Grief and Loss

My Journey

“Motherhood is magical, it grants you the power to fall in love with someone even before ever meeting them”

We decided to wait a year after marriage to even consider the prospect of children. After having ‘The chat’ and making the decision to go off the pill, seven weeks later I found myself in the emergency department with stabbing pain in my right side. Thinking it was another terribly painful period. Even going to the emergency department seemed silly.

A blood test told a different story, one I was secretly hoping for. I was pregnant, but deep inside I knew something wasn’t right. It turned out I was having an ectopic pregnancy (Where the egg fertilises in the Fallopian tube) and I needed to have emergency surgery. During the surgery, my ectopic pregnancy ruptured and consequently I lost my right fallopian tube along with my baby. I was categorised as “lucky” to have the surgery just in time to save my life and the life we just lost seemed insignificant in comparison. It was also at this point I was diagnosed with severe Endometriosis (an auto immune disease where scar tissue surrounded my womb) rectum and was approaching my overies.

A little piece of me was lost, an organ so pivotal to helping me achieve my life’s purpose and of course I deeply felt the loss of my unborn baby, for in those mere few hours between finding out I was pregnant to having surgery, somehow your motherly instinct kicks in and you manage to fall deeply in love.

Too tiny, underdeveloped and what felt like nothing to even raise an eyebrow. It was all about me and my well-being. Where in my mind it was the other way around. I knew I was still destined to mother a child and moving on seemed like a very necessary process because no one would understand why you would be sad about such a thing, as long as you were ok.

Several months later and things were still not progressing as I had hoped. My doctor prescribed drugs to increase egg production which caused me to actually lose my cycle. Then I was prescribed more drugs to actually bring on a cycle. I had charts on when to take tablets and windows of fertility and temperature checks….. I was a hormonal mess and it was taking its toll mentally. So I stopped everything, but it took another 4 months to return to a somewhat normal plateau. Almost 12 months to the day of my ectopic pregnancy, I had a positive pregnancy test. I used to leave them on the sink, walk out and walk back in casually to see if it finished, always assuming it was negative in my head, I figured if I was walking past and it was negative I could just keep walking and ignore it or something weird and irrational in my head. This time I was stopped in my tracks.

My heart raced with excitement and I totally just blurted it out in my husbands face when he arrived home from work. A week later, we were attending a friends christening. I started bleeding in the church in the middle of the ceremony and I had to go straight from the ceremony to the emergency depart only to be informed that they “think” I’m having a miscarriage. I knew I was, I didn’t need a doctor to tell me. I felt like I was failing in every way imaginable, why wasn’t this happening for us, for me?? We deserve this. We are good people and we deserve to have a baby. I just couldn’t understand what was going so very wrong.

Dare not be sad, keep going, try, try and try again, it will happen, just relax, go on a holiday, do some some Acupuncture, Zumba dancing, yoga……November, December, January, February, March. The months rolling on with countless negatives. What is going on, why isn’t this happening??

My mum suggested having my tubes or (tube) cleared as perhaps there was a blockage. I booked into have this done immediately. During the ultrasound they asked the doctor to come in. (I’ve decided this is never a good thing). They than informed me I have a rather large cyst on my left overy. The good one I thought… “Really, it has to be on the good side why couldn’t it be on the other side where there is no tube!”. Back to the gynecologist and I’m booked in for yet another laparoscopy. This time, I healed really well and a lot faster than last time. I tried to put trying to fall pregnant in the back of my mind, just don’t worry about it anymore… that’s very difficult when you’re faced every month with disappointment.

May 3rd 2012- it’s positive, my eyes are playing tricks aren’t they? What made me even take the test. I felt different, very different. I didn’t dare tell anyone yet. This was my little terrified/excited secret. I went to the doctor and did a blood test. The agonising wait for blood test results. It’s positive too and levels seemed high HCG 299 ok I’m. Not getting excited yet, now we need to make sure they double or triple in the next few days. So I journeyed back on the 8th May HCG now 2338 wow….. I haven’t been here before. This is all new. It finally felt “safe” to announce this, even to my husband. I was 7 weeks pregnant.

