"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


**Thank you so much for your beautiful comments or emails. I'm trying to respond to these individually, but it takes time - which is a bit scarce round our place at the moment as we're getting ready for the girls to start their new school on Monday, and for the memorial on the 7th. But I will get there. In the meanwhile, please know that your messages are hitting their mark and making us feel very loved xxxh**

There is so much to write about at the moment. Histopathology is my new word for the day - I promise I will explain why soon. But having harassed the media again in the last 24 hours with a letter to the editor, I feel like I need to explain that first.

Nancy Asani lost her unborn child at 38 weeks. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

We, or rather, Zainab, got a vague mention in the paper on Monday. It was in an article about Nancy Asani, a woman who was 38 weeks pregnant (also with a little daughter) when someone driving without their headlights on ploughed into her car, injuring her and killing her baby, named Meriem. (It feels so strange to know that someone has gone through something so similar to our accident - horrible that anyone else should have to go through it, but also some weird fellow-feeling - knowing that we're not the only ones. I think I will try and contact Nancy at some stage when we feel up for it).

Like the driver who caused our accident, the person responsible for Meriem's death could only be charged with "dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm" - ie in respect of the injury to Nancy. This was ten years ago, and since then Nancy has been campaigning to have the law changed so that causing the death of an unborn child counts as "dangerous driving causing death" - as is the case in other states such as NSW. I'm not sure if she would pick a gestational age when a foetus's is deemed to count as a "death" - that is probably a tricky question. I'm not sure how I'd want the law to work exactly, but I do think that this is much more than just an injury to the mother - or rather it is a particularly huge and future-destroying injury which might need its own special category.

The article linked Nancy's story to ours, and to that of the poor woman who had an accident about a week after ours and (this makes me weep even harder) lost both her baby and her husband.

I was okay with that linkage, and we would support Nancy's campaign, but the bit which made me throw stuff and fly into furious fits of letter-writing was this:

Australian Family Association spokesman John Morrisey said the inconsistencies in the state's laws appeared to exist because of ''fairly permissive abortion laws''.

This was my letter:

Letter to the Editor
27 January 2010
One month ago (thought it feels like another lifetime ago), I was 34 weeks pregnant and was driving home with my family. A 4WD hit us head-on, and (among our other injuries) caused my placenta to abrupt and killed my little daughter before she was born. I was so sad to read (“Mother vows to fight on for law change over road death of unborn child” The Age 25 Jan 2010) that Nancy Asani suffered a similar loss in December 1999, and that another woman also lost her baby this “holiday” period.

We would support Nancy in her campaign to have the law changed to recognise that dangerous driving causing the death of an unborn baby is not just an injury to the mother. It was an injury to me, but in a much more profound way than my other injuries. Our baby, had she been delivered before the accident, would have had excellent prospects of survival – she was already 2.5kg (around 5 lbs) and 48cm long. I can’t put into words what we have lost and what she has lost.

What I find offensive is that anyone could try and twist our tragedy into some kind of argument against safe, legal abortion. John Morrissey, spokesman for the “Australian Family Association” has done this in your article on Monday. How dare he try to appropriate our loss and turn it to his own political / religious ends. We were lucky not to be in a position where we had to consider abortion, but I have had a number of friends who have been in that awful position, and it is not something any woman considers lightly. Women are not stupid – we know that pregnancy is the process of turning a potential life into a living breathing child. That is what makes our loss so heart-breaking. To try and draw some connection between abortion laws and recognition of my and Nancy’s loss as a loss of life is offensive and ignorant.

I was lazy and once I'd gone to the effort to write the letter, and found out that letters are generally only accepted if they are under 200 words, I couldn't face editing it and submitted it anyway. When I mentioned to my dad why I was so antsy about him bringing over the paper this morning, he warned me they probably wouldn't publish it. Thankfully, they decided to publish it, and did the editing for me. The published version is here, (you'll need to scroll down, my letter is the fourth one down).

