Monday, 28 February 2011

Scared to be Happy

I've had a good couple of weeks. It amazes me to even be able to write that, but it's true.

I've started back at the school where I used to volunteer. We have decided to go forward with egg donation plus IVF in order to try for another baby. We had an amazing weekend with friends. I'm even going on a girl's trip this weekend. I still have my sad moments of course, but most of the time I feel happy.

So what's the problem? Why was I up last night until 2am in a fit of panic? What's wrong with me?

I'm scared to be happy again.

There, I said it. I'm scared to be happy because the last time I was really happy, my son died. The last time I was optimistic, and hopeful, and giddy, and making plans for the future was right before I found out that my son had no heartbeat. The last time I was joyful my whole world came crumbling down around me in an instant.

I'm afraid that will happen again.

Last night I noticed that my husband wasn't snoring. Any normal person would breathe a huge sigh of relief for the respite. But not me. I went into a panic. Had he stopped breathing? Was he going to die too? What would I do without him? I've already lost my son, I can't lose him too. Tears started welling up in my eyes as I pondered this scenario in my head. I stopped breathing myself, trying to be quiet enough to hear his breaths. It was too dark to see if he was breathing, and I couldn't hear anything either. So being the good wife I am, I have him a nudge and was relieved when he rolled over,,,,,,, and started snoring again.

That's what my life is like now I guess. I'm constantly waiting for the whole world to crash again. For the next big tragedy. I never used to be like this. I was happy most of the time and thought nothing of it. Now I'm terrified that allowing myself to be too happy will just bring on the inevitable crash.

So at the same moment that I'm happier than I have been since losing my son, I'm also terrified. Worried that the other shoe will drop and I will be plunged into despair once again.

It's not the best way to walk through life. I just haven't figured out how to talk myself out of it yet.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Bloggy Love

I want to say a huge thank you to Branson over at Reflection of Something.  

She has included one of my posts in her Best of the Best feature. I am so excited to have my story in such good company. Seriously, some of the posts she includes in her list are fantastic.

I highly recommend you follow the links above and visit her blog.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Mending Fences

Image: anankkml /
It's not easy to do, but when you finally forgive someone it sure feels great!

I've had a strained relationship with my sister for most of my life. As a child I used to blame myself (and be blamed by my parents) for our spats because I was the older sister and I shouldn't have done things to make her so upset. *Note to self:  If I am ever lucky enough to have two children I will not always blame the oldest for arguments. As we grew to be adults I had hoped that our fighting would get better. Sadly this was not the case. Our arguments have continued over the years and I have found myself pulling away from her just to keep some sanity.

Why do we argue so much? I think it's because we are so very different. She is a very emotional and dramatic person. She needs constant reassurance and praise. She lives her life on an emotional roller coaster. But she's not content to ride this roller coaster alone, she insists on dragging everyone in her life on it with her. I am a logical, level headed kind of person. I despise drama. I like to think things through and make decisions based on that. I hardly ever get myself whipped up into a frenzy, and when I do I try and keep the people I love out of it. *Maybe the husband would disagree on this last point, but you get what I mean. I dislike confrontation and will often just walk away seething about something rather than saying anything.

So you can see the problem. The things that she needs are things I can't give her and vice versa. My ideal sibling relationship would be calm and supportive. A two way street where we can talk about things in our lives that are bothering us, or what funny thing happened that day. Her ideal sibling relationship would be where she could call me daily with every crisis and allow me to talk her off the ledge each time. I just can't handle her drama. It stresses me out and makes me miserable. Especially since she never takes advice and gets defensive if you challenge what she is doing.

Things really blew up when I went home to visit family back in November. It was my first time seeing the family since my son died and I was in a very vulnerable place. As you can read in that post, things did not go well and I came back from my trip very angry with her. But instead of not saying anything to her which is my normal method of dealing with things. I actually told her how I was feeling.

