Miscarriage sadness

15 October is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Miscarriage, an often taboo subject, is something that has touched me very deeply. In the pursuit of having a family, the only problem I imagined I would have, was actually falling pregnant. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

My first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. The day I found out I was pregnant, I was so incredibly happy. I was aware that people didn’t typically tell people they were pregnant until the end of the first trimester, but I was so deliriously joyful. I felt like all my dreams were coming true. From the start, I thought about my baby growing in me, all day, every day. I was going to have a baby with the love of my life. How could I be anything other than deliriously happy? Everything was good in life. I was over the moon.

Then the doubts started to surface in my mind. I didn’t have morning sickness. I felt kind of normal, except for a desire to eat more fruit and drink less coffee. I tried not to worry, but I couldn’t help it. I started searching on google for reasons why I wasn’t experiencing morning sickness and if it were normal.

And then it became obvious things were turning bad. It was a Saturday night and I started to notice blood. I googled like a crazy person. My partner kept telling me to think positive thoughts and maybe it would turn out alright. I went to my doctor on the Monday, and had scans to confirm my worst fears. I was pregnant, but now, I no longer was. My heart broke. I cried. I sobbed. I continued to cry until no tears came out.

I remember at the time, thinking it was just me. Everyone else seemed to be having babies, yet I couldn’t. I felt like my body let me down in the biggest, saddest way.

Not only did I feel like my body let me down, but I felt like I had let everyone down. My partner was so excited and then, it was taken away. My family and friends were also so happy. I felt horrible when I had to give them the bad news. Each time I had to say it, it hurt so bad. I realized why people were encouraged not to say anything until after the first trimester. I wanted to be pregnant so badly, and it was all taken away.

I desperately tried to get pregnant as soon as I was able. I was told that I would need at least a month to wait before trying.

Again, another miscarriage. The second time was so quick. I barely tested positive before it became a negative again. I cried, but not as much as the first time.

By now, I started to wonder if I would ever fall pregnant.

My next pregnancy resulted in a baby. At the scan, when I was told “good news! There’s a heartbeat”, I cried tears of relief. In fact, I cried at every appointment. I couldn’t believe I really would have a baby.

Following the birth of my baby girl, I had four more miscarriages. Each sad in their own way. Each sad because, each time, each pregnancy was wanted so badly.

Strangely, the last miscarriage was the toughest to deal with. While pregnant, I had every symptom that you would consider normal for a pregnancy. I had morning sickness every morning. My chest hurt. I felt pregnant. At the 8 week scan, we were so excited, that my partner and daughter were there to see the little heartbeat on the screen. It came as a complete and utter shock when I was told that it wasn’t a viable pregnancy and that a miscarriage was in the process of happening. Instead of meeting my little baby, I had to organize a trip to the hospital to have a procedure performed to remove everything. I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe it was happening again and that I couldn’t tell it wasn’t viable. I felt like I got everyone’s hopes up for nothing.

I truly felt like I had let down two people I love with all my heart. I felt completely broken.

The last pregnancy was my last attempt at falling pregnant before I gave up. It had taken a toll on me, and mentally, I couldn’t go through it again. My doctor even advised to give up and travel instead as they had done everything they could.

I grieved. I had to accept that my daughter would never have a sibling. I had to get on with my life and learn to appreciate what I had.

And so I did. For the first time in 2 years, I stopped being so obsessed with trying to get pregnant and knowing what day in the cycle it was. I stopped tracking symptoms. I gave up. I shifted my focus to my family. It was Christmas, so it was easy to do. I was so busy. After Christmas, I decided I would tackle some projects around the house that I had been delaying. I also started to plan that holiday I had always wanted to go on, but never could because I was saving up for when the baby arrived.

It was during this time, that I actually discovered I was pregnant again. This time round, I didn’t even want to tell my partner. I couldn’t do it to him again. I was so scared it would end in disappointment. It really didn’t take him long to guess though. He knows me too well, much to my frustration at the time. I was trying to protect him. At the 8 week scan, I went on my own. I couldn’t repeat what had previously happened. A heartbeat was pulsing on the screen. I was so relieved. I was warned not to get too excited until I was further along in the pregnancy.

Every test, and every scan showed positive results. The baby was healthy.

