October 15: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

When I was pregnant with Posy, I began writing a small series of letters.
‘Letters to the Mum who…’ and it was all letters to mothers who were going through different aspects of motherhood, from conception all the way through to pregnancy and motherhood. I don’t know what will happen with this series of letters, my dream of turning them into a book is far-fetched and the chances of them forever being stored on my computer, I know, is much more realistic.
But today, there is one letter that I wanted to share with you all.

It is the one letter in the series that I did not write because I am lucky enough to have no experience on the topic.
That topic is Pregnancy Loss.
Today, October 15th is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so I have asked my beautiful friend Tanya if I could share the letter she so kindly wrote for my series.
In the time that I have known Tanya I have been lucky enough to have two babies while she has lost more than one. I am amazed by Tanya and her strength, my heart has broken for her on more than one occasion and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to have gone through the heart ache and break that she has been through over the past few years.

I asked Tanya if she would write a letter to the Mum who has lost a baby from the perspective of a Mum who has. I wanted to share this today in memory of all the lost angels, know that they aren’t forgotten and maybe, just maybe, it will help someone who is tragically going through the heartache of pregnancy loss.

Thank you to Tanya for letting me share, you are an amazing Mum and wonderful friend xx

To the Mum who has lost a baby from a Mum who has,

I’m so sorry for your loss.

I’ve been where you are now, and I can tell you that, like all pain in life, it eases with time.

Everyone deals with grief in different ways, so there’s no certain way you should feel right now. You may cry, you may cry a lot. You might feel angry or even cheated. You could just feel numb. You may feel that you want to try again right away, or you may be too scared to try again for some time. Either way is okay.

You might have excitedly told the world about your pregnancy and now have to either explain that it didn’t work out, or hide away and hope people forgot you were pregnant in the first place.

Maybe you haven’t shared your news with anyone but your partner yet, and now you feel as though you have to suffer in silence, alone in your thoughts, having to put on a brave face and pretend you’re okay.

You may want to talk about it. It’s okay if you do, you might find it healing. Maybe you want people to know that although you hadn’t known your baby for long, you were already ridiculously attached to them. You’ve probably already spoken to your baby as you gently rubbed your tummy. You’ve probably already thought about names and wondered what they might look like. You may have even purchased its first outfit and gushed over how tiny it was. Maybe you’ve given your baby a nickname and have been lovingly referring to it every day since you discovered you were pregnant. You’ve most likely had long chats with your partner about this baby’s future, how they’ll fit into your family and practical things like what you might need to buy.

Maybe you won’t want to talk about your loss. That’s okay too. Maybe it hurts too much to think about and you wish you could just forget that it ever happened. Referring to your baby by name just makes it feel all too real and painful. Maybe you didn’t let yourself get too attached in the first place as you were scared that this might happen. Maybe it’s happened before, so you think you should be accustomed to the pain. On the outside, you want to move on, but on the inside your heart is aching.

It’s possible that you still look and feel pregnant and you wish so badly that the symptoms would go away. Sometimes it takes longer for the body to realise what the heart and mind already knows.

Whether you discovered your miscarriage through a regular ultrasound and heard those dreaded words “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat” before having to go through surgery, or you suffered through a ‘natural’ miscarriage and experienced more pain and bleeding than you ever thought possible, there’s no easy way to lose something that you already loved so much.

At some stage, you’re probably going to have someone categorise your loss as though it shouldn’t hurt as much if you weren’t far into the pregnancy, saying things like ‘at least you weren’t far along’ or ‘it was only an early loss’ like your level of grief should be less. But regardless of the gestation, you’re not just losing a baby, you’ve also lost all the hopes and dreams you had for that baby’s future. Don’t let these comments control your feelings, grieve as much as you need to.

It’s such a personal experience, I can’t tell you how to feel, but make sure you look after yourself and do what you need to do to get through this. Take time off if you need, put your feet up and read a trashy mag or binge on Netflix and chocolate. Talk if you want to talk and cry if you want to cry. The pain will ease eventually, but you’ll never forget what you lost.

Personally, I like to talk about my lost angels. They each have names and my partner and I refer to them regularly and quietly remember their birthdays. Each of them has their own special keepsake to remind me of them. Sometimes thinking about them makes me feel sad, but I also like to think of them as my guardian angels, guiding me through life and watching over those that I love.

From one grieving Mumma to another, I pray that you’re blessed with your rainbow baby soon.

