Thursday, December 31, 2009

In 2009 I have learnt

• There is much sadness in this life
• There is much joy in this life
• The things that once mattered much – like holding on to me and who I think i am – mean nothing
• The vast majority of people’s opinions mean nothing
• A shared experience bonds people instantly
• I still like sleeping with a fluffy animal
• Internet/virtual friendships are very real and can greatly impact your life
• Verbalising my feelings is near impossible
• Writing my feelings is therapeutic
• Grief can tear apart a marriage – not because of blame as I once thought but because people get lost in their own journey
• Grief can weld a marriage together – if both people are brave enough to trust each other with their hearts
• I don’t want to let go of my grief
• Grief is not linear. Each day is not a little easier. Grief grows and mutates and reveals new sharp edges – more aspects of loss to be mourned as time passes. It shocks you when you least expect it. It is ever-present. Sometimes revered and sometimes reviled. A constant companion.
• People want to “solve” my grief. They want to fix it. Sometimes grief just needs to be experienced.
• There is no right thing to say – there is only acknowledging that it happened and expressing your sadness
• We are near powerless
• Life is fleeting
• Joy can be found in the simplest of things: a massage, a kitten, sunbirds
• Pregnant women are everywhere
• Holding your own child for the first time is one of the most beautiful moments of your life.... even if that child has already left this world.
• There are incredible people in this world
• People surprise you – in the best and worst ways
• I am stronger than I ever imagined
• A sarky sense of humour is me. Despite what happens, it is there. Some might think that’s irreverant. They’ll get over it.
• A kitten can bring an inordinate amount of joy
• Empathy trumps sympathy a thousand times over.
• People and time invested in them is what matters in this life. You can’t take your job, your car, your achievements with you
• For the first time I am so excited for heaven
• My husband is the finest man I know
• My dad is right up there too (:
• God is a God of second chances.

Friday, December 25, 2009

When you are those "other people"

I guess I've been bracing myself for Christmas. Dreading it. Considering how it was meant to be in comparison to how it would now be. But the pain is never in the obvious things. It's not sitting around the christmas tree opening gifts knowing that your most precious gift is not with you. It's not sleeping in the same room you always do when you are home and not in the one with the cot that you had envisioned sleeping in. It's not waking up on christmas morning knowing that the little red "my first christmas" bib is still sitting in the cupboard in Somerset West never to be worn by Sophia. These expected hurts are dull, present, but not sharp.

The pain is in the unexpected. Wondering if Sophia's name would feature (along with the other family member's names) on my folks' christmas tree and finding that in fact a delicate glass orb with an angel inside has pride of place on the tree, with Sophia's name and birthday inscribed on it. The walls of my parents' house are laden with photos of my neice - their only (living) grandchild. In the garage yesterday I saw the car seat my mom had bought to keep for when we visited with Sophia this holiday. These seemingly benign things rip and claw at my heart.

My brothers (one of which was married last week, another of which is engaged) and their significant others excitedly discuss the prospects of children. With some puffed up bravado they talk of the responsibility to have a boy to carry on the family name. Still, despite what has happened, so oblivious to how fragile, how uncertain childbearing is. It's as if the attitude remains "it'll never happen to me", that sort of thing only happens to other people. That was once my unconscious belief as well. Sometimes, though, you are the "other people".

Lately my grief has morphed into something which I suspect is more similar to the grief that The Band has experienced. In moments all the other side issues and complications are stripped away and the naked longing to hold my daughter is all that is left. It is like a hunger of the soul. A hunger that will remain insatiable this side of heaven.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

bah humbug

well I can't say I'm feeling all stoked for Christmas this year. Obviously there is the matter of What Happened, but just in general I am uninspired. It just feels stressful more than anything else.

There's the Christmas shopping which I have barely made a dent in. The chaos of all The Band's family currently staying at my house and for an Undetermined Period of Time.... ya!!! The chaos of all my family on Christmas day. The Christmas carols. The way It Was Meant To Be. The thing is that this month has been so chaotic - a drive around the perimeter of the country (practically), two weekends away, another coming up, my brother's wedding this past saturday (and all the build up to that), christmas in EL (hopefully*) and then back home to all the inlaws for like 2 weeks.

Really, if I could choose, I would probably just have stayed home, me and The Band no one staying at our house, no Boney M, just a good book and a few choice series. Just some down time.

But perhaps I am just feeling jaded because of these two little fun developments that have transpired just this morning:

1. I got an email from SARS saying that I was going to be refunded R3500. NICE! Jubilation! Merry Christmas to me! etc etc. I clicked on the confirmation link and where did it lead? A nasty porn website! I feel defiled!! So no income tax refunds coming my way. I checked online and they only owe my 11c.

2. *The Band called earlier to say that he had bad news. He had checked our flights to EL (to my family for Christmas) and discovered that he had somehow booked them for OCTOBER!!! So never mind the cost of new flights, there actually aren't any to EL! they are all booked. Lovely. So now we are flying into PE and hiring a car from there. What a mission. Costing an extra R4k! Ridiculous expense but my dad insists on paying for it. He wants us home for Christmas, doesn't care about the cost. I'm very very blessed to have a dad like that.

Anyway, truth be told I am a bit of a sucker for Christmas. Perhaps it will be better than I expect. 
Wishing you and yours a very special Christmas x

Friday, December 11, 2009

2.5 kids and a white picket fence

The Band and I still obviously want to have kids. Ah. I say that so calmly and rationally, actually, like those of you who've lost a child will know all to well, I am desperate to hold my own baby. I may avoid other babies like the plague, but to hold my own baby... I dream of that.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter.

Plett Gynae said wait 3 months for your body to heal and 9 months for your heart to heal.
Antenatal Class Teacher said give it time, but not too much.
Shrink Lady (she of the no-lying-on-the-chaise-lounge!) said "I hope you aren't putting it off now!
And New Gynae (replacement of Unpopular Previous Gynae) suggested that physically I am healthy so we should just live and let live.

So who do you listen to? Considering that not one of these women have experienced this themselves... Well, you listen to yourself of course! :) In other words you choose the opinions you like and ignore those you don't. So instead of waiting to officially start trying at some distant point (and all the pressure that goes with that) in theory we are going with option D "live and let live". I say in theory because I have never been so conscious of my own cycle before.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Guv Bio

I mentioned a while ago that I would be doing a post about The Guv. When "everything happened" we decided to get a kitten. I'd wanted one for aaaages. It sounds simple, right? Actually it was really tough tracking down a kitten in September... apparently that's not "kitten season". Ya, who knew!? Anyway, eventually Tamara told me about Pets, a township pet rescue organisation. After filling in a 5 page adoption application form (which had to include references!!) and convincing them that I am, in fact, a rather eligible person to own a pet (hallo, I am a bunny hugging vegetarian who works for WWF!??!?), we got a little ball of fluff who we named The Guv.

 
Here he is about 5 weeks old only. So sweet. Looks so helpless and gentle...
mmm.
Well that didn't last! The Guv is growing up fast and he has demonic tendencies! Like when The Band and I returned from our weekend away a couple of weeks ago and he punished us by unceasingly attacking our bright red burnt legs. He is a law unto himself and the poor dogs are being a terrorised now that he's a bit bigger. He chases them round the house and they flee in terror!


He takes up the whole bed. Really, we can't get a decent night's sleep coz he will be smack bang in the middle and you have to squish to the side so as to not inconvenience His Majesty.


You know how sometimes you make bunny ears behind someone's head in a photo?



He enjoys making a mess wherever he goes. Attacking packets, toilet paper, clothes, dogs and us is just one of the services he offers.

And most peculiar of all.....

He has a water fetish. I didn't even think DOGS drank out the toilet in real life but The Guv will do so at any opportunity! He has hopped in the shower and the bath before (the shower is his favourite though). Not normal, not by a long shot.



Here The Band displays The Guv's 6 pack.... at least someone in the house has one!!

Perhaps The Guv's most useful attribute is that he is an incredible Fly Slayer. It's unbelievable. He is a stealthy hunter. When there is a fly around he will start making squeaky little miaows. To the untrained ear they sound almost sweet, but to those in the know, it is time to fear! The hunt begins and he is ruthless. He will knock over lamps, climb the blinds and demolish any breakables until he catches it and he ALWAYS catches it (and eats it - eew) in the end.

Truth be told, we adore The Guv and he adores us. When we arrive home he meets us at the door and proceeds to follow us around the house as long as we're there. He hates to be ignored and if I am cooking, or brushing my teeth, or washing the dishes or whatever he will simply climb up my leg and sit on my shoulder. Cute and a little sore from a 5 week old kitten, frikken excrutiating from a 4 month old cat. EINA!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Goals update

I seem to have lost a post somewhere... but anyway!

A quick update

Goal 1: 6kg down and have started a bit of road running. Went this morning with The Band which was cool.

