How are you?

I’ve had this post sloshing around in my head for a ridiculous amount of time now. Probably a couple of months at least. Then I was going to post it at Christmas when I had some time, but I was worried it might be a bit too depressing. Anyway, the problem is I don’t know exactly what I want to write, only that I need to write something.

The Past

As many of you who read regularly will know, 7 months ago our son Pixie was stillborn at 41 weeks. I wrote about what was in my head as that was happening. It was a good way of me to get what was going on organised in my head. And I was pretty terrified I might forget some small detail, so getting it all down ASAP made sense.

Since Pixie died, we’ve been trying to come to terms with our new normal. Understandably, people are always asking how we are. Understandably, we’re never quite sure. If I’m really honest, I think we’ve coped pretty well. However, I feel like my coping mechanisms are on the slide, because we have had one major change in the last few months.

I’m pregnant. Did you know I can’t call it ‘having a baby’ any more, because I know that being pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean you get a baby at the end.

Rainbow baby 20 week scan
Here she is at 20 weeks

The Present

We are on the verge of 21 weeks along with our little daughter, who I am very much hoping will be our rainbow baby. This means I am getting asked how I am even more than ever. And I have even less of an idea than I did when I was just grieving.

I think I’m lucky. I don’t feel guilty. I’ve read a lot of mums do with their rainbow baby. But I feel all kinds of other things. What I don’t feel is excited. A lot of friends and family that we have told have said it is the best news they’ve ever heard. It’s not though. Having a healthy baby who opens her eyes in May will be the best news ever. This is the problem with Pixie being stillborn so late, there is no ‘safe’ point when we get a bit of relief and the paranoia goes away.

I feel like we’ve been cheated out of the happiness and the excitement of being pregnant. After Pixie, I actually feel like it would be stupid to assume that we’ll end up with a baby in 4 months time. I feel stupid for assuming I would last time I was pregnant. It’s not so much tempting fate, but more doing the same thing twice and expecting different outcomes. And as we all know, only an idiot does that.

Pregnancy After Loss

Obviously we have loads of specialist care. We’re never out of the hospital. I get the most anxious in the three days or so before an appointment, which means I am in a state of acute worry about a third of the time because there are so many appointments. Happily, the little one is starting to make herself known, so I have a clue that she’s OK rather than being reliant on my regular scans. But I know the whole process is making my head break. We were waiting for a consultant scan the other day in the antenatal clinic at the hospital when I suddenly burst into tears for no reason. I had to get up quickly and head to the Rainbow waiting room, sending The Boy to reception so they knew where I was (as it’s at the other end of the wing). Still I couldn’t tell you what was going through my head and why I suddenly couldn’t cope with it, I just couldn’t.

I can’t cope with being pregnant any more either. Definitely I am being a complete wuss now and coping horribly. But I’ve been pregnant for about 15 out of the last 17 months now. Because Pixie was such a big baby, my body hasn’t recovered from the last pregnancy so everything is harder this time. I have a physiotherapist who told me the best way to reduce my pain is to do everything slower and more carefully. Walking, climbing stairs, sitting down, lying down, standing up again. Everything has to happen at a snail’s pace. It is deeply frustrating.

Broken Bodies

I am about to start maternity fitness classes to try and counter the problems in my hips and knees that started last time, but they are already so bad I’m not really confident to cycle anymore. I cycled up to 39 weeks last time. That’s a real blow to my independence, having to rely on buses to get around. Plus as well as taking away my freedom I feel like it puts me in front of more people who want to stare and comment at my bump, which annoyed me last time and really, really upsets me this time. A lot of this stuff is totally irrational, I know. But hopefully if anyone is thinking of asking me how I am, then you’ll realise why I don’t really know the answer.

Clicky hips and painful knees are not the only physical discomfort I have this time. An umbilical hernia, severe diastasis recti that is seemingly getting worse by the day, sporadic headaches, restless leg syndrom, and a whole lot of issues with sleeping feel like they are adding insult to injury somewhat. Not only this, but my various conditions conspire to make my bump even bigger at this point than it was last time.

And, I’ll be honest, I feel horrible. I feel an absolute mess and it makes me sick how awful I look. I feel guilty that The Boy is having to put up with this fat mess who can barely get from A to B. I’ve had a lifetime of body image issues, but I can truly say I have never felt so ugly as I do now.

The Future

And I feel useless. More than anything I want to move house, have a fresh start if and when this baby is born, and even if something goes wrong again then we’ll still be somewhere new. But we need to sort the house and garden out to sell and I just can’t do it. Our home has been pretty neglected this last year, as you can imagine and the garden even more so, and I just can’t do the work. Which is a shame, because I’d really love to make some little changes. A dining room with a dining table, so that when I eat my bump doesn’t get in the way of my plate, for example. A living room that lets the light in, so winter makes me feel fractionally less miserable and when there is a little sunshine, I can enjoy it. Being closer to town, so I don’t waste 2 hours of my day every time I need to pop in for something. But I just can’t do the work. Once again I am powerless and frustrated.

People who know us and who know what has happened know better than to tell me “it’ll all be worth it in the end”. Because sometimes it isn’t. I don’t dare hope that we will be lucky enough to hold our little rainbow baby in just 4 months. It doesn’t feel safe to dream about a future for her. I am conscious that I am feeling increasingly sad as time goes on. The first month when I knew I was pregnant, I was doing OK. Now I’m not OK. But I can’t really tell you why.

Chin Up?

I’m trying to do what I can to “keep my spirits up”. Making more time for crafting helps my mental health. Swimming is really good for my aches and my mind, when I can face the bus journey to get there. I’ve even downloaded Pokemon Go again to encourage me to get dressed and go for a walk on days where I’d rather stay in my dressing gown. I don’t know what else I can do, but I do know that I just want us all to be happy.

I’m sorry this is such a bleak post. If you need any support with baby loss then talk to Sands.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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