Thingy’s pregnant! Well she better not count her chickens

I’m at that age, early thirties, where 2017 has been a baby-booming year. Speaking of booming, pregnancies are a bit like a ticking time bomb. Is the pin going to stay safely in? Or, is it going to drop and all end?

I spoke in a previous post about the green-eyed monster – being jealous of other people’s pregnancies when my first one ended in misery and the deepest bitterness. The news now is like someone standing next to a balloon with a sharp object for nine months. I know it’s cynical, and nothing really to do with me, but it’s the flood of emotion I feel when I hear someone’s news.

The reliving my first time – the positive pregnancy test, the visions of a baby in nine months time, going to the scans, going baby shopping, the birth, their first tooth…and so on. It’s there, like a wave of motherhood washing over you, before it’s all really begun. A poppy seed in fact, buried deep in your womb.

The termination that sticks in your memory forever – the letters ’TFMR’ branded on the side of your frontal lobe. The promise you once had dissolved into an appointment at a clinic, throwing you back into the past where you were 16 weeks earlier – baby-less and never-to-be-the-same-again.

For anyone who has a TFMR will probably always relive that feeling when they hear new baby news, even if you go on to have 2,3 or 10 Rainbows. We will feel it because pregnancy presents it’s self as risk – odds, numbers, age – whats the risk? Will I have this baby or not? “We’re having a baby!” – well, it’s not a done deal I’m afraid.

After the three second influx of absolute dread, you dust yourself off again and think logically. I have my Rainbow now and she was worth it all. And Thingy is pregnant? Oh wow! That’s amazing – how far along is she?

One breech baby and a C-section

“The baby doesn’t appear to have turned”.

My baby was breech, sitting comfortably upright with its little head tucked under my rib cage. I imagined a baked potato sized head.

“Has the option of a C-section been discussed with you?”, the midwife said.

I longed for the natural, hippy birth I had been reading about. No pain relief, just focus and breathing…

Someone suggested spinning babies …herbal remedies, moxibustion and various yoga positions. I knew a vaginal birth was possible, but it posed more difficulties for mother and midwife, and I didn’t want to be selfish – I had dreamed for and wanted a baby for so long, I couldn’t have any risks.

It was around 37 weeks it was confirmed and I had a one way ticket to a C-section, which was going to be at 39+3. It was nice to have a date and the baby would be delivered safely and in the hands of experts, but I did feel a little robbed of my whole birthing experience.

I began to question – Am I still giving birth if it’s a C-section? Or is it just surgery? Like having an operation? I wouldn’t go into labour or have contractions, but like a wisdom tooth, the baby would be extracted from my body and handed to me…

How wrong I was. The experience was wonderful (and terrifying). The night before was like Christmas Eve, I packed my bag, tidied the house and got all the bits and bobs done as I knew I would be out of action for a while after surgery. It was a strange feeling, knowing, ‘this time tomorrow…’

I arrived at hospital early, around 7am. It was warm and quiet. The baby doctor came in and went through some forms and answered any questions – she would be the one delivering my baby. I liked her. I got into my gown and pulled up the circulation socks. After a little while, I said goodbye to my husband and was walked to theatre.

The injections hurt and there were quite a few. I began to tremble, feeling overwhelmed and scared. The theatre was cold and strange but the nurses were warm and friendly – it all feels surreal when I think back.

The doctor and nurses updated my husband and I as they operated, letting us know their progress. At one point, the operating table felt like turbulence, as I was shook from side to side – they have to work quickly and thoroughly.

We knew she was here when they doctor said, “We have a bottom!” and out she came, wrapped in a towel, snug and safe, and handed over to my husband. Our little precious safe and sound x

TFMR: Remembering my first-not-to-be-child

Although time is a great healer, it still feels like it happened last week.

I’m terrible. I still have my pregnancy folder and scans stuffed in a canvas bag in a storage box in the loft. I couldn’t throw them out but I can’t face to look at them. I need them in my life, so I still have my attachment to my first-not-to-be-child.