Goal 2: Have put together a very detailed calendar step by step for getting the business started. We were told last week that our offices will be moving from Stellenbosch to Cape Town by the end of next year. Feels like confirmation for me. There is no way I am happy to spend 2 hours a day in traffic and even less so if we have a child by then, so ya, feels like the end of an era, and my mind is pretty much made up.

Ooooooh I nearly forgot! I went to the SHRINK last week! I was quite disappointed: no lying on a chaise lounge like in the movies... just sitting on a couch (hardly the same!) It was good. Some of it was very helpful, particularly as she specialises in pregnancy related psychology and understands the medical side of things... ya, who knew there even was such a thing. Basically she was on the whole trying to see if I was suffering from post traumatic stress and if my marriage was suffering. negative and negative. I am doing fine, just walking the long and lonely road of grief. I won't go back, I don't think it is necessary, and she doesn't either, though she gave me stuff to read and things to look out for.

Anyway, that's me and where I'm at. Still fragile - yesterday a friend with a newborn mentioned something in passing about another friend who is having her caesar today. It was actually quite a funny story and at the time I laughed, but minutes later it hit me again: the sickening realisation that yet another friend will be having her child (the first of my friends to have a girl since... and she will be dark haired on top of it) and I am stuck on the same treadmill, running and running and getting nowhere and watching their joy, their self-indulgent pity (*sigh* I am getting no sleep *smiles fondly at baby*) UGH! and drowning in envy and what ifs and could have beens. Putting on the brave face when I see them, crying with the pain when I'm out of sight, and feeling the emptiness of here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baby Loss Meme

Living in the Rainbow suggested I do this meme. There is something jarring about the fact that there is even such a thing as baby loss meme. That's not to say I think it is wrong, I think it just jars because traditionally blog memes are such frivolous fun things (Got writer's block? do a meme) and this one is so not that.

Losing my baby girl has opened up this whole other world in my life... I was completely oblivious of its existance until 2 months ago. Now I have friends from around the world thanks to a shared tragic commonality. In many ways I feel like I know other "baby lost" parents better than some people I've known all my life. Another part of this world which jars me is that it has its own lingo. Baby lost parents. Rainbow babies. TTC. etc. etc. There is something so sad in that. I'm trying to figure out what the essence of that sadness is and I suppose it is that this whole realm is so established. So real. So definite. But I digress...

Onwards to the meme. Oh... and BTW I am going for complete honesty here, trusting that this is a safe place for that.

1. What do you want people to know about the child you have lost?
I guess the initial and most obvious thing would be that she is a person, she has an identity, she is loved, she matters.

When we got to the hospital on that awful day and they scanned but found no heartbeat, I asked the doctor whether the baby was a boy or a girl. She responded "that's not important." A while later when she was finished with the "intense" part of the scan (where she was really trying to figure out what went wrong and what danger I was in) she asked if I had questions. I said "yes. Is the baby a girl or a boy?" She said "why is that important?" In my head I was screaming, but I was muted by shock and so Stef answered "because it is!" She checked and told us that she was a girl.

That moment was a horrible one for me. Of course now with the shock subsided I would be able to give that doctor millions of reasons why that questions matters. Some of them are: I knew her, we knew her, we loved her, we love her, we miss her, we have dreamt of her, we look toward the day we will see her again. When a person dies, we don't forget them... really pointing out the obvious here: a baby is a person! It is not as if some miraculous metamorphosis happens between the womb and the outside world and so I guess that takes me back to the first line of this answer.

Sophia is our first born. I have a daughter. We are parents. We will love all future children of course, but they can not replace her.

2. What names did you give your child and why?
We had decided to go the traditional route and not find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. We had names in mind for both. Nevertheless, as I've mentioned before, I knew we were having a girl. I had dreamt of her and seen her in my mind's eye so many times and when people used to say they "knew" it was a boy I'd be downride annoyed with them.

When "everything happened" we needed to decide on a name. We'd originally wanted to name our daughter after my gran who died last year, but knowing our little girl too had died, I just couldn't do that. And so we went with the name we had saved for our second daughter, Sophia Grace. It was a sad moment... naming our child. I was still in labour at that stage and it was so so far from the "moment of naming" that I had expected. I had thought that I would be holding my baby girl, cuddling her, a lifetime of possibility before us. Instead it was a sad conversation in a hospital hallway.

Sophia Grace is a beautiful name and it suits her. I wrestle a bit with this though: I don't want to ever be at a place where she becomes "she who shall not be mentioned". I want to speak of her and have people speak of her and yet I can barely say "Sophia" without my voice catching and my eyes filling.

We didn't even know, when naming her, that Sophia means Wisdom. Wisdom and Grace are her names and I believe her character has both. Both are what we need in navigating our way through this.

3. What rituals or ways of memorializing your child seem to best help you cope with their loss?
The day I found out I was pregnant we began a book of letters to Sophia. We recorded all the adventures of pregnancy, all the scans, the first kicks, the special moments. We had planned to keep writing in that book until she was 21 and giving it to her then. We have continued writing in that book from time to time.

I also had her name inscribed on my wrist and I love that.

I have chatted with the ladies from Bosom Buddies about their supporting moms whose babies die and I hope to become more involved in this after a time in honour of my daughter. I think that the various ways moms and dads honour their children's memories is incredibly beautiful. I will do a whole post on this at another time.

I think as time goes by I will find different ways of keeping her in remembrance.

4. What are the kindest and/or most helpful things people have said to you? What are the worst?
The kindest things really are when people have the guts to acknowledge what has happened, to say they are sorry for us and to call her by her name. SO FEW PEOPLE mention Sophia by name. She is reduced to "that thing that happened". So I guess it's not in specific words, it is more in people's attitudes. People mean to be kind when they pretend that nothing has changed. I know their hearts are right... they don't want to put me on the spot. But it grieves me... things HAVE changed. EVERYTHING has changed. My daughter matters and mentioning her by name acknowledges that.

People have, in general, been thoughtful, but some of the worst things have come from some people closest to me and have actually been intended as kind. Two examples:

The first: a friend of mine who has an adopted child and a biological child said through my process she has now realised that you are a mother throughout pregnancy and beyond. Seeing me suffer has made her realise that. She never used to think that way because she never thought of her adopted child's biological mom as a mom at all. The biological mom never held him, comforted him, fed him. She "merely" carried him for 9 months.

I realise that it may be difficult to see why this was so sore to hear... I'll try to explain. I guess it was the mention of any doubt at all that you're a mom from the start. I guess it was the initial dismissal of the bond a mom and child share through the womb in comparison to the shared joy that follows birth.

The second: my closest friend is fiercely protective of me and I of her. When I returned from Plett, she told me that when she'd heard what was going on, she had just wanted to drive there and be with me, but, she said, in retrospect it is perhaps good that she didn't coz The Band and I were so strong and so sure in our actions and choices in that time (referring to us knowing that I should go through natural labour instead of a c-section).

She said (and here it comes....) when she'd heard that I was going through labour she couldnt bare the thought of it and felt that those doctors should just "get it out of Caz". Now I don't know if she said "it", maybe she said "her" but that's what I heard. My daughter, reduced to an "it" to be eradicated. That one hurt a lot, probably because I think that just about everyone (The Band excluded) probably felt the exact same way. I know my brothers and my dad couldn't understand why I was going through labour. And all these people only felt this out of love and protection for me. I know that. But for me, as a mom, I would have laid down my life for my daughter and it's heartbreaking that those closest to me still think of me first... if they'd ever met her, or known her like I had, she would have captured their hearts too... not just the prospect of her, but HER and then they may have felt differently.

Hmmm I am aware that the above is confusing and I don't know if it'll make any sense to anyone. oh well.

5. Who is your hero? Who helps you make it through the dark days better than anyone else on the planet?
The Band - he draws me out of myself. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn't judge. He knows when to just hold me. He speaks of Sophia with such love.

This blog - an outlet for so many emotions. A place of support and love. Through blogging I have had the privilege of learning through the experiences of others and of getting glimpses of their children who, perhaps, are friends with Sophia in heaven.

Claudine - Claudine lost her daughter last year and has since given birth to her second child, beautiful little Madison. The midwife at the hospital called Claudine and asked her to come visit. She ended up coming by every day of my hospital stay. I think that hearing her story, her lessons, before I'd even given birth was immensely helpful and made such a difference to the whole thing. We have stayed in close contact and I have come to value her as an incredible women and a very caring friend. She totally gets it and I thank God for her.

My aunt aka FA (favourite aunt) and I am FN (favourite niece) though no one knows about that but us :).
FA lost her husband 10 years ago in a tragic car accident. They were very much in love and weren't yet forty when it happened. She has known tragedy. And she has known grief. She has known the reality of life moving steadily on all around you while you are stuck at the point of impact. She generally calls me once a week on a Wednesday coz she knows Wednesdays are tough days for me. She sometimes remembers it's Wednesday before I do. She asks the questions that no one else is brave enough to. She gets me to talk about things and she always calls Sophia by name.

