep down I think I knew that this was not to be. We went home, we cried and I went to bed. I laid there just staring at the wall hoping that I would go numb at some point. Anakin came in and demanded mummy come play. And somehow we got through the day. It’s hard to crumble when you still have to care for a child.
The next day my partner was playing football far away and scared to be alone I decided that we should go with him. I walked in circles pushing the pram around the football field for over an hour trying to get Anakin to sleep, hoping that something was going to make me feel better, but I just wanted to lie down and cry. A close friend of mine was there playing as well and asked how I was going. I didn’t answer, but managed somehow to turn the conversation to how he was instead. Later he asked how our weekend was going. I didn’t answer, but again turned the conversation around. I wasn’t going to lie, but I also knew telling him wouldn’t do either of us any good at that point. On the way back I tried to convince myself that I was starting to feel ok about it, that I was prepared. I was wrong.
The next morning we were back at the hospital for another blood test. Later that day they called me with the results. The lady on the phone started the conversation with “The results look fine.” My heart jumped. There was hope? But the next second she confirmed the miscarriage and asked “That’s what you thought, right?” It was, but how on earth can you relay such a message like that? Everything looks fine? I was far from fine. The pregnancy was far from fine. We were not fine. And I was still bleeding. The walls came tumbling down, but we still had to take care of Anakin. In some ways I think he was the one who carried us forward.
Then came a roller coaster of a time. We were hurting, but I found myself trying to be brave and saying things I didn’t believe to protect myself. “At least it happened now and not later” and so on. We didn’t tell that many people, but out of the few we did there was a few “It’s very common” responses and even one “blessing in disguise” and a “with the timing it’s kind of like a win-win”. Nothing deprives you of your hurt more than hearing that. Yes, it is common, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t feeling the pain of loss. One of my closest friends even ignored the whole thing once I opened up about it. That one hurt even more. With a few pregnant friends around I felt like a failure every time I spoke to them. I tried my best to stay positive, I tried desperately to protect myself and seem more composed than I was, but a part of my heart was broken. At some point I realised that I needed to own it to move on. I needed to shed some light on that darkness before it swallowed me.
Little did I know at the time that two weeks after that Friday we conceived again. Without going into any details, let me just say we didn’t try to make it happen, it was just one of those moments when all the stars align and all that. When they say you are super fertile after losing a pregnancy they are right. In our case anyway.
I didn’t believe the test when I first saw it. None of us did. But four tests over a few days later there was no denying that we were indeed pregnant again. It was confusing. It was a downright mind fuck. The doctors and midwives all ask “what number pregnancy is this?” Number three. “And how many babies do you have?” One. “When was your LMP?” It was this date, but it was a miscarriage. And so the ball started rolling without any of us being ready for the ride.
For the first 12 weeks I was terrified. An early dating scan confirmed that everything was so far so good, but I was still shaken. I went to the bathroom all the time to check for blood. I was sick, much sicker than I had been before and throwing up several times a day. Around 11 weeks that suddenly stopped. Everything just stopped and I freaked out. Blood tests showed my hormone levels dropping a bit over 24 hours and a day before I was handing in my Masters, probably during the most stressful week work wise in a long time, we were told we needed an emergency scan done. I was hanging on by a thread. I was certain that we’d lost this one too. My partner tried his best to be brave, but I could tell he thought the same thing as I did. I barely held it together as I struggled to get as much work done as possible before the scan. Once there I could hardly believe my eyes when we saw a little dancing baby on the screen. The lady told us we could do the 12 week scan right away and we somehow managed to say yes. I think I held my breath for most of it. Baby was measuring older than the first scan had shown which explained the drop in hormone levels. Everything was fine. And we were in shock. Both before and after this I was struggling with various scenarios of how to deal with comments and responses to our new pregnancy. The miscarriage wasn’t something most people knew about and it was still so raw and the two were so inextricably linked. I avoided as many social gatherings as possible where I may be confronted with any comment on my growing bump, which decided to pop out more or less right away, or I made sure to dress in layers and be quick and quiet. I was paranoid. I was so scared someone would mention how if we had fallen pregnant a bit sooner I would have been so close to my friend (with whom I first celebrated) or comment on any other thing in that regard to which I wouldn’t know what to say or how to react. And of course it did eventually happen. Someone made just that comment, but by then I was as ready as I could be for it.
