Monday, 27 February 2012

Hope Creeps In

This pregnancy has not been easy on me emotionally. I suppose all pregnancies after a loss are difficult and what I'm experiencing is normal. That is if your definition of normal is rotating between fear, panic, dread, grief, sadness, nervousness, paranoia, wistfulness, longing, fixating, and terror. Since I'm always on the hunt for my new normal here, I'd say this probably isn't the best definition available. But alas, sometimes reality rules.

For the past 22 weeks I've been scared. Worried that something will go wrong like it did last time. Worried that I won't be able to handle it again. Worried that I won't be able to cope with another loss. Wondering if I was a complete crazy person to put myself in this vulnerable place again.

As time has gone on something odd has happened. Every now and then I experience this strange sensation. At first I didn't even notice it was there. It would flit in and out of my consciousness. Blink and you'd miss it.

What was this strange sensation? It seemed foreign and yet somehow familiar. Tiny butterflies in my stomach. A small smile that would creep onto my face from time to time. A skip in my step. A song in my heart. My mind starting to think ahead,,,, making plans. What was this strange sensation? 

Suddenly it hit me. I knew exactly what this strange emotion was.

It was hope.

Somehow amongst all the fear and the worry and the stress of this new pregnancy, hope had crept in. I didn't recognize it at first because I was so preoccupied with all my negative thoughts. Even if I did have awareness of it, I pushed it right back where it came from.

But this hope was stubborn. Instead of allowing itself to be pushed away, it pushed back. It came more often, screaming my name each time. "I'm back," it would shout. "Remember me? Still I pushed it back.

There is no room for hope when you're living each day in fear. Hope is the enemy. Hope makes you vulnerable to being hurt again. Protecting yourself from hope will protect you from pain,,,,, right?

But hope wouldn't give up. It came even more often, and it stayed for longer periods of time. Enough time for me to start going to prenatal yoga again. Enough time for me to start looking at baby girl nursery items on the internet. Enough time for me to buy tickets to go to the Baby Show here in London. Enough time for me to attend the Baby Show and actually enjoy myself!

I kid you not,,, I went to the Baby Show and enjoyed myself.

I'm very good at denial though and so even though hope was there, I refused to acknowledge it's existence. I got home from the Baby Show and couldn't stop talking about it to The Hubby. I didn't buy anything of course, but I had done all sorts of "research" on the latest baby buggy and nursery furniture. I was babbling on about this and that when I realized that The Hubby was smiling at me.

"What are you smiling at??" I asked him. Of course he said he wasn't smiling at anything, which made me continue to question until he finally spilled. He said it was just nice to see me happy and excited again. And that's when it hit me. Hope had crept back into my life. Perhaps not blind hope, more like guarded hope. But hope nonetheless.

This is not to say that I'm over the fear. I'm most definitely still feeling fear, panic, dread, grief, sadness, nervousness, paranoia, wistfulness, longing, fixating, and terror. It's just that now it's sprinkled with a little hope.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Entering The World Of Normal Pregnant Women

I'm well into my second trimester and have been feeling well. All the nausea is gone and the bouts of exhaustion only come ever so often. So I figured it was time to drag my lazy self to pregnancy yoga. It's a big step for me because it's one of the things that I really enjoyed during my last pregnancy. The Hubby is thrilled that I'm doing yoga and also having sessions with my personal trainer again. He's always encouraging me to embrace this pregnancy and sees this as a step in the right direction.

By taking this step I'm not only joining the world of "normal" pregnant women, but I'm also acknowledging that this pregnancy is actually moving forward. I've been in denial for so long about being pregnant, but with my growing bump and all the movement Frostina has been doing lately denial really isn't an option anymore.

The thing about entering the world of normal pregnant women is the fact that I have a different history and viewpoint than most of them. This of course isn't obvious to the casual observer. I'm sure that if you peeked into the room during class you would simply see a group of pregnant women doing yoga. As crazy as I may feel sometimes, from the outside I look like just another pregnant woman. As a result, other pregnant women talk to me like I'm one of them.

This is fine for the most part, but there are times when I'm reminded that my story is not like most. At the beginning of each class the instructor asks each of us our name, how far along we are, and if we are having any aches or pains she needs to know about. My first time there she also asked me if this was my first baby.

Ugh, that innocent question that stabs all baby loss mom's in the heart.

Of course this question was asked in front of all the other pregnant students. My answer, "Well this isn't my first pregnancy." She seemed to get the message and moved right on. Phew!

