Posts tagged ‘pregnancy loss’

April 25, 2013

A Miracle called Poppy


Part 8 in a series on Pregnancy Loss

Finally after 4 months in hospital I was allowed to go home at 28 weeks gestation. I had been on bed rest the entire time and I had no muscle left in my lower back or legs. I would get puffed out very easily. I remember being really freaked driving home as I hadn’t been in a car for 4 months. I kept losing my equilibrium and I held on to the door handle for dear life.

For the next seven weeks I started to buy my first baby stuff and prepare the nest. I would constantly head out to the shops and find I’d over done it. My head and heart were so excited and willing to walk a thousand miles but my body would give me a couple of hundred metres and shut down. I would tire so quickly and be stranded at Ikea, the supermarket or Pumpkin Patch. I would have to sit down and rest for an hour before I could get up and make my way home.

I was thrilled to be home with John and we loved being together again. I think the first night home I bawled my eyes out I was so happy. Two amazing women, who were professional painters, offered to paint our rented unit (for free) while I was hospitalised. Our tired little East Melbourne unit felt like a million dollars freshly painted. I was so grateful for their thoughtful and selfless act.

I would continue to go the hospital, sometimes twice a week for monitoring and ultrasounds but we were out of the danger zone and every day was a bonus. At 33 –  34 weeks I had some protein show up in my urine. After the results of a 24 hour urine collection were processed I was diagnosed with Pre eclampsia and a quick and decisive move was made by the Head of Obstetrics, Prof Permezel, and I was booked in for an emergency caesarean section. When a pregnancy is complicated by pre eclampsia, the baby may grow more slowly than normal in the womb or suffer a potentially harmful oxygen deficiency. Occasionally, pre eclampsia can lead to convulsions (fits), a serious complication known as eclampsia.

Little Poppy Lee was born safely on a beautiful day in November, 2006. Unfortunately the timing caused me to miss a very special day – my only brothers wedding. Sorry Bro – xo. Upon arrival Poppy was sent straight to the NICU (Neo natal Intensive Care Unit) as she was 5 weeks premature. She weighed 2 ½ kilos or 5.1 lbs. She was so tiny. She was to spend a further 3 weeks in hospital herself putting on weight and learning how to suck, breath and swallow. It was so hard to finally have a live baby and not be able to bring her home. I would phone the hospital constantly throughout the night as I got up to express milk. I would leave early in the morning for the hospital and John would come at lunch time and we would both go home somewhere between 7 -8 pm. One of the nurses used to remark how Poppy would sleep so soundly and not make a noise from the time I left in the evening until I arrived the next morning. Apparently as I made my way down the NICU to her bed she would hear my voice as I said hello to other mums and nurses and by time I reached her bedside she would be awake. Poppy had a nasal gastric tube which helped her to drink milk. She hated it and tried to pull it out constantly. I hated it too as you could see how much it annoyed her but she just couldn’t take in enough milk orally and we would have to feed her through her nose. They told us that when she could take enough milk through her mouth she could go home. I willed that little baby to drink more – I just wanted her home with me.

After 3 long weeks Poppy graduated the NICU and we took her home. I was so nervous to have the responsibility of her life in my hands. She adapted to her new world quickly and we bonded as a family. I thank God for my daughter all the time. I am so very grateful for her life and I will never forget the peace, comfort and promises that God gave me to this day. While we would love to have another baby the complications for me and that baby are too great. I underwent surgery to have my tubes tied but I stopped breathing and the surgery was abandoned. John took one for the team and had a vasectomy so another is not possible unless God does a miracle.

When I started this series on Pregnancy Loss I had no idea I would pen some 8,000 words. Some of the posts in this series have been amongst my most well read so thank you for coming on this sad but miraculous journey with me. Your comments strengthened and encouraged me to keep going and I certainly would not have written one post after the other without them. I feel there is a deep need for woman to share their pain, grief and hope as they lay some babies down to rest but give birth to some true miracles. I understand that this is very difficult and not for everyone but for those that can – please tell your story.

Over and Out.

Catherine xoxo

April 16, 2013

Four Months in the Mercy Hospital

imagesCAVBU7DKPart 7 in a Series on Pregnancy Loss

We found out we were pregnant with our fourth child at the beginning of 2006. We had previously delivered three baby boys mid-term. None of them survived their premature arrival.  We had a significant break from having babies but after some very helpful counselling we ceased using contraception and I fell pregnant very quickly. The pregnancy test was performed in the public toilets in the Richmond Plaza just outside the supermarket. I had felt a bit queasy and could only have been about four weeks pregnant. John and I caught the tram down to the supermarket, bought the test and I quickly ducked into the public toilets right there.  I was very shocked to see two lines indicating I was pregnant. I shouted through the doors to John outside ‘I’m pregnant”. I had the weirdest feeling of complete joy but immense fear and trepidation.

