Being the 0.2%

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You never think it will be you.

Pregnancy is full of statistics. From the very beginning, you are aware of the fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
When you make it to 12 weeks and see that little baby bouncing around you can breathe a little bit easier.
We made it through those worrying weeks.

Then there’s the wait for the Nuchal Translucency results if you opt for the tests. 1 in 14000 – I had pretty good odds.

The anomaly scan at 20 weeks can be nerve wracking – will my baby appear healthy or will health issues become apparent? There are so many things that can go wrong, but thankfully most of us only have to worry about whether or not baby will have their legs crossed!
Our little one appeared healthy and it was confirmed she was a baby girl.

24 weeks – deep sigh of relief to have made it this far as baby is now legally recognised should they be born. It’s also around the time baby would be able to survive outside of the womb (albeit with intensive support).
She had stayed put and did so for many weeks to come.

And from then on, every week leads you closer to the birth. Brings you closer to that gorgeous, bouncing baby. You think about labour and birth, but never anticipate falling at the last hurdle. You’ve made it past every other obstacle, why would the birth be any different?
Only, for us it was different.

My only worry going into labour was whether we had enough newborn size baby grows. I told my husband he would need to buy some more after she was born because we only hand a handful, and she would be small like her brother had been – I wasn’t to know we wouldn’t be needing them. One, because she would fit 0-3 comfortably! And two, because she would never be coming home with us.

One memory that is still quite strong in my mind is from when I was in labour about an hour before it went down hill. The contractions were very painful, and I was having quite a few back to back. I needed inspiration – something to get me through.
So I delved into my hospital bag which was filled with lots of different baby grows and outfits because I couldn’t decide on what to put her in when she arrived!
I dug out the very first outfit I bought when I found out she was a little girl. Underneath the little dungaree shorts, there was a pink and white stripy baby grow with frills over the arm holes.
I laid it out on the bed and rubbed my belly, telling her that I didn’t mind the pain because she would soon be here in my arms. Right then I decided this was the first baby grow I wanted her to wear. It was filled with so many happy memories for me because I bought it the same day that I had my gender scan – my dream of having a little girl was coming true. I couldn’t believe it! I would often stare at the little outfit hung up in her wardrobe, smiling like a goon and counting down the days.

That baby grow is now in her memory box, and is even more precious as it’s one of the only two baby grows Ivy ever got to wear.

The chances of placenta abruption occurring in further pregnancies is 10%. This seems like a ridiculously big percentage now, but with increased monitoring and an early delivery I hopefully won’t be part of that 0.2% again.

Damn that cleaner!

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Dropping off little man at nursery for the afternoon and there’s a cute baby in a pram at the entrance (mum must have been dropping off her little one upstairs)..

I could hear the cleaner talking about the style of pram – and I couldn’t help but coo over this gorgeous little boy who grasped my finger tight and stared at me whilst I told him what a cutie he was :)

Cleaner, god bless her soul, asked me if it was my pram.

I replied, ‘no, but I wish it was’.

Painful. Very painful.

I think I’m ready for counselling

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But not because Im finding it difficult to cope. I’m not – I’m doing surprisingly well for the most part.
But as life is moving on, and I’m beginning to make plans about returning to the workforce, its difficult letting go.

Letting go of the detailed plans I had made; my life plan. Most people like to know where there life is headed – I am no exception. Despite my annoying habit of being late to everything, I am a planner. I like to work towards something.

My life plan included a house, a husband, two children (although I’d toyed with the idea of three many a time), a 3 year age gap between babies, time off with the children and a good career that would enable me to be independent. I have achieved some of these goals although not necessarily in that order. I had my son first at 21, and was married 5 months later. I graduated university with a degree in Social Work so I have the foundations set for my career. I don’t yet own a house as we rent, and although I gave birth to my second child in July, I still only have one child to tuck in at night.

I’ve said my goodbyes to Ivy and although it still hurts, I’m at some sort of peace with her short life. But each night, when my husband is busying himself with his latest hobby and my child is sound asleep, I find myself sat on the settee in silence thinking about how different my life would have been if my placenta has just stayed put for that little bit longer. I’d have given birth in the birthing pool, pulling my baby out of the water to see her beautiful face for the first time. Hearing her cry as she took her first breaths – something that neither me nor Ivy ever got to experience.
If I’d have gone to hospital, what would the outcome have been? If they would have noticed she was breech in my antenatal check ups and booked me in for a planned section earlier than my due date?

I’m mostly a forward thinker and air on the positive side of life. Onwards and upwards.
But for those brief moments, I let myself wonder what could have been. It’s torturous as hindsight can often give us the answers to questions that we didn’t know existed until after the fact.