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Going from 2 to 3

We have survived as a party of five for a total of seven weeks now, and I thought I would share some things that these seven weeks have taught me. How does life change when you go from four to five? Is it even really that different or is it just that now I am being forced to sit down when I feed the baby that I am seeing just how crazy this little house of ours really is.

So where do I begin? What do I need to prepare you for if you are thinking of going from four to five?
For us, I feel like there are so many little things that have changed, but at the same time, life with the two kids was pretty hectic, so maybe, like I say, it’s just that when I stop to feed the baby I see the crazy. Either way, I stopped and thought about it for long enough to write it down, and here it is, a tiny taster into how your household ups the ante when you go from two kids to three;

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  1. At any point in time one or more people are usually screaming, yelling or crying. It is always loud, most of the noise is good, happy noise and sometimes it is just noise for the sake of noise, it is loud. Don’t worry, you get quiet when sleep starts.
  2. Sleep is sacred and coffee is liquid gold.
  3. If the children are awake it is messy. Almost instantaneously. There are toys and clothes everywhere, the term ‘organized chaos’ comes to mind, although I can’t help but think it is more chaos than it is organized.
  4. The washing never ends. Even if a load of washing looks small, baby’s clothes are also small so there will be 10,000 items hiding in there all folded up ready to surprise you.
  5. If you ever go somewhere with all three of them, people will comment, get ready for at least four people to tell you how busy you are, like you don’t already know.
  6. On the topic of leaving the house, when you do decide to go somewhere with all of them, getting all three of them into the car takes longer than most of the errands that you need to do, so be prepared for that.
  7. You are severely outnumbered. Some days you will really feel it, some days you won’t. No matter how hard you try you can’t be three places at once and it is hard, and it will at times exhaust you.
  8. Someone is always touching you.
  9. Someone is always following you.
  10. Privacy is long gone and you will get to the point where going to the toilet with the door closed with no little person coming to talk to you half way through is actually a weird thing.
  11. Feeding the baby is the perfect time for the older children to decide they are hungry, need a drink, do a poo, climb on the bench and get the permanent textas/scissors/knives/loaf of bread, pretty much anything that you don’t want them to do, when you are feeding that is the time for them to do it.
  12. Apparently a new baby is also the perfect time for the two-year old to decide they don’t want to wear a nappy anymore, like you don’t have enough to do you can add cleaning random puddles up to the list.
  13. On the nappy thing, there are so many of them and you are constantly running out of them, you think maybe it’s a good thing the middle child doesn’t want to wear them anymore, then you remember the hell that is toilet training and scrap that idea.
  14. Any rustling of any wrappers that come from the vicinity kitchen prompts the onslaught of little scavengers, like seagulls to a hot chip, they swarm. So practice your stealth opening of chocolate bars while you are pregnant and they are sleeping, unless of course, you want to share.
  15. Prepping dinner while at least one of them is sleeping is annoying but necessary. Although my kids did both tell me it was their ‘best dinner ever’ when I gave them baked beans on toast the other day so maybe just have a few cans of baked beans in the cupboard for those can’t be stuffed nights.
  16. Witching hour is contagious, it never just lasts an hour and it will always happen when you least need it to (generally dinner/bath/bedtime).
  17. Tired is your new normal, you look tired, you know you look tired, but you’re offended if anyone tells you you look tired because everyone knows that saying someone looks tired is just the polite way of telling them they look like shit, and let’s be honest no one ever wants to look like shit.
  18. There is a minus one rule, everything is easier minus one. Trips to the shops, the playground, tantrums. Knowing this rule gives you nothing really, just makes you realise it could be worse, you could be alone with all of them.
  19. It is EXTREMELY difficult to get a nice photo of all three of them together. Extremely difficult.
  20. And finally, all these things, this big boring list (if you made it this far) it’s all worth it. The mess, the noise, the exhaustion, yeah it will do your head in at times, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
    There is nothing like a new baby and what it does to a family. When you overhear your nearly four and two-year old telling their baby that they love her, or when they laugh as she cracks her first smile at them, it’s unlike anything else.
    I won’t lie, it’s hard at times. It’s loud, it’s messy and it’s chaotic. And I’m sure, over time, there will be more lists, but I know I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

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What a difference a year makes

This time last year we made a huge decision, probably one of the biggest decisions we had ever made. We decided to uproot our family and move interstate, away from everyone we knew, away from everything that was comfortable and secure to a place that we had only driven through on the way to our annual holiday place. We saw it as an opportunity, live life like a holiday, give our children something we craved, an endless summer of beach visits and adventure. We asked ourselves if we were crazy or stupid more times than you can imagine and we took the leap before we thought long enough to answer.

