If you know me in real life and have found this blog, please honour my wishes and don't read on. I need this place to freely write my feelings to help me to heal and if you're reading, I'll censor myself. I have no way of knowing who is reading so all I can do is trust you to honour my wishes. Thank you.

(this doesn't apply to any of my fellow mums of angels I've been lucky enough to meet in real life)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meet You At The Sunset - February

If you have a partner how has this grieving process been for you both. Do you differ much in how you live with grief? Has it torn you apart or brought you closer together? Have you learned anything about your partner that you did not know beforehand?

We do differ in our grief. From the outset I've cried more and in the beginning wasn't capable of doing much at all. My husband does cry and does talk about it though. For this I'm grateful, I'm not sure how I'd cope with someone who locked it all away. He went back to work after a week which was the right thing for him to do. Three months later I was set to resign from work because the idea of going into the office made me feel ill. DH was completely supportive of this and just wanted me to do what was right for me.

I needed to talk about the details of what happened and Matilda's condition much more than DH. He just seemed to accept it had happened and while he was devastated, didn't need to revisit the details over and over. I did and have done so here, with my Mum, and with close friends. But again even though he's different, he's supportive of my need to do so. I wanted to go back to the hospital to see Matilda's neonatologist a week or so after she died to ask her questions. DH didn't want to at all and when I asked why he said he was scared of us hearing they could have done something differently that would have saved her. I really didn't think we were going to hear that but had to take that risk to have other questions answered. I just needed the information.

I sometimes forget how hard this is for DH. Because I'm talking, writing, and thinking about it all the time, I can talk about it without crying or it making me sadder than I already am. But it's hard for DH to hear me talk about Matilda and what happened. One day we saw friends for the first time since Matilda died and my friend had lost her baby at 15 weeks earlier in the year. So we talked about both our experiences at length. In the car on the way home, DH said the afternoon had been awful for him. I felt bad for not considering him and then sad that it had helped me but not him.

I was scared about how I would react the day we picked up Matilda's ashes but it was actually the one time DH cried a lot more than me. Again I think it's related to all the active processing I do whereas I think to an extent DH doesn't think about it until he has too.

DH has had problems sleeping since we lost her but I haven't. He's told me that's when he lies and thinks about her.

I can see how grief like this could tear a couple apart but I think it's made us closer. I think the real key is to accept we both grieve differently and to accept that's OK. I worry sometimes that it's going to get harder as time goes on (it's four months today since she died) and I'm still stuck here in this sad, withdrawn from the world place and DH is out enjoying life. I hope we can continue to respect the differences in each other's grief.

Like other's have mentioned. I spend hours on the laptop reading blogs, writing, and posting to forums. DH doesn't really get this and worries that reading all these other stories makes me sadder. I can't explain it but I'm sure you understand - I just feel drawn to read other's stories. To hear about their precious babies. To be understood. DH was very involved in my pregnancy - he came to all of my (many) scans. He used to lie in bed every morning until he felt Matilda move. But pregnancy, child birth, and motherhood are still really a women's domain. And for that, I think I feel most understood among other baby loss mums.

DH is also more optimistic than me. He was throughout the last pregnancy and is about the future. We saw a social worker at 28 weeks and she said that's pretty typical in couples. And I think it's good - if we were both like me, I think the downward spiral wouldn't be pretty. I just hope and pray that his view of the future is the one we end up with.

My Pregnancy with Matilda

Here's the story of my pregnancy - warning - it's very long.

DH and I got married in February and started trying for a baby straight away. We conceived the first month and being 28 and 29 and healthy, I thought our biggest risk was miscarriage. We were very cautious about telling people - only telling our parents and a couple of close friends before the 12 week scan.

I had mild morning sickness (never had a day off work) and everything seemed to be going fine. The week before the 12 week scan we saw our ob for the first time and she did a scan for us of the baby - it was the first time we got to see our little girl and it suddenly all seemed much more real. That night I raised with DH that maybe we should discuss what we'd do if the 12 week scan results were bad - he got upset and said I couldn't believe I was bringing this up on the best day of his life. So I apologised and dropped it - I still didn't really think there was a possibility of anything going wrong at this stage.