As with the other three pregnancies I started vomiting violently at 6 weeks. One interesting difference came at about 10 weeks. One night I was in bed at about 8pm, tired and worn out already. I was praying that we would have a baby girl as Girls are stronger at birth than boys and I suspected the baby would come prematurely.  I was also praying for a girl’s name as John and I never agreed on one single girl’s name during the other three pregnancies. He liked Veronica and Victoria and I loved names ending in a ‘y’ like Ruby and Holly. As I prayed for a girl’s name God spoke to me so clearly. He said to me ‘her name will be Poppy’. So many thoughts went through my head at once. ‘I’m having a girl, I love that name and what does the name Poppy mean?’ I yelled from the bedroom to John – do you like the name Poppy? He yelled yes. I yelled  ‘Look up what it means on the computer.’ God spoke to me again. He said that his meaning for her name was ‘she’ll be a sweet fragrance to who ever she meets’. The name Poppy just means the flower. It’s fragrance is said to be very beautiful but so subtle they’ve never been able to perfume it.

At 12 weeks I was hospitalised to have my cervix sown shut. From the surgical ward I was transferred to the ante-natal ward where I was to live for the next four months. Life in hospital was routine, boring and testing. I must admit it wasn’t a place of rest. The doctors would do their rounds early in the morning. John would arrive about 7 am and then leave by 8 am to catch train into the city to work. I would see him again at about 5.45 pm. There were two beds in my room and I had a wide variety of  interesting roommates come and go but there were four of us that were long timers that ‘did life’ together in this little ante natal subculture. While we don’t catch up a lot now that time was very special because of them. We nicknamed our little quartet the Mercy Mum’s after the name of the hospital. I think for the most part we kept each other sane.

I had an ultrasound every week to make sure my cervix was staying closed. Every night I would put my hands on my belly and pray for the safe arrival of my daughter. At 18 weeks I had the ultrasound that determines the sex. The technician asked me if I would like to hazard a guess as to the sex. I said emphatically ‘I don’t need you to tell me as I know I am having a girl’. She said ‘I’m not even that sure’. I said ‘I know 100 percent that I am having a girl because God told me’. She was very annoyed and when she determined the sex she said through gritted teeth ‘there is a 70 percent chance that you’re having a girl’.

I was the longest of the all the ‘long-termers’ that came on to the ante-natal ward.  Being an extrovert I enjoyed the turnover of roommates but why did they always arrive in the room between 2 and 3 am? The nurses would turn on the massive overhead lights and they would make no attempt to speak quietly. Often the patient was scared and in distress. I never got used it. And sometimes I never even got to meet them. They would buzz for the nurse at around 6 am and when the nurse arrived they would have this whispered conversation and before I knew it they would be wheeled out of the room. I assumed they were going to have their baby but one day the head nurse came and told me the reason. I snored so loud that they couldn’t sleep! I warned my roommates to invest in some ear plugs and had a pair on hand for the late arrival.

The most difficult thing of all was the separation from John. From the moment I got pregnant I was so sick that sex was the last thing on my mind and after I had the surgery we were no longer allowed to be intimate. On the rare occasions that I didn’t have a roommate we would pull the curtain around the bed, shut the door to the room and have naked cuddles. It was difficult to relax and the bed was so narrow that we could hardly fit but we were so desperate for some intimacy we did this as often as we could.

One of the highlights of my hospital live in was when one of the Pastors from church came in and prayed with me. He brought the elements of communion with him and I was overwhelmed with emotion as we celebrated the love of God together.  At the time I had one of the ‘Mercy mums’ in the room who was also a Christian. It was such a thoughtful and touching gesture that really left a beautiful mark on me. I missed my church family greatly and even though there was a chapel in the hospital I was not allowed to sit on a chair for a long time.  I had to stay lying down for most of my day and I never attended a service. I did spend a lot of time talking to the hospital Chaplin as I still grappled with many residual emotions and fears from the former three pregnancies. She had a multi-denominational faith – as I understood it – and really didn’t have any underlying love for Jesus. Nevertheless I enjoyed her company and she always stimulated my thinking.

I was fascinated by the high-profile lesbian couple that were my roommates for a week. We were worlds apart in thought, ideology and theology but we both thoroughly enjoyed having these big chats that they always ended in a greater understanding of the other. The funniest thing was that she snored louder than me. She had been transferred into my room after receiving a snoring complaint from her former roommate. The hospital in its infinite wisdom decided to put us together. I can’t imagine what we both sounded like chain sawing logs at night. We laughed together at our mutual disability and came up with a plan so we could both get some sleep. Because I was a light sleeper I couldn’t get to sleep if she was snoring – so she would have nap in the afternoon and then in the evening I would go to bed first with ear plugs in. Being a heavy sleeper she could get to sleep even if I was snoring. We made it work – we had to!

