Our story of loss, hope and happiness

I haven’t told the whole story in years. I’ve somehow managed to split the journey in two – the dark period before Margs and the happy period after. There was just so much awful stuff before baby girl that on some level I needed to make that distinction so that I didn’t have to continue facing the details of what exactly happened to us and how ridiculously difficult and unfair our journey to becoming parents to an earthly child was.

I wrote a post about feeling like my family was not complete months ago without really explaining the difficulties I face. I’ve spent weeks analyzing options and scenarios and unfortunately I’m no closer to making a decision than I was before. It did however occur to me that many of you fine folks have only gotten bits and pieces of the story and probably think I’m crazy for being so scared. Again, I’ve intentionally avoided sharing the whole story because it sucks and it hurts and most days I’m perfectly content pretending it didn’t really happen (not the most effective way of dealing with grief – I know).

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So, can I tell you a story? Can I tell you about my babies?

In 2012 I got pregnant- it wasn’t a planned pregnancy because Mer and I were still sorting out our financials in anticipation of starting a family but we were thrilled regardless. At 12 weeks we found out we were expecting twins which left us amazed and terrified. We soon got to work preparing for our babies – 2 cribs, 2 car seats, 2 bouncers – you get the drift. By the time I was 18 weeks pregnant we essentially had everything in order because we were having twins and had been warned that it could be a difficult pregnancy and we should anticipate preparing for them early – if we only knew.

At 20 weeks and 3 days pregnant I woke up to spotting. I called my hospital triage who told me to take a shower and lay down but present to triage if it persisted. I had an appointment for my anatomy scan later that afternoon and figured I’d mention it then if it persisted. Later that morning, the bleeding intensified – we were scared and so we chose to head to the hospital to get checked out. The details of that day are pretty hazy now but I believe they gave me a urine test (which came back negative) and sent me home with orders to rest and that ultimately bleeding “sometimes” happens. They didn’t check my cervix which I’ve learned is standard procedure in twin pregnancies after the 20 week mark.

We headed home where we ate pogos (I haven’t eaten once since) and discussed how thankful we were that the bleeding was “normal” and nothing “significant”. I remember saying to Mer “Phew, I’m so glad they are okay – I cannot imagine losing them now”.

Later that afternoon we headed to my scheduled appointment for our anatomy scan where we were super excited to find out if the twins were girls or boys (our attitude about scans and such has changed so so much since then). Little did we know our life was about to change forever.

I remember things like “the babies looks so good”, “I want to do a vaginal u/s to check but I’d never forgive myself if your water breaks”, “it’s really too too bad”.

We had no idea what was going – we had no idea what was about to happen. We had no idea that this was the beginning of the end.

With orders to head back to the hospital Mer and I loaded ourselves into the car and drove back to the hospital that had sent me home earlier that morning with nothing to worry about. This time, they were waiting for me and put me into a bed immediately.

I spent the next 3 days in trendelenburg position, meaning I was laying head down with my feat well above my head hoping that my membranes would recede.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that part? I was 4cm dilated with bulging membranes the day of our scan.

On the second day at the hospital my doctor came to visit. She sat by my bedside and told me it wasn’t good. She explained that I had 2 choices – 1) I could opt to terminate the pregnancy or 2) agree to be transferred to another hospital facility with a neonatal intensive care unit where I’d stay on bed rest until the babies came.

We opted for a transfer.

After arriving at the new facility I had a team of perintologists examine me and explain my harsh new reality. I was essentially in pre-term labor, my cervix was too weak to hold my babies in and that we could try prolonged bed rest but that decision came with risks of infection and septicemia. There were no other options because at 4cm dilated any of the emergency procedures they could have tried would have either ruptured my membranes or resulted in infection.

We opted to take the risk and have me hospitalized to basically wait out the rest of my pregnancy hanging upside down.

After two days of waiting, praying and waiting some more the twins decided that it was time.

We were escorted down to the specialized birthing unit where moms are giving birth to babies who will die (it sounds harsh but it’s the truth). I believe there were 6 of us there at the same time and by a complete accident I ended up connecting with one of the other moms a year later. The universe is weird that way.

I labored for approximately 4 hours and our precious little girls were born.

Both babies were born alive although by legal standards they are considered a “stillbirth”. Mer held them both as they took their last breaths. I remember this moment vaguely (I was sedated with large amounts of Ativan at the time) although Mer reminds me often that I held both their little hands and sang to them.

