There comes a time in life when you need to step back, take stock and evaluate what is important in life. It’s not a choice, or a decision that you will make consciously. It is just something that happens when a situation in life throws you to the wolves. You don’t always appreciate this time, actually, more often than not, the situation causing you to step back a re-evaluate is a broken heart or a hitting of rock bottom – something that has shaken you to your core.
Now don’t get me wrong, I never expected married life to be a box of daisies or a walk in the park. Relationships are inevitably filled with ups and downs, break-ups and make-ups – but never did I imagine that married life would take such a turn so soon.
Basking in the golden halo that is newlywed life, the week we returned from our honeymoon, hubby and I discovered I was pregnant. And we were delighted, ecstatic even. We had stopped my contraceptive pill months before in anticipation of wanting to start trying for a family upon our return to normal life as husband and wife.
It didn’t matter that the credit card was maxed or that we had a $700 electrician’s bill (YES! $700 to have a heated towel rail and wall heater installed in the bathroom!) Or; that we had a $500 bill for 15 bottles of wine consumed after our wedding ceremony (thank you all you lush lips for that! We’ll just skip past the part where I probably downed a whole bottle of the bubbles my self.) None of it mattered because on our wedding night we had created this little human who was going to complete our little family in nine months time. We were delighted with our aptly named ‘Peanut’.
I should’ve known it couldn’t last. The glow and the good never do. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Pregnancy loved tormenting me – I couldn’t eat anything solid for days, sometimes weeks at a time. I could no longer cut up the chicken for the dinner that I craved as the smell engulfed me and had me running to the bathroom while retching. It had my usually flawless soft skin breaking out in all kinds of ways a woman never wants to see and the icing on the cake? Boils. Big, fat, hard, disgusting boils. All the bonuses they all skip over in the books. This is not including the constant nausea at the smell of food in general or the needing to take a nap on your desk at 11am. But hey! I lost 4Kgs! Bonus…
At 9 weeks along, I lost my job as an Office Administrator. But that was okay – we would be strong, we would get through. I would find a new job before the 12 week mark and still be eligible for maternity leave. We would get through. We focused on the good, we had just been for a weekend away and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves despite my wanting to sleep through half of it. Our 12 week scan was approaching and we would be seeing our Peanut for the first time and hearing our wee baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
It’s funny the way your mind can play tricks on you. Amazing really, I never anticipated that anything was wrong when the ‘thwop-thwop-thwop’ of a baby’s heartbeat didn’t fill the ultra sound room. I was only relieved that I could empty my seriously full bladder when she told me that she was going to have to scan vaginally as she couldn’t see baby clearly. I was so full of excitement and anticipation that I never anticipated what happened next.
The technician sat us down and calmly (How can she be calm? I asked myself later) told us that she was sorry, that our baby had no heartbeat and the sack in which our baby should have been growing had stopped growing at approximately 8 weeks. I sat numb, I couldn’t breath, she was lying, she had to be! I still had nausea – apart from a few isolated times (namely after intercourse that my midwife had assured me was completely normal), I’d had no spotting or bleeding. She was mistaken in my mind, sadly, sadly mistaken. Tears tracked my cheeks unnoticed as I gaped at Hubby and clenched furiously at his hand. I turned to him for reassurance that she was wrong, but his face showed the devastation I was denying. His eyes already puffy and red had tears and he was gaping at me in an expression I can only assume matched mine.
We left in silence and filed numbly to the car. We spoke briefly, I can’t remember much, I dropped hubby back to work and went home where I called my Mum – my midwife didn’t want me to be alone. But she wasn’t able to leave work so off to hubby’s family’s home I went. All I remember from that day is a lot of crying. The tears near-on didn’t stop. I was a dam that couldn’t be closed off. I told his sister and his mum, stumbling through my sobs about how we had gone for a 12 week scan and had been told we’d lost our baby that they’d had no idea about. I felt broken. I was broken. I felt useless. They tell you when you miscarry that there is nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening but that doesn’t stop your mind from questioning.
You ask yourself what you did wrong, what you could’ve done differently. You feel like you’ve failed not only yourself, but your husband, your baby – oh wait sorry, it’s no longer a baby, it’s a dead foetus. God forbid you call it a baby. You get patted on the back, hugged, you get the “oh it wasn’t the right time” and “It was natures way of saying it’s not meant to be” comments that are supposed to make you feel better but only enrage your broken heart. You hold it all in, thinking the entire time “how can a baby made from love be ‘not meant to be’?” And eventually you snap.
