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

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.

 

Dare to daydream with me

This last two weeks have been a blur. Life is moving so fast and I have no energy left at the end of the day to ponder how I feel…I just fall asleep being grateful it is one day closer to meeting our Rainbow.

I’m so grateful that my world isn’t solely full of paralyzing fear anymore. I do feel moments where I’m sure I have lost this dear baby, or that the second I relax something awful will happen, but…I also have moments where I let my heart indulge in a daydream of what it will be like to hold this baby in my arms and never have to let go. Anuj and I nervously try to plan our future, and try to assume ¬†– when we can – that this baby will be there in that future.

We dare to talk about Rainbow. We make jokes about how this baby likes crazy foods, and is so dramatic with the mood swings! We don’t say it aloud, but we made the exact same comments about Manav one year ago as well. I feel a pang in my heart when I recall our early days with him; we had no idea how much pain we would endure when we’d lose him. I don’t know if that tells me I should caution myself, or feel every second of this pregnancy in case it ends prematurely. How does any parent decide that?

The truth is, we can. We had a wonderful talk late one night as we drove home from a dinner party and we whispered to each other how we feel, so that Avi doesn’t notice as he fell asleep in the backseat. Anuj and I cried, we held hands and we shared our darkest fears. We asked the difficult questions. How are we going to get through this? How do we not go crazy? We are admitting that it will never be without fears; but we committed to believing in our child as well. As much as we fear our baby dying, we love our baby more. My love for this baby has to weigh more than my fear for this baby, right? So let’s take a risk and put our bets on this miracle baby surviving. I know I’d want my mother to do the same for me.

So we move forward. We grit our teeth, we wipe our tears, we hold on to each other for the most terrifying 9 months ever. We direct our energy to this baby and silently celebrate every sign that I am still pregnant (yup, even through the vomiting).

I can’t say I am confident, or that I am relaxed. I can’t say that I don’t think of Manav every single day and blow kisses to him when I wake up and see his photo by my bed. I can’t say that I don’t imagine what will happen if we lose this baby too…but I know that I somehow managed to survive the death of my child – and that is 100% thanks to Avinash. He is my ultimate motivator and I can do anything for him without hesitation. I know that I have a responsibility to Avinash as well, to show him how to be resilient and to fight for all the good in the world. In my dark hours, I cling to my gorgeous symbol of hope and light and let his laughter permeate my soul.

Flutters

I feel like I’m reliving my pregnancy with Manav all over again. It is haunting me.

There’s only 4 weeks difference in the pregnancy cycle between his and this current one. So there are so many triggers that I can’t seem to avoid. I can’t escape this.

I feel like my soul is paralyzed. I don’t have an opinion on this baby, or the outcome. I don’t dream about the future. I don’t comfort myself because I truly cannot; there is nothing I or anyone else can say that will ease my fears or my trauma. I don’t feel my passion, my resolve, my strength or my determination. I can’t access my inner self. I can’t access anything. Even the fear doesn’t feel like fear…I’m just…numb.

I feel like I am pregnant with Manav again. It is the same time of year, same struggles, same weather, same everything. I even had the same sonographer for the ultrasound today at the same clinic. I feel like this baby will never live and so I avoid believing I saw its little heart fluttering away at the ultrasound today. I dread getting to January 22nd where I will relive his birth and our loss while being 28 weeks pregnant. I will look around the same, I will be wearing my old maternity clothes, I will be at the same job. How do I separate these experiences?

The nausea wells up in me when I think about how this pregnancy will be. People will notice my belly. I will need to tell my boss, and make plans. How do you make plans when your heart is broken and it won’t mend itself? How do I assume a good future when I have been here before and had my world blasted apart?

I’m hurting. I feel a bubbling guilt for these feelings because this baby is there, and is alive and I can’t connect to that. But I am trying, little baby, I am trying so hard to figure this out so we can be on the same page.

This body of mine

OK so I’m struggling.

I’m experiencing “normal” pregnancy stuff – nausea, exhaustion, food aversions and cravings. Although it is pretty much like my previous pregnancies, it is also completely different. It is hauntingly similarly different…if that makes any sense.

Last year, I was pregnant with Manav at the same time of year, and I suffered through these classic symptoms of pregnancy and it was fucking hard. Caring for a toddler and puking and bitching and puking some more – way too hard. But, I comforted myself with thoughts like “you’ll never have to do this again” or “it is worth it because you’ll have your baby with you this time next year”. I said those very words to myself and I gritted my teeth and got through the brutal first trimester. This time around I’m finding it super hard to convince myself that I’m a rockstar and that I can do it. I don’t feel excited. I don’t feel hopeful. I don’t imagine cuddling a squishy newborn or even feeling kicks one day. Sometimes, I don’t feel any kind of emotion.