The biggest ongoing issue was the hospital food. Toward the end I could barely stomach it. Having had 3 prior stints in hospital with the other babies I knew what I was in for. I organised a ‘food roster’ and had an army of people bringing in 2-3 outside meals a week into the hospital. They saved my taste buds! Thank you! I had a small fridge in my room which was always stuffed with yummy food. John would also do a little grocery shop on the weekends. I craved cheese and bacon rolls, chicken dim-sims from the cafeteria downstairs and cold juicy watermelon. Unfortunately I had to see the dietician every week who frowned on any weight gain. She even got upset when I had some birthday cake on my special day. I hated her visits and the dreaded the scales she bought with her.

The two biggest essentials to living in the hospital are  TV and visitors. Some people refuse to pay the $5.95 a day for TV. We never even considered it. I love TV and I watched hours of it every day. I never missed Dr Phil but since coming home I’ve never watched it again. It seems I got my ‘fill’ of “Dr Phil”. I loved visitors especially cheeky ones who would sneak pizza in or hide in my room well after visiting hours often pretending to be a family member. They made me laugh and cry and for the time they were there I felt like a normal person rather than a medical prisoner.  Thank you to everyone who came and visited – it was always appreciated.

Wow…I didn’t realise I had this much to write about my stay in the Mercy hospital  but then I remember I did live in this little subculture for four months of my life! #How did I do it?

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo


April 3, 2013

Undoing a Psychological Knot

Untying a knotPart 6 in a Series on Pregnancy Loss

After we delivered our third dead baby, Drew John Warren, we just stopped trying to have babies. I went down to the local GP and got an injection for the contraception Deprovera which lasts for three months. We just couldn’t suffer  another loss. We had no emotional resources left. We discussed the possibility of stopping completely but we decided wisely that in our current state of mind we shouldn’t make any big decisions. We recognised how depleted we were and gave ourselves a break from pregnancy. My body couldn’t physically go through another so quickly again. My gag reflex was so overactive because of all the vomiting that when John was describing the smell of the local dump to me I almost vomited because of the thought rather than the actual smell.

We lived, we laughed and we loved but in many ways we were just going through the motions of life. We would have these stilted conversations about having another baby which would just peter off as soon as anything  that felt remotely like a decision was discussed. We considered some options such as surrogacy.  At the time it was illegal in all states of Australia. I just looked up Wikipedia and things have changed somewhat (legally) in this area but the issues with it are still complicated and we really didn’t want to go down that road.  I was 36 years old at the time and my clock my ticking very loudly so time felt like an issue. We seemed to just go back and forth. One week I’d been keen to ‘try again’ and John would be like ‘hold on a minute.’ And then a week  later John would be like ‘I wonder if we should give it one more go’ and I’d be like ‘hold your horses buddy’. After 8 months of futile conversation where we switched teams repeatedly we decided to get some professional help us undo the mess we had gotten ourselves into.

We saw a brilliant psychologist who helped us so much. Victoria was an older woman who was wise, understanding and knowledgeable. She listened to our long, pitiful story and had great insight into different issues.  We experienced great healing while seeing her and she was also able to help us come to a decision about whether to go again. She gave us some homework at the end of a session 3. She asked ‘What does having a child mean to you and your life?’ I remember John and I discussed the concept of children being ‘an inheritance’. Before I started losing babies I had been an avid scrap booker completing at least 6 albums but after I lost the babies I just stopped. Who would I give them to? I realised that ‘no one would want them when I died.’ Children are an inheritance. They physically carry your DNA, your history, your life and your spirit. Part of you is part of them. They are a living document that is left behind long after you’re gone. They are a voice that will remember who you were years after your death. We realised then that if we didn’t or couldn’t have a child we would have to create another type of inheritance. A ministry, a church – something that would last beyond our life and bless people for generations.

John and I are fairly decisive people and we asked Victoria about why we kept going back and forth both changing our mind a number of times. She said ‘it’s not safe’ for you to make a decision. No decision means no pregnancy and that feels safe to you both. She said ‘when one of you starts to move toward agreeing with the other there is an instinctive reaction that causes the other to take up the other position because you don’t feel safe coming into agreement because an agreement could mean another  pregnancy and you don’t feel safe or strong enough to go through another right now.’ That was so insightful and helpful.