Since then we have been working hard on our relationship. After I finally told her all about how she's upset me over the years, she also shared with me how she has been feeling. She told me that she did notice that I had been pulling away. She thought this meant I didn't care about her. I told her that I do care, but that I have felt frustrated that she always makes everything about her. Amazingly (well not really) she told me that the reason she talked all about herself that night in my room was because she thought it was a good way to encourage me to talk about my son. I am still baffled at her logic. I told her that there was no room for me to talk about my son because she had made it all about her. I told her that a better way to find out how I am feeling is just to ask me.

It may seem like such a simple and basic thing to do, but it never occurred to just tell her what I need. As much as I know we are different, I still somehow expected her to know how to be a good sister. Apparently she needs me to be very direct with what I like and don't like. So I have been doing that, and it's been working. She is now emailing me every week or so to fill me in on what's happening with her and to ask about what I'm up to. This is huge because in the past any contact between the two of us was either initiated by me, or came via our Mom telling us what the other is up to.

I have forgiven her for making me feel so unloved that day back in November. I know she means well but she's just not good at doing anything that isn't all about her. So if I want a good relationship with her I have to teach her. I'm sure it won't be easy because the rest of the family still caters to her every whim and mood. But maybe what she learns from me will benefit them as well.

So I'm getting to know my sister again, almost like you get to know a new friend. I have no illusions that we will never have another argument. But I am hopeful and optimistic for this new beginning.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Not moving on, just moving. As in we have to find a new place to live. Yuck, I hate moving. Is it slightly more glamorous that we're being forced to move because a celebrity is buying our place??? I'm not so sure.

One of the not so great thing about being a renter is that you are at the mercy of the property owner. If they want to sell then you have to move, it's just that simple. So when we got the call a while back that someone wanted to come and view our property I had a funny feeling that we would have to find a new place to live soon. Turns out I was right.

I love where we live. It's a cute (read: small) 2 bedroom flat in the heart of a lovely village here in London. Our flat is a small part of the very large house next door and there's even a door that goes from our place to theirs (kind of like adjoining rooms at a hotel). As a result of the properties being connected, we live on a very nice street with other houses. It's not a block of flats so we don't have anyone above or below us. We have our own front door and a small garden in the back. In London this is really hard to find.

We rent from the family that owns and lives in this very large nice house. For the past 5 years it's all been great. But they have decided to sell.  As it turns out, the buyer is a celebrity. I thought she looked familiar when they came by to look at our place but I wasn't sure. Afterwards I found out from the owners who she was. I also found out that she doesn't want renters living next door. This B-/C-list celeb wants the whole place to herself. I'm sure even my spectacular skills of keeping the extra key in case she gets locked out and ability to feed pets while she's away won't sway her decision. So we have to move.

Great, like we don't have enough going on already! One thing I can say about my life is that it is never boring.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Sometimes You Just Need a Good Cry

I've been absolutely buzzing with excitement since our appointment with the fertility doctor. We have a good chance of having a healthy baby. We have a plan. We're starting to get everything ready to begin again. It's all so exciting.

So why do I have this pit of anxiety in my stomach? A pit that I'm attempting to fill with food?

I don't think I've written about this before but I am a self confirmed comfort eater. If you ever meet me in person you will agree that I'm clearly a girl who loves my food. As a result I've struggled with my weight since around the age of 30. I was overweight when I got pregnant with my son and even though the doctors insist that it was most likely a virus or infection that caused the placenta to stop growing, I sometimes think my weight may have also been a factor. Even if it wasn't a factor, it's still not a healthy way to be. And my husband and I promised each other after our son died that we would both commit to getting healthy for each other.

I've been doing a pretty good job up until now. I've been exercising 5 days a week, one of those days with a personal trainer. I've been changing my diet to add more fruits and veggies and to eliminate a bunch of the junk I was eating before. I've even lost a few pounds and I'm looking and feeling better than I have in a long time.