My son is now fast asleep next to me whilst I sit with him on his bed (separation anxiety is in full flow for him, ages 3) – I wonder what I would be doing if Ivy was alive? Would I have been feeding her whilst I held her in my arms, or maybe resting her on my knees on the sofa, hoping to see her first smile. It’s daunting when you think that the pain never really ends and I will continue to think about the ‘could haves’ throughout my life. The anniversary of her birthday. The acknowledgment of milestones that she would have been achieving. The year she would have been starting school. When I meet my son’s future partner(s) and hopefully granbabies! – I will have thoughts about the family Ivy missed out on having. Would she have wanted a family – maybe she would have been career focused? What would she have chosen as her career? Would she have been like me at all or more like her dad? (I sneakily suspect she would have had more of my traits/quirks!). Would she have been as stubborn as her brother or a softer soul perhaps?
God, I could go on for hours.

I didn’t need to open up to a counsellor before now because I had told the story of what has happened to so many, that I was pretty much all talked out. But the story doesn’t end with Ivy’s death, it’s continuing..it’s my life. And it’s bloody hard sometimes.

An Ancient Egyptian Inscription

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This saying was mentioned in a tv documentary I was watching earlier tonight, and it made me think about how I talk about my daughter. I love her name, and have done since I chose it for her. I’ll never know if she would have grown into her name (although I’m sure she would have!), or even if she would have preferred it to our earlier name choice of Scarlett. I love having these conversations with my mum about my name, and it’s a shame I won’t get to share these conversations with my own daughter.

Talking about Ivy is something I will always do because it keeps her memory alive for me. It’s often emotional to talk about her short life because any discussion about it inevitably contains details of her death which followed shortly after. But time is slowly helping me to heal.

My family speak of Ivy also which is lovely as it’s important to acknowledge her – I didn’t spend 9 months resisting the temptation to lick the spoon after baking to forget why I did it in the first place :)
Remembering her beautiful face makes me forget the sadness for a moment and allows me to feel the joy & wonder that every new mother feels – I created that beautiful baby! She was important to us all from the moment I found out I was pregnant, but she was especially important to me.

She was my dream.

I will have to elaborate on that in another post so you can (try to) understand that I’ve not just lost a child, but possibly the fulfilment of my dream. Time will tell.

Ivy, you are most certainly alive in my thoughts, and will be tucked away in my heart for as long as I live :)

A Butterfly Lights Beside Us

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This morning I received two packages: photographs I ordered online, and a SANDS bereavement pack.

This little gem was found in the latter.

That last line really hits home for me. It goes without saying that I wish Ivy could have stayed with us, but that couldn’t happen, so I’m trying to move to a place where I’m thankful for what I had.

I’m thankful that Ivy was able to open her eyes for the short time she did. It’s such a precious memory which I’m so very grateful for. When I try to focus on the positive and ignore how awful the situation actually is, I think of when I sang nursery rhymes to her whilst stroking her little perfect hand and face. He eyes opening wider when she heard my voice which she had listened to for many months before. Thinking of that moment still brings mixed emotions, and likely will do for the foreseeable future, but one day the sadness will be eclipsed by pure joy. Joy that I got to meet my daughter and share such an epic memory.

I’m thankful for the staff at the NICU who were able to keep her alive for those few days allowing her that opportunity.

But mostly I’m thankful for Ivy. Although most of my memories are filled with pain right now, one day I will be able to look at her photograph without tears escaping, and acknowledge how precious our short time with her was.
She will have made me a stronger person, and will be a reminder of how precious life is.

Try to be thankful for what you have, however hard it may seem.
Baby keeping you awake – you are so very lucky.
A child testing your patience – remember it’s just a phase & the love they give outweighs everything else (struggling with this one myself at the moment!)
Wrinkles – don’t fret.
Your first grey hairs – you have hair! .
Approaching big milestones, such as your 30th, 40th, 50th birthday – celebrate.

We often take life for granted, myself included. Time to reflect on what we have is essential if we are to truly value life.

Appreciate the Butterflies. That’s my advice.

Dexter the cat

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Meet Dexter. 

This photo is from when he was a kitten last year, and was small enough to snuggle around my neck.  This is also the same time period that my lovely leather bed was subject to his sharp kitty claws, my lamp shade finally gave way due to his almost incessant need to stand on it with his front two paws, and when I was trying to keep Dex safe from my toddler (and vice versa!).

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He’s since grown into a beautiful young cat who is incredibly affectionate and loving. Since I’ve been home he’s tried climbing on my belly every day, and I feel awful pushing him away for fear he puts a paw in the wrong place. Once I’m recovered I’ll make up for all of our lost cuddles, although he does often sleep snuggled beside me so it’s not all bad! 

