30 April 2008

Friends with my Jenna, but Morgan is nursing a lot (argh)

Morgan appears to be trying to double her small complement of tiny white teeth overnight. Today she is grumpy, chewing on anything in sight, and generally wanting to feed on and off in the most irriitating way. I'm starting to feel that I have no real nursing boundaries at all and am just letting her do what she wants. Most of the time I can't see the harm in it but today I'm a bit sick of the gymnastics and messing about and wanting me not to pull my top down when she's done (she cries and tries to pull it back up again and then says "no" and turns her head away when I ask if she's going to actually HAVE any lol).

My energy is reeally dipping in the middle of the afternoon this week. Getting snacks for myself don't seem to be improving the clashes, and there is no chance of me getting a nap at the moment. *sigh* I'm sure it won't last forever, perhaps it's my period showing up or something like that? I guess my body still won't be terribly predictable.

Things with Jenna are still going really well. Last night she told Martin (when she thought I wasn't in the room), "Mummy is my best friend in the whole world. It's nice to be friends."

29 April 2008

Making plans and talking about death

Soft play and another calm and lovely day. The only thing worth mentioning today is that I'm finding it harder than I thought telling people about Lael. It isn't talking about the birth or about losing another baby (I still hate that phrase "I lost the baby" as if I was just careless and forgot where I put it down). It's not that they are sorry for me, or upset at the idea, or anything like that. It's how responsible they feel! Especially if they didn't have prior warning of any sort and asked how the baby is (or how the sickness is etc). Trying to take away that guilt, oh it just makes me well up all over again.

I don't know why that's what hits me the hardest. Maybe it's because it's hard to think that people care that much. Maybe it's that if their feelings are really strong I can't keep myself seperate enough to hold my emotions in. But writing this I'm not holding back, often at home I'm not holding back, and I don't cry then. Just when I'm trying not to cry and someone else looks like they might!

The discipline challenges and really talking about what I want and why I react the way I do is making a HUGE difference (thanks again to anyone any time who has replied to one of those messages or joined in with your own struggles). Jenna and I are behaving so differently together. It isn't action/reaction and me trying to stop her so much, and a lot more of me trying to work with her to help her do what she wants to do. I'm looking at the things I stop her from doing and check off one after the other "pointless / worthwhile / pointless / pointless / worthwhile" and I feel really free. Free from that little voice that wants to scream and shout when she hasn't done anything wrong at all but is just inconvenient to me right at that moment.

The snacks in the bottom of the fridge are really helping too. She helps herself and I don't have to leap up from nursing or get resentful that I only just fed her. I really can't list all the things that have changed. I'm sometimes feeling a bit like I've slipped too much towards permissive and am not acting quickly enough when I actually do need to stop her from something or help her to do something she doesn't really like doing. But we'll get there!

28 April 2008

A deep breath of all that is sweetest

The sun is glorious and the air is fresh and smells of earth. Like the many days of my childhood when I wished that school could be outside for once! We have taken our own classroom to our favorite park, but it's a long walk and after a while we need to stop and sit on a wall so that Jenna can rest her legs. We have chattered about the plants we pass at the railway sidings and overgrown industrial sites - she knows the names of a remarkeable number of them - and inspected at length the tiny green flower-like things fallen from the Chestnut trees. The city is breathing, exhaling with the spring.

Now she starts to tell me about the bird who is singing. She calls into the tree to him and tells him that we HEARD him already and then she starts to fantasise and explain it all to me. She says his song is about love and about wanting an egg. He is shouting to the female in the other tree and asking her to come and live with him. He wants to be married and build a nest. It's a beautiful story and I wonder again how she came to know so much.

Her little warm hand slips into mine and she tells me we can go know. It feels almost sacred, sharing this moment with her, and her holding her hand out to me is the tenderest shock since I usually ask for it. I realise that she doesn't want to break the feeling of something shared between us. Deeper, truer, I see something else behind the hush - I realise that she is still mine in all her wisdom and light.

At the park they both ignore me and run around making nests in a sand box. I see Jenna trying to explain the working of a scoop to Morgan, who only wants to put it on her head and laugh at herself. They are so contented, engaged in their play. I see them, see the colour of the blossoms, see the patches of dandylions even bigger than the collection we're growing in our own garden, hear the wind, see the twisted ancient boughs, hear the laugher, touch the sky. Of all the beauty around me, I possess my children the least.

27 April 2008

Potentially no longer car free, and thoughts about birthday presents

Hopefully today we're going to look at a car. It has slowly been taking over our entire waking lives (and probably Martin's dreams as well lol) but now finally it feels like it might actually happen. After two years without a car, we might have one next week! I'm not sure quite how I feel. Pragmatically it makes total sense, we'd spend more just on renting one for two weeks at the end of the summer, it would be good to actually make the most of the National Trust membership and the children love to be spontaneous and go off out somewhere new and exciting at the weekend. I have also been feeling that itch to go off somewhere NEW and a car would improve the chances of it actually happening.

On the other hand I think we've got by without one for so long. And it could be a liability like the other useless machines we've scrapped rather than spend £500 to get a £200 car through another MOT. This car has one running out in November though, so unless it breaks down when we're on holiday the worst that could happen is that my savings have to stretch to a hire car anyway (and Martin will have to give up on the car idea for good lol). I'm willing to take the risk, we have enough savings for holiday to cover both hire car and train home possibilities...

Jenna's birthday seems to be getting closer in spite of my best efforts. She still says she wants a fairy cake, and is full of wanting to look online for presents - we DID already get the silk parachute she's wanted for ages from Myriad. A few days ago she told me that she wants a My Little Pony and said, with a little sigh, "but you won't let me have one - do they sell WOODEN ponies mummy?" So that sorts out my Dad, who can be persuaded to get an Ostheimer horse and rider. Personally I like the unicorn, but I'm not sure it would be a liablity in a house where toys DO get trodden on regularly!

Talking about presents, I've been ridiculously organised and have started making presents for her friends. I won't tell what, because their parents read my diary lol. But I've also already got all of the girls stocking presents, so the only thing left is a main present for their treasure chest later in the day (probably craft things, but perhaps Ostheimer animals if they seem to like the horse). And Morgan's birthday which I'll have to get going on soon, I don't have a lot of sewing time and Jenna has insisted that I make Morgan a proper Waldorf ragdoll like hers.

