Crying Everywhere

 Monday and Tuesday were ‘good’ days. You  know what I mean by this, not good in the way that days were good before Isobel died, but good meaning less crappy and more positive than other days. Wednesday morning was even good. My friend text asking how I was and I replied “I’m not too bad actually, which is somewhat frightening lol”. Then something happened… 

While we were having dinner I started to feel really angry towards Simon, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. He made a comment about the flowers that someone sent us and I remember thinking he was ungrateful, but the rage that followed was completely disproportionate. After dinner I was still seething and started a row with him over nothing, which was closely followed by an episode of ugly, shaking, snot running, can’t breathe, heart broken crying. As I cried, I felt that what I really wanted to do was scream the loudest scream and then break everything breakable in the house. (I told Simon I wanted to scream and he said to go ahead so I gave it a try but it just made me cry more!). 

Since then I’ve been crying on and off. I cried when I went to bed. I cried getting ready this morning. I cried waiting for my prescription at the chemist. I cried in town and ended up abandoning my Christmas shopping trip and coming home. I cried driving home. I feel more sad and broken, and for a longer period, than I have for a while. 

 As a psychologist I feel like I need to understand why this is happening, to find a trigger! Why this down spell and why now? Today marks five months to the day Isobel was born asleep. The 26th is a tough day each month. Is that why the past couple of days have been so hard? Is there something about acknowledging to my friend that I was feeling a little better and feeling guilty about that? Is it hormonal with the new pregnancy? Something to do with going back to work next week and worrying that Isobel’s time is over? Is it related to meeting with my friend and her 11 week old baby boy this morning? Am I starting to worry about Christmas and how I will cope with the holidays?

All of these things seem plausible but none completely resonate with me when I try and explore how I’m feeling. I just want Isobel. I miss her. Surely that’s enough to explain how I’m feeling but I always want her and miss her and usually I can manage a trip to town without embarrassing myself with big fat tears! I guess it is what it is for now, and I just have to deal with it. I’ve come back to bed for a rest and I’m going to do some online shopping instead! I have plans with friends tonight and although I don’t want to go at all I probably will. I’ve been promised hugs and chip shop chips!
 On a minor positive note – my new favourite Max Factor mascara is so good and waterproof! Despite all the crying and rubbing of eyes it stays put miraculously! I’m normally a Lancome mascara girl but this is honestly better and cheaper! Highly recommended! 

Stalking Amelia K Yoga

 
I’m not sure how, but I found Amelia K on Instagram after Isobel was born. Amelia is a Canadian yoga instructor who, when I started to follow her, was pregnant with her rainbow baby after losing her first son at full term last year. I was so happy to see the news of the safe arrival of her little girl Lily a few days ago. 

This morning, I compulsively flicked back through 71 weeks of her posts to her first announcement that her little boy Landon had been born with no brain activity after an emergency Caesarian section. I cried as I read about her loss, her immediate response to grief, her grief journey over the months that followed, and her discovery of her pregnancy with her rainbow (I think around seven months after her son died). So many thought were prompted by her feed, which is inspiring and beautiful and hopeful above all. But my big revelation was how open Amelia was about her rainbow pregnancy, announcing it to thousands of strangers as soon as she found out at 6 weeks. This is in such contrast to how I feel about my current pregnancy which I was almost afraid to acknowledge even to myself because I was scared that if I admitted I wanted it, it would be harder when I lost it. 

I’m starting to question the wisdom of this. If I stop myself from getting excited, from being hopeful, from having thoughts about getting to take this baby home, and this baby dies, will it really be any easier? Will I be glad that I didn’t allow myself to experience joy in the pregnancy, or might I actually feel guilty that this little one’s brief life was never celebrated in the way that Isobel’s was when I was pregnant with her? We are glad that we spent Isobel’s pregnancy in blissful ignorance because she brought us such happy moments, shouldn’t we allow this baby the same impact? 