But over the weekend and early this week I've fallen off the diet wagon. I haven't exercised since Friday before our appointment. I've been craving chocolate and nachos and junk. I have allowed myself to gorge on macaroni and cheese and brownies. I feel guilty and sluggish and blah.

And confused. Why am I comfort eating when I've just gotten such great news. Shouldn't I be happy? Shouldn't this be even more motivation to get fit and lose some more weight before another pregnancy?

Last night in bed it finally hit me. While I'm happy about our new path, I'm in mourning. Not just for my son, but for the fact that I am saying good-bye to having a child that is genetically mine. I know logically that once I carry this new child for 9 months I won't care that his or her origins were from an egg donor. I also know that any child we have will still be genetically related to my husband.

But I still need to wrap my head around the fact that the only child I will ever have that could have been like me, or looked like me, or had my great memory, or my silly sense of humor, or my brown eyes, or my funny looking toes,,,,, that child is dead. Any future living children we will have will have all those things from my husband but not from me.

So I had a good cry about it last night. And also right now as I'm typing this. And these tears feel good. I know in my heart that I want to move forward along this path. I know I need to come to terms with my sense of loss. I suppose that's why our fertility clinic offers free counseling. I am excited about things and I can't wait to get started.

I am feeling less like I want to stuff myself with food today. And I will for sure have to exercise because my trainer is coming over any minute. So hopefully I'm back on the dieting wagon. 

Sometimes you just need a good cry!

Monday, 21 February 2011

We're Really Going to do This.

I never thought I'd be here again. I never thought I'd be 41 and trying for another baby.

To be fair, I wasn't sure I would ever be able to get pregnant. But I did, at 39, and I thought all my prayers were answered. I would have my baby at 40 and then be done. One perfect healthy child was enough. We would try hard not to spoil him and would make sure he had lots of play dates so he would learn how to share. We would love him and he would love us. We would be the perfect family of three.

"There's no heartbeat."

Those awful words that I heard at my 36 week scan. Those awful words changed everything.

So here I am at 41 getting ready to try again. I obviously have a lot of fear about the whole thing which I wrote about in this post back in January. But I've got hope as well.

We had our appointment at the fertility clinic last Friday. They did a scan of my uterus and all is well. No fibroids, no polyps, I even have a few follicles left. The consultation with the doctor raised some interesting options for us. We are quite worried about the fact that we are both carriers for cystic fibrosis. This means that we have a 1 in 4 chance of a child of ours being born with the disease. We are keen to find ways to avoid this. I don't have nearly enough follicles to do pre-genetic diagnosis (PGD) so we need to think outside the box.

"So how about using donor sperm or donor eggs?" This is the question we asked our fertility doctor on Friday. We have been considering this option for a while now. If you think about it, it's pretty much half-way between adopting and having your own children. With adoption, the child isn't genetically related to either parent. With donor eggs or sperm, the child is genetically related to one of the parents. Plus, here in the UK if you conceive a child this way it's still legally yours. No issues with lawyers or in our case immigration and visa complications.

A big smile erupted on the face of our doctor. She agreed that this could be a very good option for us. Her recommendation was to use donor eggs because of my age. Younger eggs produce better embryos and better embryos are much more likely to result in a happy healthy baby. So less likelihood of miscarriage, downs syndrome, edwards syndrome, and many other (Mother's) age related issues. Pregnancy after loss is always going to be stressful, and knowing that you are helping to decrease your chances of another loss is a huge relief. I know there are no guarantees in life, but this made me feel a lot better.

I think this is the option we are going to go for. The big issue at the moment is the cost. It's crazy expensive! My hubby does well and financially we're in a good place. But this is huge money. The kind of money that would completely deplete our savings we have set aside for when we move back to the US and need to buy a house again. My parents have offered to help out which is much appreciated. But they have no idea what kind of money we're talking about yet. I am trying to ease them into it by telling them it's "REALLY" expensive.