26 April 2008

What is back to "normal"?

I think I'm getting there... The bleeding stopped, started again, stopped again and now seems altogether gone. I'm feeling more alert and capable, getting a little bit of energy back - I even did some housework yesterday and today (washing, washing up, cleaning surfaces, tidying, hoovering, sorting paperwork).

It feels like I'm done with mourning even. I can talk about Lael without crying, I can think about the birth and the aftermath without welling up. But oh that grief is going to keep surprising me for a while to come.

I have stayed away from the befriending work, because I know I will cry still when I try to answer the questions she will have. I think I'm coping with telling other people, depending on the level of detail they want and I can cope with giving. It's OK telling them about the body, the hospital, but when I try to tell them I'm OK that's when I choke on it.

The feeling of wanting to be pregnant still, wanting Lael back safe inside, is fading. But it's being replaced by wanting to be pregnant *again* wanting to plan for another baby, wanting to not give up on the idea of adding to the family, wanting to be thinking about a labour and a babymoon and such decisions and pleasant planning. I know Martin isn't ready to talk about it yet, and I want to be sure that my body is healed and ready. It's really starting to form a huge part of my day-to-day thoughts though.

Never far from that thought it the idea... It's so nice having two. It's so horrible being pregnant. Maybe this is it. Would that be a bad thing?

25 April 2008

Mess discipline easy, food discipline hard!

This morning after breakfast, making some playdoh and packing some brownies away in boxes for storage, I settled down to do some writing and transferring online. It took about five minutes of not paying my children sufficient attention for Jenna to parade through the room stark naked decorated with blue felt-tip Tiger Stripes. I didn't say anything, but as she let Morgan upstairs and then started running water in the bathroom I thought it best to prevent any significant harm coming to anything by following them. She was running a bath, "to wash these stripes off me." I thought that was a good idea, since she was meant to be going swimming later and I was a little embarrassed at the thought of her going covered in blue stripes (not that she would have cared one jot).

So then we did an unplanned bath time during which I sorted the mail and phoned two companies in irate disbelief to sort out monumental finance screw-ups. I left the bathroom to do so and heard mostly giggles and a few squeals of protest from Morgan who is going through a phase of being less keen on swimming in general and water on her face in particular. And then they got dirty again by the fastest possible method, that of smearing lunch on each other.

All of this served as a really timely reminder for me (on the subject of my discipline challenges) about the difference between short term and long term parenting goals. I don't want Jenna to spend the next few years with blue stripes, but who is she actually hurting? She will wash (and if she doesn't she will be blue for a while, I'm sure she wouldn't care but she might and she would live with it). If they get pasta in their hair, so what? They won't do it at sixteen (I strongly suspect) and there are bigger issues.

What if she wants to colour in her *clothes*? Then, THEN I will stop her. The fact is, since she chooses a lot of her clothes these days she would only be ruining something she really liked anyway! If she draws on the kitchen units, she has to clean them off (or if she was older and had access to permenant marker, she would be paying for cabinet paint and putting the damage right that way).

What would I gain by making a huge fuss and shouting and punishing? I would probably have a cleaner child, but one who thought that I didn't understand how fun it is to have tiger stripes. Reining in her creativity and making her my enemy have other prices too. I'm not willing to pay.

I had a funny little moment after lunch too - when Jenna announced that she wouldn't eat her pasta unless there was something for afterwards (a salami AND cheese AND yoghut AND a bisuit, she said). I have been known, when serving things that Jenna doesn't eat (ie most carbs) to say that she has to eat it before she has anything else. For example, four bites of pasta and then you can have some bread instead. Eat that last raisin and you can have an apple. That sort of thing. She has obviously sussed me and is now using it in reverse. She knows that I want her to eat the pasta, so she says that she will only do it for the preferred follow-up! I knew I shouldn't be doing it in the first place, now I'm stuck what to do instead.

I guess I should go back to the not-making-her-eat-more-but-offering-boring-alternatives. Everything along those lines is a bit smacking of coercion but I really feel I need to insist she eat some of what I've made. Why though? What's the worst that would happen if she didn't eat what I want her to? She isn't going to be malnourished. But she's going to be frequently hungry (even more so than she is anyhow lol) and so mainly I suppose it's for my convenience. Also though it's about gratitude. I want her to acknowledge when something has been done for her and not be wasteful by turning away something that has been served her.

Is there a better way to do this?

Reasons to smile, thanks to a friend

To my grocery fairy, the parcel arrived yesterday and I am still in grateful shock. Thankyou so much, I don't think I've ever recieved such an odd but wonderful present!

More thoughts another time, my children are still running around naked, giggling and squishing bits of stolen apple into my carpet (yes I'm TOTALLY permissive - at least when on the computer lol).

23 April 2008

It's a long road to be walking (again)

It took me a couple of hours to get some perspective on the shaving foam incident. Don't get me wrong I'm still feeling really confused about how much less in control I am than how my head says I should be, but I'm also remembering why I don't want robots for children and why it doesn't matter as much as all that if she acts like a child (she IS a child).

Martin got home and said, with little-boy grin, "shaving foam *is* really fun, I can't blame her for being so caught up in it that she got a bit carried away." He's right, I bet she kind of woke up from that concentrated daze they get in when at "work" and realised that she was going to be in trouble.

Yesterday was *not* soft play, which I only found out after traipsing most of the way there to bump into friends who said that there was a little sign on the door saying that it was off. We walked through town with a big crowd of little girl toddlers in all shapes and sizes, the bigger ones holding the reins of the smaller ones and generally trying to encourage them to be up to mischief. It was fabulous, in spite of the feeling of having an audience being amplified! We joked about getting out the charity cans to rattle to pay for lunch.

Anyhow, on the post-illness/tragedy update, I'm feeling pretty much as I was a few days ago. I reckon that I've made up for the blood loss and although my iron is getting better sloowly I'm doing OK. I would like to NOT be doing OK in some ways, I would like to either be normal or at least laid up so that other people have to do the parenting (even though that makes me crazy, it also permits me daytime naps).