The Guv - ok, ok, so The Guv may not be a hero (although he is a skilled fly slayer and we are very proud of his prowess!) but he is a delight. This little kitten crept into our hearts and has brought us so many laughs and much joy. Waking up to a handful of fur staring at you about 3cm from your face and purring furiously means that your very very first thought is not of your despair and grief. And no, as one person asked, I don't feel like he somehow fills the gap because now I have something to mother (I MEAN SERIOUSLY!????) but a kitten is a very sweet thing, and this crazy little feline is particularly special and in fact warrants his own post on another day.

6. Is there anything you need to say or want to say but haven’t been able to? Can you say it now?
Unless you have lost a child (in which case the following becomes a thing of hope for me) please don't tell me about your baby or your pregnancy. Please don't hear what I'm not saying: if you have a blog, what you write there is 100% your business, your space, your privilege, it is my choice whether I am strong enough to read it or not, but here in this space and particularly in real life, don't assume, because I am going through the motions, sucking it up, smiling, laughing, joking, that I'm not in agony. The constant narrative in my head details how different things should be now, how big Sophia should be now, what we should be doing now.

Also curiosity kills the cat, or as the Afrikaans say "van nuuskierigheid is die tronke vol and die kerke leeg" (from curiosity, the jails are full and the churches are empty). I understand the heart behind it, but don't worry about warning me against reading this magazine or that blog... that makes me curious to know what you think I shouldn't read and makes me more likely to read it.

I am sadly far from the place where I can feel genuine joy for others with regards to their babies... It hurts so so much to hear about babies and pregnancies. I hope and pray this changes at some point, of course I want to be happy for people I care about and I am, but it is coupled with so much agony.

The Band and I actually spoke about this last night. It is not the same for him and he had no idea that it was as bad for me because I am very talented at putting on a happy face. What would be helpful is for you to pray for me on this one because as I have mentioned in the past, I don't want to feel like this, it's not something I like in myself, but it is the way it is.

7. How are you doing? How are you really doing?
I have my ups and my downs. In general I am somewhere inbetween. Everything has changed. I feel this defiant indifference with regards to the opinions of others, a kind of "this is me, take it or leave it" attitude which is really probably only some lame attempt at trying to regain some form of control. I really really battle to be mentally motivated. Work feels like running on a treadmill uphill in the heat and without the endorphin rush. I feel like my life is in limbo until I have another child. I feel like there is such unfinished business just hanging in the air... I am a mom without my baby. Empty arms. I feel restless in this place.

When I am down (ya, the above is not a description of down.. that's just the normal... scary but true) I feel like I am drowning. It is a terrifying feeling. A suffocating, desperation. An awful, dreadful powerlessness. Reminds me a bit of The Nothingness in The Neverending Story. When I am up I feel hope... hope for the babies we will still have (God willing). Hope for the day I meet Sophia in heaven.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hope for Lily?

I just found this article on how a guy in a permanent vegetative state for 3 years was given sleeping tablets which paradoxically awoke parts of the brain which were deemed dead. This mom tells of how they are giving the drug to their brain damaged daughter. According to the scans, there is something in the tablet which increases oxygen flow to those parts of the brain. Could this be a possibility for Lily?

Anyone have any clue how I'd go about taking this forward? I have been trying to track down the doctor - Dr Wally Nel - but no luck so far.

Any ideas?
Meanwhile I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can you imagine

not knowing what colour your daughter's eyes are?

not knowing the sound of her laugh? or cry?

listening to people talking about their children, their babies, in front of you, knowing that to them it's nothing, but to you it's everything and something you'll never have the absolute privilege of doing?

realising all over again that this is it.

If you can't imagine, this is how it feels:
sickening, physically nauseating, physically painful, lonely, very, very lonely, isolating, desperate, dark.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why I haven't been writing

coz I don't have much to say.

Life is just moving along. Work is really busy - focusing on our new Vote Earth campaign... listen out for the radio ads, my voice features.

Still going strong with Goal 1 and am now 5kgs down.

Goal 2 is tougher, the life coach has given me a values survey to fill in, the theory being that you are more likely to achieve the goals that support your values.

Finally had a bit of progress with The Band yesterday when he muttered something mildly bitter about someone with kids. I think I actually said "FINALLY!" Crikey... it's a relief to see some kind of self pity there because I am frikken swimming in it!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Beauty from ashes

Great things done in Sophia's name: read about it here.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Goal update:2

Goal 1: Get in shape
Progress: Have now lost 4kgs. Yay. Really enjoying the eating plan still, especially now that the SIL has taught me how to cook all kinds of vegetarian curries etc. Also loving the variety of exercise I've been doing: spinning, abs classes, powerplate classes, hikes, etc.
Next steps: Keep it up!

Goal 2: New venture
Progress: Have appointed a life coach who specialises in helping entrepreneurs to start their businesses. Perfect no? Even more perfect: he happens to be my brother. Have also, somewhat cheekily, already grabbed at an opportunity to feature the business in a publication that is coming out for tourists attending the world cup. How's that for bold? Have also acquired some contacts in terms of setting up a CC etc.
Next steps: Meet up with the brains trust to determine (official) first steps.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2 months



Two months ago today I was in labour. My life was in peril. My heart was held together only by prayers. The ground was falling away beneath me. My dreams were dying.

Two months ago I held you in my arms. My little bundle wrapped in pink. You were heavier than I expected and I was so tired. But you were beautiful. If I could go back I would hold you forever.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Goals update

The Virgin Life Care website assures me that I have far greater chance of reaching my goals if I track my progress, so bear with me!

Goal 1: Get in shape
Progress: I've lost about 3kgs. Feeling a bit happier in my own skin, but still a way to go! To be honest, for the most part I'm enjoying it. The exercise has been so good for me. The eating side has been made easier by a visit from the Sister-In-Law who is a great healthy food cook.
Next steps: Don't lose motivation when my training buddy goes away for a whole month!

Goal 2: New Venture
Progress: Sent emails to people whose wisdom I want on this, my parents and a couple in the church. Wanted to hear their perspectives in terms of where I'm at and who I am rather than the merits only of the business itself. Is it wise for me? Got some good input. My dad's main advice is about minimising risk, in other words, start the business and have it viable before before resigning here. Makes sense, but will be tough doing both.
Next steps: Set up a meeting of what The Band has dubbed The Brains Trust. Pick the brains of a few close friends with experience of starting their own ventures, setting up CCs, etc etc.

Will keep you posted x

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Walking the tightrope

People who see me for the first time always ask me how I'm doing (*intense look, head tilted to the side*) What do you say to that? I still don't have a good standard answer. The polite thing to say is "alright thanks". The truth is "up, down, surviving, drowning, glimmers of optimism, chunks of denial, pools of depression, zero motivation, infinite sadness, despair, hopelessness."

Yesterday I had this strange feeling. As I mentioned before, I've been in distraction and avoidance mode lately, and yesterday it felt like this: I remembered again with shock what had happened to this girl I know. This girl I love. She had the most awful thing happen to her and I feel so sad for her. I felt muted shock as I recalled it. That girl is Caz Past. The Old Me. The girl who is no longer here. What a weird feeling. To feel sorry for a past you. To think of yourself in the 3rd person. I guess perhaps I got a glimpse of how others might feel about me. As I allowed myself to think about it more and more the externality of that grief became less. The grief merged back into its rightful place; within Caz Now.

I wonder if there are elements of depression setting in. If I should go speak to a grief counsellor. How would I know? I have mastered the "I still fit in with all of you, lets discuss inane frivolous things" act. I feel an expectation from people to suck it up now. They see the "together" me and think that's my reality, but that's a fraction of it. There is a lack of joy. There is a sick heaviness that never leaves. I think of summer and I feel so so sad. I am dreading summer. I guess its mostly because of how different it was meant to be but also because last summer was one of such adventure - we had an amazing journey - bazaruto, zimbabwe, zambia, it was a time of such joy and excitement all culminating in Sophia's conception near Victoria Falls. This summer takes me somehow further away from Sophia.

Friday, October 30, 2009

that damn sun

The last two weeks I have been kept really busy. I am back at work, I am also now able to exercise so been doing plenty of that. I've allowed myself to just escape in it all. When I have a moment, I swallow it down and get on with something else. Distraction.

But it bubbles there, this grief. It prowls beneath the surface and when I let my guard down, out it creeps.

The other day I walked through The Room Formerly Known As The Nursery. It was mid-morning and the sun was shining through the sliding doors which open out to the garden. It looked so beautiful and warm. A wonderful place for Sophia to rest in.A place I would want to rest in. A place to sit, nursing my baby girl. A place for the two of us.

Something as small as the sun shining in crushed me. The room is no longer a nursery. It is now just a shell. Everything packed away. An empty, echoey room.

Lily...

So many have you have contacted me either through this blog or seperately to find out if you can donate money to help with the situation. Thank you all for caring.

I don't want to take any money until I know what it can be used for so I will (obviously) keep you guys posted. At this stage I'm not sure how money could help.

