One month in!

Today is International Bereaved Mother’s Day, and I’m thinking of my missing children who will never be here to bring me cards and spend the day with me. But I also want to share an update on my newest miracle and how my journey has taken a positive turn despite the grief that will forever be a part of my life.

My darling baby girl Jaya arrived on Thursday April 6th at 9:36am weighing 6 pounds 12 ounces. I delivered her after hours of rigorous labour with pitocin, an epidural, artificial rupturing of the membranes and fentanyl. It was such hard work, but it was amazing. I felt alive.

I couldn’t post anything up until now as these last few weeks were a total blur, and also because I wanted to let my emotions settle. I have felt everything on the spectrum and it felt like a big jumble in my head. But I feel like I can start to string sentences together again so here I am.

Birthing Jaya was a surreal experience. I lifted her onto my chest and the rush of love I felt, and relief, and victory (which is what Jaya means!) was absolutely incredible. I felt like I was lost at sea and having her finally in my arms was like staggering on to a rescue boat. I feel gratitude and safety and I haven’t felt that in such a long time.

Jaya looks remarkably like her brothers; the same furrowed brow, tiny mouth and pointy chin. She has lots of hair like Manav did and long eyelashes like Avi. I see all my children when I look at her. It has been triggering as well though – when she opens one eye only it reminds me of how Manav was born with one eye open. Or when she sleeps with her mouth hanging open…or when her face is scrunched up…it is all Manav. I can’t decide if it’s a comfort or a curse.

My grief has resurfaced in different ways since her arrival too. Holding a fresh newborn minutes after birth took me back to my brief hours that I had Manav in my arms. They smelled the same, they were both warm and soft against my chest. While I have been enjoying baths, feeds and snuggling Jaya to sleep, I have ached inside as I didn’t get to do that with Manav. It hurts so much but I often don’t have the words to even express that pain.

I also feel delirious with joy…Jaya has unlocked a part of my heart that has been sealed for so long; my excitement I had for a sibling for Avi when I was pregnant with Manav never surfaced until now. I can exhale again. There is sunlight again. I can live again…sometimes I feel guilty about it but I try to think of Jaya’s arrival as a gift from Manav.

I am so thankful my pregnancy is over. I’m so glad my birth was not traumatic. My Avinash is so happy he’s a big brother and I feel so relieved and proud to give him a sibling he can keep. I feel a bit unprepared for life with a newborn; I think I was so convinced that this story would end in tragedy that I refused to dream about this being my reality. It is so much more beautiful than even my wildest dreams.

Thank you Jaya, for joining our little family.

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The eve of your arrival 

It’s been a few months since my last post. Too many emotions and life changes to let me slow down enough to put it into words. But tonight, I want to talk to my daughter…

To my little girl,

As I lie here in the hospital at 38 weeks and 1 day, I am reflecting on your life and the impact you’ve had on me. This induction process is long and difficult, and I cannot sleep because I’m too excited to meet you.

The thought of you still seems so surreal to me; I can’t believe you’re inside me and getting ready to come out! For the last few months, I have been on a roller coaster of emotions…from surviving the one year mark of your brother’s passing, to moving houses, ending work and getting through the 32 week mark with you. Despite the fears, stress and anxiety, here you are, kicking inside me and stubbornly refusing to come out. It doesn’t seem real.

There are dozens of people who are anxiously awaiting your arrival into this world. Avi is thrilled he is going to have a sister, your daddy has been busy dreaming about you and I – I have dared to join him in daydreaming that you will one day be safe in our arms. It terrifies me and gives me a thrill all at once; the thought of you is too beautiful and too perfect but yet you continue to grow and thrive…each day I have a little more hope and a little less fear.

Tonight is most likely the last night that we share my body. Tomorrow I feel certain I will get to finally lay my eyes on you and hold you tight as I sob with sweet relief. You have saved me. You have given me hope again that life can be beautiful. You have taught me to look towards my future and to not fear it. I’m so grateful for this gift.

As I sit here in the middle of the night, I realize how far I’ve come since the last time I was in a labour room. I see how much I’ve grown as a mother, and how much doesn’t matter to me anymore. You’ve taught me resilience, strength, patience and innocence. You have no idea what we have gone through. You have no idea what we endured. But you will know joy, security, beauty and love. You will get to be enveloped in all this love we have to give.

So please don’t make us wait too long, ok? Please make your way into this world, into my arms, into my heart. We have so much to look forward to…we have so much to give you.

I love you so much it hurts. 

Mama xoxo

Tomorrow 

It’s here. The eve of the first anniversary that marks when life was good to when life was permanently scarred with my grief for you.

