This week it was Evie’s baby sister’s birthday. Her birthday brings lots of memories back…the joyous and the painful.
I’ve blogged before about how we lost Evie’s baby brother through stillbirth. What I haven’t blogged about before is the utter fear of pregnancy after loss. I can’t even begin to explain how hard H’s pregnancy was. She was so wanted and needed. Yet we were utterly terrified.
Whenever I approached the hospital for a checkup my blood pressure would rocket. I could actually feel it rising as we approached the hospital from miles away. I wouldn’t drive, I would use breathing exercises to try to keep myself calm. Every scan – and there were so many – was filled with fear and then relief.
The doctor who scanned us when we lost Joshua was the sonographer who scanned us several times with H. The first time she wanted to check first that we were ok with her scanning us…in case there was bad news. Perhaps she thought that we may have in some way blamed her for his loss or we didn’t want her associated with this baby. Nothing could be further from our thoughts, we didn’t mind if she scanned us…in fact I preferred it. I knew that she would be so careful, so protective of our baby. And she was. She printed off 4D photos for us…ream after ream of them. She wanted our baby here as safely as we did. I remember her tears when we were told by her and another doctor that Joshua had died. I remember them crouching on the floor next to us, sharing our pain, our grief.
NHS staff are pretty awesome aren’t they? We tend to think of midwives as those who deliver babies, happy times. But we’ve seen the other side. The post diagnosis in Evie’s case. Their gentleness. Their friendship.
Their protectiveness and understanding when we lost Joshua. Their absolute love for him. That stood out.
And in H’s case their need for her safe arrival. Their chattiness, yet candid approach. The consultants who treated us like royalty. When our lead discovered that he would be away for one appointment , introduced us to his whole team. He made us feel safe. They all did.
And then she when she arrived, she became poorly. So very poorly. The fear kicked in again. The denial. But they saved her. They protected us. They cared for us.
And we came home.
We began to live again.
Yet still there’s this overreaching fear, that something will go wrong. As time passes it recedes. Yet it remains.
Whenever a friend is pregnant, or if I hear of someone going over their due date, I begin to panic. I am thrilled for them, excited to meet their babies but oh the fear. I never want anyone to know this pain. I want to protect my friends from this life, the life after loss. In reality there is nothing that I can do but support my friends as I would have done anyway and conceal my own fears.
My innocence was taken the day that our child died. I stupidly thought that the worst thing that would ever happen is losing my parents or my husband. Never my child. It’s the wrong way of life. You’re not supposed to outlive your child. You’re not supposed to go to their funerals, choose their grave plaques.
H became so important, so precious. And now that she’s here she is fierce. She is more than we ever dreamt. This week I have watched her and E pretend play…argue and talk of the boys they love. (They are aged 4 and 8 – god help us!). They adore each other. They help each other.
Our fears of loss could have prevented Evie from having a sibling. When we lost Joshua we needed our baby. We wanted our child, a sibling for Evie. We tried to not think of those fears, our need for a child over coming the terror of loss. The amount of times that I wished for a fast forward button over and over again. I just wanted to know that our baby would be safe.
I’ve always envied those who breezed through their pregnancies, have simple births, breastfed like the earth mothers they are. It was never that way for me. At diagnosis with Evie I became a Space Mother…spaced out and terrified.
With Joshua I steeled myself for his birth once we knew he had passed. I read The Lord of the Rings to remove myself from the hell on earth that I was then in. I immersed myself in a world which didn’t exist, where I could forget who I was. As I paced my way through his labour, I imagined Sauron and his eye, climbed Mount Doom with Sam and Frodo…I was no more. Anything to remove myself from the pain within.
There was silence you see.
When Joshua was born. No baby crying. Just quiet. Just us. I can’t remember if I cried as I reached out for him. There must have been tears yet I just remember his warmth, his smell and the feel of him in my arms.
So with H we were desperate for her to be here. To be safe in our arms. To hear her cry. To see her eyes. I will always wonder what Joshua’s eyes were like.
I won’t bore you with my labour story, just that my induction was horrifically painful. But she arrived with much help and she cried. The relief at her cry. At holding her. It’s unexplainable. To feel the weight of her in my arms as she moved. To feed her. To see her eyes. That is priceless.
Because of our children, all three of them, I know the true meaning of love and heartbreak. Children born after loss are called rainbows…they are the calm after the storm has passed, the beautiful light and colour that enters our life.