I'm having some really strong feelings about losing the baby still, and about generally not knowing how my life got here and not knowing if I'm ever going to feel happy again. It's that existential itch to be somewhere else, anywhere else, than here. I want a holiday, or a weekend, or a few hours. I'm finding it where I can.

I don't know how to get rid of that feeling just yet but something that did work a bit of magic today was spending the entire afternoon in the garden planting things and generally getting covered in soil up to the elbows. The sun was glorious, and the children spent most of the time brushing soil on and off their little patio area and raking the grass (Jenna) and bouncing up and down on the patio area and falling over in the grass (Morgan). I got a lot more vegetables in too, still with that air of experiment to see what actually grows this year!

21 April 2008

The Shaving Foam Incident

ARGGGHH I thought this has stopped!!!

For a while when I insisted that she needed a nap she would go up there calmly, and then come out of her room a few minutes later and make a mess in the bathroom, unroll the toilet paper, that sort of thing. Basically soak everything, climb up high to reach (and pour away) any toiletries she could get, and have a whale of a time in there The bathroom door is pathetic and no lock we put on it stayed in place, and she won't nap down here at all because her sister provides far too much distraction.

We dealt with it at the time by giving her more choice over when (and where) nap times were as long as she wasn't acting too tired. She could decide to go up earlier or later, or to go to sleep in my room, or she could nap in her den or even downstairs as long as she and Morgan left each other alone. Some days she would argue her case for not having a nap and I would be fine with that - though if she was really mardy and stroppy and rubbing her eyes (or pulling her hair lol) I would insist. That was all fine, and she was sometimes napping sometimes not, not really minding having to go when she was tired, and I was not having to deal with any big messes.

I also made a big point of not commenting on what she had done, blaming, yelling, or anything like that. When it rarely still happened she would have to clear it up and I would help. She had more bath times when she asked for them (rather than just when she was dirty) and got to play with fun bath bombs and home made soaps and things. She and Morgan love to bath together and generally spread bubbles all over the four walls. ;) It has been at least two months since she did anything awful when she was meant to be napping.

Today she had a nap again, needed one, was acting out and almost dropped off to sleep independantly on the sofa until Morgan went and tried to tickle her... I took her up and stayed for a few minutes, until I heard Morgan calling me again. After ten minutes I heard her out of bed and asked if she was OK. She shouted back yes, and that she was getting back in bed. Five minutes later all was quiet but I thought I should check on her anyway as she often loses her covers and the house is quite cold. As I got up there the bathroom door slammed and she said, "Don't come in!!!"

Shaving foam all over EVERYTHING - the towels, the toilet paper, the clothes basket and washing, the bin, the bath, the sink, the toilet (and the toilet basin full of the stuff). Every INCH of her skin and hair. How do those things go so FAR?? I spent half an hour cleaning it up, trying to stay calm with her and also prevent her touching it much more since she'd already got some in her eyes. Trying to make the water warm enough to wash her off, with a hot water tank running on empty. Crying at her crying and not knowing what to do with her, not knowing how come she keeps doing this, why she did it again after all this time. :( When I saw it all I wanted, just for a moment, to either hit her or walk out of the house and not come back.

I'm all out. I feel like I don't even know her. Why? (Not to mention where did she find a can of shaving foam, since hubby hasn't used a chemical one for years!??) Am I ever going to be able to look back on this and laugh about it?

20 April 2008

Good thoughts, bad thoughts

This weekend has been better and better. I have realised that part of my intense down (even before this awful week) was to do with the weather and the garden being so muddy and generally not being able to do the active outdoor stuff we normally do. I can't believe, reading this diary a year ago, how exactly the same I felt even down to describing how I felt about the children as "disconnected".

Saturday we intended to get my hair cut but instead we trawled the continental market in town and got olives and cheeses and such things. We were sorely tempted by a huge djembe as well, but when I laughingly told Martin it was the drum or the holiday he got a glint in his eye and I had to drag him away fast before he thought I was seriously giving him the choice. I need that holiday already, forget about how close I will be to homicide in September if we don't get to go away.

When we got home Martin and I cut my hair ourselves, a collaborative effort. You honestly can't tell. ;)

Church was as hard as I thought it would be. I knew that people expressing sympathy was going to happen and that to some extent I hate even worse people not being able to acknowledge that something big happened to us, but it's still so hard to keep it together. I want people to pretend not to notice that I'm crying to be honest, to say that they heard, they're sorry, is there anything they can do, and then walk away if I don't show any sign of wanting to talk about it.

I've also realised that sometimes when I tell other people about my miscarriages in order to help them grieve I'm actually just being bloody annoying. If they are struggling it's fine to say that I struggled too, or to suggest a way to help, but a couple of people have taken the opportunity to seriously unburden huge ammounts of information and make me feel like I'm expected to help them grieve their loss as well as mine! I don't mean this to be bitchy, and I'm not referring to anyone online lol ;) but I've been helplessly trapped a couple of times in long stories of how other people felt when it happened to them, and boy is that hard. Sometimes I just cry and cry, sometimes I feel like I have to get rid of them as soon as possible before I say something rude.

I'm relating this to how I validate Jenna. Typical, yes, I'm off on a discipline tangent again. I have found myself a few times saying, "Yes, I'm tired too." And so on. Understandably she reacts by huge wailing noises that are my cue that I didn't understand what she was saying to me. I've realised that sometimes what people of all ages need most isn't sympathy or empathy but confirmation. You feel like this. This happened. It's OK to be real with me.

When I say that I feel that way too, I'm really either making the discussion about me and stealing her thunder or negating her by saying that if I can cope she should too.

On that note, discipline is going well and so is the whole of my relationship with the children - especially Jenna. I have been working hard at avoiding criticising her but just commenting on what I see whether my mind silently categorises it into good or bad. Apart from a couple of times when, tired and emotional, I've told her to shut up (oh I know, I know)... The noise intollerance is better out of doors, or somewhere busy and exciting. Sudbury Museum of Childhood got another visit this afternoon and I didn't snap or nag once.