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3 weeks later I hemorrhaged and nearly lost my life and had to have an emergency D&C to stop the bleeding.

I got pregnant again 6 months later. A second set of twins. We were optimistic since I’d found a phenomenal new doctor who had an amazing plan to keep me pregnant. I found out that we’d lost the that set of twins at around 7 weeks pregnant and had another D&C because my body wouldn’t miscarry on its own.

The next 18 months were spent having surgery after surgery. I was diagnosed with a septate uterus, ashermans syndrome and the MTHFR gene.

Basically my uterus was misshapen and full of scars which I was told was likely going to leave me infertile because of the D&Cs. I was told not to get my hopes up.

I got pregnant again in the summer of 2014 and miscarried days after finding out.

By 2015 after trying to get pregnant for nearly a year, Mer and I started exploring other options. We either needed to come to terms with being child free or look into adoption aggressively. At our ages and with the wait period involved in an international adoption we knew we needed to figure out what our life path would be.

In the meantime I was working and trying to put all these hardships behind me. Then, in April 2015 I found out I was pregnant with Margs.

The world stopped and I gave up my career, my graduate program and my life in the real world so I could gestate this tiny baby. I did not believe for one minute that we’d get to bring her home and as each day passed I mentally prepared myself for it being the last. The odds were stacked against us but by some form of an enormous miracle she’s here and she’s safe.

It took me 67 days to write this post start to finish. I completely underestimated the power of words – this has been the most difficult piece of writing I’ve written for TTBH and most days I wiped away tears as I typed. Words hurt and are so liberating at the same time.

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My tiny piece of internet real estate

Aaaand another week starts. Happy Monday folks! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

When I started this blog just over 2 months ago I wasn’t really sure if it would be something I’d stick to long-term. I know that I felt like I needed a place to write and that I wanted to connect with other like-minded individuals but above and beyond that I had no idea where my blogging journey would take me and whether it would even be something I’d enjoy doing.

There was fear because I’m really an open book (too much so sometimes) and I worried about oversharing. There was apprehension because I’m really just a run of the mill stay at home mom with nothing extraordinary or exciting to share since most days are fairly predictable and mundane. Yet, every time I open my dashboard to write a new post I feel myself drawn to writing about our debt-repayment journey, our struggles to bring Margs into the world, saving money and how living a simple and minimalist life continues to bring me happiness and reduce my anxiety.

If you’re subscribed to my blog – thank you. If you take the time to comment, like and email me – thank you. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough but please know that I read every email, every comment and am beyond grateful for every like and subscription here on This Tiny Blue House.

I reached 1000 followers on Friday and I’m still in disbelief because I never imagined anyone would really want to read what this stay at home mum had to say. I’m beyond grateful that each and every one of you has given me prime real estate in your reader and take the time to read my posts! Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

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My 2 month blog anniversary is literally a nano-second in the great big world of blogging. Some bloggers have years, even decades under their belt and my tiny little piece of blogging real estate is still very much in its pre-infancy.

As my blog grows a little and starts to take shape, I’m beginning to realize that I really enjoy sharing my ideas with you fine folks. I enjoy reading other blogs, commenting and building a sense of community in this vast space we call the internets.

But what I couldn’t figure out these last couple of months was what compelled me to blog in the first place; what pushed me to register This Tiny Blue House on that fateful day in November? So, today I want to share the 5 reasons I’ve discovered fuel my desire to share my life with you lovely people.

1. I want to give my loss history a voice. I hope to share the message that although devastating a happy life after child loss is possible. I’ve grown a ton emotionally since we first lost our twins and I know that I want to spread awareness about baby loss. Lost pregnancies happen more often than we’d like to acknowledge and I’m hoping that other loss moms who find their way here will see that after the raw devastation subsides a little – putting the pieces back together is possible. It just takes time to adopt a “new normal”.

2. I want to share my imperfect experiences with motherhood. I’m still figuring out this parenting thing. Raising Margs is proving to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’d like to continue blogging transparently about how difficult it is to parent a child when you suffer from anxiety. I’d like to continue sharing my struggles with my parenting decisions and choices. I’ll never claim to have all the parenting answers because I just don’t. I’m figuring out this motherhood thing as I go and trying to be the best version of myself I can throughout the process.

