Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Friday, 15 November 2013

It Had All Been Going So Well

We got to 35 weeks pregnant, no major drama, no hospital admissions. I was feeling a bit more confident that I was actually going to get to the end of a pregnancy with relative calm. I had even commented to Jon I thought we were going to make it without spending a night in hospital... I spoke too soon.

I got poorly Sunday evening. 

I was having frequent tightenings (and had been for a good few days) but it wasn't really that that was bothering me, it didn't feel like threatening prem-labour as I've done in the past and Zachary was wriggling about. But my tummy didn't feel like it was relaxing fully between the tightenings and I was having constant bad pain across my bump. So after a few hours we phoned labour ward and went for a check up. Their diagnosis after a happy trace from Zac was 'take paracetamol' and said the pains were muscular because of the tightenings and sent us home again. 

Overnight the pains got worse and worse, to the point of unbearable and unable to move without shrieking out. Just hugely agonising and we got no sleep. I couldn't lie down at all for the pain, I couldn't stay still, I couldn't move - it all just hurt too much and I just didn't know what to do with myself at all. I tried paracetamol (!) and a warm bath at 4.00am, which of course did little to help. By 5.30am Monday morning we knew we had to go back to labour ward and something really wasn't well. 

This time we were taken much more seriously. Doctors made sure I wasn't threatening premature labour (I wasn't - yay, I'm still managing that), but alerts in urine sample and then bloods within a few hours revealed highly elevated infection markers. They weren't sure of the source of the infection at this point but the stomach pains indicated probably UTI somewhere. I wish they'd picked that up Sunday night when we had gone in originally. 

I was admitted properly and spent most of the day on labour ward, being flushed through on a drip with bags of fluid, started on antibiotics, and painkillers that still were not doing anything. It was a tough day. They gave me steroids to prepare Zac for an early delivery just incase and just tried to stabilise me and the pain. Zac was happy and fine throughout which was a relief. My consultant gave me Pethidine at 3.00pm which finally, finally gave me a break. I can't say it solved the pain too much but took the edge off and, my, I was glad to be knocked out and whoozy for an hour!  I was taken to the baby ward upstairs and she prescribed a similar sort of sleeping pill for the evening, but to be honest being on a constant drip, having constant samples taken from me and just general hospital ward noise isn't conducive to sleep, even with sleeping pills.  I was so thankful when the pain eased around 4.30am so I could at least feel more comfortable lying down again. 

Tuesday was a more comfortable day. Although I was still exhausted, still on a drip most of the day and my samples producing all the alerts possible. However they were happy enough that I could go home to sleep Tuesday night if I wanted to, as an 'in but out patient' meaning there would still be a hospital bed should I need it in the night. I thought I would get more sleep at home, and I was desperate to be with Xander, but sleep didn't really work out. Anxiety got the better of me in the night and I was awake again from 4.00am. 

A scan hadn't been able to be arranged to double check Zac until Wednesday and after two days off my asprin I was starting to convince myself blood flow would be getting clogged and something terrible was going to happen to him, to us. Then the scan Wednesday only half reassured me. Yes, he was fine and wriggly and looked happy, and I was relieved, but this scan was in the ultrasound department when usually my scans are with my consultant. Ultrasound wouldn't do a doppler flow check - because everything else looked fine they don't routinely do them. The doppler flow was my biggest concern and it wasn't checked so this started to play on my mind, worried how two days without asprin had affected my baby. But tried to relax, tried to trust. 

Then, Wednesday overnight, Thursday morning I woke up with chest pains. Hurting to breathe, move anything. I'll admit I was panicking and that was probably making it worse, sleep deprivation starting to get the better of me. But another trip to labour ward, for another check. Yup they are probably sick of the sight of me and I know I sound a drama queen. They checked me over, did an ECG, ruled out heart complaints and concluded muscular pains, again. Just a different location. They checked Zac over, his trace didn't reassure me - yes it was within normal range, but it was 'different' for him. Everything was screaming Anabelle at me and I quite simply lost it. 

The duty Doctor was completely dismissive of my fears, completely dismissive of Belle and everything that happened to us and made me feel like a waste of his time. So of course I cried and demanded my consultant. And of course it was her day off. But at least the midwife arranged for me to be seen and monitored again today with an unscheduled appointment with my consultant today. 

After days of feeling so poorly, days of no sleep I had reached my limit. All the coping bravery of this pregnancy is used up now and yesterday was a meltdown day. Chest pains, dizzy spells and just a wreck all day. I needed a consultant review. 

