Searching for brighter days

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged, to be honest I’ve been really struggling and not feeling up to blogging or doing much really. People will have you believe that grief gets better over time but that isn’t happening. I really thought I was doing ok and starting to gain some of myself back but the last couple of weeks have sent me downwards again.

I went to a friend’s wedding, and although I had prepared myself for the fact it was the first big occasion that Oscar should be going to, and wouldn’t be, I hadn’t thought about all the other things that were likely to be hard. Someone in our group of friends is pregnant, and as I stood at the bar she was behind me having her bump admired and being asked everything about her pregnancy. I just wanted to run. I also hadn’t thought about being surrounded by happiness and people having a good time, it is one of the worst feelings to be surrounded by that but feeling nothing similar inside. 

When we checked into our hotel room, which we had booked when Oscar was still in my tummy, there in front of us was a cot. After a short while we left and asked them to remove the cot but whilst we were in the room I just stared at the cot imaging Oscar there. Almost as if I imagined it enough it would happen.

After leaving the hotel room, I soon had to come back, in the space of being away from everyone people had suddenly got a lot louder and happier. I returned to the room and cried my heart out. A friend came in and sat with me, she has never seen me in that state before and hasn’t seen me cry for Oscar, in a way I’m glad she saw it. It may sound silly but people don’t see how much we hurt and sometimes they need to.

The good thing about the wedding, and our lifeline that day, was a couple we had met before on a few occasions, and we always knew they were lovely but we hadn’t seen them for a few years. They have lost babies too and without anything needing to be said they stuck by our side and kept us going. When everyone else was inside in the warm, they stayed with us outside and just knew what we needed. I will be so eternally grateful for their support that day.

It’s since the wedding that I’ve lost something in me, but I don’t want to go downwards, I want to keep stepping upwards. I’ve been taking antidepressants for a month now with no affect, tomorrow I’m going back to the doctor to look at them again. I’ve also set myself the goal of applying for a voluntary position today to try and bring some structure back to fill the emptiness. 

Just keep swimming.

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Sundae Fundae for Oscar

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Before Oscar was even in my tummy growing I was aware of a charity called Saying Goodbye. Although I personally hadn’t lost a baby before, someone very very close to me had, and although I wasn’t a mother yet I still understood that the pain from losing a child would be unimaginable.

Saying Goodbye are working to change baby loss, they hold services all over the UK in Cathedrals and Minsters that recognise babies that never got to enter this world or those who left in early years. Saying Goodbye isn’t about forgetting, it’s about remembering all of our much loved babies.

During my pregnancy I shared a few tweets with one of the founders of Saying Goodbye, Zoe, who was always so kind and warm when hearing about my pregnancy. Soon after losing Oscar, I felt a need to tell Zoe, I knew she would understand, and she did.

Since losing Oscar, Zoe has been there for me when I have needed her, she was there for me on some of my darkest days and understood when my questions became desperate, wanting an answer for how I was to carry on.

Zoe hasn’t just helped me, through Saying Goodbye she has helped ensure that thousands of men and women have had support and a way to remember their babies. It’s because of this, and for Oscar’s Legacy, that I am holding a Sundae Fundae to raise funds for Saying Goodbye.

Sundae Fundae is a fundraising idea from Saying Goodbye that involves lots of ice cream, guests coming along to make up their own sundae’s and having lots of fun with friends and games. A simple but fun way to make a difference.

There are many statistics I could tell you about how many miscarriages, or how many stillbirth’s there are each year, but in reality most people know more than one person in their lives that it has happened to, even if they haven’t felt it themselves. Baby loss touches everyone, whether a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, auntie, uncle, cousin and Saying Goodbye need your help to support others.

How can you help? Well that’s easy, why not come to my Sundae Fundae? If you live in or near Surrey then just pop me a message and you are more than welcome to come along on Saturday 31st August at 1pm. Or why not hold your own Sundae Fundae and get in touch with the group on Facebook. If that isn’t right for you then you can always donate.

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What Grief Has Shown Me

If anyone had ever told me that my baby would be still born, I would have told them I couldn’t survive it. That the pain would be too much for me to live. But it happened, and there is no choice in that.

What someone could have never convinced me of is being able to have my baby still born and yet still feel that there are other’s with worse pain than mine, but I do. This whole new world of loss, that has now become my world, is filled with horrific tales of what life is for some people. I’m not belittling what I have, and what I am, going through but I am able to be so grateful for what I do have. I’ve met some amazing woman on twitter and in real life that have felt the same pain as me but had more pain elsewhere in their lives at the same time.