Since that decision was made a lot has happened. We fell pregnant and we had Posy, we sold our first home, Leo started preschool, Duncan started his new career, we have spent countless days exploring our new surroundings and the sand that seems to get everywhere no longer bothers me. We have been grateful for our bold move more times than we have regretted it, yet I have uttered the words home sick more times than I care to admit.

I am a proud person so putting down in words that I get homesick to the point where I am ready to pack it all up and move home is hard to admit. I never thought I would be like this, it is hard to explain how I can love living somewhere so much but miss so much about my old life at the same time.
Homesickness is an interesting one. It isn’t the home that I miss. A place or town doesn’t matter to me so much, Duncan and I have lived in five different houses, we are movable people and we are generally happy with that. But it is the people that we miss.
It’s the impromptu family dinners that we used to host, it’s the pop ins after work or how I used to go get drive through coffees, kids in tow, and take them around to my sister and her now husband’s place and just sit there with them while Duncan worked on a weekend.
It’s all the little things that you don’t get in a new town. It’s not being able to say that I miss everyone in front of Leo because if I do, he wants to go home. It’s not letting myself get upset when they leave after a visit because if I let myself do that it takes me a day to recover. It’s feeling like I can’t explain it to anyone else because my relationship with my sisters isn’t like most people’s relationships with their family. It’s being so incredibly happy with the place that you live but almost annoyed at the same time because it is so far away from all the things that are comfortable to you, from all of your people.

This time last year we decided to change our lives in a huge way. And, (even though the above paragraph may leave you begging to differ), despite the bouts of homesickness that hit me when I need it least, it is truly one of the best decisions we ever made. We took a leap that most people would be too afraid (or sensible) to do.
Yes, it has been tough. We’ve missed opportunities being here, my career has taken a hit, we are probably a few years behind buying another house than we would’ve been if we stayed where we were, most of our family and friends won’t meet Posy until she is well and truly laughing, and we have missed so many of those simple family catch ups that I love so much, but despite all that, knowing what I know now, I would still go back and make the same decision.

I write all this sounding like it is coming to an end, but we have no intention to move home any time soon. We signed on for two years and we will be here for at least two years.
Since becoming parents every decision we have made has been for our kids. Duncan going to uni, me starting my own business, my decision to stay home with the children for as long as I have, and our latest choice; moving here. When you ask Leo and Maisie where they want to go for the day their answer is the beach, we go for drives around our neighborhood to spot kangaroos, we walk along the beach there is a chink of shells that comes from their pockets and as the days are heating up I can go outside and almost smell the ocean in the air.
We miss our families and friends, we may not have what we had a year ago but my children still know who is important to them and our life is rich in many ways. We consider ourselves lucky that we had this opportunity, and that we actually took it. Our life, honestly, it feels like a holiday, every day when I drive out my driveway and see the ocean in the distance I am reminded why we moved here, most days I am in disbelief that we are lucky enough to live in such a beautiful place.
I will always appreciate the time we had here, we are creating the most wonderful memories with our children and I know that this has been the right choice for us.
Will we stay here forever? Probably not, our family pull is too strong, but are we going to make the most of it while we have it? Absolutely!!!

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For my three little loves

My favourite pastime, my favourite view,
Is the view that I get when I’m watching you.
The shape of your lips, the curve of your nose,
The kink in your ear, and the size of your toes.
All of the faces, all of the sounds,
Your cheeky chuckles, to your little frowns.
The way that you wriggle, the warmth that you bring,
Watching you sleep, it’s my favourite thing.
Cuddled up on me, feeling your breath,
Your little hairs, that tickle my neck.
The way that you fit, so well on my chest,
For it is me, who you know best.
You heard my heart beat, from the inside,
You are the reason, I am filled with pride.
My perfect baby, my perfect love,
I can’t help but think, you were sent from above.
I know you need me, but if only you knew,
How much it was, that I needed you.