18 April 2008

Jenna's learning and the cycles of emotion we face

While I've been thinking so much about this week and the bad things, I've hardly noticed some wonderful things happening with Jenna's learning. She has started to write, spontaneously, without my ever showing her how. She has come to me with pages of words (groupings of letters and numbers that can't actually be read) for a couple of weeks. Then last week she wrote me her name, "Lenn3"! Since then she has asked for me to write things for her to copy a couple of times.

The interesting thing to me is that she seems to have gone about teaching herself to write before she wants to read. Part of this I think is that most of her books she can already tell me the stories, in her mind she can already read after I've told her the story once or twice. She perhaps doesn't realise that what I do when I read is any different. The major thing, though, seems to be in the use she finds for it. Reading she finds useful only to tell herself and other people stories, which she can do without getting them from books. Writing she is using mostly to leave notes for Daddy, and also in her role-play. A prescription, a cheque, a school book.

Last night she didn't settle very well, normally she takes very little input from us and just has Martin do stories and prayers before dropping off on her own (or asking for a cuddle if she wants him to stay longer, which he does). He was up there for ages yesterday though, and still came back down after half an hour. She said she had been dreaming about the baby, and also that she was worried that she might die or Morgan might die. I just held her, unable to find any words that would be comforting or make things right for her. She fell asleep in my arms very quickly and didn't cry out in the night or get up til morning.

I've been watching them play together with great joy this morning. I remember being worried about the sibling relationship and whether there would be rivalry between them, a long time ago it seems like. Morgan has been brushing Jenna's hair and saying "ere go!" in a funny little reassuring tone. The night before I went into labour with Lael, Jenna was asleep on my lap. Morgan climbed up and kissed and loved her, oh I know I've told this story but... So rarely do I find it harder having two than I found it having one, it makes me feel like there's something wrong with me!

Another thing that makes me laugh now I think about it is these spells of disillusionment and disconnected-ness. I've been looking back and I wrote that I was feeling down with Jenna (on her own) in my (paper at that time) diaries - during mid-spring when the days were wet and there was little to do. I was worried about being depressed. Last year, with Jenna and Morgan together and Morgan newly mobile, I wrote how much I was struggling. And now again, even without what we're going through. I need the summer to come faster with busy full days in the garden!

Today I'm almost feeling well, and certainly able to focus on my girls. I will never forget, but I will heal.

16 April 2008

Things I'm not ready for yet

I tried to get myself into town today, to do some shopping and get my hair cut. It didn't really work out, but at least I didn't faint. I went into Lush and got a bath bomb, but then someone asked me if I'm OK and I burst into tears.

I got around Sainsbury's OK and got fruit and veg, but then broke down again at the flower displays. There are so many babies in town, and so many people who know me and want to know why I'm in without the children etc. It's just too much.

I really thought I was ready. I really want to be, oh I don't know, running around with my children and filling their lives full of good things and real things. I want to get back something that I've been missing through this entire pregnancy and even more this week - laughter and life and sunshine.

I feel so lost.

15 April 2008

A little better a little easier but harder than words can say

I am feeling physically much better today and my heart seems to be having to work less hard. I can sit up for longer and even made breakfast for the girls this morning without feeling at all faint. I am generally better in the mornings and get gradually more tired until I can barely function in the afternoons.

The next two days the girls are off to see grandparents, with the added benefit that on the days they normally want to go like this Morgan doesn't feed much so I have less worry about that. Gradually I'm feeling more confident in my decision, as she seems to still be fine, but it's giving me a headache the worry hurts so much. I had more reassurance from another doctor today (thanks Ash) and it's still hard but I am dealing with it.

Something that has been so *impossible* this time is that I still look and feel pregnant, and keep looking at my body and feeling awful about it. I'm sure those who have been there have felt this, ugly and horrific because my body failed this baby. Petrified that now it might fail Morgan too. Miserably certain that my body caused this in some way and that a future child will be in the same danger. It's going to take time to get back some kind of confidence in myself.

Martin is struggling to find space to cry, he has been back at work really and obviously that's hard on him. He still wants to fix it, keep the girls from bothering me, make me feel right by feeding me and cleaning the bathroom (yes, he cleaned the bathroom lol). We just lie there in the evening and cry together, the only space we've really found. We named the baby a couple of days ago, Lael, which means "belonging to Jehovah". Don't ask me to write it phoetically but it's pronounced like "layal".

Lastly I just want to thank everyone so much for the tide of sympathy, messages, emails, cards, texts. It has touched us so much that so many people are holding our baby in their thoughts, and supporting our grieving process and my recovery. Those who haven't replied in some way, we know that you are still thinking of us! :)

14 April 2008

Another trip to hospital, but doing alright

Back in hospital today - I have been feeling so dizzy still, even sitting up, and I have to admit I think I've overdone it just with the short trip to buy a rose bush and the short spells of standing to make sandwiches and such things for the children. I admitted that there might be a problem when, alone with the girls, I fainted. The next thing I knew was coming round on the floor with Morgan howling and clinging to me. Jenna said, "Your eyes were closed and I hit Morgan with the mobile phone to make her wake you up!" Even at the time that was funny, sweet innocent logic - as a friend said, she has great problem-solving skills.

Sooo it was off to the emergancy walk-in clinic since my doctor offered an "emergancy" appointment in 48 hours time (!) which I was a bit worried about... A while of waiting, so hard with my head pounding and words spinning. The clinic read my details, asked for the story of the last few days (I'm getting really good at telling it now) and told me that it was far too serious for them to treat on site and I could either wait in A&E or they could call around, put pressure on, find a GP to see me, and if necessary I would be re-admitted far faster than by staying in the hospital to begin with. My GP surgery found space for me and I saw a doctor twenty minutes later (during the ten minutes waiting for my lift a nurse bought me a glass of water, found a more private room for me to wait in, and sat with me obviously a little worried).

He was a GP I haven't seen before at our practice and he was another wonderful one - when he heard the start of my rehearsed medical history he interrupted to tell me how sorry he was for our loss (the first time in this whole week a doctor has used those words to me or any similar). The end diagnosis is that I have done too much, my body is weakened and struggling, my blood volume is still well below what it ought to be, and I should be LYING DOWN and not taking care of my children, certainly not unsupervised.

