Release

Due to my travelling, I chose sunrise at the beach to speak out loud the below words:

This period marks an important milestone for me and you. Had another path been chosen I wouldn’t be here where I am and instead, you would be in my arms or soon to be.

I will always wonder, hope and dream for you, but for now, I have come to accept that this wasn’t meant for us.

For the short period you were with me, you had an incredible influence. You certainly left your mark and I know that I have grown and learnt from you. Today I will release you at the time you were meant to enter this physical world. I am not surrounded by close friends or family, but I am surrounded by love; love for you and love from within.

I tell you again that you were absolutely created and made with love. You were absolutely wanted and you were absolutely loved.

I can no longer think about what could or should have been, but can only thank you for your time with me and how you’ve helped me grow and further shape the mother I will be one day.

Gone but not forgotten, today I reach full acceptance and I release you.

Due Date

So I’m a week into my trip and I have started to feel again. I have a way to go, but I now know more than ever that I was meant to be here, to be doing something and experiencing more of this world.

What this does mean is that the time has now arrived for my due date. I had my calendar out a little, and I had thought that I’d be in Sihanoukville for the due date. This worked out perfectly as it’s a beachside town and would have made the perfect setting for a small ritual for me and the baby. However, I will actually be on my way into Vietnam – not a beachside town perfect for reflection, but a hectic border crossing and a homestay where we’ll apparently be playing games.

What I have decided is that the exact date isn’t exact anyway. Based on my last period before falling pregnant, my GP had 22-23 February listed on initial paperwork. As we know, this date was never confirmed so it may have been out. And as happens with babies, they can also choose to come out earlier or later. So, I’m deciding that tomorrow – 21 February – will be my ‘release’ date. I am getting up in time to see the sunrise on the beach and will have my time there.

On the bus today I started writing some words down and will take the time to tweak them as needed while writing them again at the beach; I may even possibly burn the paper. Fiona seemed to think that I needed to do an actual ritual, write something down, release something and really mark the moment when the baby is moved on. I don’t have anything like that planned and from my writing this afternoon, that won’t work for me.

As much as this will be about the baby and me letting go – as much as I possibly can – on their due date, this is about me finally fully accepting it. I’ve written something else that I’ll tweak before posting, which has been titled ‘Acceptance’; that word has been flowing consistently – doggedly – through my mind for the past week. I will never let go of my baby and the pain will always be there, but I’m accepting that this wasn’t right. But tomorrow is about releasing.

I’m nervous about tomorrow, about the next couple of days, but I’ll get through it. These past 7 plus months have been about me working through it, and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve worked, cried, written and figured my way through it. Tomorrow is simply another step to help me continue to work through it. I will be fine and the moment will be perfect.

Tomorrow I will release my acceptance into the world, at sunrise on a beach in Cambodia and I will be okay.

It’s time

The time has come. I am currently 40,000 feet in the air, about 2,100kms from Melbourne, a further 5,200kms to Bangkok.

I had so many grand plans and ideas go through my mind to fill in my spare time over the last couple of weeks, yet nothing came to fruition. I was going to do a bit of sightseeing, I was going to finish setting up a new blog for my travels, and I was going to set up a new Facebook page and Instagram account to go with the new blog. I was going to spend time with everyone who mattered. I was going to get super excited about my trip. I was going to get myself sorted.

I managed to get myself sorted. I managed to spend time with many who mattered, but not all. I managed to start feeling a bit better about myself and almost started to feel excited about the trip.

There are moments when I’m looking forward to what I’m about to do, what I’m about to see and whom I’m about to meet. But they are still few and far between. The most emotion I experienced was yesterday afternoon saying bye to Emma and the kids. Jordan (now 8) was very emotional. He didn’t want me to go as he wouldn’t see me for a long time and got a bit teary. I was doing well until seeing his little face, his cheeks and eyes red. I did get through without shedding a tear, but it got close. (I’ve been assured that he was back to his usual happy self this morning – how quickly he forgets!)