One year ago, Avi was sick and I was distracted and I failed to notice you weren’t moving inside me. My body was sore, I was tired, and I slept a dreamless sleep…my last night of sleep that didn’t include blowing you kisses up in the stars where you now live.

Today, I was distracted with packing and moving boxes to our new home. Avi threw up in the car and is sleeping fitfully again. I’m tired, I’m sore. But I’m haunted with thoughts of you, and how much has happened in this past year.

Manav, you have permanently altered who I am for the rest of my life. Your short life elevated me in ways that words cannot describe. Your death shattered me into countless pieces…but I am slowly rising from the ashes, my son. I am rising despite my broken heart, despite the pain I feel when I only see one of my children at the breakfast table each day. I rise my son, to honour you.

Losing you felt like the biggest betrayal from the universe. It felt intolerable. I felt fear I never knew existed, and a darkness that felt eternal. I was paralyzed, I was suffocating. I felt so robbed. I felt like someone ripped you from my body and stole you away. I felt violated. I felt shame. 

Today, it is different. I’ve watched the days go by on the calendar and knew I would need to face tomorrow eventually. I knew that I would need to think about that darkness and fear and remember every second of those horrid days of discovering your life had ended, to birthing you, to holding you close while I sobbed, to letting you go, to your funeral. I will need to face these memories forever. I cannot escape my worst nightmare.

However, I can breathe a little easier again. I can laugh, I can smile, I have hope again. I can believe that there is goodness in the world. I can appreciate life, and beauty, and love. Losing you has taught me to live differently. I see things in a new perspective – through the eyes of a grieving mother. As your mother, I am forever holding you close to me. When your big brother runs to me and throws his arms around me, my heart misses you. When I hold a young baby in my arms, I remember your peaceful face. When I see nature bloom around me, and see the world grow, I imagine what you would be doing at almost one years old. 

There is no me without you. There is no going back to who I was before you entered my world. You have been my closest confidant as I crawled out of the ashes and fought to regain my strength. Only you saw my struggle, my fears, and my determination to survive. You heard me cry in the middle of the night and you felt my ache when I relived your birth over and over. You are my witness to my rebirth as a loss mom. 

Manav, you have such an important place in our family. As I sit here and dread the dawn of January 20th, I also see how deep of an impact you’ve had on us. You are counted as my child, and your grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and society honour your memory. We miss you. We think of you everyday. As we prepare to move into our new home in just over a week, we have found ways to include you in the fabric of our new reality. We constantly search for ways to incorporate you into our everyday life so that we can remember how much you mean to us.

Baby, thank you for the honour of letting me be your mother. Thank you for giving me the strength and guidance to find a way to carry the burden of grief and the purity of my love for you while continuing to put one foot in front of the other for the sake of Avi and Anuj. Thank you for handpicking a sweet baby girl and sending her to us to help us believe in the universe again. Thank you for always being close to me so I don’t feel any further from you than I have to be.

I will survive the next few days. I will remember you. I will love you harder than ever. Stay close to me, ok? Because the fear of child loss doesn’t ever fully go away…I need you to help me get through the rest of this pregnancy and to the end of my days. Only then will this fear ease – once I can see you and hold you again.


March on!

Life is a whirlwind and I can’t keep up.

I haven’t written for over a month, and I think it is because I wasn’t quite sure what to say…I didn’t have words to string together to tell this story of mine. But I feel like my feet are touching the ground again, so here is an update on where things are at.

We have found a new home. We will be moving in January to a new place so that we are closer to family and community supports, and it will be a fresh space to bring little Rainbow to. The new house has filled me with excitement and a great distraction from my anxiety and stress. Packing and moving feels daunting but much more doable than surviving a long pregnancy after a loss. I feel like anything is better than getting through those months.

Secondly, our little Rainbow is doing well. We found out the sex of the baby (which we have never done with our previous children) and we found out we are expecting a little girl! I am over the moon with gratitude to the universe for such a wonderful blessing. I am still stunned at this news and still feel doubt in my heart until we see another ultrasound confirming this but for now, I am grateful for these two big moments.

Rainbow has had me thinking a lot about Manav…I am thinking about him so much and his role in our family. I feel like he is older in my mind now; he feels like my guardian angel who knows me intimately and who hears my heart’s thoughts. I feel like he is sending us all this joy and love and it is knocking me down. I feel unprepared for these positive feelings; I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited and confident in my life before! It scares me to death though…but I strangely don’t doubt it the way I used to.

I feel like I am evolving…I am shedding my skin and growing into something else that I don’t know what will look like. My mind is processing so much and I am exhausted each day. I feel like whatever it is that I am turning into, it is a good thing.

