I'll find you in the bright colours and quite places, always remembered beautiful Elizabeth - Auntie K

Saturday, July 30

Kitchen Table - Glow In The Woods

I'm taking part in the new Kitchen Table discussion over at Glow In The Woods

1. How much time has passed since the death of your child(ren)? Do you mark grief in months, weeks or years? Does it seem to be going fast or slow?

It'll be a year since Elizabeth's birth and death in 23 days. At first I counted the weeks just as you would a newborn, but after her 6 months I would just mark each 22nd that came by. Now with her birthday looming, I guess it'll be in years. Time has done some strange things, but on the whole, I think it has just sped by in a blink of an eye - how is it already her birthday?

2. Do you have an end goal to your grief? How much time do you think that will take? How much time did you think you'd need to get there right after your loss? How much time do you think you need now?

I was always conscious of not being bullied into 'getting over her' and really didn't have a clue in those Dark Days what life held for me - I was just more concerned getting through the day. At about the 6 month mark, I noticed an ease to those Dark Days of such intense grieving and I could see and feel a ray of hope. I know now that I'll be forever holding onto a deep sadness that she isn't here with us and I'm okay with that.

3. Rather than a clear goal, is there a milestone or marker to indicate that you are feeling grief less acutely, i.e. going to a baby shower, listening to a song that made you cry early in grief, driving past the hospital? How long did it take to get there?

I have a choice with the usual everyday triggers (of seeing the newborns, our pram being used by others, over hearing gushing mothers with their babes, along with certain songs) I can choose to not let it get to me; to not be sensitized to it and put my 'strong head' on and that has only just occurred to me in the last month. But with the things that I'm still avoiding; i.e. holding newborns or having anything to do with them - well, I'm just not going there yet and luckily I have no need to.

4. How do you view the time you had with your child, either alive (within or outside) or already deceased? Before you answer "too short! Not enough!", did you have time to "bond" or develop a future imagination about what this child would be like? Perhaps depending on whether yours was cut short, how do you feel about the nine-month period of gestation -- too long or not long enough?

Elizabeth died at birth, at 39 weeks and 3 days. I loved being pregnant and cherished every moment I had with her. Elizabeth was our second pregnancy, we lost Taggpole at 16 weeks and I thought I knew grief then? So I wrote journals, I took belly photos and at 12 weeks we found out (CVS) we we're having a daughter and named her then; oh the dreams and aspirations we had. 

I am 27 weeks (almost) into this third pregnancy and while I love this babe within, I am still getting my head around the uncertainty of this pregnancy; the whole nine-months is far too long...  
But if this is all I'm getting with this beloved one, then of course it would be far too short.

Having Elizabeth stay with us for the duration of my hospital stay (a day and a half) was a blessing and will forever have those vivid memories of us as a new family. I cherish the photos taken, the moments of love shared between us and seeing the father and mother in us shine through the shocking truth.

5. One grief book suggested that it took 2-5 years to incorporate grief into your life. Where are you on this timeline, and do you find that to do true?

Well I'm so far off that mark at just a year. I think I woven this stage of grief into my life, into our lives at home. I'm not sure things will be so easy after Elizabeth's sister is born. All being well, we'll be faced with everything we've been missing and the thought of that alone is quite over whelming.
There is comfort in knowing that the 2-5 year mark is such a way off, it leaves plenty of time to figure that one out.

6. There's a familiar saying, "Time heals all wounds." Do you think this is true? Or do you subscribe to Edna St. Vincent Milay: "Time does not bring relief, you have all lied"?

"Time heals all wounds" is bollocks. As so many have already stated it allows you to grow stronger, to deal with the gaping empty hole, the longing, the heartache, the sadness and pain. Time allows you to adapt, to carry your child in your heart rather than on the outside for all to see. Time allows you to see other things, to feel and to want to live again. Time allows you to grow skin over that wound, but all that scar tissue is so very sensitive and easily ruptured.

7. Has your relationship with the future (immediate and far) changed since the death of your child(ren)? How about your relationship with the past?

The Dark Days I couldn't see past my own nose; my own grief. I still can't see or envision anything more than two weeks away, but that is due to this pregnancy and the next hospital appointment.  My imaginings about the future are just so abstract; too many variables, too many what ifs - it's not something that I've had to consciously and I don't fight that.
The past is very different though and have heard others have described it as 'before' and 'after' their child's death very aptly. I lived to plan the next adventure and there is to me a rose tinted-ness to the past on a whole, a life without accident, death and such heartbreak. I lived a charmed life and I never fully knew it.

