Tag Archives: anachalphy

My Goodbye Moments

Its so far out of town you think you’ve missed it. But then we get here.

Clicky clack shoes on the road as we both walk from the car, the only noise until my not so silent tears fall down my cheeks. This is when they start.

Looking down at our feet and entwined fingers, the orange catches my eye; it is so much brighter swinging over the black of the road.

Except for holding Daniel’s hand I wish no one to attempt to invade my space or heart right now. Greet me if you wish, but you can’t penetrate my shield in these moments. I am here for a reason, a purpose and this is my last chance. Like a fierce mumma bear protects her cubs, I’ll fight for these moments.

They are a precious gift. Moments to freely celebrate life and acknowledge the death of our dear precious one; others have moved on from this life altering event, simply because its not their life. Though the grief is yet to fade for us.

Grief is so isolating, in so many different ways. It is a wicked dictator. The battle for control of the mind is intense and exhausting. You so wish to not be alone through it, but you can’t invite anyone in as they have to decide to push through the darkness. It is difficult for everyone.

These moments today at the “pregnancy loss memorial service” are a chance for the final goodbye I didn’t know I’d been holding tight on my lips.

With Emmanuelle I walked into the florist knowing that a sunflower was exactly what I wanted… today I walked back into the same florist and I didn’t know. I wanted orange but I didn’t know, nothing was right… then I chose a chrysanthemum. It was perfect.

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I didn’t want to sit down. I didn’t want to meet the chaplains. I had no energy for ‘polite.’ These were my moments, to be raw. To allow my grief to be seen. To not be a tightly shut bottle, all held together. This was my space where I have all the permission I need to be a grieving mother. To sob like I have more dead babies than alive babies. To not be ok, to feel. To be so broken, but stand strong because I’m also not.

I knew what the service would be like; I knew most of what they’d say.

That God loves all he has made…. knit me together in my mothers womb…leave in your safekeeping…. joy into mourning….we ask you today for courage and strength.

 

We laid my chosen bright orange flowers.

We looked up and saw a rainbow. It hadn’t even rained.

We released our balloons.

We turned and walked away. Daniel still held my hand. Our shoes clacked, but once again my arms were empty. I can’t go to one of those services again. I don’t think I’d survive. Daniel says to me, “Last time Yvette, last time.”

This is when my tears stop. For now at least.

But my love for Steven James never will.

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“How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footsteps have left upon our hearts.” — Ferguson

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disbelief

Sixth day late. Third and last test. And I didn’t know how I would feel, negative or positive, I wasn’t sure.

Then came two lines, though one was light, my eyes immediately filled with tears. I wanted this, was ready for this and my heart filled with joy. I knew it in an instant. It was so different to before; I had no concern, no worry- just joy.

After over eighteen months of trying to conceive our second son, this was a little shock when not even trying and we’d have two under two.

No concern, no worry. Who had I become? I didn’t realize until now just how healing our precious baby boy was. We’d told close friends face to face while on holidays and shared my lack of concern and disbelief at how it happened. Jesus must be in this – there is a plan.

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5 | 8 | 11

 

I hit nine weeks and suddenly the sickness and exhaustion hit with a vengeance, obviously trying to make up for the eight previous weeks of health.

My sleeping was so affected, completely exhausted yet wide-awake for hours on end.

Then I went to hospital one night, and home again- got to love battling a gastro created stomach infection! Then the next night I should’ve gone to hospital but as I’d heard the birds start I decided to wait the extra few hours and just go to the GP. “Bleeding or any kind of cramping and you get an ultrasound Yvette”- so off we went, even though I only had some cramping, the concern was a miscarriage.

You recite the history- fifth pregnancy; two children, one early miscarriage, one baby with acrania and this little baby.

I definitely didn’t need to drink the sickness and funny dance-inducing litre of water; my uterus is up and visible already at ten weeks five days.

 

A heart beat.

Sigh of relief, that’s good news.

Concern for the skull.

Baby just doesn’t look right- actually the sonographer’s choice of words, because by nature they suffer from fear of commitment, is “I have some concern for the skull and will need the doctor to check.”

 

She was looking early to give us peace of mind. This was just an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat. I’d had no concern or worries even with our skull checking scan next week. In fact I wasn’t even thinking of it like that. Everything was ok and this baby was our easy joyful miracle, a blessing.

 

Rug pulled from under us.

