Ten days to go

I haven’t been posting a lot lately…my mind falls silent when I try to think about how I feel. I can’t seem to find the words to contextualize my emotions. But I know I need to write so here we go.

I’m 11 weeks pregnant (I hope) and as far as I know, Rainbow should still be growing away in me. I’m getting bigger, I still have lots of symptoms and luckily have had no cramping or bleeding. So yay for that! My feelings of being overwhelmed are still there and as more and more details get piled onto me about my various responsibilities and appointments and tests etc. I find myself still burying my head in the sand and pretending it is not happening.

My ultrasound is coming up on October 13th and I am getting nervous about it. I am worrying that we will have had a miscarriage and that it will crush us. But, if the scan shows a happy and healthy baby in me, then I wonder if I will be able to believe that things will be okay.

The thing is, I so badly want to feel excited. I want to feel hopeful and excited and to dream about having this baby in my arms in April. I want to rub my belly and have confidence that my child will make it. I would love to have happy thoughts consume my brain, instead of these dark shadows of fear and doubt. I just can’t seem to cross that threshold…and I think the ultrasound is holding me back. But what will happen after the scan?

I am feeling my anxiety bubbling under the surface all the time…I am missing things at work and I feel a stab of guilt with each mistake I make. I worry when I miss a phone call and I don’t know if it was something important. I can’t keep up with Avi too much as he wants to run and wrestle and talk. My amazing husband Anuj is carrying our family through the days by arranging meals, doing dishes, tackling the laundry and caring for Avi. He is giving 100% and I feel like I’m giving 15%. I feel like a crappy person in all areas, and because I don’t know that the baby is okay, I feel like I can’t reassure myself that it is all worth it.

Soon, I will need to announce my pregnancy at work as I am showing big time. I will need to face my clients, and my colleagues, and ignore their frightened faces as they realize the magnitude of this huge step. I will have to answer questions and have annoying conversations. I will need to put on a brave face, but I’m not sure if I have one.

I have ten more days to get through before the ultrasound happens. Just ten days. I can do this. After that, if it is bad news, I hope I can survive another loss. If it is good news, I hope I can survive another two trimesters.

Either way, I’ll see you in ten days little Rainbow of mine. Mama loves you.

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Crumbling

The complexities of this pregnancy continue to astound me.

I’m grappling with things that my brain just can’t keep up with…decisions I need to make, conversations about painful things, advocating for myself while also desperately wanting someone to take care of me so I don’t have to. My emotions are heightened so much and I just don’t feel like me.

I’m just over 9 weeks along and I have no idea how the baby is. I have to wait another 3 weeks to get an ultrasound but I haven’t had the energy to even schedule it yet. I have blood requisitions, iron deficiencies, I need to make a decision about whether staying on my antidepressant is a good thing or a bad thing…I need to work, I need to sleep, and I need to keep my bloody breakfast down (haven’t been too successful with that one). I’m a mess.

I feel myself withdrawing from the usual busyness of day to day life; I don’t want to actively think about this baby (too much) and I hate that I am the person who has to make medical decisions about how this pregnancy will go. Even little things, like taking my pills – I can’t remember which ones to take at which time of day and how to always have them on me when I need them. I feel my brain just silently slipping away from the world.

I’m struggling to get work done. I’m struggling to complete chores, to complete tasks at work, and to pay off our bills and do the groceries. Anuj is left to figure it all out and he is overwhelmed. We are just a big mess.

I don’t know how to get through this tough time. I don’t know how to comfort myself, or feel positive, or get my fire back to stay on top of these critical details and manage my health. I just end up going to sleep so my brain can escape the reality of my world. It is too hard some times, to be exposed to this chaos.

A big gaping hole 

Oh Manav your absence is killing me. It hurts so much my son, it hurts so very much…

Tomorrow is our Avinash’s third birthday. I had this gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach all day and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I had a busy day at work and I was also making a shopping list of everything I needed to buy for Avi’s special day.

I paused.

What is it that I’m forgetting? In my head, I’m picturing Avi with presents and cake, and decorations all around him. But it didn’t feel right. It didn’t satisfy me enough…something is missing.