3. I want to talk about how we live a frugal lifestyle and how we manage our day to day life on less than 1000$ per month. I’ve already discussed how we’ve gotten ourselves out of  hefty credit card debt but haven’t really touched on how we spend our money on a monthly basis. I’d love to show you fine folks that it is possible to live well, eat well and enjoy life on a 1000$ a month budget. We’re by no means experts but we’ve found a way to save money and live what we consider a relatively comfortable lifestyle for about 1000$ per month. I look forward to sharing more about that part of our lives with you.

4. I want to discuss how simplicity has changed our lives. We were once the “worst” type of consumers, living a life of gross gross excess. Scaling back our spending to pay off our debt taught us so many valuable lessons about what truly makes us happy. I’d love to share how we overcame the need to “keep up with the Joneses” and accept that we’re the happiest versions of ourselves when we have less stuff.

5. I want to give you a peak into the life of our run of the mill imperfect family, living on a lower-middle class income. I’d love to share my experiences with marriage (Mer and I argue), finances (we still worry about money), parenting (I’m just terrible at it some days) and cooking (I make a few good go-to meals on a budget). In a nutshell, I’d like to share our very ordinary life with you without creating the illusion that we’ve got it all together which we just don’t – probably never will.

So thank you thank you thank you for reading, communicating and exchanging ideas with me. I look forward to continuing on this journey and I hope that you decide to come along!

If you’d like to keep in touch outside the blog feel free to follow me on twitter, instagram & pinterest.

Why do you blog? I’d love to hear what pushed you to create your blog and why you keep at it!

Double rainbow

It’s been a long and anxious week.

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I’ve really been struggling and it’s apparent in basically everything I do. I have far less energy and so everything around me suffers: the house isn’t tidy, Margs watched more t.v than usual because my thoughts have been elsewhere and I’ve been struggling to really live in the moment.

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Can we get personal for a minute?

I’m anxious and completely overwhelmed because despite my history, I think I might want to try and have another baby.

Until very recently, I was adamant that Margs would be an only child because of the hardships we’ve faced, the complexity of my pregnancy and the consuming fear that comes from being pregnant with an incompetent cervix.

Then, suddenly, I got this intense urge to have another baby and experience pregnancy again despite how unconventional and restrictive it was. I started to think that maybe facing all the frustration that comes from trying again, dealing with the hospitalization, the stitch placement, the bed rest and the paralyzing fear of losing another child would be worth it if there was even a tiny chance that we could be blessed with a second living child.

But how?

How would I manage? Who would help me? How would I continue to raise Margs if I couldn’t lift her or walk? Would my mother in law and mother be willing to step in and mind precious Margs while I gestate her sibling? Will we end up facing more losses? Can we handle that? Can our marriage? On and on and on.

We’re in a good place right now. We’re beyond grateful that Margs is here with us and at certain points when I remind myself of that, I decide that I do not under any circumstances want to tempt fate. Then, some maternal desire to have more children overpowers and I start thinking that maybe we should try – we’ve been through so much already, we could handle the worst case scenario even though heartbreaking.

I’m 35, Mer is 40. We’re not exactly in a situation where we can spend the next 5 years sorting this out and make a decision. Mer is on board with having more children but rightly worries about how the next pregnancy would unfold given the circumstances.

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At this point, we’ve discussed it and ultimately he’s leaving the ball in my court – talk about pressure. For the moment, I’m handling this by reminding myself of some very wise advice I was once given by another loss mom with regards to knowing when it would be the right time to try again after miscarriage

“the time is right when your fear of losing another child is outweighed by the desire to bring home a baby”.

I’m not quite there yet – fear, enormous amounts of fear and worse case scenarios continue to unfold in my head.

Mums, when did you know you were ready to try for a second child?

Rainbow mums, how did you know you were ready to face the roller coaster again?

 

 

10 tips to survive bed rest from a former bed-rester

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Me at 22 weeks. Day 54 of bedrest.

When Mer and I embarked on our journey to start a family way back in 2012 we never imagined where that road would take us. We naively thought that every pregnancy led to a take home baby and that pregnancy complications were rare – so rare in fact, that we’d never be affected.

Sadly, we we became a statistic and were faced with cervical incompetence, repeat pregnancy loss, a uterine septum and then some strange form of secondary infertility that was never explained.

When we finally got pregnant again in 2015 the plan was simple: cervical cerclage at 14 weeks and strict home bed rest for 23 weeks with the threat of hospitalization if I didn’t follow the rules. My doctor was intense; she was on a mission to get my rainbow here full-term and so her plan was more conservative than most.

I took 22 pills per day, held my breath and gestated horizontally for 161 days.

