I sat in bed trying to breathe through the cramping. My two boys were whirling and twirling around the bedroom after their bath giggling and collapsing on top of each other.
"Should we light a candle? No, bit of an OH&S risk right now."
It was 7pm on a Sunday night, and the wave of light was just beginning. Around the world, people were lighting candles to remember babies they had lost on International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance day. Waves of cramps rocked my womb. I couldn't ignore the irony that right now I was miscarrying. I had medication two days before and I don't know at what point over the weekend our baby left us, at only seven weeks she was tiny. That day, I thought she was a girl, but I didn't know. Although I never got to meet her, she taught me to look for the light in the darkness.
When fear takes over
My hand trembled as two pink lines appeared almost immediately on the stick. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes spilled over with tears. The fear was here. I can't do this. Not now. As much as I had always wanted three children, the last few months had left me exhausted. I had been pregnant, breastfeeding or both for over three years. I wasn't ready to do it again. I wailed down the phone to my husband "I only have two hands, how will I look after three kids?"
Two more tests later, I willed the lines to fade, but they didn't. Over the following weeks, my old friend nausea began to visit. I came around to the idea of having another baby. It would be a stretch in every sense: for my body, my career, our finances and our little house. My calm husband reassured me it would be okay, it always was. The fear ebbed away.
Into the darkness
Two weeks later I felt pain in my lower abdomen that pulled and twisted and tugged. I sat. I lay down. I ignored it. Nothing worked. I had an odd feeling something wasn't right and I found myself alone in the grey emergency department. Hours passed. For the first time in three years I wasn't home for bedtime. So many times I had craved a night off and some 'me time' and look where I got to spend it. On the inside I was pleading with them to hurry up, that there could be something wrong with our baby. I realised then that I wanted this baby more than anything.
Then began the longest fortnight of my life. More grey waiting rooms. More scans and finally a heartbeat. I was relieved, she was safe. I took comfort in my nausea. I saw my Obstetrician. I finally took a breath and relaxed. I felt pregnant and I loved it.
Two days later I had some spotting, but no pain. Just once. Something made me pick up the phone and I found myself booked in for another scan.
The odd feeling came back on the day of the scan. The nausea had faded and I began to prepare myself for the worst. I took the boys on the train, upbeat about our big adventure and meeting daddy there. As my doctor put the ultrasound to my belly, I knew straight away. She was gone.
Into the light
My grief was a cocoon, but I emerged and was not the same person. I don't think I will ever get over it, I have lost two babies now. I am a mother of four, and I hold two in my arms and two more in my heart. She came into my life at a time when I was struggling with all of my roles in life, and she left me with some important truths. This was her purpose.
I took the week off work and let the house be more of a mess than it usually is. I gave my boys my time, my love and lots of extra cuddles. My husband and I made time to talk and reconnect. Instead of working when the boys slept, I started to organise our thousands of digital photos, memories too precious to lose.
2. I turned guilt on its head
Guilt hit me first and my initial fear of being pregnant made me believe I had willed this to happen. Support was crucial. I am forever grateful that I had an early appointment with my Obstetrician it was he who passed on our tragic news and managed the miscarriage. I would have been lost without the familiarity of the clinic, the wonderful midwives and reception staff and his warmth and empathy. The Miscarriage Care Pack from the Pink Elephants Support Network and the counsellor from SANDS who listened to my words choked between sobs helped me to find release. Friends were there with kind words, hugs and chocolate.
3. I allowed myself to grieve
Grief strikes in odd ways. One day I found myself fleeing the yoghurt section of the supermarket after being wedged between two pregnant women. I still don't know what yoghurt I selected. Another day I frantically cleaned the toilets, just in case I miscarried into one of them.
4. Letting go
One day I had an epiphany: our baby was safe now. The odd feeling that something was wrong had left. My intuition told me something didn't feel right from the beginning. I didn't have to worry anymore.
5. Never lose hope
Our parenting journey already includes unexplained infertility, IVF and two miscarriages. She gave me hope, she gave me a sign. I don't usually buy into these kinds of stories, but when we left the clinic after finding out she was gone there were two rainbows in the sky. I already have one rainbow baby, she was letting me know there will be another one day.