"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.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three month letter (jumping the gun)

We’re getting close to three months since the accident, and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I wanted to write a three month letter to Zainab. I'm not having a dig at those who write letters to their living children - god knows if she'd lived I would have been right on the bandwagon. It is a beautiful idea, that's why I just wanted a little taste of it, even though it isn't quite the same when your baby isn't here to record all the new amazing things they learned and you learnt about them in a month. But this is part of my task here, to accept that I don't get any more time here on earth with her.

It could go like this: (please excuse my attempt at humour - we do like to try and crack jokes in between the weeping. Ha boo hoo ha.)

My darling girl,

I’m trying to work out how big you might be, if this was your three month birthday rather than three months since you died. We saw a baby today on our way back from the market, probably a bit more on the newborn side than you would be by now. You'll be happy to know that I still haven't seen any baby that comes near you in the looks department, and we seem to be surrounded by them at the moment. They're lovely, they're sweet, but they're not you.

I’m hoping that wherever you are, in the non-denominational, vaguely agnostic Good Place where I like to think you might be “living the dream”, you are growing and learning. Those little legs would be filling out, and maybe you are giving your godparents some smiles, starting to focus on their faces and grin gummily at them. God, I wish we were there to see you and hold you, my love. I wish I could be feeding you and feeling some pride and amazement in your increasing fatness. El Prima would be making faces at you, doing her expert babymama thing, teaching you arabic.

But enough about your milestones, let’s talk about mine! I can now bend my knee well over 100 degrees. Woo hoo. And my quadricep muscle now responds when I want to move it. I can get in and out of bed without doing that weird robot-leg move I had to do before. We’re going for big walks – to and from the shops, around the park, with only one crutch – and I won’t need that for much longer. We’re sleeping through the night a lot more than last month. I think I’ll be starting my new job next month – beginning part-time and working my way up to full time by July.

Your sisters miss you. They are making friends at their new school, and have freaked them out showing them photos of our wrecked car. They were all geared to be the best babysitters ever, I hope you know that.

I won’t write you a letter every month, I hope you’ll understand. But I love you and think about you every day.

With all my love, xxxxx h

Monday, March 15, 2010

Breathing and (mostly) functioning

Here are some of the things that make it a bit better:

- the sound the cat makes when I accidentally sneeze on him. Both surprised and disgusted all at once.
- Rima being home, although she was kind enough to bring back a sniffy head cold especially for me.
- pulling my finger out and starting to sort out actual dates for starting back at work, even if the idea of it is still pretty scary.
- finding people who seem to have survived this kind of loss and are even "integrating" it into lives in which good things happen.
- random stories about otters from lovely people.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I'm calling around getting insurance quotes for the new death-machine we are due to pick up tomorrow. It is not "new" new - just new for us. A 2002 Subaru - but one of the models with stability control and a ..... of airbags.

A prize for whoever can come up with the best plural noun for a group of airbags. A cloud of airbags? A reassurance of airbags?

The person giving me an insurance quote has to ask whether we've had any previous accidents in the past 3 years, "regardless of fault". I tell him / her - a 4WD hit us, head-on, yes, the car was written off. Inevitably, she/ he says, "That sounds awful. I hope everyone was alright?"


I don't know what to say to that, so I usually just say "mostly" in a tone which (I hope) firmly communicates - do not ask me any more about this. If they do ask more, I blather on a bit about broken knees, ribs, spleens, liver etc etc. That makes them uncomfortable enough.

I don't say, "No, we are not alright. My baby daughter died." I want to be correct and accurate and honest, and I want our loss acknowledged, but I have to make a number of these phone calls, get a number of quotes. My composure is stretched thin enough already. I have functions I need to perform today before I disintergrate into a weepy pulp. I can't go there - not for a flipping insurance quote, not with someone who only knows me as one voice in a call-centre shift. I can't risk the random responses the truth might evoke.

It feels ridiculous, shopping around for insurance when something like this has happened. Everything feels ridiculous, flippant. To continue to live and breathe is a cruel insult. I didn't realise I could become so bitter. I didn't really know the meaning of it. But bitter and interesting I could handle maybe, bitter and boring - trapped in this repetitive ongoing grief - is harder. I think this is why I've gripped so hard onto the idea of making a book, making artwork out of this grief. Nothing will compensate, but can't I at least make something beautiful from the ruins?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Things which don't help

- Not having El Prima around to tell me it is time I went to bed (she's in Sydney for the weekend).
- Staying up till the tiny quiet hours reading and weeping.
- When we decide to go for a walk to the market as a cheer-up, having a heavily pregnant woman ask "Are you pregnant?" (the second such comment in 3 days)
- Getting poured on by rain on the walk home.

Actually, I think the rain did help. There is something about getting completely drenched - as though the internal and external water levels reached a balance. I've lost all compunction about sobbing while walking along the footpath - rain running down my cheeks and fogging my glasses helps.

I'd worn a favorite singlet with a little red corduroy mini - I'd been happy with what I was wearing, and it made me feel better than in my pajamas. But once she said that, I cursed my choice, and that I had nothing with me to hide this belly. It has been nearly 8 weeks. I still look pregnant. I haven't made the t-shirt I wanted to make in hospital. The one that says "I'm not pregnant anymore. My baby has died. Please don't ask". I think I need to make it before I venture outside the house again.

What is worse, the shocked looks on people's faces when they read it, or their unwittingly painful comments?

Birth Certificate

We grabbed the mail on our way out of the house to have coffee with Aron, an old friend who did his history PhD on the Royal tours of Australia. I tear one envelope open and can tell from the feel of the paper that it is not a bill. This is thicker, watermarked paper. When I stare at it, I can’t tell if it is just my eyes or whether the colour of the paper changes softly towards the centre – from creamy white to pinky cream.

This paper certifies me as a “mother”, and certifies Z’s birth – that she was here – a human child, even if she never drew breath. [Why do they produce these certificates? Is she ever going to need it to get a passport? To get her driver’s licence? Will we ever need it to enrol her in school? Is this some kind of sympathy consolation prize just to make us feel better? The most comforting reason I can think of is pure administrative completeness. A child was here. She must be recorded.]

On paper, I am a mother, but there is no pram here, no noisy squirming baby. Only a flat two dimensional photo and this certificate.

I feel like one of those flat felt figures we had at kinder. You can peel me off this situation and stick me onto another scene. It makes a soft ripping sound as you do it – quieter than velcro. Here is my picture-baby, here is my piece of paper. I love her so much, but she’s now my two-dimensional child – stilled, flattened out on the page like a rare flower. I didn’t dream her three dimensional little life, she was definitely here (right here) – moving and being. But all the remaining evidence I have of that fact is unsatisfying.

The next envelope I open is an overdue fine from the library – Sheila Kitzinger, “Rediscovering Birth”. We have to go, to move on, we’ll be late for coffee with Aron. I fold these pieces of mail together and worry that I’ll mix them up or lose them – confuse the proof of my daughter’s existence with a library fine.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


is the day I decided I was ready to see the pictures of our car post-crash.

I'm still writing but the blogging thing is tricky at the moment. February has come and gone - a very different month to the one I had thought I might be having. My knee is getting better - at some stage in the next few months, people won't be able to tell how damaged I was/am from the way I walk. I'm not sure I'm ready to masquerade as a well person though. But I'm starting to face up to the things that need to be faced - work, publications, buying a new car, doing our tax return so we can afford all the freaking safety features.

Sending lots of love and congratulations to those who've got to meet their babies this month. And SO SO happy to see this news. See, the world is still an okay place.