In my heart I know that this is what I want to do. My husband is all for it as well. So we will figure out the money side. After all, bringing home a healthy living child would be worth it.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Back to School

I took a very big step this week. I went back to the school where I have been volunteering for the past 4 years. I've talked about the process that lead up this big step here and  here.

Thursday was the big day back. I have to say, I was more nervous than I thought I would be. I got to the school a bit early and stood outside just taking it all in.

I was going back. My mind was swimming with old memories. The last time I had been at the school was in June. I was heavily pregnant and really struggled trying to walk up all the fights of stairs in this old Victorian school. I recalled saying good bye to the children, being surrounded by them all in a group hug. Their small hands reaching for my bump to say good bye to my baby and hoping to feel him kicking. I had promised to send them an email once he was born to tell them his name and send them a photo. I never thought that I would be coming back this year. I thought I would be too busy with my new baby to be able to. "Things are so much different than I ever imagined," I thought to myself as I rang the buzzer to be let into the gate.

I nervously walked into the school. As I was signing in, the receptionist greeted me in a way that let me know she was glad to see me but was also quite aware of my situation. I felt a rush of relief knowing that everyone knew and I wouldn't have to field any "How is the baby" questions. I started to climb the stairs leading up to the classroom. The classroom is on the second floor of the school (which would be called the third floor in the US)  and there are no elevators, so it's quite a trek. My first thought was how much easier it is to climb the stair when you're not 6 months pregnant.

My anxiety level rose with each step. Was I going to be able to do this? Would I cry? Could I hold it together?

Twice I had to stop in the stairwell to take some deep breaths and compose myself. "These kids love me," I reminded myself, "and I love them. It's all going to be OK." So I took a deep breath and walked out of the stairwell and onto the second floor. Within minutes I was spotted by one of the kids who was on his way to the bathroom. I was greeted with a big hug from the happy smiling boy.

Moments later another student peeked her head out of the classroom. They had obviously been expecting me. The next thing I know I am being swarmed by a group of happy 11 year olds. They came running out of the classroom to greet me. Again, I found myself being surrounded by them in a group hug. It was a wonderfully familiar memory. I could see on their faces that they really were pleased to see me. I was happy to see them too.

The rest of my time that day went well. They all wanted to show me their latest art work and tell me about the books they are reading. They asked me if I was just coming back just this one time or if I would be coming every week. They seemed quite pleased when I told them that they would be seeing me on a weekly basis again.

Interestingly, none of them asked about my son. I was told that they were given a script of things that they could say to me, but none of them did. I suppose there will be questions down the line from some of them, and hopefully I will be ready to answer them.

I'm really happy that I took this huge and scary step. It has made me feel a stronger, and a bit more like my old self.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

What an Honor

I am so humbled and grateful today.

This little blog of mine is being spotlighted over at an amazing blog called Honoring Our Angels. It was set up by Monica on behalf of her daughter Devon who was stillborn November 2008. She started the site to serve as a resource for people who have lost a child.

It's an amazing place with lots of resources and stories from other women who have suffered the loss of their babies. I highly recommend you go over and check it out.

Thank you so much Monica. Not just for spotlighting my story, but for all the work you've put into making some great resources available to all of us.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Try Not to Freak Out the Preganant Lady, Please

Before I get started let me assure you that the pregnant lady in this story is not me.

As I have mentioned before, I'm an American expat living in London. One of the first things I did when I got here was to join a club for expatriate women. It has been through this organization that I have met most of my close friends. Once a month this club has a coffee morning where new members and old members can get together. It's mostly designed as a way to welcome new people to London and the club. For many women, it's the first time they have worked up the nerve to venture out of their new homes and walk into a room full of strangers hoping for some kind of lifeline. So as a veteran member, I understand how important it is that we make these new women feel welcome.

I've mostly avoided these coffee mornings since losing my son because I just didn't have the energy for them. But his month I've been feeling more like my old self and decided to attend.