ASIDE THE FIRST... How is it that a homophobic, ... organisation which opposes IVF, contraception, abortion and sex education has somehow snaffled the neutral-sounding title of "Australian Family Association"? If you cut out all the families which the AFA don't count as "family" - ie those who have divorced or never married, single mums, same sex families, families who are not related by blood or legal adoption, then how many families are you really left with? And why do journos bother consulting them about anything family-related (in the genuine, rather than the prejudiced sense of the word)?

ASIDE THE SECOND... I still don't really understand why people who kill others on the road get charged with "dangerous driving causing death" rather than manslaughter. Why is there a distinction (and a lighter sentence) just because the weapon of killing was a car rather than any other implement or poison? My suspicion (and this may have been explained to me by someone once - criminal law is not my area) is that governments felt the need to introduce specific offences because juries would consistently not convict these people of manslaughter.

Why? Because (nearly) everyone drives, and most of us, if we are honest, would acknowledge that we have our moments when we are crappy drivers. Or angry, poorly controlled drivers. Or tired or attention-deprived drivers, even if we don't fall in the significant proportion of the population who also drink drive or speed. And because we've built our worlds around having cars, these death machines have become an essential part of our ordinary lives - as have our patchy abilities to control them. But still - why should manslaughter using a motor vehicle be in a different category than manslaughter using any of the other necessary but deadly tools / substances we use in our ordinary lives?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Things which are difficult to see

On thursday afternoon, we were sitting on the front porch behind the rose bushes when the postie came. Rima went and got the mail straight away - about the only time in our lives together when we've actually both been home on a weekday to see the postman. In amongst the mail was a postpack with 6 cds of images from the radiology department at Royal Melbourne. At first I thought that there were two different cds of images, and three copies of each, but then I realised that every cd contained different images.

We loaded the first one up - an exciting sounding title like "CT - Trauma series 1/3" - and it told us it had 2166 images on it. But it was the first one which stopped me. It was my whole body, neck down to about my shins, with my arms held up above my head.

I remembered this being taken. It hurt so much to lie like that, and you could see my pain in the awkward, lopsided way I was lying in order to try and not put pressure on the sorest, most broken bits of my body. I would post a copy of the picture here but if it was distressing to me, I'm sure it would be distressing to you too.

The time on the image said 20:26 or something like that - it was after I'd found out that my baby had died, but before they had operated to take her out and to repair my knee. And you could see her there, curled within me. To my un-medically trained eye, she looked for all the world like a beautiful, healthy living baby.

I put the rest of the cds aside after that. We looked again at some of them last night - so difficult. I'm going to have to corner a doctor when I go in for my next Trauma appointment and get them to explain what they all mean. I can't tell which bits are which (except for the obvious).

On Thursday night I had so many dreams it was hard to believe they could all fit within the one night. But best and hardest of all, Zainab visited me in my dream. I feel protective about the details - lest people think I am weird or macabre. But I was so happy to see her eyes and to hear her voice - it was the best thing which has happened since the accident (and since realising that Rima and the girls were alive).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to help?

When our car came to a stop on 27 December after the 4WD hit us, I realised that the car was crushed around my legs and I couldn't get out. For a moment I thought, "oh god - how will I get out - there is no way I can get myself out of here". And then I remembered that the fire fighters also have equipment to cut people out of cars, and that it would only be a matter of time before they would come and help me. I was right, and they were on the scene incredibly quickly to free me.

People trapped by the rubble in Haiti are not so lucky. I’m sure that somewhere, in amongst the rubble, there is a pregnant woman in a similar situation to me, but with the big difference that she has no guarantee that anyone will come and free her, or that they’ll have the equipment to do so even if they can find her.

Nothing will bring our little girl back, but a few well-aimed dollars will help dig people out from the rubble in Haiti, and will give the children who do survive this disaster a chance at life. If our calamity touches you and you are wondering what you can do to help, here is something simple you can do which will give us comfort, send a message of love and do something useful – give money to Oxfam’s Haiti fund. You can do that here or by calling 1800 088 110 from Australia.

BTW: please don't fret about my legs. Somehow I managed to get pulled from that car with only a fractured patella (kneecap), a killer cork thigh and minor lacerations to my legs. (plus some injuries to other parts of my body, but still, I thought that was pretty good for my legs) And I'm healing up well and now hobbling around the house. Don't feel sorry for me - just give money to people in Haiti. Okay?

