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.

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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.

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A Photo an Hour: 27 October 2018

On Saturday, I took part in a Photo an Hour, hosted by Jane and Louisa. Jan had a concert in Bern, so once he left in the afternoon I was home alone. Here’s what i got up to:

9:30 a.m. Starting the day with iron drops… can’t have tea yet as it inhibits absorption.

10:30 a.m. Breakfast with the boyfriend! Scrambled eggs, bread rolls and jam.

11:30 a.m. Freshly showered… and now I can have a cuppa!

12:30 p.m. Working on some Christmas cross stitch (so much to do, so little time left…)

1:30 p.m. Which colour do I need next?

2:30 p.m. I didn’t want to go out in the rain, but I needed to pick up a repeat prescription, so when Jan headed to the train station I went with him. At least my new boots are doing their job of keeping my feet dry!

3:30 p.m. Back home in the dry, drinking apple and mint tea from a very autumnal mug.

4:30 p.m. Supposed I’d better do some housework at least… hoovering the kitchen.

5:30 p.m. Once you start it never ends! Now emptying the dishwasher.

6:30 p.m. With dinner in the oven, I lit some candles to mark the fact that I would have been 20 weeks pregnant with my twins that day. Life goes on, but we haven’t forgotten ❤

7:30 p.m. Pointless Celebrities!

8:30 p.m. In my pyjamas already, drinking hot chocolate.

9:30 p.m. Off to bed with a new book. I love this cover!

10:30 p.m. Final photo of the day. Still reading… I finished the book in one sitting and loved it!

That was my Saturday. How was yours?

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

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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 breathe

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This morning my family said goodbye to my grandma. I couldn’t be there, but I was in spirit and I had one of my cousins read something out for me at the celebration of life. We will miss grandma always but we all have so many memories that will live on forever.

Meanwhile, yesterday was our follow-up appointment at the hospital. Pretty much as expected they have no idea where the infection came from. All my swabs were negative, so I definitely didn’t have any vaginal infection. They found traces of infection in the placenta and the babies though (the boys were otherwise perfect – no physical abnormalities/defects that would have caused a miscarriage). The most likely explanation is that some bacteria that’s naturally present in the vagina made its way into my uterus and developed into an infection there – a random event that couldn’t have been predicted and was undetectable from the outside, other than via a blood test. Next time I will be in a different risk category and if I start spotting again they will happily do a blood test even if I have no other symptoms or anything that indicates an infection. If there is a next time…

I have alluded to this, if not in blog posts then certainly in replies comments, but now I’m just going to say it outright. Our babies were conceived using fertility treatments. Not IVF (I know that’s where everyone’s mind goes first!), but the hormones I had to inject myself with were the same. We were incredibly lucky that it worked first time and resulted in not just one but two babies. I have no idea whether it would work a second time. Right now, I don’t even know whether we automatically get to try a second time or if my health insurance will have to approve the procedure again. We were originally approved for three tries, but the remaining two may have been cancelled out when I actually became pregnant. All I do know is that it’s highly unlikely I will ever become pregnant on my own. And I’m 35 now… time is not exactly on my side. And, whatever happens I have to wait two cycles to allow my body to physically return to normal before we can start trying again.

For now, we at least have some kind of closure. Perhaps not as many answers as I would have liked, but reassurance that it was nobody’s fault. Not ours, Not the hospital’s. We were simply the victims of bad luck. Now it’s time to heal. Then we will pick ourselves up, take a deep breath, and join the infertility roller coaster again…

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?