It was all going pretty well. There was a nice mixture of new members and existing ones. As fate would have it, I ended up sitting next to two visibly pregnant women. One who had just joined the club, and one who had been a member for a while but who I don't know very well. This was fine by me. I don't have an issue with pregnant women, I just have an issue with newborn babies. Since neither of these women had a newborn with them I was sure all would be fine.

So we were chatting about this and that. I was careful not to ask anything about their pregnancies as I knew this would lead to them asking me if I had children. I thought I was doing so well. Until the woman who I don't know very well asked me this question. "The last time I saw you was right before you had your baby, right? So how is the little one?"

So now I am trying to figure out exactly how to say what I need to say. I have two very pregnant ladies staring at me waiting for my answer. The new woman looks very smiley as she's expecting me to start telling tales of cute newborns, sleepless nights, and other various baby tales.

So I just said it, "My son was stillborn."

Looks of horror spread across both of their faces. Not just horror for me, but horror for themselves. They both asked me how and why and did I know anything. They wanted to know if the doctors had known anything or if there had been any signs. I calmly (so proud of myself for that) explained that no, there had been no signs. I had had a perfectly normal pregnancy. I didn't know anything was wrong until the ultrasound at 36 weeks (which got a shriek from the new woman who I'm assuming is close to 36 weeks).

They both asked me how I was doing. Again, I stayed calm and explained that it has been really tough but that I've got some really great friends who have helped me through it. I was so proud of myself for not crying through all of this. At this point another friend of mine (who had been chatting to someone else) realized what we were talking about and very slyly turned the conversation in another direction.

I am proud of myself for staying calm and not breaking down. I've been in this situation before when I haven't been as brave. But this time I felt a bigger responsibility. I needed to stay strong not just for me, but for the two pregnant women I was talking to. The last thing I want to do is to freak out a pregnant woman. We've all been there and know how scary it all is. But to have to face me, the manifestation of their greatest fear, couldn't have been easy. I know it wasn't easy for me.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Six Months

Six months since you were born silently into this world. Six months. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, other times it feels like it's been years.

I didn't forget about this day, but I didn't dread it as much as the 13th's of previous months. I am sad and I miss you terribly, but this month the feelings of grief are not as heavy on my heart.

I think I am learning how to carry my pain in a new way. At first it swallowed me whole. I was unable to do or think about anything but how much I missed you and how much I was hurting. My heart broke so completely that I was unable to handle anything else. It was all consuming, and blinding, and numbing.

But now it feels different. I still carry my grief, and my loss, and my pain. But I find that I am also able to be thankful, and happy, and excited about the future. I am able to hold my feelings in layers.

On the top layer is whatever I am feeling at the moment. I may be looking forward to a weekend away, or I may be tired from a hard workout. I may be laughing with my husband about something he said, or I may be sharing a funny story with a girlfriend over lunch. I may be feeling lazy, or procrastinating doing something I know I need to get done. I can do all these things now, unobstructed by my sadness.

But the sadness is always there.

It's on the bottom layer of my feelings. Like a base coat before you paint your walls, it is there always. It's the new foundation to my new normal. Some days the topcoat of paint wears thin and you can see the sadness and grief peeking out. But mostly, it gets covered up by the shiny new topcoat of paint.

From the outside you can't see it, but from the inside I know it's still there. It will always be there.

The two exist in harmony now. I carry this pain and sadness with me always, and yet it no longer stops me from experiencing happiness. Maybe this will be my new normal? Or maybe it's just a phase in my journey and tomorrow I will wake up to find myself paralyzed by grief again.

I hope not though, because this new way of layering my emotions feels like something I could sustain. It feels like a good way to deal with and acknowledge both sets of emotions. A way in which both kinds of feelings have a place and neither gets buried.

