Sunday, 29 January 2012

Just In Case?

There's not a lot going on in my schedule this Sunday afternoon so I decided it was time to clean out the fridge. It's one of those jobs that just has to be done from time to time. Who says my life isn't glamorous?

So I'm going through the shelves, throwing out old left overs and some surprisingly scary onions when I come across this.
Amazing what you can find hiding on the top shelf.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of partaking in the joy that is Assisted Reproduction Treatment, let me introduce you to Lupron. It's a very expensive little hormone that you have to inject into your muscles as part of your treatment. It makes you feel pretty crappy and a bit crazy too. If you get through a cycle and don't finish the whole bottle, your nurse tells you to save it in the fridge "just in case" this cycle fails and you need it again.

Just in case. 

So my logical brain tells me that this too needs to be thrown away. After all, my FET worked and I'm currently 18 weeks pregnant with Frosty. So why do I need this old bottle of fertility hormone taking up space in my small UK fridge?? Sigh, I do miss my ginormous US fridge, and washer, and tumble dryer,,,, but I digress.

I think I should point out that since losing my son almost 18 months ago, my logical brain hasn't been getting much action. I'm sure it's still there somewhere, but it's hardly heard from these days. When it does try and pop back in to offer it's two cents it gets quickly stomped all over by my emotions. This case was no exception.

Just as my logical brain was telling my hand to grab the Lupron and toss in in the bin my emotions screamed, "STOP!" Stop right now! You can't throw that away! You may be pregnant but you are far from all clear. Just because your baby is alive now doesn't mean he/she will be born that way. You need to keep that bottle... Just In Case.

Just in case things go wrong like last time and I have to start again. Just in case the universe will think I'm getting too smug and happy in this pregnancy and feel the need to smack me around again. Just in case by throwing away that bottle I somehow cause things to go wrong.

Just in case.

It's crazy, I know. My logical brain tells me that even if the worst happens again, that bottle will probably expire before I get to use it again. It tells me that simply keeping (or not keeping) a bottle in the fridge will have no influence on this pregnancy. It tells me that superstition is just plain silly. But my emotions smacked that logical brain of mine down again and would not allow my hand to throw that bottle away.

So there it sits. Just in case.

*This is my contribution to the Managing The Fear BLM Link Up that I started last week. As you can see, I'm not doing a great job managing my fear at the moment. I am so touched by the stories that have been shared by some pretty amazing women. If you haven't had a chance to read their stories, please click on the link above to read them. Also, there are still a few more days until the linky closes so you can still share your story if you'd like. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

There's Still Time

To participate in the Managing The Fear BLM Link Up!

Earlier this week I posed the question, "How do you manage fear during a pregnancy after loss?" I've been asked this question myself and I'm never sure how to answer it. So I invited you, my fellow Baby Loss Mom's to link up and share your experiences.

I want to thank those of you who have already linked up. I was moved by your honesty and can completely relate to your struggle.

Haven't linked your story up yet? No worries! There is still time to share your story. Here's a direct link to make it even easier

I'm keeping the link up open for a while longer because the more stories we have to share, the better. Each of us will experience our pregnancies and our fear in a different way. Each of us will have struggles and small victories. Each of us will sometimes feel like we're alone in all of this, that no one else really gets it.

I am hoping that by sharing our stories with each other we can see that we are not alone. Our experiences, while unique, are also quite similar. We have the same hurdles to overcome, the same huge fear to tackle.

Even if your story is about how you're not overcoming your fear. Even if your fear is winning right now. Even if you feel completely unqualified to give advice because you haven't figured it out yourself. By sharing that story, you will be helping other BLM's. Sometimes there is even more benefit in sharing our struggles than in sharing our victories.

So I encourage you all to link up and share your stories! I look forward to reading them!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Managing The Fear- A BLM Link Up

How do you manage the fear that goes along with a pregnancy after loss? That's the question I've been asked and since I have no idea, I've decided to ask all of you. 

A few days ago I got a message via Twitter from a fellow Baby Loss Mom. She lost her precious daughter a few months ago and like every BLM I know, is struggling to cope. The reason she messaged me is because she has just found out she is pregnant again. She wanted to know if I had any advice to help her get through the next few weeks because she is petrified.

