Dealing With Due Date Number 4

Dealing With Due Date Number 4

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Dealing With Due Date Number 4

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Dealing With Due Date Number 4

Due dates following loss are always difficult to take.

They’re a clear reminder of what you’re missing out on… a little person you longed to meet but never did and will forever wonder about.

The 8th of April 2018.

It’s a date a look on as bittersweet… our due date for baby number 4, who only lived a tiny existence for a couple of weeks.

It is a strange feeling, to mourn the loss of one baby while feeling so grateful to have a healthy one on the way.

I try not to think too much about “what could have been” and focus more on the present.

I rationalise where we are at now (18 weeks pregnant and counting!) by thinking that if we hadn’t experienced all those losses… we also wouldn’t be experiencing the immense joy and anticipation of what is on the way for us now.

I also think of all the things we have gained. All the couples who have reached out to us to share their experiences and stories with us. I feel like we have learnt so much from connecting with others who have experienced loss or fertility issues and that has helped normalise our experience (and I hope normalise the experience for others too).

That’s not to say that if I could have prevented those losses I would have, as I don’t think anyone should have to experience so much grief over such a long period of time, but I also think these experiences make us stronger, bring us closer together and help us appreciate what we do have now.

The grieving process is different for everyone, and I wondered for a long time what I would do with the tiny memento’s I had from the tiny babies we lost… ultrasound scans and that kind of thing.

It is hard to know what to do with them… it’s not as if you want to keep them out on display, but at the same time, you also don’t feel right about getting rid of them or shoving them at the back of a drawer somewhere (which is exactly what I did… not really wanting a constant reminder of my tiny little beings that did have tiny little heartbeats at one point in time).

Until one day, a beautiful box arrived on my doorstep that had 4 little angels inside.

Such a thoughtful gift to represent the four babies that we had lost.

I decided at that time that I didn’t have to keep their tiny ultrasound pictures shoved into the back of my drawer and felt so much more comfortable about giving them a beautiful resting place.

It also reminded me that we’re not alone with our grief – our losses have such an impact on others around us too.

I can’t speak for others, but I personally felt that this was a beautiful way to remember our angels.

If you know of someone who is experiencing something similar and you want to help but aren’t sure how… I hope this helps give some inspiration.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts below.

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Pleading the Fifth

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Pleading the Fifth

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Pleading the Fifth

I think it’s safe to say at this stage that there isn’t much we keep secret about our family planning challenges and experience with the multiple pregnancy/loss scenario we have found ourselves in.

I think there’s a lot to be gained by being open and honest about your experience – it means others open up to you, you get the opportunity to support each other, and you don’t have to skirt around those awkward “when are you going to have kids” questions that people love to ask.

Most times, if people ask, I just tell them honestly about what our experience has been. Usually, people will take it quite well and often share an experience of their own or someone they know as well.

But every now and then we do find ourselves in a situation where we’re around people we don’t know all that well… and in order to avoid making them feel uncomfortable, there are times when I do skirt around the inevitable “so, when are you two having kids” *wink wink* *nudge nudge* with a fairly ambivalent and non-committal “I don’t know” type of response.

It happens more often than you would think… a couple of examples from this month alone include, at the pool shop, getting my groceries at woollies, and at a casual BBQ… sometimes it feels like you just can’t go anywhere without being asked the big question!

I know I openly promote the notion that if people just talked about their experiences more openly it would reduce the awkwardness of such conversations for everyone… and maybe people would realise that miscarriage and fertility issues are so common (1 in 6 people experience fertility issues and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage) that to respond to the big baby question with your honest experience would just be acceptable.

But unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy.

Even though the question can make those of us experiencing difficulties feel uncomfortable… it’s hard to know how to respond to the question without making the other person feel bad for asking.

I don’t know that there’s a real solution, but I have found what works for me is – if it’s someone I know well (friend, family member or colleague) I will just tell them what our experience is.

Usually, most people are understanding and supportive.

If it’s people I know I’m going to see again, but don’t know well enough to gauge how they might respond, I give a fairly standard “I don’t know” type of response and focus the conversation back to being about their kids (people love talking about their kids). My reasoning here is, I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable for asking and I’m sure when I know them better I’ll tell them eventually.

If it’s people I’m never going to see again… I do tell them. I think if they think it’s reasonable to ask a stranger such a personal question, it must also be reasonable for them to hear my personal response, and generally, I don’t care if they feel uncomfortable about it.

Even though I have these standard types of responses in the back of my mind, there are other times when the question just completely catches me off guard, like it comes out of no-where and I really don’t know what to say at all…

But I do think there’s a solution to all this.

I think if people just spoke openly to their friends and family about fertility and loss (especially since it is impacting so many people in our community!) it would become more acceptable to just say why you don’t have kids when people ask the question (and perhaps less likely that people would ask the question in the first place!)