I know that it’s not quite as simple as deciding how to feel. The anxiety that holds me back is understandable and I can’t just pretend it’s not there. I also know that it’s still early days with this pregnancy and my feelings will evolve as time goes on (I feel compelled to write ‘if’ time goes on). But I feel conflicted, part of me wants to tell the world that I’m pregnant, to share scan pictures and to talk about this baby like its going to live. The other part of me feels so stupid for thinking that with Isobel and doesn’t want to make the same naive mistake again. Five months ago I was sharing scan pictures of Isobel, look how that turned out! I also worry that people will judge me for getting pregnant again so quickly. I judge myself. I feel irresponsible. 

Maybe for now, I will just share here and see what happens as time goes on. So here is week 12 – we have legs! 

  

Mourning Sickness

 So I’ve been putting off writing about this because I’ve been in shock and I’ve had the fear – that as soon as I talked about it, it would be taken away. But here goes… I’m 11 weeks pregnant! 

I found out at the beginning of October when a pregnancy test casually taken ‘just to see’ was almost immediately positive. It’s been a terrifying time of very mixed emotions. Although getting pregnant quickly was my best case scenario when Isobel died, I never really imagined it would happen so quickly and without attention to ovulation and timings. It took two years and a lot of action to get pregnant with Isobel. This time was very random as our sex life had not remotely returned to normal after Isobel with the whole mix of physical and emotional difficulties consequent to having and losing her. It was practically immaculate conception! 

Alhough it was what I wanted, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, all I felt was fear. I worried that I was not ready emotionally or even physically to experience pregnancy but most of all to cope with another loss. I thought that a loss of this pregnancy will be the last nail in the coffin of my mental health. I still do think this. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I felt irresponsible that I was putting them through this again so I didn’t have anyone except Simon to talk to and his coping strategy was to pretend it wasn’t happening which didn’t help me much!  

I had to fight with the health service to get started on blood thinners which I knew from reading online was the minimum treatment suggested to try and prevent the placental clots that killed Isobel. Then I had to fight to get seen in the Early Pregnancy Unit to see if things were developing on track. The hospital couldn’t seem to understand why I couldn’t just wait until my 12 week scan and made no allowances for my anxiety at all. I’ve been so disappointed with the health service. So although we can’t afford it, we’ve decided to borrow money and have private antenatal care. We met with the doctor on Monday and I’m so happy with our decision. She is going to scan me weekly from now on and I know she will do everything she can to make sure we don’t lose another baby. 

It’s only been seven weeks since I found out and it’s been the longest seven weeks of my life! After our positive scan yesterday we told our friends and families so that may make it easier going forward. People’s reactions have been very positive but even that annoys me. Reacting like its the best news in the world that I’m pregnant only makes sense in a world in which I don’t have Isobel, and I don’t want to live in that world. I want to have a five month old baby right now and have the thought of another pregnancy be the last thing on my mind. I should be getting ready for Isobel’s first Christmas, not obsessively checking for any signs of spotting and scanning my stomach for cramps. Even going to the hospital for scans is retraumatising. It was less than five months ago that I was there for Isobel. In truth I don’t want another baby, I want Isobel. 

That’s not really to say that I don’t want this baby. I cried my heart out yesterday with relief when I heard their heartbeat and saw them moving around. I’m trying not to get attached but I find myself talking to the baby, willing it to grow and live. I have briefly allowed myself to contemplate that this could be our rainbow. But the biggest part of me is just waiting to lose it and hoping it will be sooner rather than later. I hope it makes sense that it’s not that I want to lose it, I’m just so pessimistic and hope is hard to hold. 

How do you mourn for your first baby while contemplating either losing another, or having a live child? I’m trying to keep focused on Isobel and my grieving process as I know this is work I need to do either to face another loss or to face parenting after loss. It’s all very overwhelming just now. 

These are our scans so far – 6 weeks, 8 weeks and 11 weeks.  Please hang in there baby 💕

  

Holiday Grief

 Firstly I have to acknowledge that I didn’t finish Capture Your Grief! I didn’t do the last day!!!!!!! I was getting ready for a Halloween party and didn’t manage to get a sunset picture and used that as a reason not to finish. I still plan to take a sunset picture one of these days!!!!!! I think though that maybe I just didn’t want it to be over either. Having that time for Isobel every day was hard but lovely too and wrapping it up, marking it as complete, felt wrong. Or maybe I’m reading too much in to this and it was just pure laziness? Anyway it’s stopped me writing as I wanted to keep all the Capture Your Grief posts together but today I’ve decided that life is messy and incomplete so I should just get on with it! 