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Posy’s birth story

It wasn’t until about week twenty of my pregnancy that I let myself think about the birth and how it was going to happen. Quite frankly my last birth wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I never wrote about it for that simple reason, and if I am completely honest I wanted to forget it. Forget how I was scared after Maisie was born because I was bleeding so heavily, forget how the doctor was telling me to grab her and I couldn’t move my body beyond shaking, forget how sick the drugs had left me feeling and how I felt like I was going to drop Maisie when I finally held her. I left the hospital with a beautiful baby who I loved with all my heart, but I also left the memory of her birth there as well. Maisie’s birth, although in comparison to many others was quite straight forward, was not something that I was wanting to relive or wanted to experience again this time around.

I spent a lot of time reading positive birth stories, and in my head I had imagined a birth where I was able to get through with no intervention or pain relief, this was to be my last pregnancy and birth, and for me, I wanted to know that I had tried to have as natural labour as possible. I didn’t tell anyone that this was my plan. I don’t even think I said it out loud, for fear of jinxing myself or setting up a birth plan that I couldn’t stick to, so I had my hopes but having known what had happened the last two times I was unsure of what would happen on the day.

Then we got to the end of the pregnancy and the word induction started getting thrown around. Having being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and having had two previous large babies there was concern about this baby’s size so letting me go “too far over” was not in the doctor’s plans. Reluctantly we booked an induction date but as it was at 40 + 4 I was doubtful that I would even reach it and truly thought that induction was not something that I would ever have to know about.
40 weeks came and went, no baby.
40 + 3 serious contractions, no baby.
40 + 4 doctor’s appointment at 9.20am and was sent straight up to the maternity ward to be induced and “start the process”.
So, it was happening, induction.
Not the way that I had imagined that this baby would come into the world but the way it was happening all the same. To say I was emotional about the whole situation was an understatement. I was teary from the get go, and just kept thinking that this isn’t how I wanted this to happen, but as Duncan kept telling me it was just a different way of going about it. The baby was finally on their way and we were about to start our new life.

Having not had any experience with being induced, I did not know how my body would react or what was going to happen, I was anxious because I had read induction can be intense and quick or it can fail and result in caesarian, so I really didn’t know how the next few days were going to pan out.
After the gel was put in the contractions started quickly but they were mild. Nothing more than period pains, this went on all day, slowly progressing in intensity but nothing that made me think that it was baby day. That night we went out for dinner, Duncan enjoying his Thai while I enjoyed my contractions. We went back to hospital and spent the night, knowing that tomorrow was going to be our baby’s birthday. That was a strange feeling, we have never known the day before the actual day came, and going to sleep knowing that our baby’s birthday was going to be the 22nd of August was (even though the contractions were happening) a hard concept to grasp.
Surprisingly, I was able to sleep.

At 5am I woke to stronger contractions but knowing it was going to be a big day I tried to get some more rest and was woken by the midwife at about 6.30 to get ready for the Doctor to come around and break my waters. I got up, washed my face, did my hair and had my cannulas put in. All quite civilized really. Not like the births I had known or you see on TV.
The doctor came around and broke my waters, I had had this done for both my previous births so this was not an unknown thing for me, small hook, trickle of water, done. We went back to our room to get all the things we wanted to take to the delivery suite and there it was, the Hollywood moment, a huge burst of pressure and splash! My waters poured out just like you see in the movies, I just stood there frozen, told Duncan to get towels and we mopped me up and the puddle I had created. We gathered up our things, went back around to the suite and waited, the contractions were increasing in intensity and I had hoped this would mean that I wouldn’t have to be hooked up to the Syntocin drip but I wasn’t so lucky. Breaking my waters had not initiated the labour as quickly as they would have liked so the drip was attached.

At this stage it was about 8am, I was now hooked up to a drip and a foetal monitor which tracked both the baby’s heartrate and my uterine activity. Luckily the foetal monitor could be used wirelessly so I didn’t initially feel too trapped by all my wires. I was able to hop in the shower and ease the contractions, I was managing the pain well, Duncan and I were still laughing, we were chatting between contractions and we were getting excited that things were finally moving along.

By 9am the contractions, although I thought they had, hadn’t increased enough so another dose of Syntocin was administered and by 9.30 I was technically in labour.
Regular, painful contractions.
By this stage I had gotten out of the shower and was hooked back up to the machine to monitor the baby. I sat on the fit ball and decided that I needed a distraction. We put on an episode of Game of Thrones. Strange choice? Yes, possibly but it provided the distraction that I needed. One episode was enough and by this stage I was really feeling the labour progress. By this stage I was kneeling over the fit ball and the change in position really helped. Duncan sat beside me and we just waited, me breathing through my contractions and telling myself that I could do this, Duncan massaging my back and doing what he could. We chatted and watched the monitor show my contractions increase as time passed and I told Duncan repeatedly that I was emotional about this being the last time I got to do this.
I wasn’t scared of labour anymore. It was happening, I was coping, I felt strong, excited and ready to meet the baby.