We started telling people over the next couple of weeks and everyone was very excited - while I was still cautious it was starting to seem more real. And I couldn't wait to get a baby bump.

I was a bit nervous before the 20 week scan but looking forward to it more than anything - I though I'd feel much better once it was over. We'd decided we wanted the sex to be a surprise. My Mum and Dad were staying at the time so DH, Mum, and I all went to the scan. I was lying there holding DH's hand looking at our baby on the screen as the sonographer measured everything. Halfway through the scan he asked when my next ob's appointment was and I told him in three weeks - I remember thinking 'I wonder why he's asking that' but didn't really think anything of it. Then he asked where we were planning on delivering and I told him where - similar to the ob appointment, I didn't really think anything of it. I had no idea at this stage, my world was about to change forever. He said 'the babies growing fine' and in the moment before he started talking again I thought 'great'. Then he said 'I'll just show you something' and focused on the baby's adobmen - the baby had an omphalocele. Part of her small bowel was outside her body in a sac. I burst into tears as he started explaining that it would need surgery to fix after the baby was born. And then went to say that omphalocele's are associated with Down's syndrome so even though our nuchal result was good we should probably consider an amino to rule this out so we should see our OB much sooner and get a referral for this. We left the scan with me in tears and walked down to our OB's office to get a new appt. This was Friday afternoon and we were given an appt for Tuesday morning.

Arriving home I googled omphalocele's and saw the incidence was 1 in 5000 which terrified me but at this stage I still really didn't think there was much chance of our baby having ds because of our nuchal results. I stayed off google after this point because it was scaring me. We'd planned to go to away for the weekend with Mum and Dad and still went - I was worried all weekend but more because our baby would need surgery than anything else.

On Tuesday we as we waited to see our OB, me and DH were laughing at something in a magazine and the receptionist commented that it was good to see us laughing again. When we got into her office, she didn't know how high the association was between omphalocele's and ds so rang the fetal unit to talk to a specialist to find out. When she got off the phone, she told us the association was 'very high' so I asked what that meant and she replied 'over 50%' - I burst into tears and my world fell apart for the first time. We went home to await a phone call from the fetal unit with an appointment for an amino. We had the amino Wednesday morning and one thing the specialist said that the omphalocele was going to be fairly easily fixable in a non-ds baby but the outcomes for a ds baby would be more uncertain because they don't tolerate surgery so well. I was an absolute mess over these couple of days and completely disconnected from the baby - wearing baggy clothes and not touching my bump. The specialist also told us that there was a 75% our baby has ds regardless of our nuchal result. My DH was more hopeful that me at this stage - I was pretty much convinced we were going to have to face an awful decision. At the time, like now, I couldn't believe it was happening to us.

On Thursday at 1pm, the receptionist rang and asked if we'd heard from the fetal unit yet and I said no so she got my ob and she told us 'The results are good'. I couldn't even take it in - I replied 'you mean the baby doesn't have downs' and she said 'no it doesn't'. My DH yelled with excitement and she asked if I wanted to know the sex and I said yes and I found out we were expecting a girl. It took a couple of days to sink in but then I started to get excited again. Due to the omphacele we were to have additional scans throughout the pregnancy and the next one wasn't until 24 weeks.

At the 24 week scan we found out there was extra fluid around the omphalocele and they weren't sure why. It had a narrow base so it may have been due to some constriction in the blood supply to the bowel in the omphalocele which could mean part of the bowel wouldn't be viable. Again I left the scan in tears. But it was a case of waiting and seeing until the baby was born - there was only so much they could tell from the scans. At this stage I was starting to find it difficult around some friends who would go on about how excited I must be etc etc. And people wanted to buy things for the baby. I just used to change the subject or say we didn't really need anything.

Then I had my first glucose tolerance test. At the next appointment with my ob, I found out I'd failed that but that wasn't major because gestational diabetes can be controlled but again it was something I didn't actually think I'd have to deal with because I didn't have any of the risk factors. Then I got onto the table so she could listen to Matilda's heart and she took one feel on my stomach and said there was extra fluid in there. Never having been pregnant before I didn't realise I was bigger than you'd expect for 27 weeks but had noticed a sudden increase in size which I'd just put down to the baby having a growth spurt. So she said there could be something wrong with the baby and had me bring my next scan forward. I left in tears again - it just seemed to be one thing after another at this point.

