Pregnancy was tough but life outside it was tougher
This blog is a follow up to Charjit's first and second blogs about losing baby Zara at 27 weeks due to intrauterine growth restriction.
I didn’t feel right, could I be pregnant again? I’d questioned whether I should buy a test kit or wait a few days? There was no need to do either, I definitely wasn’t pregnant. The following month was the same process and still not pregnant. The month after, I definitely didn’t feel right, I was all over the place. My GP had run some tests and said that I was OK, was this all in my head? Something didn’t feel right so I booked to see a private Consultant for tests, just in case.
I had to get my head right - I must focus! Friends of ours were getting married and I wanted to be there. I felt so anxious about attending because it was the first time I was seeing the entire group after losing Zara. I wasn’t sure if I should be drinking, what if I was pregnant? Test 1, NEGATIVE! I felt so lost, I thought I knew that feeling. How could I be so wrong? I tried again a couple of days later. I was home alone, part of me felt like I should’ve waited for Joe. But what if it was another negative? I couldn’t keep letting him see me like that, it was breaking his heart watching me do it to myself. I did it anyway and guess what? I was pregnant! The truth is that a small part of me was overjoyed, the rest of me was petrified and I knew in that very moment that the battle had begun!
My consultant had been in touch and had diagnosed me with hypothyroidism and had said that I needed to see an Endocrinologist urgently to start medication. I didn’t really understand the condition and the risk to baby, so I googled it and my world began to crumble. I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing this baby, I believed it would be the end of me. It was the weekend so I couldn’t do anything, I was so ill. Worried sick from the thoughts of what this condition was doing to my unborn baby.
I called my previous consultant, I was hysterical over the phone. I was booked in at 10:30am on the same day and started medication immediately. I was reassured that we’d treated it in time, panic over for now.
A few days later we set off on our travels to attend the wedding, I was worried that people were going to find out. I wasn’t ready for this, it’s not too late to cancel, I just can’t do this! I felt like a complete mess. I reassured myself that it was going to be OK! It was so busy, my head was fuzzy. I did well to keep up a front. A close friend of mine was pregnant and I was happy for her. There were a few lovely little gestures made to acknowledge her unborn baby, this was both beautiful to see and incredibly sad for me. My little Zara was supposed to attend that wedding, we’d confirmed her attendance when we’d accepted the invite, and she was supposed to be there sat between Joe & me.
I survived the weekend and from then I needed to mentally protect myself and my baby so I went into hiding. I didn’t want to see people or go anywhere, my focus was on keeping my unborn baby alive and well.
It was my 30th birthday the weekend after and I was going away with my family who had lots of surprises planned including drinking lots of champagne to celebrate. I knew they’d figure it out if I wasn’t drinking so we decided to share the news with them. It was a coincidence that they all showed up at the same time without being ordered around by me. I remember telling them and the mixture of emotions in the room, the tears, hugs and kisses. It was a relief, like a weight had been lifted and from that moment on my family stood by us. They protected both Joe & I with everything they had.
I’d waited until there was a heartbeat, only a week later, before I told other relatives as I knew that pregnancies close to us sadly didn’t reach this stage so I wanted to be careful that I didn’t cause any additional upset.
I’d arranged more sessions with my counsellor as I needed somebody who wasn’t emotionally connected, to share my thoughts with. I felt no shame in asking for help. I needed her, she had helped me process my thoughts in the best possible way which was so important because even now when I grieve for Zara, I am aware of the impact this has on those closest to me and the sadness this causes them so I do my best to protect the people I love most by dealing with a lot of my emotions alone.
We wanted to wait until our 20 week scan before we broke the news, however, that was proving difficult when people noticed the amount of hospital visits and my changing body.
There were a couple of people who didn’t respect our wishes and made my pregnancy so much worse than it needed to be. I’d questioned why they felt the need to keep asking if or when we’d be trying again or if I was pregnant. It is such a sensitive and private matter that nobody else should make it about them and what they want to do. I was even being asked to share the news before I was ready to, I just felt that this was so intrusive and that there was no or little consideration for what we had only recently suffered.
Joe & I went through weeks of hell before we decided enough was enough and that we need to protect ourselves from this type of negative energy. Even my family pleaded with me to ignore the selfish behaviours and to focus on baby. This was so difficult to do, not only was I still mourning the loss of Zara but I was now grieving the loss of key relationships in my life.
It’s difficult to respect or trust anybody who decides to kick, sorry I meant stamp on you when you are at your lowest point in life. I was so angry that people could treat us so badly. Why couldn’t they see the harm they were doing? I never had any expectation for anybody to make it better for us but I didn’t feel that we deserved for it to be any worse. Joe & I were mentally struggling, it was horrendous. We had further setbacks with Joe’s job to the point where I encouraged him just to leave and told him that we’d find a way to make it all work.
The pregnancy was tough but life outside of my pregnancy was even tougher!
Back to the hospital for another scan and to start more medication, this time a low dose of aspirin and Clexane injections. This was so hard, I didn’t like needles and now I had to self-inject every day. I’d convinced myself that it didn’t matter what I suffered if it meant that there was a chance that my baby would be born alive and well.
