Sunday, 31 January 2010

blog stats

last year i posted 53 times. just about once a week.

this post takes my january total to 31. ( and there were 7 straight days at the beginning of the month when i didn't post at all.)

that's more than half as many as the whole of last year.

april 2007 i posted 30 times. this is the only time i've come anywhere near.

i guess i just needed something to talk about.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

brave?

I just thought.

One of my friends came round this afternoon. She is pregnant. She just had the appointment at which we found out our baby had died.

Everything is OK for her. And I'm glad. If one of us had to lose a baby, I'm glad it was me not her, for various reasons.

But.

It hadn't really occurred to me that ...

... if I get pregnant again, I'll have that appointment. Again.

I'll have to get up onto that bed. And wait while the midwife tries to find the heartbeat.

And that thought is terrifying.

(I can't tell you how terrifying. The thought of it makes me cry.)

And it's not just that appointment. There will be others. There will be times of heartstopping fear.

But would doing it. Would actually getting back up onto that bed - doing the same thing once more, hoping for a different outcome (isn't that the definition of insanity?) - would that be brave?

By the time you're pregnant, it's too late. You can refuse scans, refuse tests, refuse to let the midwife listen for the heartbeat, but it's never going to change anything. Except, possibly, for the worse.

The bravest thing I can do is try to get pregnant again.

But is the most sensible thing that I could do not try?

Not face that risk that we get to a certain point, and it's all taken away from us again.

Not face that risk that we actually don't get pregnant again. That we would have to decide whether to start investigations for infertility, potentially start a hugely expensive, hugely stressful process of IVF without any guarantee of a happy ending. Or decide to give up. To start the potentially stressful, potentially unhappy road to adoption.

Or to accept our lives as child-free. That our lines will finish with us. That we will have to make do with nephews and nieces.

I have to try again. I can't explain that. But I have to.

And I can't help but fear that in starting to tread this path, we have just opened our hearts to heartbreak and pain, with not enough of a chance of a happy ending.

Friday, 29 January 2010

snow.

it's snowing again.

it's not sticking this time, i think. but tiny specks of white are floating past my window.

to me, it's like the world is remembering that i've lost something. something nebulous, something that wasn't destined to last.

much like snow in newcastle.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

the end of this post talks about people blogging pics of positive pregnancy tests. how it bugged the writer, birni. she was wondering whether it got to anyone else.

it doesn't get to me, not like birni means.

but what does upset me is that i didn't take a photo.

i didn't think i'd need a photo.

i thought that a baby would be proof enough of a positive pregnancy test.

guess i was a little naive.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

winter.

i'm so glad - in so far as 'glad' can possibly describe it - that this happened in winter. and in one of the most wintery winters i've ever lived through.

the morning that we went to the ceremony*, the snow was at its worst. a neighbour had to help push our car out so we could get there. but it helped, that a blanket of snow covered everything. that the air was so cold. that everything was so abnormal. that the abnormal weather lasted so long.

i can't imagine this happening in summer. in sunshine and heat.

i can't imagine how i will deal with this, come summertime. come may, when the baby's due date would have been. come june and july and august, when i should be worrying about keeping a new baby cool in the heat. the baby will still be here, in the cold. in the snow.

i feel that as the days get longer - as the weather gets warmer and the sunshine returns - i will be leaving the baby behind.

i don't want to.



* i haven't mentioned it before, but the hospitals round here arrange a communal cremation ceremony for those parents who have lost their baby in hospital, and who want to attend. we went to ours a few weeks back. it was harrowing - i cried constantly - and there was a strong religious vibe, which really didn't suit us at all.

but it helped.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

today, it's just a quiet sadness.

i wish my baby was still where it was supposed to be.

i wish i'd been at work these last two months. complaining good-naturedly about having to work while pregnant, blaming any little thing i wanted on the baby.

every time i wanted anything while pregnant, i blamed it on the baby. 'the baby wants garlic bread.' 'the baby wants nail varnish.'

the most ridiculous of things.

and nearly every time i said it, the baby was dead already.

Monday, 25 January 2010

now, almost exactly, is two months since we found out the baby had died.

it still hurts. it's going to hurt forever.

some days are better than others, but this day is bad.