Today has been better. This afternoon I've actually felt well by comparison. Xander has finally had some Mummy time after a week of being cared for by others because I've not been up to it. I saw my consultant at dinner time and she totally got straight away why I'm hugely wobbling after this week of being unwell. She was kind and gentle and prescribed some proper pain relief for anymore chest pains (although added they should still be checked out and not to feel I'm being a nuisance), added daily monitoring now until his birth and altered our birth plan. Chest pain has become mild discomfort which makes me well aware that these are symptoms of me not coping this week and of stress. Not 'real' muscular pain or anything to worry about. A supportive appointment with MY Doctor and I'm calmer. I'm so cross with myself - I thought we were mostly doing better to hold it together this time. A few little blips but mostly braver. I really wanted to get to the end without a hospital admission, I wanted to stay brave. 

I didn't make it and now I'm past being brave. Zac is so close now yet still so far and these are going to be a long few weeks. Stay safe my beautiful boy, we cannot wait to meet you.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Shelving Therapy

Monday we shelved counselling after another three and a bit month stint. 

With Zachary due imminently my focus has to be elsewhere; preparing for him, and then when he hopefully comes home I'll be in the full throes of newborn joys and chaos at home, with little time for appointments.   So for now it is shelved, but not forgotten. Not off the books like the last time I finished. 

Progress made? Hard to say really. All the immense pain and bewilderment is in a different place. June. We've talked a lot about my children, how they all individually make me feel. We've talked about other peoples children, and babies and pregnancies and how they make me feel. We've talked about how Anabelle colours everything in our lives, how even the most wonderful days are tinged with sadness that she isn't here too, we've talked about friendships, we've talked about fears and anger and expectations of other people. We've talked about the insensitive things that have been said to me over the years; from friends, others and professionals. We've talked about the taboo and lack of understanding about the everlasting impact of a baby born sleeping.  We've talked about time moving on. We've talking about me 'letting go' of June and all the things I cannot change. We've talked about the new challenges lying ahead for our family again, as time keeps moving on and the world keeps changing around us. We've done lots of talking. But progress. I'm really not sure.  

I think at this point, my counsellor and I both recognised that I'm not there at the moment, so it is difficult to work through it at the moment. It isn't June and for now I've reached another calm before another storm. We've recognised that my mental health and grief is 'seasonal' or at least temperamental with peaks and troughs and triggers. Sometimes I function like I'm back at the beginning, but now, November, I've finished unravelling and have put myself loosely back together again for a time. Maybe I need to be unravelling for her to do any real work with me. 

I know there will be a storm ripple over Christmas, possibly bigger than other years when newborn adrenaline has worn off at the same time as Christmas and grief will be battling surgery recovery and extreme tiredness too. This year I'm pre-empting that new Mummy hormones are going to be mixed in together with the Christmas grief and anxiety, mixed in again with readjusting to our family growing while not growing all at the same time. Happiness and sadness of becoming a family of five but only a physically a family of four. While I process the excitements of seeing sibling bonds develop between my boys while being pained that it is something I should already have seen with my girl and boy. 

I expect another ripple over Mother's Day, these ripples traditionally short and ridden with some composure - but the biggy? The biggy is June. I get anxious just thinking about June. Because June won't be 2014. Not really. It will be living 2014 while reliving 2010 at the same time. That is where I need help. 

So we're taking a break. And I'll return to counselling again after Easter, to support me through May and the build up to Anabelle's fourth (!) birthday and the crisis point I may reach again through June. Maybe by returning to counselling again then I can avoid the epic measure meltdown I crashed into last June. 

Why do Anabelle's birthdays feel harder each year? Time hasn't healed. Isn't time supposed to heal? 

It is a clique I don't understand. Not really. Of course there has been some healing. I function day to day, I have lots of happiness and joy in my life it is true. But scratch the surface away, get to June or other trigger points and there is no healing. I have lots of pain too, pain I can't see ever being any better. Just pain upon pain as another year passes. Another birthday and my little girl isn't really the age she is supposed to be at all. A birthday without real celebration is so foreign to me. 

We've agreed 'therapy' is probably something I'm going to need on and off for many years to come. Maybe forever. I'm not sure how that makes me feel. Slightly unhinged maybe; but then maybe that is the reality of living after immense trauma, maybe always a bit fragile under the surface.

For now I'm well enough to leave it be and I'll return to it again when the blackness re-descends.

So maybe we have made progress, in at least I know I won't be waiting for the meltdown to pieces to have happened before accessing help next time. Next year we're going for prevention rather than cure. Or if we can't prevent, at least somebody professionally riding it with me. There is progress. 

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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