 

I fainted in the car about ten minutes after leaving the ultrasound place; my valiant husband carried me to the emergency room door and banged for help. An overnight stay in hospital with nurse care and sleeping tablets. Not that they really worked… It’s been 24hours since I’ve seen our boys and my heart is aching. And I’d thought stomach infection was the worst the week was going to get!

I’m so thankful for our family day care mum who just stepped up and filled our “we have no family close” gap and watched our boys last night, and my mother who drove through the night to be here today.

Daniel went home and has seen our boys, our big boy who is constant joy through highs and lows and overseas adventure escapes. And our precious little boy who is a rainbow after darkest storms. I need that reminder; I need their cuddles and open-mouthed kisses. To be reminded that I can carry and deliver a healthy baby.

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We had another ultrasound today, with the “best specialist” in town; who’d made up her mind after yesterday’s scans and thought todays were a waste of time. She was not helpful or compassionate and got the first brunt of emotional Yvette. But as she said, she could not even imagine what we’re going through, so tough luck for her.

So now we’re here and waiting. On the second floor maternity ward next to the two ladies sharing their after-birth stories while one rubs their large healthy baby filled belly.

A doctor will come soon I’m sure- but until then, my head is full of questions, concerns and misunderstandings. So easy to fall pregnant with not even an inch of worry and in under a minute dreams and purposes of a healthy life are destroyed, and once again my womb is a place containing death.

In America each year, 3 out of 10,000 pregnancies are babies with acrania. Daniel and I are selfless: we are 2 out of the 6 in 20,000. Well actually it’s a worse statistic because we live in Australia.
But I can’t joke about it. This sucks. I don’t want to believe it.

Ok so I’m back editing this and thought- hey lets see what the actual Australian statistic is.

In 2001, the Australian estimated birth prevalence of
                       neural tube defects was 0.5 per 1,000 births (National Perinatal Statistics Unit).

I hate this.

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grief fog

part one: grief storm

 

Noun

  1. A cloudlike mass or layer of minute water droplets or ice crystals near the surface of the earth, appreciably reducing visibility.

 

I’ve been trying to write this for a month. Trying to find words, not even flowing words, just words to explain about grief after the storm. I have perfect illustrations to describe what I mean, but I can’t write them. I’ve struggled to write anything.

After the storm of grief, you live in a fog; I’ll get to the explanation… I hope.

Living in grief means your life becomes accompanied by ‘ifs.’

You can think back to the scenario or circumstance and run the ‘ifs’ over and over in your head.

              If I’d already been on a higher dose of folic acid just because I was…

            If that sperm hadn’t met that egg…

            If I’d done this instead of this…
The ‘ifs’ roll into a ‘maybe’…and the pain in your heart when reality rushes back in hurts a lot.
And then there are the harder ‘ifs’

             If Emmanuelle were healthy, it would be her birthday this month.

            If she had lived, she would be turning one.

            If she were alive, I would never know grief like this.

            If she was here, I would not be so broken.

           If she were with me, I’d be a completely different person; I wouldn’t have lost part of my heart.

Putting ‘ifs’ into your present circumstance bring an ache for what was, to grow suddenly to fit now. This stings with impossibility.

           

No one prepares you that after the loss you will live with constant ‘ifs,’ that hit you in strange moments, and cause your mind to wander and heart to ache.

Grief is different for everyone.

For me after the grief storm it became a fog.

I could see nothing around me, I couldn’t see what way to move, I couldn’t see a future, and I couldn’t see life. I couldn’t see my life.

Everything I encountered; circumstance, friends, medicine; all were through the filter fog of grief. A situation was not joyful for me, because I observed it through dark pain. Changes of relationships, growth or loss, was all because of my grief. This fog was thick, I could not see through it and I could see nothing but it. It was so thick it was nearly tangible; the darkness, pain, and sadness were intense. No matter how hard someone might try they could not penetrate its force and interact with the ‘me’ underneath it all. I think that’s because I got lost in it and lost a part of me to it; therefore who they were looking for couldn’t be found there.

See the storm broke me, in the fog I scrambled to try and put myself back together; but I couldn’t see anything. So when I emerged, yes I’d done a bit of a dodgy job and I may still look a little broken and cracked. But you know what, when you’re surrounded by grief…. well, it’s the best I could do.

 

grief storm

* photo from yellow roses. Yellow Roses is a support network for families in the Central Queensland region who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

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Grief Storm

noun
1. A disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere, manifesting itself by winds of unusual force or direction, often accompanied by rain, snow, hail, thunder, and lightning, or flying sand or dust.