The new house is very symbolic for me. It is a symbol of rebirth, victory, letting go and the future. It is a symbol of Manav’s love for us – a shelter we desperately need from the grief we have been carrying on our backs. The house represents my hopes and dreams of “growing up” and the permanency of being a homeowner steadies me. I feel ready to lay down roots there and to let the house be the home base for our future life chapters.

I like to imagine my children playing together in the new home, I like to picture Avi doing his homework there, or snuggling up to watch a movie at night. I imagine Christmases, family dinners, regular days, exciting days, dreadful days and all the days we experience in between. When I think of my kids together, Manav is in the picture too, but more about my internal thoughts about him (if that makes sense). Like, when I imagine seeing my son and daughter playing in the backyard, in my imagination, I feel Manav’s spirit on my chest, as though he is a silent child who is forever wrapped against me but quietly watching the world go by and we are both linked and aware of each other. I always feel his energy against my chest like that, where my memorial necklace for him sits. I think of him when I’m angry, or frustrated, and he is my witness to my life without him in it. He sees my struggle, he sees me victorious, he sees me missing him. He knows he is a part of this family and it comforts me so much. I no longer feel the desperation to “include” him anymore; he is always there.

Christmas is coming up and I feel the weight of his absence increasing with each day. I know it will hurt when Avi celebrates opening presents alone, for last year we happily dreamed of two children in 2016. So we have decided that every Christmas we will buy Manav a present and will donate it to a child his age in the community. It gives us peace and it spreads love.

I finish work on January 6th and I cannot wait. My heart is not at work anymore…I don’t care anymore. I just want to be home with my thoughts and nest in my new home. I want to leave the house that I lost my baby in. I want to leave it all there because it just reminds me of the experience and not of Manav himself. Those memories of him are internal and I have them anywhere. But when I see his half-painted bedroom, or I open the closet and I see his clothes, diapers and supplies that I was on the verge of setting up just days before we lost him – it crushes me. It is a bitter, painful stab in the heart and I don’t need that. I don’t like remembering that jolt of the brakes in my life. I rather remember the kicks from him, or the sweet smell of his skin, his tiny fingers and serious pout. I like to remember his soft hair, or the way he bounced around in me when I ate ice cream. I miss him.

No matter what happens in the day, no matter how good or how bad, the sun sets and rises right on time and there is nothing we can do to stop it. So I rather march on holding my angel against my heart, my toddler by my side, and my rainbow in my womb. Nobody will stop this mother from surviving for her kids.

Surviving the mess

I can feel the slide into chaos in my world. It is like reaching the crest of a roller coaster and realizing the weight is shifting and you’re about to race to the bottom without control. I feel like I’m being pushed off a diving board without feeling ready, but desperately needing to not be on the diving board either. I can’t win!

Since my ultrasound, so much has changed. I failed my gestational diabetes test, which means that I am officially high risk and will be going on insulin. I will be only seeing my doctor from now on and not my midwife, which is disappointing but understandable. I am also now facing similar challenges that I had with Manav’s pregnancy; drastically changing and monitoring my diet whilst also having a full-time job and a young child at home. This is the chaos part!

I’ve been feeling anxious and stressed with all of these competing problems vying for my undivided attention. My job is incredibly busy and with big projects landing on my plate every few days, I am losing the battle against my to-do list. At home, my lovely vegetable garden from summer is sadly neglected as I haven’t had the strength to battle the vines and leaves and rescue my last few veggies for my harvest. Each day gets colder and shorter and it is one less day to achieve anything.

I feel so isolated. It isn’t that I don’t have support around me, but my stress isolates me from others…they don’t have to feel what I feel. They don’t realize that while my job and home are busy places, my body is also a busy place too. My pelvis aches, my ankles are puffy and I can’t get comfortable to sleep at night. My baby is growing and my wardrobe options are shrinking. My brain is constantly buzzing with questions and problems that I can’t fix. It would take me hours to fully disclose this to my loved ones…there’s just too much.

I go in to the hospital on November 3rd for a full morning education session with the diabetes clinic and they will teach me how to administer insulin and what the game plan is. I also see my doctor at some point there too. I have to make the appointments work with my job (which they don’t!) but thankfully I have the most flexible and understanding employer who lets me juggle things around to make it fit. The consequence of this is that my work routine is all over the place; meetings need to be rescheduled, my administrative catch up time is getting eaten up by doctor’s appointments and leaving my desk covered in unfinished tasks.

Life is messy right now. It is a blur of details and dates and one day is bleeding into the next. I’m trying not to back away from it all but damn, this is so hard. This load is so heavy to carry. There is no end in sight yet.

 

Sweet relief

Dare I say it?