When the time came she also helped us come to the realisation that we were willing to try one more time. She posed the question, “On a scale of 1-10 what number best represents your feelings about having another pregnancy?” I think I said 6 1/2 and John said 6. While they weren’t enthusiastic scores they were in the positive and that put us on the same page at the same time. So after a year long break we decided to have one more try. Either way we determined we only had one more pregnancy left in us.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

March 19, 2013

Living Life Underwater

Part 5 in the series on Pregnancy Loss

Living life underwaterLife can be surreal when you are grieving. It’s like you’re watching it happen but you’re not a part of it. Your movements and interactions with the world are foggy and remote – like you’re trying to talk to someone underwater. I’d be in the supermarket walking aimlessly around forgetting why I was even there. I’d interact with the cashier but I wouldn’t be able to remember the conversation twenty seconds later. I felt like I was dead but I was very much alive and breathing.

I don’t know how long I lived in my little underwater home but eventually God pulled me out because I never gave up crying out to Him and through the love of beautiful friends and my amazing husband I got some emotional CPR and began to live again.

John and I had this question we would ask each other almost everyday. It was ‘how full is your cup today’. A friend of mine who had sought counselling while going through a marriage break up had this advice given to her. It helped her when she received it and it helped us numerous times. Imagine a glass half full of stress. This glass represents the normal amount of stress you carry around with you in your everyday life. When you experience major trauma and or grief the ‘normal level’ of stress in your glass goes up. Imagine now that your glass is a couple of millimetres from spilling over. When something minor does happen your cup just ‘overflows’ and you find yourself reacting abnormally to a minor event. It took months and months and possibly years for our ‘stress levels’ to go back down to ‘normal’. In hindsight, I think God just expanded us into a glass that could hold more.

The one thing we gained from the second loss was a very clear diagnosis. I had what’s called an incompetent cervix. The cervix is a muscle that basically acts as a plug to keep the baby inside the uterus. My cervix muscle was weak and as soon as the baby started to gain weight it would push on the cervix muscle and it would just open up.  At the end of the second pregnancy I came to the attention of the head of obstetrics at the Mercy Hospital – Prof. Permezel. I used to call him “House’ after the American TV show because of his terrible bed side manner but brilliant mind. Despite his lack of sensitivity he was only Doctor I wanted on my team. When we did get pregnant again we went to see Prof. He literally sewed my cervix shut at 12 weeks.

One of biggest risks you run with having what is commonly known as the ‘stitch’ is that it can rub on the amniotic sac and wear a hole in it. Vomiting is not a friend of the stitch because when you vomit your stomach muscles contract pulling the uterus down causing the amniotic sac to rub on the stitch. Because of the excessive vomiting my waters broke at 17 weeks and two weeks later we delivered Drew John Warren. We had a quiet ceremony at home with a few friends.

As I write this account I get so sad for this person and then I remember that this is me. I want to remind you that no matter what it is you’re going through there is always, always hope. While my world got dark and cold at times there was always light somewhere in my life. God never allowed the darkness to swallow me completely. Somehow I just clung to Him and when I let go He clung to me. God never, ever  let me go. I let him go because I just didn’t have the strength to hold on anymore but He knew that and when I was weak He was strong. No matter how big your problems are God is bigger!

Over and Out.

Catherine xoxo

March 13, 2013

We Remember with Love the Babies who do not Live to Grow up Amongst us

In memory ofPart 4: Deja vu

We found out we were pregnant with our second child  5 months after losing our first one.  I was as scared as I was excited. Elijah’s autopsy results hadn’t given us any conclusive answers which meant there was no reason for us to be fearful but we were. We hoped that the whole vomiting thing was something that was exclusive to the first pregnancy but when I vomited in the middle of a major road near our house at exactly 6 weeks along I almost cried. I thought ‘here we go again’.

At the time I was working for a major insurance company in Australia. Money was a bit tight because John was studying to become a lawyer and was only working one day a week. I had used up all my sick leave on the previous pregnancy and as soon as I accrued a day I would take it immediately. I was just so tired, sick and weak. When we surpassed the gestation period of Elijah (15 weeks) I started to relax a little. I was used to feeling terrible but there was this one day when I felt so yucky that I used up one of my precious days of sick leave and stayed home. I felt this huge pressure down between my legs. We lived 2 blocks away from the Mercy Hospital in East Melbourne so I decided to walk myself to the Emergency Room. In hindsight it was a foolish decision. I didn’t drive because we didn’t have a car and no one lived close enough to us to drive me. I also didn’t want to be a drama queen and phone an ambulance.