Six months from when you were born my precious baby boy. I love you and miss you and think about you every day. You were my first born and no matter what happens next, it was you who made me a Mother. I so wish you were here with me.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Things in Motion- Update

A few days ago I posted about my plans for the future. I was a bit nervous about taking steps forward as I've grown comfortable in this new world I've created for myself. But I took a chance and it paid off.

I received an email from the school where I used to volunteer and they are happy to have me back. In fact they used the word "excited" to have me back. Excited?? Wow! That makes me feel really special, especially since I'm just a volunteer, not a paid member of staff. So I'm really looking forward to going back sometime very soon.

The school only recently told the students about what happened to my baby boy. I can't imagine that was an easy thing to tell the children. I've been working with them for the past 4 years so they know me pretty well. They are in year 6 (the equivilant of 6th grade in the US) this year so they're old enough to understand what's going on.

I know they will have lots of questions for me and I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for what to say and how to hold it together. The last thing I want to do is break down sobbing in front of them. But I might do that so I've also got to be prepared for that.

But I'm excited. I really miss them and can't wait to go back and see how big they've all gotten. I haven't seen them since last June.

*On a completely unrelated side note- I've recently noticed some traffic coming from facebook. As I don't have a facebook page set up for this blog I'm super curious as to where it's coming from. So if you're here via a facebook post would you mind leaving a comment to share how you found me??? Thanks!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

One of my photos is being featured on still life 365 today. Still life 365 is an amazing blog where they feature art created by people affected by the loss of a child.

I feel incredibly honored to have my photo and my story on this site along with all of the amazing pieces of art that they feature there.

Please check it out

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Setting Some Things In Motion

People keep asking me what I'm going to do next? I find this one of the hardest questions to answer.

What am I going to do now??

I had my whole year planned. I was going to have my baby and get lost in babyland. My days would be filled with feedings and nappy changes. My nights would be sleepless. I would be posting about my lack of sleep on facebook to annoy my friends and family. I was going to become an amateur photographer with my son being my main subject. I would join a playgroup and meet other women with babies the same age as mine. I was finally going to be a Mommy.

But then everything changed. Someone looked at the plans I had written on the chalkboard of my life and erased them. Just like that, with one swipe of the eraser my whole life plan was gone.

Since August I've been staring at that empty chalkboard. What do I write on it now? What do I want to do? What do I feel up to doing? Where do I even begin?

I've decided it's time to break out the chalk and start writing again. Not to fill up the whole board, but maybe just a small space in the corner. So I've set a few things in motion.

First, I finally contacted and joined my local Sands group. For those of you who don't know about Sands, it's a stillbirth and neonatal death charity here in the UK. They offer support for anyone affected by the loss of a baby and also promote research to reduce the numbers of babies who die each year. They are an amazing organization and I've been meaning to reach out and get involved. So today I did. I met with a lovely woman who told me about what my local group does. I'm looking forward to attending some meetings and meeting other baby loss parents.

Second, I reached out to the school I used to volunteer at (hence the chalkboard references above). When I lived in the US I was an elementary school teacher and really missed the classroom. So I found a local school that needed people to come in and read with the students. I worked there for 4 years and stayed with the same group of kids each year. I miss them terribly and have really wanted to go back. I've been scared to email the school for fear that they will say they don't want me back. I am afraid that they won't want to address my baby loss with the students. But I'm hopeful that maybe they will welcome me back. I am anxiously awaiting their reply.

I'm feeling proud of myself today. I know it's small steps, but they are steps forward, and that feels pretty good.

Monday, 7 February 2011


I'm sick today. 

It feels like morning sickness, but it's not. 

It's just the flu. 

But it reminds me of my early pregnancy, and that makes me sad.  

I miss being pregnant. 