I’m grateful for my health, Rob’s health, our love, and Oscar.

The last few days…

It’s been a difficult few days but strangely I’ve got through them with the help of good friends and keeping occupied.

Last Friday my husband went away for three nights on a friends stag do, that weekend was supposed to be my first time being left alone at night time with Oscar, now it was just being left alone. One of the hardest parts of losing Oscar is the emptiness and silence of our home. We moved into this house at the beginning of May ready for our new family to fill it up, now it serve’s as our reminder for what we should have had. To be left alone in this empty house for three nights filled me with dread. Thankfully the first night I had a close friend come over for dinner and then Saturday was filled with a shopping trip and baby cuddles with another lovely friend. Due to the cycling I couldn’t leave the house on Sunday so stayed at home and did jigsaw puzzles. I know it’s not a cool thing to do but it really helps my mind focus elsewhere for a time. This weekend was made so much easier by having good friends with me, or at the end of the phone (and Whats app!). The hardest part of the weekend was the night times, since losing Oscar I have suffered from paranoia if I wake in the night and convince myself that someone is breaking in.

On Monday I went to visit a lovely woman who co-ordinates the ‘precious memories project’ for Surrey SANDS (stillbirth and neonatal deaths). This project is the one that gave me my white bag whilst in hospital being induced with Oscar, and it included so many lovely things that really meant a lot to me. I got in touch with my local SANDS a few weeks ago to ask if there was any volunteering I could do and luckily they had the perfect thing for me, which was helping to pack these important bags. I went to the lovely woman’s home and suddenly started crying, she’s been through what I have and I think that’s what triggered it. She was lovely and sat me down and we talked for a long time. When I had settled she showed me my ‘task’. A lot of kind people knit baby items for Surrey SANDS so that those people in hospital, who don’t have their own items for their babies, can have something there for them. As Oscar was full term and we had family that could just come home and get our bags, we didn’t need any of the knitted items for Oscar, but I know lots of babies and parents will do. The bags of knitting are sorted and put into individual bags so that they are ready to be handed out, and that was my job! I know it sounds daft, and it isn’t a massive thing but being able to do this small thing to give back feels like it’s clicked a little piece of me back in.  

Then on Monday evening we went to our first Surrey SANDS support group. The group is held monthly but I’m told that they hold separate groups for those who are pregnant again or have their rainbow babies. I know that going to support groups is a massive step for some people who wouldn’t consider feeling ready a year or more down the road but I think we are just keen to have all the help we can to heal. The group was lovely and there were other new people too. I can’t say that I saw much benefit from it but I can say it’s a unique feeling to be in a room where everybody knows how you are feeling and what you have been through. It’s like a layer of you, maybe the public front layer, is taken off and you feel a bit exposed.  I cried yet again, just listening to other people’s stories.

 

To the Child in my Heart

 

To the Child in my Heart

 

O precious, tiny, sweet little one

You will always be to me

So perfect, pure, and innocent

Just as you were meant to be.

 

We dreamed of you and of your life

And all that it would be

We waited and longed for you to come

And join our family.

 

We never had the chance to play,

To laugh, to rock, to wiggle.

We long to hold you, touch you now

And listen to you giggle.

 

She’ll always be your mother.

He’ll always be your dad.

You will always be our child,

The child that we had.

 

But now you’re gone…but yet you’re here.

We’ll sense you everywhere.

You are our sorrow and our joy.

There’s love in every tear.

 

Just know our love goes deep and strong.

We’ll forget you never-

The child we had, but never had,

And yet we’ll have forever.

Oscar’s Postmortem Report

Yesterday was our appointment with our consultant to discuss Oscar’s postmortem results; this day had been hanging over me since we got the appointment date. I’ve had so many lovely people sending my messages that hope we get answers and that it goes well but in my pessimistic world neither of them things were going to happen.

On Friday we received a copy of my maternity notes in the post, we had asked for these prior to our Monday meeting so that we could ask any questions we needed to. From my notes I noticed a few red flags that I wanted to investigate more. Through the help of Dr.Google I found that my white blood cell count was high as was my thyroid levels and my fibrinogen levels. It was hard to find what fibrinogen meant but I’ve since found out it is to do with blood clotting. I also noticed that on the report from the last scan we had, to confirm Oscar had passed, his growth charts were different. Oscar had always been exactly on or just above the middle line but on this last one he had dropped below the middle line. Although Oscar was still a normal weight and not near the bottom line, it just appeared different to his usual pattern.