While I was walking to the hospital I had this feeling that the baby was going to fall out of my body and when I told that to the triage nurse she looked at me like I was stupid. I must admit I downplayed it because I felt like I was being a bit overly cautious because of our first experience. Anyway I sat in the emergency room for three hours waiting to be seen by a doctor. I remember a lady coming in an hour later with a headache being ‘triaged’ before me. I think they were hoping I would give up and go home. The pressure seemed to get worse and worse. Finally I got taken in. I repeated to another nurse that I felt like the baby was falling out of my body and she told me that was impossible. No one had actually done a physical examination of my nether regions. I begged the nurse to ‘just take a look.’ I was told a doctor would be around to see me soon. By this time John had arrived. When the doctor came I felt so stupid repeating my whole ‘I feel like the baby is falling out of my body’. I could see the doubt on his face. When he finally took a look, I saw his ‘doctor composure’ swan dive. He told us that the baby was hanging out my body still in the amniotic sac and that would have to try to push the baby back in and then I would have to have emergency surgery to sew my cervix up. I felt relieved I was right but sad that they were wrong. The doctor said that there was a danger that the waters could break very easily at this point because of the over exposure the sac had experienced to the air, as this weakens the integrity of the sac. I wanted to punch the nurse in Emergency who made me wait 3 hours without doing an internal exam.

They managed to push the baby back into my uterus and I was rushed into surgery. The surgery went well but immediately following I had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic and I started to vomit violently. The pressure on the already weak amniotic sac was too much and my waters broke. I was taken to a small room and the cervical suture that had just been put in was removed so I could deliver the baby. While I am not a catholic we chose a catholic hospital as they are bound by their beliefs to support the sanctity of life and they will only end the life of a baby if the mother’s like is at risk. I carried this baby for two more weeks coming into the hospital everyday to get a blood test to see if my uterus had become infected. At the first sign of infection they would induce labour. As per the first pregnancy my body went back into labour. I knew I had to be admitted to hospital when I could grab a hold of his tiny little foot. I delivered my second son Max Douglas Warren with just John in the room. I lost so much blood that I almost had to have a transfusion.

We had a memorial service for him and so many people came that there was not enough seats in the chapel for them all. It was the saddest thing I have ever attended. This is an excerpt from the memorial service pamphlet:

 Words of Reflection

Our time together was short,

but our touch enduring.

The love you gave me

was sufficient for a lifetime,

such is our bond.

Your special gift to me,

Mum and Dad,

was my birth.

My special gift to you

is the strengthening of

your love for each other.

The tears you now cry

are meant to flow.

I am still yours.

When you feel alone

remember my look and be joyful.

When you feel despair

look for my star

and I will be there.

I am yours, your little one.

Max Douglas Warren

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

March 6, 2013

If You’re going through Hell, Keep Going. Winston Churchill

winston Churchill

Part 3 in a series on Pregnancy Loss : Bottom of the Barrel

There is an order to things. You go to the hospital you have your baby and you take your baby home. But when I left the hospital after giving birth to my first son Elijah James Warren I had to leave him cold and alone in the hospital morgue with nothing to hold in my hands and a heart so heavy it could have sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The raw pain was almost unbearable. I wanted to die but I wasn’t suicidal. I cried so much that the thin skin under my eyes wrinkled up from all the salt – a bit like when you swim for too long. To make matters even worse my milk came in. My breasts ballooned into these large hard painful watermelons. We were told this wouldn’t happen because of the early gestation, but happen it did . To discourage milk production I had to limit how much I expressed but I was in so much pain that I just had too. I was advised to put cold lettuce leaves on them. It brought some relief but I felt as if my body was crying milk tears as it grieved for the lost baby. Eventually I got some drugs from the GP which brought the issue to a slow close.

On the afternoon I got home from the hospital I had a very long shower. I was overwhelmed with pain and grief. I remember crying out to God “You’ve got to help me. You’ve got to comfort me. I need you. Help me God. Help me. I can’t handle this. I need you. I need your comfort.” While I have never heard the ‘audible’ voice of God I heard Him speak to me as if he was on the other side of the shower curtain. He said “Catherine – you need to give him to me.” “What do you mean God? “ I said. He replied “He’s too heavy for you to carry. He’s a burden to you. Come and give him to me”. Obviously God did not mean for me to drive back to the hospital and demand Elijah’s body back from the morgue. What he was asking me to do was to give him over in my heart. I thought about this and decided, yes, I could and would do that. So I imagined myself walking up to the Father with Elijah in my arms. I started to give God some very detailed and complex babysitting instructions and the Father looked right into my eyes and said “Catherine. This child will only ever know perfect love” What a beautiful and powerful thing to say. On my best day as a parent I would never be able to give Elijah more than ‘perfect love’.  I kissed my son and I said goodbye and I gave him to the Father and I turned around and walked away. I wanted to run back but I knew that this was the best thing I could do, for him and for me.

