I’m sorry for my lack of posts recently. I have been away doing more important things, namely, having a baby! Given that we didn’t know the gender, I thought I’d let the announcement be the first thing I shared on here. 🙂 If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know about her, but I’ve only just managed to take a long enough break from replying to congratulatory emails to stop by here.
Someday I may share her full birth story, but for now I’ll just summarize. She was 5 days overdue, and was induced due to concerns over the amount of amniotic fluid left; it appears I’d been leaking it for some time without realizing it, which put me at risk of an infection. In the end I had to have an emergency C-section, but I was far too happy to finally meet Mabel to be upset about it. I was more unhappy about being kept in hospital for four days after her birth; however, it was necessary as I had lost more than double the usual amount of blood during the birth, and the doctors thought I might need a blood transfusion. Happily, I was sent home with just iron tablets in the end. Luckily she was healthy from the beginning.
Anyway, that’s enough about me. Here are some fun facts about Mabel in her early days:
Her full name is Mabel Anneth Wren. We agreed that she looked like a Mabel, but couldn’t decide between our two choices for a middle name, which is how she ended up with two. Anneth is the name of a house we saw in Cornwall, but apparently it is related to the name Hannah.
Her head is the softest thing I’ve ever felt! I adore cashmere because it’s so deliciously snuggly, but Mabel’s head is definitely twice as soft.
She gets the hiccups a lot! It’s kind of adorable, though it must be a pain for her.
Her first night, she fed from 12:30-5; I kept calling the midwives in tears as I was just so exhausted.
She’s generally a sound sleeper. A constant source of amusement is when there’s a loud noise in another room; she jumps, wriggles her head, and carries on sleeping. I am not counting on this lasting, so I’m going to enjoy it while it does!
She hates having her temperature taken – she cried more when it was happening than when she had her heel pricked for testing her glucose levels.
In the middle of January, R and I travelled to Germany to join my family for the sea burial of my grandmother’s ashes. It was all very surreal, but quite laidback and soothing. I’m glad we were both able to go; he’s never met that side of my family before, and obviously while the circumstances were less than wonderful, it was nice for him to meet the side of my family that is geographically near. It was good for me to see them again, too; I hadn’t seen my cousins in over 10 years!
We spent 3 days in a rented house in Travemuende, a district of Lübeck on the Baltic Sea (Ostsee in German). At this time of year people are thin on the ground. It’s also pretty bleak, but it was beautiful in its own way. An added bonus was that the wifi didn’t work, and it was inauguration day… We spent the days going for walks on the beach, eating, chatting, reading, and knitting. I think Oma would have approved. There were some pretty cool beach finds, too. My cousin found 3 pieces of amber, and R found some sort of massive vertebrae. We also came across a part of the old wall between East/West Germany. That picture of me is me saying, “Screw you” to arbitrary borders! (Also, me balancing on a quite narrow giant branch…) We also went up to Fehmarn, an island with a ferry to Denmark. It was quite lovely, too.
I took lots of pictures, but unfortunately it appears some dirt got into my camera, so I’m sorry about the spots!
It feels only appropriate to preface this post by saying that it was difficult to write, then difficult to decide whether to share, and that it may therefore be difficult for some people to read. But as this blog is a place for me to record my life, and as this is an issue that I think should be talked about, I hope some people will find comfort in it, and that someday I will be able to read it from a different perspective, too.
Today, R & I were supposed to visit the hospital for the happiest of reasons – the 12 week scan for our little one. But instead, we were there last month for an early scan after a brief episode of bleeding, and the latter half of July was pretty much occupied with the frankly horrendous business of a miscarriage, which has undoubtedly been the worst experience of my life (bouts of clinical depression included). I had planned to share the full story in this post, but after writing it down I realised that I’m not ready for that yet, though I may eventually.
But the short version is that I had what’s sometimes termed a silent miscarriage, or a missed miscarriage, or a delayed miscarriage. I found out a month ago at that scan that our baby had no heartbeat. It had stopped developing at 7 weeks, a week before the scan. You may not be surprised to learn this was the week I couldn’t think of 5 happy things. But even worse, my body carried on producing pregnancy hormones for 2 further weeks, i.e. for 3 weeks after the fetus had stopped developing. Most women who go through this kind of miscarriage need surgery. Often they don’t find out the baby has stopped developing until they go for the 12 week scan. I am grateful I didn’t have to go through that experience, and that when my miscarriage finally happened I knew what was going on and that the baby had already died. My miscarriage finished naturally, at home, 2 weeks ago with a 5 hour burst of bleeding, vomiting, and cramping. I had no hemorrhaging and didn’t need any further medical attention. I know some women have to have surgery, or choose to have it, but I was dreading the prospect of surgery. I imagine the whole experience was less scary for me than it is for many women, though still traumatic in its own way. The next day I had a scan which confirmed everything had passed. Over the past two weeks my pregnancy symptoms have slowly gone away, and yesterday I took the followup test recommended by the hospital to confirm the pregnancy has completely finished. It was one of the worst parts of the whole experience.