I did my second glucose tolerance test on Friday morning and went to my sister in laws wedding that weekend. I did a lot of telling people the pregnancy was going fine that weekend which wasn't really the case - I just didn't feel like going into it with everyone. It was good though because we were busy and it took my mind off the scan on Monday.

On Monday we had the next scan (28 weeks) and found out the baby had large kidneys, liver, and protuding tongue which indicated the baby had Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome which obviously we'd never heard of (it has an occurence of 1 in 14,000). They explained that BWS babies have an increased risk of childhood cancers but I was struggling to take anything in at this point and couldn't really think of any questions to ask. They printed out a couple of explanations for us to read while we waited for the scan report. But they also said once BWS kids are 7 or 8 the manifestations of the syndrome are gone, their cancer risk is back to normal, and they generally go onto live normal lives which reassured me. BWS is also associated with pre-eclampsia so I needed to be monitored weekly by my ob at this point.

After getting home at reading more about BWS on the net, I got my head around it was actually started feeling quite positive about things. Yes there were going to be challenges but the things were generally fixable and we were aware of the syndrome and the baby was going to be delivered with specialists on hand to address any expected issues. I spoke to my Mum a lot about it as well and she said after initially being upset and shocked she also felt like this. DH was also positive that while it was going to be more complex and she would have to spend some time in intensive care and see doctors throughout her childhood that things would be OK. I joined a BWS forum and received lots of positive messages from people that BWS really isn't that bad and their kids are regular kids and often the manifestations of BWS are mild (they are extremely variable). I only told close friends and family about the BWS because it really was a case of waiting and seeing how things were when the baby was born and I really didn't feel like answering a lot of questions about it all the time.

About this time we also spoke to the neonatologist, had a cardio scan of the baby (BWS is occasionally associated with heart defects), and saw a social worker. All this went well. Scans became weekly around this point so it was really one appointment after another. I was also diagnosed with gest diabetes around this point so saw an endrochronologist and went on the diabetes diet - this didn't seem like much of an issue and actually felt like something I could control.

At 29 weeks my bp was up and I was showing protein in my urine so I was admitted to hospital for the first time with my ob talking about delivering the baby in the next couple of days. Luckily once I was admitted the PE calmed down. Everyone was calling me and saying that I must be finding it awful to be in hospital, wasn't I bored etc. But I was actually a lot calmer in there and I'm glad I spent the last four and a half weeks of my pregnancy there because it gave me time to think about things, spend some time on my own, talk to the baby etc. I also felt better having her heartbeat checked regularly by the midwives. After 10 days things looked stable so I was discharged on a Friday but on Wednesday the following week was readmitted. I was quite anxious that weekend at home.

So we were just taking it one day at a time and as time went on I started to feel more confident - we were approaching 34 weeks which everyone said is good for premmie, one of the midwives had a 8 year old grandson with BWS, the scans were showing the baby growing well and with good flows, and I was feeling her move regularly. I was enjoying the pregnancy as well at this stage and very excited to be getting stretch marks - when I was first admitted at 29 weeks I didn't have any so I was excited to be getting bigger.

On Thursday the 29th the baby suddenly stared moving a lot less but we had our daily CTG which was flatter than usual (they were always flatter than the midwives thought was normal but they were normal for Matilda and our ob wasn't worried because the weekly scans were still showing good flows) but I wasn't too worried at this stage because she'd had the occasional quiet day before. Then on Friday she was still quiet and I was getting quite worried - the CTG was pretty flat again and faxed through to another ob (it was my regular ob's weekend off) but we hadn't heard back from her. At 7.30 the midwife came round I said I was worried and started crying so she rang the ob, put the CTG on, it was totally flat but regular (no decels). The ob arrived and said we were delivering the baby that night. I was excited and scared. Our neighbour drove DH in, his sister came, and I rang my Mum and told her to get on a plane the next day (her bags had been packed since 29 weeks). Matilda was 34 weeks exactly. I was wheeled off to theature at 11.10pm and Matilda was delivered at 11.44pm on the 30th of October. As expected, she was taken off to the resus room where the neonatologists were waiting for her. Mick saw a glimpse of her and I didn't see her at all at this point. We were so glad she was finally here and it all seemed very surreal to me at the time.