Then there was last week's class. There was a new woman who announced that she was 8 weeks pregnant. Eight weeks pregnant and already attending pregnancy yoga?? At 8 weeks I was pretty much couch bound fighting waves of nausea and taking lots of naps. It turns out she is a yoga instructor as well and works at the studio. She said she was worried about outing herself but really wanted to get started doing pregnancy yoga. The instructor nodded and said some encouraging words. Everyone in the class smiled and nodded.

Inside my head I was screaming, "You're only 8 weeks and you're already so sure of this pregnancy that you've enrolled in a course of pregnancy yoga classes? Do you have any idea how risky this all is? Not only are you being smug (I'm judgemental in my head) about things but you're also at your place of work. So if things go wrong, then everyone at work will know."

She of course couldn't hear my mind screaming and proceeded to perform all the yoga moves better than the rest of us while flaunting her super slim and bump free body. 

Then there's this little gem. I know a woman through my expat club who I'm attending yoga with. She's 34 weeks pregnant with her third baby. I don't know her very well yet, but I get the idea that she's not had any struggles getting or staying pregnant. The reason I think this is because she was complaining to me that she really wants her body back because for the past 5 years she's either been pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking a break between trying again. No mention of any delays or issues.

She also seemed shocked that I had to do IVF to get pregnant. It must be nice to live in a world where you are surprised that others struggle to get pregnant.

She mentioned in class that she was feeling this numbness in her inner thighs in the morning before class. She told the instructor that she felt that same numbness right before going into labor with her two sons. She asked the instructor what she thought. The instructor said that if that's a sign of labor for her than maybe she should call her midwife.

After class this woman told me that she wasn't expecting the instructor to tell her this. She had been hoping for some reassurance that it was no big deal. I asked her if she was going to call the midwife. She told me that she was going to wait until Friday (our class was on Tuesday) when she had a scheduled appointment. I was shocked at her calm demeanor. I asked her if she was concerned and she told me that she was far enough along that she wasn't worried about going into labor early.

Again my head was screaming, "You're only 34 weeks! That's too early! Your daughter's lungs won't be fully developed until 37 weeks. How can you be so calm about all this? Why are you here at yoga and not at your midwives office getting checked out?"

At that moment I remembered that she lives in a different world than I do. In her world, you get pregnant and have your baby,,,, simple. Things may not go exactly to plan, but they always work out in the end. I didn't share my fear and paranoia with her because she didn't ask and I don't know her well enough to spew my unsolicited advice on her. Instead I told her to keep an eye on things and if the numbness continues or she gets worried to call her midwife.

I'm sure all will be well with her and her baby. As they do with most pregnant women. Because in the world of normal pregnant women things always go well. Perhaps not exactly to plan, but tragedy doesn't touch them. So she won't have to be worried. Oh how I wish I could go back to that world.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Wait, I Thought This Was Supposed To Reduce Our Stress?

I thought I had the perfect solution for some of our pregnancy anxiety. Boy was I wrong!!

Last week I wrote this post about our decision to get a home Doppler so we can listen to Frostina's heartbeat when we're feeling anxious. Having lost one baby in utero, our fear of this happening again is probably a million times higher than it should be. We both figured that once this little machine came then we could at least calm our fears a bit.

It arrived mid week and The Hubby enthusiastically ripped it out of the box and got things in working order. We knew it may be difficult for us to find her heartbeat at first since neither of us knew what we were doing. So I lowered my jeans and squirted the gel on my belly. Within about a minute we could both hear that wonderful sound not unlike a galloping horse,,, it was Frostina's little heartbeat. We both smiled and hugged and were happy.

Saturday morning arrived and The Hubby said that maybe we should listen again since we hadn't heard Frostina in a few days. We were getting ready to go out for the day so I said we could do it after I'd had my shower.

Now I should mention that I've been feeling a lot more movement lately. Frostina had a particularly active session late Friday night and I had even felt her squirming around early Saturday morning. So we weren't going to listen because we were worried, just because it seemed like a fun thing to do. Call it parental bonding if you like.

So I get out of the shower and we get everything ready to listen. We squirt the gel and turn on the Doppler. I move it around, and around, and around. Nothing.

The hubby assumes I'm doing it wrong and takes over. He tries, and tries, and tries. Nothing

I start to panic. I think he does too. Neither of us wants to admit it though. So we keep trying, and we start to argue about how to do it, or where to put the wand, or if we need more gel or not.

Now logically we know that we're probably just doing it wrong. After all, this is only the second time we've tried this machine. We have heard and read all the warnings about how it can be hard to find the heartbeat on your own. We know that professionals go to actual training to do this. We know that this exact scenario is why the professionals don't recommend using a doppler at home, because it can cause unnecessary fear. But knowing this in our logical minds does not help calm the rising panic we are both feeling.