We had a detailed scan at 18 weeks and all was looking great but I didn’t accept it until the 20 week scan. Our baby was doing amazing. I just had to know the sex, I needed to bond, and I desperately wanted him to be more real. This is when my pregnancy changed, my baby boy was growing and he was doing amazing. He was fighting away inside, I was already so proud of him.
We reached 500g of weight at 22 weeks and then we hit the 24 weeks milestone, which is important in terms of viability and whether the hospital would attempt to save baby if there were any complications from this point.
We got to 27 weeks gestation and once again my world was in turmoil. This is the stage when I’d lost Zara and I couldn’t cope with the thought of losing my son. I kept thinking and dreaming about planning another funeral. I just couldn’t do it. This would destroy me. I had to stay strong and fight the negative thoughts. I couldn’t sink now, I’d promised Joe it’d be OK, I couldn’t let him down. I just knew that we didn’t deserve to suffer any more so I had had to believe it was going to be OK. Lots and lots of deep breaths…
I needed to lift my spirits so I allowed myself to start looking at things to buy for his nursery. This was so exciting. I really loved this special time.
We reached 28 weeks, this was important to me because from what I’d read, a large percentage of babies born prematurely could be saved if there were complications. This was my thought process and each week, up until the week he was born I would sit there and research the statistics of foetal survival, what medical assistance would be required and what (if any) impact there would be baby’s to physical/mental health.
At 34 weeks my world was upside down again, it was Zara’s 1 year anniversary. I had no energy, no desire to do anything. My family suggested that we do something special to mark the occasion so we released pink 1st birthday balloons and we cut a cake for her. It was so nice, I’m glad we did this. We do lots of lovely, little things to remember our beautiful daughter and this is something we will continue to do. At the right time, my son will know all about his big sister and the battle she fought. She will never be a secret.
I remember receiving lots of lovely messages from all those who cared. I was at peace again.
At 37+5 we were booked in to be induced. Everything was ready, my bag was packed, my baby boy was in the right position and I was mentally strong.
Here we were again, back in the same Delivery Suite where I had Zara – I couldn’t help it, I kept thinking back to my first experience. Now I’m pleading with all the Gods in the Heavens above to save my baby, please don’t let anything bad happen.
Labour starts and hours later it’s not going well. I’m panicking because I’ve overheard that my baby is in distress, his heart rate is dropping. I actually think I’m going to die, the pain is unreal, I’m howling like a banshee. It’s just awful. I’m begging the doctors to save him, please don’t let him die. I’m repeatedly asked if this is my first, I cannot explain how awful this is. I looked over at Joe, I love him so much and I can see how strong he is being for me. There’s talk of a C-section, paperwork quickly signed and I’m rushed in. I’m in tears, I can’t stop crying. One member of the medical team held my hand all the way through, he told me he wouldn’t let me go. Joe’s rushed in minutes behind me, his face is as white as a ghost but I still have time to think that he looks fab in his scrubs!
I feel no pain now, just tugging and then in a moment the medical team bring my baby in to the world. They tell me it’s a baby girl and then say only joking he’s definitely a boy. This made me laugh, it was the only way they’d got me to stop crying.
A nurse brings him over to us, I look at Joe and we’re in tears – happy tears. He’s alive and he’s so perfect. We have our rainbow baby. Roman opens his eyes and looks at me, I tell him that I’m his mummy, he just gazes into my eyes with his huge brown eyes! And in that very moment I vowed that my arms will always be a place of love and comfort for him, he will always know how much he was wished for and just how special he is.
He’s nearly 6 months old now and life is going by so quickly. I’m doing my best to soak it all up, everything he does is special and amazing.
I needed time to gather my thoughts before writing this final blog.
We’re in a very different place now.
Grief has changed me. I love those closest to me with the whole of my heart. Life is so much more meaningful. I take the time to notice all the little things that make my world a happy place.
I accept that on some days my mind will be a battlefield, this is OK and I do my best to process these thoughts quickly and calmly.
There is no longer any anger towards those who made it worse for us, just pity. It’s a sad shame that not everybody has the compassion to love and care for those who are at rock bottom.
Joe’s doing great, he loves being a Daddy! He’d also found a job he enjoys, working for a great company who have been very supportive.
To my family, friends (you know who you are), Consultant/Medical Team & Counsellor - I want to say thank you, you are the reason that both Roman & I are here today. In your own ways you kept me strong when I could have given up on it all.
To Joe, I’m so proud of you. I recently found out that you had thoughts of giving up on life and I’ll be honest, this shook me up. Thank you for not leaving me to face this on my own and thank you for agreeing to take another chance. I’m so glad we did! I want you to know that no matter what life decides to throw at us, together we’ll find a way through it!
To Tommy’s, thank you for allowing me to share my story. Before losing Zara I’d never written a blog, this in itself has been a form of therapy for me. I now have closure.
And finally…To all the families who have contacted me, here it is, my final blog as promised. It’s hasn’t been easy but he is worth every minute of it all. I know many of you are suffering and are in a dark place right now, the sun will shine again. I PROMISE! I understand that not all families will get to have the rainbow babies that they truly deserve and this saddens me. But if there is any chance that it could be OK then please, when you are both physically and mentally ready - take the chance! It might be the best decision you ever made.