The previous miscarriages scarred me though. I had lost pregnancies so many times previously, that, this final time, I was scared I would lose it too.

The pregnancy did result in a beautiful baby girl. I still can’t believe she is in our lives. Our little miracle baby.

Why, have I gone on to tell all of this? I have written this out and have shared it, because I truly hope that what I have gone through can help someone.

Miscarriage is not often talked about, and sadly for the couple going through it, it can feel like they are all alone. You are not alone. Believe me. I know what you are going through. I know the pain, the powerless feeling you have, when no matter how much you want the pregnancy, you can’t stop nature. If you are going through this now, I wish you strength to get through your sadness and I hope that your future has a happy ending too. If you know someone who has gone through this, just let them talk and cry it out. Any loss deserves some level of grief. Be there for them and support them, even if you don’t know what to say, just listen.

Ways to cope with separation from your child

Sometimes, the thought of returning to work, or having any prolonged time apart from your child, can cause you to have feelings of separation anxiety.

What is separation anxiety?  

According to BlackDogInstitute, separation anxiety is characterised by irrational fears of separation and abandonment by close attachment figures such as parents, partners and even pets.

What if separation anxiety is triggered by the thought of leaving your child in the care of someone else? What are some ways to cope with feelings of anxiety?

Support network

Having friends or family that you can share your concerns with, can help to rationalize your fears. If you are feeling stressed and sad at the thought of leaving your child, talking it out may or may not help, but it will at least, let those who care about you the most, know that you are troubled.

Chances are your friends or family that you speak to, have been through similar experiences themselves and they can pass on their learning from their past.

Focus on positives 

For most people, going to work is not a matter of choice, but a necessity. Instead of focusing on time apart, try to shift your thoughts to positive ones, such as all that you will be able to achieve and do together as a family now that you have returned to work.

Coming up with a list of positive affirmations, that you tell yourself regularly, can help you shift your thoughts to be more positive.

Examples could be:

  • By returning to work, I want to be a positive role model for my children
  • I will make every effort to make my time with them count
  • It’s important for me to have a focus in life that is separate from my family
  • Time apart from my family will only help me appreciate them more
  • By returning to work, I will be able to provide for my children, allowing them to have opportunities to grow and develop throughout their childhood and beyond

Carry photos of your loved ones 

It has never been so easy to be able to carry photos of your loved ones. Smart phones can store thousands of photos and videos. Wherever you go, you can always have access to pictures of your children. If possible, having photos of your children on display can also help, as no matter what you are doing, you are able to look up and look at their photos and be reminded of what you have to look forward to, when you return home.

Request updates throughout the day

Often, childcare centers, family daycare, or family that are looking after your children, can send updates to let you know how your child is coping in your absence. Often, just hearing that your child is settled, has napped or has eaten, can be enough to help you settle, and focus on whatever you need to until you are once again reunited.

Make your time together count

Creating special moments together becomes even more important when you return to work. Special moments can occur in the morning and the night. It could be as simple as a special hug together, a bath, or a bedtime book.

Get into a routine  

The sooner you are able to get into a routine, the easier it will feel for yourself and your child to accept the change. It will be tough, but over time, it will get better and easier for you to accept.

Reach out 

Remember, if at any time that you need the help of a professional , you can reach out to a number of services.

In Australia, numerous parenting helpline numbers are available. Refer to the following link. (https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/services-support/about-services-support/helplines)

Most of the numbers listed are answered by registered nurses, who can provide help and advice.

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to work after a prolonged absence

This week has been my first week back to work after having had a year off on maternity leave. The first week, especially the first day back, is always the toughest. It is tough because it means the end of a period of your life, that if like me, you especially treasured. I loved my time off to bond with my baby and also appreciated the extra time I had with my eldest before she starts school next year.

I don’t know whether it is the personality of my second born, or whether having an older sister that wasn’t stressed, helped, but my baby girl was actually upbeat and happy the first and second morning that I had to return to work.

Normally a baby that loves to sleep in, she must have sensed something was up on my first morning, as she was awake about one minute before my alarm went off. I have no idea how she knew, but once she was awake, there was no getting her back to sleep again. I allowed extra time in the morning to  feed her and cuddle both girls. Even though she was awake, I was actually glad for it. I even got a happy wave from both girls before I left. The morning was so peaceful and lovely. It actually came as a pleasant surprise.

