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.
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.)
Usually at the end of the year, I write a month-by-month summary of the things we got up to, places visited, etc. Clearly I’m not going to do that this year… mainly because I wouldn’t have a single good thing to say about October. But I do still want to do a recap of the year, just for closure. Or something. Apologies in advance if this gets long.
Even after all that happened, I can’t just write off 2018 as a terrible year. Yes, it ended horribly, and yes I will be glad when it’s over and we can start a new chapter, but before everything went wrong, I had a few short weeks of genuine happiness. Basically, the entire year has been a roller coaster.
To start with, in January we switched fertility doctors, which meant going through most of the same tests again (I did get to skip one though). I am so, so glad we made that decision though… I mean, the clinic sent us a sympathy card when we lost the boys! I can’t even imagine the first doctor doing that! Plus they have done a much better job of explaining everything throughout… although my final diagnosis still ended up being “unexplained infertility”. *Sigh* The testing went faster this time around, and by May we had made the decision to pursue intrauterine insemination (IUI). Since we were going to the UK at the end of the month, I was put on progesterone for slightly longer and we ultimately ended up starting hormonal treatment in June, with the actual insemination taking place towards the end of the month. On 7th July 2018, I found out it had worked… then two weeks later I had my first ultrasound where we discovered it was twins.
While all that was going on, things were also happening with Jan’s job. Towards the end of last year (I don’t remember exactly when), a colleague of his who also happened to be a friend of ours announced he was quitting his job. He was just one in a long time of people who had left, which was rather worrying… we were both slightly concerned that the company was going to fold, sooner rather than later. So at that point Jan decided that, while he didn’t want to start actively looking for something new, he would at least make a linked in profile and put out some feelers to figure out what was even out there. This led to him being contacted by a company based in Zurich. I don’t even remember exactly when that was, but I do know while we were in the England he was supposed to have a phone interview with somebody at the company, which then ended up falling through. He had definitely been in contact with the person doing the recruiting for at least a month at that stage, but it was the end of July when he finally actually signed the contract. So that in itself was a bit of a journey. As it happens, the old company managed to replace all the people that had left and currently seems to be doing okay, but so far the new job is also going well (still early days though) and there are definitely a lot more perks!
I spent most of my first trimester waiting for the other shoe to drop. After everything we had been through, I thought there was no way everything could be working out so well… not just one but two babies, a new job for Jan. Something had to go wrong, right? But with every ultrasound that still showed two babies and every week that passed I started to feel more confident. Once I reached 13 weeks, I told the team at work (bosses already knew), gave my mum permission to tell the extended family, and finally announced the pregnancy on my blog. I still had a lingering fear of something going wrong, but my fears all centred on the third trimester… premature babies, a stay in intensive care, possible complications from that. The second trimester was where I finally stopped feeling nauseous and started to actually enjoy being pregnant. My mum, her friend and my brother came to stay and we had a really nice few days. I started working on some cross stitch for the babies’ room and I even bought them their first book. For those few weeks I actually allowed myself to get excited about what was to come. This was going to be it for us… we were finally going to be an actual family. Then I started spotting.
October ended up being probably the worst month of my entire life. We lost the babies, my grandma died (exactly a week later), my other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted (which went well, by the way, but at the time it just felt like more bad news). And on top of all the bad news I felt physically terrible for a few weeks thanks to the blood loss, residual hormones and for the first ten days also the antibiotics. A few good things did come of it… I had so much support and learned just how amazing the people in my life are, and Jan and I had some really intense talks and I honestly think the whole experience brought us closer. But all in all it’s not a month I want to remember… although I of course never want to forget my boys. While I would obviously prefer it if we had never lost them – by this stage I would have been able to feel them moving inside me and thinking about that still makes me sad – I am still so glad I got to experience being pregnant with them. Even with the sad outcome I cannot and will not say I wish they had never existed.