In the months and years since that moment I have gone back to that particular memory and whenever I do I find it still contains the peace of God and the comfort of God in a place of my most extreme grief, pain and disappointment. The words He spoke still love on me even now as I repeat them to you some 9 years later. While John and I struggled with our grief for months and years every time I went back to ‘the shower scene’ I felt His comfort and His peace afresh.

I had been a Christian for over 20 years when I birthed Elijah and I considered my faith in God to be quite strong but after I lost the first baby my faith was challenged. I didn’t blame God for what happened, I just didn’t understand why it happened. I needed to find a place in my mind and heart to place this experience in the context of my faith. I felt there was a lot of grace given to me by God to explore the complex emotions and thoughts that were swirling around in me.  I distinctly remember thinking if my faith doesn’t help me when I am at my worst then what is the point of having it? My disappointment was so deeply profound that I knew I couldn’t just ignore it and hope that ‘it would’ go away. I felt so isolated that there were times that I thought God had left me.

As I cried out to God in my distress He continually met me offering ‘peace’ and ‘comfort’. As I grieved and cried and challenged and raged He came over and over and over again offering His peace and His comfort. It is so easy in our disappointment to not work it through properly and to just continue on with unresolved negativity toward God because of it. And if you don’t get that peace and comfort it will haunt you forever. The good thing is that it is never too late to bring up past issues with God. His door is always open. The Psalms are full of real people struggling with real disappointment but as each Psalmist starts with his issue by the end of the Psalm there is a reconciliation of those thoughts and feelings which end with God balancing the scales with either His peace or His comfort. God makes these two keys things available to us without measure when we are in acute pain. There is an infinite amount to draw upon but God and I love that God is such a gentlemen He won’t force them upon you.

The lie that I caught myself playing with emotionally and mentally in the disappointment was that ‘God wasn’t good all the time’.  The enemy loves to cast a seed of doubt upon God’s character. In the garden of Eden the snake says to Eve ‘….did God really say …..’.  Truly I say to you if you believe that God isn’t good even .01 percent of the time then the enemy has planted a small seed of doubt that will one day grow unless you arrest it.  I went into this experience having a belief that God loved me but I came out with an absolute unbending truth that supersedes every bad and negative experience yet to come in my life and that is ‘God is good ALL the time. Not some of the time, all of the time.’. If I don’t believe that 100% then I am vulnerable to losing my trust, faith and hope in God. It’s become a non-negotiable for me. NO matter what – God is good ALL THE TIME. No matter what happens, no matter what comes my way, God is good all the time.

As I journeyed through the dark night of the soul carrying my little lamp Father God never left go of me, never gave up on me and never tired of helping me. In my lowest moments of doubt, fear and pain His peace and comfort were there for me without end and without debt. The only person I owe for all that I received is you. When God gives comfort to us He gives more than we need so we have extra to give to others. I tell people if you want to help others in the future then make sure you get what you need first. I have helped many people with their grief in pregnancy loss but only because I stayed in the one place and allowed God to minister to my heart first. If you try to help someone without getting God’s peace and comfort for yourself first than all that will happen is your own pain and grief will come up and swamp you.

I am not writing this series because of me, I am writing this series for you. I have received my ‘peace’ and ‘comfort’ from God for what happened but you may still have residual pain and discomfort around a pregnancy loss you may have had many years ago or just recently. It’s not too late to reconcile that with God. He is available to you right now. He is ready to hear anything you have to say. His shoulders are big enough to take every tear – just open your heart and let Him in.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

February 20, 2013

I Held you every Second of your Life.

Part 2 in a Series on Pregnancy Loss : Elijah James Warren

miscarriage2-177x235It was a Sunday afternoon like any other except that I was 3 ½ months into my first pregnancy.  I was having an afternoon rest but felt nauseous and got up to vomit. As I vomited I felt an explosion of fluid and I realised my waters had broken. John quickly rushed to me to the Royal Womens Hospital in Melbourne City where we sat all night long in a state of fear, confusion and disbelief. Physically I was bleeding heavily but an ultrasound was needed to confirm if the baby was still alive or not. Unfortunately I had to wait until the morning to get one. John sat beside me all night but we barely spoke as we sat consumed by our worry and fear. Without any diagnoses we had nothing to pray for or hope for.

