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Ironies of life

Been drinking my green smoothies everyday, been writing in my gratitude journal everyday, been eating paleo every day (well almost), been doing sun salutations everyday, been meditating everyday, been reading everyday, been getting my shit together everyday and then I got struck by the worst flu while on holiday in Lombok.

I have never been this sick when I was still a cow’s milk guzzling, cheese chomping, sugar inhaling, grain celebrating fiend with poor impulse control. Now that’s irony of life.

Since we were in Lombok, obviously I packed light and was unable to keep myself warm against the intense cold chills that kept striking me. I mean, Lombok was so hot my husband suffered 2nd degree sunburn but there I was writhing and shivering in cold under a duvet. Yeap, fucking ironic.

After suffering for 2 days, which included 7 hours of uncomfortable waiting and shivering (2 in a cafe, 1 on the ride to airport and 4 at the airport) for our flight home (couldn’t kill time anywhere cause I was sick af), I was so glad to be home.

I made myself a glass of fizzy vitamin C, downed it, then a hot cup of lemon & ginger tea which I sipped contentedly. Everything is going to be fine tomorrow, I told myself. Then I went to bed with an equally relieved Liam….not, he was actually in proper beast mode made worse for me by my throbbing headache, aching body and constant chills but lets not get into that now.

The next morning, I woke up woozy and still sick but I had to wake up cause it’s an important day. It’s the day that I was to receive my first progesterone jab in preparation for my cervical stitch as deng deng deng, somebody’s 9 weeks pregnant! Happy days.

Then I went to wee, wiped and guess what’s on the toilet paper? Oh this is becoming such a common theme in my blog now; mucus, blood, plug, whatever.

Told the husband, he made a sad face. I felt like slapping him because he wasn’t helping me at all. In hindsight, it was too early in the morning and he was dealing with lots of sunburn related pain.

Anyway, I drove to the hospital in a sort of daze, all the while chanting in my head, “Baby you are fine, stay with mummy”. Saw my doctor, told him about the chills, fever, flu, and the pee incident earlier. He looked concerned and told me to get on with the ultrasound.

I saw the blob on the screen but doc kept digging into my belly in silence. I just knew. I spoke first, “No heartbeat?”

He sighed and said, “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat, no blood supply”. Maybe cause I was sick so I couldn’t react much. I didn’t cry. He said the fetus died only very recently as it measured right on the chart so he suspected it could be due to my chills/flu but it’s also probably just chromosomal abnormalities.

Doc gave me my options (a) spontaneous abortion, basically letting nature takes its course (b) D&C, which stands for dilation and cutterage, a surgical procedure which increases chances of future preterm labour (which by the way I have already experienced TWICE despite never having the procedure done in my life – irony much? Hahahaha) and (c) medicinal approach but have to go to Singapore as drug isn’t available in Malaysia. I chose option (a).

Went to my car, finally grasping the reality of the situation and had a good cry. Steering wheel beating and all.

3 losses in a row. You’re really fucking with me aren’t you, Universe? And while I am painfully passing out blood clots that could have become my child, I am also dealing with this debilitating flu crap. You win, Universe.

And to top it off, I got a painful toe-curling foil cut (foil version of paper cut) while taking panadol soluble out of its box. I have no words. So, what’s next, huh? Septicaemia from my foil fucking cut? Well, come at me bruv.

# – You, Universe, have a special sense of humour.

This miscarriage does not hurt as much as losing the twins (bloody clots vs fully formed babies – easy maths) but even myself am surprised by how quickly I am with moving on. Instead of sadness & grief I am mostly annoyed. Annoyed by this flu that I can’t seem to be able to shake off, annoyed with not knowing when the bleeding’s going to stop, and annoyed with the uncertainty of whether I would get a complete and clean natural abortion cause I really don’t want to get a D&C.

I suppose my lack of self pity is because statistically it made sense for me to have an early miscarriage, afterall it’s my 3rd pregnancy.

# – From tommys.org

Well, better luck next round. In the meantime, I’m just going to spite the Universe by washing my hair with store-bought shampoo (yeap, I have been cleaning my hair with just water for the past 3 months). Ambik kau.