(all these posts about my loss, and this is the first i tag 'grief'? how strange)

you're ok, you're... not

i have this hierarchy in my head, since losing this baby. of who i'm ok with. who i'd rather not see or speak to. preferably ever again.

i'm ok with people who are pregnant friends. my best friend J is due in the summer. i met her for breakfast on saturday. i asked how things are going, told her off for not showing me pictures from any of the three ultrasounds she has had so far. and even as i did so i was watching for the wince, the stab of pain from talking about something that should be so painful. but i was ok. her baby is not mine, and i don't begrudge her hers.

but pregnant people who don't think. who know, but don't remember, how much this loss has shattered me. them, i can't stand. i don't want to ever see again. those people, i begrudge their happiness. their joy. i still hope that everything will be fine for them. just far, far away from me.

but most people, and all actual babies, i'm fine with.

especially the ones who had to wait years, see time slipping away, before they held their babies - those are fine. the one who's gone through IVF and who may only get this one shot - oh god, she has to be ok. i can't take it if anything goes wrong for her.

the one who sent me a message three days after giving birth herself, who offered any love, support and help she could give. she's fine.

...and the ones who have suffered losses themselves?

they have to be ok. i need them to have happy endings. i need to believe that lightning isn't going to strike any more.

i wish my strength of will could guarantee this for all of you out there who have lost a baby and are still trying for another.
it's funny. i've been thinking the last couple of days that the anxiety has been wearing off. that i'm calmer than i was.

but right now it's 1.30am, and i'm sitting here panicked beyond all belief because i've got a pain in my head that i've convinced myself is an aneuryism.

someone in work took her husband a cup of tea one morning only to find he had died in the night. this could also be feeding my fears.

i'm sure i'm ok, really. but i'm pretty freaked out.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

food.

the least little thing can be a minefield, these days.

the evening before i found out the baby had died, half an hour or so before i left for the evening, someone in work offered me a clementine. i hadn't seen any so far that winter. so i asked if she was sure. yes, she said. have all you want. we've got to feed you healthy food!

i've been buying clementines ever since then. they're always in the shops for christmas, for winter in general. and i love them. they are happy food. and healthy! what's not to love?

but i've just been watching them rot. throwing them away.

i can't eat them.

they remind me too much of that last happy evening.

---

food in general can be minefield. five days later, i sat in starbucks with D. tried to eat a gingerbread santa claus. but it made me cry. how could i eat him? it was wrong. he was smiling at me.

i have also cried trying to eat potato smiles.

it feels so stupid.

---

i even wanted to make a snow angel when the snow was really deep. i've never made a snow angel before. but i suspect that doing such a childish thing would have made me cry even more than food with smiles.

---

for anyone who wants to understand how crappy this whole thing is, this post is beautiful and poignant. i'm not infertile - we got pregnant, after all - but... it feels like we were on the verge of tasting this amazing thing called parenthood. only to have it snatched away when we least expected it.

it's good. worth a read.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

music to ease my soul

The music i would expect to bring me through a time like this hasn't been the music that has helped.

Tori Amos famously released her album From the Choirgirl Hotel after suffering a series of miscarriages. So I got out the album and started listening.

And yet somehow, it didn't do what I needed it to. Don't get me wrong, it occasionally made me cry. But mostly it was the songs I didn't expect. The ones I hadn't seen as connected to the miscarriage before. Cruel. Liquid Diamonds. iieee. Suddenly I got them. But Spark and Playboy Mommy - the songs most obviously connected - they weren't what I needed.

The first song to really make me sob was Florence and the Machine's cover of You Got the Love.

(Unfortunately, I was driving at the time. That could have ended badly.)

Since then, I've listened to the Florence and the Machine album a lot. And this song - Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) really speaks to me. (If you haven't heard it before, please do click through and let me know what you think.) I don't believe it's actually written about miscarriage, but god. The words.

I have been listening to Tori too. Scarlet's Walk, for some reason. I've never really listened to that album before. But somehow it speaks to my loss.

I've been listening to PJ Harvey too, and rueing the fact that my copy of Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is currently inaccessible.

Does anyone have anything or anyone else to suggest? I'm hungry for new music right now, particularly female singers. I do like Ani DiFranco, although I only have a couple of albums (Not a Pretty Girl and Puddle Dive) and I'm also thinking that I might dig out Bleed Like Me by Garbage.

(this was partly inspired by caz's post here. The post on glow in the woods that linked Lhasa de Sela also had a lot to do with it.)

Friday, 22 January 2010

facebook

(or, as this excellent post renames it, 'in your f@cebook')

i deactivated my account a few days ago. i was picking at the scab, looking again and again at that last pregnancy announcement. i don't know why. it hurt every time.

it was a relief, deactivating.

since then, i've just reactivated it, once or twice a day. just to see what's going on. nothing much. nothing i can't live without.

i don't want to leave it activated until i know the addiction is broken. until i know i can just pop on once every few days and not obsess. not refresh again and again. waiting for something to happen.

i'm going to see if i can go the whole of today without going on at all.
i've not really been anywhere the last few days. but today i need to get out. my mum is meant to be calling, but i'll just have to speak to her later.

starbucks is my coping mechanism. it's the place where i go to write in my journal. the place i go to process my thoughts, my emotions, my memories. i looked back at it last time i was in there - nearly all the entries since the beginning of december have been written sitting in there. often with tears rolling silently down my face.

it's a safe space. noone bothers me. if i'm there, i'm not looking at the piles of stuff lying round and about and feeling bad for not being able to do anything with them. or for not doing the washing up, or the ironing. if i'm there, i'm there. i can feel there. maybe somehow better than i can in other places.

---

i love orchids. but i'm bad at keeping them alive. they last, then the flowers fall. and i've never been able to make one flower a second time.

this morning, i noticed that the latest one - the one i was about to give up on. there are buds on it.

i seem to have achieved the impossible.

it fills me with a sense of hope and a sense of dread simultaneously.

---


oh, and just a random question. does anyone know where i could get hold of an mp3 of this - preferably this live version? i don't mind paying but can't find it online anywhere.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

timelines.

i was 17 weeks pregnant when we found out what had happened. 8 weeks ago today.

(is that all?)

(is it that long?)

but. babies aren't conceived until two weeks after the official start of the pregnancy. and. it had died four weeks before we found out.

so my child only existed for 11 weeks.

and because even the best pregnancy test in the world will only tell you you're pregnant two weeks after conception, we only knew about it for nine of those weeks.

such a small space of time, to create such devastation. to break me like this.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

i went out for tea tonight with a couple of friends. and one of them, she made me cry. but in a good way.

when her baby was born, she said, she was sad. because she'd felt like she was doing something important. and then suddenly, she wasn't.

yes.

it was important, before, that i didn't drink a whole bottle of wine, or three cups of coffee. that i didn't get stressed. that i took care of myself.

now? not so much.

and yet. i don't have a baby to look after.

i started crying. at the table in the restaurant. we got up and she gave me a hug.

sometimes it takes someone outside the situation to see the most obvious things.
we got married first. before all but one of our group of friends (and that one i didn't know til years afterwards). it was weird, actually. the rest have all been with their partners for years, but for two years, no one else was married. just us. it felt like we'd edged out onto a limb, and noone else followed.

it was such a relief when the rest of them started. now the last of us gets married this year.

and i kind of assumed that - seeing as we'd led the way on marriage - that we would be the first to have kids. it was just one of those things in my head.

but. i changed jobs. wanted to wait for the full maternity benefits to kick in. and D. his job wasn't realistic with kids. he changed jobs, to one he loves. where he doesn't work Saturdays. where he starts early but is home by six, every day.

and before all that was sorted, before we were ready to start. suddenly A had a kid. then K. then E and H. now J1 (our best man) has one too, and J2 is pregnant. and A and K are on their second.

but it was ok. because then i was pregnant. it worked out that four of us were going to be on maternity leave at the same time. i was so excited. so many of us with babies, all at once.

now it turns out there will still be four of the group on maternity at once.

it just turns out i'm not one of them.

suddenly i don't want to be part of the group anymore. it's just a reminder of what i have lost.

i will be in the last half of the group to have a baby.

and that. it's like a knife.

i feel stupid. for assuming i would be first.

Monday, 18 January 2010

terminology

if i say my baby died, people assume it was born and then died.

if i say i had a miscarriage, people assume it was before 12 weeks, and that it wasn't a baby that had every likelihood of surviving. (i keep coming back to that 0.6% less than 0.6%. six people in a thousand. why did it have to be us?)

if i say my baby was stillborn, i'm lying. even though that's what it most feels like to me.



i don't know what to call this thing that happened. i don't know details i feel i should. i was never offered the chance to hold it, to find out whether it was a boy or a girl. to find out why it didn't survive.

am i a mother? i've never given birth to a living child. so no. but. i was pregnant. i wanted my child. i loved my child. so. yes?

there is no answer. i'm in limbo. both one thing and other. both a mother and not.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

we keep playing the lottery.

we didn't. before. years ago, i made a decision to give up playing the national lottery, and play the St Oswald's Hospice lottery instead. on the grounds that this gives a lot more money to charity. on the suspicion that our odds of winning are just about the same. (i've won £10 three times since i made that choice - more than i've ever made from camelot.)

but. since. we feel like the universe owes us. that if we can't have our baby, we deserve a win. somewhere. somehow. and we think that we have to help that along, by buying a ticket.

so far, it hasn't happened.

i'm not optimistic.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

haiti

Meg of meish.org is auctioning off two prints of her pics (and lovely pics I might add) in aid of the support effort in Haiti.

Please share this with your friends and spread the word, even if you can't bid yourself for some reason.

I sponsor a child in Haiti with two of my friends. I'm hoping beyond hope that she's OK.



edited to add this link too - thanks PI.

Friday, 15 January 2010

fate is laughing.

You remember what I said about not caring about tempting fate?

somewhere, fate is busting a gut laughing at me.

within 26 hours of posting that, my broken front tooth re-broke, and worse than before. this led to an emergency dentists appointment and me having to fill in a medical questionnaire. breaking down having to tick 'no' to the question 'are you pregnant?', and when the initially-slightly-snotty dental nurse insisted that yes, they did need to know why i was under the care of a doctor. she was nicer after that, but still.

so. just now i was flossing my teeth. this time it was my broken back tooth that went. the filling rattled on the floor loud enough for D to hear from the next room. and again, it's broken worse than before. and again, it's a friday night. again i need to decide whether to wake up early in the morning to call the emergency dental line to get it seen to.

i am so fucking sick of everything going wrong.
you're not supposed to lie on your back after the first trimester. it makes the uterus lie on one of your blood vessels and can restrict the flow of blood to your baby.

i tried to avoid lying on my back from about week 10. if i turned over from one side to the other, i got nervous. i didn't like the weight going backwards, even for that fraction of a second.

ironic. that it will never have made a difference to my baby.



every time i lie on my back now - to read in bed, lying on the sofa to watch tv - i remember.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

sometimes i wonder how much older i look since the end of november.


d just read this over my shoulder and told me i don't. it's nice, but i don't really believe him. i feel a hundred years older. surely i must look it too?


(later)


According to What to Expect when you're Expecting (584 pages long; one 11 page chapter on pregnancy loss and stillbirth, so less than 2% of the book [although miscarriage is mentioned in passing in two or three other places]. that seems really quite out of whack), anxiety is even more common following miscarriage than depression is. this and this would seem to bear that out.

and yes, for me, it's true. (although i'd be surprised if there are many women who, following a miscarriage, don't get some or all of the symptoms listed under 'acute stress disorder' on this page, and for more than a month.)

i'm incredibly anxious. i'm hoping it dies off, in time. but articles such as this - detailing how pregnancy complications are more likely following miscarriage - do nothing to reassure me.
i honestly thought, waiting for a scan that day, that everything was going to be fine.

i was a touch concerned, but i thought...

i thought i would know if something was wrong. how could i not?

there was nothing that could have given it away. nothing to make me suspect that this wasn't going to end well.

and yet.

i still feel stupid.

and i still wish i could have kept my baby safe.

it doesn't matter if this was never meant to be. it doesn't matter that there is nothing i did wrong, that there was nothing i could have done.

i still believe. that i should have been able to prevent this.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

i'm less heavy today.

i think it's at least partly because i took my counsellor's advice and have done precisely nothing today.

it's a relief, kinda. but i don't think this is over yet. not by a long chalk. there are still some dark days to come, but at least i can breathe a little easier today.

on glow, they talk about abiding. about just sitting with the person who has lost their child. i think... i haven't been sitting with myself and feeling my own pain.

i need to.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

if your friend or relative has a miscarriage or loses a baby.

i want to put these on facebook, but... the people who they are aimed at will probably think it's aimed at them.

or not. i don't know which would be worse.

anyway. if you know anyone who loses a baby, these might help:

miscarriage association leaflet for friends and relatives

advice from the website glow in the woods for how to help someone who has lost a baby
oh and there's nothing like a friend announcing their pregnancy on facebook to kick you in the stomach when you're already having a crappy day.

i so didn't need that.

WHY IS EVERYONE PREGNANT EXCEPT ME?

backing away

I'm backing away from certain places, sidling closer to others. hoping to be accepted. hoping the people there don't push me away.

What keeps cropping up, again and again, is that 'normal' does not mean the same as it did before. i'm always going to be someone who lost her first child. i will move on from that, in time, but i will never forget. i will always love that child and long for him or her. any future children i might have will distract me from the pain, from the memories (can anyone concentrate on anything else when there is a newborn in the house?) but they'll never replace the one i lost. even though any children i have will be different now - D and i won't have the same family we would have had if we hadn't lost this baby - i will still wish we could have had this one, too.

selfish? then let me be selfish. i want the baby we created.

(i'm so self conscious of even appearing to talk like i expect future children to really happen. i'm so scared that we will never have a real live child. i've learned my lesson there. nothing is guaranteed.)

i was so bothered about crap that doesn't matter. D wanting to find out if it was a boy or a girl, me wanting to have a surprise. the amount of time and energy i spent worrying about that (and the irony that now i would kill to know, i don't want to call my baby 'it', and he never wants to find out... funny how things change). i tied myself in such knots. none of them matter any more.

if i was pregnant right now, knowing what i know now, i would want to know everything. everything they could possibly tell me. so that if anything went wrong, i could remember.

i feel in some kind of no man's land of pain. caught between a 'normal' miscarriage (and i know, i know; even a 'normal' miscarriage must hurt like hell, worse even when noone knew about the pregnancy so your friends don't understand and keep saying things to make things worse - but i was past 12 weeks dammit, i saw the heartbeat, why would anything go wrong? i was past the time for worrying) and a stillbirth.

i feel like i don't belong anywhere.

(i wish they had asked me in the hospital whether i wanted to see the baby. it would have been the size of a peach. it might have been deformed. it could have looked wrong. but i still wish i'd been asked. i wish i could have seen it.)

if your baby dies after the 14th week of pregnancy, the death will be investigated, even if it's the first miscarriage you have. but if it dies before that, they won't investigate unless you have three miscarriages in a row. even if you have two miscarriages, then one baby, then a miscarriage they won't investigate.

i didn't find out what had happened until well after week 14. but the baby had died four weeks before. ten days, or less, after we saw the baby dancing on the ultrasound.

i will never know what happened.

that stings. it cuts.
every so often, i catch myself using the word 'lucky' with regard to this whole f****d-up situation - it's lucky that D comes home most lunchtimes and can check i'm ok, or we're lucky that we know it was a chromosome abnormality that's unlikely to repeat - and I want to hurt myself. for saying something so banal. so stupid.

whatever we are, it's not lucky.

if losing this baby was a guarantee that it will be ok next time, that we will get to keep our next child and bring it home safe and warm, i could come to accept it, given time. but there are no guarantees. my chance of miscarriage is the same as it ever was. no more, no less.

i've been spending a lot of time reading here. i'm busy adding sites to google reader all the time, the ones that somehow touch a nerve. one thing that comes through is the longing people have for people to talk about babies that have been lost. and i want that. i want people to remember the baby we lost, not just to worry about me and D and how we are coping. but what is there to say? when someone dies, you can talk about your memories of them. you can laugh about things that happen that they would have loved, or hated. you can ask for stories if you never met them.

what is there to say about a baby who never lived past the thirteenth week of pregnancy? we don't even know if it was a girl or a boy.

the only stories we have are too precious or too painful to share.

i want my friends to remember. in may, when it would have been due. in november, when it will have been a year.

i want them to remember. but i don't want to have to ask them.

i want this to be over now. i want to be back to normal.

i've never wanted to change anything that's happened in my life. i've always wanted to own where i am, who i am. what i choose to be.

but i want this baby back. so badly.


i will be talking about this for quite some time. i'll understand if my usual readers stop reading. this is painful for me, and i don't blame you if you don't want to descend into this dark place with me.

i don't want to be here myself.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Thirteen years ago today, D and I were in a pub, before going on to the Riverside.

Thirteen years ago today was the first time we kissed.

Thirteen years ago today, my fate was sealed. I knew it had to be him. I wasn't ever going to be happy with anyone else.

It took more than three years before we started going out. Worth every minute.

I wouldn't change one single thing about the last three years. Except for the last few months, obviously.

Love ya, D.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Update

I'm coping, kinda.

This last few days has been harder than the whole of December.

The loss - that I was really, really pregnant; that now I'm really, really not - is starting to hit home.

I miss my baby.




and it's still snowing.

i'm sick of the snow, of the cold. but i'm still kinda glad. i couldn't cope with relentless sunshine right now.

the day i was in hospital, it poured down with rain, and the sky stayed dark all day.

i was glad the sky was crying for us.

Friday, 1 January 2010

I got to midnight. New Year's Eve was second only to the 24 hours after we found out what had happened in complete shittiness.

For a year that started out OK, it's ended pretty bloody awful.

Still, and right now I don't care about tempting fate, I don't see how 2010 (or for that matter the next decade) can get any worse. It's started with me drunk on most of a bottle of wine, and not in a good way, after spending most of the day in tears. Maybe that's where I've been going wrong, starting every year on a high. Maybe I need to start 1st January on a downer. So that there's plenty of room for things to improve.

Jools Holland just finished. Bedtime, I think.