Every 18th July, I sit and think hard to the whole experience, like opening up an old wound up  – being 16 weeks pregnant, having spent the whole period of time from the 12 week scan to then not knowing the fate of my unborn child. The phone call, “It’s not good news I’m afraid”, calling my husband, texting my mum…crying, screaming, aching and longing for everything not to be true.

Even with my Rainbow in my arms, she’s nine months old, I feel the burn in my heart of missing and longing for my first-not-to-be-child. It won’t ever go away, and although painful, I wouldn’t want it to. It mine to keep and hold forever.

I light my candle, close my eyes and feel the warmth of the flame across my cheeks as I smell the fragrance – something white linen.

“I love you my darling angel. We never got to meet this time but I am here and you are with me in my heart everyday and I love you so much. In my darling daughter I feel you near, a gift from you to me and I love you, I love you, I love you”.

 

Coping during pregnancy, after TFMR

You find yourself wanting to NEVER say the words, “I’m pregnant”, in fear that it might just disappear at the click of a finger. That if you keep it a secret, you can keep it safe and not expose it to the cruelties of the world. Nothing can happen to it if no one knows about it.

The early days, before the twelve week scan, were the most anxious (of course). I expected to miscarry – I was down on my luck with what happened last time and it wasn’t going to happen for me (having a baby). Every toilet visit I was seeking out a blood stain and every twinge or cramp I thought, ‘This is it’. I was waiting for something bad to happen, that way when it did, I had already softened the blow by thinking the inevitable.

The morning of the first scan was a sickening experience. I thought back to last time – all the complications and tests, whispering doctors and the flicker of uncertainty in the air. Of course, I knew I would be high risk again, because of last time, so at least I knew that for sure.

The twelve week scan is the first hurdle. It’s not pleasant but it has to be done and there is absolutely every chance everything is fine. It’s so easy to say that and so easy to not feel it after a TFMR pregnancy but you have to think – what else can I do? I want a baby and this is the only way to it.

Right through to the twenty week scan, all my tests came back fine and I was fortunate to have a happy and healthy pregnancy. I was anxious through the whole thing but I found once I started telling people, I relaxed and enjoyed my pregnancy.

So apart from relaxing, how did I cope? KEEP BUSY.

I would advise anyone who is nervous and terrified in their new pregnancy to take on a new challenge – learn a new language, begin an evening course, join a local pilates or yoga class, practise Mindfulness or even take up knitting (cute booties right?)

My husband and I were renovating a house right through to when our Rainbow arrived. My days were filled with stripping and painting, queuing up in Screwfix, and tirelessly cleaning – dealing with having no kitchen for a whole summer! I was so busy and tired, my mind didn’t have time to think negative thoughts or ‘what if’s’. They saying is true, ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’.

 

After every storm comes a…

I tested early, about three days before my next period. I had woken up feeling off colour and I just felt different. We had been trying for a baby for six months now.

I was excited as I knew I had to be pregnant. I got an internet cheapie test out the bathroom cabinet and took the test. I left it by the sink and toddled off to occupy myself for fifteen minutes. I knew I didn’t have to wait that long but I wanted to wait – maybe as though waiting longer might make it a positive?

I was home alone and taking deep breaths. I returned to the bathroom and fixed my eyes upon the test. Two little lines, one neutral, one green – it was positive. I WAS pregnant!

But wait…maybe it’s wrong? I need to go get my proper test, the First Response one, the 99% accurate one, the one which cost me a tenner.

Yes, we TTC women are armed with pregnancy tests, hidden away from our partners but they are there – in the knicker draw, in a shoebox at the back of a wardrobe, hidden in a sports bag inside a zip compartment.

I took the dog out for a long walk. I remember feeling like I was walking on air, taking notice of everything in my view – the trees, the birdsong and moving clouds. I was soaking the feeling up. I was feeling like I had won the lottery. I wanted to savour every second.

It lasted about an hour until the anxiety kicked in. I placed a hand on my tummy – there was life in there, a new life. A precious delicate life, my second chance. I started to walk a little slower – I have to be careful from now on, I told myself. I can’t lose this one.