Ps: cute lil button finally came out with the placenta at 7.30am today complete with teeny fingers, toes, eyes and mouth. I googled pictures of miscarried 9 weekers and damn, you are so much cuter than all the pictures. I am sorry you couldn’t make it. Would have loved you so much. RIP bub.

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From Us to You

It’s been a month since it happened. I have mostly accepted it, I think, but I still have parts that can’t comprehend the loss. The parts that turn me into a mess of tears and breathlessness ever so often. I shall overcome, in time.

When we passed from here to there, we knew your heart would break.
It’s here not there where we reside; in mountains, fields, and lakes.
In the break of each new dawn and when the sun goes down,
In birds and trees and skies of blue, you’ll know we’re still around.
A broken heart we gave to you, no way to take that back;
Grieve for now, but don’t stay long in the hole that’s filled with black.
If we were there and you were here, you would clearly see
That you’re right there and we’re right here, it’s where we choose to be.
So dance and sing and laugh out loud, just like you used to do;
We know it’s hard, but you have to see that we’re right here with you.
And when you feel like crying, try and smile through the tears;
We hope you will remember, we’ll love you for a thousand years.
And when you’re feeling lonely, and you don’t know what to do,
Just close your eyes and read this letter, from us to you.

I didn’t write this poem. I found it in a user review of a spiritual book about grieving. I changed the pronoun to “we” and instantly felt like they were speaking to me. I feel immensely sad reading it but also better at the same time? I don’t know how to explain but this poem helps me. Thank you to whoever that wrote it.

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Sleep well, our Apollo and Artemis.

It’s been 12 days since I lost my son and daughter to prematurity. They were born at 24 weeks 5 days gestation – 4 weeks away from having a shot at staying alive and 15 weeks away from being actual full-term babies. How do I even begin to describe the saddest day of my life?

The pregnancy

My pregnancy was uneventful apart from the excitement (and horror) of finding out that I was carrying twins. The babies were growing well, I felt happy and relaxed, I did not bleed like when I was carrying Liam.

At every check-up and ultrasound, I was given the all-clear. Other than some concern with my low red blood cells and placenta being a little close to my cervical opening, I was a healthy pregnant woman. My heart skipped with joy everytime I saw my babies on the screen; seeing the outlines of their faces, their hearts beating strong, their arms waving and legs kicking.

Sometimes I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, happily married to a wonderful man who loves me and about to have 3 kids with only two pregnancies. To become a mum of three; 2 sons and a daughter…my fantasy coming true.

I woke up that day a little tired but nothing alarming. That’s what carrying a heavy belly does to you afterall. I made lunch for Liam and myself, folded the laundry, ate tea jelly with red dates that I made the day before and watched The Good Wife. I touched my growing belly ever so often with quiet happiness. I was contented.

And then I chatted with husband on Whatsapp about dinner and with phone still in my hand, I went to relieve my bladder. It was around 6pm.

Finished, wiped and had a quick look at the tissue. When I saw what’s on it, my heart sank to my belly. I quickly tried to recall what stage of pregnancy I was in. Far too soon. My chest ached at the fact.

I messaged Gareth and said “Spotting” instead, eventhough I knew exactly what it was. I couldn’t bring myself to say it. It wasn’t any ordinary spotting, it was my mucus plug coming out. I sent a photo of the discharge to my husband and immediately he knew what it was too.

I still had a little hope, because in my previous experience, Liam was born 20 days after the mucus plug came off. The babies might just make it? I started calling both hospitals (I was visiting two different obygyns in a public hospital and a private hospital). My private doctor was on holiday and my public doctor was at home. I decided to wait till the day after to go to the hospital.

Gareth came home with some dinner and we ate while discussing our options. We tried to stay positive and offered each other scenarios of good outcomes.

Contractions

By 9pm, my contractions started kicking in. I kept telling myself they’re Braxton Hicks, but I knew they weren’t as they hurt like period cramps. I started timing them and they’re 4 minutes apart.