Apart from writing this, I have behaved, and Martin (and Mum) taking care of me. I've made sure I don't have any alone time with both children until the end of the week, and only a couple of hours alone with just Morgan tomorrow. Since she often just sleeps and plays quietly when not interrupted by Jenna it should be fine!


One thing I have found out, from a pharmacist I know, is that with the dosage and circumstances I shouldn't have breastfed Morgan for two weeks after treatment. He also confirmed my idea of what alternate treatment would have been suitable (I KNEW it I just KNEW) but supported my decision that if Morgan had already got a dose it is likely that she could be ill either way and the added problem of weaning could make any (possibly more minor) illness far more catastrophic than her just having the full dose and getting the emotional and physical support she needs. Needless to say, this is all going in my complaint and I have had the added words suggested to me; "unethical" and "breach of trust".

13 April 2008

Funeral

We took some time this evening as the sun was setting to "plant the baby" in Jenna's words. She has asked a few times why we can't keep it, why we're putting it in the ground; we've told her that it's only a body left and the part that made it alive has gone, that the body will smell funny and be not-nice if we keep it with us, but if we bury it it will turn into soil and make the plants grow well. Before we went out, Jenna wanted to write the baby a letter, to put in the ground with it. I suggested earlier that she could but she obviously really liked the idea and wanted to get crayons to write for herself and draw kisses, on pretty baby theme collage paper.

Dear baby, I'm really sad that you died but it's OK. I love you very much. I was just talking to you and I hope you heard me and felt me patting you. I'll see you one day, baby. Love from Jenna.

Martin dug the hole, tears on his face, and Jenna "helped" by holding the rose bush and picking flowers to put near the baby, herding Morgan around and showing us how high she can throw a football. The girls had a lit candle each - Morgan first tried the experiment of poking it and told me it was hot, then she went to put it in her mouth and I said "very hot, fuff" like we would for food that would burn her. She gave it back to me still lit, Jenna blew hers out then so Morgan lent forwards and Jenna showed her how to blow them out again. Then Morgan indicated to light them both (waving them at me with an intent expression) and blew both out when I did. Jenna said a little prayer saying that she was sad about the baby and she hoped it was safe and happy, and then patted and kissed the box before it was buried and the rose planted on top.

We all cried a bit then, with Morgan running up and down the garden with the unlit candles. The girls played for a minute or two, and we got everyone inside for bedtime drinks, stories and hugs. It has been another long day, but again it feels good to find another little ritual, another marker to place on part of my life, something real and tangent to pin down the pain and hold it here.

Updates since the hospital

This morning we got up and went to the nearest garden centre to find a large shrub or (my final choice) a rose bush to plant over the baby's grave. We still haven't named it, I'm not sure Martin can talk about it yet (he's grieving right now by looking after me and rushing around doing jobs). For some reason I'm odly more comfortable calling this baby "it" - perhaps because I held it and don't need to stake my claim to its personhood. All the same I was careful to refer to it constantly at the hospital as "the baby" and correct anyone who called it a fetus or, worse, tissue.

Sadly my week is not done with terribleness (if that is a word). I have looked up the hormone I was given and the manufacturer states that it is absolutely not compatible with breastfeeding and that it may cause severe diarrhoea to the breastfed baby. Needless to say I have utterly fallen apart and struggled to decide what to do even with the help of a team of nurses and a breastfeeding consultant from NHS direct (another WONDERFUL experience of the NHS, they were incredible).

The consensus from them is that the drug isn't OK, the doctor was negligent in not giving me a choice of medications or warning me of the side-effects to Morgan (they didn't use the word negligent obviously, who in the NHS would willingly say that?)... I have complained, fully, about both his attitude towards me and the apalling fact that he either knowingly lied to me or utterly made up his answer to my questions about my treatment!

And I have decided that given my lack of further contractions it is probably OK to keep nursing her. She is also currently well, which suggests to me that we're going to be fine. And if she gets diarrhoea it should be treatable and not a real threat to her. The NHS direct nurses supported this decision and suggested basically that although I shouldn't have been given the drug, stopping nursing her could be more harmful if she already has got a dose of something. I just can't believe it, after the lengths I went to to make sure that I wasn't given anything to jeapordise being able to mother my living children.

Otherwise, I'm as well as can be expected. I'm frequently very dizzy, struggling to sit or stand for long, and feeling exhausted still. One last thing, I just want to say that every single bit of support we've had via text from those people we were able to keep informed all through this ordeal, it was all valuable and I am grateful for it. Also, offers of help with the children and support with meals etc are fab, but I don't know what I'll be up to (or not) yet in the coming week or so. I may yet call and accept any such offers! ;)

12 April 2008

The rest of that day, and more feelings about losing a child

After three hours (!) I called for a nurse, who was incredible. After a sandwich (really tasty with actual salad), a couple of offhand responses from some people, and a couple of kind people who didn't know what to do or how to treat me without a doctor telling them what to do, she was like a light walking into the room. She sat on the bed, talked to me about how I was feeling and was actually comforting. She smiled. She told me that she was sorry and referred to what I'd lost as a baby. She promised to chase the doctors up, explained the delay (busy day for them, but I'd noticed that already) and said she would bring me towels so that I could shower.

She was busy, she must have been (I had heard a lot of crying in several other rooms, some screams, confused and angry male voices, and hours of bustling feet going up and down the corridor) but she gave the impression that she had all the time in the world and that she had nowhere more important to be than right there with me supporting my need to get home to my children (who she had lots of questions about). And she removed the damn caunla, which would have gotten anyone brownie points by this stage.

I had to sit down in the shower, but there was no way I was admitting to that. I'd have been shocked if I hadn't been dizzy having spent the best part of two days lying down, losing so much blood, and having dodgy iron levels at the best of times. Martin had brought be clean clothes - actually gone out and bought me new things because so much of my clothing was now in the wash. The girls came and saw me, Morgan nursed right away (it had been six hours since my medication and I figured she was probably fine).