With my first born, it was a different story. My first day back, she too woke as my alarm went off (how do they know?), only she wasn’t happy, she was devastated. She knew something was up and that possibly we wouldn’t be together. She spent the whole time I was getting ready, sobbing great, big tears. I believe I cried all the way into work. What a great look that would have been as I walked back in to the office!

It is with relief, that the second time around has gone off almost smoothly. I say almost smoothly, as today, being my second morning, would have been perfect, had my baby girl not hit her face, from a fall, trying to wave goodbye to me. She is just learning to walk, and has reached a clumsy phase of step-step-fall.

Things that I have been grateful the second time around, returning to work, has been:

Grandparents

Having access to grandparents that genuinely love my girls is an absolute relief. The times that the girls are with them, I know in my heart that they are well looked after and are loved. Grandparents are also brilliant at sending regular updates throughout the day. I love that I am able to check my mobile, and see videos or photos of my girls playing and having fun. It really helps me to settle in at work and not feel any distress.

Transitioned my baby into childcare 

As mentioned in a previous post, I transitioned my baby girl into childcare, a month prior to going on leave. Doing so was great not only for my baby girl, but also for me. I actually wonder if parents feel separation anxiety more than their babies. Sure, babies definitely hate being away from their parents, but it surprised me, that I too, hated being away from my girls. I think it is because, as a parent, you worry about anything happening to your child when you are not around to protect them, or that they might need you and you are not there to comfort them. Having time to transition my baby girl, gave us both time to learn to be away from each other, and to realise that other people can care for them too.

Great place to work

Returning to a workplace that you know, and feel welcome, can make a huge difference when returning from a long absence of leave. I have been lucky in that aspect, as I have always liked where I work. I’m passionate by nature, so only ever want to work where I am happy. As much as going back to work was a shock to the system, at least going back to somewhere that I actually enjoy, was something to embrace, rather than be stressed out about.

One of the loveliest things about returning to work, has definitely been all the new toys I was greeted with. Working in technology, I always love playing with new things. I loved that I was able to use things that had never been used by anyone else. It actually felt like a fresh start.

Having a year off, it seems that change is inevitable. Working with technology, I understand that change happens regularly. Software applications are always changing, and new features are forever being rolled out. I am used to change in the workplace, so have been prepared for it, but I haven’t been prepared for all the changes on the way to the workplace. Simple things, like train ticket machines at my local train station have recently been implemented. A passenger must swipe their ticket before entering the platform. A simple change, but for someone, like me, that is always running for a train, and only ever barely making it, this is a significant change. Train timetables also were different since I last boarded a train. Once again, not a big problem, but if you are also like me, and you calculate exactly what train you need to be on, to ensure that you get where you need to at exactly the right amount of time, this can actually come as a shock.

If you are heading back to work after a prolonged absence, then my advice to you is:

  • Check and double-check any changes that might have happened on your route back to work. Roadworks could delay your trip in, as could newly altered train timetables.
  • Get up earlier than you need the first couple of weeks until a routine forms. As difficult as it might be to wake up early, it will be a lot more enjoyable, getting ready when you are relaxed, then when you are stressed and trying to get out of the door as fast as possible.
  • Try to get enough sleep. Sleeping, the night before going back to work, was near impossible for me. I think a mix of adrenaline and not wanting my leave to end, were keeping me awake up all night. I felt tired on my first day. A better sleep the next night, and I felt so much better the next day.
  • Keep positive. If you have small children that you are leaving to go to work, the more positive you are the better. I don’t know how they do it, but children seem to be able to pick up on a nervous vibe. If you are stressed, they will be too and it will just make leaving all the more harder.
  • Prepare everything the night before. I have found already that having everything prepared the night before really makes it so much more quicker and easier to get ready in the morning. I would rather be reaching for my second coffee, or cuddling my girls for the fiftieth time, than deciding which outfit I should wear.
  • If you are catching transport, than make the most of your ‘me time’ and do what you want to do: read a book, play a game on your mobile, learn a language, or write a post for your blog.

Returning to work is tough. Over time it will settle down and you will feel like you are back in control. The best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.

You’ve got this!