This post was hard to write and is hard to read back over. But this experience shaped me, has made me the mother I am.
Every day this week I’ll be doing a Heart themed post in preparation for Precious Heart’s June Donation Drive. I thought I would start at the beginning.
Image from we heart it
The rain is bucketing down on our tin roof, the heater is blasting and two little men are playing on the floor at my feet. My husband is napping the afternoon of his sick day away, after helping me with the dishes and vacuuming this morning (don’t worry, I almost fell into the sink with shock when he picked up a tea towel and began drying). Roo is at daycare and obviously having the time of her life. I am reading blog after blog, uninterrupted. It’s such a peaceful little slice of the day.
I have a vague memory of rainy Sundays before the children were born. Even before the twins were born. Pal and I would snuggle up on the couch together (seeing as we only had one) and turn on a DVD or watch the TV we’d taped and missed because of work through the week. And despite it’s loveliness, calmness and the luxury of no demands, I used to wish we had a little person snuggled up with us.
You see, before Roo, there was Bubba. This house that we cocoon ourselves in was meant to be for Pal, Daisy and Bubba. If it hadn’t been for Bubba I don’t think we would have pursued home ownership nearly as soon. Luckily for us, Bubba came along and changed our thinking.
Despite what many other women speak about after miscarriage, Bubba is not at the forefront of my mind every day. Sometimes I even go a week without thinking about our first baby. It might sound cruel, or insensitive, but the truth is that life goes on, moves on, and the biggest part of Bubba – the gut-wrenching grief – got left behind. I even forgot the anniversary of Bubba’s “birthday” last year. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel that I am a bad mother. I did everything I could for Bubba, so did everybody involved. But sometimes, everything isn’t enough.
I was 18 weeks pregnant and I was staying with my mother. I wanted to have some time with her and my sister the week before I got married. Pal and I had decided on an incredibly small wedding. My mother and sister, his mother and sisters and brothers and their partners. A family dinner at an Italian restaurant that was one of my favourites. I had wanted the fairytale wedding, but finding out we were pregnant only a month after becoming engaged had nixed that idea. It’s not that I was old-fashioned and wanted to be married before the baby came (well, it was a little bit), but that we were buying our house and we wanted our names to be the same on the paperwork. I can’t remember why it was so important. It just was.
So the “wedding” was organised, and despite having had a few bleeds, a scan had confirmed that Bubba was happily flipping and waving and crossing his/her legs. Being coy and making us wait to find out the sex until our next scan. I went to the coast to stay with my mother. And that’s where it happened.
It’s all a blur.
At first I thought I had wet my pants. I woke up at 3am needing to go the loo, and when the trickle and then flood started, I was convinced my pregnant bladder had just been jumped on one too many times. But by the time I had flicked the light on, seen the blood and dashed to the bathroom, I realised I still needed to pee.
At the hospital the midwives were lovely. The doctor came in and asked me some questions. Suggested it was a molar pregnancy, perhaps? Nope, I had a scan only a few days ago. There’s definitely a baby in there. Perhaps your dates are wrong? Nope, I had a scan a few days ago. Those are my dates. There is a healthy baby in there. He did a scan, couldn’t find the baby. Oh no, wait, there it is. Where? I couldn’t see it. It still sticks in my mind, that the doctor wouldn’t turn the portable screen my way, so I could see where my baby was. But then:
I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.
After that things get quite clear. They must have been calling Paul, keeping him up to date. He was on his way. They put the phone to my ear and he was telling me he loved me, that he would be there as soon as he could. I told him to drive fast, and I remember my mother scolded me. Told me I wanted him there safe, not fast. Paul telling me that our baby was a beautiful angel, that his father was looking after our Bubba and that they had to fix me now.
Apparently I was quite sick. Hemorrhaging. They were rushing me for a D&C, trying to convince me to sign papers. I didn’t need convincing. I just did what I was told. They kept telling me this had to be done, and done quickly. No time to waste. I had taken too long to get to the hospital they said.
They asked me the same questions over and over again. What was my blood type? O Positive. What was my date of birth? 26/01/84. Over and over again. Didn’t they have a pen to write this down, I thought? But now I know it was all necessary. I was in shock and they were trying to keep me in the here and now, and make sure I knew what was about to happen.
They wheeled me through a dark hospital, my mother holding my hand. Then she was gone and replaced by a woman with warm hands, who stroked my forehead, told me that she was so sorry for my baby, that soon I would be able to sleep. She stroked my hair right up until I was put under. When I woke, she was still there, stroking my hair. I was in pain. Oh so much pain! They gave me something, it didn’t help. It was after pains they told me. And it hit me again. Where was Paul? Where was my mum?
Paul hadn’t arrived yet. Mum was on her way right now. The lovely woman stroked my hair some more, told me to tell her whenever the pain was too much again. Everything was too much, so I told her. It’s too much.
Next thing I am being taken to a room. They are apologising for not being able to fit me in anywhere else. I look around and realise I am in the maternity ward. I have a room to myself though, at the end of the hall. One entire wall is windows, overlooking the river. The pain sweeps up and drags me under again and I say so. They call the doctor. They don’t usually prescribe morphine for this, but he says go ahead.
They gave me the needle, and I was violently ill. My mother silently removes the food tray that has been placed in front of me and replaces it with some water. I notice my sister asleep in the arm chair next to the bed and realise she’s been waiting there for me since they took me to theatre. In my delirium I demand my mother tickle my hand. She says: “Who am I? Tickle Me F***ing Elmo?” but she obeys and traces patterns on the palm of my hand.
I wake and there is Paul, kissing me and my terrible breath. I cry. Everyone else leaves. And we cry. And Paul holds my hand. And we cry.
A little later he says to me: “We don’t still have to get married on Friday”. It is Monday. I’ll be damned if I’m not marrying this man who is here crying with me in a few days time.
“We. Are. Getting. Married.”
The first night after was the hardest, being in the maternity ward. It wasn’t so much the babies crying, although it made me sad that my baby would never cry. Although it was a late miscarriage, at 18 weeks I wasn’t thinking about how my baby’s cry would sound. It was when a mother came in, obviously close to her child’s birth. And I heard through the walls: the loud, strong thumping of it’s heart beat. And my baby had none.
When we found out about our twins, the ultrasound tech, knowing our history said to us:
“It kinda makes up for it all, doesn’t it.” A statement.
At first I thought of correcting him. Of saying:
“Sorry. No. Having Rory, and now finding out we are having two, it makes no difference, we lost that baby and we will never get that baby back.”
But instead I thought, and I realised, and so I said:
“Yeah, it kinda does.”
Because the kind man didn’t mean that having an extra one in my belly was replacing the baby we lost. He meant that the love and excitement of twins was a compensation for going through the pain and loss we had. That we deserved this extra blessing after our heartache. That little extra heart beat, pumping away ever so strongly. That extra white flicker on the screen. That second thud-thud thud-thud. It makes up for it.
It was this time of year that we found out we were pregnant with Bubba. We never found out what gender our baby was. They did collect samples, but they only confirmed that the baby had been healthy. But I always thought he was a boy.
We’ll never know why this happened. Only that it was related to the placenta. And after two subsequent pregnancies resulting in pre-eclampsia (a placenta related condition), it’s no longer a shock that the placenta packed it in so royally.
So we don’t have Bubba, but four years later we have a life with these three beautiful children. And our smallest son has Congenital Heart Disease. Has had two operations. And he is healthy.
He has a heart beat.