Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day

Today is October 15.  Babybean is 4 months old.  It was also pregnancy and infant loss awareness day.

If you don’t know I’ve suffered a stillbirth recently and have also miscarried when I was younger.  When I say that Babybean was hard won, I mean it.

The loss of Joel and the way it happened caused me severe anxiety and fear when I was pregnant with Babybean.  Every single day I waited for something to go wrong.  I was acutely aware of every pain or weird feeling in my body.  I stayed awake nights terrified that I was going to roll over on my stomach and pop my water.  I couldn’t give myself permission to enjoy the pregnancy and I hid it from others for as long as I could so I wouldn’t have to “inform” them again if I lost this one too.  I think the worst though was the guilt.  Because underneath it all I was convinced it had been my fault.

It wasn’t my fault.  The Dr that was there isn’t even sure what it was.  They think an undiagnosed UTI but aren’t sure.  It’s that way with most miscarriages or stillbirths.  Despite the mother’s best try sometimes it just happens.

Which is why “personhood” bills that go through congress or parliamentary motions like M-312 here in Canada are terrifying to me.  Some see just the abortion debate and though important I want to put that aside for another day.  What scares me is this:  if a fetus is given “personhood” status and has all the rights that would award, sometimes over and above the mother, what happens when there is a stillbirth or even a miscarriage?

Does this involve a criminal investigation into neglect or even…murder?

The last thing I would have wanted after losing Joel was answering questions about my conduct during my pregnancy.  I felt guilty enough for something beyond my control.

It would also open up the floor to banishing mothers from working during their last trimester – or possibly the full term of their pregnancy.

Scary.

I didn’t light a candle today or say any prayers.  I didn’t look at photos or talk with my husband about my feelings.  I did, however, hold Babybean a little closer and paid a bit more attention to him than usual.  The anxiety I feel now is tied to being a mother and it was a hard road to get here.  I’m going to appreciate what I’ve got and fight for my rights in the future.

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Joel’s Story – One Year Later

“To Remember Is Painful
To Forget Is Impossible.”
~Maureen Connelly

Last year on May 5th I gave birth at 19.5 weeks.  He didn’t make it.  This is the story of what I went through that day in hopes that it will help another somehow and that sharing it will help ease the pain I still feel.  Read at your own discretion, I’ve decided to hold nothing back.

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Intensive Prenatal Classes

What was supposed to be informative and helpful ended up being a very hard day for me yesterday. My husband and I had signed up for prenatal classes with the only person in our city that my Dr recommended. We opted for the two 4 hour classes instead of the five 1 1/2 hour classes.

We were early and sat in the room waiting for the 7 other couples to show up.  The instructor gave us our name tags (oi – name tags?) and fatherbean and I read various books on babies while we waited.

I can feel the anxiety starting in me, the tickle in my stomach that isn’t quite nausea, the racing thoughts in my head – but what if they don’t like me oh god i’m going to be the oldest mom here i’ll definately be the fattest will i have to talk infront of them – and so on and so forth.  I know fatherbean is nervous but he stays quiet and focused beside me.  I take out my knitting and work on calming some of that anxiety.

The first couple arrives and sits down.  Then the rest trickle in.  The fathers all seem to have the same caught-in-the-headlights look on their faces and focus their attention on the moms.  The moms all glance around when they think the others aren’t looking and steal peeks at other bellies than theirs.  No one talks – I don’t think anyone is sure how to start a conversation.  “Hi!  I’m pregnant, so are you!  So…uh…how’s it going?”

A lady representing a company that does Cord Blood Banking comes in and talks to us about it.  http://www.insception.com/  I’d heard about this service before but had never really delved into the heart of it.  The blood can apparently be used later in the child’s life to help with various diseases and can even be used for other close family members.  Sounds good but it’s expensive and not something fatherbean and I have the budget for at the moment.  Plus I feel guilty – like I won’t be doing enough to protect this child if I DON’T use the service.

The class continues.  The teacher is a beautiful woman with a Trinidad accent.  I love listening to her talk and she puts me at ease.  Fatherbean is learning what to do to make labor more comfortable for me – ways he can help and ways he can be useful.  What to do to take care of himself and me in the coming months.  I know he’s been stressed about seeing me in pain and about becoming a dad so as I expected this class is more for him than me.

As the class moves on and we start talking about the signs of labor and preterm labor I start to become more and more agitated.  I’ve already been in labor.  I know the signs.  My mind flashes back to that horrible day all alone at the hospital where I went in to emergency with what I thought was a bladder infection and ended up having a stillbirth at 19.5 weeks.  As the teacher describes the type of pain contractions are my body remembers and I start to panic.  I think of Joel, little Joel, who I lost last May and whose death weighs still so heavily on my heart.  I get mad once again at the Ob/Gyn who failed me.  It’s hard hearing all this in a setting I can’t escape from. It’s taking all my strength not to run sobbing from the room.  I look at the wall and try not to listen too much.  Not that I think anyone will fault me for it if I did start crying but I do not want to upset the class – nor the other mothers there. I also do not really want to explain myself.

Perhaps one day I will post my lost bean’s story.

The instructor noticed my pain and took me aside afterwards and we talked about it.  It really helped.  She helped calm my anxieties somewhat and gave me some options to help with this pregnancy.  She says fatherbean and I may be candidates for a volunteer Doula to help – especially since I have an increased risk of post partum depression.  That would be a big help.

I’ll leave this post on a fun note though. While all us moms were out in the hall eating our lunch the men had to stay behind and make a list of things to “help her during pregnancy”. Like what they would specifically do. When us women were let back in the room we had to guess which ones our guys wrote. There was one there that said “Bring her a picture of a favorite pet” and I started to laugh. I knew that was fatherbean’s! The teacher said he wanted to bring me the pet but they don’t allow that at the hospital so a picture will have to do. Seems as if my precious Spitha dog will be helping me during pregnancy more than she knows – and how lucky am I to have a husband who truly understands me like he does? So lucky.