Browsing Tag

Motherhood

Uncategorised

Parenting with empty arms

 


 
Today marks my first Mother’s Day since Orla’s birth.  I am a mother to a beautiful daughter who would now be almost 11 months old.  I am also a mother to a baby growing inside of me.  Yet, sometimes it is hard to show the world my status as a parent.  I do not have a pram to push or a baby to carry in my arms.  I do not go to baby groups or have playdates with other mothers.  Yet I feel different to the person I was just last year, as having Orla has changed me irrevocably from the woman I was once.  I feel a love and responsibility that I didn’t think was possible.  My heart feels infinitely larger and fuller and it aches with pride.  Yet I don’t have new photos to show, or new stories to tell.  I can’t speak of milestones that have been met or new stages reached in development.  But I still have the innate need to parent.  It is a natural urge that doesn’t go away even when your child isn’t able to come home with you.
As a result, I have had to find my own way to parent; to parent a child who lives in my heart but not in my arms.  A way to parent that isn’t included in any manual or book and in a society that isn’t always quite sure how to respond.  I have learnt from other mothers who have bravely shared their stories; I have seen how they have honoured their precious children and kept their memories alive.  I parent based on gut instinct, doing what feels right and whatever brings comfort, no matter how different or strange it may look to the outside world.  The ‘non-loss’ world.  I parent in a way that involves developing a thick skin, in a way that it courageous and brave.  I battle against barriers and opinions of what is acceptable and not, of what is right or wrong.  I may have to justify my choices, to explain and help others to understand.  And in some ways, I see many similarities to the challenges that all mothers face. Continue Reading

Uncategorised

The long second trimester

img_5641

14+4 weeks


Looking back, the second trimester seemed to go on forever.  Despite being incredibly busy in one way or another, the weeks felt long and the anxiety and worry seemed to gradually build.  Whereas in the first trimester, I was able to adopt a more ‘whatever happens’ attitude (a sense that there was very little I could do apart from maintain good health), in the second, the sense of responsibility became heightened.  I started to feel movements very early on, as early as 12 weeks, but this of course was intermittent and followed no pattern that would allow for reassurance.  The familiarity of those flutters and pokes was simultaneously comforting and terrifying.  Since the nausea and tiredness had subsided, this was the first sign that I really was pregnant – yet there was a sense that I couldn’t even trust my own judgements about this.  How could I believe that what I was feeling was actually a baby?  And when I couldn’t feel anything, what did this mean?  Falling pregnant so soon after losing Orla meant that these feelings were so recognisable; having Orla safely cocooned inside of me was within touching distance and feeling the movements of her younger sibling brought me closer to her, yet also painfully further away.  A physical reminder of everything we had lost, creating its own renewed wave of grief. Continue Reading

Uncategorised

Learning to ask for help

img_6800
 
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

Mental health and wellbeing, Pregnancy after loss

Why midwives matter

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.

fullsizerender-2

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.
  • Continue Reading

Mental health and wellbeing

Dear Orla: Two hundred and sixty-five letters of love

“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