Although, I don’t think “the question” is the problem.

I think the inability to feel as though we can honestly answer the question is the real problem, and that needs to change.

People aren’t going to understand that these experiences are so common unless they hear it from the people close to them – their family and friends who are experiencing loss and infertility.

We are the only ones who can change this perception that it’s “not ok” to talk about loss or infertility.

So, don’t feel like you need to keep it a secret. The more people hear that these experiences are commonplace, the more it will become acceptable to answer, “when are you having kids” with “when we stop having miscarriages” or “hopefully when we start our next IVF cycle”.

What are your thoughts? Do you think if people spoke more openly about their experiences, the culture around talking about fertility and loss would change? Do you think there would be less of an overwhelming feeling to keep these issues a secret?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Baby, I Got You on My Mind

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Baby, I Got You on My Mind

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Baby, I Got You on My Mind

When you experience a loss, there are key date’s that can be difficult to overcome. When it is someone who you were close to, there’s the Birthday’s, the date they pass, and special holiday’s or occasions you would have once spent with them that can be difficult to get through without them.

You can’t help but think about the person that would have been there, what they would be doing, wearing, saying, how old they would be… the thoughts that go through your mind are endless.

As someone who experiences recurrent pregnancy loss, there can be so many dates that are challenging to deal with.

There is every single due date you didn’t have, and every holiday or special occasion where you almost can’t help but think “this would have been her first Christmas” or “I should have been going on maternity leave around now”.

I’ve just passed my 3rd “due date” and I hadn’t been convinced prior to this that there was any real way to deal with the thoughts and emotions that go through your mind.

I suspect it works differently for everyone, and from my personal experience, I have found that I felt differently about each due date too. I guess we don’t ever really know how we will think or feel until we find ourselves in certain situations.

For my first due date (13th March 2017), I tried to just forget about it. Then I realised I couldn’t. I tried to reason with myself that there is no such thing as “meant to be” there just “is”.

I didn’t allow myself to think about might “might have been” or “could have been” or “should have been” and focussed on what “was”.

By that stage, I knew about the balanced translocation and felt fairly confident that even though our odds of having a healthy baby were low, that it would happen for us eventually. I resolved myself to the fact that we would have to be patient and persistent and focus on the hope that there was the possibility that everything might work out next time.

Then my second due date with no baby rolled around and I didn’t even actually know it was coming.

I hadn’t bothered too much about remembering it, and I had no inclination of wanting to either.

That was until I saw a post on Instagram where a lady was asking those of us who had experienced recurrent loss ladies to share our “due dates” as part of a collective memorial.

I really like to see ladies supporting each other in ways like this and thought her idea was really lovely, so went to send my dates in to her… and realised that my second due date was going to be 3 days later, and then immediately wished I had just left myself floating around in my blissful bubble of due date ignorance.

Do you ever think things like this happen for a reason? Did I stumble across that post in my Instagram feed because someone wanted me to remember… or was it just a random coincidence?

I’m not even sure where I fit in when it comes to “signs” or “messages from another realm”. Half of my brain, the rational side, tells me that its just a coincidence. The other side of my brain likes to romanticise about another realm where those we’ve lost get to exist and send us signs or messages from time to time so we don’t forget about them…

…but enough day dreaming aside, funnily enough, I made it through that second due date without too much hassle, and now I still can’t remember when it was anyway (June or July 2017 sometime…)

Then there’s my 3rd due date, which just passed this Saturday, the 9th of December. It wasn’t really one I could forget easily. It is a significant day of loss for our family and not likely one I will be able to put to the back of my mind and forget about.

So, I couldn’t help but think a fair bit about my 3rd due date a fair bit over the past few weeks.

I tried hard not to think about it, but it kept creeping into my mind, and I knew full well it was coming up.

I couldn’t avoid it, even though I tried not to think about it, and I decided that I didn’t really want to talk about it either.

I had this theory that it might be easier for me to get through if I didn’t mention it to anyone.

I am all for being open and honest about loss and talking it out when you need to, but I also think it’s important to recognise when you’re not feeling up to talking or don’t really want to acknowledge what’s going on.

We all have different ways of coping with things, and I have even recognised within myself that my coping mechanisms change all the time. I have realised that you can’t predict how you will feel at any given moment and it’s better to keep your options open, so you can do what ever you feel you need to do at the time.

So, this time around, I made plans to spend time with family. We planned a delicious dinner full of foods one should probably avoid when pregnant (natural oysters, prawn cocktails, espresso martini trifles and a nice array of cocktails!) and we played some board games and generally had a great time with lots of laughs.

I didn’t feel the need to bring up the significance of the date, but I knew I could if I wanted to and that would be OK too.