I miss my baby boy even more.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

More Strange Dreams

A few nights ago I had a very strange and disturbing dream. In this dream I was walking around in a park and this boy (probably around 2 or 3 years old) grabbed onto my leg and wouldn't let go. I asked this boy who he was and why he was holding on to me. He told me that I seemed like a nice mommy and asked if he could come home and live with me. I asked him who his mother was and where I could find her. I told him that he couldn't live with me because his family would really miss him if he moved in with me. He led me to a building where they were having a private party. There were a bunch of people and a bunch of balloons decorating the room. I carefully unwrapped the boy's arms from my leg and brought this child to his family. They greeted me with cheers and thanks for returning their son to them. Then I was told that I had to leave because I was not invited to the party. So I left, squeezing past the two bulky security guards blocking the doorway.

The next night I had another dream. In this one I was watching my friend's son who is 2. I had taken him to some kind of fair or carnival. I looked away for a moment and when I turned around he was gone. I looked frantically for him everywhere but couldn't find him. I started crying and yelling his name. But no matter where I looked, I couldn't find him. I remember thinking, what kind of terrible person am I? I lost my own son and now I've lost my friend's son as well. I was just getting ready to call my friend and break this terrible news when I woke up.

I think that both dreams are a sign that I am still trying to process what has happened to me over the past 5 months.

The first one reminds me about how I've always felt left out of the "Mommy and Daddy" club. We struggled with infertility for so long before I finally got pregnant. I thought we would never be allowed into this club by the bouncers. In this dream I was allowed in, but just for a second. Just long enough to bring the boy in and leave him with his real family. Just as in real life I am now in the club, but my child is not here with me. Like the boy in my dreams, my son has been taken from me. To a place where I cannot enter. 

The second one seems to me to be more about my own guilt. The guilt that I didn't know anything was wrong with my baby. That as I was having fun and enjoying my pregnancy, he was dying and I didn't even notice. In the dream I looked away for a moment and my friend's son was gone. I didn't get to take him home from the fair, I had to make a call to his mother instead and tell her he was missing. Just as in real life I didn't get to take my son home from the hospital. Instead I had to make phone calls and send emails telling my family the bad news.

I had another dream a few days ago, but this one was a good one. In this dream I was newly pregnant again. I was looking at a tiny blob on an ultrasound screen. And I wasn't scared at all, I was just happy.

This is the dream that I hope will come true.

Friday, 4 February 2011

This Week I'm Grateful For

I've been through a lot these past few months and it's easy to get caught up in the sadness and the grief. So when I saw this idea over at Maxabella loves I just knew I had to participate. I need to spend more time thinking about the things that are good in life. Even through all this grief, I have things to be grateful for.

So here goes. This week I'm grateful for....
  • Exercise- I started doing it to try and lose the jelly belly that pregnancy leaves behind. One thing I didn't realize is how much better I feel now. Not just physically but mentally. I can feel my dark mood lifting the more I get out there and sweat. It's like free therapy, and it also helps you get rid of the jelly belly. Mine is still here, but it's losing a bit of it's wobble.
  • Friends- I have the most amazing friends who have really supported me. I don't know what I would do without them, especially since my family lives in a different country than I do.
  • Wine- My husband will laugh when he sees this one. Wine is like magic. It brings people together. It makes anything more fun. There are so many different kinds of wine so you never get bored. There's always a good reason to have wine. It's complex and interesting and I love learning more about how it's made. Oh, and I also really like to drink it! : )
Enjoying a glass in Bordeaux, France

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Just when things are getting back to some semblance of normal. Just when I feel that spring back in my step. Just when I'm feeling a tiny bit of my old self again. BANG! I get hit with a flashback and it completely knocks the wind out of my sails. Am I the only one this happens to?

Today started off as a good day. I had plans to meet some of my friends for lunch. We normally stay local, but today we decided to try a new place in a different part of town. I had some things to take care of in the morning, so I didn't arrange to travel down to the restaurant with the other ladies. I got up, ran my errands, and then headed down to join everyone.

As I stepped out of the tube station I realized that I was right next to the building where I had gone to register my son's birth and death just a few months ago. I was suddenly hit with the vivid memory of that day. The day I had to register the stillbirth of my precious baby boy and collect his death certificate. 

