Beautiful stars

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but things kept getting in the way.

A few weeks after we lost the boys, I unexpectedly received post from the lovely Alison, aka Fat Dormouse. Inside the envelope was a card with a lovely message that made me cry and a beautiful zentangle.

stars zentangle

It’s now hanging in the corridor, just outside our bedroom, where I can look at it every day and remember our tiny stars. Once again thank you so much Alison for thinking of us.

The kindness of fellow bloggers never fails to amaze me. From wonderful gestures like this to a simple email just to check in and see how I’m doing. It is all appreciated. I may have never met most of my long-term readers, but I consider each and every one of you a friend ❤ (My real-life friends have been fantastic too but the kindness of what are, essentially, “Internet strangers” is honestly overwhelming.)

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The unknown is scary…

Queenstown

Recently we had a meeting with the doctor at the fertility clinic and were able to put a plan in place. Basically we’ve agreed that, since it worked so well last time, I will try the same procedure again. Same hormonal injections followed by insemination. I’m not going to tell you exactly when we’ll be trying again – partly because I want to keep some things private. I don’t really need dozens of people waiting to hear the results of my pregnancy test! But also because I don’t know myself exactly when we’ll be able to try again. It all depends on how quickly my body gets back to normal after the loss. Since I was nearly 17 weeks along and there were two babies, its slightly different to a “normal”, early miscarriage. I do know I have to wait two cycles, so it definitely won’t be happening this year. Much as I would like to finally be able to hold a baby in my arms, I’m okay with that. After everything that’s happened this year, I’d be happy with an uneventful rest of 2018. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three years, it’s patience. When baby-making doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to there is a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for the right time in your cycle to have certain tests, waiting to see whether it’s actually worked this time round, and waiting for the right time to start treatment. I’m used to waiting.

One of the worst things about having to start this process all over again – apart from the obvious fact that my boys deserve to still be here – is not knowing whether we will ever end up with a living, breathing baby that we can actually bring home with us. I was very lucky that I responded so well to the hormones and the IUI worked first time. That’s now what usually happens, and the doctor has already prepared me to not expect that again. We have two tries left and after that…. who knows. I am hopeful that things will work out for us, but it would be a lot easier if it was possible to look into the future and see that, if we just keep going, one day it will all have been worth it.

Goodnight, sleep tight

Misty trees

Yesterday we laid our boys to rest at the memorial for babies who were born too soon to be registered. They were cremated the day before – we asked for them to be laid in a single basket for the cremation, that way they’ll always be together. Then their ashes were placed in a heart-shaped wooden urn. We weren’t there for the cremation, but we saw the urn at the cemetery yesterday and it was beautiful.

The sun was shining brightly yesterday, a beautiful day to say goodbye. We read them Guess How Much I Love You – their first and last bedtime story – and told them we love them and we’ll come and visit them again. Hopefully at some point with their younger sibling. It was sad but nice. I’m glad we got to say goodbye and that we have a place where we know they are.

Afterwards, we walked into town and had a delicious hot chocolate at the chocolate café – much more fitting than raising a glass of something alcoholic, I think. We also lit the tea lights again in the evening.

“I miss you more than words can say
A part of me has torn away
A china heart will always break
A fracture to a twisted face
But things are gonna heal again
Eyes once blind will see again
I miss you more than words can say
I miss you more than words
Quickfade”
~ Feeder, Quickfade

🌟 Shine bright, tiny stars. We promise to never forget you. 🌟

Goodbye October

It’s 1 November today. October is over and I feel like I can finally take a breath.
Today also happens to be the first Thursday of the month, and thus What’s New With You day with Kristen, so you should definitely check that out. I won’t be linking up – my regular readers know how my October was and those coming over just from the link up don’t need to be confronted with that – but I wanted to write something to mark the end of the absolute worst month of my entire life.

DSCN7707

In October, we lost our baby boys. With them we lost our hopes and dreams, our joy about finally starting our family. All our plans for the future have had to be put on hold… we have no idea for how long.

In October, I also lost my grandma – an amazing woman who never stopped making everyone laugh, no matter what life threw at her. She raised nine children, lost her husband relatively early and still kept on going. If I can get through the hard times with even half as much strength as she did I’ll be doing okay.

While we’re on the subject of grandma’s, my other grandma had a pacemaker fitted about a week ago (eventually, after it was postponed twice!). The operation went well, thankfully, but really universe? Was it actually necessary to throw another thing at me in October?

However…

In October I also learned that I can get through the absolute worst thing I could have imagined without falling apart. Whatever life throws at me, I can survive it. Of course I have cried, raged and felt numb at various times. I’ve gone through phases of being unable to believe this is actually happening to me. In the early days, I occasionally actually forgot I wasn’t still pregnant, then I would suddenly remember that it no longer mattered how I got out of bed or what kind of cheese I ate and the sadness would hit all over again. I feel like I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster for the past month. But I didn’t break down completely. Even at my lowest points, it never occurred to me to give up. It’s an ongoing process, my life will never, ever be the same, but I know I will get through this and whatever lies ahead.

