"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, May 25, 2011

Right Where I Am Project: One year, Five Months.

I love Angie's idea for this project - of putting a pin on our own specific grief maps and saying, "this is where I am now", "this is what the terrain looks like around here, this far away from the epicentre".

So here is my terrain: still bumpy, lots of debris, but we're making a road here, starting to clear a path. I have to be careful with this metaphor - I don't know that I want to describe Z as an earthquake or a volcano - though maybe the accident itself deserves that kind of imagery. This is part of my trouble (and I guess for many parents who lose a child before or soon after birth) - that I have two cataclysmic things to get my little brain around - being mother to Z, and the trauma of losing her. Each is so huge on its own, and then they are so intertangled.

I have a better sense now that part of my job in parenting Z is to trace where she went when she died - to resolve for myself where her little soul went so that I can keep loving her and learning about her. When you prepare for parenthood, they don't tell you that you'll need some existential philosophy. But I think that is one of my main tasks for Z. And as far as I can tell so far, she is here in this world - in fact, she is in the process of re-connecting me with the world I felt so lost in after the accident.

Something big shifted in the last couple of months so that I feel more settled with my grief. Where before, when I had heard people say that Z would "always be with us", I had nodded and vaguely agreed, now I genuinely and literally feel like she is always with me. Somehow it has become real. There's still sadness that she's not here in the fleshy, noisy way of other children, but I recognise that as my own small sense of not getting what I want, rather than any failing on her part. The sadness at losing her and the joy at having her as my daughter are getting woven in together, so that I can hardly tell which is which. It's specific to her, and my love for her, rather than being measurable as happy or sad. So, I'm still a bit of a weepy mess, but in an alive way rather than a broken or depressed way. I feel like because of loving Z I understand more about living and dying.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No More / More

After Z died, once the reality started closing in and I was able to start understanding her death distinct from all the trauma of the accident, the thing that made me choke with fear and sadness the most was this idea of no more Z. I thought, that's it. My whole relationship with my daughter was over and done with before it had hardly started. 37 photos, some inky foot and handprints, a tiny amount of ashes and a drop of her blood on a blanket made by my mum - the count-able, finite remains of my child. It wasn't enough, it would never be enough. It was such a sad, awful, unfillable hole of 'no more' that to live in this world, I felt like I had to close that drawer, to look elsewhere for the 'more' that I needed.

Specifically, the 'more' that I was looking for was to get pregnant again. I was so sure it would happen - to be honest, I don't think I had really let go of feeling pregnant. This was my pregnancy and I would finish it, even if I had to mourn Z along the way. When I lost our first ivf pregnancy in March, all those self-delusions fell away, and I was left wondering, what if Z was my only child? Just even having to think about that question made me want to leap under a train, but with the molar pregnancy scare, I had plenty of time to think about it. I was scared that if really looked hard at my grief for Z, if I opened that drawer, the big sad black hole of 'no more' would suck me in and swallow me whole. Because there was no solution to it, there was no way my logical brain could think a way around the big stark reality of no more Z. I kind of lost my shit for a while there - as explained in this post. And then, exhausted with my own drama, me and all that sadness just lay on the floor, and breathed and looked at one another.

And I thought to Z, "Well, my love. I wish you hadn't gone and died. But there's not much you can do about it now." And in the spirit of parents whose kids have been conscripted to the army, I thought, "I wish you didn't have this job (being dead / being "one with the universe" or whatever it is that baby souls do after they die) but I still love you and I wish you'd send me a postcard or call me sometimes". And then I felt silly, because there was her star, which is always there twinkling at us, and the camellia tree which burst into bloom just when my heart was breaking, and her pomegranate tree, and her roses, and leaves in the river in Cairns, and clouds, and the sea at Somers, and the bird noises in the bush chapel where her ashes are, and I realised I really was being a pretty demanding mama. And I realised, I actually know Z better now than when she was born. And if somehow my knowledge of her and love for her has expanded, then there is more Z. She is still growing, she's finding her feet in the world, even if we have to guess about what exactly she's doing, even if I don't (in the way of all parents) really understand what her job entails. It's not how I wanted my daughter to be in the world, but I know now that whatever she is doing is important, because it is important to her, and therefore to me. If I just keep demanding her to fit in with what I need (which I know she can't do anymore) then we both feel awful, and maybe I'll miss seeing what she can do. I wish we'd had more time together in the conventional sense, but I can't be churlish about it because it's not her fault. And if I want to love her exactly as she is, then I have to be open to getting her little hippy-style postcards in brightly coloured leaves and odd cloud formations. I think she's also fond of slugs. Not sure why, but if she loves slugs, then I love them too.

