Thursday, 30 August 2012

Here's looking at you, God

So a question for my Christian friends and folk: Really? Is there really a God? A God who doesn't answer prayers. A God who has a grand plan that involves killing my beautiful baby girl? Seriously? A God who lets all this happen in the last 2-3 years:

2010 - Find out Dad has brain cancer (grade 4 blastoglioma in January. Spend a year having quality time as a family and cherishing each moment with our wonderful, 53 year old dad. 
2011 - Dad dies 14.1.11, funeral 24.1.11
Little brother (24 years old) finds a lump in his throat in March
Brother has half his thyroid removed in August. They do a biopsy and find follicular thyroid cancer. 
Has the rest of his thyroid removed in September.
Sister has a miscarriage at 10 weeks in November. All very nasty and 'lasts' 4 weeks with lots of hospital visits and a final operation.

2012 - looking good so far - was it just 2011 that was going to be officially known as 'The Year of Sh!t' from now on? Maybe 2012 would be 'our year' - a different year!
Started with sister's wedding in January
Find out I'm pregnant on Valentines Day - following 4 long years of trying to conceive with both male and female infertility factors and then 3 rounds of failed ICSI/IVF, we had given up - officially! Then our little miracle girl happened!
Brother gets the 'all clear' in February
For a whole 5 months from then, I was the happiest I have ever been in my life, truly believing that our one good egg and one good sperm was going to bring us a little bundle of joy in October. 
At the start of 2012 our whole family finally felt our prayers were not only being heard, but being listened to. We could try to put 2011, 'The Year of Sh!t' behind us and move on into 2012 a whole lot happier.

But no.

So, from a Christian point of view, I'd kind of accepted that dad dying had brought our family closer together so had 1 good aspect I guess. That's really digging deep for something, I tell you, but I moved on with it and, after a year, felt I had accepted what had happened to him, then my brother, then my sister.

And then we lost Isla. Now as a Christian, you're supposed to believe that God has this grand plan for you. That he knows the path I will walk in life and that he looks after me the whole way. Apparently he won't let me suffer and will carry me through the bad times. Apparently he listens to my prayers and answers every one. Really? REALLY?

If the God that I believe in can honestly take away my beautiful, precious little girl because it's part of a grand plan he has for me, then quite frankly I want none of it. I would rather believe there was no God at all than one that could be so cruel. 

So, Christian friends - can you answer me, in all honesty - WHY?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Stillbirth - The Wall

Stillbirth - The Wall

You are walking along fine with everyone else and the sun is shining and all is going ok and then you walk SLAM into a brick wall. And it hurts - really hurts. It hurts your head and your chest where your heart is and your stomach.

And it shocks you as only slamming into a brick wall can. Stops you dead in your tracks. And you stand there thinking "How did I not see that coming ? What the hell happened ? How could someone just do that to me ?" And you look around and everyone else seems to be walking round the wall. They are carrying on like nothing happened and the sun is still shining for them. They don't even see the wall. They don't even know its there.

And you realise you didn't know it was there until you hit it - you didn't even know there was a brick wall you could hit - not now, not at this stage. And slowly you pull yourself together. The pain in your stomach goes away but your heart still hurts and your mind is racing with questions about this brick wall - how, what, where, why ?? Mostly why ? Why on earth would someone make you walk into this wall - why did they have to put it in front of you and no-one else ? And you can walk again now the pain in your stomach and maybe your legs has subsided.

So you slowly make your way round the wall and to the other side. But it doesn't look the same on the other side. It's greyer and emptier. And you know you've left something behind - something very precious and you want it back. So you turn round and there is the brick wall behind you and it seems to hit you with the same force again when you realise you can't go back.

Its blocking your path and it will always be there. You pummel your fists on it and cry and shout at it but it's unbreakable and absolute. It won't let you get your precious bundle back - that has to stay on the other side and you must carry on without it. You can't go back to the path you were on before you hit the brick wall - it's impossible. 

So all you can do is go forward and walk on from it. But its hard-going and your legs don't seem to want to walk away from it. You know when you look over your shoulder it will always be there. It may fade a bit from view but if you look closely you will always be able to see it - even in the distance.  And you look around
you again and see all the people who never hit the brick wall carrying on too.

