Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pregnancy After Loss

After I lost Harry, all I could focus on was getting pregnant again to give us all some hope, some focus and the child we so badly wanted as a part of our family.

What I didn't realise, in any way, was the terrible levels of anxiety I would experience.

So in the first trimester, I was paranoid every day that I would wind up with a horrific bleed and that would be the hopes for this baby all over. Then, as I edged towards the 12 week marker and had seen a very strong and active "Little Pip" on the ultrasound, I started to become less worried about miscarrying and more worried about suffering the horrendous "we can't find a heartbeat" and how I would feel if I was to have a stillbirth.

I often wonder how I would cope as a bereaved mother, if I was to have an premature baby. I see these wonderful mothers in the support group at the neonatal unit, who are stronger than strong, watching their tiny fighters, wishing and hoping for the miracle they deserve. After having my waters go preterm with both my pregnancies, I worry about this pregnancy having them go even earlier and so the chances of a prem baby seem higher. After seeing my darling boy three hours after giving birth to him, all wired up and ventilated, and watch him fight for his dear little life, and not make it, I worry constantly how I would feel if something was to go wrong this time round. Last time, I was able to be strong, for Harry, listening and observing. This time, with all those horrendous memories and experiences that followed, I don't think I could cope as well as I did. I am not sure I could keep the positive outlook required of a preemie mummy, as my outlook would be so clouded by Harry's story.

Every one tells me "this time will be different", "you must try to remember this is a new, fresh pregnancy", "the extra care you receive will ensure no mistakes will be made this time".... despite all these things I still think of all the things that could go wrong this time. No one is safe from a nasty infection creeping in, no one is guaranteed the healthy placenta your baby needs, no one can say that their birth will be totally straightforward, no one can be absolutely sure you will go on to have a lovely, happy, healthy baby. So whilst I do agree, that this baby deserves our excitement and fresh "eyes" on the situation, I still feel unsure about the outcome of this pregnancy and how I might cope if things don't work out.

Before I found out I was expecting, I found it really hard to learn of friends and relatives discovering they were pregnant. I have to say, that thankfully I can now be happy for people, and can even now take pleasure in looking at new babies, whereas before the pain in my heart was unbearable. I now feel jealous of those who have straight forward births and pregnancies, and also slightly angry at those who are naive enough to truly believe that these terrible things "won't happen to me". I still don't feel like I would be ready to get close to or hold a newborn though, and that feeling will remain, I am sure, for a very long time.

I think of Harry every single hour of every single day. Sometimes I think of him with a smile, and I can feel his presence with me now and again, and that is comforting. Sometimes, I get angry as I question "why?"... why did this happen to my baby? To my family? I managed to look through his belongings last week. It was as heartbreaking as I knew it would be. I let myself really cry as I held the babygrow I had cuddled him in. I breathed in his scent, and held it out to see just how tiny he was. I looked through his name tags and his christening certificate. And looked at his tiny lock of hair that the nurses cut for us. I am keeping this in the hope that one day they will have the science to bring my Harry back from his DNA. That sounds mental, but I just want him here more than anything and I read a book about this when I was at school. I can but hope....

As those of you who have been pregnant before will know, early pregnancy brings about some very vivid dreams. Some nice, some a bit crazy. I had some disturbing dreams about this baby's birth and how it felt to watch them in the NNU again. Not nice. I wasn't ready for the dreams about Harry. In the past I have dreamt about Harry and about him being on the NNU again and holding him and watching him. But this dream was different. We are currently picking out wording and choosing the material for Harry's gravestone, and this dream was about once it had been erected, and my family and I going to look at the finished article. In my dream, I had allowed everyone else to see it first, and once they had left I took a step closer and this headstone was enormous. His headstone was as big as a double bed headboard. It was black and shiny and very OTT for a baby. I was shocked. Then I saw that the grass around the headboard had been dug up and laid back down like a big duvet of turf, this was confusing. To my absolute horror, in the corner of the grass "duvet", up by the headboard/gravestone, was Harry. Like he was tucked into bed. All I could think was that someone had dug up my son, taken him out of his coffin, touched his body, disturbed his body and he was there for all to see and exposed to the wind and the rain. I was furious. Who had permitted this? Not me..... I said to Harry's Dad "What the hell is going on?!" and he said "it's ok, I'll tuck him in", and off he went to Harry's side and started to tuck the grass in like a blanket around Harry's tiny body. I was stunned and shocked. I told him I couldn't handle this and walked out of the cemetry. I woke up, sweating, scared, sad and quite disturbed. I cou;dn't go back to sleep for hours. I spoke to my counsellor about this dream. She told me that perhaps this was to do with when we were at the funeral parlour with Harry and I had dressed him and wrapped him in his blanket, and laid him in his coffin. In my head, I was "putting him to bed" and that was what I told him I was doing when I did it. I do think about that day quite a lot, especially screwing those gold screws into the lid. It was a terrible day but I knew it was something I just had to do.

Anyway, another issue that has cropped up recently, is William's reaction to this pregnancy. Remember that he is nearly three and I think that pregnancy alone is quite a lot for a three year old to comprehend, but throwing a death into the mix is going to complicate things quite a bit. Recently, William has asked his Harry is going to born at the same time as "Little Pip" and if he will be coming to live with us like the new baby. He has also, conversely, asked if "Little Pip" is going to be an angel like Harry. Very hard to explain. Tonight, he said to me "Mummy I am sad." I said "why are you sad sweetheart?" and he said "I'm sad about Harry" and he gave me a hug. No idea where that came from, but it was reassuring for William to show some emotion about the whole ordeal, rather than being just accepting of it all. It shows me he is starting to grasp the sadness of it all.

Nevertheless, we went to see the midwife today for our 16 week antenatal appointment. We got to hear "Little Pip"'s heartbeat and it was lovely and strong.

So nearly nine months on, my beautiful, sweet little Harry - I hope that you will continue watch over us and your dear brother or sister, and keep us all safe and guide us to happier times. We miss you so much that is painful. I wish, more that anything, that life could have been different and you could be sat here with me now. I hope that the angels are taking really good care of you. We love you more than words can describe - always xxxx

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