Saturday, May 22, 2010

The whys and the what ifs

My mom called this morning to tell me of the death of a little boy we'd met a couple of times in Morgan Bay. His name is Callam and he's the most gorgeous child. The sort of boy who grabs your heart in an instant. His parents run Yellowwood Park and we've gone there for lunch a few times. Whenever we do, Callam is around, usually covered in mud and full of curiosity, curls, freckles and mud. The way a little boy should be.There are very very few children who stick out in my mind - certainly none that I don't even really know. Callam is the exception just because he was so precious.

On Thursday Callam was hit by a car.

I've cried much today for Callam and for his parents. The world is poorer place without Callam in it. I have only an inkling of what his parents must be going through and their pain. I am so so sad for them. For the hole that is now in their lives. For the journey that they must now begin. The journey of life after Callam. It really is not fair, is it? Why him? But the whys and the what ifs are dangerous... They'll drive you mad.

This week has been tough. I've felt a little of that drowning feeling, that creeping depression threatening to set in. The Nothingness, like in Never-ending Story. I just miss my daughter. I miss her and I want things to be different, but they aren't. Nothing can change the fact that she's gone. I don't know why it's hit me harder this week.. last night was the first I've cried that wracking sob cry in a while. I've avoided it, I suppose. Tried to push it away ("I need to be in a good place right now, can't give in to this").

I wish Callam's parents didn't have to be on this road. It's a horrible road. I wish none of us had to be on it. Yes, time helps and you learn to breath again and you start to see that there is still joy and beauty and hope and love in this life, but always present is that loss. That grief. The way it should be but isn't.

Please pray for them, his parents and his older brother. They are in agony.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pregnancy after loss

In the weeks after Sophia died I scoured the net for information on stillbirth, all the causes, the stats, etc etc. I devoured the stories of people who had gone through such a loss and somehow survived it, and better yet, those who went on to have other children. I remember one night reading the story of Julie who lost a son to placental abruption and a year later lost another son the same way. The night I read that story I cracked. The Band was out and our quite nice wine selection beckoned. It was me, The Guv, a bottle (or two) of wine, a bunch of photos and one of Sophia's teddys flopped on the couch listening to my depro music playlist and wailing. The thought, the reality that this can happen again was too much for me. It is unbearable.

Pregnancy after loss is no simple matter. I think the cause of the loss could make a difference, to some extent, as would the timing of the loss. So, for example, if you miscarried at 10 weeks you'd probably be most anxious til then, and after the 10 week mark you may be able to relax a little. But so many of us lose our babies at term. Then there is no relaxing.

Today I am 29 weeks pregnant.7 weeks to go until The Kernel makes her way into the fresh air. This has been the most emotionally exhausting time of my life. Living in fear is one hell of a thing.

Last night I had my now all-too-familiar recurring nightmare. The one where I dream that I go to the bathroom and there's blood. I've lost count of how many times that dream has recurred. But every time it is so, so real. So vivid. In the dream I knew full well that I had 7 weeks to go. I knew when last I had felt baby kick. And then somewhere along the line I woke myself up and the relief flooded in. Relief mixed with nausea.

I'm having plenty nightmares lately. Not all baby-related. But that one, because it is so so real and because I have already lived it out in real life and, obviously, because it is the reenactment of my worst fear, is the worst.

I wouldn't trade this pregnancy for anything in the world. I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity to be a mom to another little girl. I thank God for every kick. I am all too aware that there are thousands or perhaps millions of women who'd give anything at all to be pregnant right now. That all being said, this is the toughest thing I've ever done.

The other day I was stuck in a meeting and baby wasn't moving. The meeting dragged on and on and nothing. Eventually I was downright dizzy with fear. You start playing out scenarios in your head:
What would I literally do? Do you wait a little longer? Do you phone the gynae? Do you head straight to the nearest hospital?

By the time she finally kicked again I was overs. Sat in my office and bawled. Relief, exhaustion, fear.

In 7 weeks time I wonder what'll happen. Will I just fall asleep after she's born out of sheer exhausted relief of being able to breathe again for the first time in 8 months? Or will this fear continue. Will I stare at her all day long. Checking to see that she's breathing.