I really struggled with how to answer this question, but I did the best I could. Days later I'm still not happy with what I said to her. Partly because of stupid Twitter and the whole 140 character rule, and partly because I don't think what I said is actually going to be helpful to her.

So you can see what I'm talking about, here was my response to her.

First of all congratulations! As far as managing your fear goes, I still haven't worked that out for myself. I can tell you that I'm getting less scared and more hopeful as the pregnancy is progressing. I think the fear is normal and something that will be with us the whole time. I'm sorry I can't offer the magic solution. But with grief there never is a magic solution. We have to go through it and feel it and live it I don't think there are any shortcuts. We have lived through the worst case scenario and it's normal to be worried it will happen again. I wish you the best of luck.

Not exactly a happy, shiny, "everything will be ok" answer was it? Although I suppose that's not really what she was looking for. 

I think  my issue with answering this question is that I haven't figured out how to manage my own fear yet. I'm not nearly as petrified as I was in the beginning, that's for sure. But I have no idea why. Perhaps I've just wrapped myself in a nice blanket of denial?? That's always possible with me. 

So I've decided to reach out to my fellow BLM's for help. Not just for my Twitter friend, but also for myself and for anyone else struggling with this issue right now. And I've decided to make it a link up, my very first one. I'm not a link up expert so you will have to bear with me on this one. There may be a few glitches as I try and figure this whole thing out.

The only rule is that your post has to deal with the topic of fear during a pregnancy after a loss. It can be a new post or an old one. It can be about you, or about someone you know. Maybe you've been through it and come out the other side. Or maybe you're right in the middle of it all like I am. 

All perspectives on this topic are welcome. You don't have to follow me to participate (although if you enjoy reading my blog then you're welcome to follow). Any links that are off topic will be deleted. 

Also, please feel free to share this link up with other BLM's who may not be regular readers of my blog. The more participants we have the better! We have a wonderful community here in the baby loss community and I look forward to reading your responses. Oh, and if you don't have a blog of your own, feel free to add your insights here in the comments section.

So here goes. How do you manage the fear during a pregnancy after loss? Is it even possible to manage fear? Are there any tools or strategies you used? Did they work? What advice would you share with those of us going through it right now? 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Outing Myself On Facebook

No, I did not use this photo!
As the title says, I have announced my pregnancy on facebook.

I know many of you are shrieking in horror right now. You're probably thinking, "Not another smug, cheesy, annoying pregnancy announcement!" I can promise you that I did my best to make sure my announcement was none of those things.

I absolutely understand why many of my fellow Baby Loss Mom's and Infertiles are not huge fans of Facebook. It can be a source of pain for many of us. I myself have been known to hide all photos of friends on my list who have just had babies. But at the same time, I do love social networking sites. As someone who lives overseas, I find they really are the best way to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

The Hubby and I are working on embracing this pregnancy. Our little Frosty deserves to have parents who are as happy and excited for his/her arrival as we were when I was pregnant with our son. So in this spirit, I decided to go for it.

I wanted to make sure that my announcement didn't seem smug, cheesy, or annoying. I also wanted to acknowledge where we are in our lives with respect to this new pregnancy. To try and make people aware that while I still struggle with grief, I am also hopeful. I don't want anyone to forget about our firstborn or to think that now that I'm pregnant that everything is wonderful again.

In addition, I wanted to share the term Rainbow Baby with everyone and explain what it means. That's a lot to squeeze into a pregnancy announcement, but I was determined to make it happen.

It took me about a week to find the perfect wording. I searched the web high and low for just the right definition for the term rainbow baby. There are a few floating around, but none of them seemed quite right. So I took a few bits and pieces from what I found elsewhere, and wrote the rest myself. In the end I think it strikes a good balance of expressing my loss while still celebrating the new life growing inside me.

Here's what I posted.  

After every storm there is a rainbow, illuminating the clouds and bringing the color back into what was previously a gray and stormy sky. The beauty of the rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm, but instead offers the promise of brighter times ahead. It is for this reason that babies born after a loss are often referred to as “Rainbow Babies.” Today I would like to share the news that I am pregnant with what we hope will be our rainbow baby. There are days when I still feel like I’m in the middle of the storm, but I’m now dreaming of our rainbow who is due to arrive this June.