What is needed first and foremost is for a home to accept her... so please - those of you who do - pray for that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

South African Tragedy: Part 5

I should be surprised, but really I'm not.

So Tuesday Kuselwa and Mavis go to the hospital to be with Lily* when she is moved to Sive Nathi. They wait and wait and wait. They are told that when the ambulance driver is ready he will take them. They wait and wait and wait some more. Eventually at 16:30 he is ready but needs the phone number of Sive Nathi before he will leave. The hospital does not have it. The social worker can't be reached. Mavis calls me and i find it for her.
They phone to confirm that Sive Nathi are expecting them. Affirmative.

So? all systems go right?

No. Now the ambulance driver has disappeared. They wait and wait. They ask and are told he will come back. Eventually Mavis leaves to be with her children. Kuselwa waits some more. She ends up spending the night in the chair next to Lily's bed.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH
I can not believe the complete disregard these people have for this woman. How can you care so little? Even forgetting the fact that they have ruined her life and destroyed her child, it is shocking to treat someone like that. As if her time means nothing. As if her comfort means nothing. She is missing work to be there because they told her to, they don't give a dam.

Eventually yesterday at mid day the ambulance dropped them off at Sive Nathi.

It gets worse.

Sive Nathi looked at Lily and said they can't care for her. She needs medical attention daily, they only have a doctor visit once a week. Surely her condition was communicated before they got there? Before they approved her arrival?

And so Kuselwa and Lily waited and waited again for the ambulance to return and take them back to Stellenbosch Hospital.

False hope is cruel. What choices are left for this child?

I spoke to the social worker today and she reckons that Lily does not need to see a doctor daily at all. If she was ill, sure, but she is not. She thinks everyone is avoiding taking Lily because of the legal issues surrounding her story. They are scared to get involved. How sad is that? Fortunately the social worker has really taken this case to heart and I know that she will do everything in her power to find a place.

* the saddest thing ever. Mavis told me she went to the hospital on the weekend for the first time in a while. She said when she said hallo to Lily, Lily began to cry - silently - then she calmed down. When Mavis said goodbye she began crying again. Also when they were packing her things and preparing to leave the hospital on Tuesday she cried again. It seems that incredibly, she must have some cognicense of what is going on. I'm not sure if this is heartbreaking and hopeful or just plain heartbreaking, but I do know that this little girl absolutely needs to have company, to be spoken to, to be stimulated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Goals to keep me going

Over the past week or two I set myself a few goals. Goals and deadlines are what make me tick. I'm pretty useless without them.

Goal 1:
Lose all the pregnancy weight and a bit more
.

I didn't want to stuff around with random diets and eating plans also I need to make sure that my body is a healthy one going forward so I bit the bullet and went to a dietician two weeks ago and signed up at the shmancy new Virgin Active.

I am a week and a half into my new, improved way of eating (basically low GI) and it is a breeze so far. Seeing dietician on Friday so will update you then. Been gymming and spinning and powerplating and hiking and am really loving it at this stage.

Goal 2:
Launch a business
that would:
a) Provide me more freedom to spend time with the Band and future children and to allow me to invest time in people, to be there for people if they need me. for example if a mom finds out that her baby has died and needs to speak to someone, I'd like to be able to go be with her.

b) Provide opportunities for incredible women who currently have none. AKA Mavis's sisters.

c) Provide a decent income and a brand new adventure.

I've got the idea worked out and have been speaking to relevant people about it. For now I just need to muster up the energy. I am so mentally demotivated... really battling to focus on my work too. The Band is trying to help me set small steps and deadlines. Once I get going it's ok, but getting going is tough.

You guys need to help keep me motivated, ok?

Monday, October 26, 2009

South African Tragedy: Part 4


I went to see Lily today over lunch.

Wow. My heart. I can't make peace with what has happened to this beautiful little girl so how on earth can her mom?

The good news is that the social worker has finally found a home that will take Lily in. She says she has been hounding all the homes for months and months but they are all either filled beyond capacity or don't have the facilities to care for a case as severe as Lily.

Anyway, finally a place called Sive Nathi (God hears us in Xhosa) has agreed to take her in. I found this infoon Sive Nathi and it is a bit outdated, but wow. It sounds like a sad story too! People genuinely trying to make a difference with pretty much no support from government. You can check out their website here.

Basically they are at this stage needing R500 per month in order to accomodate Lily. I told the social worker that of course that is fine. Although she was trying to see if she could get the hospital to contribute which I believe they should, on principle!

Anyway, once Lily has been moved there I will try go see it and see what some of the realities are. Will keep you guys posted.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

These are my friends



And suddenly it all started making sense....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Others

One of the really horrible and unexpected results of "the thing that happened to me" has been my reaction to pregnant women and moms with babies*.

I know it's a cliche to say "you feel like you've been punched in the stomach" but that is the precise feeling when I see a pregnant woman. It's not even just seeing them. It's reading on facebook how you are "loving cuddling your baby" and how you "can't believe she's already 3 months old!" that makes me want to vomit. I wonder if this eases over time coz it feels like it is getting stronger. Perhaps only when I am pregnant again myself. But perhaps not even then.

The envy that courses through my body when I see or read such things is hard to describe. I can't say I'd ever genuinely envied before all this. I suppose there were moments of envy, but it would be inconsequential things, this is 100%, full blown envy and it's not pretty.

I scowl. I actually do. Sometimes, if I'm with a friend, I make a joke of it and hiss at the pregnant woman (not so that she can see of course). But the truth is it is not a joke. Even when I'm alone and I see one my face contorts into a grimace. It's not intentional, I don't want to feel this way, I don't want to have no joy left for others, but right now that's who I am. Not proud of it at all.

Pregnant women all look so oblivious, so genuinely carefree and happy. I'll play the psychoanalyst here: perhaps what I despise in them is the resemblence between them and me when I was pregnant.

It sickens me to think how I moaned about being uncomfortable. How I longed for the pregnancy to be over. How I felt sorry for myself!??!?! How I took it all for granted. I hate those parts of my past, pregnant self.

* Randomly there are exceptions to this. Certain people, if they are sensitive toward me or if I can see that they truly know and appreciate how blessed they are, don't upset me. But those women who gush in front of me, or directly to me - and yes, it has happened - about their delight at being pregnant, and those new moms who moan about getting no sleep and being so tired.... they give me violent thoughts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

90 years and still crying

Last night I spoke to The Band's 90 year old gran, Ouma.

She lost her second baby when she was about 5 weeks old. I had known this via my father in law, but Ouma has never ever spoken about it to him or anyone. Last night she broke that and spoke about it to me.

She said that she still cries for her baby. 60-something years later she cries for her baby and longs for her. She says the pain never ever goes away. Over the years you cry less, but you long for that child all your life. You see a baby and your heart aches - even if you've had other children.

Her baby died 6 September, her anniversary and Sophia's are days apart. I think our loss has been so so hard on her. Sophia is her first great grandchild.

I think of this woman carrying so much pain for so many years. In those days the solution was "you'll have other kids". I suppose there was little understanding and so she carried it all alone. Bottled it all up inside. She never spoke of it to her husband or her children. What a lonely road.

I so appreciated her just speaking straight with me. Everyone tells me it will get better. Here's a woman who has gone through it herself. She warned me: Caz, it doesn't get much better. That is the blunt truth. Don't get me wrong - there is still so much joy and beauty in this life. I would still, on the whole, describe myself as a happy person. But the pain is here to stay and quite frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Weird but true.

Ouma said that the first thing she plans on doing when she gets to heaven is finding her girl and mine and telling them how much they are loved.

Guess who's back

back again

(at work)

Day 1 yesterday was not bad. I arrived and my office was full of flowers and chocolates. About a million people came in and gave me hugs from the CEO to the cleaners - which is one of the things I love about where I work, amazing people.
It was intense but ok.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

South African Tragedy: Part 3

Sorry guys. You've asked a few times for an update on Lily and I haven't gotten to it. (For those of you with no idea what I'm on about, check here and here)

The news isn't great. It all went down in June and her condition hasn't changed. About a month ago she was transferred back to Stellenbosch Hospital from Tygerberg Hospital - I guess it's a capacity thing - which isn't great as Stellenbosch is where the bugger up happened in the first place. Mavis, our maid (Lily's aunt) says that the other day her sister noticed that two of Lily's bottom teeth were missing. She asked the nurse and the nurse said perhaps they had been knocked out when they suctioned excess saliva from her mouth. Perhaps I am being paranoid but to me that sounds like they are not exactly being gentle with her... A 2.5 year old's teeth should not be knocked out very easily. It is concerning to me and to Lily's mom of course.

Ah man, the whole thing makes me despair. I can't believe how powerless we really are. The social workers are apparently trying to find some kind of home for Lily to be moved to but apparently they all say that her condition is too bad. I spoke to the Band about Lily coming here to our house (If she ever does have to leave the hospital I can't think that she should go lie in a shack - the risk of infection and other unsafeties is high and scary) but the reality is that she needs to be in a place where there are people all the time. So I guess the waiting continues.