Summarize this

Remember this post? We used the poem I'd written for Zainab's funeral.

Here are the words to the song I was talking about, even more appropriate now than they were then:

Summarize – Little Birdie
Summarize what it means to be happy to you, and all that’s inside.
Summarize and I will take time to find you.
I am happy just lying here with you, I am happy here just lying here next to you.
Oh maybe, maybe I see you in my mind, maybe I see you in time.
Darling, I just need all of you, darling I just need a little
Kiss kiss, show me what you mean babe, bang bang, show me and summarize this.

Summarize and the moon is barking dangerously.
Summarize and I will take time to find you.
I am happy just lying here with you, I am happy here just lying here next to you.
Oh maybe, maybe I see you in my mind, maybe I see you in time.
Darling, I just need all of you, darling I just need a little
Kiss kiss, show me what you mean babe, bang bang, show me and summarize this.
Darling, oh I need you darling. Darling, oh I need you darling.
Summarize this. Summarize this.

Krabby Patties

You know when Mr Krabs Spongebob Squarepants' boss gets really angry and mean? C'est moi at the moment.

Here are some of the things which have turned me into a cranky bitch in the last 24 hours:

- The stupid Australian Open ("tennis" - apparently some people wish to watch this repetitive crap) being on the television.

- beloved members of my family wishing to watch the Australian Open pretty much all day from about 10 am until ... oh yes, that crap is still on the tv and taking over my living room right now. At 11pm at night. Is there no flipping rest from that crap?

- tripping over a sewing machine in the hallway. Why is it there? Oh yes, we are still unpacking our house and there is shit (i mean, all our precious belongings) everywhere.

- beloved stepchildren feeling compelled to tear a chewing gum packet (both foil and cardboard) into minute pieces, and leave them on the table on the front porch. The front porch being the one place I can escape from the "tennis" and from all the crap in our house.

- idiots who drive at 140km per hour (with a blood alcohol reading of 1.06 - hilarious) up a suburban road, managing to kill themselves, four of their best friends, and maim the younger sister of one of their best friends, in a car with only 5 seatbelts. Get a fucking clue people.

These things make me cranky. I'm sorry to be in such a bad mood. Tomorrow I'll have to write about how beautiful some people are, such as the dear friends and family who have been driving us to medical appointments, cooking us amazing food, doing our washing etc etc etc.

But for now crabbiness will have to suffice. Please stay safe and hold your loved ones tight. xxxxh

Friday, January 15, 2010


We're in the house, and it is heartbreakingly lovely because everything is so perfect except for the one small part which is missing.

The lovely friends & family have set up beds, kitchen, living room and filled the fridge - we are so so lucky in that respect.

I didn't quite realise what a big fat emotional wall I would hit when I got here. It means I'm getting antsy about some small things which really shouldn't matter, and pissing off Rima as a result. Hopefully I can mend that today and stop being such a grumpy bitch.

*EDITED TO ADD* But the good news I was hoping for is here - Dokkoon has given birth to a baby girl elephant!

I can't believe how HAIRY she is! But so amazing. And a bit surprised-looking. Welcome to the world, little one! What a scary confusing beautiful place this is.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Question for Melbourne People re GPs

I'm about to have a nap - the same nap I've been meaning to have for about 2 hours, but have got caught up making lists of all the amazing friends who are coming to help us move house today & tomorrow.

But while I'm napping, if any of you live in Melbourne, and more specifically, in the north - I have a favour to ask. Do you know a good GP I can get to easily (ie hopefully without a car) from preston?

I'm not that picky, but would love:
- queer-friendly
- bulk billing (but i realise how rare this now is)
- family-friendly
- vaguely clued in re mental health stuff

Any tips much appreciated. xxxh

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I really need some happy news

Even if it isn't going to be my own this time.

This is why I am so excited about Dokkoon, the Indian elephant at Melbourne Zoo, who is currently 22 MONTHS pregnant and due to have her baby any day / week now.