The airport drop-off this morning was quick and un-emotional. Mum asked me this morning if I was excited, and I responded that I was a bit numb to be honest. I still am. There isn’t a big burst of emotion going through me. I’m not sure what I am feeling or even what I should be feeling. Nervous is probably the closest and most frequent of my emotions and I really don’t have any reason to be.

I boarded my flight no problems, I sorted the last minute issues with access to my savings, I have my Vietnamese visa and I’m a responsible, mature person. I’ve travelled before and know the main gist of how things go. I’m not as shy as I was ten years ago when I last did independent travel so I should be able to make friends easier and faster. I’ve got nothing to be nervous about.

I guess I’m worried about how I’ll be in two weeks time. Numbness may have set in for self-preservation and may stick around for a while yet. I had my last appointment with Fiona nearly two weeks ago and she signed me off. Told me to have fun and lots of sex. Easier said than done! I’ll try my best but have no promises.

She did ask me again what I had planned for the due date and asked a few questions, prompted me to work on a ritual. Write down some words and release them, along with the life that could have been. All I know is that I’ll be in Sihanoukville in Cambodia, a beachside town and I just want to sit and contemplate. If possible, I’d like to release a lily into the ocean. I hadn’t thought more about the ritual. So now I feel like I should be planning more, or at least feeling more.

I told Emma about releasing a lily, and also mentioned that I might get myself a tattoo. I don’t have any and had never been serious about getting one. But as I still have ‘Lily’ on my mind, I thought it might be nice to get a lily somewhere. I then feel doubtful, apart from now no longer having the option to use Lily for kids I will – will – have in the future, do I want to put a permanent mark on my body for this one loss? What if I have another miscarriage? Will I have to get another flower? Why do I need to put so much emphasis on this baby?

The loss of the baby and the loss of my relationship have been hugely significant for me. Why not mark this with a visual reminder? I won’t have to look back sadly on this, but rather reflect on how I managed to survive and will continue to survive. If I do have another miscarriage, I’ll survive that and can mark that as well.

I am about over my grief. I have somewhat accepted the miscarriage. Of course I still wonder about what may have been. No longer about what should have been. Rather what could have been. The lily can be for survival and hope.

I caught up with Manda a few times – she makes me happy. We just get each other and I was telling her about the afternoon I’d spent with my niece and nephew. Logan asked me if I had a baby in my belly. It came from nowhere – Emma said it was likely due to her sister-in-law being pregnant and her telling them about it. Logan then wanted to give me a bunch of marbles for my kids. I said that I didn’t have any and wouldn’t for a little while yet. He still insisted – we finally managed to convince him to look after them for me until my kids would be old enough.

I didn’t feel sad when Logan talked about my kids. It knocked me a bit, but I coped. Manda reassured me that I will have kids. The day will come and I’ll get those moments. She said it’s bloody hard, but then there are the moments when you wouldn’t have it any other way.

I spent a day with Jodie, Tanya and their daughters. Jodie was about ready to pop with her second baby and I didn’t feel any sadness. I did however sit there and watch the girls, their interactions with each other and their mothers and I just knew deep inside me that I do want that. I will have that. I want and deserve to be a mother and there is a perfect baby out there waiting for me just as I’m waiting for them.

I briefly saw Jodie again last night – she was off to the hospital for final preparations; she was so excited for me and my trip. I was excited for her and her next journey. I did feel myself starting to get emotional, thinking about her going into labour at any moment and bringing a new life into the world. I didn’t experience jealousy, but I did reflect and momentarily wanted that for me in the next two weeks.

As I was leaving, Tanya again asked me how I was, if I was okay. I honestly don’t know. The numbness is getting rather odd. I want to feel, I want to experience big, deep feelings again. I’m glad the deep, gut-wrenching sadness has gone. But I’d like something other than slight anxiety and numbness to replace it.

