Pregnancy After Stillbirth – Month 1

So running true to form I find myself telling my husband that is over, forget it, his obsession with remote control helicopters and computer games has finally ruined our perfectly good marriage. I have been taking care of big girl stuff like making sure our kids are turning into reasonable, intelligent and well-behaved children and making sure the mortgage gets paid while and he sits around like a sad man in his 30’s playing with teenage junk.

Well, I had had enough, again. I say again because the only time I ever complain about my hardworking and dedicated husband is when I have that first rush of pregnancy hormones. Like a simmering pot of hormonal stew bubbling away,  in the space of a week we go from the couple that still holds hands to me telling my Husband Mark, “Darling, I’m taking the Golf”. When he flies back to work a few days later I’m still upset and he is still confused.

A short time later I had two positive pregnancy tests staring at me,  each with two lines that scream good positive vibes right into your face. Usually when I have a positive pregnancy result I wait until my husband is home from his FIFO (Fly-in Fly-out) job and surprise him in some way with the news. This time however I sent him a photo of the pink sticks on the bathroom bench and a message that read ‘Hmm…you’ve got some explaining to do!”

It took me a few hours to wrap my head around the results and another few hours more to send the message through to hubby. It was a shock to me to find out I was pregnant again, we had not been trying to conceive, but we were fully aware of the possibility that we very well might.

We had discussed the possibility of another pregnancy, The discussion started in large part due to the hormones in my chosen long-term birth control starting an emotional tide of craziness within me that had no other cause, so with the blame squarely on the implants shoulders, I had to get that thing taken out quick smart.

We discussed a possible pregnancy seriously when it became obvious I needed the implant out, even with my decreased fertility, if any couple was going to get pregnant from a lapse in concentration or the occasional afternoon quicky it would be us. So I booked in at the doctors and had the offending implant taken out. Now with a far clearer hormonal head on my shoulders my conclusion was any subsequent pregnancies were going to be emotionally difficult whenever it happen to occur. In talking with each other we did both feel that if it were to happen we would be able to handle the task. I knew that my body had physically recovered from the birth and the aftermath, and I felt I was in a good head space to make that call on a future pregnancy. I knew emotionally I was okay and that of course it would be difficult at different times throughout a pregnancy and we could both expect unpredictable swings in emotion. Neither of us could predict those future emotions because we were not living through another pregnancy just yet. My out look was, if it happened I would deal with it as it came.

All the emotions are too be expected – good, bad, indifferent and I am under no false illusions that I will need to be superwoman here. I expect there to be times it will be tough and expect times of tears and reflection or times when we both may need to seek reassurance. I know that; and in knowing that it doesn’t scare me so much. If the plan includes stages of faltering then it doesn’t hold the same fear, I expect it. Each pregnancy is different and each can be unpredictable in their own way.

So I was momentarily caught off guard when I looked at those pink lines, I had very nonchalantly taken the test that morning and I had taken it for an odd reason, not because I knew I was late – in fact I had no idea. I have spent my whole womanly life in complete ignorance of my lady cycles. All I know is they come around on a regular basis, but I have never spend much time thinking too hard about it. I had taken the test because I was wanting to know if my period was coming at all. It was hot and I had some nice crisp white shorts I wanted to wear that day and then it occurred to me that I probably should have had my period by now and it didn’t feel as if it was approaching either coupled with my recent rottenness towards my husband I should probably better check if there is any chance I would get blood all over my white shorty shorts.

After I found out I put my shorts on and left for the day with a big smile on my face. As I said it took me a few hours to get my head around it, not because I was scarred of what those pink lines meant but more a little shocked because of the swiftness with which it had happened. It had been around eight months since our third daughter Claudia died in utero and was born at exactly seven months old perfectly developed and beautiful, just missing a heartbeat of her own. We had not decided with finality to either have or not have any more children. We were going to give ourselves 12 months so we could fully grieve for our third daughter but having trouble with the contraception as I was (no one likes a hormonal bitch – not even I do) I had to make a decision.

If I was to go on another type of birth control, like the pill, I would have wait until the hormones took effect then go on it for a few months, then if we decided to try again for a child I would have to come off it, wait three months for the hormones to leave my system and only then could we try to conceive again. My husband is still only home one week out of every three and it was a lot of hormonal juggling for what seemed a small amount of time. We decide to just wait it out with condoms for a month or two until the 12 month deadline was reached and then if the answer was ‘No’ then we could look at getting something more long-term done.

After seeing those tests smiling back at me what came to mind was about a month prior when I went to my daughters primary school disco. I had brought her down and stayed for a while, but she is very independent and I said to a friend that I’ll go and get dinner ready at home and be back on half an hour. I let my daughter know that I was leaving and that if she needed me to go and see my friend and she would call me. I left and returned later to pick her up, no drama.

When I came back and saw my friend she told me that I had been the subject of discussion as I when I had arrived at the disco I was wearing some harem pants and a loose-fitting top, one of the mums had come over and asked my friend if was pregnant again, because my baggy clothes “Didn’t seem like what I usually wear” I laughed and said no, then it was relayed to me that it was “A bit early” to be pregnant again anyway. I didn’t know if this was her personal opinion or if it was the collected option of the mum who were discussing it but it did make me think.

Was my ability to outwardly cope with the death of my daughter being seen as lack of love for her? because we were not sorrowful and I wasn’t outwardly in mourning still over those traumatic events, because I was able to function well, laugh and talk, go out for dinner and socialise, still be a parent to my other children, was this being interpreted as lack of grief for Claudia?

So how long are you suppose to outwardly hold onto that grief and trauma, for me a return to “normal” was important both physically and emotionally. Physically I made the effort to lose the extra baby weight in reasonable time and within 2-3 months I was back to pre-pregnancy weight again, again this was important to me because pregnant Kyla cannot handle anything, but normal Kyla can cope with things much better. Emotionally I did a lot of taking to family and close friends and a lot of writing as this is how I coped with the trauma, doing this allowed me vocalise what my grief was and still is. However it didn’t become something that consumed me, the grief was overwhelming when going through the events and in the weeks after and it would catch me out every when I least expected it. However with the support that I had it enabled me to engage with others in normal everyday conversation, my natural disposition is cheerful and mildly optimist and I could feel that these personality traits were returning, like a spirit level being tipped over then put back properly I was still wobbling but returning to a new depth of normal.

I think of Claudia everyday, but the thoughts of her don’t make me overwhelming sorrowful and I don’t carry that sorrow around, it’s no burden to have to have been a mother to her and I would have loved the outcome to have been different but nothing could have changed the outcome that happened for us and her little life is not a grief that weights me down.

So with a smile I wear my short white shorts with pride today as I know I will not be able to get them on soon. I also apologised to my husband.

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