8. How long did it take you to answer these questions?

About an hour - lots of staring out of the window and taking pleasure in the rain falling

Wednesday, July 20

One In A Million

I was in the city yesterday with a whole list of things to do. Part of that list was to catch up on some emailing, so settled myself in a cozy corner of Star.bucks with my I.pad to write. I was enjoying a very productive day and the hot chocolate there, are best - I was just saving the last mail (my pad isn't a 3G) and it goes tits up and deleted it instead. I hate this when it happens, it's so very frustrating! Okay I thought calmly, I can quickly rewrite it.

I was writing to my cousin H (who is a few weeks away from giving birth to her long awaiting IVF baby, who has been lovely and not shying away from me and loves to know how I'm doing) trying to answer her question concisely, of whether or not I would like a card for Elizabeth's birthday - she didn't know how that would make me feel. Good question with many sides to the coin in my eyes and so it was a long and rambling mail (as always). Anyway I had to write it a good few times (can you believe there is no save or undo options, nor shortcuts on the pad's keyboard!) and it was starting to get quite dark with rain in the sky and soon the commuters would be out in force.

A lady sits herself down in the sofa next to me and asks: "Are you pregnant?"

Me: "yes, I am"

Her: "how far along are you?"

Me: "25 weeks"

Her: "wow, I'm just 6 weeks"

Me: "ah, congratulations"

Her: "is this your first?"

This is when my heart starts beating super loud in my chest, it jumps up into my throat and goes for the strangle hold. It is so loud and fast I'm asking myself why she can't hear it?

So I answer "no, this is my third pregnancy"

Her: "you must be a dab hand at it then, how is it effecting your body?"

Me: "at the pregnancy bit yes. It's not too bad on the body, it's more a mental thing with me"

She gets her brew and settles down with her book - I know I've stumped her and I return to the last sentence of my mail. But then I'm looking at my screen saver on my lap, of Elizabeth and I and all that mothers love flowing through me and I just want to engage her in conversation about loving pregnancy, being excited, preparing and letting her know some of the quirks of being pregnant - I love being pregnant and wanted to enthuse and show that. All this running through my head after writing in my last post about not being able or wanting to talk with 'normal expectants'...

But Kim from Toronto isn't a 'normal' lady, she is a BLM; in fact she had suffered a miscarriage just two months ago. And that's not all, she grew up knowing of a sister and brother (Sarah and Stephen) who came before her and never met - they died at birth, full term. She can't remember a time when she didn't know of her older siblings and her family have always had them both very present in their lives. 

It was amazing to me to have someone come and sit next to me that I could talk of all my babies Taggpole, Elizabeth, and Amelia. I showed her my screen saver of Elizabeth and I, I told her of the countless awesome moments of pregnancy, we talked of living in the moment and we both really talked of our loves and loses. We were on the same page and wow did we talk... and she wasn't scared. 

I was actually the third person she'd told of her current pregnancy (after her fiancé (they marry in 2 months) and mother (who she is so very close to)). She is heading back home for the wedding and has been travelling for 7 months already, so hasn't had any real contact with friends or family, or anyone else who can understand like another BLM. I would have waffled on with her for hours and hours, it was so easy and not forced at all and I was sad to say goodbye. Kim thanked me for sharing with her and also said how full of positivity I was - can you believe how much validation was in that small sentence?!

Kim from Toronto really, really lifted my spirits, gave me a spring in my step on the way home in the dark, wet and cold weather with all the late commuters. It was an awesome chance meeting with a complete stranger and quite serendipitous, it was just what I needed - when moments before I was writing to H that there are too few people in my life here that I can open up to about my babes.

I thank Kim from Toronto and I hope that her new little soul thrives and ends up out living her and her husband. 

I also hope that yesterday's wonder isn't a one in a million occurrence, I think I have a little more hope that I may open up with more people on the off chance. I love talking about Elizabeth and doing so outside of my head with someone else who understands; it just gives me a high and makes me remember her with just the love in my heart.

The hot chocolate and donut could have contributed to that high - GTT is still a week away...

Monday, July 18

Slow Changes

I'm so unsure what to write here these days. Some times I have so much to get down, at other times I just don't have the time nor inclination to sit and write, other times I'm just lost for words. There is so much going on in my head right now and not a lot of actual changes in my life - it is fair to say that this pregnancy is a mind fuck!

I'm feeling old and run down and overwhelmed in reality. My body is just not finding this pregnancy a breeze as it did carrying Elizabeth. I guess being pregnant 81 weeks out of 105 (to date) is a pretty mean feat for any one's body, but to contend with the added impact of grief on top of that and I wonder why? I am trying not to sound like I'm complaining, for I know how bloody lucky I am to be here carrying this little girl within. I just wish I'd treated my body with some respect and got prepared for lay ahead...
But who knew eh?

Why is it that whenever I'm thinking of a post to write, the act of writing it changes the content - frustrating.

A few days later...