In November we said our final goodbye to the boys, laying their ashes to rest at a memorial for babies born too soon. Jan’s last day at the old job was on 31st October, then we had a few days together before he started the new job with a three-week trip to the US (and I have to say I am very glad I didn’t lose the boys while he was over there… I absolutely could not have coped with it all without him by my side). Another family member also got a not-good diagnosis while Jan was in the US, because apparently the universe didn’t hear me asking it to please just stop! Once Jan returned, he started properly at the new company, commuting to Zurich every day and staying relatively late for the first few nights while he got settled in and set everything up. That combined with 5(!) choir performances and the associated rehearsals meant I barely got to see him for about the first third of December. I also worked a lot in December… right up until almost the very last day (when I luckily didn’t have too much left to do as our system failed completely and I was only able to complete the few translations I had left because one co-worker could access our team email inbox and forward me the corrections from my proofreaders). Christmas was relatively quiet, just the two of us, which was what we wanted and Jan went back to work on the 27th. And now the year is almost over. Just a few more days and then it will be January and the dawn of what I hope will be a better year. Although maybe I shouldn’t say that given I ended last year’s recap post with the words “Bring it on 2018. I’m ready!”. I’m not sure I actually was ready for what 2018 brought…
Wow, I seem to have stopped posting for a couple of weeks there. But don’t worry, I aten’t ded (If you don’t get that reference I’m not sure we can be friends.) (Just kidding.) (Or am I?). I am aware that I’m starting to sound like a stuck record, but how is it December already? I’m so not prepared for this! Although I do kind of want this year to be over, so there is that. Still have to actually get through December though and I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. We’re not even going away for Christmas so I don’t know how things are so stressful. Work is crazy busy again, I have at least three more packages to take to the post office (and really need to do it soon before I miss the last chance for them to reach their destinations before Christmas), I still have almost all my Christmas cards to make/send – which admittedly is self-inflicted but it still needs doing. Then I always try to give the whole flat a thorough clean before Christmas so that a) I don’t have to do anything on Christmas apart from cook and b) we can start the year with the place looking decent for once (which admittedly lasts all of two weeks, but oh well). Other people spring clean, I Christmas clean. But I am supposed to be talking about November right now, so let’s do that. Usually I do a “currently” type post for these monthly recaps, but that doesn’t really seem appropriate this time so I’m just kind of going to ramble on. Feel free to stop reading at any point 😉
Jan finished his old job on 31st October and wasn’t starting his new one until 12th November (which involved flying to the US on the 11th for three weeks of “orientation”), so before I lost the babies I had applied for a few days off so we could spend some time together and go and look at some baby furniture. Needless to say, the latter didn’t happen, but I decided to still take the time off anyway. On 1st November (which was a holiday for me anyway – All Saints’ Day), we had an appointment with the fertility specialist. We were basically told the same as at the hospital: they advise waiting two cycles to physically recover then we can try again as soon as we feel emotionally prepared. He also wanted me to come in for an ultrasound on day 12 of my next cycle to check that the curettage hadn’t damaged my uterus in any way (pregnancy makes everything more sensitive anyway, and then the infection on top of that increased the risk of damage, apparently), so I did that and luckily everything was fine. At least one bit of good news! He also said it would be 6+ weeks before my period came back, but luckily it was closer to 5. The doctor’s advice was basically to go ahead and use our remaining two IUI cycles… while the pregnancy may have reset my hormones he still thought that if I managed to fall pregnant naturally it wouldn’t happen for at least six months… and I haven’t exactly got any younger in the five months since I conceived! Also, based on when I actually ended up ovulating in the cycle after my period came back it doesn’t look like anything’s changed. We’re officially “unexplained” but the one theory any doctor did manage to come up with is that my body doesn’t respond properly to the hormones, meaning my follicles grow too slow and by the time I ovulate my eggs are old and low quality and thus fail to fertilise. I ovulated on day 17, which admittedly is quite early for me (almost normal, in fact) but seems to suggest that nothing has changed. So it looks like I still need the help. Not looking forward to giving myself daily injections again, but that’s just how it has to be.
Jan managed to speak to a funeral director and then get an appointment with the person at the local council who deals with bereavement for the first Monday in November, so we decided to go away for the weekend before that, just for a change of scenery and to not have to think about everything that had happened. We went to Yverdon les Bains, where I was very disappointed to discover that the Museum of science fiction, utopia and extraordinary voyages was closed that weekend! I will definitely be going back just for that. We also managed to leave the suitcase behind when we changed trains (we got it back a few days later though), so the first thing we did in Yverdon les Bains was buy toothbrushes, toothpaste and underwear. There wasn’t loads to do there, but we managed to fill our time with food, walking and a visit to the town museum, which is located in the castle. If anyone is keeping track of my 40 before 40, one item is to visit a place in Switzerland starting with each letter of my first name. Yverdon obviously starts with Y… I’m beginning at the end, apparently.
We met with the bereavement person on the Monday at 9 a.m.. He had already spoken to the funeral directors/crematorium so it was basically just filling in forms. The cremation was taking place on the Tuesday, then we had the choice for them to be laid to rest at the memorial for babies born too soon on either the Wednesday or Thursday. Since I had to be back at work on the Thursday, we chose Wednesday. So on Wednesday 7th November 2018, we laid our beautiful first born babies to rest. I’m not going to get into that here, so if you’re interested read this post.
It was still early, so we went and picked up a car, drove part-way up a mountain and then took the Geissflue circular route. When we started off, it was very cloudy and we were right in amongst them, but then it started to clear so at times it was cloudy on one side of us and blue skies on the other. So random, but very cool looking (photo below does not do it justice). As it gradually brightened up I even ended up having to take my coat off because it was too warm… in November! The view was gorgeous… autumn colours galore. It was nice to get out in the fresh air. The whole walk/hike took us about 2 hours (including photo breaks!), which I was pretty pleased with considering a month earlier we went for a walk up the hill near where we live and I had to sit down twice because I felt weak. Nice to see the iron supplements worked! Once we arrived back at the car we drove to Aargau and had delicious Flammkuchen for lunch.
