Living In Hope, Coping Through Fear.

Six months have passed since I last wrote a blog post . My darling Rebecca should now be 18 months old. When I started this blog last year I didn’t know what it was going to be used for and whether I would be writing weekly, monthly or just whenever I felt like it – turned out I wrote whenever I felt like it and it worked for me.

I feel like writing today.

Writing this blog helps me to rabble on and release thoughts and feelings. That way they’re out, no one needs to read it, but it’s out there for anyone who chooses to. It’s quite therapeutic.

I last wrote when Rebecca turned 1 years old. That was a difficult time, the last of the ‘firsts’ had come; We had our first week, first month, first Halloween, first Christmas, first New Year, first anniversary of death and finally first birthday. Our first year without our daughter had passed.

One of my favourite films, Notting Hill, has a scene whereby the heartbroken character William Thacker, played by Hugh Grant, walks through a market place. Whilst walking the seasons change around him, from spring through to winter then back to spring. That’s how I feel; Rebecca was buried amongst the bright golden daffodils in the cemetery, then before I knew it those same daffodils were blooming once again. Life has just carried on around me. Sometimes I’d pop my head up, look around then sink back down unbeknown what’s really going on up there. Suppose that’s living in grief. That suited me fine, I was content being below the goings on of the world lying in the depths of grief.

That was until October 2015 came. Suddenly I was forced above ground whether I was ready or not.

My husband and I agreed rather quickly after Rebecca’s birth that we should try again, let me re-phrase that – Empty Arms Syndrome was consuming me, I was desperate to hold a baby once again. Obviously, I was desperate to hold Rebecca, but after those sacred 6 weeks with her I knew I could hold her no more, I had to do what was best for her – I had to lay her to rest. But the grief was so strong, my aching arms were killing me. I quickly realised I couldn’t go near, let alone hold, another baby other then my own. My pregnacy with Rebecca was me wanting a baby, this soon turned to needing a baby.

My husband agreed that he too wanted to give Rebecca a younger sibling, but he was so worried about jeopardising my journey through grief – I was so vulnerable. I persuaded him otherwise.

I found myself obsessed with becoming pregnant. I was constantly scrolling through websites and support groups. Spending a fortune on ovulation kits, checking temperatures, timing everything. Sex became something that just needed to be done.

There is so much that goes into trying for a baby after loss, the feelings are amplified. The obsession. The desperation. The heartbreak . The anger. The disappointment.  The feeling of being a failure. The fear… But mostly the guilt – guilt towards being disloyal to Rebecca.

October 2015 brought a positive pregnancy test.

I would be lying if I said I was happy about it. This is what I thought I needed. But the realisation came that I not only did I want Rebecca, I needed her too. I stared at the test and cried. What had I done?

Now the new feelings started – which also seemed amplified. The obsession. The fear. The panic. The uncertainty. The paranoia. The confusion. The anger…. But again, mostly the guilt – guilt towards being disloyal to Rebecca.

The first trimester sent me spiralling into a frenzy. I couldn’t bond with this pregnancy – I couldn’t even admit to it. I felt so stupid for taking this risk again. Risking losing another child. Breaking my family’s hearts once again. The anxiety got too much. I needed help.

By Christmas I had started counselling. Thankfully this was with a familiar face who knew me and knew Rebecca (The Bereavement Midwife who looked after me Rebecca and my family during our stay at hospital) I cannot thank this wonderful lady enough for helping me getthrough each week. The amount tears and fears shared in those four walls were obscene. Slowly she neutered me, teaching me to bond, opening my eyes to the new life growing inside of me.  The fears didn’t go away, but I was able to realise my fears were valid and so was this new life.

I soon found myself obsessed by the term Rainbow Baby and of any stories of them.

I tried to hide from the baby’s first movements. I was going to bed early to avoid feeling them start. Once I had felt them that was it, the almighty fear of one day feeling it no more consumed me.

I tried to hide my growing bump as long as possible, but it finally had to be exposed. Suddenly I was surrounded by many ‘congratulations’ and soon realised people who avoided me before were able to speak to me again. Sadly I quickly became aware that some thought that a new pregnancy meant I was soon to be ‘all better’, ‘healed’ or ‘over it’ – this hurt immensely. I hated the idea that people may think I was replacing Rebecca. Others were quick to tell me that ‘things would be better this time’, that ‘nothing would go wrong’ – this angered me, how could they possibly know that?