All of this has been so much harder than I could ever have imagined. I started grieving as soon as we found out there was no heartbeat. Given the size/age of the fetus, I knew there was no hope that they’d made a mistake. I spent the two weeks between the scan and the end of the miscarriage feeling empty and hopeless and nauseous from the anxiety of trying to describe what I was experiencing — was I pregnant? Was I not pregnant? Had I miscarried? I desperately wanted to label what was going on. It also felt unreal, like air was water and I was sort of swimming or floating instead of walking. I thought it wouldn’t change when the miscarriage finished, but I was wrong. After the initial relief that I finally had some resolution, everything else sank in & the last two weeks have just been on-off crying.
And maybe the worst part is that I have to get through all this on my own. My family are thousands of miles away, as are my closest friends. The friends I have in the UK are fantastically supportive, though. But at the end of the day, I think I’m coming to realise that one of the reasons miscarriage isn’t talked about much is that it is so intensely personal. I mean, literally. Even though it’s all so raw & recent, I am theoretically okay with talking about what’s happening. But I worry about oversharing and making other people uncomfortable, because it involves some pretty unpleasant bodily details by default. And there are the other obvious ways it’s so personal – no one else knew this baby yet. We had actually gotten so excited that we’d told a few very important people, and I could write another post entirely about how hard it was to tell them we’d miscarried, but I am grateful someone else knew about it and that it felt a tiny little bit less like it was only our grief. Still, we couldn’t exchange stories about our loved one, like is so often the case when grieving. It was only R & me who had talked about names, or talked to my belly. So it is our grief in a way nothing else can be. It is only me who had bought a notebook to record the pregnancy and is now using it to help process my grief, and wanted to buy a necklace to commemorate this little piece of my heart. And somehow the miscarriage now feels tied to my identity in a way I can’t quite define.
At the end of the day, that is why I’m writing this post, though. I am worried about the possibility of another bout of depression, and the best way to ward it off is to be open and honest about my emotions. And I hope it will encourage others to start sharing their stories, and together, to help everyone who’s had a miscarriage feel a little less isolated or weird or abnormal (all things I have been feeling). I will probably write more about this as well. For now I am trying to take comfort in writing and reading poetry and various other distractions, including drinking tea from the teacup that I gave each of my bridesmaids because it makes me feel a little less alone.
In the meantime, if you are looking for more information or support about miscarriage, whether you’re experiencing one yourself or are supporting someone and want to learn more, I particularly recommend Tommy’s or the Miscarriage Association, or Sands if it is a late miscarriage or stillbirth.
I’ve just realised I never shared any pictures from my non-so-recent trip home. The Art Institute & Botanical Gardens are definitely wonderful, but they’re not the first thing I think of when I think about home. When I think about home, I think about clouds and creeks and thunderstorms and my mom’s garden. So here you go: this is a photographic insight into my favorite place. Some of these pictures were taken in Kansas City or Columbia, rather than in my hometown, but nonetheless they capture the feeling of home.
Following on from my 5 happy things post, I’m delighted to introduce Pippa! We brought her home from the shelter yesterday. She’s 11, and had the same owners since she was a kitten until they had to move due to ill health.
Pippa hated the shelter; she literally was hiding under her bed every time we visited her. Clearly, we knew she was very shy. We set up her litter box, food, etc, next to the spare bed.
But we didn’t give her enough credit! She has been very brave and was willing to poke her head out from under the bed for a bit of fuss within a couple of hours.
And when we went to say good morning today, she wasn’t under the bed at all. We couldn’t find her at first, but it turns out she had discovered the living room windowsill. 🙂
We left her to it, and when we got home she had moved to the bookcase behind the sofa. And then, after a solid 30 minutes of fuss, she jumped on my lap! She didn’t actually settle down, but she did then sit next to me & headbutt me for a bit. 🙂 I am very impressed.
All week, my mom has been over in Germany visiting her family. One of the perks of working part-time is that, even in the busiest time of year at work, I was able to take a long weekend to go over for a couple of days. It was lovely! I haven’t seen her since May 2014, and I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen my aunts and mom at the same time. Plus, a good friend who lives in Baria came up and visited me in Lower Saxony as well.
I met up with Mom in Heathrow so we could fly over together and spend a bit of extra time together. As much as I love my mom, I did learn one important thing from this experience: don’t spend 9 hours in Heathrow! She needed to nap, and I am pretty paranoid about the amount of time it takes to get between places so we didn’t end up going into London as we thought we might. Next time we definitely will! We both got so restless, even with crafts and books in hand.
My friend had never been to Hildesheim (where my grandmother lives) so we spent a bit of time doing touristy stuff. The town is celebrating its 1200th (!!!) anniversary, and there also happened to be a farmer’s market on. Also, the oldest church in town, Hildesheimer Dom, was having an open day so we got to go in for free. The Dom was built in the 11th century. Objects in the museum date from around that time, right up through today, with a particularly large number from the 15-16th centuries. They were all staggerlingly beautiful, and in every room I was blown away by the craftsmanship and detail of objects that are so old. It also included lots of books, which as you can imagine I found very exciting. 🙂
The next day, Oma, Mum, and one of my aunts (the other one had to work) took a steam train up the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains. We got incredibly lucky with the weather, so we spent most of our time on the outside train platform. Once we got to the top we were treated to stunning views, as you’d expect at 1142 meters! We finished our trip by going mushroom hunting in the springiest, bounciest forest I’ve ever been in. I’ve never done it before, but my aunt does it often and seems to be a bit of an expert.