Sometimes you have some warning that a storm is coming; you see the deep dark clouds slowly creep to consume the bright light of the sun. Other times out of nowhere, you look up at the clash of thunder and there is just a second before the rain begins to soak the ground and forcefully pitter on your roof.

Storm season is a real thing where we live; wind, lightening and constant pouring rain resulting in flooding is an annual thing. I remember hearing one time on the radio or something that if you wear sunglasses while driving in the rain it helps you see better… know what? I tried it- it kind of does… But that’s beside the point. When the rain is pouring heavy it crashes on the screen and blurs all you can see. You can’t go as fast as what you were travelling, sometimes you need to pull over. Who would’ve thought water could have such power!

Whether you’re expecting it and a have a small amount of preparation time or if it suddenly comes upon you- “suffering over affliction or loss,” grief is a storm. It comes hard and fast and surrounds you. It is dark and noisy and keeps you awake through the night. It blurs your vision and slows down your life. Sometimes you pull over because you can’t keep going anymore. Other times you keep moving but it is some of the most dangerous driving you will ever do.

Sometimes the storm is big enough people will notice- seventeen days ago our little town experienced a category five cyclone. In the last twelve hours before it hit it escalated from a category 2 to 5. The morning of, we had the news on; reporters were on our main street- coverage shown across Australia! Our boy kept pointing to the screen saying “I been there! I been there!” Everyone knew it was coming… they didn’t all feel it though. They saw the heavy winds, felt the expectation… but then power was lost. And those that lived here, we had no option but to experience it…. See the drops of horizontal rain; hear the roar of the wind and watch in anticipation as strong solid gum trees danced before crashing to the ground.

I’ve since tried to explain it, but the destruction is unimaginable…. Trees that had stood before the roads existed blocked roads. Power lines were broken and all power was lost. Swing sets and trampolines disassembled across neighbor’s lawns. Roofs and walls destroyed, crashed in by things or torn apart by winds.

This house, it became a dollhouse. I don’t know if you can see, but there is a calendar on the wall in the office, the bed is still made. It is one of numerous houses in town that became an unlivable dwelling.

dollhouse

The demolition power of grief is unimaginable. Destroys all that holds you together and makes you livable. You’re left bare and raw; totally exposed, there is nothing to keep things in, there is nothing around you to protect you.

The storm and its accompanying forces destroy your world. The day of the cyclone our town was on national news, 18 days later everyone else has forgotten; but the piles of rubbish and destruction still line the streets, tree roots are still upside down. The dollhouse is still there, exposed… the bed is made.

Grief destroys your world; for longer than others care to recognize or acknowledge or see… All you know becomes unlivable. What’s left is traumatized foundations that you don’t know if they could withstand even the lightest of sprinkling rain. The storm slows you down and stops you. You don’t know how long it will last, there is nothing to do but wait.

Wait in your little hidey-hole, without power, and watch out the small window and see the vigorous storm perform all the destruction it likes to all that made your world.

Grief is a storm, and you can’t control it or the affect it has on you.

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An unimaginable year

Read here about our Emmanuelle .

 

Five months, one week and three days more.

Five months, one week and three days more would’ve made all the difference in the world.

 

Although, really, that’s a lie.

 

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Five months, one week and three days more has come and gone. Without your healthy entrance into the world, through tears, discomfort and pushing. Though there were tears, discomfort and pushing- but of a different kind. Tears of pain. Discomfort in our displacement within family and friends. Pushing through stormy mud, just to see a mirage of some sunlight. A day that came and went as significant only to the few who remembered to love the parents whose hearts should’ve expanded with joy and love, yet all they held was hope and grief in their arms.

 

Then six months, two weeks and four days more.

Six months, two weeks and four days more, gets us to the day you silently entered this world, yet loudly impacted our hearts.

Six months, two weeks and four days more, gets us to one year on from the day we said hello and goodbye.

 

Three hundred and sixty five days have passed.

 

A year of moments full of so much pain and confusion, moments of bizarre thankfulness that somehow I’m not alone in this. A year of days I never imagined would be mine to live. A year of months of sickness and recovery; months of stumbling, of learning to breathe, months of surviving until it doesn’t take as much effort. A whole year of living the unimaginable.