Just when I was starting to get my brain around all of the above, I got an email from Angie attaching a mizuko jizo painting she has done for me - and there was Z, peeking out. And it all made sense - slowly my sadness for no more Z in my arms, and in our house in her fleshy, nearly 18 month old realness, is mingling with a wonder that I can still get little peeks of her. I was walking to the shops the other day and it hit me that she might have been walking with me by now (perhaps that shows how little I know about the energy levels of nearly 18 month olds) - but I suddenly thought, here, this is where her little hand would be, tight in my hand. Walking together. And I could just about feel her chubby fingers, the softness of her skin, and could suddenly feel both the no more and the more at the same time. I love you exactly as you are, my darling girl.

Painting by Angie Yingst, reproduced with permission.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Seven little soap-bubbly cells is what we saw yesterday morning on the microscope screen when we went for our transfer. It was more uncomfortable than last time - I could feel the catheter poking about as our doctor found the right spot / angle, but he was lovely and gave me and El Prima a genuine good-luck shoulder squeeze before we left.

I'm doing my best to stay with each new moment - and my delight in my favourite number turning up in such an unexpected way - without veering off into good luck omens and what if they don't work, and worries about all the multiple possible futures held within those tiny gelatinous cell walls. We're giving this one every good chance.

Meanwhile, I'm blowing soap bubbles for Z, and Albie, and Esther, and Charlotte and Hudson, and all the other beautiful babies we are missing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grief & doing my tax return

It had to happen eventually. My 09-10 tax return has been sitting there glowering at me, waiting for me to pull out all the pieces of paper and play with spreadsheets. Tonight, I've finally started to wrestle it.

I was expecting the urges to procrastinate, the frustrations with having no filing system since we moved to Melbourne (the filing cabinet which I'd just gotten organised before we left sydney is in the garage), the general head-achey-ness of trying to find documents from nearly 2 years ago.

What surprised me was the emotional gut-punch of looking at our bank statements from before & around the time of our accident. There we were, doing mundane things like getting the dogs vaccinated, when we only had 12 days left with that beautiful round living bump that was Z. There is the parking fee for the last scan we had at the hospital four days before, there is the movie we went to see (Where the Wild Things Are), all weary from making the big move, the last bits of Christmas shopping. And then, suddenly just a whole lot of withdrawals from hospital ATMs. It still shocks me, even 16 months on.

[ps thank you so much for the beautiful warm welcome back xxxh]

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not Molar!

There has been much punching of the air in the last 2 minutes around here - not only was yesterday day 1, but I finally got a call from someone at the Womens telling me that the genetic testing has come back, and PLB was definitively NOT a molar pregnancy. (oh PLB. I wish I was hypothesising about who you might be rather than celebrating the fact of something you weren't) If it feels windy where you are, that is probably me exhaling after five weeks worth of holding my breath. No, that isn't exactly true. Okay, it's a big fat lie.

Somewhere after my last post, after I had been holding my breath for so long (metaphorically, people)that I just wanted to vehemently push each minute past me and away from me - just throw it away - I couldn't do it any more. I did kind of break, and came closer to realio trulio mental hospitalio madness than I ever wanted to come. But in breaking, I also exhaled, and felt what it might be like to live without hope dragging me forwards into an imaginary future moment. And I breathed in all the scary things that a molar pregnancy might mean - not knowing whether I could get pregnant again for 6 months, a year or ever, chemo, having to do stupid 24 hour urine tests and carry 4L plastic containers of my own wee into the Womens every week. And I breathed out, because I wasn't there yet, and every little second standing between me and a 4L urine sample container was a precious precious thing.

Breathing in an uncomfortable spot like that can be hard, but I've had lots of practice at it by now. I take great pride in the fact that when my brother and sister in law (both dive instructors) took me for my first ever ocean scuba dive this January, I used less oxygen than either of them, despite freaking out under water about how to clear my mask. See - that's my talent - breathing. Simple but actually pretty important.

I hope this is making sense. It isn't as though my life could go to bits and I'd still be happy as la-la because I could breathe, but you take comfort where you find it - and given my luck, I can't really be too picky. The work incident also reminded me how much I value my work - and forced me to start being more assertive with work, rather than continuing to be hedgehog-like and resentful about it.

I've missed my bloggy family, but needed to put my head down for a bit, and focus on holding onto my job, and breathing. We also got news over easter that left me without words - dear friends of ours who lost their baby boy last year, greeted a beautiful baby daughter - but she was in distress at birth, and was put on life support. She held on for four days, so she could meet all four grandparents, and then died in her parents' arms. Those 49 words can't possibly convey a scrap of it. Two entire universes-worth of love. I know that this is unfixable, as much as I've come to accept that my loss of Z is unfixable, but still my mechanical brain spent days going in circles, trying to think a way out of it for them.

I'm sorry I've been quiet for so long. I feel like I've done a bit of a mental spring clean - and am hopefully coming back a little bit fresher, even if I'm a little heavier with this news for our friends.