By about 11.30 I started to get a bit restless, I felt pressure and started to feel as if I could push. I asked our midwife, Celine, who I haven’t mentioned yet but who was absolutely amazing, when I would be examined, what was going to happen. My last two labours were really monitored, I was constantly checked, I was told constantly how many cms I was every few hours and this one I hadn’t been checked once. By this stage I knew I was close to fully dilated, I had had thoughts of wanting to go home, wanting to just get up leave and go check on Leo and Maisie at home, I knew those thoughts run through your head close to the end and that was my rationale, I had to be close to this baby because those thoughts were filling my head. Celine informed me that most likely at 12.30 she would check me and if I needed it she may have to administer more of the drip but she didn’t think that was likely and we would have a baby by then. She wasn’t wrong. Pretty soon after that conversation I felt like I needed to push, or as I put it so delicately on the day, like I need to poo, and for fear of Duncan seeing me do exactly that I went to the toilet (for some reason I still thought we had some mystery in our marriage). He came to the bathroom with me anyway just in case the baby decided to come in there so the mystery is well and truly dead.

This is where we got to the fun part- skip this paragraph if you aren’t into finer details.
After sitting on the loo to no avail, standing up for each contraction and resting on the toilet seat in between I started to think that the last thing I wanted this baby to do was to be born into a toilet bowl I walked out and climbed up on to the bed. I asked Celine to examine me because I was pushing and nothing was happening, I needed to know what was going on, sure enough I was the tiniest bit away from being ready to go, she told me to try not to push if I could, and ride out the contractions. I lay on my side, Duncan next to me and I wrapped my arm around his tummy. I had an almighty contraction and I knew this was it. It was time to push. I was doing this and I was ready to meet our baby.
I had no idea what time it was, I have no idea how many pushes it took all I know is with each push I squeezed Duncan and he made me feel safe and as calm as I could be. I was so hot, the cold towel that a nurse handed me was, in that moment, the best thing that had ever been handed to me, and Celine kept reminding me to breathe.
“I can do this, I am doing this, I can do this” I told myself.
Some deep breaths and a few big pushes and the head was out. Still on my side I felt the urge to push again and there was shoulders and then the baby. There was the tiniest moment of silence and then the cry. The most beautiful sound in the world. I rolled myself on to my back and the baby was placed on my chest. She was here and she was perfect.

Posy Tess was born at 1.11pm, 3.89kg – our littlest baby yet – and absolutely (I’ll say it again) perfect.FullSizeRender (9)She attached and fed almost instantly, it was beautiful and so effortless for her, the rest of the birth to me was a blur. All I could think was she was here, she was safe and healthy and I had done it. I was so proud of myself, I looked up at Duncan and he was staring at Posy the biggest smile on his face and his eyes filled with tears, little did he know how much having him to hold helped me and got me through the hard parts.
We stayed in our little bubble, skin on skin for about an hour, staring at our new perfect daughter, all the questions we had over the last nine months about who she would be had started to be answered and our life would never be the same again.
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I loved my birth of Posy. I have never been one to think my births as beautiful because mine had left me feeling exhausted, drained and shaken, but this truly was. It was everything I had imagined birth to be, it was amazing, it was empowering and it was the best experience of my life.
I am so grateful for my husband, Duncan, and the support he gave me, although at times he may have felt helpless, he was everything that I needed and I am so thankful that he was wherever I needed him to be. And to the midwife that I will never forget, Celine, words cannot describe how incredibly happy I was that she was paired with us that day. She was the most wonderful guide when I needed guidance, and the reassurance when I needed reassurance, not to mention I think I would’ve forgotten to breathe had she not reminded me to do so.

Before Posy, I looked at birth as a daunting experience and when the clouds of anxiety crept into my head I was surrounded by good people who made me feel strong, safe and capable. I was able to tell myself that I was strong, safe and capable and I truly think that belief gave me the birth that I had so quietly hoped for.
I may still be in the post birth euphoria stage, or maybe it is because it is my last baby and I am being overly sentimental, but I know that I will always look back on Posy’s birth in a positive light. I will be proud and remember the beauty and the magical feeling that filled the room the moment she entered the world.

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