I started getting really upset. I messaged a friend who knew my public doctor for his personal contact and she gave it to me along with the advice of going straight to the hospital. Decided she was right as perhaps they have injections to help me stop the contractions? So we started packing for the hospital. The reality of what’s going to happen started to dawn on me. In the middle of packing for the hospital, I couldn’t help but cried.

I don’t know how but I had the foresight of removing my jewelleries and bringing my own maternity sanitary pads and clean undies. I think the pragmatic side of me knew I was going to give birth but the emotional side of me was still in denial.

We reached the public hospital, headed straight for the labour hall. They wheeled me in, plonked me on the examination bed. I kept telling the nurses and doctor to help my babies, to help me stop the pain, stop me from giving birth. I begged them to stop the contractions. A nurse said in malay, “Sorry, but you’re definitely giving birth cause you’re in such pain”.

A young doctor on duty gave me a vaginal examination with a speculum and as soon as she inserted it, my water broke. At that moment, I wish I could just die and not feel anything. I knew for sure that my babies were not going to make it. She then proceeded to say that she could feel either fingers or ear.

The labour

Not long after, another doctor came. He introduced himself and mentioned that he’s a specialist and he would take care of me. I have heard of this doctor before and was slightly relieved that he would be taking over. He told me that I had to deliver the babies now and they will try their best. At that point I was in so much pain I just wanted everything to be done and over with.

They wheeled me to the labour room and immediately I started pushing. After a few pushes, I felt the burning sensation of baby crowning and I saw my boy came out. He looked purple. They immediately took him away. When Liam came out he was pink and covered in vernix.

Then, doctor said the girl was breech and he kept massaging my stomach to try to turn her. They also wheeled in an ultrasound machine to scan my belly to check her position. I kept pushing as hard as I could eventhough my contractions had kind of died down. Eventually she too came out, also purple. It’s not even 12am yet.

After my placentas were expelled, they cleaned me up and I waited for Gareth to come in. The doctor told me kindly that they’re doing everything they can with the babies but to be prepared for bad news. I nodded. After all that pain, I was feeling numb.

Gareth finally came in with Liam. We talked about what happened and told ourselves that we would be fine if the twins died as it’s better than for them to be alive with severe disabilities.

Gareth and Liam in the birthing room.

The paediatrician came in to tell us that neither twin made it. They lived for about 45 minutes. He explained that they couldn’t really breathe on their own and that they were severely bruised due to the trauma from the birth as their skin was not strong enough. My girl was bruised on her back as she was breech while boy was bruised all over his face as he was born head first.

We didn’t cry. He asked if we would like to see them, and we said no. We told them to just deal with their bodies. A nurse in the room kept telling us to see them but we kept saying no.

After that, they said the “Forensics” were on the way and told Gareth to wait for them. We waited for a while more but Liam was getting really cranky so I told Gareth to just take Liam home. The forensics people never arrived. Now we understand that by “Forensics” that they had meant people from the mortuary.

Post-labour

After Gareth and Liam left, I was wheeled to my ward. I was on pitocin drips to get my womb contracting back to its original size – it was painful. Bad cramp after bad cramp for hours. In between cramps, I cried as the reality of the situation started sinking in.

My babies, my children are gone forever. I delivered 3 babies but I only have one with me. Why? Why did my son and daughter have to die? Why couldn’t I keep them in? They were healthy, thriving babies. No troubles for 6 whole months to suddenly delivering them in just 5 hours. It’s all so fucked up the more I thought about it.

As a fully paying patient, I got my own air-conditioned room with en-suite in the public hospital. In hindsight, I am so glad I got the privacy as I got to cry, groan and wail in my own room without disturbing anyone. I couldn’t imagine myself holding it together while being in a ward filled with women and their newborns (in public hospital the mothers are expected to take care of their babies right after birth).

I did not sleep at all. I couldn’t. I had a lot of time to myself to think. After the shock had passed, I longed to see my babies. I messaged Gareth that we had to see them and he agreed as well. As for what to do with their bodies, we decided to still let the hospital handled them. No ceremony.

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