I remind The Hubby that I've been feeling her move all last night and this morning. We try some more and have mixed results. We do hear a few fleeting beats every now and then, but can't get anything consistent. We take a break to get dressed and in that time I continue to feel Frostina kicking and rolling around. I try to assure The Hubby of this but I'm not sure if he believes me or not. Not that he thinks I'm lying,,,, but we both know that I'm not the best judge of these things.

We try one more time and get the same mixed results. I finally tell him that we need to stop and try again later. That I know she's fine because I can feel her moving. That she's still tiny and is probably just in a spot where we can't hear her. He agrees and then we both sit in silence for a while. The fear in the room is palpable yet neither of us say anything. He finally agrees to get on with our day and says he trusts me to tell him if I think we need to go to the hospital. Which I don't think is necessary because I know she's fine.

We get through the day and focus on other things. I continue to feel Frostina all day and let The Hubby know each time it happens. We get home in the evening and I figure all is fine. Then he asks if I'm ok. Which is Hubby code for "I'm not ok." So I ask him if he wants me to check again. He says I can if I want to which is Hubby code for "Please will you?"

So I lay on the couch and squirt a bunch of gel on my belly. Within seconds I hear that wonderful sound not unlike a galloping horse,,, it was Frostina's little heartbeat. I didn't get it for long before she shifted position and it was gone again. But it was there long enough for both of us to feel a huge sigh of relief. 

I continue to feel her moving around today. It's almost like she knows we were worried about her yesterday and she's trying to make her presence known. She's saying, "Don't believe I'm ok,,,, here's a kick for you. Didn't feel that one enough, here's another, and another." I didn't try the doppler today because I figure if I can feel her this well there's no sense repeating yesterday's drama.

The Hubby is no longer a fan of the Doppler. His actual words were a profanity laced rant but I'll try and clean it up to make them suitable for publication. He said that if this stupid machine was going to be so flipping hard to use then it wasn't worth the money we paid for it. He said that it was supposed to bring us peace, not stress. I reminded him that this was one of the reasons I hesitated in buying one in the first place.

Will we be throwing the Doppler away?? Probably not. We do appreciate the fact that it can be a useful tool when used properly. We know that we are just figuring things out and it will take practice and experience to get good at it. We know this, but that knowledge doesn't help when blind panic takes over.

Will we try using it again?? Probably, but not until she's a bit bigger and there aren't so many places in my belly where she can hide from the machine.

Will we use it "just for fun" again. No F'ing way!

Friday, 17 February 2012

My Rant Against Word Verification Pop Ups

I never write about blogging specifically or any of the technical stuff that goes along with it. I'm not a computer expert or an online social media guru. I have no idea about all the stats and SEO's and all that other stuff that some bloggers are interested in. I don't blog to promote a business or to make money. I don't do sponsored posts or giveaways. I simply blog to connect with other people.

I write in this space because I desperately need an outlet for my feelings. I read other people's blogs because I love reading other people's stories. To know I'm not alone in my various struggles is a wonderful feeling. Not because I want other people to have to suffer like I have, but because I know there are other people who have been there and understand what it's like. I have found a wonderful community of people here in the virtual community of the internet. You have been my lifeline, helping me get through some of the worst moments of my life. I'm not sure I'd be as ok as I am these days without you.

For me, commenting is a huge part of the experience. I have felt such love and support from the comments I receive here. I admit I'm not the best commenter, but I do try my best to offer the same kind of support that you all have given to me.

A few days ago I noticed that blogger has changed their captcha word verification system. If you don't know what that is, the word verification is those funny word-things that pop up when you leave a comment on some people's blogs. They are supposed to prove you aren't a robot or a spammer.

They have always been tricky to do, but the new change has made them almost impossible. It now seems there are TWO words to decipher and re-type before you can leave your comment instead of just one.

I don't know why, but I'm having a terrible time reading the new words and often have to try again just to make my comment. I am finding this terribly frustrating and it's really putting me off commenting on your blogs. Am I alone in this?? It makes me feel like screaming into a pillow every time I see one of those things pop up.

So I have a small request. Can you please turn this terrible word verification off? I did it a long time ago and I hardly ever get a spam comment. I think I've gotten 2 or 3 since I started my blog and they are very easy to delete. It's an easy setting to turn on and off so it shouldn't be too much trouble. Not being a computer expert I'm not here to offer a tutorial on how to do it. But considering I somehow managed to figure it out, I know you will too.