 

No one ever imagines they will have to somehow learn to live overcoming the loss of a child. You don’t grow up hoping one day that will be you… But it is me. And it has changed me. I think maybe that’s the hardest thing; Emmanuelle’s pregnancy, birth and life changed me. I’m not who I was anymore, and I cant go back to before. It’s a defining point in my life. Like there is a ‘before’ and ‘after’ point a few times in my Christian walk, she is a significant ‘before’ and ‘after.’ I still don’t really know who I am now, I know that there are now added scars to my worn heart but that doesn’t mean I can put them into words.

 

I do know though that when people don’t acknowledge her, I feel like they don’t see me. She changed me, she made me grow deeper with Jesus- I’m different because of her life. Ignoring her means there’s this whole part of me that’s ignored too. And that’s perhaps one of the hardest things about this past year. Feeling unseen.

 

Its now today, 22 October 2014, one year on. And all I want is for her to be remembered by more than just me. Remembered by others not because I tell them, but because they remember her. Daniel thinks that’s an unrealistic expectation, but I’ve realized that today- I’m allowed to feel however I want to feel…. This whole journey- no one can tell you how to feel. No one can tell you how to get better. But you can feel exactly how you feel, without hiding it.

 

I didn’t want it to be today. And I didn’t realize just how much until it was actually today, when I cried in the shower without even meaning to. Then had a headache for most of the day because I tried to keep my emotions in check. The card I received, the flowers and E Pandora bead (my husband got my hint 🙂 ), the texts… each one made tears roll down my cheeks. It’s been a tough day. I confess to eating ice cream before lunchtime, and being angry with my husband for no reason when I wasn’t really angry with him at all… I was just angry. Sad. Hurt.

I felt like today I was allowed to feel it, without hiding, without the veil of strength.

 

 

The truth about living the unimaginable…

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I held her hand for a moment, but she’ll hold my heart for a lifetime.

.

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living the unimaginable

Five months, one week and three days more.
Five months, one week and three days more would’ve made all the difference in the world.

Although, really, that’s a lie.

Nothing could have made a difference. It was done before we even knew, done while you were still our dream and prayer.

Between days 24-28 of conception the skull forms. Bone that shapes the head and most importantly protects the brain. So much happens in the miracle of your life before I even know you exist.

And then we find out. We stop dreaming of your existence and rather dream of all that your life will entail. If you’ll look like me or your father, if you are boy or girl. How you will completely change our family as we grow from three to four, how scary that is;  but also how perfect it will be as already we feel the gap that’s yours to fill.

My body remembers what to do this time and I can’t fit my clothes at 9 weeks. I’m sick a lot more this time round; you don’t like watermelon and especially not your Grammy’s apricot chicken. I’m exhausted. But one nice thing is your brother is starting to show compassion, he cries when I’m sick and hates to see me hurting. He loves to read his big brother book, and one day he will be a great one.

at the hospital

We’re here now. You’re on your way. The doctor said I can have as much pain relief as possible and no one will ask anything about it. No amount of relief will take away the pain of what is really happening though.

The clock keeps ticking.

8:26am.
8:29am.
8:34am.

I just asked them to take your crib out of the room. It’s empty now and it will not be filled by us. It didn’t need to be here.

Your father commented to me, “don’t worry bruz, one day we will come into one of these delivery rooms and leave with a baby.”
I wish that was you precious child. I love you already. I’ve been feeling your life and movements for maybe two weeks now without doubt. It’s why I struggled to understand it.

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Our first ultrasound was at 11 weeks, I saw you for about ten seconds. The lady said you were a strong little wriggler who she hopes will behave. Your heart was beating strong and it looked like you waved. Then she turned you away.
All her comments were good. Then they stopped. It was silent.

When she finished she turned the screen off. I’m not sure exactly what she said but none of it made sense. She tried to tell us there was something wrong with you. She used words we didn’t understand. After she had said how good everything was. We were so confused.

We went back to our GP. He was really nervous and obviously hadn’t had this conversation with anyone before. He said the word acrania- but that got lost in my tears, worry and shock. And I forgot until the next week when we saw a different doctor. He wasn’t much help though. When he said you had acrania, we asked what that was and this “specialist” we’d been waiting a week to see replied with “I don’t know.” It hurt that no one could tell us about you. No one could help us understand.

We had another ultrasound with a much better lady this time, she showed us you. Your heart, arms, legs, tummy, your precious face. We saw clearly the bones for your jaw and nose.
But then we could see your brain. Nothing was there protecting it. Your father had believed in a miracle, that God can do all things. But nothing was different from the week before.

I’d chosen not to believe in a miracle. I couldn’t hope and then be disappointed.