I’ve learnt this time around that it doesn’t really matter what you do, you can’t avoid these dates, or the significance you feel when they arrive, but you can make plans to enjoy yourself despite what you might be feeling and make sure you surround yourself with people who will “get it” if you suddenly decide you can’t be part of the party for a while.

I got through it, and I was fine, and I actually had a really good time, despite the lingering date in the back of my mind.

I think I even managed to forget about the dreaded “due date” a few times over the course of the day and evening.

There’s at least 1 more due date for me to get through (April 8, 2018) and I suspect the lead up will be just as difficult and there will be just as many thoughts going through my mind as every other time, but each time you get through one of these difficult times, you get to remind yourself that you are stronger than you think, you can do it and things can get better.

It’s so much more important to focus on the things you have now and the hope you could have for the future, than falling in to the trap of “what could have been”.

I know this is different for everyone and I’d really like to hear how others get through difficult times when it comes to loss and dates of significance. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Fourth Cut is the Deepest

The Fourth Cut is the Deepest

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The Fourth Cut is the Deepest

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The Fourth Cut is the Deepest

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had really struggled to come to terms with our fourth miscarriage.

I don’t know why.

Every loss is hard.

Obviously, none of them are easy to take.

But I think I had somehow managed to convince myself that time that everything would be fine, and it wasn’t going to happen again (it’s not as if I get to escape the shitty pregnancy symptoms and I usually see our babies’ heartbeats on the screen before they pass, so they are very real to me. It’s not like I can just pretend that they were never there. Every time you see a heartbeat it gives you just a sliver of hope that everything might be OK).

But I was wrong, and we experienced the devastating loss of a fourth miscarriage.

After the fourth loss, I started to notice different emotional responses and reactions within myself that I hadn’t noticed before.

I mean, I had heard other women say that they couldn’t stand to be around pregnant ladies or attend baby showers after 1 miscarriage. I had experienced 3, and still didn’t distance myself from those sorts of things and couldn’t really understand why ladies who experienced miscarriage couldn’t just be happy for those who have successful pregnancies.

But this time was different.

Maybe we all just have different tolerance levels to each other? Maybe we don’t all experience every stage of grief during each grieving process? (btw the theories of grief out there tend to change over time, but my understanding is that you can experience different stages including shock & denial, pain & guilt, anger & bargaining, depression, reflection, loneliness, and then some sort of semblance of feeling ‘better’ while developing your construction of your ‘new normal’ eventually leading to acceptance… although you can chop and change through these stages and you don’t necessarily move through them in a set order).

Anyway, this time around, I found it a lot harder than I had in the past to be around pregnant ladies and newborns (that’s not to say it wasn’t hard before, I just seemed to have found a lot more strength to face difficult situations in the past).

I think I had this theory that each time you experience grief, it gets a little easier to manage. Kind of like, you practice going through the emotions and eventually you’re like “I got this” and you know what to expect.

Which is why I think my experience this time really threw me.

I didn’t even know I was having trouble until it hit me out of nowhere.

I had been OK to talk about my miscarriages, so I thought I was doing alright.

I hadn’t even noticed that I had started changing up my habits – I got pretty good at avoiding people who were pregnant or had newborns. I even learned what times of day to avoid the shops, so I wouldn’t run into pregnant ladies or Mums.

I pretty much avoided them like the plague.

If I was in a situation where pregnant ladies or Mum’s or Dad’s with newborns were present, I would avoid eye contact and limit my conversations, making some sort of excuse to get away from the situation as soon as I could.

I was getting really good at it.

Until I was suddenly thrown into a situation where I just couldn’t handle it anymore, and there was no way I could get out of it.

I was at a function. A formal sit-down type scenario with assigned seats where I didn’t really know anyone.

It was just my luck that my assigned seat was smack bang opposite a lady who was in the later stages of pregnancy.

Of course, I had to make small talk, so in this scenario, there was no way in hell I was going to be able to:

a) Avoid looking at a pregnant lady all night
b) Avoid talking about pregnancy or newborns
c) Make an excuse to leave

I tried my best to talk about topics that had nothing to do with pregnancy or kids. When the topics were raised (as they naturally would be in this scenario) I was polite enough and then changed the subject as quickly as I could.

I took every opportunity I could to make excuses to leave my seat… with the obvious option being to go to the bar.

Big mistake.

Seriously.

How do people deal with situations they aren’t comfortable with, but can’t possibly get out of??

Apparently, my go-to is to drink copious amounts of champagne in the hopes it will dull the pain.

And it did.

For a few hours at least.