So please,,,, if you will,,,,, turn it off??

Thank you.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Frosty?? Or Frostina??

Today we had our 20 week anomaly scan. To say I was nervous about it is probably the understatement of the year. When I get nervous I get a bit distracted and ditzy. I was so nervous that I started doing stupid things around the house. Like trying to go to sleep with my contact lenses in and putting my yoga pants on backwards. I didn't notice about the yoga pants until hours later when I sat down to pee and noticed the tag was in the front,,, duh!

I just don't look at scans the same way I did last pregnancy. In my naive, happy go lucky mind the biggest worry was if I would get a cute scan photo to share with my family. It never occurred to me that anything could or would go wrong. I was really that sure that I was "all clear" and was taking my son home with me. Oh how things have changed this time around.

So I was hugely relieved to learn that all is well with our little Frosty. My doctor (who does all his own scans) took a long time checking everything out. Everything looks great and baby is measuring well in all categories. I was so relieved to hear that heartbeat that I started crying. Why does this all have to be so scary this time??

Anyway, he asked us if we wanted to know the sex and of course our answer was YES! We have been dying to know if we've got a little Frosty or a little Frostina in there. And of course I have to share this great news with all of you as well. So here goes.

That's me at 20 weeks with a rather large bump if I do say so myself. I sent this photo to my family back home. The only difference being that I included my head in the one I sent to them. : )
That's right people, we're having a girl. The Hubby and I both started crying when we heard the news. I'm absolutely thrilled!! Not that I really cared one way or the other, I just want her to be born alive and healthy. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited at the prospect of shopping for all those adorable little girl clothes.

So from now on, I will be calling her Frostina instead of Frosty! My mother is petrified that we will get attached to this little nickname and actually name her Frostina. I may be a bit crazy from time to time, but I'm not that crazy. Although she will probably always be Frostina here on this blog.

Wow, I'm having a girl. Wow!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Because We Don't Trust Me

Every baby book and advice website tells you the same thing. Trust your instincts, listen to your gut, you will have a sense if something is wrong. Doctors and midwives say it too. It sounds so reassuring when you read it or hear it out loud. As if nothing can go wrong if only you listen to your inner voice and pay attention to your body.

But what happens if history shows that you have no instinct, no gut, and you will have no idea if anything is wrong? What if your inner voice tells you things are fine when they aren't. What if your body gives you false hope? What do you do then?? That my friends is the dilemma The Hubby and I are currently facing.

You see, my son died inside my womb and for at least a week and I HAD NO IDEA.

That's right, I had no idea anything was wrong. I remember writing about it four months after he was born. At that time I was still wracked with guilt for not noticing. For not being able to sound the alarm and save him. I played the what if game a lot back then. Blaming myself, trying to think back to when the feelings of movement changed, when they slowed down. Even in hindsight I have been unable to pinpoint the moment when he left us.

As time has gone on I have learned to forgive myself. I know that there is no way I would have happily gone through my days if I had any inkling that something was wrong.

The hardest part to forgive was the fact that I gave The Hubby the impression that everything was OK when it wasn't. Our husbands rely on us to tell them everything about how the pregnancy is going. They don't carry the baby and as a result, they are on the outside looking in. They depend on us to communicate with them, and to let them know if something is wrong. That's where I failed big time.

I've been starting to feel Frosty moving around. It's a wonderful thing to feel your baby moving and kicking. I had forgotten how happy those little kicks and flutters make me. Every time I feel something I happily announce it to The Hubby. He's just as thrilled as I am for this newest development. However, this has also raised some new anxiety for him.

When he doesn't get a kick report from me, he will ask me if I've felt anything. If I say no then he gets worried. I tried to assure him that I shouldn't feel Frosty all the time but this didn't help. A day or two went by before he shared his fears with me. He's worried that something will happen and we won't know again,,, like last time. And neither of us wants to go through that pain and shock again. 

We both fear that I don't really know what a kick or a flutter is. After all, I swore I could feel my son moving, even after we knew he was dead. So maybe I just can't tell the difference between baby existing inside of me vs baby actually moving inside of me. So as a result of my past history,,, we don't trust me to know if things are going wrong.

Not cheap, but worth every penny

So we have decided to buy a home doppler. I was against it for a long time thinking it might make me more paranoid. But after seeing the fear and worry on The Hubby's face I think it's our best option. We both need to be able to feel reassured that things are OK. Not just based on what I think I'm feeling, but based on actually hearing Frosty's little heartbeat. So I placed the order and now we're just waiting for it to arrive.