In terms of the lawyers... well they take forever. I think that's just normal with the law process.

Mavis says her sister (Kuselwa - Lily's mom) is really battling. She works 6 days a week and earns a horrific salary. Her work have never once asked about Lily and in the times she has had to rush to the hospital they have shouted at her telling her business is business. No compassion. This poor woman is so alone. My heart breaks for her. What's more is that even Mavis and the rest of the family battle with visiting Lily. It is really hard for them. Mavis says that she feels so bad - she is hardly even asking about Lily and acting like she doesn't care, but it is because she cares too much and it hurts too much. She said that when I went to hospital she was finished and realised she (mavis) wants to go for counselling to deal with what has happened to Lily and to me.

This is such a special family. I wish there was more that I could do. Providing employment for Kuselwa would be a start, but I wish that Lily could at least be given some dignity instead of remaining in the care of the same staff who allowed this nightmare to happen in the first place.

When I compare situations - Lily in that cold hospital and me in the Plett Mediclinic - the only patient - I realise how terribly unfair life in SA still is.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The end is nigh. bugger.

So today is my last day as a lady of leisure. No more moseying out of bed at 8.30ish. No more leisurely morning cups of tea in the sun room with The Guv. No more gymming mid morning. No more deciding at a whim what my day will consist of. Monday I'm back to work.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Had a back-to-work nightmare the other night... dreamt we were all dentists and I didn't know or care about what I was meant to be doing and everyone was p'd off with me.

The reality is that I haven't missed my job. Before going on maternity leave 7 weeks ago I thought I'd miss it. I haven't. I suppose that was a lifetime ago and everything has changed now. Priorities have changed. HA! I actually used to cling to my career woman image. No more. Yes, I want to be doing something, I need a sense of personal achievement - we all do - but to be at an office all day. Not keen. To be constantly bogged down with unnecessary admin - reports and such - no thanks. To be striving for goals set by others - nope. Can't say my heart is in it anymore.

The past week I have begun to dream a bit. A whole new beginning. A venture that would allow me more freedom. A venture to be run from home. A venture that would give me more time with The Band. A venture that would provide great jobs for Lily's mom and sisters. A venture that, in some small way, would honour my daughter. I am working on a business plan now and doing research and dreaming. Maybe this could be something great.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The calm before the storm?

Today has been a good day.

Don't think I've told you guys about Bosom Buddies? It's an organisation involved with visiting and providing basics for new moms at a number of public hospitals in the Western Cape. They are also involved in providing packs to moms whose babies have died – a number which is obviously quite high in public hospitals.

Anyway, I heard about them a while back and thought of getting involved while I was on maternity leave but then "things happened" (got to love those euphimisms). So a couple of weeks ago I made contact to find out about their involvement with moms "who have gone through the same thing that I have". yes. Everyone else avoids calling it what it is so why can't I?

Turns out the one thing they don't have when it comes to moms of stillborns is a camera to at least take a photo of the baby for the mom to keep. (My photos of Sophia are among my most treasured possessions... without them I may forget - my time with her was so brief).

Aaaaaaannnnnnyyyyyywaaaaaaaaaaaaaay bla bla bla so I emailed my contact at Canon and voila, just like that Canon said for sure and sent me a beautiful camera - valued at around R6k for Bosom Buddies.

Delivered it today. Stoked

Mind you, tomorrow is Wednesday. Wednesdays are baaaaaaad days for me but who knows... maybe tomorrow will be ok.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Greetings from the Eastern Cape

So the good news is I am not typing this while horribly drunk, all on my own, blaring sad music, clutching Sophia's teddy bear, surrounded by photos and scrunched up tissues (and empty wine bottles).
That was my last post... but I have decided that it's best the Band doesn't leave me alone with the wine collection and my thoughts again any time soon.

This weekend I am with my parents in East London. It's been a good time but intense.

My mom and I spent the day at a spa yesterday. Never done that before. It was great.

It seems that wherever I go there are breeders. Pregnant women and people with babies everywhere I turn. Makes me want to vomit. I didn't even notice it this much when I was pregnant myself, now just about everywhere it's babies and pregnancy. Each time it's like a little fist digging into my solar plexus. Nauseating. literally.

I went to a new gynae on thursday. She seems great. We just chatted - i think she actually started crying a bit. It was a relief to have someone to ask my questions.
Basically the deal for future is this:
You are fertile again within about 2 weeks of giving birth (if you aren't breastfeeding). In terms of my phyusical health she would recommend a minimum of 3 months from Sophia's birth before we start trying to conceive again. Obviously our mindset and all that is another matter which we'd have to decide on.
The cold hard stats are that there is a 10% chance that this - placental abruption - could happen again.
There is NOTHING that they can do to prevent it happening. I could have a scan every single day and it would make no difference - there are no warning signs.
Because I think the abruption happened around 37 weeks (a few days before I started bleeding) they would induce labour for me at 36 weeks in future pregnancies.

The Band and I had a long chat about it. This probably won't make any sense to any of you (unless you have lost a baby) but the hugest part of me is desperate to be pregnant again. Funny - I felt rather sorry for myself while I was pregnant - the cankles, the heartburn, etc. Now I would give anything to go back to that time. But our hearts have been opened to a baby. Our home and our lives were reordered around the arrival of our girl and now she's gone. We still want more children. I still want a baby - one that is HERE. But suddenly trying for a child is not such an easy, carefree decision.

Before we decide that we are willing to try again we have to get our minds around the fact that it is a reality: it could happen again. I'd love to be in denial about that, but it's fact. And what if?? What if it happens again? Would I survive it? Would my relationships survive it? What would it do to me, the Band, my folks?
And yet the thought of not trying, of not having even the possibility of my own baby to hold, to bath, to feed, to clothe, to love is one of the loneliest thoughts I can fathom. We will try again in time. There is no doubt about that, but wow it will be a terrifying time.

Surely I am too young for this? I feel ancient nowadays.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

5 weeks past. 3 doors down.

Here without you.

All the miles that separate disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face.
I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby and i dream about you all the time.
I'm here with you baby but you're still with me in my dreams and tonight girl it's only you and me.

Everything I know and everywhere I go
it gets hard but it wont take away my love
and when the last one falls
when its all said and done
it gets hard but it wont take away my love.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Inked

So yesterday I did it.

A big thank you to Ches from this blog for doing the design - love it and really appreciate it.

I asked the guy how bad it was going to be and he said most girls think a wax is worse. So I asked how the guys feel.... he laughed. Apparently guys pass out left right and centre. They have also been known to pee themselves literally. haha
But it wasn't bad at all. Kind of like a deep, slow scratch. Sore but nowhere near a wax, or ear ache or childbirth or even a vit B12 injection.

I was never one of those that always wanted to get a tattoo. It's hardly some fulfilment of the rebel within, but I love it.

When most think about tattoos they think skinheads, tramp stamps, gothic script, dragons, but when I think of this tattoo I think of this in Isaiah 49:

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."


Monday, October 05, 2009

What's going on?

So I wake up in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high and I (pause) scream at the top of my lungs WHAT'S GOING ON??
(Or something like that)

Now that we'll all walk around with the 4 non blondes in our heads the whole day...

A friend of mine who was pregnant with me had her baby boy last monday. I got the standard sms telling of healthy mom and baby and proud dad. All was well.
Last night I heard that the next day the baby developed what turned out to be meningitis. He has been in ICU ever since.

I spoke to my friend today for ages. We cried together. Her baby is still alive. She still has hope, so that is something, but on the other hand she has to watch him suffer the worst physical pain.

My heart is breaking for her. At this stage the doctors have said that they can start being cautiously optimistic that he will make it but there's a high likelihood of some long term effects - deafness, blindness, learning disabilities, social impairment. For now they can only wait and see.

She had a perfect pregnancy just like me. We were those pregnant woman who did everything right. Not like all those smoking, coke drinking, non-exercising people that abound. We were caffeine free, alcohol free, nicotene free, balanced diets, supplement taking exercisers.

I can only imagine the sick feeling she must be carrying around all the time. What should have been the most exciting week of her life has become a nightmare - she was only allowed to hold him yesterday for the first time since tuesday. It is HORRIBLE.
I think it must be a bit like that moment (did I say moment? I meant 'eternity') when they were searching for Sophia Grace's heartbeat. That endless awful sickening dread. Honestly when I think of it I feel bile in my throat. For her it must be like that extended. The not knowing. The fear. The dread.

Thank God it looks like this little boy will live. Thank God there is still hope that he will be fine. Thank God my friend and her husband have a faith to cling to. I can not imagine surviving the loss of my daughter if I didn't believe in heaven. If I didn't know she was there and fine and not in any pain and that I will see her again, I would be destroyed.