Writing this down makes it look like my pregnancy was awful but apart from the awful week at 20 weeks generally I'd be upset after each setback for a day or so and then adjust to it and start feeling more positive. Having said that I never wanted people to buy us things - I actually asked my DH to tell my MIL this because people kept wanting too and it made me quite anxious. I enjoyed being pregnant and loved my growing body and feeling the baby move. My DH used to hold onto my belly each morning until he felt Matilda move before getting out of bed. We used to joke that Matilda obviously thought one doctor was not enough because we'd seen so many different people and had so many scans.

February Has Messed Up My Counting

Matilda was born on the 30th of October (she missed being a Halloween baby by 15 minutes). So each month on the 30th marks another month since she was born. February has only 28 days though so that day didn't happen this month.

I can't believe it's been four months. Like lots of other baby loss Mum's it seems like it's been the longest 4 months of my life but also when I think about that last day and what followed the pain seems as fresh as ever.

In the first few weeks I never would have imagined I'd be this functional and actually able to enjoy some things by now. I thought that intense pain that wouldn't let me do anything except think about Matilda, read blogs of other Mums going through this, and books about babies dying would last a lot longer. Instead I can talk to Mick and laugh, I can see close friends and enjoy catching up with them, I can read novels, and I can feel some hope for the future.

On the other hand, my baseline mood is low and I have a lot of fear for the future. Will I get to bring my next baby home? Or will there be more heartache along this road? I can barely cope with the thought that might be the case yet I see others out there having to live through this. My old soccer team is having a catch-up next month and I don't think I can cope with going. I played soccer for five years - last year being the first year I hadn't. In that time I went from a single girl who played hungover every Saturday to engaged and retiring because I was pregnant. I've always been involved in all the social outings of this team but yet I don't feel like I can go. To sit surrounded by happy people who used to know me as outgoing, loud, and at the center of things to sitting in the corner thinking 'what am I meant to talk about - my life is all about my dead baby but that's not really appropriate for a get together like this'. I just don't think I can do it.

I've been thinking about it and I think the difference is that I used to be fundamentally happy and if something went wrong my mood would drop and then come back up again to my happy baseline. Now I'm fundamentally sad and withdrawn and if something good happens (catching up with a friend or enjoying a book) my mood comes up but then afterwards it drops back to this sad, withdrawn, and scared place.

And what really scares me is that I always knew that intense all-consuming pain wouldn't last forever. But where I am now feels like it could last for a really long time.

It's raining today. I lost Matilda at the start of a bright sunny Queensland summer. Today the weather feels in sync with my mood - it doesn't feel wrong to hide inside and curl within myself.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An Anniversary of a Different Kind

Yesterday was our one year wedding anniversary. On March 6 a year full of dates will start for Matilda:
March 6 - The first day of my last period (given over and over to each doctor we saw)
July 24 - The day of our 20 week scan when we lost our innocence about pregnancy forever
September - Discovered our baby had a rare genetic syndrome
September 29 - Admitted to hospital at 29 weeks with pre-eclampsia
October 30 - Matilda arrived at 11.43pm
October 31 - Matilda had surgery at 2am and a rough night but was stable by the time we saw her at lunchtime. A good day.
November 1 - The best day. Matilda was stable and improving.
November 2 - Matilda took a turn for the worst overnight and it was scary but again was stable by lunchtime. Around 11pm things started to get worse again.
November 3 - The day our baby was baptised and we got to hold her for the first time. Things that you imagined would always be wonderful, positive events in your life. But for us it was also the day our hearts were broken in ways we couldn't imagine. Matilda died just after 1.30pm. The worst day.

But yesterday wasn't about any of those things. This time last year we didn't know that pregnancy was just around the corner and didn't even know about regular pregnancy things like NT scans, 20 weeks scans, when you first feel movements, that you're 4 weeks pregnant on the day of your first missed period, the list of things pregnant women can't eat.