We saw our sweet little miracle baby at our ultrasound today. It was amazing! This baby was moving and kicking and I just stared in disbelief that this little life was really inside of me. My womb has been a graveyard for Manav, but now, I got to see that there is new life emerging in that very place – it was so bittersweet. It made me miss Manav so much, but it really hammered in the truth that with grief there is also hope now. Undeniable hope.

Seeing baby didn’t make me cry…I didn’t feel emotions well up in me the way I thought I would. Instead, I felt stunned. I still do. It is as if I have forgotten how to believe in life. I understand it on an intellectual level, but not an emotional one yet. Emotionally, I still feel frozen.

I am slowly letting my mind grasp this idea that I will need to come to terms with this child impacting my life in one way or another. This baby is undeniably real to me now. I can’t keep shutting down like this. I need to figure out how to love this baby the way I did my other ones and let myself have permission to feel joy again. It just feels so foreign to me.

I hope to feel the warm rush of maternal love flood my soul very soon. I live for my children and I would die for them. This one needs to know that too. I just need to accept that I am a mother of six now!

Heart stopping fear

The fear is so real now. The intensity makes me feel so vulnerable, and no matter how hard I try to comfort myself with statistics, or logic, or chocolate…it continues to haunt me wherever I go.

Ultrasound is a week away…next Thursday morning I find out if this baby survived this crazy trimester with me or not. It will be a yes or a no. Simple. It will confirm if I will be okay or not. Yes or no. I have faced the 12 week mark many times, and 50% of the time I either lost the baby before I even got to this point, or I went for the ultrasound and saw that baby had died but my body hadn’t realized it…this is my ultimate fear.

This missed miscarriage I refer to happened in the early months of 2010. I had already lost one baby, and we were lucky enough to conceive right away the following months (this was long before our fertility problems). That trimester I was extremely excited!!! I had a lot of nausea and vomiting, no bleeding, no cramping, lots of cravings – this was it! I remember the night before feeling too excited to sleep. I wanted to have a baby so badly. I really thought that I was 100% definitely pregnant and that this baby would arrive on October 2oth 2010.

At the ultrasound, we instantly knew something was wrong, as the baby looked too small for a 12 week fetus. It turns out, our baby had died at 8 weeks, but my placenta continued to produce hormones so I still had pregnancy symptoms. I was tricked by my own body to think I was healthy and pregnant and the baby was fine. I remember the betrayal I felt, the embarrassment, the shame. I felt the sadness, the anger, the vulnerability. Anuj and I went to our car and just cried together for so long. Our life changed that day.

I know too much, I’ve seen too much. I cannot naively tell myself that because I’m vomiting and I’m not bleeding that the baby is okay. I know that babies can have defects. I know that my body has failed 4 of my children to make it into the world. I don’t have any trust left. I have no armour against the pain and loss I might feel next Thursday.

Up until this point, I have barely thought about Rainbow. I joke about it; I say things like “if Rainbow is there” or “if Rainbow stays” but that’s as far as my connection goes. I don’t picture a little fetus inside me. I don’t let myself talk to the baby, or have expectations that it will actually survive pregnancy. That’s stupid. I’ve done this a hundred times before, why should I believe now??

But the thing is, if I go to the ultrasound and it shows baby is totally fine and healthy – I have no idea what to do with that information. I don’t know how to process that. I’m not even going to bother worrying about that yet. If baby is fine, then I will figure it out after the scan. But right now, I’m pretty convinced something will be wrong.

All my care providers keep urging me to be positive…they say to have hope and to have faith. They say I’m too stressed. They say that I won’t have another loss. Random well-meaning relatives tell me that this baby will be fine because it is Manav returning to me…they say that God is good and will give me another child. I try to speak out and say no, Manav will never be here. I try to honour my feelings and say no, I don’t feel positive. I feel scared. I feel terrified and alone. I feel so intensely stressed. I feel like I am carrying my family on my back (or rather, my uterus). I am the key to everyone’s happiness. If I can bring this baby into the world safely, Avi gets his happy mother back – free of the vomiting and exhaustion and the tears. If this baby makes it, Anuj and I will find joy again. Our friends and family will breathe again. I can return to work and give it 100% again. I can smile again. I can close up the baby making business and never have to go through pregnancy again. I will win.

If the baby doesn’t survive…my family and friends will be pulled into a hurricane of grief again. I will fall apart again. I will break inside all over again. Avi will watch me unravel and I will need to find even more strength to crawl back to him. Deep down, my worst fear is that I will refuse to try again. I will refuse to hope again for another child. Despite the 6 healthy embryos waiting for me at the clinic, I don’t know if I can do it again. I don’t know if I can face the pain again.

I’m scared. Please universe, I need next Thursday to be a good day for us. Please.