Those of you who pray please pray for baby Luke. For his complete healing.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Anniversaries

So the 2nd Sept was the day we got to the hospital and our worlds fell apart, but labour lasted two days and so Sophia Grace was only born on the 3rd. In my head I hate the 2nd. I hate Wednesdays for the same reason. But the 3rd, the 3rd is her birthday, the 3rd is the day that I held my baby girl. In a way I love the 3rd.
So today is a month since her birthday. A month since I held her. Since I inspected her, through my anaesthesia, through my shock, through my exhaustion, through my grief, I sucked it up - as I continue to do - so that I could inspect her. I touched each toe and each finger. I touched her little nose the way that an annoying great aunt would. I felt her little bum. I felt her knees. But I missed a spot... I can't remember seeing her ears and that just breaks my heart.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A month since...

I felt joy
I felt any real optimism
I felt myself
I fell apart
I entered this abyss of grief

For some reason I am really angry that it has been a month since that most awful of moments - "I'm sorry but there is no heartbeat".

I am not sure why the month thing makes me angry but it does.

I hate waking up in the morning and feeling the dread wash through my body. Psyching myself up to get out of bed. Psyching myself up to eat breakfast. Psyching myself up to drag on some clothes and clean my teeth. I have managed to achieve all of the above pretty much every day which is good. But every single day it is a battle of my will.

I hate this place that I'm in and there is no escape and I am powerless to change it and maybe that's what makes me angry.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

out of titles

Every up is followed by a severe down. I can now hold a conversation or even suck it up for a whole afternoon and fit in with normal life, but the entire time I’m present with the real world I’m holding a completely different conversation in my head. The whole time I’m talking to someone, watching a movie, doing whatever, my head is somewhere else. I am going over things, questioning, longing, crying out. I pretend not to notice the pregnant women and those with their babies. I act as if the display of baby clothes we just walked past doesn't affect me. I nonchalantly smile at a friend's newborn and even give him a pat or two. It all affects me. It all rips at me. I hide it superbly.

I am so lonely. After The Band leaves for work I can’t help but cry. Not because I am alone. Often I’m not. Good friends are around, but I am lonely all the same. I am apart from them all.

I’ve been reading some blogs of people “who have been through the same thing” which is my lame and annoying euphimism because I can’t bring myself to use the term “stillborn”. It is cold and medical and inhuman.

Someone commented on one of the blogs and her words rang so true:
the funny thing is most (if not all) people think that the birth and the dead baby there in their arms is what they couldn't survive....when in fact those are the fucking HIGHLIGHTS. it's the plain ole daily living without them that will rip your soul bit by bit until you have no choice but to sit the fuck up and decide who you want to be.

That is the reality that people can’t get their minds around. People feel sorry for the experience I “so bravely” endured. People wonder if perhaps I don’t have medical aid and that’s why I didn’t have a caesar. Actually those days were indeed the f*ing highlight. At least she was still physically with me. Reliving holding her is a treat not a horror. Life now is the horror.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Twilight Zone

Looking at me now you wouldn’t say I gave birth 3 weeks ago. The water retention is gone from my feet and face. My stomach could use a few sit ups but its not bad. My boobs are up a cup size which I’m pretty bitter about and that’s about it. That’s about all I have to show for my pregnancy.

I’m in this weird inbetween place now. I don’t quite fit into the group of new moms but I also don’t fit into the childless category. A couple of random people have asked if I have kids – a salesperson, a manicurist, etc. I can’t bring myself to say “no”. I can’t say I don’t have children. I have a daughter – how can I not acknowledge that? But answering yes inevitably leads to more questions and the admission that she died. Conversation killer right there.

Also body wise if I’m being fitted for a bra or trying on something the reality is that I don’t know what my body is going to do yet. I don’t know if I will still get smaller in the next few weeks. It’s been 3 weeks but I’m not breastfeeding – obviously – so maybe there won’t be more change. Who knows? But I can’t really, like any other mom, say “I just gave birth a couple of weeks ago” with a big happy smile on my face.

I’ve been through 9 months of pregnancy like every other new mom. I went through 36 hours of labour but I don’t fall into the glowing, sleep deprived new mom category. I have no cute little baby to show off to the world. The other day I went somewhere and took The Guv with. People gathered around me admiring this cute little kitten but they should have been gathered around admiring my baby. All I have to show now is a slightly worn out body which is pumped daily with a bunch of prescription supplements and weekly with very sore injections.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

where we're @

Yesterday overlooking the sea at The Brass Bell the Band and I chatted a bit for the first time in a while about where we're at.

I mentioned that in some ways it feels like I'm mourning alone. Well in some ways that's true.

It is different for him. He is filled primarily with gratitude for the time we did have with Sophia Grace (Yes, I am totally doing the mom thing and using my child's full name). He is grateful that I am alright. He's grateful for the support of my folks and so many friends and family. He is grateful that we will see her again some day.

He is also burdened a bit by guilt. He feels guilty that I have to carry this thing so much more than anyone else and forever. Though I suppose he knows that I wouldn't let go of this grief given the choice - in some ways it feels it's all I have.

He seems so relaxed. So ok. I know he's hurting too, but I still feel so lonely in my grief. I feel like I will forever be a bit apart from everyone else. I miss HER.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coping mechanisms

So how do you get out of bed in the morning when life has changed forever?
After a time the SMSs have slowed down, the flower arrangements start dying, people start talking to you about other things, and life around you carries on.

But for you, every morning you wake up to the exact same sickening dread that you felt the day before. People keeping saying each day will be a little bit easier. It's not like that. Healing is not a linear process. Some days are better, but then some days are as bad or even worse than the day it all started. Saturday was like that. Yesterday was fine. This morning was bad again.

My tips for coping with the aftermath of tragedy:
1. Get addicted to a nice series or book or something. The Band and I are into One Tree Hill. It's like this time when you don't have to think about anything but the dramas on screen. Escapism is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately we are on season 6 so we are about to run out. Dam.
2. Get a ridiculously adorable kitten. Thanks to Tamara for letting me know about the township pet rescue organisation (who knew kittens were so scarce!?) Through them the Band and I have adopted The Governer (aka Guv).






He is really beautiful and playful and naughty and although the Freudian link between losing your baby and suddenly getting a little baby kitten to nurture is not hard to figure out, he has been a wonderful distraction. Something so sweet and innocent (well, innocent when he's not mauling my hand) gets you out of yourself to some extent. To wake up to this little thing staring at you about 2 cm from your face and purring like a freight train at least puts a smile on your face.

Anyway, we are off to the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay for lunch and then to movies. The Band is trying to give me reasons to get out of my pyjamas I suspect.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Meltdown

Last night I had a meltdown. I probably cried the most I have cried since it all happened. The whole day was tough. It was tough having a zillion people around (all the family still here from Friday's memorial). It was tough because it was my due date and it was tough having The Band's sister talking about her pregnancy with such joy on her face*. For her birthday we gave her a book on pregnancy. The same book my mom gave me. As she paged through it I caught a glimpse of one of the pages and it brought back a flood of memories. Every 4 weeks in the book there is a picture of the size of your baby at that stage. I remember poring over that book. Holding it to my belly and imagining my baby inside.

I lay in my room and cried and cried. I cried til I couldn't breathe. I cried til my eyelids were swollen. I cried til I was exhausted. I cried til I had gotten full use of my dwindling tissue supply.

My dad came to the room and held me. I feel so bad for my folks. They are watching their child go through something no one should have to go through and they can't do anything about it. I think it is breaking their hearts. The Band too. He is powerless to help me. I love these three people but I can't feign strength. Sometimes I can be happy and fit in with everyone else as if life hasn't ended, but sometimes I can't.

I hate that life carries on. I have often thought about it and felt guilty for being happy when I've watched others go through pain. Life carries on more or less as normal for everyone else. It seems so... rude. It makes me downright p'd off to hear people laughing at an episode of stupid Top Gear. Yes, yes, I know. But still.

I think the thing that is weighing me down right now is that it feels like I am mourning alone. I knew my child. She was with me every day. I would splash my belly in the bath and she'd love it. When I was alone, I wasn't. She was always with me and I'd talk to her. The most she moved around was when I was singing at church - I choose to believe she was enjoying it :o)Sometimes if I couldn't sleep I'd prod her awake and we'd poke each other back and forth. I remember once flying back to CT and having excrutiating ear ache. If you've ever had bad bad ear ache on a flight you'll know that crying from the pain congests your nasal passages and makes the pain worse so you have to concentrate with all your strength to not cry. I was in the midst of this ear ache SUFFERING and she started prodding me. I would tap my stomach and she would kick in response. It felt like she was cheering me on "come on mom, we're nearly there. You can do it!"

But no one else knew her. No one else played bad 80's music to her amusement. No one else saw her in their dreams.

It feels like the sadness in others is sadness mainly for the Band and I and then for what might have been. Whereas I am missing HER for who she was.

Don't know if that makes any sense at all.