You tell some of them about the brick wall and they sympathise - it must have hurt they say. You are looking well despite hitting this brick wall - you have no cuts or bruises on the outside because those heal. So 
you must be doing okay then now they say ? But my wounds are on the inside you feel like screaming. How can you not know about this brick wall - why couldn't you walk into it instead of me ? And then you feel bad - you know you wouldn't really want anyone else to walk into that wall.

Some people are ok - maybe they have seen the wall themselves in the past or come close to it - maybe they are really good friends and family who close their eyes and do try to imagine walking into the wall. They are the ones who help you keep walking away from it. People tell you that you'll never hit this brick wall again - it only appears once in your life.

And you want to believe them even though you can't be sure. Up ahead it looks like maybe your path does cross back into the sunshine again - the same sunshine that everyone else is basking in. And you can just maybe make out another bundle waiting for you to pick up and carry with you for the rest of your life. And maybe if you are strong and keep moving forward then you'll reach it one day.

But it's not the same bundle as before - it can't be.

That one is behind the wall.

The wall that's always there if you look over your shoulder.

And written on it in forever more is the message in letters a mile high, that only you can see - My darling baby. RIP
By Rachel - written for her much-missed daughter Rhianna who was born sleeping 16th October 2005.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

I don't know how I'm feeling at the moment but this week has been a funny one. I've been up with mum and step-dad in Newcastle. I've had fun, eaten lots and remembered Isla tons. Some points to note from this week include:

  • I had a 'heated debate' with my sister this week which I found hard work and very draining. It's consumed too many of my thoughts recently so I am hoping to move on from it now. 
  • Am able to talk openly to my mum about Isla which is really good. She lost her grand-daughter and has been hurting too so it's someone else feeling similar pain to me. 
  • Was missing Dan a great deal this week - he was working in Oxford. It was so lovely when he came up on Friday and met us at the house in Yorkshire. It highlighted how needy I feel at the moment. So insecure in myself and how much I lack confidence. 
  • I wrote on a forum I've been on for a long time (an infertility treatment one) that I hated my body because it killed Isla. That is very much true. I literally, physically punch myself in the stomach sometimes because it is empty when it should be very much full. I didn't manage to do the job I was commissioned to do - protect, grow and nurture my baby girl. What a failure have I been. These thoughts haunt me. 
  • It struck me this week that the thought of lying to my midwife that there was an actual case of Parvovirus in my school had crossed my mind at 16 weeks. But at the time, I "couldn't be bothered". What a terrifying realisation, that if I had been bothered to go through fortnightly tests and scans, they would have picked up on my non-immunity and then kept monitoring me, thereby picking up on the hydrops and she would still be here. I would most probably still have my baby girl. 
  • I have started having a very physical reaction to thinking about all things Isla and pregnancy. Speaking to mum has made me realise I think it's a sort of panic attack. I feel a wash of nausea, lack of breath and faintness coming over me when I think about Isla, when I think about the happiness of being pregnant finally and when I think about a future without my precious girl. It's something I think I will need to keep an eye on and maybe go to the doctors about. 
  • Related to the above, I have started looking into counselling at the Plymouth Pregnancy Crisis Centre. I know they do a course for those facing pregnancy loss called 'The Journey' and I will look into that when I get back to Plymouth.
On a different note, we have found a house we think we'd love to rent so are keeping our fingers tightly crossed that it doesn't 'go' by Wednesday when we're booked to view it. We're not exactly feeling like the universe is 'with us' at the moment, so aren't getting our hopes up too high, but here's hoping!

Friday, 24 August 2012


Took my Aching Arms bear up to the Angel of the North yesterday - in the rain!


One bear for an angel visiting another angel.

Thanks to Aching Arms for this lovely bear - keep having to rescue him from the clutches of Fudge's mouth but still!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Just a short one today...

A thousand words won't bring you back, I've know because I've tried. 

And neither will a million tears, I know because I've cried.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Guardian article...

The Guardian newspaper had an article today about Stillbirth. Having had a hard day with lots of tears myself, it's good to read something that reminds me I'm not alone in how I'm feeling. 

Click: The Guardian home

Also good today, cos I'm in Newcastle with my mum and step-dad for the week which is great! Just what I need. And then Dan is coming up on Friday for a weekend in Yorkshire!

