Friday, 16 January 2009

A good day

A summer rain showered down yesterday with almost tropical force. I was in the car and decided to get out and let that water pelt on me. It felt incredible, my skin was wet and I was drenched in seconds and I felt elated. The oppressive heat of the day just washed away and that delicious, earthy smell that rain sometimes brings, just filled the air. It was cathartic in every sense. I went home feeling renewed and somehow lighter. I slept so well.

Today I woke up feeling really good. I feel happy and positive. I know that for the time being, a day like today will be rare, but I want to acknowledge it. I walked down to the water this morning and sat by the harbour and felt my son with me. I was overcome with a warm buzz and for the moment, I feel like everything, the future, our lives, will be ok. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

bittersweet goodbyes

It's funny to hear people tell you how well you are doing in terms of grieving. If they only knew....Brave; Courageous; Strong; Proud...Yes, at times I am all these things but I am beginning to think myself a darn good actress, because on the inside, most of the time, I feel like I am chasing my own tail...round and round in circles. I would describe my internal feelings, opposed to the external front I show as...Fretting; Cowardly; Unsure; Timid; Broken; Hollow...

When I look at Tristan's photos I feel my loss so acutely as the day he was born. Knowing that my living son would die, welcoming him with an all too rude awareness of the sad goodbye that would reveal itself, just crushes my soul. Most parents look proudly at their children's photos, reminded of the immense joy they heralded with their arrival. I look with that sense of the bittersweet. Every photo is a reminder of that goodbye.  Don't get me wrong. I love the pictures and relics I have of Tristan. I cherish them with all my heart and looking at them also makes me happy...I hope one day, I will look at them with a wistful acceptance of the hand I was dealt, rather than the distress I have now, wondering why.

I was out and about on Tuesday with my Mum. Tristan would have been five weeks old. Out that day was every other mother that there could possibly be with their own precious five week old sons. In my head I was screaming out to the heavens WHY??? WTF??? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME???  I woke up feeling good and then braving the outside world,  it felt like my nose was being rubbed into my loss. I felt so ill. Sick to the core. It was also the day that I went to the post office to pick up that item of registered post - the death certificate. I haven't yet received Tristan's birth certificate, but everywhere that day, the universe reminded me that my son was dead and that I was a mother without her baby. 

Monday, 12 January 2009

The practical

I have been focussing on many practicalities lately. The plaque for Tristan's grave...oragnising paperwork, filing, sorting and reordering my shelves, etc. All the things which serve as a distraction for channelling my thoughts (not really energy). I feel like I am making more of a mess than really resolving any storage issues. I have all these intentions about clearing away and throwing out those bits and pieces I haven't even acknowledged for the last X number of years, but I am not really having much success. I just seem to get lost in the piles and then move them from one room to the next. 

We went south to Melbourne for a few days last week - to get away. Almost everyone had been telling us not long after Tristan died that we should get away - it would be a good idea to get a change of scene. We agreed and initially thought that we would take our new big baby car on the trip - now that its purpose had been diverted and that we would head off sometime in the early new year.  How brave and big we talked. As the days past new year ticked by, we really hadn't spoken about what we would do about the trip. The reality for me was that taking that big car on the road was frightening. It was a commitment to move away from the security of my home. My home has been that refuge for us both to hide out - ignore the phone ringing and just wallow. The nine hour trip from Sydney in the car seemed all too much, because I could not cross my arms and blink my eyes like Jeannie and be home in an instant if I wanted to. We came to the conclusion that it would be best to fly down and leave our end date open, because knowing that I could get on a plane home with a moments notice made me feel secure.

So we jumped on a plane and braved a border crossing and left our little world and cave behind. For the most part, it was a good trip. We did a lot of walking - a huge deal for me, given that I am still recovering from the c-section. We dined out and drank wine. Saw friends and family and shopped. 

Shopping is a depressing activity for me at the moment. I have this body that is almost back to where it was, but not quite and nothing to show for those nine months of stretching and popping, my war wounds and poochy gut. So what I see in the mirror is a miserable, out of shape woman and I pity myself. I am disgusted in myself that I am filled with self-pity in moments like that. That I allow myself to further feed that grief with another reason as to why my life totally sucks, but I cannot help it.

Coming home was like waiting to exhale. It was relieving. There is something to be said about the comfort of your own home and whilst I had some happy moments in Melbourne, I was so glad to be home. To be back in the cave.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Breast milk, blood, tears - my body is weeping

The overall excitement I felt, about being a family and of Tristan's debut, was so intense and childlike in the way it made me feel. When you are a child you can be infatuated with the romanticism of magic and all the wonderment that it brings with it - the mystical, conjuring up the flutterings in your heart and hope in your imagination and an innocence of the belief in your dreams. And that is how I felt. There was so much anticipation around the arrival of Tristan. The joy that this new baby would bring, as well as the endless curiosity...Would the baby be a boy or a girl? When would the baby arrive and the speculation our family and friends had around which name we would choose. I harboured a hope that he would take after me and be punctual and efficient, arriving on his due date, or even before. But proudly, he takes after his Tata - independent and working to his own schedule. I was induced, spot on 41 weeks. I have come to think that Tristan must have known of his destiny and the aching that it would bring and that is why he tried to spare us the pain and stay on the inside, where it was safe. 

I have, over the course of the last weeks, done extensive reading on the condition that affected Tristan, to try and understand the science behind our tragedy. The condition means that some of the vital blood vessels that are carried from the placenta through the cord were sitting within the membranes, where as the membrane should be completely free of the blood vessels. It happens from the moment of conception and is virtually undetectable through the standard testing methods. Doctors would only look for this if you presented with particular symptoms. The mortality rate is 95-100% if labour proceeds as nature intended. If detected prior, a planned c-section would circumvent this (as long as your waters do not break). It means that when your waters do break, the baby's blood supply is cut immediately and they bleed to death, even with a perfectly healthy baby, as Tristan was, in utero.

Fortunately, my waters broke in hospital, with my obstetrician right there. Unexpectedly, I started to haemmorage (well, my baby did) and was quickly taken to theatre for an emergency cesarean section. My boy had lost a lot of blood. Whilst he was revived, he suffered three cardiac arrests and was given two blood transfusions, but the haemoglobin's would not take. The medical staff tried for several hours to fight for his life, but to no avail. Once they stopped, they passed him to us, thinking it would be only a matter of an hour or so before he passed. My little boy lived for 25 hours after his birth. His heart and lungs strong, but unable to escape his fate. It is so cruel.

I want to talk to him. I want him in my arms. I want to memorise his face all over again, whilst in my arms. I want to look over at my two boys again, like that day and night, where one is in the arms of the other. That vision is forever imprinted in my mind - looking over from the hospital bed, in that delivery room, to my husband and son, entwined in each other, sitting on that chair, the low glow of the back light of the room. Watching them all night, not wanting to miss a moment. Drinking in the sight with a sad realisation of the precious nature of those hours. Wanting to only focus on the happiness of that impossible situation, trying to push away those heartbreaking, aching urges until it was the right time - not to take away from the moments of life in his little body, that was gifted to us for that brief day.

In fleeting moments, I wonder whether I was really pregnant or whether it was just a concept in my mind and even more, that he didn't really enter and exit this life in the briefest of timings. That I will wake up from this horrid nightmare and everything will be as it was. In a book a grief counsellor gave me Stillbirth and Newborn Death there is a quote from an un-named mother who expressed so succinctly the same sentiment I have been feeling these last three weeks..."Breast milk, blood, tears - it was as though my whole body was weeping." This has resonated so deeply with me.