I know it's a bit long for a facebook post, but it was important for me to get this message out correctly. Hopefully I've done that. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Making Sacrifices vs Being Paraniod

One of the first things that happens when you find out you're pregnant is you have to start giving things up. We give up our beloved glass or two of wine (perhaps not as beloved to some as it is to me,, but I digress). We give up soft cheese and pate. We try and cut back on the junk food and eat more fruit and veg. We make sacrifices in order to have a healthy baby.

The purpose of this post is not to boo hoo about the fact that I can no longer enjoy a nice glass of wine or two with dinner. It's also not meant to debate what exactly pregnant women should or should not eat, drink, or do. I am by no means an expert, especially since my only pregnancy prior to this one resulted in a dead baby... so what do I know??

The purpose of writing this is to explore at what point are we making sacrifices, and at what point are we just being paranoid? I know of women who have given up all kinds of things; artificial sweeteners, caffeine, salad at restaurants (due to fear that the leaves aren't washed properly), processed foods, salad bars, buffet restaurants, tap water, etc. I have also known of women who won't go to places where there may be second hand smoke or won't ride any form of public transport for fear of germs.

On the flip side I have known women who didn't sacrifice anything. They drank wine, went snow skiing, smoked like chimneys, and ate all the brie and camembert they wanted to. Guess what? Their babies were absolutely fine.

I have been struggling with a bit of a dilemma lately. As most of you know, I do not work outside the home. I'm a stay at home wife who has been desperately trying to turn into a stay at home Mom for the past 9 years or so. I did work as a teacher before we moved to the UK, but when we moved here we decided to focus more on the whole baby making thing and as a result I've not been in paid work.

One of the things I do with my time is to volunteer at a local primary school (that's elementary school to my US readers). I go in once a week and read with kids who need extra help. It's something that I really enjoy and is the closest thing to a job that I've got. It makes me feel good to know that I'm helping children who struggle to read to get better. It makes me feel like I'm still contributing to society. I love my time each week at the school.

Working there has been a part of both my "old" normal and my "new" normal. Going back to work at the school was a huge part of my recovery after losing my son. As I shared on this blog about a year ago, going back and reading with the kids was something that made me feel "normal" again.

So it seems odd to me that I am now going to be giving up my time with the students in order to keep my little Frosty safe. I can't figure out if it's reasonable caution, or pure paranoia?

As we all know, schools are a breeding ground for all kinds of viruses, illness, and germs. Kids go to school and wipe their snot and saliva all over everything. They are ever so generous with all the germs they are carrying.

When I was pregnant with my son I didn't worry about this. I have a fairly strong immune system due to all my years working with children. I wash my hands a lot and try not to touch my face when I'm at school.

But then my son died at 36 weeks. The reason?? An infection or virus that attacked his placenta. This virus or infection was of unknown origin. There was no trace of it left when they did the post mortem so I don't even know what it was for sure. I don't recall ever being sick during pregnancy either so it's all a big mystery.

I also have no way to know where it came from. I am not trying to say that it came from the children at school. I live in London, I take taxi's, and I ride public transport. I go to the shopping centre and I shop at the grocery store. There are a million places where I could have picked up this killer bug.

The teacher in me keeps saying, "You know, teachers have babies all the time. You're just being paranoid." But the Baby Loss Mom in me knows what it's like when it all goes horribly wrong. She knows what it's like to have to read a post mortem report for her baby. She knows what it's like to have to pick up her son's ashes from the crematorium. She knows what it's like to have to return all the baby shower gifts. Her voice keeps saying to me, "Why take any chances?"

I've been going back and forth with this since I found out I was pregnant. My mind has been battling this decision, not sure what exactly to do. But then this week I noticed a strange red rash on the face and hands of a little girl I was reading with.

And I totally freaked out!

There was a very real fear that I've never experienced before. Like I wanted to immediately run out of the room and shower in anti-bacterial gel. A visceral and primal instinct to protect Frosty. Of course I didn't run from the room because I didn't want to alarm the students.

Instead I waited until I got home and talked it over with The Hubby. He told me that he wanted it to be my decision and wouldn't share his opinion unless I really wanted him to. So I asked him and he said that he wanted me to stop going. His opinion is why take chances that you don't have to.

So I have decided not to go back. It's a big sacrifice because I love going and I know the students who I read with really need my help. But I can't get over my paranoia, or caution, or whatever it is,,, and this time I don't think I want to.

