Humans are social beings; we like to belong to a group. We need to feel included, connected and to have people who we feel allied with. Friendship, work, social and hobby groups; we find comfort and affiliation with those who have common ground, those with similar likes and dislikes and those who we feel will ‘get us’. People with whom you can be yourself and share your thoughts and feelings on a subject, and whilst they might not necessarily always agree, they will likely understand at least where you’re coming from.
We all want to belong.
And it is this sense of belonging that I have struggled with since the moment that Orla died. In which group did I sit? I quickly exited the NCT WhatsApp group chat because I couldn’t bring myself to share our news in the midst of other joyful live birth announcements, and we were never in contact again. I was clearly no longer part of a group that was going to be my ‘mummy crew’. I had no friends who had experienced a similar loss, so I felt somehow distanced and separated from those I loved the most. I could no longer even look at pregnant women in the street and share a knowing smile, because I was no longer in their team. Baby loss is excruciatingly painful exclusion that permeates almost every aspect of your life. Continue Reading
I feel that this will be the first of a series of posts, since if I write about it all now, it could take days to read. There is so much swimming around in my head about my nine months of pregnancy after loss, and I want to give it the time and space it deserves. This is therefore a bit of an introduction for myself really – getting me in the headspace to pick apart what is ‘normal’ and expected and what I maybe need a bit more help with making sense of. And I find getting it out on paper (or virtual electronic paper) is the best way….
This diagram was something I sketched out at 4am on the day I went to hospital to be induced. Knowing that it was likely to be a long process, I had planned to spend the day writing a blog post on my reflections of pregnancy after loss, the sense I made of it from a mental health perspective, and how I had managed the relentless 37 weeks to that point. However, I ended up spending the day huffing, puffing and moaning about how slow induction was this time around, pounding the streets around Camberwell, climbing and descending the stairs of Kings College Hospital, bouncing on a ball, sniffing clarey sage and lavender, before finally flopping down with a book and a less than appetising hospital dinner. I am not very patient as my face below shows: Continue Reading
28 week yoga baby doing plough pose
I am sure that there are many reasons as to why the last few weeks have been increasingly difficult emotionally. Why I have needed more support and more reassurance and why I have turned up at MAU twice in one week. As time moves forwards and this baby grows, the reality that we may be lucky enough to bring them home becomes greater. As their kicks, rolls and jabs get stronger, as I have started to see various limbs poke outwards from my protruding belly, I have suddenly become acutely aware that this really is a little person. And it’s a little person that I have allowed myself to get attached to and to admit that I love.
This isn’t easy in pregnancy after loss. I have spent most of the time in a state of detachment, trying not to get too attached or to let my hopes run away with me – after all, there are no guarantees right? Of course, I know that this is futile, and that my hopes were sky high as soon as we even started thinking about having another baby. But there is a part of your mind and soul that tries as best it can to protect you. 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