Yesterday was about remembering our wonderful wedding day. My Mum is here at the moment and was a great deal less stressed than she was on this day last year (the wedding was in her garden). It didn't rain - our wedding was outside and we woke to pouring rain at 6am that didn't stop until 15 minutes before our ceremony. Just as well because we didn't really have a good plan b (it was to cram our 75 guests into my Mum and Dad's house). We were surrounded by family and friends. We exchanged vows, drove around in a friends lovingly restored classic cars, ate, drank, danced, and laughed.

I have wonderful memories of it but at the moment find it hard to look at those photos because I find it hard to remember that person I was. Happy, hopeful, laughing, social, and ready to jump up and dance. I hope that girl is still somewhere inside me. And that one day she can figure out how to live alongside this person that's been changed forever by Matilda Anne.

The only thing I could really say to DH last night at dinner was in 12 months our marriage has been tested in ways most (thankfully) never are. And we're still together and still happy in our marriage. Happy anniversary.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Down Day

It's 9am and I've already cried more than once this morning. I'm physically I feel crap - tired, fuzzy throat, and have a cough. Last night I felt like I was coping, things seemed like they would be OK but today that's all gone again. I hate how good days seem to count for nothing and not even be a memory on bad days. I dropped the boys (that I look after not mine) at kindy and on the way home there was a song on the radio I like. The sort of song that if you were out and heard you'd jump up and dance. And it made me cry because I can barely remember being the sort of person that would jump up and dance and today I can't imagine ever being that person again.

A year ago it was 3 days until my wedding. I was hungover from the second hen's night I'd had. I was surrounded by friends and family, a lot of who had travelled to be at my wedding, and my life couldn't have been more perfect. Today there's still a lot of good things in my life but there's also the one thing that wipes them all out on days like today - I was pregnant, I carried my child expecting that we'd now be raising her, she was here. But now she's not. And I'm left with ashes, photos, memories, tears, and an aching heart.

Today this feels very hard. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Wish That People Wouldn't....

..... joke that looking after the boys next door will put me off having kids. For one, it implies that I'm not actually a Mum already. And two, don't they realise that if anything was going to put me off kids it'd probably be what I've already been through and that's only made me more desperate to have a baby. Dealing with kids playing up doesn't really compare to watching your baby in the NICU and not being able to help them.


My ob referred me to a psychiatrist because she was worried about how much I still reacted to her office. Yesterday I went to see him. It was helpful to me to hear from him that three months is really not long in this situation and he wouldn't expect me to be coping any better at this point. He said if I'm able to watch someone's kids, get up, look after the house, then I'm coping and I don't need medication.

He asked me a couple of questions that made me realise how different I feel to the person I was before this. He asked if I thought of myself as anxious and I said, I do now but I never would have before. Before this I had a couple of anxious friends that I used to sometimes think 'it must be hard being that anxious all the time'. And now I'm that person. He also asked if I thought of myself as a sensitive person and again, before I didn't and now I do. I know this is going to affect me forever but I wonder if my personality will go back to basically the same as before eventually? I imagine it will but at the moment that person just seems so far away from who I am now.

I also talked to him about how withdrawn I am. I stay home mostly and this is what worries my husband most. I've always been an extremely social person and happy in a crowd of loud people. The idea of being in a crowd of people make me feel awful now. He said that I should probably start making a bit more effort to get out and see close friends because the longer I withdraw for the harder it will get to eventually get back out there. I think the reason I withdraw is because then I don't expose myself to the chance of having people say 'helpful' things to me that actually hurt. Or just having strangers ask questions they have no idea could hurt - 'have you got kids?'.
He wants to see me again in 3 weeks to make sure my mood is improving rather than spiralling downwards.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Before this happened I would've imagined the overwhelming sadness would be the most difficult emotion to deal with. But now I'm here it's the constant anxiety I find most difficult. I have constant feeling that I've forgotten about something unpleasent coming up, racing heart, restlessness, etc. It seems odd to me because it's already happened. The thing I was most worried about and wouldn't even think about as a possibility has happened - my baby died. Yet I feel much more anxious now than I ever did during my pregnancy. I don't even think I felt like this before scans even though they only ever seemed to bring more bad news rather than reassurance.