It still stings. Someone unknowingly said “congratulations on your second pregnancy” a couple of weeks ago and it slapped me in the face. Whenever I go see my midwife I pass the emergency clinic and I see people with the same look on their face as I imagined we had, women discretely holding their still flat bellies waiting for answers, men staring into space while holding their hand.
It’s not unique occurrence, but it happened to us as it happens to so many people. And in some bizarre and terrible way we were lucky to have it happen in the first trimester. Every day pregnant is a day of attachment. Every day counts. And I acknowledge the more convenient timing of our new baby and how lucky we are to have fallen pregnant again so fast. Some people say it was meant to be. I don’t know about that, but I do know that owning what happened and not hiding it in a dark corner is making this pregnancy a little less scary every day. I still wait for kicks and signs of life to feel sure. Part of me still can’t quite believe that it’s true, there’s new life in my belly and it’s doing very well. I know people who have suffered a far greater loss of their pregnancies later on and of their children after they were born and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking and absolutely life altering that must be. And in comparison our loss was small, but no loss is insignificant. It changes you somehow.
But do me a favour. Next time you meet someone who’s pregnant don’t assume which number of pregnancy or baby it is, and if you meet someone who’s lost one, please don’t tell them how common it is. They know. And don’t ignore it as if it doesn’t matter. Acknowledge the loss, don’t inadvertently belittle it or deny its significance. And as someone who had just suffered the most unimaginable loss once told me, if that’s too hard or you don’t know what to do just give them a hug.
“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – V. Nabokov
Oh sweet Friday… It’s getting dark and I can hear the usual winding down noises from the bathroom. My partner is patiently trying to coax a tired toddler into the tub and to bed. I’m thankful I get to just sit here and feel like a swollen lead balloon with far too little space on the inside. I know that in a while they’ll call my name and I’ll go sing some lullabies, get a few cuddles and sit outside the bedroom for 10 minutes in the dark listening to Anakin play with his diggers in bed before I can assume my horizontal on the sofa with a glass of Maggie Beer’s non alcoholic sparking wine. (The only non alcoholic wine worth drinking. It’s delicious and I dare say better than most alcoholic sparkling wines.) I’m exhausted. Baby has been surprisingly quiet so far today, perhaps it is just waiting for me to lie down. I feel heavy and stretched. But I also feel pretty darn great. Life is in a good place. We’re not where we want to be with it all, but I am happy, very happy. This year, as hard as it has been and as much as it has kicked us in the face, has also been good. I’ve let go of a lot of hurt, I’m letting go of more every day, I’m facing fears and learning to manage them. And as heavily pregnant as I feel tonight I feel lighter than ever, and stronger than I’ve ever been.
Speaking of strong… babywearing a big, heavy toddler to sleep when pregnant makes you feel pretty strong too. Desperate times and all that. I seriously could not live without the Tula. (Picture taken at 18 weeks.)
It also doesn’t hurt that spring has sprung in all it’s glory and temperatures are hitting the 20+. Life is good. I feel damn lucky.
Happy Friday from all of us!
It’s been a bit quiet around here hasn’t it? With the exception of the 52 project there hasn’t been much going on here of late. Believe me, there’s been plenty going on, just not here.
At first it was a matter of just not having time to write and process images as I was getting down to crunch time for my Masters degree. (Now how that all wrapped up is another story.) As you can imagine juggling being a stay at home mum with writing a thesis and creating a large body of work is a huge workload. On top of that I was slowly trying to get a micro business going of handmade kids clothes. (Still working on that one.) What little time there was left I needed to just catch my breath and to spend with my family.
But as the year went on and winter hit my silence was also grounded in other reasons. Every year, around the same time, I seem to retreat and have a bit of a stock take of my life and the people in it. And this year I finally decided it was time to let go, of old hurt and the people who had caused it for so long. I started a process of pulling some people closer while letting others go. I was growing tired of feeding certain relationships that only went one way.
And the blog became part of that process. Through sharing intimate looks into our lives I was enabling some people to feel connected and informed without having to give anything back. For the most part I’m ok with that, but for a time I needed it to stop. I needed to just let some bridges burn and stop fighting an uphill battle. So I started to hold back. A lot. Some weeks it was easy, others were hard.