It felt like when I told him I was pregnant last time, it was quite meaningless, I just blurted it out, so I really wanted to make a special effort this time. I went and purchased a Lacoste jumper he has had his eye on for a while and a little seed jump suit with birds saying and baby equals 3. I also found a sweet etched Disney card with goofy and Micky reading a story book that made me think, this is what we will be doing soon. In the card I wrote “Dear Daddy, your going to look so cool in this hoodie! I really wanted to get it for you… I cant wait to see you wear it in about 34 weeks. Will you come to my first ultrasound this week to see me grow? Love your sweetpea (this is how big I am right now)

Bliss!! We were so elated. We chose an obstetrician and booked into St Vincent’s private hospital. Our doctors appointments were quick and easy. I had a text book pregnancy. No issues, no concerns, in and out. It seems to take longer to drive there, park and wait for the appointment, than the appointment itself. I did experience terrible morning sickness from week 6 to week 16! Vomiting and having to eat a second breakfast not long after the first made its appearance. A good thing, I thought, it’s working, that’s what got me through those days. I craved fatty foods anything fried, dim sims, spring rolls and my favourite, McDonald’s hash browns. If I didn’t have something by 10am I was done for. I ate anything just to get rid of the sickness, worst hangover ever feeling and usually by midday I was feeling better.

We had planned an overseas trip 12 months prior and the pregnancy fitted perfectly into our already made plans. I was 16 weeks when we were to leave, worried my morning sickness would still be around, it started to teeter off around the week we were leaving. London, Greece 6 weeks here we come. Once the doctor gave me the all clear to fly and suggested some aspirin for the flight. I was a little uncomfortable on the flight but this was regardless of being pregnant or not. The staff were all lovely, always handing me water and bananas. I constantly drank water so I would always make sure I went to the toilet and walked around a lot. Overseas was amazing the 2012 London Olympics was a once in a lifetime experience. Lots of walking, site seeing and I felt great. We headed to Greece a little earlier than originally planned and had 3 blissful weeks there. I was addicted to Greek food. My habits swung from eating fatty foods in the first trimester, to needing fresh salad, fruits and healthy wholesome food, laced with some moussaka (my addiction) clay pot, tray, sliced or individual portions whatever came to me. I found the best on the island and kept going back for more. We lazed by the pool, swam in the ocean, walked slowly around the streets and laid in the sunshine. Me and my growing bump were beaming and the daily photo bump shoot to send home to my family was fun! Look at me today I’m huge! To the point where mum said ” I’d really like a photo of your face!”

The trip was nearing an end, however I was able to achieve a blessing from a Greek priest for the bump and I had many Greek women rubbing my belly and wishing me good luck. I was also lucky enough to have my husbands cousin do an extra ultrasound as this was her profession, so we had a special sneak peak at around 20 weeks. I actually remember saying to her, aren’t we lucky everything is ok. The journey home was also long and exhausting but happy to be back ready for my next scan in oz.

We had our 20 week scan a little later at about 22 weeks and again all was perfect. We decided we definitely didn’t want to know the sex, however deep in my heart I knew I was having a boy.

The weeks pushed by and I entered the third trimester with everything still picture perfect. I was now addicted to milk and bananas. I had to have one of each every day. We started approaching summer and the time to finish work drew nearer. The heat of Summer was getting to me and I planned to finish four weeks beforehand but changed to five instead. My legs and ankles blended into one. Kankles developed and by evening, my feet were huge. The weather wasn’t dropping below 30 degrees and it was a relief to finally not have to get up to drive into work. The time seemed to drag on forever, I realised there are only so many times you can rearrange the drawers. Eagerly awaiting the birth of your first child is one of the most incredible feelings, despite being the size of a whale, tired and completely ready to get this baby out, I realised that I would never be in this position again. Having the peace and calm awaiting baby number one. So I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. Nesting served me well.

