Thursday, 25 November 2010

a year of grief in review

it's been a year.

it's been a year.

excuse me if i'm repeating myself. but today marks a year since we found out our baby had died, and i honestly find that hard to understand.

it's been 365 days. 52 weeks. 12 months. four seasons.

how is that possible?

---

i don't even know why today's date is the one that means something. we found out what had happened a year ago today, but that's all. the baby had been dead for weeks by that point; it measured 12 weeks 1 day, which would mean it died on 23 october, but i know things aren't that precise. i went into hospital on 29th november and actually had the miscarriage that day; i say 'had the miscarriage' because that was exactly what it felt like. it felt like the passage of waste products from my body, and that memory will always upset me. i'll write about it one day, but i keep putting it off.

the point is that that date doesn't really mean anything to me either.

---

the memory of last winter seems unreal now. it doesn't seem like something that happened to me. looking back, it's clearer what i was going through; but i don't seem connected to it. it seems like something that happened to someone else.

in the immediate aftermath, i told work that i would be off for two weeks, because there was a girl in HR who was due to go off on maternity leave and i couldn't deal with seeing her. i genuinely thought that two or three weeks would be all i'd need. that i'd go back to work a week or so before christmas when everything was slowing down for the holidays, that it would be ok by then.

looking back, it's clear to see that in the event i spent december running round in shock. going into town nearly every day, sitting in starbucks, trying to avoid the reality of what had happened. christmas we pretended everything we ok - i think we actually put on quite a good show. we even convinced ourselves that we were ok.

at the beginning of january, though, we went to a cremation ceremony for babies who had been miscarried in hospital. just us and maybe four other couples. we'd been led to believe it wasn't overly religious, but it turned out it was; this wasn't comfortable for either of us, but still i sat and sobbed my way through the entire thing.

it was at this point i began to realise that something huge had happened, and i couldn't run away from it. that the way out was through.

january was very dark as i began to accept the depth of my grief. the ground was covered with a blanket of snow for most of the month. it helped. the weather was so out of the ordinary - we often get snow in the winter, but it never stays for more than a few days usually - that it felt like the weather knew that we were in mourning.

in february i went back to work. at the time it felt like i'd been off for too long, if anything. my doctor disagreed, but reluctantly signed me off as fit to go back. i was ok the first couple of days, but then it really started to hit me. that time had passed. that everything was real. it hit me in the gut the day that i picked up my date stamp and it read '25 November 2009'. don't get me wrong; i was aware that time had been passing... but at the same time, i really hadn't.

march was hard, although tiny little glimmers of hope started to show. not all the time, just every so often. but april was mixed. it began well. i almost started to feel like me again. but towards the end of the month, i started spiralling back downhill. by the end of the month i was off sick again, barely able to cope. may - especially the beginning of may, around my due date - was a hard, hard month. i finally went onto antidepressants. they helped.

june and july were ok. i had times when i was doing well and times when i really, really wasn't. at the end of july we went on holiday to Barcelona. it was just what we needed. we came home relaxed and happier.

unfortunately, then i immediately went on my sister's hen do and was unexpectedly confronted by noticeably pregnant women, causing a downwards spiral once more. august and september i forced myself to carry on, sometimes believing that i was really doing ok, but in reality not being ok at all. in the end, work referred me to occupational health, who broke through my defences and had me in floods of tears in less than five minutes. i was then signed off work for another six weeks, during which time i found out i'm pregnant again.

and now we're here.

---

you know what? being pregnant again is hard. i can't emphasize that enough.

it's not a magical cure-all. it doesn't fix my pain.

don't get me wrong; i'm glad that i am. i'm glad that i have a glimmer of hope in my life. it's much better than the alternative. but you know what else being pregnant means? it means the possibility of pain. it means the possibility of losing a second child. it means trying to fight off anticipatory grief.

(D's already concerned that if everything goes well, i won't be mentally prepared. that if we actually take home a living baby, i won't know how to deal. at first i thought that he meant i wasn't prepared for the reality of being a mother, of caring for a baby 24 hours a day. but recently i've begun to understand that that's not what he means. that he's scared i'll be prepared for pain but not for happiness. that i'll end up with post-natal depression because of our history. and honestly, i think he might have a point. luckily, though, in the last week or so i've had my first appointment with psychological services after being on the waiting list since march. and it turns out it's not counselling; it's therapy. it's regular appointments with a psychologist to give me tools to be able to cope with all this.

thank goodness.)

