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


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.


We lost our beautiful baby girl. Broken