Two years ago, I had just been discharged from hospital, having had urgent, life-saving surgery rather than on a plane for our honeymoon. We had found out, completely unexpectedly, a week previously, that I was pregnant, but the HcG levels were not high enough nor doubling. I had insisted on seeing a private obstetrician despite my GP telling me that everything was normal and that bleeding continuously for six months was “normal”. Thank goodness for a private, very no-nonsense obstetrician who immediately said “that’s not normal” and started a series of tests including an ultrasound. I recall watching the ultrasound screen intently and thinking that this wasn’t how I had hoped to find out about being pregnant. There was no heart beat and the scan showed the pregnancy to be in my fallopian tube. We then had to decide between taking methotrexate or surgery. Methotrexate might save the tube, but it wasn’t clear whether one dose would be enough, would be effective, and whether I would have to have surgery anyway. As we had been trained in hypnobirthing, we asked lots of questions: What were the risks? What were the benefits? What was an alternative course of action? What if we did nothing? Given the large size of the pregnancy, that my tube was likely to be scarred (and thus increase the risk of a subsequent ectopic pregnancy) and that methotrexate stays in maternal tissues for some time, and we desperately wanted another baby, we chose surgery. It seems simultaneously like yesterday as well as a long time ago. I frequently think of that baby to be – I hope he or she knew, even before formation, that s/he was wanted. We named this child to be. As I collected him or her from the laboratory (who had kindly used a beautiful box), I remember desperately hoping that the next baby would be brought home wrapped in our arms, not a gift box.
While sadness does not necessarily go away, it can co-exist with joy. Two years later, we are overjoyed at the miracle of being able to be parents to an amazing child who is with us and who makes our world that much brighter. Today, on International Parents and Children day, in addition to thinking of families, I’d like to send love to all those who struggle and yearn to be parents, including those trying IVF, AI, donors, surrogates, fostering, and adoption. I hope your dreams come true.
Part of healing has been gardening. I love this quote:
Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes it is a triumph of hope over experience – Maria Schinz
In November, to celebrate our daughter’s 2nd birthday we made a fairy garden for her as well as a smaller one for our little baby to be who we lost ectopically.
Our daughter’s godmother read one of my favourite poems at the service we had to celebrate the 40 weeks of her life.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) by e.e. cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Because formatting is so important to e.e.cummings poems, you may want to see this in the correct format:
In a very related, but more biological, way, my lovely friend Victoria, a biologist, told me about how cells from babies (even those lost) remain in a mother’s brain (and perhaps can repair hearts). See her beautiful blog for an exceptional read:
A piece of you: fetal cells live on in their mother’s brains
Dear little Rose, I starting writing this on your birthday, almost 2 weeks ago, and couldn’t quite bring myself to finish it. I wrote:
Happy birthday, our precious little girl. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since you were born gently and peacefully into the world.
One of the
Today your daddy and I baked a cake for you and decorated it. I learnt how to make royal icing although the piped roses didn’t quite turn out as planned. Maybe I can do the princess cake I was imagining, next year. We had a “1” candle and sang happy birthday to you although it was hard to sing while crying. Daddy had also bought you some beautiful presents. We put up your polytunnel, to try and grow more of the fruit and vegetables we are trying for, inspired by you. Daddy reinforced the tunnel to withstand the heavy coastal wind.
Today, the sweet peas I planted in December, just a month after you were born – perhaps even one of the first things I planted – finally came into bloom! It had taken 11 months and some deal of protecting (against the grumbling that it needed pulling out, as it was not producing anything). I had never smelt sweet peas before. They are so intoxicatingly glorious.
My friend Sarah and her husband, Tony, sent us a massive bunch of peonies last November. I really loved what Sarah wrote: that peonies, like you, were so beautiful, but with us for such a short season. Today, two weeks later, our first peony has flowered. We have it beside the swing that daddy put together for us, that you loved being rocked on, that had you moving very happily.
Today, as well, I saw the clementis (‘Dr Ruppel’) that Pauline, our midwife had given us. She put so much care into choosing it for this climate, such as she had put so much care into us, faithfully staying with us for the over 23 hours that bringing you into the world involved. I had been so upset to see this die down in autumn. I was convinced it had died and there was no hope. Life surprises me, by emerging from the most unlikely places, against the odds.
And so, our peony Rose, you live on, each and every day with us.
With all our love, Mummy and Daddy
From dear friends: “Loving Memory”
It has been just over 2 months since our exquisite daughter was born sleeping.
She had tons of black hair, perfect rose-bud lips and the appearance of a porcelain angel. I can’t believe how fast time has gone when, inside I still feel like it’s November.
There are hard moments. I notice the thought “How do I manage?” pop up and am grateful that a consistent, firm and gentle voice has answered: “With Grace”.
And so I hold these two words close to me like a talisman or mantra, knowing that there are things that I cannot begin to understand but hoping that each day, in a little way, I am channelling some of the love that called our daughter into being, out into the world.
Each day offers us the gift of being a special occasion if we can simply learn that as well as giving, it is blessed to receive with grace and a grateful heart.
Sarah Ban Breathnach