The time is here. I have left my friends, family and home behind. I have adventure, excitement and travel ahead of me. Perhaps a tattoo, perhaps some love affairs. But definitely some truly me time. I hope I find what I’m looking for. I hope I start to feel again.

Rainbow Ahead

I cried so much last night. It had been building for a while and I finally let it out. After taking my shoes off and dumping my bags when I got home, I walked into my bedroom with the intention of getting changed, and instead, collapsed on my bed, rolled into the fetal position and hugged my teddy bears while tears poured from my eyes.

I sobbed, sobbed like I hadn’t done since my ‘darkest hour’. I lay there and looked over at my wardrobe, took in each of the photos I have pinned up; photos of my family, my niece and nephews and friends. I took in the empty door where there had been photos of Gary and I; the empty space waiting for photos of the baby I should be carrying.

Nothing will be able to fill that space; fill the hole that I’m carrying, fill the void that’s weighing me down. Everyone keeps telling me that it will take time, to be patient with myself and I’ll feel better soon. But the hole is huge; the loneliness is real and the hurt is beyond anything I could have imagined.

I’ve been thinking constantly about being a mum lately. It’s more than just being clucky; it’s a desperate need inside me that is just itching to get out. I want to hold my baby in my hands; I want to feel a baby grow inside me, kick my belly; I want to give life to a living, breathing real-life baby. I want to raise and support children. My children. I want to be a mum. I need to be a mum.

There are things I need to work through before this can happen. There is of course the obvious step of finding someone to be the father, meeting someone special to raise children with. But as much as there are things to work on, this is a need inside me that I can’t let go of. I want to be a mum. I need to be a mum.

I read a post on Facebook recently about rainbow babies. I’d not heard of it before and shed a tear when I read the story. A lady bumped into another lady while shopping who was wearing a t-shirt with a rainbow on it, with a caption along the lines of carrying a ‘rainbow baby’. This was to signify that she was carrying a healthy baby after having previously suffered a miscarriage. I felt this woman’s pain but also felt envious of her. She still had her partner, a father for her baby; she had a baby growing inside her.

I don’t have either. I kicked my partner out in anger; I lost my baby. I don’t have hope in a nearby future where I’ll have either in my life again. I can’t see a rainbow baby. I’m absolutely devastated.

I cried while I wrote my last post. There is still so much more I need to work through, to share. I need to accept my body’s betrayal and deal with my time at the hospital. But maybe I finally am on my way to healing. My hole didn’t feel as big, as heavy, this morning. There will be more tears, more crying and more pain. But it will be short lived. I will get my rainbow baby and soon enough my hole will be a tiny speck – never gone, but supported with a rainbow of its own.

Two Months On

I’ve now been not-pregnant for longer than I was actually pregnant and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to deal with. I’m trying not to countdown; to blame myself. I’m trying to keep myself busy and think of other things, but when something as unexpected and painful as this happens, I can’t help but do all of that. Life is so unfair at the moment. I want nothing more than to move on, be happy, looking forward to what is yet to come. But I can’t. My mind won’t let me and I keep circling around what I’ve lost; what I should be gaining.

There’s something every day that reminds me of what I’ve lost, what I’m missing out on. From waking up each morning with an ache in my stomach, to smelling the bath products I brought as a treat after I found out I was pregnant to coming home to an empty house. From losing weight and not gaining it to seeing so many happy families and baby products. To friends on Facebook counting down their pregnancies and others counting up the age of their babies. All of these things bring back the memories and stop me from being able to let go of the pain.

I’ve been told that a miscarriage is nature’s way of telling me that my pregnancy wasn’t viable, that I couldn’t have done anything to change the outcome. What I don’t say in return is that I feel like I gave nature a helping hand. That I put myself through so much stress in those weeks, experienced so much anger and frustration that I forced my body and nature to react in this way.

