Last night I woke up suddenly in excruciating pain to the all familiar “leg cramps” of later pregnancy. It was horrendous and felt like it would never end, and it was the icing on the cake to the end of a pretty hard day. I wasn’t planning on doing a 34 week update, I figured waiting til 36 (a good 4 weeks) would be sufficient and give way more to report on, but it would appear a lot has happened this week and specifically yesterday that I want to share at this point whilst its fresh, and whilst I can highlight some of the downsides again to a pregnancy after loss despite the seemingly plain sailing few weeks of joy we have had about it all.
Yesterday I crossed over the 34 weeks pregnant threshold and the day held for me 2 appointments – firstly the midwife, which was fairly routine and all is well (hurray) but the second was one I initially thought was a little pointless but agreed to it anyway to see what it was all about. It was in a small stuffy room at the LGI with the the TLC people – bereavement midwives from our 2 hospitals here in Leeds, and it was here everything came home to me of where we are at, how hard the next few weeks may be and how normal it is to feel the way I apparently do.
The women were so lovely, but there is something about talking to people that know or work in baby loss that puts you at ease to open up, be honest and share. And this was something I found myself doing right off the bat. I went in with the idea that it was to plan my delivery and talk about how they could support me in this, and I thought it was nice that they provide that contact to help with birth decisions and to keep an eye on women in pregnancy after loss, but I didn’t anticipate how hard, emotional and reflective it would all be either. She started by naming the midwife who delivered Poppy and discussing my birth experience… I tensed up at the name and memory of it all and for a few brief seconds, as clear as day, I was back in that room…I saw her face, I felt the fear of what I was doing and I felt the pains and emotions all too clearly again of birthing a sleeping baby. It was at this point, 5 minutes into what I thought was a pointless meeting where I broke down in tears, revealing how much I have bottled up, how much I fear I carry of it repeating, and how utterly confused I am as to what the best and safest way is to have this baby. I just want a healthy baby!
I told them things I haven’t discussed with many people other than Nathan, being that I am scared to buy what I need because I don’t want to take it back and this has been a HUGE task to commit to things. Or how I have days where I do not want to even think about being pregnant, how I am feeling, what my name choice is or when she is coming, because its just all feels too much to think about. Some days, as awful as it will sound to some, I just do not feel excited – I feel scared, worried, upset and miss Poppy. I remember the details of loosing a baby and know there is always some degree, however small, that this can happen again. It is in moments like that when I am reminded of how fragile life is and that excited is far down the list of how I am feeling about having another baby. I told them I have already slipped up and referred to this baby as “Poppy” and then feel terrible – terrible that I didn’t have her here, and terrible that I failed to acknowledge the individuality of this new little soul in our lives.
They listened, nodded and told me how normal this all was, how its fine to cry and its normal to fear and to feel sadness of our previous loss and still have tough days. A new baby will never erase the pain and memories of what was lost, but that they want to help me have the easiest and happiest experience of bringing this one into the world. They told me that getting a crib was a major milestone and already having this and some clothes was major progress. I felt at ease and listened to the options, asked questions, voiced concerns, and then once again I just didn’t know what path was best to step on to and commit to. I don’t want my body to fail another child and I don’t want to make the wrong choice and face an emergency. To me this time around timing is imperative and delivery choice is too. Induction? Natural? Elective section? We talked about it all, how they would approach it, what it would involve and how they would support me in each scenario – I certainly felt well looked after, its just which one is best? I believed I’d just know, but I am clouded by worry and the emotions of remembering my last birth experience right there on the floor above where we are sat and I struggle to know what my gut is telling me.
We left with some clear ideas to consider and the promise of a consultant appointment and return appointment with them to make a birth plan in a couple of weeks, and I took a deep breath and realised that in addition to my usual final stage tiredness, I felt absolutely emotionally drained! I walked away remembering how hard it was to leave there 21 months ago empty handed; Poppy was at the forefront of my mind, the emotions of loosing her were at the surface and the memories of the events of her birth felt fresh in every fibre of my soul. Why did we have to go through that and say goodbye too soon? Loose the innocence of bringing children in to the world? Why can’t things be straight forward and just be left to let things go how they would with any other baby? Why am I haunted by the fear of another still birth? and why, no matter how hard I try do I have days where this is just hard and not enjoyable? Why can’t I loose myself in the excitement of expecting a precious baby and be consumed by Joy?
I know that it is exciting, and that it is great. It will be wonderful when she is here, but I feel to acknowledge she is not a replacement and we won’t suddenly be fixed because we are having another baby. We want to celebrate new life in our family, but we want to remember how much we lost and continue to miss, and it is likely that we will have moments of grief for what we missed. So right now at 34 weeks I just feel rather emotionally drained, a lot of worry and fear and then reflective on life and baby loss. It isn’t normal for pregnant women to have that no, but my experience isn’t your average and its reassuring to hear that it is normal for a pregnancy after loss…excuse me whilst I try and make sense of which path to choose to deliver this baby as safely as possible and whilst maintaining my sanity, its going to be a hard few weeks ahead!