The reason why I don't write here all that often isn't because I haven't got anything to say necessary, but I have been able to get it out of my system in another way. Mainly it is through talking with other BLMs and writing it all down in emails, or in journals. I'm getting my fix of venting in other ways because I have some valuable people around me that can give me their time; to listen, to read, to let me talk of what is going through my head and to give feedback.
Granted, the 'Tourette's' has calmed down considerably and its not a main fixture in my thoughts these days, but the need to have Elizabeth's life validated and remembered by others is so very great, especially with her birthday coming.

I also have a hell of a lot going on with this pregnancy, it is more mental than anything else and just talking to 'normal expectants' (the non-BLM with a subsequent pregnancy) is like talking to a Martian; we're so completely on different plants. They're so full of innocence, so full of trust, hope, joy and excitement - everything I was with Taggpole and to a lesser extent with Elizabeth. I just can't talk with them; it shows me what I had, what I lost and will never have again. There is also the added bonus of whether to let onto the fact that this is my third pregnancy without a living child; do I deny my children, or do I stun the 'expectant' into a frightened silence?

So I lurk on the blogs of other BLMs who have their 'rainbows' in arm, read their back stories and learn from them - I do that as I know there is a 'happy ending' to be had. I am also very, very lucky that I have a few beautiful people in my real life that honestly want to know what is going on with me, who 'get it' and who almost have a vested interest in my happiness.

I started this blog as my space where I can offload all my mental shit down somewhere, so that I didn't have to burden anyone else with it all. Everything was just so raw, painful and so very mixed up and over time I have been able to find a little sense; a little clarity of thought that I am able to put emotions into words without the 'Tourette's' over coming me.

There has been a new layer of skin applied to me also; another form of protection that acts as a barrier to all the triggers that infest the world (and I know I'm one of them), it is a work in progress. Time doesn't heal; that is bollocks - I could live for a thousand years and always feel that shocking pain of loss; I will always want my Elizabeth here in my arms. All 'time' does, is allow you to breathe, deal with the heartache, muster the courage to want to carry on, put your shattered self together and learn to live again. This pregnancy has brought healing of sorts too. It has given me purpose and meaning back. It gives me reasons to pick up the pieces, to want to look after myself (if only for the one I'm carrying), to make plans (even if its not very far into that future), to consider something else apart from the overwhelming unfairness.

Opening up my thoughts and heart to other BLMs and choice family members has lead to deeper thought - the superficial living has, I think subsided for awhile and I'm comfortable in the here and now. Getting their opinions, their view on things has paved the way to fresh, new and undiscovered thoughts and that is what I miss with writing to myself/who-knows-who; writing here. I miss being stretched in that respect, my way isn't the be all and end all of everything now; I can see past my own grief - I've got to. That is the main reason why writing here seems to be lower on my list of priories and really connecting with people that I can converse with I find so much more fulfilling.

I knew a time would come when I could let My Space grow on its own accord; not have to tend to it, feed it all the time - I am not abandoning it. I might try a different approach though, see how I go with quick succinct posts (can I write a brief and clearly expressed post?). I still want this place to document the facts of where I am, I just think its going to change somewhat - just as life is changing...

I am still a mess of emotions/thoughts, how do I start with cutting the crap from them; making them short and brief, yet to the point? I've always been a rambler.

A succinct update?

I'm getting on top of things for Elizabeth's birthday. I'm chipping away at the long list of little things to do and it feels good to be doing something towards it daily. It is a relief more than anything else, not a chore to be daunted, and I'm quite proud of my small accomplishments. I hope its going to be a case of anticipation being worse than the day itself - I don't want the 22nd to be sad and all about me and what we've lost, I want to remember her with only love in my heart.

Almost another 22nd upon us, this is however over shadowed with her birthday so close - maybe the fresh, pink oriental lilies will open for then, filling our home with their beautiful scent?

Ma sent me this photo a few days back from her back garden
Taken on June 22nd 2011
Always taken on the 22nd, our little Elizabeth shining through to warm our hearts.

Pregnancy update

24 weeks + 4 days and Amelia is weighing in at approx 700g - the lower weight limit of the NICU is 500g, relief of sorts. Yes, we've named this new soul Amelia Layne, there is no reason to keep that information secret - I want to shout it from the roof tops and we've both found it a great way of bonding with her.

This morning at 25 weeks
I am piling on the weight now (2kg in 2 weeks!) without changing eating/exercise habits (growth spurt hopefully) and have the GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test) next week - fingers crossed.
I'm seeing my OB, Penny every 2 weeks still and have booked the level 2 ultrasounds for 28 and 32 weeks - needed to check placental placement (very low, not quite previa at the 20 week scan) and her growth.
Thyroid good, BP and FHB good. Feeling lots of strong kicks/movements. Skin clearing up and feeling good on the whole - if not a tad old, slow and achy.