Somewhere on Facebook I saw a ‘Holiday Grief’ survival programme by Crazy Good Grief where you could sign up to daily emails to prepare for the emotional onslaught of the Christmas period. So far the tasks have been to think about what events or traditions during the holidays might be challenging for you, to then decide if you want to keep them/modify them/skip them this year and also to think about how to honour your missing loved one at these times. 

This was my list of events I could think of: 

  • Christmas lunches with friends 
  • Putting decorations up at home
  • SANDS Lights of Love Carol service
  • Christmas Eve
  • Cute babies on Facebook in Christmas outfits
  • Christmas Day – visit grave or not?
  • Due date of friend’s baby 

I don’t want to avoid any of the events this year so planned some little things to help. 

Christmas lunches with friends. For my Christmas lunches planned with two groups of friends I bought myself a new dress! Quite superficial but I’ve not done much shopping because of finances and my body still being bigger than I would like, so having something new to wear will help me face those! I’ll also be sure to wear my charm bracelet which feels (in the tiniest of ways) like having Isobel with me. 

 Putting decorations up at home. I bought a lovely bauble for Isobel on Not on the High Street as well as an I initial decoration. I then found Elephant Parade – a charity supporting elephant conservation and had to order one of their elephant hanging decorations. It looks like they bring out different designs each year, so I was thinking we could make it a tradition to get one each year. At some point in the future I may need a tree just for elephants but I’m ok with that! 

 SANDS Lights of Love Carol service. This one is all about Isobel really. I will be reading a poem for her, E.E Cummings [i carry your heart with me (i carry it in]. I love this poem, we had it at our wedding last year and the service will be a couple of days short of our wedding anniversary. I will also be bringing a present to the service – the idea is that you bring a present for a child the age yours would/should be and they are donated to charity. I had a good weep yesterday choosing a really cute outfit, the most beautiful soft leather shoes and a little book and comforter. I so so (to infinity) wish I was spending silly money on presents for my soon-to-be six month old Isobel. But I hope that whoever receives the present feels the love that went in to the choosing of it. 

 Christmas Eve – I usually love love love Christmas Eve, it’s so magical. I predict that this is when I’m going to struggle most. All our dreams of Christmas with our baby just shattered. Simon and I haven’t quite worked out what we’re going to do for Christmas Day yet so I’m not sure where we’ll actually be. This links with: Christmas Day – visit grave or not? I need to check if the cemetery is even open and we need to decide where we’re staying on Christmas Eve. One idea that I have is to set off Chinese lanterns either on Christmas Eve or on Boxing Day. 26th December will be Isobel’s six month birthday so maybe then would be good. I want to get a nice wreath for the grave and will light a candle for Isobel at Christmas lunch so her little absent presence is marked. 

Cute babies on Facebook in Christmas outfits. This one killed me on Halloween. So. Many. Babies. Dressed. As. Pumpkins! Don’t think I have a strategy for this. Stay off FB would be the obvious one but I can’t see that happening. I guess forewarned is forearmed?! 

Due date of friend’s baby on 1st January. I feel bad for including this as something that will be challenging but realistically it will. She is the closest person to me that will be having a baby since I lost Isobel. I know I will be overjoyed when her baby arrives safely but I’m pretty sure it will be painful too – in the sharp contrast of my experience and hers, in her having what I wanted and thought I had. Acknowledging this duality and recognising that a little resentment or bitterness doesn’t make me a bad person – in short compassion for myself – is my strategy here. Our other friends will be aware of this and I’m sure we’ll come up with a plan to visit her together. 

That’s all for now. I’m happy with the plans I have made so far but am fully aware that I’ll probably be floored by some completely unexpected trigger that I haven’t remotely considered! The joy of grief eh?!