A week later we flew to see a specialist in Brisbane. Something happened to me that week baby. I loved you more, but somehow found a way to love Jesus more too. Even if you were going to open your eyes and see his face first rather than mine.

I had thought…. what makes me different to anyone else, why couldn’t it be me that got a miracle? Why couldn’t it be you that defied all medical odds. When we saw you again, you’d grown so much in two weeks, got so much bigger. The specialist knew so much about you, he could tell us all about the timing of when your skull forms, how this affects your brain. He explained to us the miracle of your life, simply that you exist.

I am special enough for a miracle; to know you. To know a God who loves me through this. My God who totally understands miscarriage and losing a child. God watched Jesus die. Your life is a miracle little one, a miracle that will forever change our life.

10:53am.
Tick. Tock. Tick. I’m going to labour. Pain. Birth you. But you’ll already be with Jesus. We’re looking forward to seeing you though. Finding out if you’re a boy or girl. The midwife says you might be the size of our hand. Beautiful and precious, you will fit perfectly in the hands of Jesus.

12:03pm.
I thought I just felt you kick. I know that isn’t real though. Four months with you is not enough my baby. But far better than none at all.

4:07pm.
It hurts more now.

5:13pm.
The same clock continues to tick. tick. tick.
There was a pregnant screamer across the hall. Those ladies that scream every contraction and then every push. Her screaming I’m sure is silent joy now. It’s now her screaming newborn.
I can’t wish or pray that you’d taken longer to arrive. I’m your life support, a failing one. Even if you grew as big as you should first, coming out wouldn’t save you. Your life can only exists within me.

6:23pm.
When I gave birth to your big brother my waters broke while I was watching Friends with your Uncle Jeremy. Tonight I was watching Friends when I felt a pop- it was my waters breaking. Your father and I laughed about it, saying that was the trick- I just had to watch Friends.

6:35pm.
It was quick- you’ve arrived. The nurse was amazed I did it all with nothing but two Panadol hours ago, see I didn’t want to miss anything my body was telling me. So many doctors had come and gone telling me drugs were created for a reason, that I was wrong to want to feel what was happening. Almost like strength was accepting the medicine.

You didn’t cry like all the other babies today, not even a first breath. I saw you  and the first thing I said to your daddy was that you had a cute little nose. I’m not going to lie, we didn’t know what you’d look like, but my precious daughter, you are beautiful. You had a nose, lips, two ears and even finger and toe nails! Ten little fingers and ten little toes. Perfect. And you looked so at peace. You came out with your left hand over your heart. Our precious Emmanuelle Walters.

God is with you and God is with us. Five months, one week and three days too early; yet how blessed are you my girl that when you first opened your eyes it was Jesus you saw. You’re whole and healthy and perfect now.
When you hope and pray for a baby; a life, character and little personality that you will love with more love then you ever knew possible, you imagine how they will interact with their siblings, how different they may be to each other. You imagine what colour their hair might be, what their voice will sound like. Never do you imagine that the words “there is something wrong” will be used when speaking about your baby. Never do you imagine that any part of your babies formation, that is known by God, would be incomplete. When I imagined you, my precious girl, never did I imagine the last month would have been the way it was. But in living the unimaginable, I experienced a miracle, the miracle of your life. But more than that, I fell in love and met you.

the very next day

We had special time with you last night, holding you and talking to you. Both myself and your daddy prayed thanking God for the gift of you. Your life and body was amazing. You fitted in the palm of our hands, but we could see everything, your ears and you had big eyes, toe nails and lips. You were complete. Our Emmanuelle Walters.

Now it’s today and you’re not here. We got on the elevator from the maternity ward this morning and the people looked confused that we didn’t have a baby with us. Your papa drove us home, he is happy you’re a girl.

I don’t know how to end this, it’s hard to complete. You’re life isn’t finished because it never really begun.

I hope you’ve found our Baby Zazu up there, hug them from daddy, big brother and me.

I love you my girl, my Emmanuelle, with my whole heart.

Emmanuelle

 

* I wrote this in real time. It helped me more than I could ever imagine. Not for attention, but in the hope that other parents in similar situations might find it and relate. Knowing that your baby is still a human being, a life no matter how short. God is still good, He is always good. When we got our diagnosis, I did what all people do now and I googled- if you found me, please email or send me a comment (which is private till I approve it) and I would love to talk to you and journey with you if you are looking for someone who understands a little bit more than others.

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