Is this the case for others? How do you deal with it?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Journey

There's a description of grief as a journey through a mountain range a friend sent me. You can find it here. There's one part that I want to write about today:

Sometimes when we are in the deepest part of the valley, we just sit, exhausted. And we might notice some things around us that we never saw before: flowers and animals and a gentle breeze in the cool of the valley. There is a world down in the valley that we never even knew existed, and there is beauty in it.

When I first started on this journey, I'd spend hours at night reading blogs like this one. I'd start at the start and follow through the months looking for the point where the pain wasn't so overwhelming so all consuming. But then I started to get scared because I read story after story and the pain never seemed to change.

Now I'm here, just over three months from losing Matilda and I have good periods. In the early days I never would have believed that good periods were possible at this stage. Please don't misunderstand, I still cry every day (usually more than once), I'm still scared for the future, and 'Matilda I wish you were here' runs through my head often. I don't go out socially except with a small group of people I feel safe with and I still can't imagine wanting to be around a happy group of people drinking and laughing. I was going to resign from work because I couldn't face the idea of going back until my manager said I can work from home.

I wonder if this is just me because it doesn't seem to come through in other stories. Or I wonder if it's because our blogs are where we go to let our pain out so that's what comes through.

Reading the journey I think it's that these good periods are in the valley. I've been enjoying things that I haven't done for years - watching DVDs, doing a cross sitch, reading an entire book in one day, and I'm starting to cook again. I have the time for these things while I don't want my old life back.

All that I've just written though, that's how I felt yesterday. I started working from home today (I'm only doing 1 day a week) and the first thing I did was clear out my email. This meant finding the emails people had send me in hospital before Matilda was born. I can't believe that less than three and a half months ago I was that person. That person who didn't know that pain could become part of your everyday life. That person who didn't cry everyday. That person who didn't know what it was like to have your baby die. Now it seems like I've been that person forever and it's exhausting.

Maybe tomorrow I can pause again in the valley and regain my strength.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What I wish I could say

Over at Glow there's a discussion about what you wish you could say but won't.

Here's the things I wish I could say:

I wish I could tell people who say 'I know how you feel - I had a miscarriage' that it's not the same. I know it's sad and devastating to have a miscarriage. But you don't know how I feel. You didn't carry a baby for 34 weeks, feel her move, prepare for her arrival, and look into her eyes. You haven't held your dying baby in your arms.

I wish I could tell the people who think I'm 'back to normal' after three months because they see me laughing and talking for a period of time that I'm nowhere near it and not sure that's even the goal. They don't see me crying everyday. They don't feel the pain in my heart when I see a women with a baby and think 'that should be me'.

I wish I could tell the friends who's kids I watch (which I enjoy btw) that when they joke about 'I hope they don't put you off having kids' that I've already been through a parents worse nightmare and if anything, it's made me more desperate to have kids. That having to tell them off for fighting, or deal with meltdowns is nothing compared to holding your baby for the first time knowing that they're dying, organise their funeral, and say goodnight to a photo and an urn of ashes each night.

I wish I could tell the friend that keeps contacting me and wanting to see me that she's done permanent damage to our friendship in more than one way:
- Walking up to my mother the day of the funeral (3 days after Matilda died) and demanding to know what happened.
- Texting me two days after that to tell me about something that happened in her life and not even including a 'thinking of you'.
- Texting me two weeks to the day after Matilda died and asking if I wanted to go out for lunch to 'catch-up'.
- After I responded to the above with 'I can barely get out of bed let alone leave the house - this is going to take weeks and weeks' sending me a letter 2 weeks later again wanting to catch up and wanting to know when I'd be getting back into cycling.
Now I don't want to see her at all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Meet You At The Sunset - January

For the first meeting of the month we thought we would speak about the holiday season and how you coped. What was it like for you? Did you do anything special in your childs memory?
Matilda's 4 days of life ended on November 3 2009 so the holiday season arrived when our grief was very new and very raw. I'd read posts on other blogs about people hating all the Christmas decorations and songs in the shops and feel lucky that because my grief was so new I didn't have to go out and face these things. I stayed home and pretended it wasn't happening.