(Image from here)

What do Dokkoon and I have in common?
- we both got pregnant via assisted insemination.
- we've both had ultrasound scans, but neither of us knew before the birth whether the baby is a boy or girl.
- we have been doing yoga in pregnancy to stay fit. :-)

But this is where I hope our stories diverge. I hope Dokkoon has a wonderful last few days/weeks of pregnancy, and that her birth is smooth and amazing, and that her little one is healthy and opens his or her eyes to see his/her Mama.

I wish the same for all of you who are pregnant now, and all of you who are trying or hoping to get pregnant. I know you may be worried about how news of your conception / pregnancy / birth / beautiful baby will affect me given our loss - thank you for being so thoughtful. Of course I wish my gorgeous girl was alive so we could compare notes on her birth, her development and the things she would have done to make us laugh and gasp with awe. Oh I wish for that so so much, and I live in hope that wherever our baby is she knows how much I long to kiss her and hold her and care for her. But I can't. Nothing you or I can do can change that.

But I really need some hope and good news to keep me going at this time. I am so sad my baby cannot be an earthly or internet playmate for your babies. But please let me weep some tears of happiness for you too - it is a nice change from my own sadness. Not every grieving mama will feel the same way, and indeed, who knows if my own feelings on this will change, but right now I gain a lot of comfort from hearing that others'pregnancies (even in some cases after some awful losses) are progressing well and that their babies are healthy. It gives me some hope that at some stage in the future, we might be able to share some good baby news of our own, although that is probably some time away for the moment. xxxxxh

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thank you

Thank you so so much for all your love and thoughts. I'm so sorry that so many others share this pain, but it feels all the less lonely and scary when your thoughts are with us.

They published my letter on the front page. This article is much more accurate except for shoddy punctuation in the title (Mum's pain should be Mums' pain).



Thursday, January 7, 2010

What happened

is still so raw and new that we are wrapping our heads around a new bit of it everyday. And also failing to wrap our heads around, and howling at that failure and our loss and the fact that our daughter will never open her beautiful eyes to see the people who love her more than anything. Here is an offensively inaccurate version of what happened which was on the front cover of a tabloid newspaper. This is my response to it:

Letter to the Editor

Eleven days ago I was 34 weeks pregnant and driving home with my defacto wife in the passenger seat and my beloved stepdaughters in the back seat. A 4WD came onto our side of the road and hit us. We were all badly hurt but our baby daughter died in my womb from the impact. My defacto wife (I can’t call her my wife because in this country we cannot marry) and I had spent nearly four years getting to know our sperm donor, undertaking tests and trying to get me pregnant using assisted conception (fortunately we did not need IVF). When the Herald-Sun reported the accident and our loss on 28 December 2009, (“LOST IVF ANGEL”), it mistakenly called her my “sister-in-law” and referred to my stepdaughters vaguely as “two children”. Many people reading your article must have been wondering about the relationships between a pregnant woman, her sister in law and these two children who were all hurt in the one car. I just need to clarify – we are a family. My defacto wife (what a clunky phrase that is) and I lost our little girl, and our big girls lost their baby sister. I don’t want our family to be invisible – we have enough pain and injuries to deal with at the moment.

Name & Address withheld

But in this wierd strange movie which is apparently now my life, the most genuine and real thing is the love we have felt around us from family, friends, and also people who may not know us in real life but have very real compassion for us (or worse, have been through equally heart-breaking things themselves). It is huge, and we feel so warmed by your love but at the moment we are still so broken – physically, and in our hearts, that we can’t respond to all the messages. I am out of ICU (yay), out of the Trauma ward (yay), and in Rehab. I hate being here – but am doing my best to heal and learn how to do basic things so I can get home and be with my beautiful girls and do the rest of my healing there. Rima & girls are out of hospital (yay!), but there are still various stages to go.

We will never ever be the same after this. I could never have imagined that the Haloumi who kicked and hiccuped inside me could be such a beautiful little baby girl. I am so proud of her and so so heart-broken. I am so thankful my beloved Rima and girls are safe. Thank you for your thoughts and love.