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Quick flashback to his kitty days again when he was known by the name Rosie. I can’t believe I almost forgot this part of his life story haha! I had wanted a female companion to level the male/female ratio that was currently skewed in my household.
I had asked for a female cat, and to be shown only lady cats, from which we picked our new addition :) Only to informed by the vet a couple of weeks later that our little lady’s boy bits well and truly existed. 

So Rosie became Dexter.

Although Dex wasn’t what I had initially anticipated, I wouldn’t change him for the world.

He’s lush. And he knows it.

Hope after infant loss

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The importance of hope should never be underestimated.
My grieving process is tightly bound to hope. Hope for the future. Hope for my family. Hope that this has to be the darkest part of my life and things can only get better from here on out.

For me, it’s inextricably linked to comfort and peace. To have hope drives you forward, keeping you moving with a focus. I simply can’t imagine the healing process without it.

There are moments when my hope seems to fade and the overwhelming sadness casts a dark shadow over every positive thought I have worked so hard to cling on to.

The lights go out.

The pain takes over.

The loss of my daughter is all that I can feel.

In these moments, I don’t appreciate the smile on my son’s face the same way I did just seconds ago. The thought of interacting with my neighbours fills me with dread rather than the warm fuzziness that I once felt after our brief encounters. Physically I feel different: more irritable, zero patience, on the brink of tears, to name a few changes.

It’s hard to accept that moments like these are okay. To let the pain in, and acknowledge how life has dealt me an awfully shitty card.
But since Ivy’s death I’ve managed to make it through every day. 11 whole days. 11 days that I shouldn’t be experiencing. That my family shouldn’t be experiencing.

But hope has everything to do with me getting here, to day 11. So it’s precious to me.

My hope is simple, and one that I’m sure most of you share with me; the safe arrival of a healthy child.

Baby number 3 – I’m hoping to kiss your little nose next year as I have done to all of my gorgeous babies!

Yesterday I didn’t cry

It was a weeks anniversary since Ivy’s death yesterday. I was sure that these initial anniversaries would cripple me and that I’d be directly transported back to those moments. But they passed by without much disturbance.

It was the 27th of July 2014, at 15:35, that our baby girl took her last short breaths.
We had agreed to head down to the NICU for 14:30 to begin the process of withdrawing her life support. We were late – no surprise there as I’m always late! But it’s not something you rush to go do, really.

They began the process of removing all non-essential support leaving just her breathing tube and her belly button cannula incase she needed morphine to relieve any pain.

The room where her last moments were to happen was inside the post-natal unit, and for me it was very emotional being taken there; the last time I was pushed up that corridor was 3 years earlier when I was holding my newborn son. To be heading to a place that I knew was full of mums with new babies when I was about to say goodbye to my precious little one, it was just hard.

Our NICU Nurse wheeled her into the room in her NICU cot, whilst a midwife hand pumped an air bag.
She was placed in my arms and I got to cuddle my baby for the first time. She really was a chunky little one compared to my son. To see the face of my baby without all of the wires and tubes and to finally see how much hair she had was just so emotional.

She took her first intake of breathe, and it startled me. I’m ashamed to say I let out a little shriek. I just wasn’t expecting it. It wasn’t as though she was gasping for air but it was louder than a normal breathe. The NICU nurse quickly reassured me that this was normal and I felt so guilty for having been so easily startled. After a couple of moments she let that breathe out, and continued to breathe like that for about 5-10 minutes.

I spoke to her and told her how much we all loved her, and anything I could possibly think of to let her know that she will be missed every day and never forgotten.

It felt wrong for me to be the only one to hold Ivy in her last moments so I passed her to her Daddy, a decision I’m glad I made. To see him holding her and loving her as he would have done every day of her life, added more to my pain. I was witnessing the loss of Ivy’s life, the life of my daughter, but also the loss of his princess.

Her final breathes were short and sweet, like a baby drifting off to sleep. I was so pleased that she had peace in those last few breathes.

We spent some time holding her and waiting for the doctor to come in and verify her death, which they did 20 minutes later. In that time I took my most precious photograph. She is wrapped up in her brother’s blanket which I have cradled him in many a time. My husband had gone to find a doctor so that we could go back to our room and spend our last hours with her, so it was just me & Ivy snuggled into one another. Of the limited mummy daughter bonding time that I had, this is the most precious.

The staff in the NICU were lovely & our NICU Nurse, Nadine, made our final moments with Ivy as calming as she could. The way she handled and spoke to Ivy before & after her passing was filled with respect and compassion. Nadine was such a significant part of Ivy’s short life, but also of her passing. She stayed with us throughout and wiped away tears when Ivy’s last moments came. She is worth every penny that the NHS pays her. Every single penny.

Dexter, our cat, must be able to feel my sadness this morning because he’s as curled up in my hair as he could possibly get (I’m still lay in bed – or was when I originally drafted this post!)
I’ll post a picture of him & all his loveliness soon. He’s delish :)

I started today on a sad note which has been impossible to shake off. Even my son pretending to be a cat isn’t lighting me up as it usually would. Tough days are bound to happen. Today is one of them.