Sometimes it feels like I'm crazy. I'm mourning someone that no one else even really met. As if I had an imaginary friend.

Last night I dreamt that she wasn't dead. She was in East London with my mom. I dreamt that my heart was breaking coz after 2 weeks I still hadn't even fed my baby or bathed her or rocked her to sleep or changed a nappy, but I just had to get to East London and then I could do all that. I wasn't worried about her. I knew she was safe with my mom. But I was aching to be with her. I just needed to get there.

It was so cruel waking up. Hope was gone. But I've thought back to the dream through this morning and perhaps that is the bigger picture. I will get to be with my daughter one day in heaven. For now she is safe and cared for. I just need to hold tight til the day I get to be with her.

* now before you all think she's insensitive, she's not. She battled for absolute ages to fall pregnant and despite unsuccessful visits to fertility experts etc she was overjoyed for me when I was pregnant and she wasn't.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In loving memory

Today - 19/09 - is my official due date. Life was supposed to be very very different by now.

In sunbirds and the scent of spring
In babygrows, lambs and pink things
In all that is beautiful and delicate and rare
In sad songs and happy times and everything fair
Dark wisps of hair, a button nose,
a wizened little face
Tiny hands and little toes, our girl, Sophia Grace

We long for the day that we will meet again
In heaven where there’s no more sorrow, no more longing, no more pain
There we’ll hear your laughter
And you will see our tears
Tears of joy, no more sadness,
when we meet after all those years

For now and always we carry you with us
in our hearts
Our precious girl, our treasured child,
until we’re no longer apart.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crossing the void

I've always marvelled at people who have suffered great loss in their lives: my friend who lost both parents in the space of a few months, my cousin who lost her dad as a teenager, acidicice who lost her first baby about 5 months into her pregnancy, QCC who lost the love of her life.

I've always wondered how they carry on. How they manage to keep going and see the hope in each new day. How they endure mundane conversations and big events. How they drag themselves out of bed in the morning. The answer my cousin once gave me was "you just do". No matter what loss you have faced, there is still beauty in this life. Beauty enough that it's worth getting out of bed for (most days).

I suppose for me I want to be the kind of person my daughter would have been proud to call her mom.

People keep asking how I'm doing. Well it depends when you ask. The mornings are bad for some reason. Maybe its the prospect of a whole day stretching out in front of me. Yesterday my best mate had her baby. I am happy for her (and very very glad hers is a boy) but it still rips at me. Her and I were meant to be experiencing this together. Sometimes I feel vaguely like my normal optimistic self but that never seems to last very long. I have never known such a void. Such loneliness. Such emptiness. I feel seperate from everyone else. I feel heavy and tired and old. I feel hopeless.

I know that doing nothing is not going to help, but as soon as I go for a walk or anything mildly energetic I bleed more and am in physical pain. Very frustrating. I'd love to be able to crank up the ipod and go for a jog but my body is not up to it.

I'm trying to have things to look forward to. Here are a few:
1. I am going to have my daughter's name tattood on my wrist
2. The band and I are considering scrapping our december plans and going skiing or yachting instead
3. I am excited for the day I can exercise... I have missed the endorphin rush of a jog
4. We might get a kitten

On Friday we are having a small memorial. We have a gorgeous back yard and I'd like to have it there - weather just needs to cooperate.The family are arriving in their droves from thursday. I am looking forward to having my folks here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One week ago

One week ago my world was ripped from underneath me
One week ago i learnt to fear and despise the foetal heartrate monitor and it’s lack of result
One week ago my heart was ripped from my chest – part of it will forever be absent now
One week ago i became a woman of sorrow
One week ago was the worst day of my life

So I was induced last Wednesday morning. Within hours my parents had arrived in Plett from East London and our pastor had arrived from Somerset West. Together we formed this odd little team. My dad would walk me up and down the hospital passage manning the drip stand, my mom would read out the countless SMSs of support and encouragement which streamed in from around the world. During many of my contractions I'd have everyone bouncing or swaying their hips (doing the hula!) with me.

Wednesday passed in a blur.

By Thursday morning the contractions were still very irregular. I was worried - if labour didn't get going they'd want to do a caesar. Emotionally I could not have coped with that but it was becoming less and less safe for me. This spurred me on. I walked more. Bounced on the labour ball more. Had them pump in more induction stuff in my drips.

Soon the contractions were a bit fiercer and I revelled in them. There is something sweet about pain. Pain is better than feeling numb.

The day went on and by 5 that evening there was nothing sweet about the pain. I asked for an epidural but the anaethetist was in surgery. Finally he came and then battled to get it in. 2 days of labour. Emotional and physical exhaustion. Sweet relief. God bless the inventor of the epidural. So underrated!!

Time to push. No. I wasn't ready. After all that I didn't want it to be over yet. I didn't want her taken from my body. I couldn't imagine her no longer being a part of me. Out she came. The Band held her and spoke to her while I tried to calm down. I was in shock. Shaking, battling to breathe. Unready for the moment.

Finally I calmed myself. I held my little girl. Best and hardest moment of my life. She was battered and bruised like me. But she was beautiful. She was as I had seen her in every dream. A delicate little dark haired thing. A button nose. Pouty lips. Perfect little fingers and toes and a squishy baby bum.

Sophia Grace, born sleeping 3 September, 20:30, 3.1kg

And God? Where was He?
Right beside me throughout. It would be too easy to blame this on God as is He is some cruel sadistic killjoy. He is the opposite. God is a Father and I think He is crying more than us as He watches us in so much pain. God didn’t kill our child. He took her. That is not a terrible thing for her. She will never know pain, hurt, cruelty. She is in a place of peace and joy. It is the Band and I who are suffering. Not her. And we know He has purpose in this. The weekend before we left for Plett we had our 3rd baby shower. There is a man we know who has an incredible gift of prophecy. That may sound weird to you but I have seen him talk to people of situations he knows nothing about with incredible insight and clarity and there is no denying his gift. At the baby shower he had the following to say... it sounded so odd at the time, but in retrospect it was spot on and shows that God knew this would happen and it is part of His plan:
“I believe that this baby will not cry, mess, play around, nappies won’t be changed. I believe that this refers to the baby’s spiritual life. This baby won’t be distracted by the world. This baby will hunger after God. This baby will be a man or woman after God’s heart.”
This prophecy tells me that God foreknew that this would happen. The beauty in that is that it takes away any possible self blame that might creep in. No point in “what ifs” if God knew weeks before.

If this had to happen, for whatever His reason, then it could not have happened in a kinder way. There is so much to thank Him for: I am grateful that there is nothing we could have done or did wrong and that we won’t sit with a lifetime of regret and selfblame. I am grateful that of all the places we were in Plett at an incredible hospital surrounded by incredible staff who honestly treated me as a daughter. They cried with me, carried me, bathed me, held me. Everyone from the cleaning staff to the kitchen were so kind. On some days i was the only patient in the hospital, so to say that I got excellent care would be an understatement. We were like Brangelina - an entire private hospital all to ourselves. I am grateful to the staff for calling in Claudine – a girl who lost her first baby at 32 weeks and also had to deliver her child. It was so helpful learning from her regrets and experience. I am grateful that despite a massive blood clot – or in fact, because of it, I was healthy and strong. My life should have been in grave danger and yet I felt fine. That doesn’t make sense really, but for God. When placenta abrupture happens, the mom generally ends up in ICU at best due to the massive internal bleeding. I am grateful for the people who surrounded and supported me. My parents, our pastor. I am so so grateful for my husband. He is incredible. He is so strong and so gentle and seeing him holding and talking to our little girl when i just couldn’t was one of the most precious moments of my life.

When we first heard she had died on that awful morning I wondered: If i could take back the whole pregnancy, would I?

Today I can tell you that I would not. It is infinitely better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. The Band and I have 9 months of precious memories. We spoke to her, she kicked me and responded when I tapped my stomach. We communicated. She knew my voice. We knew each other. We held her. She is our first born. Our little girl. We are parents.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Numb

Written on Wednesday morning...

How long does it take for a life to change completely? How long for a life to end?

QCC has it right on her blog:
I’m falling apart. I’m barely breathing.With a broken heart that’s still beating... I’m barely holding on.

2 weeks to go and I woke up this morning thinking my water was breaking. But no. It was blood. We rushed to the hospital. They tried and tried but there was no heart beat.

No heart beat. Nothing. I think that was the worst moment of my entire life. I can't begin to describe the eternity, the desperation, the dread, the dawning realisation that your world has just been ripped from under you.

My daughter is dead.

My little girl. I knew she was a little girl. Everyone else said it was a boy. No. She’s a little girl. Gone to heaven before we even met her.

It seems strange that in the wake of losing your baby you are called to make so many decisions. Blood rushing in your ears. A weird calm. A strange peace even. And you must decide – labour or caesar. Autopsy or not. Burial or cremation. Morphine or epidural.