Green-eyed monster

Even before I became pregnant, the first time round, I always found it difficult to deal with pregnancy news. I put it down to my body clock and its underlying need for a child. I always knew I would have children one day but hearing the news of friends and family announcing their ‘new additions’ always turned me into a bit of a green-eyed monster.

I denied myself the opportunity to announce my pregnancy when I knew we were high risk. It was an odd feeling walking the streets ‘pregnant’, sitting at work ‘pregnant’ and speaking to friends ‘pregnant’ – I mean it’s a big deal, but I was cautious as I didn’t know which way it would go.

After the TFMR, I remember the pregnancy announcements at work. Five in fact. All around the same due date as mine. I became a bit obsessed – picturing them in their scans, all receiving the good news, “Everything looks fine”.Their twenty-week appointments, “It’s a boy!”. I’m not sure why but only assume it’s so I could live some sort of pregnancy even though mine had vanished.

I had the pleasure of witnessing their conversations of hospital appointments, sicknesses and ailments, baby names – bumps growing month by month. I actually managed to completely avoid one lady for the whole duration, as she got married the same time as me, and the pregnancy was too much of a reminder of how I had been robbed.

It was one of the hardest things to deal with, completely selfish and of course, I wished nothing negative on these women. After all, I’ve learnt pregnancy is a blessing and precious. Who knows what these women had gone through to get their baby.

TTC like a madwoman!

We decided to wait around two months before TTC again. Midwives advise to wait till after your first period, but that’s purely for dating purposes. Though it’s important to ask yourself if you feel emotionally ready too.

My first period came in August sometime, around six weeks after TFMR – it was quite tricky to tell as I was bleeding (very lightly) for around that time (due to the TFMR).  Although a painful reminder, I was definitely no longer pregnant and the baby was gone, it marked a new beginning – to try again.

I was like a woman possessed. I’ve always been pretty determined when it came to a challenge and this to me was in mother natures control, so I had to try to give her a helping hand.

The Babycentre TTC forum was a great help and I signed up to the train each month. I had my ‘cycles’ app from last time so I could see when my fertile windows were. I was taking my conception vitamins and eating pineapples cores (yuk!) and generally trying to be healthy.

I was going to get pregnant in the first month for sure. Why wouldn’t I? I did the first time round.

Nope. Month after month still no pregnancy…it did get me down. I started to panic – what if the TFMR had damaged me in some way? Maybe an infection went unnoticed?? Maybe that was my only chance – my one chance?

Everything plays round and round in your mind – all negative. But I kept going as it was the only way.

Six months later, I had my first sign – nausea upon waking. It was before my period was due, but I grabbed my internet cheapie pregnancy test and waited…tick tock, tick tock – there she blows. My little positive line 🙂

(I believe the Sperm Meets Egg Plan worked for me).

Wellbeing:Grieving and the Power of Now

Before pregnancy and TFMR, I practised small amounts of Mindfulness using the App Headspace. I won’t go into all the ins and outs as to why Mindfulness is a great form of therapy, but instead, check out the App and the great little videos which explain it really well.

It was through counselling that I revisited Mindfulness and my therapist is a great believer in it. It is all about living for ‘now’, today, this very moment that you might be reading this. Not thinking or worrying about things that have happened or might happen in the future, but living and feeling in the present.

This helped greatly with the grieving process of losing a baby. I couldn’t help but cling onto the extreme emotions of a termination and the anger of ‘why me?’. But I knew I had to let it go if I was to move on, especially as I was desperate to try for another baby.

It also helped with the anxiety. I was so worried about whether I could, or would, get pregnant again – miscarriages and or another TFMR. I felt a great weight on my shoulders, of absolute fear, of what might be that I needed an outlet to be able to overcome and move forward.

I came through connecting with the present – to sit in your seat, feel the weight of your body on the chair, your feet connecting with the ground and listening to the sounds around you… breathing in and out, your chest rising and falling, embracing that pattern, not thinking about anything but the rise and fall, then counting from one to one hundred…

Mindfulness can reset your way of thinking and feeling and provide you with peace and calmness, giving you and your mind a much-needed break.