This long wait didn’t stop me trying every single natural induction method humanly possible. Listening to everybody’s advise and tips was quite draining. I was googling every night for tips and pointers, press here and there, walk up hills, walk down hills, walk in the gutter, eat eggplant parmigiana, sex, curry, bounce on a ball, pineapple, acupuncture, acupressure, driving in a bumpy car…. You name it. 40 weeks came and went along with my due date being January 6th. On my due date appointment I was having gel placed on my cervix at 6pm, however when my doctor went to examine me, he informed me I was in labour and to go home. Really? I was in labour I thought…. I wasn’t feeling anything and as we were driving home my contractions began. Excitement and adrenalin set in… It’s finally happening! I went into natural labour. Once we returned home, I stayed in my room, my sanctuary. I lit an oil burner with my labour oil sprinkled in place and sat on my trusty birthing ball. I rested and laboured all night with contractions about 20 mins apart. At around 3am in the morning I could tell my labour stalled. We were due to attend the hospital at 7am anyway to have our pre planned induction as my doctor was leaving for overseas the night of the 11th and we decided we wanted him to deliver our baby. We arrived at the hospital at 7am and changing into one of those stiff white backless gowns there was no mucking around. Waters broken and pitocin drip away by 7:05. My contractions begun immediately. Starting at 5 mins apart and were very intense already. By 7:30 they were a minute apart and before long 30 seconds apart. There was no time for recovery, just as I caught my breath, bang!! another intense pain wrapped my torso. Like someone squeezing every muscle so tight all around my mid section and then letting go. By 9:15am the pain was increasing and my pitocin drip was only set to a low 40. The max can be up around 250. I asked for pain relief and we decided to try gas. Thank god for my cola flavoured chuppa chup. It relieved my dry throat and turned quite comical when I was out of it high on gas fumes. One suck of the gas, two sucks chuppa chup! The intensity was increasing with every contraction and it was becoming quite unbearable. For some reason my husband was controlling the gas levels and when I asked him to turn it up even more he kindly commented back ” it’s on max babe” I knew I couldn’t keep going like this. I laboured for what seemed like forever and it was only nearing 1pm. Just before I asked for an epidural I had a moment. My husband would say I was high on gas, but it was a pinnacle point where the pain reached such an intense level, that I had an out of body experience. For one contraction, pain left my body, I called it utopia and I was completely pain free for this moment. It felt like I was floating on air. Even though I was out of it. I knew what was happening and I could see my husband making coo-koo animations out the corner of my eye. Bang, my next contraction and back to reality. 15 mins later the epidural came and I was able to relax. The room relaxed with me and we spent the next several hours saying “Why didn’t we have that sooner”. It was jovial and happy spirits in the room from than onwards, we sat talking and laughing. Our midwives changed shift and two more perfect souls were now caring for me. Again jokes and banter filled the room. I was the last birth for the day so to speak. All other women who came in this morning had their babies, I was the last one. At 5pm I received the all clear. ” Ok it’s time to start pushing” I pushed with all my might for 1 hour and as my babies head was crowning I was informed to “stop pushing” as the doctor was on his way and will be here soon. My husband had bets with the midwives as to when the baby would be born and this was a major set back. I reached down and felt my babies head and felt wet hair to which the nurses informed me there was a lot of long black hair. At 6:02 with the doctor in place, one final push and my baby was born. We didn’t find out the sex and we also kindly asked the staff not to announce it. I wanted to see myself or have my husband say it to me. The baby was placed on my chest and yes masses of black hair. Perfection was now lying on me. Quite silent, eyes open, a little squeaky cry and just locking eyes with me straight away. It took I think 20 seconds before I said “What is it?” And lifted the little leg to see I had a son. The only repeated words I could manage were “He’s so beautiful, he’s so beautiful”, in between tears of happiness steaming down my cheeks. It’s a boy and his name is Alexander.

To look at him from the outside, you would have seen the most precious perfect 6lbs 11oz bundle of joy. All dressed in white, with perfect jet black hair, honeyed lips, rosie cheeks, and a soft new born body that moulded ever so knowingly into the crook of my arm and across my empty, soft belly. He barely cried when he was born and instead had his deep brown eyes fixed on mine, whilst profusely sucking his crinkly fist. Whilst we waited for our room he had the hiccups, I instantly hit record. I vividly remember thinking… “Ha, the first of many”. That hiccup Is the only one I ever heard.

Whilst settling into our room and trying to get some rest, he started making some congested sounds. The nurse suggested I try feeding him again as he wasn’t terribly interested the first time. He vomited green all over me. I changed him and again had a fleeting thought “Ha…. the first of many”.

All cleaned up, I alerted the nurse who seemed concerned and took the vomit stained clothing down to special care. Whilst she was gone, he vomited again and that’s when I knew this wasn’t right. He was taken down to special care nursery and I was advised to rest after being awake for over 60hrs. I woke to a nurse requesting I go downstairs right away, that Alexander wasn’t well and had to be transported to a higher grade special care nursery at Monash. As I came downstairs, there he was, in a humidicrib with stints on each arm, drips and tubes and was laying on his tummy. It was shocking and confronting to set eyes on. Several minutes later he was being loaded into the NETS ambulance and driven away. I was told I couldn’t go with him and back in my empty room I cried uncontrollably.

It was the strangest feeling not having him with me. The distance felt unreckonable.
My body and mind were so sleep deprived I could barely comprehend what had just happen and inevitably what was going to happen in the coming days, weeks and month…..