I long for the day that I'm no longer defined by loss, failure, tragedy - even if only in my own mind. For the day that it feels like The Kernel has always been around and we can hardly imagine a time that she wasn't there.

Shoh... as I wrote the above paragraph I started writing "Sophia" before changing it to The Kernel.
That is the other part of all this, of course. The grieving which has to some extent been put on hold. ("Must be in a good head space"). That will also flood back with a vengeance at some point.

I miss her.

Please pray for this little one. She is small for her age... nothing to worry about, and within a healthy growth curve, but obviously I am worried anyway.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother's Day

You know that movie "I hate Valentine's Day"? Well the title was in my head all of Sunday. I think that I might just hate Mother's Day.

Laaast Mother's Day I was pregnant with Sophia and it was my first Mother's Day. It was exciting - I knew that come 2010 I'd be receiving a gift allegedly from my firstborn (but of course, actually from TheBand). I'd have that maternal glow. I'd probably be wearing a flannel nightgown and dodgy manky pale blue slippers. Hell, perhaps I'd even own some floral clothing. But no. I am not that person. I am basically physically the same person I was a year ago: pregnant. Wearing maternity jeans and my ol' faithful K-way fleece and Tsonga boots. Not the picture of motherhood. Of course internally I am a very different, rather scarred person.

I arrived at church and someone at the door was giving out gift vouchers to the moms. She hesitated and looked awkward not knowing what to do so I grabbed one and walked in.

TheBand was hosting the meeting and so I was sitting up front. They asked all the moms to stand. CRINGE. So what do you do? Do you stand and feel a gazillion pairs of sympathetic eyes boring into your back? or do you stay seated, denying your daughters? With gritted teeth I stood. I wanted to scream out that I'm not merely standing coz I'm pregnant, I'm standing coz I'm a mom of two! You don't become a mom when you nurse your child, you are a mom from the time she's conceived. You start caring for her from that moment - both consciously and unconsciously. My whole attitude to my body and my life completely changed when I fell pregnant. I began to consider the fact that it's not just me and I need to look out for my little one. Part of your heart is forever with that child, even if you aren't.

I got an sms from a friend "to a very special mommy-to-be" Her heart was right, of course it was, but I wanted to throw the phone against the wall. I'm not a future mom. I have two daughters. I am Sophia's mom and even if I wasn't pregnant right now I hope I would have had the guts to stand up. Even if I wasn't pregnant right now I'd consider this my second Mother's Day.

It's a stupid hallmark tradition, right? But it's also an opportunity for kids to honour their moms. I wonder how I'll feel come Mother's Day 2011. I think Mother's Day is always going to hold sadness for me. It's always going to remind me of loss.

After the service I grabbed a friend who recently miscarried - her first pregnancy - and I gave her that voucher and a big hug. She teared up. She too, is a mom. No one else will acknowledge that, probably, but she is.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Changing seasons

Work is giving me hassles. Originally they seemed quite flexible. Now they are being far less flexible than they were last time I went down this road... It's a complex and probably rather boring story but suffice it to say that I am now in a position where I have to consider my options:

1. Do I agree to what they are proposing: From January be in the office everyday.
Bearing in mind that The Kernel will only be 5 months old - and a premmie at that. That I want to be breastfeeding and that they are moving the offices... likely to be a 2 hour drive in traffic. Last time I was pregnant the offices were round the corner, I was expecting a full term baby and they were happy for me to work from home. Now I have lost a child, I am having a premmie and THEY are moving the offices far away and they suddenly aren't happy for this arrangement. Doesn't seem very fair to me.
Clearly option 1 is no option at all. There is simply no way. It's a win for them and a loss for me.

2. Request unpaid leave for a few months which sucks for me financially, but sucks even more for them: the January - April period is our busiest period with the Earth Hour campaign. I'm integral in that so it would really place them in a crap position too. But it does mean that I keep my job.
Still it seems to me like a lose - lose.