This book was recommended to me by my therapist, The Power of Now – it’s amazing and I urge anyone to read it who is interested in Mindfulness.

I also wanted to share this great article on FB about Mindfulness and grieving.

You can’t see it, but it is in fact everywhere

Baby loss is suffered by so many but it is one of the most untalked about issues.

I didn’t tell friends, family or colleagues that I was pregnant, which saved me the heartache of telling them I no longer was.

I work for a large organisation and there are pregnant women everywhere. In the lift, in the lunch queue, in a meeting – there really is no escaping it.

When you hear someone has ‘lost a baby’, most people think miscarriage.  I personally have never heard anyone say that have had to end a pregnancy or endure a TFMR.

I’m guilty in the respect, that the few people I did tell, I was vague – I too said, “I lost a baby”. I didn’t want to go into detail – it’s complicated after all. People didn’t press further but I guess I didn’t want to say the words ‘termination’ because people wouldn’t understand.

The TFMR forum community, and the other ladies I spoke to who came forward about losing a baby – is like an underworld of grieving mothers.

Many women hide their loss like I did. Little did I know, as time went on, and I opened up a bit more to friends and colleagues, I found I wasn’t alone.  In fact, at work (where there are around 20 females) there were four ladies who had pregnancies end in miscarriage.

I found the opening up of one woman can lead to a string of women wanting to share their story – grasping the opportunity to finally share. Announcing a pregnancy is a ‘shout-it-from-the-roof-tops’ moment – ‘hear my wonderful news!!’ kind of feeling. BUT, losing a baby or ending a pregnancy, is buried deep with the door closed firmly shut, hoping we needn’t go there again.

I’ve heard a lot in the media recently about stigma’s being addressed – mental health, same-sex relationships and gender identity. But it still seems difficult for us to talk about baby loss. And not just for the mothers – we should also spare a thought for the partners and husbands who feel they have to be strong, demonstrating a sense of normality, whilst grieving…

It would be great to see baby loss, especially TFMR, to be more widely discussed so people are aware of it, and it doesn’t just remain a leaflet that gets handed to a mother when she learns her baby isn’t growing ‘normally’.

Wellbeing: It’s OK to seek help

The ARC are there to support you throughout your TFMR journey. I visited their forums a few times but never actually used their counseling services.

Having suffered from depression through my teens and early 20s, I knew I needed to seek further help, rather than just self-helping. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to ‘let go’ of what happened, as I have a tendency to cling onto pain and see it as something that defines me.

I was lucky enough to have a counselor who I had spoken with before, who was there to help me and to guide me out of the ‘grief’ maze. I describe it like a maze, as you feel so overcome with sadness and anger, that you feel like it’s never-ending – you keep going over the same thoughts and feelings without any improvement – but with most things, there is always a way out (somewhere, somehow).

The great thing about any counselor, is that they are a stranger. I always feel with friends and family that you can’t really open up completely. Having gone through a TFMR, I was worried what people would think – would they judge me? See me in a different light? With anything grief related, people don’t really know what to say anyway, but we want them to have the answers and makes things OK again.

My counselor used techniques of mindfulness. She was a lovely Indian lady who had a calm aura about her. She seemed to make absolute sense and was often very matter-of-fact, which I think you need when you are so overcome with emotion, sadness and anger. I will talk more about practicing mindfulness in another blog.

The thing that stuck with me from the counseling was facing the fact the TFMR was our ‘choice’. I had begun to associate it with being ‘robbed’ of my baby, which in some respect I had been. But, unlike a miscarriage, my husband and I made the choice to end our pregnancy. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to make the situation better, but I believe it is to shed a new light. Most of all, I think it was a way to stop the anger and bitterness – was I angry and bitter at the fact my first baby had a chromosomal abnormality? Or at myself for ending the pregnancy. I think the feelings were very confusing, but either way, the decision was made and we had to deal with the consequences.

Most importantly, the TFMR is in the past – Now, we had to look to the future whilst ‘living’ in the present. Not being stuck on looking back which had always been my problem.