---

i am regularly filled with fear. the terror of things going wrong again isn't constant, but it's regular. two scans haven't really made me any more confident that we will have a good outcome. sure, it's good to know that there's really a baby in there, and that it had a heartbeat when we saw it. but we had that last year, and, well. we all know how that ended.

this pregnancy will either end well or it will end badly. the odds might be in my favour, but it'll either happen or it won't. at the end of the day, i see our chances as 50-50. no better, no worse. either we get to take home a living baby or we won't.

i hope (more than i can say) that this pregnancy will end well, with a living, healthy baby. but i find it very, very hard to believe. because i'm all too aware of just how often things go wrong. i'm aware that when the books say that the risk of miscarriage drops after the first trimester, that they mean exactly that and no more. the risk drops, but it doesn't go away entirely. that even if i get through the first trimester (and that's still not a given, even though i'm getting close now - ten weeks tomorrow), that doesn't mean that i won't miscarry in the second, or that i'm not going to find out that the baby has a condition incompatible with life.

it doesn't mean that i am somehow safe from the risk of having a stillbirth.

my dad said the other week that he was sure everything would be ok. and he meant it well; he just can't stand to believe that this could happen again. but it scares me when people say such things. i don't want to tempt fate. it feels like people are pushing my head above the parapet.

---

in the end, today isn't about possibilities. today is about remembering what was. a year ago right now, we were about to leave the doctor's surgery to go to the hospital. the midwife had said that she thought everything was ok, but that she would send us down there. just to make sure. because she knew i would worry otherwise. and at the time, she truly believed it. the sun was shining. we knew everything was ok. we were just going to get an extra peek at the baby. all was well.

i think that part of me will always be stuck there, waiting at the hospital. believing in that baby. just a little bored. happy to have a chance to see our acrobatic little baby once more.

i want a part of me to stay there. to be happy for that baby. to love it and cherish it. my tiny little snowflake.

---

i love you, my little one. my first child. i wish i'd got to meet you. i wish i hadn't been too terrified to look when you passed from me. i wish you could have known how much i love you. how painful it was for your dad and i that you had to leave us.

i wish i could have known which of us you'd look like. i wish i could have known whether in time you would have liked the music we like or whether it would have made you cringe with embarrassment. whether you would have preferred indian food, or chinese, or pizza. i will always be sad that i don't know who you would have been. even whether you were a boy or a girl. i will never know, and that makes me so sad.

even if all turns out well with this new spark of life - even if we were to have another five or ten or twenty babies - please know that we'll never forget you. i will remember. i hope to honour your tiny life by always remembering how lucky i am to have had a chance to see you leaping and dancing inside me.

---

and thank you - more than i can ever say - for sending me the snow today.

10 comments:

Miss Ruby said...

Of course being pregnant isn't a magical cure-all, it can't be and shouldn't expected to be.

It may not feel it but you have come far in the past year.

I would say more on this post but don't want to offend so will leave it at.

~x~

sarah said...

much love to you B. may the year ahead be easier than the one behind. you are a strong woman for being here, for daring to dream, to hope, to live, again.

Big Love, Big Acceptance - or so I say said...

Much love to you. Remembering you and your first baby at this year milestone.

And I hear you, pregnancy doesn't fix the pain. Yes, there is the glimmer of hope of new life, and it's still hard, and presents its own challenges.

Illanare said...

(o)

Hope's Mama said...

Pregnancy after loss IS hard. It helps, but it certainly doesn't fix things. The grief stays.
Thanks for sharing these details with us. Like others, I hope this coming year is far better than the one you've just had. You're certainly on the right track towards a very happy future.
Much love to you.
xo

Anonymous said...

Beth
Your wrote "I see our chances as 50-50, no better, no worse".

Your glass is half-full, with a fair wind it will be 'full to the brim'.

cullensblessings said...

One year.. and a whole new place that you find yourself standing in. I am thinking of you in so many ways B- so much love, support and strength to you my friend..

biojen said...

All my love to you B. I've watched how hard you have struggled all year and wanted so badly to be able to do something. I'm so happy you are pregnant again and hoping like crazy everything is better than fine. I'm more grateful than I can say for all the support you've given me this year. I like to think of our babies playing out there together, bringing the snow (or in my case the dolphins) to ease our hearts.

Barbara said...

I have to believe that my George felt nothing but love in the short time I held him inside, and I believe that your little snowflake felt the same love.

I hope you can find a peaceful place in this pregnancy and you have my very very best wishes.

xxx

Kelly said...

It's tough to stare back at the past year. Please, if you are able, somehow...see all that you've learned and how you've grown. Sometimes, in the midst of all the agony, I am able to do that (even for a few minutes) and it helps.

(((HUGS))) to you, you incredibly strong woman.