The Angel of the North - another angel, except I can see this one.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

I don't feel FINE!

I read that the following are the most common reactions following the loss of a pregnancy or baby... let's see...

  • Crying   
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation 
  • Irritability, anger
  • Guilt, blaming yourself 
  • Hopelessness, helplessness 
  • Appetite disturbances
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing your attention 
  • Difficulty remembering information 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Feelings of emotional numbness and emptiness
  • A sense of chaos, disorderliness 
  • A sense of despair about your future 
  • Difficulty formulating goals for the future 
  • A frequent need to talk about the death and the details of what happened 

So it's only my appetite that hasn't been affected! Which isn't surprising! I can have a dodgy tummy and still feel the need to eat!

So in case you wonder how I genuinely feel - see above! I'm not really fine or ok or alright...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

It's not the same....

It's been brought the forefront of my thoughts today about the differences and similarities between miscarriage and stillbirth. So I've been reading some blogs and stories from both points of view and from people who've experienced both. 

My overwhelming opinion is that I shouldn't have to think about how my own grief is affecting someone else but I have done so quite a lot of the past few weeks because I love that person, who had a miscarriage at 10 weeks. I recognised it was hard for her about a week after having Isla and was deeply upset when I realised I hadn't heard from her for a week after I got out of hospital. I now feel like 'Fine, thanks' is the only answer I can give her to the question of how am I because I don't feel I can openly grieve with her about Isla. 

I felt I was there to support her and she has told me she recognises this. But she feels upset that June was not recognised as her due date and that she didn't get the rallying around and constant support at the time that we have had. She feels we don't remember that she was pregnant or that she needs support.

Now, I definitely feel supported. My mum came down as soon as we told her Isla had died inside me. She was distraught. Everyone visited at the hospital when Isla was born and when I had to stay in for a further week. And I've had the supportive texts since. But on the whole, to be fair, it's mostly just been Dan and I. People check in and want to see us sometimes but we've mostly been left to grieve and get on with healing. Which we appreciate. But this person says she sat on her sofa in the evenings in tears. Well, I do that too - my husband works away sometimes and I've been left alone plenty in the last 5 weeks. I don't feel any less supported by friends and family but yes, I do appreciate the 'checking in'. 

I told her that from my point of view, losing at any stage is obviously awful and distressing. But it IS different. I have scan photos galore, I was in maternity clothes, I had a crib and clothes and nappies, I had chosen the nursery design and arranged the pram and car seat. I had maternity cover in place at work, we had chosen a beautiful name and we were well into the 'safe' stage. I was seeing and feeling kicks and wriggles daily and heard her little heartbeat inside me. 
It was only at about 18 weeks that I finally started to believe that I was going to become a mummy. I was allowed to believe it because it was tangible. And then to get to the 'viable' stage at 24 weeks was a real landmark when I could finally relax. She was a proper little human being. 

I laboured, I pushed, I gave birth (during a very traumatic birth) to a beautiful little girl that we got to name, hold, cuddle, kiss, talk to and wrap up. We then had to arrange a funeral, make a burial gown, register her birth/death at the registry office and lay her to rest in the ground. 

Now that's different isn't it? I can't take away the pain of her miscarriage but I have to focus on the pain we have gone through with Isla. 

Here are the exact words from a US blog on the subject - Wide White

"...what makes stillbirth so different from miscarriage: miscarriage is a relatively common event. Many couples wait to announce a pregnancy until after the first 10 to 14 weeks gestation, knowing that their risk for a prenatal loss has significantly dropped after the first trimester.
The NCBI underscores the commonality of miscarriage with this data:
It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%.
By contrast, the rate of stillbirth is less than 1%. Here’s a summary from Wikipedia:
The mean stillbirth rate in the United States is approximately 1 in 115 births…. In Australia, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the rate is approximately 1 in every 200 births, in Scotland 1 in 167.
I should point out that a more common definition of stillbirth in other countries is any baby who weighs more than 1 pound (weight determinations vary from 350 to 500 grams). More broadly, online forums usually simply divide the two categories of prenatal loss into “miscarriages” and “2nd and 3rd trimester losses.”
So it’s well-established that miscarriage is far more common than stillbirth and that one occurrence is generally considered to be before 20 weeks gestation and the other is after. But still, a loss is a loss, right? Are the two losses really that different? Why get particular about the technical definitions?
We have friends who have had the awful experience of going through both a preterm delivery and a few miscarriages. They talk about the miscarriages as a footnote of life. By contrast, they often speak of their son who died at 28 weeks gestation. They have pictures with him on a wall in their home....

Life is no less real in the first trimester of pregnancy than it is in the second or third. However, our experience with the child certainly changes in that time and we become more attached to the baby we’re waiting to meet. Here are just a few things that make the connection to the baby so much more significant later in pregnancy:
  • A baby bump develops (~12-16 weeks)
  • Gender is often known (~16-20 weeks)
  • Baby kicks (~16-22 weeks)
  • Baby becomes viable outside the womb (~23 weeks)
  • Baby is often named
These are just a few of many developments that bring us closer to the baby we’re about to welcome into the world.
Each one of us loves our children dearly from the moment we see that positive pregnancy test. Each one of us grieves our prenatal losses, the children we never got to meet here on earth.
But I’ve never seen a memorial service or a funeral for a child who was lost in the first trimester. A baby lost within the first month or two rarely has an empty nursery waiting for them. Parents of miscarried children have just begun to dream of the life they’re going to give their new babies; parents of stillborn children have often purchased the going-home outfits, built the cradles, and bought the car seats.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For every 5 people who reached out to me with their stillbirth story, 1 has reached out with their story of miscarriage. Miscarriage impacts each person who goes through it differently. For some, miscarriage is a footnote of life and for others it’s one of the most significant events they’ve gone through. But while each family’s experience with stillbirth is also different, I have yet to meet a parent who has gone through a second or third trimester loss and has not been permanently and tremendously affected by it.
Stillbirth is not miscarriage. Miscarriage is not stillbirth. No parent going through either experiences wishes to be in either camp, but no grieving parent wishes their camp to be confused with the other. To understand the place in which each prenatal loss falls is to understand just a little more what each family is going through. For the sake of grieving moms and dads, the distinction is worth understanding.
Now, as one person commented after that post,  I too think that in the end, we need to remember that whether miscarriage or stillbirth, parents are going to grieve and need support and need others to remember that no matter how short the life, they did have that child. 
I am mother to one child, as is the person I write about. Nothing can change that or take it away from us. 

Becoming::::::::::: Seeking the sesame seed

::::::::::Becoming::::::::::: Seeking the sesame seed
What a lovely Tibetan myth - it really is what I feel is helping actually... reading and supporting others going through similar things. It's how I cope with the sadness and anger. I guess I'm still looking for the sesame seed, but am aware I will never find it.

Looking prettier...

I do like the 'natural' look of Isla's grave. It was the whole point of putting her there. But I just wanted something that recognised that she was there. So that's why I put the butterfly stones on there, which were still there today. 

I've also ordered some bits to mark it and some have come already - just a little plaque to come now. 

Got a little statue of hands cradling a baby and some artificial pink wild rose blossoms. I think it looks really pretty now and I'll put the little plaque at the foot of her grave when it comes next week. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Fireworks.... for Isla!

So the fireworks championships were in Plymouth this week. I went tonight (day 2 of competition). It was blowing a real hooly and apparently the competitors had to change their displays so much that they weren't even being judged, it was just for the show. The first display was good, the second one was amazing and the final one seemed to stop short - in fact, I'm pretty sure they had some problems half way through!

Anyway, through the whole thing I just thought about Isla - and, of course, how last time I was on the Hoe I was pregnant. 

But I thought about how beautiful the fireworks were and how beautiful Isla was. 
How they made me smile and so did she. 
How they lit up the world like she did.
How they were lighting up Heaven, as is she. 
How they looked like stars in the sky, where Isla is. 

Display 1:


Display 2:

This bit was amazing - it filled the sky and they all fell beautifully to Earth...

This one with the 'weeping willows' was just stunning and really made me gasp!

Heading for his finale:

No photos of Display 3 as it was over so quickly but here's a video of the very end of  Display 2!

Just stunning and boy did it get a cheer from the crowd! 
(And a big whoa! from me!)