Our consultant was 30 minutes late which wasn’t a helpful start but I was willing to wait as long as it took so that we could meet today and not have to postpone. The consultant started by going through my notes and summarising my pregnancy, including appointments and scans. We all agreed on how he had summarised the events and we moved onto the postmortem report. Our consultant didn’t appear to have read the report previously so it felt like he was reading it with us and it begins with a summary of findings.  I felt like I was sitting there holding my breath, waiting for him to tell me why my baby died, what happened to stop his perfect heart from beating. When we got to the bottom of the bullet points it was clear the report hadn’t found any conclusive reason. Then my mind was willing for him to turn the page and say ‘oh but there is this…’.

The report was able to confirm was that there was no genetic or anatomical abnormalities found. Oscar apparently had a large brain for his size, but we just think that’s because he would have been a clever clogs! The placenta showed some immature villi but this appears to have been changes that happened after Oscar had passed. The consultant was able to draw from the report that Oscar died from a sudden event, he didn’t suffer for weeks or days, he just went. No explanations.

We then discussed things I had found in my notes. The high white blood count can just be caused by pregnancy itself. My thyroid levels were elevated, but this again could just be pregnancy related and my fibrinogen could have been high from pregnancy too.

My consultant had seen me in my pregnancy because of my BMI and he told me yesterday that high BMI does increase the risk of stillbirth, they don’t know why but he linked it diabetes and sugar tolerance, and he told me to lose weight before another pregnancy. I think I will leave the issue of my weight for another day, but hearing this was a really difficult part of the meeting and from that point onwards I couldn’t hold it together anymore. Luckily Rob took over with the questions we needed answered about future pregnancies. Although we have been told that the risk of stillbirth happening again is low, in my view the chances were low the first time so I will never believe it can’t happen again. We were told we would have more scans, more checks, more monitoring but that this plan would be made when I was pregnant again.

Our consultant tried to comfort me, and told me that that Mothers often blame themselves but that it wasn’t my fault but by that point I just wanted the meeting to be over and to go home. Rob, the very proud father that he is, asked the consultant if he ever saw Oscar and when he replied no, whisked out his phone and showed off his boy.  I can’t really put into words how happy I am that he is Oscar’s father and my Husband.

Where to go from here? At the end of next month I am having a thyroid function test and a thrombophilia test to see if the irregularities were caused by pregnancy or whether they are a permanent concern. I also have to lose weight, a lot of it and quickly. Answers on a postcard please for how to focus on losing weight when your whole world has crumbled.

What Monday may bring

I’m already feeling a countdown for Monday 29th July. This is the day that we meet with our consultant to go through Oscar’s postmortem report.

Before my induction even began we were told that we would be given a choice of whether Oscar would have a postmortem or not. It was made very clear that the choice was entirely ours, but also that in most stillborn babies, there will not be any answers. We always knew our decision from that point, without even discussing it. 

We definitely wanted Oscar to have a postmortem, for our sakes to try and find answers and to find if there is anything we can do in the future, but also for all the other babies who will be stillborn, to try and find answers so that their story can be different from Oscar’s. 

Before we left hospital a doctor came to go through the consent form as there were many different parts to consent to. We agreed to everything but their was one question that was harder. We were asked that if a part of Oscar needed more investigations for a longer time we had three choices; wait until everything was finished (this could be months away), go ahead with a funeral and hold a separate service later, or go ahead with a funeral and the hospital will dispose of any tissue/organ. Horrible question to be asked but even worse to try and answer, with the help of Natalie, our midwife, we were able to add a special note for them to advise us should this occur. Luckily it didn’t.

In all honesty I don’t know what I want the report to say. If Oscar or I had some kind of infection or abnormality that caused his passing won’t I just be forever bitter that it wasn’t found or prevented? Or if there is no reason at all, I can feel safe that I didn’t do anything wrong, but what about future pregnancies, couldn’t it all just happen again, for no reason?

The one part I am looking forward to is being able to talk to my consultant about future pregnancies. The need to be pregnant again is really strong but I need to know what support, check ups and scans I will get. I’ve read accounts from other women who quickly became pregnant again who have said that looking back they wish they had waited. I know any future pregnancy will be hard, but I’d rather be that much closer to holding an alive baby of mine in my arms. 

I always thought my pregnancy with Oscar would teach my patience, little did I know.