I’m going to take a bet here and say that 99% of woman who have been through this will agree that when you get to breaking point and snap, it’s at the one who’s hurting just as much you – your husband. He’s standing by you trying to be strong and keep you steady, and you thank him by snapping at him in the hospital waiting room. You snap at him so much that it opens that dam of tears that you thought you had finally banked the night before.
You sit in that empty waiting room at the hospital that is for the broken couples. The one’s who have been told that they are loosing their baby, the one’s who are waiting like we did to find out what happens next. Because it had been almost 5 weeks already, it was recommended that I have a D&C which is when they put you under and remove the sack and remains (Can I just say I was a little relieved that this was the course of action taken as I don’t know how I would have coped if I’d had to pass it naturally, as it was, I felt ‘dirty’ knowing I had carried something unviable around for 4-5 weeks,) and dispose of it all for you. I was asked if I wanted to keep the remains to bury (no thanks!).
I was booked, I was admitted, moved to a ward where I would wait until a team was assembled and everything was ready for me. Hubby headed back to work and I kept in contact with him by phone while I waited in the stifling heat. I am insanely grateful for having a bed in the ortho ward – no crying babies, just people who’d had broken limbs and other bone-related operations. Over 12 hours later, exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically, I was discharged and sent home with an ache in my heart that no amount of drugs, crying or hugging could fix. My hand that had often started to stray to my belly itched to rub but I had to kick myself, there was no longer anything there. Zilch. Nothing.
The week following the scan now is a blur, everything blends together. There were phone calls from the midwife – who bore the brunt of my grief when I sobbed down the phone to her that it was fair – telling me to stay strong and get through, that everything would be okay and if I was still teary in 3 weeks time, to go to the doctor to ensure I wasn’t depressed. I slept a lot (okay more than a lot about 70% of the day), flowers were delivered, life went on around me while I stood still. I stood still watching asking how the world could just carry on when I had lost my baby. I slept, I cried, I didn’t eat, I lost even more weight. And then a week after, we celebrated Christmas when all I wanted to do was scream and rage at the world. In my head I was screaming, on the outside, I was smiling, getting deliriously drunk off two RTD’s or a single glass of wine.
You get through. Let me say this. I wallowed. I did. I found it hard to smile. I found it hard to laugh and be merry. But it’s like they say ‘Fake it til you make it’ and honestly, it works. You fake it and at first it’s horrible, unnatural and you feel like a fraud, but eventually, a sense of normalcy returns. You start having sex again (after the 2 week stand down period to ensure no infections come about), you starting laughing again, you start enjoying life again. It’s always there in the back of your mind, but you begin to live again.
Coping with grief is a hard thing to describe since everyone has different ways of dealing. One of the things I did to ease the pain was to write a letter and along with my hospital tag, we buried them beneath a specially bought rose. 3 months later and said rose has flourished more than we could have ever hoped. It currently has 15 (yes, that’s right FIFTEEN!) buds in various states of bloom. I still think about Peanut on a daily basis. It occurred to me a few weeks back that we should have been finding out if we were to have a boy or girl. And I will never forget our Peanut. We plan to release a balloon on Peanut’s due date but 3 months down the track (from the date of the scan), it feels like life is back to normal – well as normal as it gets.
After all of this, we took a step back. We evaluated what was important. We decided what we wanted, where we wanted to go in life, what we wanted in life. We took a break to find ourselves and enjoy married life and now things have fallen into place.
I am working again, ironically enough at the place that laid me off while I was pregnant. The bills have diminished and! We have started to try again for a baby once again. We thought about this long and hard, discussed it very much in depth about whether we were ready for this step. Was it right? Were we both ‘past’ Peanut? Could we both confidently say we were not replacing the baby we lost with another? Would we be okay if it happens straight away again? Would we be okay with it full stop? Were we ready? And y’know what, we just knew. I don’t know how explain it other than we just knew that it was time.
And so here I am, back to writing a ‘trying to conceive blog’ when if you’d asked me what I’d be writing 5 months ago, I’d have given you a vehement ‘No!’. Instead, I am and I’m appreciating the steps along the way. The heartbreak has bought us closer as a couple, made us stronger. What life has thrown at us with the possibility of tearing us apart has made us stronger. I’m taking the positive from the negative and taking that with me. Hopefully next time around we will have a more positive outcome