My family lives in NZ and while I was still pregnant they'd booked flights over for Christmas. At that stage, we thought it would be our first Christmas with Matilda. Because we'd had an in utero diagnosis we were expecting complications after Matilda was born and didn't really know what to expect on when she would be delivered and how long she'd be in hospital. My Mum asked me if I was still comfortable with them coming and I said yes because however things were going (I was thinking the worst case scenario would be that Matilda was still in hospital) that I would want to see them by then and for them to meet Matilda (my Mum was always coming for the birth but my Dad and sister weren't going to come until Christmas). Instead we'd already seen them at her funeral and my Dad and my sister never got a chance to meet her.

So they came for Christmas and so did my husband's family. Matilda was the first grand-child on both sides so there were no other kids to pretend for. The whole idea of Christmas and being around everyone made me very anxious. I just tried not to think about it and told everyone I wanted to pretend it wasn't Christmas.

The day came and as often seems to be the case now, wasn't as bad as I expected. We ate, talked, laughed, and when I was alone I cried. My aim was to survive it and I think I surpassed my aim.

We didn't do anything in particular to honour Matilda - I didn't feel strong enough to bring the idea of this up. I hope that next year I can.

On New Year's Eve, we went to bed with the desperate hope that 2010 has a better ending for us. And I was glad our first holiday season without Matilda was over.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

100 Days of Crying

In 5 days it'll be 100 days since Matilda's health started going downhill and I started crying. I never imagined anything would happen in my life that would make me cry for a hundred days in a row but it has and it seems like I'm only at the start of it.

Generally though I'm surprised that I'm not still crying more. In the beginning I wore sunglasses whenever I had to leave the house because I couldn't stop tears running down my cheeks constantly. It's not like that now, if something hurts when I'm out I can put the pain and tears away until I'm back home or in the car and cry then. I really didn't think I would get to this point so quickly and sometimes I feel bad that I have. That my life can continue when my baby died. That I can go grocery shopping when my baby died. That I can joke and laugh with my DH when my baby died. Maybe it's guilt that makes me feel bad about it - guilt that I'm here and she never even got a chance to live.

On the other side, my ob is surprised I still cry so much in her office. My pregnancy was one thing after another so I was always crying in her office during it. One appointment she even hugged me which made me think that things really weren't going the way they should be - I've never been hugged by a doctor before. So now when I go in there I cry before she even says anything and cry my way through the appointment. She's worried that her office still has such an effect on me and has given me a referral for a psychiatrist.

So am I coping too well? Not coping well enough?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Three Months

Today is three months since Matilda died. Three months ago today we were in the NICU and starting to realise Matilda was very very sick. It's 8.30 in the morning. I either still had hope at this point or was in denial because at 10am I went up to my room and pumped for the last time. Matilda died around 1.30pm.

Every month, Matilda's birthday (30 October) hits me harder than the anniversary of her death. And today I think I've just figured out why. On her birth date I think of what should have been - we should have been talking about how quickly three months had gone and on the other hand how it seemed like Matilda had been here forever. Instead each day of these three months has passed slowly and filled with grief and longing. But if she'd lived, today's date would have had no special meaning. November 3 would've just been the day she'd been 4 days old and wouldn't have been something to mark.

What's changed in three months since Matilda's death. I am now intimately familiar with what grief feels like. This is the first big loss in my life. I've always felt lucky because of that before. But I guess all of that 'luck' I felt has just been overtaken by this huge, overwhelming loss.

I'm surprised that only three months I can function 'normally' for the most part. DH and I have been away to a new city and looked around, ate out, and to anyone else, would've looked like a normal, childless couple. So I'd imagine friends and family are probably talking about how 'well' we're doing. But they can't see inside my thoughts and know how much they are still consumed by Matilda and what should've been and fears for the future.

I'm surprised at the resilience of the human spirit. I've read so many stories now and we all seem to keep getting out of bed (mostly) and breathing.

Three months doesn't seem like long in this journey of grief but I'm here and still breathing.