After waiting all night long and sitting through a painstakingly long ultrasound scan finally the technician spoke…”Baby has no amniotic fluid left. The sack has ruptured. Baby has heartbeat. You will need go to the theatre for a curette to remove baby.” He spoke so weird – it wasn’t ‘the baby’ it was just ‘baby’. It felt like a downgrade. Like it was a nothing. The word ‘the’ seemed to give it more life. I didn’t really understand what he was saying. I remember asking ‘The baby has a heartbeat?’ Yes, he said. I felt like I was stating the obvious ‘but why can’t we just keep going?’ I remember his eyes looking at me like I was so stupid not to understand the role of amniotic fluid in a pregnancy. He said ‘baby can’t grow without the fluid, it keeps the lungs moist and supple, ready for breathing, without it baby’s lungs will dry out, it’s renal system will fail and it’s respiratory system will not start because the lungs will dry out and crack.’ And with that he got on the phone to book me in to surgery to get the baby taken out. Things were moving way too fast. I could barely breathe. I didn’t understand all the implications of what he was saying and I felt stupid and I was being rushed into surgery without a thorough explanation. I needed to process what he was saying. I was moved briefly back to a ward before going to surgery. John and I talked quickly and we decided to leave the hospital. I almost felt like a prisoner on the run. Adrenaline got me dressed and we almost ran out of the hospital. We did let them know we were leaving and they expressed great concern at our decision. With no amniotic fluid the womb was exposed to major infection. I agreed to come back for tests in three days.

I remember feeling so much better emotionally once leaving the hospital. I had felt bullied to get the surgery. I felt that the life of my unborn child was not considered on any level. I was so confused, tired and scared and I needed peace, rest and clarity and I knew I wasn’t going to get it there.

This was our dilemma. Was having the surgery to forcibly remove the baby from my uterus, while it had a strong heartbeat, paramount to abortion? I didn’t know the answer to that question but I was going to find out before I went anywhere near the hospital again. I would have to live with this decision for the rest of my life, and I didn’t want hindsight to tell me something different 1, 2, 5, 10 years later. I needed to make the right decision amidst all the heavy emotion and pain. It didn’t help that I kept imagining this tiny little baby lying on the bottom of a ‘dry womb’ no longing suspended in the moist blanket of fluid it had always known. I could barely sleep I was so distraught over its condition.

The bible says there is wisdom in counsel. We made three phone calls to three different people who each had 20 years ministry experience. We got the same message from each of the three people. We also spoke to an experienced midwife who was able to explain the situation from a medical point of view. She also gave us other options other than a D & C. We searched the scriptures for answer. We prayed. We cried. We read the dictionary definition of abortion. We cried. We prayed more. We cried more.

I really wanted to call ‘Right to Life’ but John was frightened that some religious zealot would tell me that I was going to commit murder by going back to the hospital in two days time. While he was taking a shower, I called them. I was put through to a counsellor straight away. I explained my situation and the options I had. She said “your body has initiated the process of labour. It started contractions and your waters have broken of their own volition. You’ll only be helping your body to finish what it has already started.” She said you’re not making a decision to end the pregnancy but that the pregnancy has made a decision to end itself.

I had peace at last. It was like my whole body sighed with relief. When John got out of the shower I told him and together we cried again now sure of what we needed to do.

We spoke to a friend who was a midwife and she explained that a surgical removal of the baby was not our only option. She said that they could insert ‘saline’ tablets into the uterus which would irritate it enough to restart contractions. The baby would be then be delivered normally which would give us an opportunity to hold the baby. This was really important to us. She also explained that my body would recover faster because it would better understand what had happened. With surgery the body is left confused – one moment there was a baby and next minute it is gone.

Upon arrival back at the hospital we let the doctor know of our decision to deliver the baby naturally. I overheard a nurse sarcastically saying to another nurse – “How stupid? Why would they do that?” We were put down in a room at the end of a long hallway away from all the mums who would probably deliver live babies.  The saline tablets were inserted into the uterus and I was told that after 4-6 hours I would probably need 2 more and then after 10-12 hours I might start to labour.  I delivered my baby boy Elijah John Warren less than 5 minutes later. I had not recognised the back pains I had been having all day as labour pains. The two white saline tablets came out first.

Our precious baby boy, Elijah James Warren, was born weighing about 100 grams. His whole body could fit in the palm of my hand. His skin was translucent but he was fully formed. Two arms, two legs – the toes and fingers were too small to count. He was taken away and then brought back in some tiny clothes made by a church somewhere in Melbourne. I can not explain this but I was full of joy. It was a sad joy but a joy nevertheless. I held my precious baby son. I had been a bit fearful of what condition he would be in given that there was no amniotic fluid but nothing to the naked eye was obviously amiss.

John and I both sadly hugged and kissed him. He was perfect to us. We cried so much I felt like I needed to have a drink so that my body had some more liquid to make more tears. I stayed overnight but the next day I was told I would have to leave the hospital. I did not want to leave my baby.  There was an option that we could take the baby with us as because he had no birth certificate.  In Australia you only get a birth certificate for the baby if they are born weighing 400 grams or you’re beyond 20 weeks gestation. I was neither. I was torn. I didn’t feel like I was ready to say goodbye yet. The hospital agreed keep him in the morgue one more day but then he would need to be sent for an autopsy.