In October, Jan and I grew even closer. We had already been through a lot over the past couple of years just trying to conceive our babies. We got through that together, and now we are getting through the loss of our babies together. I am genuinely so proud of how we handled this situation, and particularly of how Jan handled it. He dealt with all the practical aspects – keeping our families informed about what was happening, calling work for me when I couldn’t bring myself to say what had happened out loud, calling the hospital and the pathologist to find out what was happening. He held me when I cried, made me cups of tea and lit candles for both our boys and my grandma. And he also looked after me throughout my physical recovery – bringing me my antibiotics and breakfast in bed so I wouldn’t have to get up, making sure I ate enough even when I didn’t feel like it, doing a load of washing when I first came home from the hospital so all my maternity clothes were clean ready to be put away where I didn’t have to look at them. In the hospital we both talked a lot about our feelings (there wasn’t much else to do!) and I am now more convinced than ever that he is going to be a fantastic dad when the time comes for us to actually bring a baby home. Soon we will hopefully start the process of trying to conceive all over again, and there is nobody else I would rather go through it with.

In October, I also learned that people can be amazing. My friends, of course, have all been wonderful (they are my friends for a reason!), but I have also received lovely messages from the most unexpected people – from someone I knew at school and was convinced hated me back then to the colleague I would least have expected to reach out. I guess the old adage about finding out who your friends are is true. My entire extended family  have also rallied round with messages of support. Every single one of my blogging friends (and I consider you all my friends) has been fantastic. Every kind word, every message of support, every e-mail and every text has meant the absolute world to me. Both people I love and people I barely even interacted with previously have reached out, told me their stories, helped me believe it really, truly will get better. Even through all the sadness, so many people out there have actually managed to make me smile.

Even though I am mostly okay on most days, I am glad to be saying goodbye to October, but along with the grief I will always remember the positives. It’s going to be a long winter this year, but with Jan, my friends and my family, I will come out the other side stronger than before. And I truly believe that one day we will actually get a baby to bring home and raise. I just hope we don’t have to go through any more heartbreak before we achieve that goal.

How do you mark an event that will never happen?

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Tomorrow I would have been 20 weeks pregnant. I was looking forward to it – the halfway point in my pregnancy. It felt like a real milestone. My next ultrasound was already booked for Monday and it would have been the first time Jan got to see our babies moving inside me, having missed the 12-week ultrasound. We would probably have found out at that ultrasound that we were having boys and started talking seriously about names.

Now tomorrow will just be another day. I’m no longer pregnant. I have no ultrasound to look forward to. It feels weird. I’m not sad, exactly. More feeling a little lost. What do you do when a day that would have been significant no longer actually means anything?

Jan has a concert in Bern, the same one that I went to on Sunday, so he’ll be out until late, leaving me with no plans. I might take part in photo an hour just to give me something else to think about. I have a feeling it’s going to be an odd kind of day.

Being okay with being okay

Schloss Ludwigsburg

It’s only been three weeks (tomorrow) since we lost our babies, so it feels weird to say that, right now, I feel okay. I went to Jan’s concert on Saturday, had a conversation with someone who never knew I was pregnant and probably now will never know. This is my first full week back at work, and I’ve already returned to my former levels of busy-ness… it’s going to take me every last minute of my allocated hours to finish all the jobs that have been planned in for me. Everything has returned to normal, and surprisingly I’m fine with that.

The first few times I felt normal or even, briefly, happy, I immediately started feeling guilty. How can I possibly feel normal when my boys are gone before they ever even had a chance at life? But then something Hazel said really resonated with me: “Sometimes we can’t have any more sad“. As cliché as it sounds, I really was devastated when I lost my babies. The first day Jan was back at work, I sat at home on my own, wrote down the entire story in my diary, and literally sobbed. During those first ten-ish days, the grief felt raw and any little reminder of what we had lost was likely to set me off. But there’s only so long a person can go on like that.To continue with the clichés, at some point there are no more tears left to cry.

It may still only have been three weeks (although to me it often feels like longer), but I truly believe those initial days of letting myself cry, getting my thoughts out on paper and on my blog, responding to messages of support and being able to express exactly what I was feeling, have all helped me get over that initial period of deep grief.  Of course I am still sad. Of course I am still constantly reminded of what I’ve lost. But for the moment I’m mostly doing okay. And I’m mostly okay with that.

And the world keeps turning…

My sick note ran out yesterday, so I started work again today. I could have had it extended, but now that I’m feeling so much better physically (although still not 100%) I didn’t think sitting on my own going over the same thoughts would do me any good, and the longer I waited to go back the harder it would be. I have Friday off for my follow-up hospital appointment, so this way I’m being eased into it gently.

Once I had responded to the messages of condolences my colleagues had sent to my work e-mail address, I settled back into work. It was strange to go back to the familiar pattern – although there wasn’t a great deal to do today. An internal translation for my colleague. A translation for a familiar customer. Some feedback to check and incorporate into our translation memory. While my life was being changed forever, the rest of the world kept on turning. The leaves turned from green to red, brown and gold. My proofreader finished the job that was due while I was in hospital. Another translator took on the one I hadn’t started yet.

Everything has changed, but in some ways everything has stayed the same. Maybe that’s a good thing?