They don’t seem to really know what happened. They are assuming that it is a rupture or something like that. The placenta randomly tears away for some reason. I guess they’ll know more later. They’re telling me there was no way of predicting or knowing. Just a fluke thing that happens out the blue. Naturally I am asking myself if that’s true or if my paranoid feelings the last few days should rather have brought me to a doctor. But then, every pregnant woman is paranoid more or less throughout.

I am now lying in bed waiting for the induction to set in. I am going for natural with all the pain meds they are willing to pump me with. I don’t want to deal with the trauma of surgery on top of everything else tho no doubt labour without an end prize will be hell.

It’s amazing how news spreads. We have been inundated with sms’s. Right now I wouldn’t be surprised if there are over 100 people praying for us. And I can feel it. I really can. I am calm. I am just so sad.

I wonder what God’s purpose is in this. He has a purpose, always. The Band was saying how many special memories we have of this little girl already. Would I take back the whole pregnancy if i could? I honestly don’t know.

We are naming her Sophia Grace. Not the original name we had planned. It didn’t seem fitting. Grace seems right. She is with my gran now. My gran’s dad died 2 weeks before she was born – a sadness she carried with her all her life. My daughter died 2 weeks before she was due to be born. A sadness we will have to carry.

The Band and the staff here are incredible. I can see their hearts are breaking with us. My folks are on their way from East London and I don’t know what I will say to them. Weird as it sounds, i just feel so so bad for them. They have all been so excited. This has been a worry free textbook pregnancy so the shock is substantial.

Hold us in your prayers guys.

Empty

We lost our beautiful baby girl. Broken

Monday, August 31, 2009

Eviction pending

Sorry bout the lack of posts. I finished up work on Friday and depressing little (mmm...not so much) control freak that I am, there was much to get done right up to the very last minute. Anyway, now starts 4 sweet months of no work. yes, yes, annoying people feel this incessant need to point out (read in a nasal voice) "don't think you won't be working, honey. mothering a newborn is the hardest you'll work in your life". Killjoys. Jealously makes them very very nasty. Clearly they have easy, stress free jobs. Not I. Saving the planet is a weighty burden and one I am pleased not to carry til January. OBVIOUSLY the mom bit will be tough in it's own way, but it will be SO different and so rewarding and exciting and exhausting and challenging. So bah humbug you miserable doomsday prophets.

On Saturday the Band and I left for our week in Plett. Our room at The Beacon Isle is fantastic. Waves pounding outside my window. gorgeous views. comfy beds. Great way to start the leave.

The child must appear soon please. I am so uncomfortable. the kicking in the ribs. The headbutting in the - ... well never mind. The heaviness and lack of access to ones own stomach muscles. Forget that my heart is now 1/3 bigger, that my diaphragm has moved up by possibly 10cm, forcing my rib cage to expand for the sake of my lungs, forget the cankles. Imagine having a 3kg bag of flour wedged under your stomach muscles. I tried to explain this to the Band - you have to try not using your stomach muscles to get some idea of what this is like. Like when you get into and out of bed using only your arms and no abs. Or even rolling over in bed. What a mission. It is a 3 point turn each time. Anyway, we have packed in case of the child coming early and we have checked out the new Plett hospital (which is truly gorgeous) and quite frankly I would be happy to pop any day now.*

*If I am still saying this in 2 weeks time be prepared for a miserable, self-pitying caz!

Monday, August 24, 2009

bloodshot eyes*

*not a search term I would recommend entering in google images (shudder)

Well naturally it's been far too long since my last Encounter and so another one was becoming inevitable I suppose.

It happened on Friday. We were in Betty's Bay for the evening and sometime circa 4am I woke up to pee. (That's just the way it is. I've long since kissed the thought of sleeping through the night goodbye for the next decade) Anyway, as I reached for the door handle of the bedroom who do you suppose is skulking there, LEERING at me? 8 hairy legs glinting in the moonlight?

"$#!& man!" I squeal in an embarassingly high pitched voice.

Enter The Band. "What's wrong my girl?"

"one of those- those- those- spider BASTARDS is here lying in wait for me to touch him!!"

Saintly spouse that he is, he duly got up and removed the offending beast.

The rest of the night I was plagued with dreams of these wolf spiders. scuttling. leering. jeering. lurking.

The next morning The Band started to laugh about the whole thing.
"What's so funny?" heavily pregnant, unamused arachnophobe wife asks miserably.

"Well, how did you SPOT the spider? I don't understand how you could have seen him in the dark"

amateur. Does he really think that just because I haven't had an Encounter in 3 months I have let my guard down? NEVER! My spider inspections are taken as seriously as ever and it's a bluddy good thing too. If i had touched the demonic beast I swear I would have popped the baby out there and then!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is it just me

Or does the baby floating in the box to the right look decidedly asian all of a sudden?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

cool stuff i got for being knocked up

so far i've had 2 baby showers - one when I was home in the Eastern Cape in June and one at work last week. I haven't even shown you any of my cute presents yet.
ok so actually "they're not for me". Whatever. Lets be honest here. Cute stuff is for me. The baby will get excited about discovering it's own fingers. I doubt he/she's gonna be too taken by the stuff below at this stage. But I totally am.


Cute little African animals... yep, even a sable. This kid will love Africa!


There's that scene in How I met your mother where Robyn sees the baby socks and she's overs. That's me. Socks are very underrated. Those white ones on the left are minute - about 4cm long.


WHAT? You are using reusable nappies? Are you insane? Bla bla bla. Yes I am. What kind of composting, recycling, carpooling vegetarian would I be if I flooded the landfills with disposables?! Fear not. I also stand to save about R12K by going this route (and that's just on my FIRST child!!)


Awesome sheepskin mocassins. I really wish they fitted me.

Of course there is plenty plenty more, but you are probably all caz's baby'd out by now so I will spare you.

The Band is Hammy

The Band is nesting. Well... i don't know if it's nesting per se, but it's that sort of concept. Maybe a better term would be stockpiling. Or storing up. Or PREPARING. He has gone into Hammy mode.

C'mon guys, you remember Hammy from Over the Hedge? He needs to get all prepared for winter so he stores up stuff? I *think* that was Hammy? Well either way, Hammy was the cute one so I'll stick to it.

Suddenly he is buying all the odds and ends we still need.

"But The Band," I try to tell him; "I can get these cheaper through the antenatal class chick"
"Doesn't matter. Let's just get it so we have it."

Ha... you guys think that is an arb convo to share?? This is coming from a man who in the past would rather buy 3 toothpastes for the price of 2 in a flavour that he hates simply coz of the deal. This is a man who stayed in a cottage WITH NO DRINKING WATER for 2 years coz of the deal. This is a man who had a diet of "budget burgers" (R30 for 30 patties) for months on end* coz of the deal.
Now he is scoffing at a R40 saving!?

Definitely some kind of fathering instinct setting in. Plus today when I got home he has repacked the hospital bag (which we packed the other night amid much hilarity... I was going to take pics of some of the scary ass things that go into a labour bag but thought it may be too traumatic for you guys) and added all kinds of extra stuff. I've decided not to peek.

It really is very cute.

Anyway blogger is giving me hassles so the rest will have to go in a seperate post.

*The end of the pattie era came when he discovered an artery in one one day. I kid you not. I should perhaps mention that to be fair all these budget bargaining horror stories did happen while we were students and despite The Band having been quite the bargain hunter from the start where he himself is concerned, he also happens to be the most generous guy I know.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Noon

Today would be my gran's 90th birthday. WOW. She made it just past 89.
If she was alive today I guess we'd all be gathered in East London to celebrate such a milestone with her. She LOVED her birthday about as much as me (and that's something!) I guess it was because she had grandchildren from all over the planet phoning her and sending her special gifts.

On her birthday she'd ussually go out for lunch with my folks at Grazias, a fancy East London restaurant overlooking the sea. She'd inevitably order a glass of white - probably Lyric - and sole or prawns and though she looked busy with it, she wouldn't make a very big dent in the meal. She'd end the meal with a cup of coffee.

She would have already walked up to the post office this morning to check for gifts - if any had arrived in advance she may well have snuck a peak. When I was small my regular gift for her was an assortment of jams. She likes to have a different flavour every day. She loved chocolate but due to migraines could only eat white chocolate... or so she claimed. When we sorted out her home after she died we found regular chocolate... sly!

She had special names for people. My dad was "My Richie". My mom was "Barb". My brothers were Marky boo, H.H. (for handsome hunk) and she called me Carrie but would usually say (none too subtly) "You know I love you best in all the world". Perhaps the only real competition for my gran's heart was Phoebe, our border collie. "Oh, I DO love that dog" she'd state emphatically as if anyone would ever question it.

Noon, today is your birthday and I was the one opening all the gifts. My colleagues at work surprised me with a baby shower and people - some of whose names I rarely get right - stunned me with their generosity. Piles and piles of gifts for your great grandchild. I wish I could share this time with you. I wish I had had the opportunity to tell you that if this baby is a girl, she'll be named after you. A better role model I can't imagine.