I left the hospital and John and I went to buy him a gift. Of the three ultrasounds we had of our son, three different ultrasound technicians remarked on his strong heartbeat. I felt strongly that he had ‘inherited’ the strong heart of his mother and father. We bought a small length of chain and a silver locket and he was cremated with it. I still have his ashes at home with me. I bought a large wooden ‘blanket box’ in which I put every card and every memento including his ashes. It is next to my bed in my bedroom. No matter where I live he will not be far from my heart at night. We opted to not bury him in a cemetery plot that had a premature baby section. A reason cemeteries exist is because they are public. It is a ‘common’ area for all who knew the person to come and visit and remember them. Who was going to visit our dead baby, but us? I wanted him near me. Maybe one day I’ll scatter the ashes but I’m doubtful.

Next Week Part 3 : The Bottom of the Barrel

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

February 13, 2013

‘To Remember Is Painful To Forget Is Impossible’

pregnancy plannerPart 1 : In the Beginning

Women all around the world are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, are giving birth and are losing babies. The current Australian statistics on pregnancy loss go something like this: one in four women (25%) will have a pregnancy that results in a miscarriage. If you reach a 3-6 month gestation in your pregnancy there is only a 10% chance of a miscarriage occurring and beyond 6 months it goes down to 5%. In my first pregnancy I lost my baby at 4 months. Once you have had one miscarriage your risk of another increases by 13%. And after my second miscarriage at almost 41/2 months gestation the chances of a third miscarriage increased to 40%. After I miscarried my third child I went into a fourth pregnancy with a 60% chance of miscarriage. No wonder we consider our daughter a miracle.

Between 2003 and 2006 I had one baby every year. I held all four of them, kissed them and loved them with all of my heart. The first three babies were boys, in order Elijah, Max and Drew and the fourth was a girl, she was born slightly premature and we named her Poppy and what a delight she has been to our heart and soul. We have not attempted anymore pregnancies since the birth of our daughter.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I experienced an emotion that I had never had before to that degree. It was a pure, beautiful and innocent joy. I ordered a dozen roses and had them delivered to my husband at work with a little card that read ‘we’re having a baby’. When a pregnancy is wanted and anticipated there is great celebration in the heart of the parents, the closeness they feel with each other at the news is beyond explanation.

The journey from that moment on is filled with awe and wonder at the engineering feats the body undertakes to physiologically see this thing come to pass. There are also many decisions that now need to be made involving living arrangements, baby names, financial planning, do you find out the sex of the baby and on and on. My mum is not a lovey dovey maternal mother but I so just wanted to move into her house and sleep right next to her. The desire to return to the ‘nest’ becomes overwhelming.

As the pregnancy gains strength one of the key indicators that things are going well is that the production of a hormone known as HCG increases. Unfortunately it is also the culprit behind ‘morning sickness’. During my four pregnancies John used to say that it was called ‘morning sickness’ because that’s when it starts – in the morning. From about 6 weeks onwards I was horribly, brutally sick all day, every day. I just vomited and vomited and vomited all the time. ALL the time. I would vomit for so long in one sitting that I would not be able to breathe. I would be vomiting into a bucket almost passing out because my body was starving for oxygen and in danger of suffocating. I would then start to panic. This would then cause my throat to close making the passage for vomit and also the possibility of getting any oxygen even harder. I remember having to calm myself down by ‘reeling in the panic’. I would picture myself standing a dock reeling in a huge fish, as if it was my panic. I would let the fish run out and then wind it back in until my throat started to relax and I could take these tiny gasps of air in and around the vomit coming up. Little by little I would calm myself down until I was breathing normally again. I would often have my life ‘flash’ before me at these moments but I was determined not to die vomiting. I had heard of this website that was all about the dumb ways people die. I was not going to be on that. NO WAY. Fancy that, ‘dumb ways to diiiieee, so many dumb ways to die….sitting on toilet seat choking on vomit up to my feet… dumb ways to diiieee.’. If you are not Australian you may not know that this is a very popular little you tube clip song. Here’s the link…beware you can never totally remove this song from your head.

To be continued…in Part 2: Elijah James Warren

Maybe you know someone who has experienced a painful miscarriage and you didn’t know what to say to them or sadly that person is you. This mini series on Pregnancy Loss is for you or that person you know. It is not just about a journey into the dark night of the soul but also about the hope and comfort that can be found through God no matter how bad it gets.

Here is the link to this blog post for you to copy and paste to that friend you’re thinking of:

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxoxo

%d bloggers like this: