Regret; the sense of sadness or repentance for having done or not done something.
I carry an overwhelming sense of regret in this life I live after loss, and it is something that can be a heavy burden to bear. After all, there is no going back, no changing what has been done or not done. Orla has gone, there is no way of getting her back and no way of making new memories with her physical presence in place of ones that we were not able to do. Death is final.
There are many things that I feel incredibly proud of, maybe more so in what we have undertaken since Orla died; her letters, the fundraising, the blog. Yet there are so many things that I wish I could have done differently. One of the biggest regrets will always be the overwhelming sense that I failed Orla and potentially could have saved her. This undoubtedly goes further than regret and fast tracks to heart crushing guilt and shame. This is not just a tinge of sadness or sorrow, this is full blown rage at myself that I can only sometimes allow myself to unleash, through fear of how it will consume me. This is mum guilt at its absolute extreme: the feeling that I could have, should have, saved her and in not doing so I am not fit to award myself the title of mother. Mothers protect their children and I somehow allowed mine to die. Continue Reading
Looking back at my diary entries from this time seems like a lifetime ago; this pregnancy has moved incredibly slowly for me: each week, day, sometimes hour, feeling like a lifetime. However, what I do remember of the first trimester was the safety of the secret bubble. Only Andy, myself and our midwife knew that we were expecting baby number two, so the only pressure we felt was from ourselves and our own internal dialogues of anxiety. We were away in a foreign country, undertaking an epic adventure in Orla’s memory with Andy cycling the length of the Pacific Coast of America and me driving as his support vehicle. Each day was busy, offering much needed distraction and we had no one else to worry about.
However, I feel that I am also viewing this period with rose tinted spectacles, since as time has progressed, I have found pregnancy after loss to get harder and harder with each milestone reached and the next set in front of me. The first trimester was tough; for example, I wouldn’t recommend driving 4000 miles when suffering with pregnancy nausea and tiredness (there were lots of stop offs at scenic viewpoints for a bit of dry heaving and then napping over the steering wheel). I also found the lack of access to the food I wanted when I wanted, as well as the rest of my home comforts, incredibly difficult. Continue Reading
As I reach the third trimester, my anxieties have started to increase. The closer we get to the time we lost Orla, the more the fear of history repeating itself kicks in. Add in a couple of other challenges and bumps in the road, and my anxiety this week has hit an all-time peak.
I knew from the start that I would struggle to ask for help in this pregnancy. Despite knowing that I would need to at some point and that this would be completely understandable, I still struggled to see how I would do it. How would I know what warranted asking for help and what I just needed to learn to tolerate and manage for myself? Would it be a slippery slope and that as soon as I asked once, the floodgates would open and I would be calling my midwife or the hospital every day? Would I be demanding to be admitted until the baby was born, banging on the labour ward door, hospital bag in hand, begging to be allowed in?
I think I have, and still do, worry about these things. But above all else, I think that asking for help means admitting to myself and others that I am feeling vulnerable. That I am scared – utterly terrified – that my life is going to be ripped apart again. That I have failed again. To ask for help means that I am not coping, and that the burden of responsibility that has weighed heavily for the last few months has become too much. Continue Reading
This week it was officially announced that my midwife Michelle (yes, that is quite confusing!) is the London regional winner of The Royal College of Midwives Mum’s Midwife of the Year. I nominated Michelle back in the summer last year when we were away on our fundraising adventure and then promptly completely forgot about it until I got a message from her in December saying that she had won. Cue lots of tears from both of us! Michelle is wonderful woman and midwife; she is kind, compassionate, dedicated and passionate about her work. She has gone above and beyond in her duty to look after myself and Andy and I feel that we have a bond that will last forever. I am so honoured to have Michelle as my midwife and incredibly proud that she has won this award. She thoroughly deserves it and anyone who has the opportunity to have her as their midwife is very lucky indeed.
Michelle is a caseloading community midwife. This means that she runs a team of midwives who have a small caseload of women who they see all the way through pregnancy, birth and up to a month afterwards. This provides women like me with:
- Continuity of care. I don’t need to explain who I am, what I need or what my journey to motherhood has been thus far at every appointment. Michelle will always follow up on any questions or concerns I may have, and there is a sense of progression at each appointment – that together we are moving towards bringing our baby into the world.
“There is something very sensual about a letter.
The physical contact of pen to paper, the time set aside to form thoughts,
the folding of the paper into the envelope, licking it closed, addressing it, a chosen stamp, and then the release of the letter to the mailbox—are all acts of tenderness. Once opened, a connection is made. We are not alone in the world.”
—Tempest Williams (1991, p. 84)
Monday saw us write our two hundred and sixty fifth letter to Orla. Although not necessarily a significant number, it is one that marks a countdown of 100 days until her first birthday and that this is now into double instead of triple figures. It marks two hundred and sixty-five days since the day that she was born; the day that we officially became parents and met the most precious and beautiful little girl we had ever seen. Two hundred and sixty-five days of breathing, surviving and navigating life without Orla; of being bereaved parents and finding a way of parenting without our child. Developing an identity that acknowledges the gravity of what we have lived through, and continue to live through, whilst also looking to develop a narrative of hope, optimism and meaning. Continue Reading