As previously mentioned, Jan flew to the US on 11th November for three weeks, but I didn’t spend those entire three weeks alone. Someone from one of his choirs came to stay for a weekend so that she wouldn’t have to travel back to Geneva after practice every day, I finally worked in the office in Germany again for the first time on 21st November because that evening was our Christmas meal – I had goose with bread dumplings and red cabbage – and then my mum and sister came over for a few days last week (was it really only last week? It feels like ages ago!). I was working most of the time, but I did manage to get the Wednesday off and we went to Freiburg in Brisgau for a few hours. We looked at the Christmas markets and my sister managed to purchase a decoration for her Christmas tree then we found a café where we ate burgers and drank beer before taking the train home so they could relax and pack ready for their flight home the next day. It was nice to see them, even though the reason for them coming was a sad one (so that I wouldn’t have to be alone for ages after everything that had happened in October and November… there was also more bad news for a family member that I won’t talk about on the blog because it’s not my place).
In between all that I worked a lot – broken record again, but it really has been so busy. The 12 days I was off sick when I lost the boys and the few days off at the beginning of November seem like a long time ago. I am looking forward to Christmas purely because I have 13 entire days without work. I’ve also made and posted cards to most of the Post Pals (yeah, I managed those ones… it’s just my friends and family ones that I’ve barely started on!) and I’ve been trying to eat extra healthily in preparation for starting the process of trying to conceive again. That kind of went out the window when my family were visiting with all the beer and wine I consumed, but I managed to eat fish at least twice most weeks, upped my water intake (I definitely don’t drink enough usually) and did my best to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. I’m trying to continue with that this month, but I’m not going to promise that the odd Christmas treat (or 10) won’t creep in…
So, that was November. What’s new with you? Are you as unprepared for Christmas as I am? Come link up and see what everyone else has been up to.
Believe it or not, I was actually up before 8 a.m. on Saturday! One of Jan’s choirs was having rehearsals over the weekend so a girl from the choir who lives in Geneva was staying out our place… although Jan isn’t even here right now (he’s in the US doing a three-week orientation for his new job). Obviously I couldn’t leave her to breakfast alone, so I was up. I don’t have photographic evidence of that fact though because I had forgotten it was photo an hour day until I went on Twitter at quarter to ten. So my daily photos start with 10 a.m….
10 a.m. Shower time.
11 a.m. Opening my post. Surprise, surprise… I received a book. I also received something much better than a book (yes, such things exist) but that will be addressed in a separate post.
12 noon. Boots on, off out.
1 p.m. In town buying some stuff. It was colder than I expected.
2 p.m. On the bus home. Weird photo, but I couldn’t think what else to do. People kept looking at me!
3 p.m. Jan asked me to scan something for him and this seemed like a good time to do it.
4 p.m. Time for a nice, hot cup of tea.
5 p.m. We recently (finally!) got some desperately needed furniture for my “office” and I’ve been gradually filling it up. At this point I was sorting out some craft stuff.
6 p.m. The desk slowly getting there. No, I don’t want to discuss how bad it looked before I started sorting it. *Shame* The stack of papers on the left is Jan’s though… I refuse to take responsibility for that!
7 p.m. Back in town. The choir had finished its practice and I was meeting my guest for pizza.
I didn’t take any more photos after that… it would have seemed a little rude. Luckily I had an even number 😉 We ate, came home, had a long conversation about books triggered by me trying and failing to fit the ones I had picked up from the public bookcase in the afternoon on my to-read shelves. I lent her a book she’d been wanting to read. Then we went to bed.
A fairly typical Saturday really. Except for once I didn’t have loads of housework to do because I had spent my evenings cleaning in anticipation of having someone to stay.
How was your Saturday?
* * * * * * *
On an entirely unrelated note, a couple of days after I came out of hospital, I noticed that some of the leaves on the previously green tree outside our building had started changing colour. I know autumn had technically started over a week earlier, but to me it felt somehow significant… I lost my babies right when the season started to change. Yesterday, it started snowing. I’m not sure I’m ready for another change of season yet. It’s all going so fast!
Tomorrow is our work Christmas meal (the only day between now and Christmas that nobody is off), so I’ll be travelling to Germany in the morning and working there for the day. The last time I was in the office was the day I told my colleagues I was pregnant. The next time I was supposed to be there was the day before I lost the babies. Going there tomorrow, no longer pregnant, is going to be surreal. It has to be done sometime though.
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. 🌟
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.
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?
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.
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!