I took one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. I walked only to use the washroom and ate laying down. One day when I was bored I timed myself – I spent 17 minutes on my feet over a 24 hour period. 16 steps to the bathroom and 16 steps back.

It was hard. I’ll never lie and say it was easy. However, I do think I made the best of it by keeping my eye on the prize and reminding myself what the alternative could be. I was determined not to be a statistic again.

Here are a few tips that I’ve come up with. These are things I did that really contributed to keeping me sane and in the best possible head space considering the circumstances.

1/ Stations.

Mer set up bed rest stations for me throughout the house. We lived in a one floor apartment and the distance from washroom to the bedroom, kitchen, living room, patio and nursery was virtually the same. He hunted down a couple of lawn chairs that reclined back completely. This allowed me to eat in the kitchen, spend time outdoors and spend time in the nursery.

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The change of physical space was crucial for me. It gave me the opportunity to create a routine that made my days structured which normalized my unusual situation. When on bed rest small things like eating with your family, spending time outdoors or being able to read a book somewhere other than your bed is a huge highlight in your day.

2/ Routine.

Establishing a routine was key. My days included scheduled self care, internet use, reading, outside time, television, phone time, meditation and hobbies. Without this structure I’m positive my days would have been consumed by endless amount of television making the days longer and far more unbearable.

Every day, I sponge bathed myself and got dressed in real clothes. I then had breakfast while watching the morning news.  Late morning, I’d  read or color mandalas and then have lunch. Afterwards, I’d spend a few hours outdoors on the patio before coming in to surf the internet and make phone calls. After dinner Mer and I would watch a movie or catch up on episodes of whatever television show we were watching on netflix.

I also never napped because I did not want to disturb my sleep patterns. My doctor had warned me that sleeping away the day could result in sleepless nights so I never allowed myself to nap. As a result, I never dealt with sleeping issues while on bed rest.

3/ Community.

There are a number of wonderful online communities related to conceiving, pregnancy and high risk pregnancy. I became part of a community where I could go to chat with other women who were in similar situations. It was nice to discuss my situation with other ladies who understood and it was so incredible to be encouraged and supported every step of the way. My favorite community is Then Comes Family.

4/ Vulnerability.

Some days were harder than others. With Mer away at work most days there were moments where I felt so overwhelmed by my situation that I felt I couldn’t continue. In those moments – I became vulnerable and I told anyone who would listen to me how I was feeling. It’s okay to lose it sometimes, it’s okay to cry, to be angry or to be fed up. Bed rest isn’t normal – there’s clearly some element of grief that comes with a bed rest pregnancy. Grieving the normal pregnancy I  would never have made me angry some days.

Instead of fighting it I just allowed myself to feel those emotions. Usually, I’d get a grip on the situation quickly. I’d move through the anger and frustration by reminding myself that the alternative was far worse. What worked most of the time was reminding myself how fortunate I was to be growing a healthy baby. My “funks” would usually only last a few days and then I’d be back to my usual routine.

5/ Accepting Help.

Accept help. Ask for it. Ask anyone who will be willing to lend a hand. Take it and do not feel bad about. My husband, mom, mother in law, aunt, cousin and neighbours were a blessing. When you’re on bed rest your home life is thrown upside down. Mer now had to work a full-time job, care for me and care for the household all by himself. It was a lot and he realized really quickly that he couldn’t handle it all on his own. Tell people when you need something. If you’re chatting with a friend and they mention they are going to the drug store don’t hesitate to ask them to pick up a few things for you that you need. Most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. If you’re mother in law wants to come and do laundry – let her. If your mom wants to cook your meals- let her. If your neighbor wants to bake you something or lend you books – let her. Take all the help you can get and don’t feel bad about it.

6/ Take care of yourself.

I was limited to one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. Greasy hair basically became the norm and I just had to accept that I couldn’t do much about it. Having said that, I made it a point to sponge bathe daily. Mer would set up a large bowl of warm water with soap and a wash cloth so I could clean myself up. I found this was such an important part of my routine because it helped me feel human. Feeling dirty which is inevitable when you are not allowed to shower really takes its toll on your morale. A small 10 minute sponge bath, combing my hair, putting on makeup and real clothes really helped me feel like myself. I also always felt I looked my best (my best with greasy hair mind you) so I could welcome in last minute visitors or anyone who decided they’d pop in to spend some time with me.

7/ Eating well.

