This has been a mixed week. Mostly, Sprocket has been active enough to keep me reassured but his quiet spells are usually heart-in-mouth occasions. I’ve resisted the urge to get out my old doppler thus far. Most midwives are against them and I am now terrified by the prospect of not being able to locate his heartbeat.
This week I’ve twice been on the verge of going into the maternity ward with reduced movements. It’s so difficult not to let myself get in a panic about it. The morbid truth is that when I don’t feel him for a while I often jump from worry, to panic, to envisaging another loss and another baby’s funeral. And in those moments I live through it all again. I imagine being told their is no heartbeat, I imagine the birth, the funeral, the bleak sadness. I not only think it but I feel it and it’s so powerful because it’s rooted in experience. It’s overwhelming.
Sprocket is generally a very active baby and I’m so thankful for that. I find it surprising how much he actually does move. I know all babies are different but it makes me feel incredibly sad and guilty to think that Nieve never moved as much. Maybe this was a sign that all was not well in my last pregnancy and I’m overwhelmed by the guilt that maybe I could’ve realised that something wasn’t right and saved her. Those thoughts eat me up sometimes and it’s a heartbreak I return to again and again.
One of my colleagues nipped back into work today from her maternity leave. She and I had enjoyed the pregnancy journey together last time and spent hours discussing pregnancy and newborns. We’d shared a few brief messages after Nieve died but I couldn’t bring myself to contact her once her own baby was born, even though I felt very terribly guilty about it.
I haven’t seen her son’s picture and I’m not even sure what she named him. I couldn’t bear to see the continuation of a life that my baby had missed out on, especially as the two should’ve been born around the same time. Her baby represented all that I had lost and it was too much to endure.
She didn’t bring baby with her yesterday but I know that seeing him is an important milestone in my own healing. Somehow I’m able to seperate babies I see in the street from Nieve. I don’t look at them and think of her; imagining the age she should be now, imagining what she would be like, what we should be doing. I don’t let my mind stray that way, but with this colleague’s baby I can’t escape it.
It was strange seeing her. It struck me that it must looked like time had stood still for me; I was seven months pregnant when I saw her last and I’m five months pregnant now and probably a similar size.
“Congratulations,” she said to me as we hugged hello. It’s a response I’m used to from those who haven’t seen me since we lost Nieve. It focuses on the positive in my life but it ignores what I lost. I can’t help but resent it a little especially since it feels laiden with the idea that the new pregnancy removes any anguish I feel about the last one.
Today one of the cleaners at work stopped me to tell me about her eight month old grandson and how adorable he was. Nieve would be eight months too and I couldn’t help but feel annoyed at her lack of empathy for my circumstances of which she was aware. I wondered if she saw my new pregnancy as a sign that I was ‘over’ what had happened. I suspect it was just an innocent and thoughtless comment and I just nodded and smiled at her politely though I had no intension of continuing the conversation.
This weekend I decided to sort through all of Nieve’s belongings in order to figure out what we needed to buy for Sprocket. When Nieve died my good friends bagged up all of her stuff and took it to their house for me. I couldn’t bear to look at it all; the tiny bootees that she’d never wear, the swing she’d never get to sit in, the sling that we would’ve carried her in. There was so much of it. I’d spent to much time preparing for Nieve. I often say that I was prepared for everything, apart from losing her.
It took hours to sort through it all, judging which items would be suitable for a boy. In the end I was left with a huge box of girl things which I just can’t bring myself to let go of. I’ll keep them for now and maybe one day Nieve may even have a baby sister who can wear them. I was braced for the experience to be an emotional one but even though it was difficult I felt that the time was right; I had a strength that I didn’t have just months ago.
I decided to go shopping to purchase some new clothes for Sprocket. The shopping trip was a strange experience. Pink was replaced by blue and dresses were replaced with dungarees. “So it’s a girl then?!” One cashier joked with me as I handed over a bundle of baby boy clothes. I smiled politely but felt strange about it all. I’d stood in this very shop just a year ago with a bundle of pink and pastel coloured clothes, when I was having a girl.
I still sometimes catch myself referring to this baby as Shrimpy (our nickname for Nieve) or saying ‘her’ or ‘she’. I wonder how much of it is habit and how much is linked to aspects I haven’t processed yet.
Carrying a boy does help me to seperate these two pregnancies but it does sometimes feel like one long pregnancy. As my bump gets bigger and the nights get lighter it sometimes feels like I’ve gone back in time and am picking up where I left off in my last pregnancy. There’s no escaping the fact that the two pregnancies are so intricately interwoven but I also recognise the importance of seperating the two.
This week I was heartbroken to learn that two loss mums that I know had had miscarriages. It seems so unfair that life doesn’t dish out guaranteed happy endings for those who have already endured so much. But those who have experienced pain and suffering aren’t spared from future tragedy and even though I know this is true, I still feel really angry about it.
There is a part of me that believes that I am owed my happy ending this time but when things like this happen it reminds me once again that nobody is invincible, and that nobody is protected, and that is a very sobering thought. It rocks the little amount of faith that I cling onto. It makes me feel that I am walking on a knife edge, living under the shadow of the constant threat of losing this baby.
All I can do is to keep walking, keep hoping.