But recently I’ve come to realise that I am losing more than I am winning. This blog isn’t mainly about sharing thoughts and images with you or with everybody else, it’s about us. Its main function has always been to document our journey as a family, for better and for worse. It’s to make sure there is a story for Anakin to discover and hopefully cherish as he grows older, it’s for me to remember the little things, the big things and to reflect and look back on. This is our story. This is our document.
Everything else, everyone else who reads it, enjoys it or cares about it is just a bonus. A good bonus, but not why it exists in the first place. And so as major events were unfolding I was losing by not documenting it. As was Anakin and my partner.
So I guess you could say this is me telling myself to get on with it, to get back to winning and not sit by watching burnt bridges turn to ash. There are many chapters I need to get to, things I need to process, things I feel a need to share and have wanted to share for a while, but I guess one thing stands out as needing to be said first. Of all the secrets we’ve kept, and we’ve kept it from most people, this is by far the biggest one.
Our little (or not so little) baby bump is 20 weeks and kicking up a storm. We are over the moon about this little person joining our family, due late January.
We weren’t planning a big announcement of any sort and it’s been nice to have such a gem of a secret, only shared with a few close friends and loved ones. And I’ve really enjoyed sharing the news with people as we see them or talk to them as opposed to shouting it from a rooftop for all the world to hear. We kept it close and personal.
But as this most likely is my last pregnancy and this blog also is this little persons’ document there are too many things to say and to photograph to keep quiet. Neither could I hide from the camera forever.
So here it is. Our little big secret, not so secret anymore. And we’re loving it!!
The other day I was out trying to get Anakin to have a short nap in the pram. A lady and what I assume was her daughter came cycling by on their tandem bike. Still cycling on she asks; “How old’s your baby?” “9 months.” “We have a new baby too. She’s 3 months.” I smile, but don’t say anything else assuming that the conversation is over as she’s getting further away. The lady and her kid is now almost at the end of the street. She turns her head and shouts “Is this your first bub?” “Yes, it is.” I’m amazed that the conversation is still going. “Enjoy it!” I barely have time to say “Thank you, I sure am!” before they’ve turned the corner.
Since having a baby I’m being stopped by random people all the time. A baby, like a dog, is apparently quite the conversation starter. I haven’t had a dog since I was a kid, but I see people stop to chat with dog owners and give dogs a pet all the time. What I don’t understand is this; why do strange people think it’s ok to touch your baby? I’ve been stopped numerous times by older ladies who have taken it upon themselves to do a bit of cheek pinching or head rubbing. I’ve even had them pull the hood back when Anakin was just about to go to sleep and wake him up. And every time it’s happened before I’ve had time to react because I just don’t expect people to go fiddling my kid without my permission. Not that I really know what I would say. I don’t mind people stopping for a chat or whatever, but could you please keep your hands off my spawn?
I’m fairly certain my mother once told me to beware of touching strange dogs because they may bite you. It sounds like something a mother would say. A baby is less likely to bite (well, I guess that depends on the kid and where you put your fingers), but the same rule should still apply. So what’s the deal?
Before Anakin was born the same thing would happen, but it would be people groping my belly. And let me tell you, it used to shit me to tears. I despised anyone touching it unless they asked first, with the exception of maybe two or three very close friends. And what I hated even more was when people repeatedly did it after being told to ask first, touch later, and then would say “Oh, sorry, I forgot to ask. You don’t like that, do you?” No shit, Sherlock! Grow some manners! And that was by people I already knew.
At my partners football awards night I was introduced to the date of a friend of mine. After shaking my hand she immediately went for the belly. Anyone who knew how hormone crazy I was when I was pregnant would probably say she was lucky not to get her head handed to her on a plate. But as much as the groping pissed me off, I for some strange reason had the hardest time telling people to please respect the privacy of my body and my unborn child. Perhaps because the rudeness of it is beyond me. I would never do that to anyone. A good friend of mine had this spin on it when he heard of my dislike of being groped; “Well, it’s not like it’s your tits.” No, it’s not. As much as I appreciated the joke, I was pretty amazed throughout my pregnancy of most people’s lack of respect for personal space.
So this is why I’ve been thinking that babies (and pregnant bellies) are like dogs. They should be left alone unless stated otherwise or you may very well find yourself bitten.