Eventually I had my conversation about genetic testing with another doctor, refused a fetal autopsy and signed the placenta over to them as, although I had firt thought I would like it to be buried with the baby, I was very curious what they might find out from it. And then, finally, discharge papers. The only snag was in finding the baby (yes, they had lost the body). The Ward Sister searched tirelessly for it for twenty minutes, before finally bringing it to me in a lovely tiny little white cardboard coffin, wrapped in a cloth. She was very appologetic, and when she saw that I was getting tearful she came and gave me a hug and said that she understood and had had two miscarriages herself.

I think it may have relieved her to see me cry, I had been so calm that at least four people had come to gently explain to me that I had miscarried (!) obviously thinking that I might not have understood what they were telling me. In reality, how could I? I still don't. I'm neither more nor less devastated than I was when I first knew (did I know all along, was that why I couldn't be happy to be pregnant?) and I'm still crying on and off. I have a lot of crying to do. But calm is as rational a response as any; how CAN there be any words for such grief? The truth is that I don't know how to act any more than anybody knows what to say to me.

I got home to find that Emma had come, cleaned my living room, and made a big pot of vegetable and bean soup. It was so exactly what I needed, something hot and real and hearty. I have been shattered ever since, tired, tired, tired.

The rest of the morning at the hospital

Martin came in, he had left the girls in the car with my dad, they were going to go shopping and stay busy. Jenna had cried, a lot, but she was bouncing back a little. Morgan had looked at him quizzically when he said that there wasn't a baby in mummy's tummy any more, and gone to fetch him a cocoon baby. Her face said, I have a baby! He had cried then, really cried for the first time. I had shed some tears, but felt more empty than sad and still so focussed on how I was going to get better and get home to my family.

How can you cry properly in a place like a hospital, with people interrupting who want only the useful (medical) information and who have to rush off to other patients, other emergancies? He left and another nurse came to change my pad again and look horrified, then go to fetch the male doctor who muttered something to her but said (when I asked!) that he was fairly sure if the bleeding slowed in the next couple of hours I wouldn't be in surgery and could even go home later today.

A friend arrived, wanting me not to be alone. I still didn't know what I wanted, and was just confused and numb and tired, but she came anyway. I was so glad for it, and talked out so much I needed to find a way to say. We talked about hope, and waiting, and the physical side of miscarriage. We talked about the other babies, now three that I was cheated of - wanted to spend a lifetime getting to know and now could not hold. We talked about purpose, and random chance, and faith, and love. We talked about how intense the love is between parent and child, even if the child had a heart that never started to beat. We talked about what might have gone wrong, and whether we would have more children (I already know that I so want to be pregnant again, not to replace this baby but to have another, and with a terrible feeling of the WASTED time).

I would not choose, could not choose, not to have been pregnant with this baby. It was precious and mine, and I was so blessed to have seen it and held that tiny body. It had a path, and a purpose, although it will not walk with me on this Earth. And oh I will miss it forever.

The clinical nurse came in to discuss the medication with me and how it would affect breastfeeding. She agreed with the doctor, that after four hours it would be OK to nurse, but she personally would feel safer with feeding expressed milk. "Um, how would that be better? She'd still get the same medication in the same dose, surely?" Charitably, I don't know if she knew I had been treated already, but she seemed confused by this and covered her confusion by saying that I would get more of a rest.

I explained, as gently as I could, that expressing was damn hard work wheras nursing the baby involved picking her up and lifting some clothing. She talked some more about Morgan "only comfort nursing" (as though that would be a bad thing, my mum said later) and I just ignored her at this point even though she was enthusiastic about breastfeeding being natural and wonderful. She was lovely, but clearly clueless about the importance of breastfeeding as I saw it, and probably went away with the impression that she had helped me.

There were long periods of nothing happening, without Sam there I would have been pressing the buzzer every few minutes to ask what was going on. I'm not a good patient, I've said this before! Amusingly, the buzzer to call for a nurse had a cartoon nurse printed on it; dress, narrow waist, HUGE breasts, carrying a tray with a glass on it. Sam joked about hoping that a male nurse came in when we pressed it, so that we could look confused and say, "You're not what I ordered!" Eventually a different doctor came, said I could eat something at lunch time and then go home, and promised to send yet another doctor to talk to me about genetic testing.

*Sensitive* Journey of grief, treatment, and too much information

It was about 7cm long, and mine, and I knew I couldn't cry. I fished it out of the bath, gasping in pain as it disintigrated slightly coming out of the water. I had wanted Martin to see it whole and recognise it as I had. It seemed unfair to have had that, that clarity, on my own. I called him softly, wanting for him to come without disturbing Morgan who I'd moved into our bed to feel his warmth while I laboured. He came, and saw, and I told him what he already knew. I had given birth to our baby, at nearly 14 weeks pregnant, and it was done. He asked to hold it, and I slid it onto his hand, the size of his little finger and so wrong there. I raged, but I still couldn't cry.

The bath was red now and I realised the wrongness, too much blood; I couldn't really think further than the protocol response so I sent Martin for the phone to ask what to do, for my notes with the phone number, and sat on the toilet hearing the blood gush away and feeling faint. The baby was wrapped in a tissue, I didn't know what else to do. A bit of amniotic sac too, but not much, I just felt somehow it should be kept together with the baby.

Somehow knew that the clots weren't needed, that they were just trapped blood. Remembered a useless disjointed phrase, products of conception, that was what I had in the tissue, plus blood solid or otherwise. A foetus, a little scrap of what had protected it, what was it called? Placenta? No, the word was wrong but it was all I could think of right now. Where was the actual placenta? I wondered, but I couldn't be sure I was thinking right so I stopped and just thought It's Over, a heavy little thought, over and over and It's Over.

My mum arrived to take me to the hospital, it had taken so long to talk to someone and I'd told the story over and over and whittling it down to short medical facts. I should be 13+4 today (I think), I had had no scan, I just delivered our baby ten minutes ago, I was bleeding so heavily I was frightened by it.

Two changes of clothes and ten changes of maternity pad, the second change of clothes just had to stay covered in blood. I was covered in blood, pouring with it, didn't want the children to see me, and hurried to the hospital where, as ludicrous as it sounds, I walked around for ten minutes thinking I was going to pass out trying to find the right unit and leaving pools of blood wherever I stood for more than a few seconds. My shoes were ruined, I was aware of not wanting to frighten other patients, I was in a room, on a table, still having contractions and being examined by a female doctor (so young, not much older than me, where did all the time go that someone so young could be doing this job?).