Maybe sometimes it's OK to be just a little bit paranoid??

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


I am a planner. I like to know things. I like to have information. That way I can make plans. I'm not saying that my plans always work out.... take my last pregnancy for example.... but making the plans makes me happy. So I really don't like the fact that I don't know if my little Frosty is a girl or a boy.

When I was pregnant with our son we knew at 13 weeks. This is because due to The Hubby and I both being carriers for cystic fibrosis, we opted to do a CVS to make sure he would not carry the disease. When you do a CVS they can also tell you the sex of the baby. No guessing, no playing peeping Tom with the ultrasound to identify girl or boy bits, no chance of error. You know 100% that your baby is either XX or XY. Done!

This time since we used donor eggs we don't need to worry about cystic fibrosis (phew). It also means Frosty showed low risk for downs syndrome (thank you 20-something year old donor eggs). So this time we are opting not to do a CVS or an Amnio. I don't want to take any unnecessary risks with our little Frosty.

All good, except that it means I have to wait until 20 weeks to find out if we have a "Frosty" or a "Frostina" in here.

I have been feeling a boy vibe up until now. The last time I also felt boy and I was right. But then last night I had a dream about Frosty. She had been born and she was a girl. She was super cute with brown hair and brown eyes just like mine. I remember thinking that was funny since both our egg donor and The Hubby have brown hair and green eyes.

I am now wondering if I want to change my prediction from boy to girl?? I know it's all just a fun game we play with ourselves, this predicting. I know we won't know until we play peek-a-boo at 20 weeks. But I am starting to wonder if indeed I am having a girl.

I should also stress that I have no preference whatsoever. After what I've been through I just want a baby born alive and healthy.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Invitation Declined... Phew

As I wrote about a while back, I've been invited to a baby shower this month. If you click on the link you can read in detail just how much turmoil this caused me.

If just can't be bothered, here's the story in a nutshell.
  • The last baby shower I went to was my own. 
  • My son died 3 weeks later.
  • The though of having to attend a baby shower makes me break out in hives.
  • I wasn't sure exactly how to say no because I'm a people pleaser.
Ok, so now we're all up to speed.

I've spent a long time thinking about it and have decided that I just can't go. There is still a small part of me that wants to push myself, to not allow myself to hide from things like this. I don't want to spend the rest of my life avoiding baby showers because they are usually pretty fun events. Also, I don't like to miss out on a good party,,, ever. But I've decided that this is not the time.

I'm 15 weeks pregnant which means my hormones are all over the place. So the likelihood of crying goes way up. In fact, I started crying on the bus yesterday for no reason at all. I just don't trust my emotions right now. Plus the fact that this is not a good time to be stressing myself out. I'm already scared and stressed enough just being pregnant again. So I'm not exactly in the best state of mind to test or push myself.

I've got plenty of time to put on my big girl panties and act like a mature grown up. Just not now. There's no reason to rush into something that could end up a total disaster. No one wins if that happens and I could end up ruining someones special day. Not good.

So I sent her an email explaining my feelings and why I didn't feel I could come. It was such a relief just to send it. Now it's not hanging over my head anymore. Her reply was very positive. She told me she understands why I can't come and thanked me for telling her my reasons. So either all is well, or she's pissed off and just faking it. Either way I really don't care.

I'm just relieved that I stood up for myself and am only doing things I think I can handle right now. After all, I've got my little Frosty to take care of.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

She's Pregnant Too- Oh Joy!

Somehow I knew this would happen.

I'm slowly starting to tell people that I'm pregnant. Last time around I just posted a big announcement on facebook because I figured it was the fastest and easiest way to let everyone know at once. This is especially helpful since I live in a different country than my family and many of my friends. This time around I'm not quite ready to make that big of an announcement just yet. So instead I've been emailing small groups of people and letting them know.

I decided to share the info with a few friends who I know through an organization I'm in. These women all live here in London. One of these women was pregnant at the same time as I was last time. Our due dates were 4 weeks apart. Her son lived,,,, mine did not. She was amazingly supportive at the time and has continued to be a good friend to me. She's not someone I see regularly, but we do get together from time to time.

I have never met her son for reasons I've written about before. It's just too painful to even imagine it. Her son, a living breathing reminder of what I don't have. These two boys who should have been friends and playmates. We have never spoken about the fact that I have yet to meet him. In a way I suppose it's just understood. Either that or she is totally clueless and I'm giving her way too much credit.