Until I was super, super, super drunk... and couldn’t help but think how fucking unlucky I was to be the one person to sit across from the pregnant lady all night, which of course led me into a crazy spiral of thinking “why me?” and “this isn’t fair” and “why do all those people out there who don’t even want kids get to have them and I’m just over here dealing with this shit” (I’m not talking about that lady as she was lovely and I’m sure desperately wants and cares for her children, this is the ramblings of a drunk grieving person we’re talking about) until I found myself crying like a crazy drunk person in the ladies room at the end of the night.

I think I actually held it together pretty well, considering. The function was well and truly over by the time my craziness presented itself, I didn’t share any of my thoughts with said pregnant lady (or anyone else thank goodness!) so I consider myself lucky that no-one really had to witness my crazy breakdown (apart from my husband, and well… he already knows I’m crazy, so that’s cool).

But it still bothered me that I would react in such a way that I never have before.

I think I know what the problem was.

It took me a while to figure it out. At first, I thought it was being around pregnant ladies and newborns.

But then I realised that I can be around them if I need to be (seriously, I have friends and relatives who are pregnant and have newborns, and I manage being around them just fine).

The problem was the total lack of control I had over the situation.

In the past when I’ve been going somewhere that I know there will be pregnant ladies or newborns, I set myself up for it. I tell myself about how I’m happy for them and how my shitty situation has nothing to do with their happy one and I repeat that to myself over and over again until I'm ready to face the situation.

And I can deal with that.

This time, I wasn’t prepared, it just came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t escape it, nor could I prepare myself for it.

I couldn’t help but think that although I know things probably aren’t going to change any time soon, I wish there was some way to let people know you don’t want to be in a situation such as this.

Why can’t you say “Hey, I can’t sit opposite a pregnant lady, coz you know, my last 4 babies died” or when someone asks you if you have kids (which I was asked 3 times just this last freaking week by the way) that you can’t just say “I’ve actually had 4 miscarriages” and that not be a totally inappropriate response.

I’m not sharing this story to make anyone feel bad, I’m just hoping that other ladies who have experienced this know they aren’t the only ones who go bat-shit crazy from time to time and to (hopefully) one day make a change so that it would be totally acceptable to say “hey event organisers, I’m allergic to pregnancy, so make sure that’s not on my menu 😉”

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. This didn't happen recently, it was a while ago, it just took me a while to get up the courage to talk about it.

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The Same Old Story

The Same Old Story

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The Same Old Story

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The Same Old Story

I feel like we’re in some kind of weird universe where it’s Ground-Hog Day.

Except, it isn’t Ground-Hog Day, it’s more like a Ground-Hog Month (a month that actually stretches for 3-4 months) that we keep living over and over. Let’s call it Ground-Hog Quarter.

It goes like this.

Get Pregnant.

Go for a 6.5-7 week scan. All looks good.

Go for another scan somewhere around 8-10 weeks. No heartbeat.

Book in for a D&C.

Wait 2 months.

Get Pregnant again…. And it just goes on and on and on and on.

This is what recurrent miscarriage looks like. And it really sucks.

On the bright side, we now have a frequent flyer account at our OB’s office.

Just kidding. That’s not a thing. But I did joke with him after we left our last post-miscarriage check-up that we might as well just have a standing appointment with him from now on!

Sometimes you just have to be a bit silly, otherwise it all gets a bit too much (and it has been pretty hard on us this time, but I’ll leave that for another post).

Our last check up meeting (last week) was pretty much what we were expecting… another unbalanced translocation of chromosomes 1 and 21. They tell us that this is supposed to be a 50/50 type scenario but so far its 4 nil on the score board for us.

Something we weren’t expecting…  this little one was a girl. So that’s 3 girls and 1 boy… I’ve been teasing Sam about it, saying it’s pretty likely he’s going to get a girl once we hit one with the right chromosomes. He seems to think that we’re due for a boy… maybe we’ll get lucky on all fronts next time 😉

Just before you go, I thought it might be worth mentioning (and some of you may already be aware), today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day).

I haven’t really said anything in particular about it on our social media accounts today as we have been inviting ladies to share their stories throughout the month of October in honour of this day over at our blog One in Four.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, make sure you pop over to the One in Four blog and check it out. So far, we have stories from 6 amazing ladies who have so bravely shared their stories of pregnancy loss and infertility (some of these ladies have never spoken publicly about it before) which we hope will go a long way to breaking the silence that seems to be forced on us around talking about miscarriage, and help raise awareness as to just how many people are affected by pregnancy loss.

If you would like to join these amazing ladies by sharing your of loss or infertility story too, email me at info@ohbeehave.com.au or if you would like to share your story anonymously, contact us via our get in touch form.

Until next time 😉

PS If you're looking at that photo and wondering if I'm pregnant again... I'm not (that I know of! HA!) That pic was taken at around 8 weeks into the last pregnancy... the old belly gets big quickly these days 🙂

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