Then a horrible, sinking grief settles over me, and I realize I can’t buy that missing piece. My Manav isn’t there with us…we are missing our sweet angel. It won’t matter if I throw the biggest party or play the music super loud…in our hearts there is an ugly, gaping hole and the silence in that hole is deafening.

I went to the store and quickly started filling my cart with anything I saw that would make Avi happy. My phone rang, and it was Anuj, who was in tears. “Manav isn’t here for Avi’s birthday,” he cried. “How do we celebrate this milestone with Avi when Manav will never have a birthday?” I stood there, surrounded by decorations and cards, and silently cried with him. I had no words. How do we face the day tomorrow? How do we laugh and sing and celebrate life when parts of our family aren’t there? Manav is still invisible to Avi; he doesn’t yet know that he has a little brother in heaven. How do we honour our baby’s absence as we celebrate our big boy’s life?

After I hung up with Anuj, I noticed the song playing in the store. It was Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” with John Legend. This song is my ultimate trigger for Manav’s loss. It was a top hit in January 2016 and was annoyingly stuck in my head the day I found out Manav died. My first night in the hospital, while the world slept, I realized the lyrics to the song actually were a total reflection of my feelings for Manav (lyrics can be found here at http://www.metrolyrics.com/like-im-gonna-lose-you-lyrics-meghan-trainor.html). This song blared in my head through labour and birth, through the funeral and for days after too. It haunts me. 

The song rarely comes on now, I never hear it…and yet here it is, playing as I cry for my little boy in the middle of an ordinary store on an ordinary day. I pay for my purchases, get in my car and immediately, the next song is “No Pressure” by Classified (a peppy hip hop song!) and it is also a Manav song – it is the song he ALWAYS kicked super hard to whenever it came on! I just fell apart crying with so much love, so much pain and so much gratitude…it felt like Manav intentionally made me hear that song to tell me he is happy and with me. As much as that song makes me miss him, it also cheers me up; I know that Manav loved the song so it comforts me.

So here I am, sitting quietly and reflecting on how I will face the day tomorrow. Our family photo will forever be incomplete. He will never get to enjoy birthday cake, he will never help his brother open gifts or sing happy birthday. Manav will be missing at our first family event…and it destroys me. But, one thing Anuj and I did is buy a gift for Avi from Manav; it helps us feel like we are including him in our celebration. Avi won’t know it is from his brother, but down the road I’d like to make this a tradition. 

Goodnight my little angel…come play with us tomorrow and comfort our broken hearts…

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.

Triggers all around

It still feels so surreal.

I am stumbling through my days, and trying to believe in this pregnancy. I’m surprisingly not terrified as much as I thought I would be…mostly because the chances are high for a miscarriage right now. I have never naturally conceived a baby and it not miscarry. So instead, I am just dazed and trying to figure out how I feel about embarking on this journey again.

I feel a lot of deja vu with this pregnancy so far. Manav was conceived last year at the end of June, and this year baby Rainbow was conceived at the end of July…4 weeks apart. Remembering the nausea, the exhaustion and the heat from last year makes it hard for me to cope this year. I know too much. I am imagining the same things as I did last year. I will look similar to people around the same time of year as 2015. It is hard to remember that this is a separate pregnancy and that the outcome does not have to be the same.

I feel uneasy telling my family too; I’ve shared our happy news with our siblings but I cringe inside because I fear that the dream will not come true and I will drag my loved ones down another path of grief. But if I don’t tell them, how will I cope? How do I make it through 9 long months that are so painfully similar to my pregnancy last year?

I am starting to feel the fatigue hit me and the nausea is creeping up too. I almost feel angry with the symptoms; like they are taunting me and teasing me. I am upset that pregnancy is not a private affair; the whole world will see my body change, watch me throw up or avoid certain foods, and they will judge my actions or inactions. The world will feel it has the right to ask me difficult questions and highlight the intensity of this journey. It is so unfair. It is so scary.

Right now, I like being able to keep this a secret. I like pretending it isn’t happening and feeling unattached to the baby because I am so convinced I can’t keep it. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

I need time to fly.