My husband was supposed to go with me to the appointment but he had something come up at work at the last minute. I was so hurt. How could he not come? How could he leave me to do this on my own? Logically, I understand that when you work you don't always control your time. But on that day in my emotional state I was still very upset. He had promised to take me to lunch afterwards to make it up to me but that really wasn't the same as being by my side was it?

I toyed with the idea of rescheduling the appointment, but I just couldn't bear to have to call back in and go through the torture of another phone call explaining my situation again. So I took a few deep breaths and walked through the doors.

I entered the huge roman style government building. I had all my paperwork with me. I went up to the counter and told them my name. The woman looked down her sheet and I saw that next to my name was the word stillbirth. Even reading it upside down, the word jumped out at me like a dagger. The woman then looked at me with pity in her eyes and asked me to take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

I found an empty chair and then looked around the room. Mistake! On my left was a couple with a newborn in a carrier. They looked so happy with their smiley eyes and baby bundled with blankets. I felt my stomach tighten and the tears started to flow. I quickly grabbed my sunglasses out of my bag and put them on.

Have you ever tried to cry silently in a room full of people?

You know that cry where you try not to wipe your eyes or sniff?? It's not an easy task, but in my head I pulled it off completely. In reality I'm sure I looked like a complete lunatic.

Then to make things just that much worse, another couple came in with their newborn. After a quick scan of the room, they decided to sit next to the other couple with the baby. What followed next was a painfully happy conversation about how many weeks old their babies were and where they had them and how much they were sleeping and eating. I thought I was going to have to run out of the room screaming. Why hadn't I remembered to bring a book?? How on earth was I going to be able to sit here and cry silently? How long until I collapsed on the floor in a blubbering heap?

Just then I heard my name. I jumped up and almost ran to the woman who called it. The tears streaming from underneath my sunglasses were starting to fog them up, but I was not going to take them off. So we walked silently down the hallway to her office. Relief at last I thought, but I was so wrong.

What followed next is a bit of a blur to me but the feelings are still so raw and real. I presented her with all my documents and was hoping that she could just fill out the paperwork while I sat there silently. Nope, she needed to know all sorts of things and I had to answer a bunch of questions. It wasn't long before I was crying hysterically. Trying to spell my husband's name and give our address in between sobs. The woman helping me asked me all sorts of questions like how he had died and if I ever knew anything was wrong. At first I couldn't figure out why she was asking these questions. Those weren't on the forms. But then I realized that she actually cared and that's why she was asking.

There is nothing worse than having to proof read your child's death certificate to make sure all the information is accurate.

By this point my eyes were so filled with tears I could barely read. The woman who was helping me was so upset that she misspelled my husband's name, twice. So I had to proof the death certificate twice. By the time the forms were all filled out we were both crying. She shared with me that she had lost a baby once and my story really touched her. She said that registering stillborn babies is the hardest part of her job. She hugged me and wished me well. Then I put my sunglasses back on and walked out of the building. I was mentally and physically drained.

This memory hit me like a brick as I walked to meet my friends. And again I found myself crying in the streets of London. As I've written about before, I wish I could stop crying in public places.

Somehow I managed to pull myself together before I got to the restaurant. I didn't really want to walk into the place crying. Especially since one of the women I was meeting had her baby a month after I lost mine. We had enjoyed being pregnant together and had been happily planning play dates once our babies were born. It's not always been easy for me to be around her, knowing that she is going home to her living daughter and I am going home to an empty home. So I try not to cry or talk about my loss when she's around. I don't want to make her feel awkward or uncomfortable. Lucky for me I got there first so I was able to dash to the bathroom and fix my face before everyone else got there. So by the time the other ladies arrived, there was no sign that I had just had a total meltdown.

I just wish the flashbacks would stop. Or at least they could have the courtesy of happening when I'm at home.