I’m not one to hold on to guilt or lay blame. But right now I feel all of it. I blame myself for not being able to keep my baby alive. I feel guilt for having had a hot bubble bath, for getting angry with Gary, for having a couple of drinks before I knew. I feel so guilty that I was using a facial cleanser that contained ingredients that shouldn’t be used in pregnancy.

I found out I was pregnant on the Thursday night; I kicked Gary out on the Saturday morning. I spent the day and night crying. I ate McDonald’s on the Sunday and spent a miserable day with my family. I went to the doctors on the Monday morning and then had an argument with Gary after. I didn’t allow myself to be happy or excited. I kept thinking about the possibility of miscarriage.

When I told dad I was scared, he asked me why. I told him I was scared of doing it alone, I was scared of everything. I was scared of having a miscarriage. I told mum I was scared of miscarrying. She told me it didn’t run in the family, so there wasn’t a reason to be scared.

On the Tuesday I bought myself ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. I had a hot bubble bath then settled into bed with my new book. I read about the dating scan I was booked in for, what we should see and tried to work out how far along I was. I then read that having hot baths is a no-no. The body can overheat by staying submerged and can’t adjust, as it needs to. I freaked out.

I messaged Gary and told him I was scared of miscarriage and being alone. I was scared I’d done something wrong. I was scared I’d do something wrong. I was scared.

I went about the next nine days in a scared, yet hopeful, daze. I embraced the constant feeling of nausea, the lack of appetite and constant need to pee and just the overall exhaustion. These were all symptoms for the baby that was growing inside me. These were real things that were happening for a very real and exciting thing.

The day for the scan arrived at long last. Mum and Gary came in with me while dad waited outside. I stripped off my jeans and underwear and made myself comfortable on the bed with my knees bent up.

The technician went about her business, asked a few opening questions then proceeded to move about with lots of clicks and measurements on the screen. I had no idea what I was looking at, and eventually asked in a light tone ‘there’s just the one in there, isn’t there?’

The question seemed to linger. She asked me if my doctor had thought that my levels were low. I’d had my blood test almost two weeks ago; I told her that in fact she seemed to think they were quite high and I might have been further along than expected.

Silence followed. I wasn’t too sure what to make of it all. I just stared at the screen, hoping to make sense of the black and grey swirls. It all remained a mystery. I did find it odd that she wasn’t speaking to me, to us and telling us about what she was looking at.

‘I’m sorry, but I can’t detect a heartbeat.’

I don’t know what I said or what happened next, but she said something about sending the genetic counsellor in. Mum was then by my side and hugging me. My tears started and I lay frozen, my knees eventually dropping flat.

We didn’t see the technician again. I kept looking at the screen trying to make sense of it all. I began to doubt myself. Had I made up the symptoms that I’d still been experiencing that very day? Had I somehow created the hormones to appear in my urine and blood tests? Was this all just a big joke?

My biggest fear had come true. The main thing that played on my mind for those two weeks had been my fear of miscarriage. And that is exactly what happened. My body’s ultimate betrayal.

The Taboo of Miscarriage

Miscarriage. It’s not a scary word. It’s not contagious. It’s not going to cause any damage. Miscarriage. That’s twice you’ve read it, and likely twice that you’ve started; paused and twitched. You’ve now twice been conflicted and wanted to move along, forget about the word that you’ve just read. Yes, it’s taboo. It’s an event that can’t be talked about, yet an event that leaves far too many feeling totally alone.

Each person I’ve spoken to about my miscarriage has reacted differently; most haven’t said the word ‘miscarriage’ and have simply offered their condolences. They’re unsure how to talk about it; if they should talk about it, so they offer an apology and move on. Those who have actually said the word are those who have experienced it themselves. I’ve been told that one in four to five pregnancies end in miscarriage. One in four.

I was told that it’s common, that miscarriage is nature’s way of saying that something wasn’t right, that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. As if that is supposed to make me feel better. Nature telling me there was something wrong with the baby I’d started growing inside me was going to make me feel better? Well, it didn’t, it doesn’t and I don’t think it ever will.

