'We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.' - David Kessler
How you grieve after the loss of your baby/babies will determine just how quickly you begin to heal. According to Elizabeth Kubler Ross, the Author of 'On death and dying', the grieving process consists of five stages. These being denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. By being mindful through each of these stages, we can start the healing process and begin to enjoy life once again.
Denial is the first stage of grieving and an emotion that we must all go through during our grieving in order for us to move forward. The loss of my twins happened over a year and half ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I think I always will! My experience of denial, although I didn't realise I was in denial at the time, was complete and utter shock. I had given birth to three healthy children in the past and even though I had experienced a difficult time with this pregnancy during the first three months, I considered myself to be quite healthy. I was fit and lean, I ate well and before I began feeling ill, I ran everyday. I really couldn't understand why this was happening to me.
However, on the 13th of March 2016, I found myself back in the emergency department at the hospital where I was booked in to give birth to my twins. I had been sent home only a couple of hours earlier after being admitted to hospital the day before with spotting and cramping. At 14 weeks gestation, I believed that I was in the clear and really had no idea about miscarriage and how it affected 1 in 4 Women. I still don't understand why this is not spoken about more often when a Mother show's up for her first appointment with her midwife. It blows my mind! I'll save that blog post for another day!
Upon returning, I was made to sit in emergency for just over 45 minutes. The day before, I sat in emergency for 5 hours, WTF!!!, and once admitted, I was asked to stay in over night just to make sure everything was ok. After an internal ultrasound where I could see my beautiful babies moving around, a number of blood tests and some poking and prodding it was decided that everything was fine, my babies seemed healthy and I was free to leave. I was still cramping on the car ride home and my intuition told me that something still wasn't right. I was spot on! I returned only 2 hours later, experiencing labour pains, an emotional wreck and at this point I had lost all hope. I knew that I was losing my babies.
So hear I sat in the last seat available, the busiest day in the history of the hospital and I'm hunched over in pain begging and pleading to the gods to please let me through those big double doors. The blood was now rushing out of me, now filling my pad and was beginning to drip down my leg and even though I had only left the hospital after staying in over night a couple of hours before, they refused to let me in. I understood there and then that my twins were about to take there last breath and maybe that had already passed on to the other side but what I also knew is that if I wasn't admitted very soon, I would be delivering my dead babies on the chair right where I sat.
My partner paced back and forth, begging for them to please admit me. I still had the band around my wrist from when they had last admitted me but yet they refused. The nurses at triage were cold and seemed to not have any time for us. It was heartbreaking! I went back to my seat and I sat and cried. I cried for my babies who I wanted to give life to so desperately. I cried for my partner who would never get to see his twins smile, listen to their laughter and watch them walk for the first time. I cried for my other children who had been so excited when we announced we were giving them another brother and sister. And I cried because all I wanted from these people was a little compassion and empathy. Was that really too much to ask for?
Finally, 45 minutes in, my name was called and I was offered a wheelchair to sit in. I'm not sure why but I refused and decided to walk instead to the room that they had for me. When I entered. I was greeted by the nurse who had looked after me the day before. She had a beautiful caring nature about her and we had connected instantly. I was so grateful to see a familiar face and I could see that she was saddened to see me back here again. I was asked to remove my clothing and to put on a white gown and as I did, the blood begin to pour out of me on to the floor. The nurses rushed for towels, placed them on the floor beneath my feet and attempted to pull by limp body on to the bed. My partner groaned and I could sense his heart break. I believe that this must of been excruciating for him to watch me go through all of this. He will never be the same.
Much of what happened next will forever haunt me and a lot of it is still a blur. The nurses, while they did everything they possibly could, had no experience with miscarriage and there wasn't a specialist in sight. The female GP on call that day who was sent to my bedside was horrified by it all. She didn't speak much and continued to move in and out of the room, I'm guessing to alert an obstetrician. She arrived back just in time to see me deliver my first baby. I remember sitting up in the bed after feeling baby number one fall from me and seeing it still in its sack, covered in blood and wondering how the hell was I going to do this all over again, The GP then grabbed my baby with two hands, looked around the room for somewhere to place it and decided that a kidney dish on top of a filing cabinet was the best option. I'm completely in denial by this stage. My mind and body is numb from all the emotion and possibly the morphine, my eyes are burning from all the tears, and my body is exhausted and in complete shock from the pain and the litre of blood that I had already lost.
I'm no longer responsive when the obstetrician walks in, grabs my hand and let's me know that I have a strong grip. These are here first words. I turn my head and look the other way. I'm then wheeled through emergency, placed in an elevator and sent up to another floor where I'm told that my second baby will be removed by D+C. I really have no idea what this means but I just nod my head. My partner is with me the whole time. He is a godsend! I awake a couple of hours later to the sound of the nurses voice and open my eyes to see my partners face. Things are very foggy but my thoughts are quickly drawn back to my nightmare. I'm shivering from the loss of blood and begin experiencing massive amounts of anxiety around the thought of myself dying. I just cant stop shivering. The nurse puts layers of hot blankets over me but it takes a while to warm up. My body is in shock!
I ask my partner where our babies bodies are and he explains to me that if it wasn't for his questioning then the surgeon would of destroyed them. According to the nurse, this is what they always do. Did they never think to ask the families what they would like to do with their babies body/ies? So much fucking disrespect! Where is the compassion for the Mother and Father who suffers? After so much trauma from the loss of a child I would expect a little decency from these so called professionals to consider these families who are suffering. There is so much that needs to change in our hospitals when it comes to dealing with miscarriage and pregnancy loss.
The next few days were spent up in the maternity section of the hospital. I'm placed in a white room down the end of a long corridor where I wouldn't be seen by other Mother's who had just given birth and where I couldn't here the cries of newborn babies. A large sign saying 'DO NOT DISTURB' was placed on the outside of the door which meant that my meals were never delivered. My sweet babies were wheeled in to me in a bassinet and covered with a cloth. There was an engine that pushed cold air into the basinet to keep their bodies cool and they were each wrapped in a pink and blue blanket. There tiny little faces peaked out over the top of the blankets and as we unwrapped them with tears streaming down our faces we could see their perfectly formed fingers and toes. Their eyes were closed and their faces were pink but to us they were perfection. What I would of given to turn back time right then and there and make it all better but I was so grateful that we were given the opportunity to hold them and to spend time with them as I knew that many Mother's and Father's were never given the chance. I would then spend the next few nights crying alone in my hospital bed with my babies beside me as my partner had to return to our three kids. I had never experienced suffering like I had in those moments. I will never be the same.
My babies were cremated and we had a beautiful sacred ceremony with a small group of family members. My partner played the didgeridoo for his babies and my father in law read a poem that I had found on the internet. It was an old Native American poem that brought tears to my eyes but I knew that it was perfect for their sending off. My other children drew pictures and we made an alter for the twins. While my body was their, my mind was elsewhere. I was withdrawn and unable to speak. I remember thinking that I hated having to do and feel all of this and why must it be me that had to go through it. I wanted to push it all down, the pain, the memories, the loss. I wanted to hide in big black dark hole and only resurface when I felt like it. I was experiencing denial and this feeling continued for quite some time. There were weeks that I went without seeing anybody other than my partner and kids. I felt as if I just couldn't face the world. Not right now!
I began to understand that all of these feelings I was experiencing, while confusing at times, were all completely normal. This was my bodies way of preparing me for the next stage and the flood of emotions that begin to surface when anger comes knocking.
To be continued................................................