Immediately after sending the email my phone rang. It was her calling to congratulate me. She was crying, which made me cry. She wanted me to know just how happy she is for me. I was telling her how sick I've been and apologized for missing a few things on our organization's calendar. She then said to me that she had also missed them because she was sick too.

An alarm went off in my head.

No, it couldn't be..... could it??

So I asked her, "Are you pregnant too?"

"Yes," she said.

Holy crap!! *I didn't say that out loud of course but I was thinking it. 

Instead I offered my congratulations. I said to her that I couldn't believe our timing was the same again. Then I asked how far along she was and she told me that she is 14 weeks.

Holy crap!! *Again, I didn't say this out loud.

As it turns out, our due dates are 3 days apart this time. So we get to be pregnant together again. Oh joy! She even suggested that we start doing pregnancy yoga together like we did last time. Oh joy!

I am of course happy for her, but I'm less than thrilled to be sharing another pregnancy with her. I didn't want to share this pregnancy with any of my friends (I know,,, selfish of me) because I know how it feels when things go wrong. The strain it can put on a friendship. But I especially didn't want to be sharing this pregnancy with either of the two friends I shared it with the last time.

It's all too painfully familiar. Flashbacks of last time around. The two of us with our baby bumps spending time together. Making plans for playdates. Remembering the look on her face when she came to visit me after my son died. Still pregnant and glowing, with puffy eyes from crying. There was a fear behind her smile. I know she was just hoping that it wouldn't happen to her too. Yet she still came to see me, fear and all.

I don't want to go there again. I don't want to remember how that time felt. More importantly, I don't want to re-live that experience. I'm already scared enough this pregnancy. Another loss would be crushing, but to have to watch her have another baby after another loss would just be too much. I realize that I'm doing worst case scenario here,,,, but when you've actually lived the worst case it seems much less far-fetched.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I'm not happy about it at all. I will do my best to get over myself because there's nothing I can do at this point. 

I wonder if I'm going to get a call or email from my other friend who was pregnant with me the last time announcing her pregnancy?? That would be just my luck wouldn't it?

*Pouring my heart out with Shell at

Sunday, 1 January 2012


Christmas is over, the new year is here, and my house is once again free of visitors. I can feel my body slowly unwinding from all the activity and family time. It would unwind much more quickly with a nice glass of wine,,,, but alas, this pregnant lady is off the booze.

I'm a bundle of extra energy right now. Wanting to get the house back to normal. Washing all the sheets and towels. Taking down the Christmas tree. I know it will take me days to fully relax. I'm like this after all our family visits.

Having family come to visit is always wonderful. Having family come to visit is also always a bit stressful. Part of it is of course the fact that we live across the pond from our family so when they do come it's for a longer period of time. My parents can't exactly pop in for the weekend since it takes them 11 hours on a plane to get here. So when visitors come it's generally for 2 or 3 weeks at a time. That can be a LOT of family time... if you know what I mean.

Brussels at Christmas
I'm not complaining this time around though. After spending last Christmas on our own, buried in our own grief, it was nice to have a house full of happy people this year. We even invited another couple over for Christmas dinner. I cooked a turkey and all the fixings, poured lots of wine, and played a bunch of silly party games. All in all, it was a great night. I took my parents around London and we even took the Eurostar over to Brussels for a quick visit. It was very nice to see them, but I'm exhausted.

I actually felt a bit sorry for them this trip. My nausea and exhaustion kicked in on several days so we had to cancel plans. In addition, The Hubby got a terrible cold and was out of commission for almost a week. So basically they had "The Preggo" and "The Sickie" as hosts. It resulted in a few more days at home than I think they might have liked. Although they are so excited that I'm pregnant again that I think they will forgive me.

I don't feel guilty for enjoying myself a bit this year. In the year and four months since our son died we have grieved him almost continuously. At some point that grief gets softer around the edges. Somehow we find a way to be able to feel joy and happiness again. I am grateful for the happiness. Because it cuts through the pain of grief. I am grateful that we were able to have a Happy Christmas this year. Perhaps it will be the first of many more to come.

But for now it's back to reality. I've got sheets to wash, Christmas decorations to put away, and some serious unwinding to do.