Getting ‘over it’.

I can honestly say that I’ve been bowled over by the amount of support I’ve had so quickly since my first post yesterday – it really does help to know that people are moved/inspired/touched or any of the other assenting words that people have used to express their feelings in response to what I’ve said so far.  Thank you so much to all those people who’ve taken the time to read my post and even more to those people who took the time to contact me about it.  I don’t really know what I was expecting, but so far the response I’ve had has transcended anything I imagined.

I imagine that there’ll come a time when I won’t write on here every day – probably when I‘m back at work and don’t have the time – but at the moment I feel like there’s so much to talk about – the baby girl we lost, baby Freddie, how I coped the last time, how I’m going to cope this time and so on.

There are so many stark memories; it’s difficult to choose one to start with.  I often remember, not long after I’d been admitted to the delivery suite for the first time, hearing a lady in the room next door to me having her baby.  I lay in the semi-darkness and sobbed as I listened to her give birth.  When her baby cried for the first time, I felt pain in my chest of the like I cannot describe.  It is a strange thing to have heard your baby’s heartbeat coming from inside you, and yet to know that he or she (at the time we didn’t know it was a girl– my detailed scan was booked in for the week after we lost her) will not continue to live; that your pregnancy will not continue, that your baby will not be born alive and that it will not grow up into the person that you imagine them to be.  When I thought of these things whilst I was in the hospital, and sometimes afterwards, I would have what I think must have been a sort of panic attack, where I would cry uncontrollably and could not breathe easily, until eventually my mind would go blank, and the panic would be over.

The first time, even after the midwife had listened in to the baby’s heartbeat, there was a sort of, tragic inevitability to the situation.  No one tried to give us any false hope – we knew that even if the baby was born alive, the likelihood of survival was very, very slim.  As it was, labour stopped once my waters had gone, and I was induced two days after first being admitted.

I talked in my first post about the terminology associated with my experience – ‘miscarriage’; a prefix meaning ‘ill’ or ‘wrong’ plopped in front of a word which, in this case, is to do with the carrying of a baby.  It does seem to lay the blame at the feet of the mother, doesn’t it?  Perhaps that’s another reason I struggle with the word.  As well as the difficulty I have with the meaning, particularly when examined closely, it does not, as I said before, seem to do justice to what it describes; I was in hospital from just before 1 am on Friday morning, until Sunday lunchtime.  I had to deliver my baby with the help of a consultant and a midwife, and then I went to theatre to have my placenta removed.  Sounds graphic doesn’t it? Well, I guess that’s because it was – it was a real birth of a real baby.

Sometimes I feel as if I may be depicting a situation in which no one around me behaved with any compassion – this is not true at all – in the hospital we were treated with the utmost respect and understanding: no one referred to the baby as a ‘foetus’, it was always ‘the baby’ or ‘little one’, and we found this very comforting and considerate.  My family and many friends and colleagues were also very supportive.  But there were those who weren’t.  There were people who behaved as if they assumed I had perhaps suffered a heavy bleed, as if they might almost want to say, ‘what’s all the fuss about?’  Perhaps some people just don’t know how to respond to such an incident.  All I know is that as time went on I got more and more angry, and it only made me feel more angry that a lot of people didn’t seem to have any understanding, or any desire to understand the way I felt.

This time things seem very different.  I think that’s a lot to do with looking much more pregnant than I did at 19 weeks, but also because legally things are different.  This time we were allowed a funeral.  No one can deny that for a funeral, the person has to be real.  A nurse who clearly was not aware of the difference in the course of action to be taken for a baby born at almost 25 weeks, referred to a ‘dignified disposal’ when my mum asked her about seeing the chaplain.  Fortunately, we had little to do with this particular nurse, and I must stress again that the care and compassion shown by the staff overall was unsurpassed.

Someone commented on my first post that it’s okay to grieve (thank you Sophie for commenting).  I assume it must seem that I’m not grieving because I’m going to the gym and making cakes for my granny.  Perhaps I’m not really grieving just yet; I’m certainly not grieving in the traditional sense of the word – I’m not manifesting my sorrow outwardly by crying all day or lying in bed (not yet anyway…), but there’s time for that.  At the moment most of the time I just feel sort of, fretful, until I think more deeply about what’s happened and it takes me by the stomach.