3. Push back. Show them the lack of logic in their proposal. Reiterate my request but insist that broader management (and not just one person) makes the call - the same broader management who were quite happy with this proposal last time.
Obviously this is the logical thing to do but I can't tell you how peeved I am that I have to now fight this fight. 5 weeks before I'm due to go on leave. I brought this up months ago and they wait til just before I leave to make decisions. I certainly do not need to be stressed right now.

4. Resign. Seize the day. Live my dreams. Take a risk.
Obviously this is very appealing, but the timing is bad. Give me a year and then sure, I'm there! But right now? I don't want to be worrying about finances right now. I don't think I should have to! Also I fear part of my motivation in such an action would be to spite them which is not a good reason to make a life decision.


Then I read this:
"I was at gym yesterday and saw a dynamic looking woman sitting in the coffee shop entertaining her lively 12 month old baby. I looked at this woman and thought to myself that she was probably a great career woman only 14 months ago and that her skills were probably missed and wasted on sitting idly in a coffee shop talking to a toddler. A thought came to me of how there is all this latent expertise and dynamic energy all over the world in women who are now ‘only’ looking after babies – what a waste!

As all this was passing through my mind a bigger thought hit me. It actually screamed at me in anger: “You mislead idiot – she is doing the most important job in the world! She is not wiping up spilt milkshake, talking baby talk and telling nursery rhymes – No, she is growing a future leader, another generation of mothers, a little life who may one day lead a corporation. She is passing on morals, values and ethics. She is saving the world when she talks to her little one about waste and litter. She is teaching a small mind to think big and be creative. She is not wasting her time and expertise – not at all.”

I realized that there truly is not a more important job she could be doing right now. She is in good company – along with millions of other women who are probably feeling ill equipped for the most important job they have ever done. She probably feels grossly undervalued and may have moments of frustration that she can’t follow her career because she is doing all these ‘mindless’ mothering tasks. But really she is amazing. She is doing the most important job in the world for no thanks at all.

I looked back and saw her little one clamber onto her lap and give her an open mouthed, sloppy kiss and cuddle. She beamed. She lived in that moment – what a clever dynamic woman – a mother."

Sounds great and I need to keep reading it, but the bottom line is I do need to be earning a salary.


Any great pearls of wisdom?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Sleepless nights

Last night I was woken by 1 pee, 2 phone calls (I KNOW!!! SERIOUSLY!!!!) and the husband having some kind of asthma attack. Between my awake and asleepness I kept waiting to feel The Kernel move and nada. So I was anxious in that half dream half awake eery way. Eventually I psyched myself up to go use the Doppler. I say psyched myself up because (and yes, I realise it defeats the purpose) I hate using it unless I have just recently felt a kick.

The worst moment of my life was that moment in the hospital where they were searching for the heartbeat. Time stretched to infinity as they kept repositioning the probe thing to no avail. It haunts my dreams.

Eventually I got up. Heart pounding in my ears and went to sit in the nursery. I sat in the rocking chair where one day soon I will nurse The Kernel. Whipped up the nightie, splotched on the gel, held my breath and positioned the Doppler. Nauseating few seconds where it picked up my heartbeat and then dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh. Healthy 147bpm. Relief.

This morning I feel like I've been run over by a truck. I feel on the verge of tears. I'm so tired of fear. So tired of sadness. So tired of that sick nauseous feeling when you are left to simply wait and see if your life is about to end all over again. Most days The Kernel kicks plenty and it's reassurance and bliss, but every now and then when she's quiet I am called to face my gravest fears all over again.

I miss Sophia. I miss her so much. In some ways I think that The Kernel is buffering some of the grief. I can't really face things fully now - I need to be in a strong and healthy space. I fear that I will be overwhelmed with grief when The Kernel is finally born and some of this fear abates. It's kind of inevitable. On one hand I will be rejoicing in that purest, most ecstatic moment of holding my baby girl, hearing her cry, watching her watch me, having the opportunity to mother her at long long last, and on the other I will be grieving all that I never got to do with Sophia. The moments that were taken from us.

Clearly today I am not in a good place. I promise to get much sleep this weekend and to be a bit stronger next week.