There was a lot of worried activity, a nurse trying to clean me up against all logic but with a kind of tenderness and a thought in her mind that I shouldn't be covered in dried blood like this, I would want to be clean(er). I did. She smiled, but she was concerned. I hadn't be exaggerating, she said, and I realised that this was the reason for my long drive and longer walk, they must have people all the time say that they are bleeding heavily. They mustn't often have seen it dripping off the bed in spite of the industrial pad (like a newborn nappy) and the three plastic-backed cotton-wool sheets under me.

I had a tiny vial of blood taken for matching in case I needed a transfusion, and a drip put in my hand as my heart was racing and I was faint even lying down.

Another doctor came to examine me, male, brusque and impatient. This won't hurt, he said. Lier, said my mum loudly enough for him to hear. I'm not sure the description needs any repeating for my peace of mind or anyone else's, but mum was right, and eventually he fished out the placenta and amniotic sac and declared them to have been causing the appalling clotting and rapid blood loss. He talked fast, over me, to the nurse, about treatment and theatre (I was fairly sure not the entertaining kind) and whether the miscarriage was "complete".

He used the phrase, "products of conception" too, and I thought, "I know that you mean my baby, please say baby," but didn't say anything. He followed this with discussing termination, whether about me or someone else I don't know, and mum looked like she was going to hit him. I interrupted. "Is there any chance there is another baby? Do I need a scan?"

He confirmed what I thought I knew, I was only passing clots and I was fully dialated, the foetus and placenta and amniotic sac were complete and there was no chance that anything had or would survive. The nurse said something about products of conception again and I asked her to call my baby a baby, or at least a foetus.

He wanted me to take some antibiotics, and some hormones, but seemed reluctant to fully explain what I wanted to know - what would they actually do? How could I make an informed decision?! Would they be compatible with breastfeeding. "With... what?" Breastfeeding, I'm still nursing my toddler and I have no intention of stopping or making her go without.

He didn't know, said "probably fine" and handed them over. I insisted, would my baby be safe? "Yes, she would be OK, but you shouldn't feed her for four hours." Four hours? Was that an arbitrary number? I asked, was he sure? I was not going to be treated without being allowed to make a decision about what it would mean for me and for my youngest living child. He said he was sure; I didn't believe him. But I took them, feeling that if I had to keep Morgan off the breast for longer I could do that better than ending up in surgery with an infection and my life in the balance.

*Sensitive* A labour and a birth, of a sort

4am : I'm awake and I'm having contractions, not cramps, proper REAL spaced out contractions. Nothing that happens now can be prevented, if they stop soon I might be OK but if not, I'm going to miscarry and soon. There is nothing left to do or say. I'm surprised how strong they are, like labouring with Morgan, I'm even feeling a little spaced out already and having to move through the contractions. There has been no more bleeding, only spotting yesterday a tiny bit of brown blood. I am following my body's cues and doing what I need to do to work with the pains.

6am : It's over. At five o'clock I filled the bath, blocking the overflow to fill it to the top. I wasn't thinking about miscarriage any more, just about labour and my body and my need for the water to get through it. The contractions came hard and strong and regular, and I rode them every minute or so for half an hour. One contraction came so strongly I had to move and leant forward in the water, my breath almost catching and then forcing myself to breathe out, blow the pain away.

I felt a pop of water and looked down to see a tiny fragile baby, floating in the water, almost comical like a tiny jellyfish. It took a moment of utter amazement and shock at seeing it to take it in, perfect and real. The shape of the head, almost-baby face, four limbs, a spine (white as white against the jelly pink translucent skin) and two tiny black dots of formless eyes.

11 April 2008

The longest day...

9am : Just called the midwives' office and spoke to someone there. After a few minutes she called back and said that I was booked for an emergancy scan at the EPU tomorrow morning at
9.15am. Only a day away. Suddenly I feel that all will be well, I will see my baby's heart beating away and we will take a picture home with us of our little one and it will be good news. I'm a little anxious but keeping my feet up (even knowing that it probably won't make any difference) and resting with a sense of doing anything I can to keep the baby safe. Jenna keeps fussing over me and saying, "The baby MIGHT be OK Mummy."

2pm : I hate waiting. I'm no good at it. I can't even queue in a shop for clothing items that I urgently need! This is just the longest day of my life, with everything wrapped up in it. I think the baby is fine, it's going to be OK and I'm going to see it tomorrow on that hospital screen. The baby is dead, there's nothing I can do, I'm going to start bleeding heavily and I'll know it's over. I don't know what to think. Being hopeful leaves me with the fear of an awful letdown and a bigger drop into sorrow. Greiving makes me feel like I might make it worse, give the baby nothing to hold on to. Hold on to me, baby. Please hold on.

7pm : Jenna has just been talking to my belly, softly, barely loud enough for me to hear and scribble down what she said in her lovely baby wisdom. I want to bottle this, I feel so proud of her and how much love she has even when she fears hurt and loss.

This is her conversation with the baby. "I love you baby. I don't want you to die. You're doing really well and you're precious to me. I don't want you to die, you have to be safe and grow big and strong. Don't be sad baby, I'm here. I'm sorry I've got to go now, and do this for your own good [cover me up with a blanket] so you don't get cold."

Morgan was loving on Jenna earlier while she was napping. Jenna had nodded off cuddled up to me and Morgan came up and started kissing her gently and hugging her. She's only 16 months, full of sweet baby selfishness, but she adores her sister. How can this baby not feel their love, not be part of this? The sibling relationship is growing every day and so amazing to watch, and I WANT THAT for this tiny squiggle.

Bleeding this morning :(

I woke up at five this morning and before I moved I knew I was bleeding. Not a lot of blood, but bright red and enough for me to think that I'm losing the baby, I don't want to lose the baby, this can't be happening. The first thought after this was that this is my fault, that if I had wanted the baby enough, if I had bonded with it, it would be OK. Maybe it knows that it wasn't loved as it should have been? What if it knew?