One of the positive things I can take from having lost a baby once already (it seems so odd to suggest that there is any positive to this situation at all) is that it takes more than 6 or 7 weeks to ‘get over it’ or to grieve. Last time I had 7 weeks off work, if you include the May half-term.  Losing the baby seemed to have taken away such a large part of me, that I thought that going back to work would help. Teaching is so much a part of who I am that I thought that if I started doing it again, that it would to bring back some of the person I’d lost.  But it didn’t.  It also meant that after about a month of being off work, the pressure of going back became too much, and that’s when I found myself lying on the sofa all day crying.  Of course I know that it’s ok to lie on the sofa all day crying, but at that point I was due to go back to work within a very short period of time, so I did my best to ‘get over it’ and prepare myself for teaching again.  The thing is, teaching is not something you can do well on half-steam (not to demean any other job of course – teaching’s all I’ve ever done at a full-time level so it’s all I can comment on) – it’s so much about who you are and if you’re not okay in yourself, then it’s very difficult.  As it was, the actual teaching was not what caused problems (many people might find this a shock but I really do love being in a class full of kids…), but in that sort of environment many staff are so busy with their own jobs that there is little space to accommodate a grieving woman. So, this time I decided straight away not to go back to work until at least September, by which time I will have been off work for about 5 months.

Soooo, after all that babble and digression, I guess my point is that at the moment I’m doing what seems natural to me: being ‘busy’, as well as trying to get my body to resemble something of what it used to – it’s very difficult having a body that looks pregnant, or like you’ve just given birth, both of which I have just experienced, but without the baby at the end of it all to explain why you look the way you do.  I expect no one really notices me, or thinks ‘goodness, that girl looks as if she’s just had a baby, but where is it?’, but of course that’s what I imagine.

Having said all of the above, there have, of course been times in the last few weeks where I have wept and sobbed, or found it very difficult not to weep or sob in certain circumstances – the baby section in the supermarket makes for a pretty tough journey, for example.  One time where I became extremely sad, was during our recent trip to Norfolk (my parents kindly took my husband and I away for a few days to take our minds off the impending funeral) and my mum mentioned Christmas.  Well, in my mind, I had already imagined Freddie at about 6 months, as he would be then, in his high-chair eating Christmas dinner in our house, with me and Sam, my husband.  In the image, we’re all sitting happily around our wobbly table in the kitchen, with Arthur (our dog) sleeping in his bed, as he does when we eat.  I can still recall the exact picture as I had imagined it so many times.  The thought of the upcoming Christmas without our baby boy, is heartbreaking.

Another time which was very emotional, was when Sam came home from picking up our ‘memory box’ from the hospital.  I don’t know if all hospitals do this, but this is what we got: a beautiful ivory box containing a framed photograph of Freddie, in which he is dressed in a tiny, knitted green outfit provided by the hospital, the tags from his wrist and ankle, a small teddy (they provide two – one stays with the baby, the parents keep the other), the blanket he was wrapped in, a card with his hand and foot prints in, as well as a small notebook and pen for me or Sam to write in, should we wish to.  To this I also added the 7 positive pregnancy tests that I kept and some photographs we took of our own.  We also later received three professional black and white photographs.  Perhaps at some stage I’ll add a photograph of Freddie on here.  The only thing we have to remember our baby girl by, is a card with her tiny footprints in, and a rose that I planted in a pot on our patio.

I guess another reason that I’ve decided to take so much more time off work, is that having baby Freddie was going to be the thing that ‘fixed’ me after losing our baby girl.  We will always remember her of course, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same person (perhaps that’s a good thing), but I always knew that the only way I was ever going to really feel ‘okay’ again, was to have another baby.  I think I’m hoping that by the time I go back to work I will at least be pregnant again, and begin once more, to feel hopeful.  Perhaps that’s all too far away and I should just concentrate on a day at a time; which is why my daily lists are useful – so far I’ve ticked off five out of the eight things I wrote down, but I’m thinking of skipping the ironing.

 

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18 Responses to Getting ‘over it’.

  1. Janine says:

    Your writing is stirring and powerful Abbie, incredibly heartfelt, brutally truthful and witty.

    I’m in awe of your bravery.

    Much love xxxx

  2. Abbie says:

    Thanks Janine, it’s lovely to hear such positive comments.xx

  3. Hi Abbie,
    The way you describe your story is moving beyond words and I admire so much that you can find the words to use which try to explain your feelings.
    Always remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve just your way.
    My admiration for your strength of will and my very best wishes for your future as a family.