I have haemachromotosis – a condition that requires me to regularly donate blood – I’m known as a therapeutic donor. But when anyone donates blood, they’re told to contact the Red Cross should any circumstances change or you feel unwell within the following seven days.

I found out I was pregnant three days after I donated blood. After confirmation from my GP, I made the exciting call to the Red Cross to let them know. They were excited for me and thanked me for telling them. I of course was going to have to follow up with my GP in regards to my ongoing treatment and whether or not I could still donate.

Two weeks ago, I had to call the Red Cross again to say that my circumstances had changed again, and I was no longer pregnant. The lady who took my call was audibly taken aback. She stuttered a bit and didn’t know what to say. She offered her sympathy for what I’d been through, but didn’t know how to react to the word ‘miscarriage’. I was placed on hold as she needed to consult with a nurse. I felt uncomfortable on the call; I turned myself clinical and switched off the emotions inside me. I didn’t help put her at ease; I offered nothing but cold, dry, emotionless words about my circumstances.

I was taken off hold and spoke with the nurse. She wanted to know if it was a miscarriage or an abortion. (Abortion. I am pro-choice, but that would never be my choice. I had been warned that a missed miscarriage is referred to as a missed abortion in medical speak. Why they would use that word, I don’t know.) I informed the nurse that it was a missed miscarriage and not an abortion. I was again offered sympathy, but in a general sense – again, scared of the word ‘miscarriage’. She was sorry for ‘what I’d been through’. I was told that women are usually asked to wait at least 12 months before donating again due to the loss of blood, however as I was a therapeutic donor, it may only need to be six months. She seemed relieved to be able to end the call when I said I was seeing my GP soon and would seek her guidance. I think that is the first time the Red Cross have ended the call.

When I did see my GP, she entered all the details and said that my levels were fine, I was recommended to decrease my frequency from every eight to every twelve weeks. She asked how I was doing, concern etched across her face, genuine in finding out. I love my doctor – she is empathetic, straight to the point and asks me how I’d like to handle things and provides me with options. She genuinely wants to ensure I’m doing well and encourages me to speak, to get out and do things.

A couple of days later I had a call from the Red Cross to confirm my next donation appointment. I reminded this lady that I had recently changed my circumstances and thought there may be some hesitation with booking me back in. She asked me what had happened and I told her that I’d recently suffered a miscarriage. I was offered sympathy; but not generic. I was offered sympathy for my miscarriage. She tried to offer some reassurance and actually used the word. I gave her a genuine thank you. She wasn’t taken aback, she wasn’t afraid. She was real. We booked in my appointment and again, she told me how sorry she was for my miscarriage and wished me all the best. Easily the best call I’ve had with the Red Cross.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to be comfortable with miscarriage, that it is an easy thing to talk about. But it does need to be talked about. Those of us who have experienced it need to know that we’re not alone, that this is common and there is support out there. Women are strong, but we’re stronger together. Hiding from the word, the ‘circumstance’, won’t help us to heal. It only leaves us feeling alienated, alone and scared.

My baby was almost seven weeks along. There was a brain and a tiny human forming. There was a baby growing inside me that suddenly no longer was. I only knew about this baby for three weeks, but I’d wanted this baby for my entire life; for 33 years. For nature to suddenly decide that this wasn’t a feasible pregnancy, that this baby wouldn’t survive, and for others to be scared to talk about it, it’s not fair.

I need to grieve and I needed support to help me grieve. I don’t want to be scared to tell others what I’ve been through; be nervous about them feeling uncomfortable. I want to know that if I say the words ‘I suffered a miscarriage’ I will get concern, sympathy and support; I won’t get discomfort, fear or awkwardness.

Miscarriage. It’s not a scary word. It’s not contagious. It’s not going to cause you any damage. Miscarriage. It’s something that happens in every four to five pregnancies. It’s something that requires empathy and support. It shouldn’t be taboo. Miscarriage.