Time was slowly moving forward and my pregnancy was progressing. I was under the care of a fantastic consultant who catered to my every need. I was scanned at least once a week for foetal developments, monitored whenever I felt I needed it (which was sometimes everyday) soon the hospital became my second home. By my request, induction was set for the 38th week. Trusting the staff in this hospital was always going to be difficult. My dear midwife friend who delivered Rebecca was on 24/7 standby via telephone for any of my weak moments or crazy questions. The doctor who performed Rebecca’s ECV was clearly told to stay well away.

There are so many diffetences I personally realised about a pregnancy after loss, other than the extreme emotions I’ve already mentioned. Little things like; not wanting to take photos of my growing bump, not wanting to write a pregnancy diary, not wanting to buy anything for baby, not wanting to plan ahead or prepare for their birth. I was still unable to be around other expectant mothers, I was still so very jealous – jealous of their innocence and excitement. Dare I say it but I found myself constantly planning the death of this baby, discussing burial, headstones, the birth and memory making – I couldn’t let myself imagine this baby being born alive. I really struggled to bond, I had to keep reminding myself that whether I bonded or not the pain of losing this child would still hurt – so surely I should cherish with each day with them? This battle was exhausting. My counsellor tried so hard to break down these barriers.

Towards the end of pregnancy the anxiety and fear were getting intense, I was constantly on a yo-yo of emotions. Forever waiting for the next foetal movement, all whilst trying to stay calm.

My induction date was two weeks away – I found myself at 36+4 weeks, the same gestation Rebecca died. This day was immensely difficult, I spent the morning being monitored and the rest of the day crying with Rebecca. Begging her to come back and allow me to wake up from this bad dream. Preying she bring her little sibling safe to me. I spent the next day in appointmens; at hospital being monitored out of fear of something going wrong, seeing my counsellor and meeting my midwife friend.

The following day I woke to find myself having intense Braxton hicks. Luckily I was already booked in that morning with my consultant. The baby was fine on the scan, irregular contractions were monitored and although I was dilating, it was diagnosed as false labour. As I returned home from hospital I found myself bleeding, heavily – it was happening again, I thought my baby was dying. I rushed straight back to hospital. I was quickly assured my baby was alive but I was told to prepare for labour.

I suddenly realised I wasn’t prepared. I was scared.

My birth plan didn’t exist, it was a stillbirth plan… So I insisted to be monitored constantly throughout labour and my husband was ordered to keep a close eye on the monitor. With my husband and friend (midwife) by my side our baby quickly arrived a few hours later. There are no words to describe this moment. I won’t even try. To have this breathing, moving and crying bundle placed upon me was surreal. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.

Rebecca had sent us a beautiful little girl.

Ella Rebecca Wilson arrived 10th June 2016 at 20.01. 36+6 weeks weighing 7lb 12oz.

Twelve weeks on and Ella has thrived beautifully. She has settled in well and has acquired her own special place in our family. She is absolutely gorgeous. We love her so much. We are so grateful.

This isn’t our happy ending, what we deserve nor something given back to us. Our Rebecca still died, we still live each day without her knowing she should be with us. How can we be happy now, just like that? We deserve our baby who was taken, she hasn’t been given back. I still have my bad days, we are still grieving, we always will be. Rebecca knows each and every day how much we miss and love her.

But we can now let love back in again, Ella has been given to us to bring some colour back into our lives, to shine a bright rainbow through our hearts. I savour each and every moment with Ella, every night feed, every smile. At times it is comforting to see how Rebecca would have been, at times painful to see, but this will follow me throughout the rest of my life – it’s not Ella’s fault. She has engraved her own beautiful Ella shape into my heart, but in no way does this shape try to fill Rebecca’s. Each of my children have their own shape. Ella is no different.

I strongly believe that Rebecca sent Ella to fulfil my days, to ease my aching arms and to allow me to see the world in colour again.

To prove to me that through all my fears there can always be hope.

20160901_234719

Ella with her angel big sister Rebecca

To read my Rebecca’s story, please Click Here