    Love Carole Newell x for you x for Sam xx for your babies

    P.S. I’m a friend of Sharon Close

    • Abbie says:

      Thank you Carole for your genuine and expressive response – I can tell that your words are sincere and full of feeling.xx

  4. Philippa says:

    Your writing is very powerful and I hope it helps you at this difficult time. My Mum lost her first baby when she was 2 days old after being born at about 28 weeks, she doesn’t talk about it much but some of the things you have said sound exactly like how she felt and I know she kept a diary for just over a year afterwards (until I was born) which she said helped a lot. I hope you can take positivity in knowing she went on to have three healthy children who are now all in their twenties. xxx

    • Abbie says:

      Hi Philippa (are you Helen’s friend?)

      Thank you so much for sharing such a personal account; it gives me a little more hope very time I hear of a person who has gone on to have healthy children after any experience similar to mine.xx

      • Philippa says:

        Hi, yes I’m Helens friend.

        I was speaking to my Mum about you last night and she sends you her love and wishes as someone who knows what you are going through.

        xxx

  5. Christa says:

    I’m a friend of Holly and Tom. Holly posted this on her Facebook last night and I read your first post.
    It stayed with me all day today, it’s had a definite effect on me. The way you write is so eloquent.
    I’m not even sure what else to say, other than I really hope you keep it up, but I had to post a comment.
    Christa.

    • Abbie says:

      Hi Christa,

      Thank you for your response. I have been so overwhelmed by people’s comments and yours continues to have that effect.

  6. Angela says:

    Hi my lovely 🙂

    After you told me about your blog, I decided to make myself a cuppa and sit down to read what you had written. I knew it would not only be incredibly moving, but that it would be so honest, open and witty, because that’s exactly who you are. When you lost your little girl, through both our admissions, we were not close and very much misunderstood each other. However, when I learned you had lost her, I cried and my heart felt so heavy. Being a mother I know just what having children means and I couldn’t begin to imagine what you and Sam were going through.

    When you returned to work, I guess none of us truly knew just how much you were hurting inside and not knowing you as well as I do now, I don’t think I really understood either. As time went on and I got to know you and we became much closer, I began to see the ‘cracks’ appearing, but I just didn’t know how to fix them.

    When you told me you were pregnant again I was thrilled for the both of you and I never imagined that you would have to go through such heartache again. When you text me to let me know it was happening again my heart was heavy again. Why was it happening again? Why did this happen to two such wonderful and most deserving people? It just wasn’t fair!

    Then, for a little while, things looked a little more hopeful and I came to visit you in hospital. I still can’t understand why, or how, things changed so quickly from that evening to the following one. When you text me to let me know Freddie had passed away I literally felt my heart break in two and I drove to work looking through tears.

    I arrived at work a mess, but the feeling that outweighed everything was that of anger! I wanted to scream, shout, swear and tell the whole damn world that it wasn’t fair!!! I remember sitting in the ‘Reflection room’ with the Chaplin (I had been ‘made’ to see her) thinking ‘I really don’t want to f***ing be here! In fact as you talk to me about ‘God’ I actually want to tell you to f*** off! God to f*** off! The whole f***ing world to F*** OFF!!!’. All I can say is I know what I felt then and to some extent now too, can’t have even come close to what you and Sam were and are feeling.

    What I do know is you. I know you are an incredible woman. I know you are strong. I know you are honest. I know you care deeply. I know your love for Sam and his for you is tangible. I know that you are loved so much, not just by your family, but by your friends too. I know that you are a fighter. I know that you will go on.

    I miss you and I can’t wait to see you this week. I want to give you a hug! I know a hug won’t fix things, but I hope that you know that I am here for you, that this time I understand much more than I did before and that I love you my lovely! Oh, and I love your cakes too! 🙂 lol.

    All my love

    Ange (Spange! lol) xxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Abbie says:

      Ange,

      Firstly, I did not expect such a thorough and detailed response (and I was tempted to wait until I see you on Friday to respond, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it some more then). Thank you for your honest and bolstering comment – it’s interesting to hear your point of view of my journey through these experiences, and very special that what I’ve written has moved you too, when we now know each other so well already.

      I understand your feelings of frustration and anger at being asked to see the chaplain and having her talk about God. As you know, my parents have a very strong Christian faith, which I respect fully, but cannot reconcile myself to share. If I had a faith in God – if I thought that there was someone who was responsible for what has happened to me (or in fact anyone in the world who has suffered anything so painful and destructive) I would be even more angry than I am already. Having said this, I know that many people take deep comfort from knowing that their baby is with God – I know that’s the view of my parents. My view is that what’s happened is a biological problem that I have to force myself not to feel responsible for.

      Anyway, I shan’t take up any more space on here – I’ll see you on Friday when we can talk more – hopefully in the sun and with some of my very lovely (if I do say so myself) cake 🙂 xxxx

      Much love xxxx

  7. Mel says:

    This makes for poweful reading. Im not going to give you any standard responses to something like this, I am neither capable or equipt enough to think I could make you feel better or offer you strength by throwing a few words down in a comment. All I will say is I am a far better person for reading these two entries, and I am humbled by your experiences and I hope and pray that one day you do experience motherhood the way you deserve to. I will also think of your children from time to time and acknowlede they were here even if for such brief moments, I promise you that!

    Love from one mother to another xx

    • Abbie says:

      Hi Mel,

      Thank you for your response (can I ask where you’re writing from? Most people who’ve commented so far are people I know…) – your deep feeling comes across and I am humbled in return at the thought of making anyone a better person, as you say. Thank you again.xx

      • Mel says:

        Hi, yes I am Jen’s friend. Jen Gill. She directed me here via facebook and I just wanted to send my love.

        Jen talks of you so highly and I know she will be a good friend to you at a time you need them the most.

        I too will think of you and your husband often.

        Mel xx

  8. Mel says:

    Apologies for all my spelling mistakes also. I am an appauling typist.

    • Abbie says:

      No spelling mistakes that I’ve spotted so far 😉

      And thanks for reading and for your kind thoughts.xx

  9. Brandy says:

    Complete stranger from Faces of Loss. Your talk of teaching resonated with me. I lost Andrew at 38w5d to stillbirth in December. Then I had a miscarriage exactly 1 week ago at 7 weeks. I’ve been put through the ringer a couple times, too. Wonder what it sounds like to hear a baby cry and not have it surgically removed or born still. It aches me everyday to wonder and hope for that in our future. It just seems so far away.

    I’m also a teacher. We moved 1 year ago and I became pregnant immediately. Chose to sub teach while we awaited Andrew’s arrival, then he was born dead. What does a teacher by trade do then? Go back into teaching though my heart is really with Andrew and the hope I had in staying home with him? I love being around students and in a classroom, but it ISN’T something, like you said, to give half-steam. It has to be all or nothing. And the passion is divided. I considered teaching again. One week ago I sat on my bed miscarrying our second dead child and filled out applications. Because I guess staying home is not healthy. But I don’t want to be in a classroom either. It’s this state of discontent that has me whirling. I blog about baby loss and before that, pregnancy and actually living. Hope that happens again.
    My story: http://facesofloss.com/2011/01/670.html#more-670

    • Abbie says:

      Hi,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I agree, being in our profession doesn’t help when it comes to dealing with grief and trying for a baby – there are so many people who rely on you to be ‘ok’ and to do your job well, and it’s really important to me that I do do my job well. I decided to stay with my job partly because there’s nothing else I can do, partly because I love it, and because at least there is the hope that people who know what I’ve been through will help to support me, and you’d be surprised how kids can help too – either by treating you as they always have, asking candid questions or telling you they’re sorry – depends on the kids though sometimes! :S But, by the time I go back I will have had nearly 6 months off, and I hope that that will have been enough time for me to collect myself together enough to do a decent job. But I know that it will be difficult, no matter how much time off I have.

      I know that everything we want seems to be so far away – everything from having a baby who lives to see the world, to feeling happy and confident seems as if it will never happen for us. But it will. Even in my darkest times, no matter how dreadful I feel, I always know that eventually, our time will come. The problem I have is being patient and figuring out why I’ve been made to wait so long, and go through so much before I get what I want. For you, things will feel especially raw right now – you were probably just allowing yourself to feel hopeful again, only to have all of that hope dashed away so cruelly. I know what that’s like. We had bought more things for Freddie and I was flouncing about with my bump as if nothing terrible had ever happened. And then it happened again.

      Let yourself feel whatever you need to, and then try to be hopeful again. That’s all you can do.

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