Recovery after emergency C-Section

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To recover from a section is hard. To recover from a section that didn’t result in you taking your precious baby home, is harder.
I’m just over a week post-op & this is my recovery so far…

Day 1

I was hooked up to Morphine so felt pretty numb for those initial 16hours. I kept pressing the button in the hope that it would take away the pain, & for my physical pain it did just that.
My lovely midwife, Leigh, encouraged me to sleep but I told her the reason I was resisting so hard was because I didn’t want tomorrow to come. It was all still a bit surreal and I didn’t want to acknowledge what had happened to my baby girl.

Days 2 & 3

I was up and moving, but it was very sore and uncomfortable. I couldn’t get out of my bed (it was a low bed in a special room for parents of poorly babies) so had to have my husband or midwife pull me up. When I moved from sitting to standing I had to take a moment to adjust before beginning to move. Sitting on the toilet was even uncomfortable because the seat felt so big and naturally I used my tummy muscles to support myself.

I had to have daily injections in my belly to reduce the risk of clots and they really stung!
I woke up with heavy boobs and knew that my milk would soon be coming in, milk I would never need. At my request my midwife gave me some tablets to prevent it coming in, which were thankfully effective.
I asked for some sleeping pills strong enough to knock me out for the night, and they prescribed tramadol which was scarily effective. I had hallucinations for around ten seconds when I closed my eyes and then woke up 8 hours later.

Days 4 & 5

Small improvements every day. Sitting on the toilet wasn’t as painful, but I still struggled getting out of bed. These two days were.

Day 6

Definitely feeling better each day that passes. It was Ivy’s funeral so I was very emotional and moved about more than I had done previously. Pain was minimal really.

Day 7

I rested for most of the day & my midwife visited. My blood loss had increased slightly due to the increase in activity but soon settled again.

I’d removed the pad covering my wound before the midwife arrived so she could check that healing was going well. Oddly enough I seem to have two lines, one obviously my section wound and another about a cm above with dimples at each end. When I removed the dressing there were parts of skin that were quite numb; I’m hoping that most of the sensation returns.

Day 8

Which leads us to today.

I’m much more agile and no longer hunched over when I first stand. I can sleep on my side, and get myself out of bed quite easily. I don’t immediately notice if I forget to take pain relief, but take as soon as I remember just to stay on top of it.

Hopefully the next time I’m recovering from a section I’ll have a precious baby to keep me occupied :)

9 Month Journey

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Baby Ivy Florence,
We love you with all our hearts.
For you to have to leave us like this,
Tears us all apart.

October was the month when,
We knew our journey had begun.
Baby number two was tucked up tight,
Soon to join our perfect son.

At 15 weeks I felt you,
Gently kicking away.
Led in bed next to Daddy,
I could have stayed there all day!

The joys kept on coming,
We were 17 weeks along.
As a family off we went,
To see which team did you belong.

Pink or Blue, which one were you,
I froze with anticipation.
In that room my dreams came true,
My precious little girl!

That was the moment I knew for sure,
Our family was complete.
One boy, one girl..grow sweetheart, grow,
In my belly still so petite.

At our 20 week scan we found out you were perfect,
Grandma saw you for the first time.
Thankfully you were still a girl,
I couldn’t wait to sing you your first nursery rhyme.

You wiggled for me every day,
Reminding me you were there.
Theo always kissed & rubbed my belly,
To remind you that HE was there.

Theo would have treasured you,
The best big brother he’d have been.
To Daddy you would have done no wrong,
The good is all he would have seen.

Along came your awaited due date,
I thought you’d already be here !
40+4, it looked like the start,
Soon baby girl you’d appear.

It started off as normal,
The pains grew & grew.
With each one I’d focus,
They we leading us to you.

But then it all rapidly changed,
Your heartbeat slowed right down.
So many faces, prodding & poking us,
Blood gushing out my gown.

I begged for them to get you out,
Cut me open straight away!
You were clinging on, still faintly there,
God I hoped you’d stay.

I woke up some time later,
To be told you were alive!
But 17minutes had passed with no breathe,
My heart did a rapid dive.

Hooked up on tubes & wires,
In the NICU cot you lay.
Our precious baby Ivy,
My God, we hoped you’d stay.

The staff were all we could have hoped for,
Nadine kept you safe & well.
You looked so perfect, your button nose!
Your fingers, your toes, your smell.

After 3 days of intense support,
The decision needed to be made.
Your final moments in daddy’s arms,
We wished you would have stayed.

Time with you was precious,
We will savour it every day.
Our little baby Ivy,
In our hearts you’ll forever stay.

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