At first, I thought I was angry at this little baby inside me. How dare you just show up before I was mentally prepared and make me suffer through completely normal pregnancy symptoms during the one week I have off this summer to spend time with Avi? How dare you rob Avi of his mother’s attention, energy and motivation? Avi already had a crappy week off with me last August when I was expecting Manav; this summer was supposed to be so different. How dare this new baby ruin my plans! I’m so pathetic.

Today I am realizing I’m not really angry at this baby (I’m not totally in love or anything yet either) but I do know that I’m not blaming the baby. I think I’m finally facing my anger at my body. I’m angry at my uterus, and my placenta. I’m angry at my shitty pancreas that let me down last time and made me get gestational diabetes. I’m pissed that my damn body can’t retain iron and that maybe it was partly to blame for Manav not surviving. I’m angry that I am not a glowy, happy pregnant girl who doesn’t feel completely exhausted all.the.time. I’m so mad. I feel so betrayed by this body that took me forever to finally love. I no longer celebrate the little changes I notice as my pregnancy moves forward. Instead, I am irritated by it, I’m offended by it, and resist them with a fiery passion.

Maybe it is because I never really got really fucking angry when Manav died. I mean, I got angry at things…but I didn’t really feel angry the way I thought I would after holding his lifeless body against my cheek, letting him drown in my tears of grief. I silently avoided thinking about who I could blame for this death. I remained neutral when my period returned, but deep down I felt annoyance that my body was like “hey look at me! I’m ready for another pregnancy since it has been only 6 weeks since we lost the last kid! I’m awesome!”. I tried to celebrate the signs that I can move forward to bring another child into my life. I was happy that my fertility tests were all good and that there were no issues. But looking back, I realize now that I had no internal dialogue during those blood tests and ultrasounds. I wasn’t cheering myself on, or encouraging positive thoughts. I was like, whatever man, let’s just get this done. I guess I naively thought I could just not talk about it.

But it’s there. I’m pissed. I’m hurt. More than anything, I’m scared to trust my body. I can no longer feel comforted by “normal” symptoms. Nothing comforts me now. I am frozen for 34 more weeks (hopefully) before I can trust this body again. It is like your best friend cheating on your spouse; it is unforgivable and yet you love them both so much. It is a bloody mess.

This body gave me my Avinash – I am so grateful for that. I was frustrated that he didn’t have the space he needed to be head down though. I’m frustrated that despite all of my running around and intense advocacy to get clearance for a vaginal breech birth, my body failed to go into labour, resulting in an unavoidable cesarean section. I’m frustrated that after that surgery, my milk took its sweet time to come in, and I lost all my confidence as a mother because my newborn would wail every time I tried to get him to latch, which made me feel like a huge failure.

I’m angry that I was so naive to believe it would be so easy the second time around. I got pregnant on my first frozen embryo transfer and had no bleeding, no drama. I was sick, I was tired, but I was pregnant for what I thought would be the last time. But then I was covered in uncontrollable itching that made me scar my body with scratches in the night and had to use all sorts of products to soothe my raw skin. My feet widened so much I had to buy new boots to get through the winter months. I got diabetes because my sugar levels were 0.3 over the limit. I had lots of movement from Manav, I felt that he was safe inside me. I would whisper to him as I hustled from work to daycare, to home to appointments, in between cooking dinner and blood tests, and tossing and turning in the middle of the night. I would tell him that I was sorry for not having time to read to him, or rub my belly the way I did with Avi. I told him that he’s safe inside me and that once he’s born, I will really relish those newborn days that I was too fucked up to enjoy with Avi when he was born. I gritted my teeth and got through the diabetes. I never missed an appointment, I packed 10 snacks a day for work, and tested my blood constantly. I went to the chiropractor to address the threat of a breech position and listened to my hypnobaby CD in the car on my way to work. I did my part. I let my body take care of Manav while I worked miracles to get things done in time for his arrival. But then he stopped moving. He stopped living. He left me without warning, without reason, without a goodbye.

I am forced to work with my worst enemy now to bring forth another child – dead or alive. I need to take the damn vitamins and eat healthy so my body has no excuse to fail at its ultimate responsibility as a woman – to bring my baby into this world alive and healthy.

There are no positive thoughts. There is no safe point. I am treading a dangerous path with a murderer handcuffed to me with my child’s life on the line. There is no comfort in that.