Eating well while pregnant is so important. Eating well while pregnant and on bed rest is even more important. Being bed bound means you are burning far less calories and so to keep weight gain to a minimum it’s super important to have healthy meals and snacks ready and waiting for you. Our system for food was simple – Mer would prepare snacks (fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurts) and place them in a small cooler near my bed. He’d also prepare bottles of ice water so I could stay hydrated throughout the day. You’d really be surprised by how much water you consume. Most mornings he’d load up about 60oz of ice water to sustain me throughout the day.

8/ Counting up.

When trying to get pregnant I used an app called Fertility Friend. Once pregnant I used it to to count up my days of bed rest. I really looked forward to updating my progress- every morning I upped the number and reminded myself how lucky I was to still be pregnant an extra day.

Some ladies use calendars where they mark an X, others keep track by ticking off a chart – it’s just so important to see the progress so you can remind yourself how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come.

9/ Small achievable goals.

At one of my first appointments with my doctor I told her “I don’t know how I’m going to do this”. She told me to set small goals. My first goal was passing my loss milestone, then it was passing viability. From there I worked my way up to 28 weeks (the original goal my doctor set for me), then 32 weeks and finally 37.

If you approach it any other way the burden is just too hard to handle. Keep your goals small and attainable. Take it day by day and minute by minute if you have to.

10/ Accept what is.

This one was the most important for me. I had to accept that my pregnancy was not normal. I didn’t get to experience pregnancy the same way most women do and although it was hard to accept I did. I reminded myself frequently that despite the unusual circumstances I was carrying our miracle baby. I was so fortunate to be given this chance and there was absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do to get Margs here safely. We cannot change the circumstances we are given – we cannot alter the path the universe has handed us- we cannot control the past but we can accept the future and do the absolute best we can with what we have been handed. As a result, I followed the rules. I never broke bed rest. Never. I followed my doctors rules despite my aches and pains and restlessness some days. Bringing Margs home was my number one priority and I just did what I had to do.

I wrote this post after realizing that I’ve gotten a good chunk a traffic from people googling “bed rest tips” or “surviving bed rest”. If you’re currently on bed rest and need someone to talk to please do not hesitate to reach out. I’ve lived it and I know that it is probably the most emotionally draining thing you’ll ever have to do. There’s fear, anxiety and anger all wrapped up in a journey that should otherwise be full of happiness and excitement.  I can be reached via email at thistinybluehouse@gmail.com, on instagram and even on twitter.

Revisiting Kon Mari a Year Later.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.

Have you read Kon Mari? I’m sure most people who get here from visiting the #minimalism tag will know all about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. If not, the book basically describes Kon Mari’s method of tidying which is built on the premise that items that bring you joy remain while all the rest are discarded. It’s essentially a how-to guide for decluttering and organizing your home.

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I first read it last year while on bed rest – I enjoyed it the first time around but didn’t necessarily agree with many of her beliefs (more about that another day, maybe.) Anyway, while sorting some books recently I came across it again and decided to give it a second read (ha! take that Kon Mari!).

This time, I read it and felt far more inspired and connected to her words. I still don’t really agree with some of her beliefs. Namely, her notions about objects of sentimental value, collections and photos.   But, I felt far more in touch with what she was saying and sort of had a lightbulb moment.

Maybe, just maybe I’ve been quasi Kon Maring my home and life without really knowing I was doing it. Maybe, just maybe her method allowed me to regain some control over my life – maybe, it’s helped me close a very dark chapter in my life.

Here’s what nearly through me off my chair.

“ when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too”

I find it ironic that my need to simplify really peaked after Margs was born. I find it even more ironic that I’ve been feeling my best physically and emotionally since I’ve minimized the stuff in my life. Could it be that I’ve somehow managed to finally put the past behind me? Is it possible that Kon Mari subconsciously inspired me to declutter my life so that I could finally accept my heartbreak and move through the final stages of my grief?

I’ll never get over losing my babies. I’ll never forget nor will I every fully stop grieving for the future I should have had with them- perhaps though, I’ve minimized my life as a way to bring joy back into my life and finally find the peace I’ve been searching for for so long.

These last few months have involved holding, touching and looking at things that reminded me of my lost babies. One day it was a pair of maternity jeans I wore with the twins. Another it was a sonogram photo of our second set of lost twins. I’ve handled candle holders used for vigils to honor these lost little ones. I’ve been faced with dried flowers from their funerals and hospital bracelets from my numerous surgeries.

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Maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally faced my past.