I told Jenna when she woke up that I was bleeding a little bit and that the baby might be poorly or it might be OK. She looked into my face and said, "The baby might die." I didn't know what to say, but I was glad that in some ways I didn't have to say it. She knew. I suppose she's seen me here before.

10 April 2008

Cramps and fears

This evening I have had some strange cramps and for some reason I'm really unsettled. It seems like nothing, certainly not more than I've had in healthy pregnancies, but I can't help keeping going to check if there's any bleeding. I don't feel right. I don't know whether to trust the feeling, but I'm not happy and suddenly incredibly worried about this baby.

For the first time I can really see myself holding this baby, feeding a newborn, chasing a toddler, a whole life laid out in front of me. And I so want it to happen like that I can't let myself think that this might be the beginning of another miscarriage. I'm past 12 weeks! It just can't happen...

9 April 2008

Clarks actually do sell small sizes!

We borrowed the car again and got me some new maternity jeans (and bras, which had to go back as they really hurt!) but the best news of all is for Morgan. We were in Mothercare when it occured to me that the ladies in THIS Clarks (inside the Mothercare branch) hadn't had to deal with me before and would probably just measure Morgan and not feel the need to debate me. So we went in and got her measured. She's still a three. BUT...

THIS CLARKS STILL STOCK SIZE THREE!!!! Yes, really, all of the flipping NOWHERE I have got trying to tell Clarks they need to stock smaller sizes has been for nothing. SOME branches do. And obviously HQ must have assumed that my emails were saying they should stock teeny TEENY sizes which there probably isn't so much demand for after all. I can't believe it, I'm so annoyed but also relieved. She has some little blue shoes with a butterfly and a dark pink bow, she loves them, they fit better than the ones from Next (which she isn't going to have to wear any more) and we're all happy.

7 April 2008

I really am pregnant and I really do want this baby

I got to the surgery on time, and as we arrived a car pulled up and parked opposite the entrance and someone waved furiously at me from inside. As she hopped out I recognised my midwife from with Morgan. She was pleased to see us, to comment on how lovely (and grown) the children are, and remember how long ago 16 months is. Then she asked where we were off to today, and I said here. I told her I was pregnant, and she was delighted for us and said that we must be her first appointment of the day. She ushered us right into her office even though she wasn't ready to see me yet, and left us for a few minutes so she could check in with reception.

The girls played nicely in the office, and were never told not to touch or to leave alone expensive equipment. In fact, she gave the doppler to Jenna to play with and showed her how to use it to hear her own heart, Morgan's, and the rumblings of her tummy. It was such a lovely relaxed morning, filling in the endless forms didn't even feel like a hassle. It was hard, as I knew it would be, seeing in writing that this is my fifth pregnancy.

I finally feel more focussed on the baby and having it come home with me and be in my arms, and less focussed on being pregnant and it not feeling real and yet feeling flipping awful at the same time. I've been much much better with the two older ones this week too, as if it has lifted my whole outlook. I hope it lasts!

Some further fun to come out of today is to look back on Morgan's useless six week check. After I told the midwife what had happened and how the doctor had been she couldn't quite believe it so she looked it up in my notes on the computer. She laughed outloud, looked a bit puzzled and disbelieving, then turned the screen to me to show me what had been written. My GP described me as confrontational and argumentative. :) I am thrilled to bits with that! As the midwlfe said, "argumentative" implies the doctor was somehow under the impression that she should tell me what to do and I should do it.

2 April 2008

Pregnancy misery is the price I pay, not a life choice!

A friend asked me last night why I'd "want to do this again" and I stopped, shocked. I know it was meant in love and support, but I felt confused. I DIDN'T want to do this again (right this second) and the THIS that I hate is pregnancy symptoms not actually pregnancy. I'm rubbish at it so far, and I just don't enjoy the early bit. The fact is, that doesn't deter me from wanting more children because I can't imagine being pregnant as an end in itself.

The *end* is a child, or rather the *pleasure* I find in it is a child (since it's a child all along in my mind). The actual discomfort and sickness and all of the hassle I go through to make a baby, that isn't something I'm choosing. It's just a side-effect of what I really want, children. I'm glad (though slightly jealous) that everyone doesn't have to feel like this in pregnancy...

But sometimes people imply that either if I want more children I somehow deserve to be miserable and have "brought it upon myself" as far as sickness and general misery are concerned, or that somehow I must like it really and it can't really be that bad if I consider it an acceptable price for having an actual baby! I don't know, maybe I'm not making sense.

I just feel that, especially amongst some of my friends, that they don't believe this pregnancy wasn't planned or they see that as irrelevant since I want the baby. I'm still emotional about it. I'm allowed to go on about it a bit. It is just how I feel. I don't want to feel unhappy to be pregnant and happy to be having a baby, and torn, and confused and unhappy about being confused.

After talking to Martin and thinking some more about whether I'm getting depressed again, I finally got around to making myself a booking in appointment with the midwife, who I'm hoping will help to make things a bit better for me (or possibly refer me to the GP to talk about what medication is safe for pregnancy). I don't want to be medicated, it's just not my first choice in any situation, but I'd rather be myself for my children than carry on not being able to care for them properly. I'm actually looking forward to seeing her now and talking about the baby - admitting that I'm really pregnant in a way.

1 April 2008

Weaning, reassuring thoughts

My La Leche League meeting today was wonderful, and I had chance to ask a lot of questions about weaning and whether Morgan is likely to during this pregnancy. I was still feeling shakey about it til today, and now I'm sure that if she isn't ready she won't be persuaded to give up without a fight. If she is ready, it will happen no matter how much I try to persuade her to keep going.

This is a helpful way to look at it for me, and even makes me feel a little more that I couldn't have done anything about when Jenna weaned (I did keep trying to offer frequently and she said no!). I wasn't feeling guilty really, but still had in my head that she might have fed longer if I hadn't been pregnant with Morgan. Now I can think of it more as just how things happened - if I hadn't done any sleep training, if she had never been limited on feeding, if she had had a better latch from the start - who knows?

I'm glad to have fed Jenna as long as I did. I'm glad to be feeding Morgan still and for as long as she wants.