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19 Days February 22, 2012

Posted by dreamom in 1000 Gifts, Faith, family, Fears, Goals, Happiness, Home, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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This story starts on the day that I found out that my baby had died in my womb. After hearing the news from a midwife I had not yet met, having the OB on call at the hospital near by phone with answers to some questions – she asked if I knew what I wanted to do – I could go see the OB to talk about induction with Mesoprostal (Cytotec) or a D&E (the big brother of the infamous D&C which involves the added step of cutting the fetus into manageable sizes for extraction), or go home and wait for my body to deliver my still baby. The only options that seemed reasonable at all was waiting and induction. I looked around the office at the pictures of developing babies, and at the multiple bulletin boards of people’s pictures with their babies sent to thank the midwives for being with them for their child’s arrival. I said “My plan was always to deliver at home unless it was medically necessary to do otherwise. I still feel like that is what I want. Can I plan on that for now?” No problem. Very reasonable.

In a stooper that was brought on by the axe of grief being applied heavily to my womb, I left. I visited some friends and went home. There I fell into a grief that was wider and deeper than I knew was possible. For a couple of days I did not sleep, for several I did not eat. I went to the Dr, and saw the OB and discussed options and had blood work explained and done – and all of it was in a fog. I had friends all over the world holding a space for me to cry and talk, and vent, and question. From where I am now that week seems surreal – like a dream. Being a ‘religious person’ it was impossible that my faith would not play a role. Much like I believe that God created me, and my body, and the birth process, so I believe that He created the process to clear a pregnancy that is not viable. I decided early on in the process that not only did I deserve the homebirth I had planned, and my baby deserved the homebirth I had planned, but that unless it was medically necessary at some point that God’s design for my body would work, and I would deliver this baby without interventions.

When all this began – in that first week I was sure that this was the worst thing that had ever, and could ever happen. I thought that if I made sure that this experience had a permanent place of being monumental that my baby’s life would matter. It became this cornerstone for my faith that I needed to see through. As people commented and pushed and questioned and ‘expressed concern for my health’ over the choice to wait for God’s timing, and wait for this delivery to happen naturally **unless it was medically necessary to do otherwise** (<< key point here – I kept under the watchful eye of the local OB who was supportive, and dutifully had blood drawn twice a week to screen for problems that might indicate a need to re-evaluate the plan) I became hemmed into the choice I had made. I had people who had made different choices for themselves, or perhaps some weren't given choices criticizing me for waiting. I was risking my life, according to them, and that was not fair to my husband and kids… My mom will tell you that I am stubborn like my grandmother, and all the pressure was doing nothing but strengthening my resolve to see this out. Suddenly my baby's delivery was not only a process for me to go through and accept, but necessary to prove that God, nature, and my body could and would know what to do – and NOT to me, because I *know* – but to all the people I was feeling pressured by – most of whom were Christians themselves.

Throughout this process I was healthy (after I resumed eating) and could do anything I wanted, but didn't like leaving the house much – especially alone. The only thing that anyone could promise me was that the process is not one you can predict – less so than with a full term delivery – so the idea of delivering my dead child in the grocery store, or church did not appeal to me and I chose to stay close to home. This also meant I did not see a lot of people, but the same friends were holding my space and 'hanging out' on Google+ regularly and were my connection to the outside world when the outside world stayed away.

As the days wore on I grieved, I got books to read, planned how to handle the delivery and the body, and everything in between. I revisited my 1000 Gifts book and listed 18 things about the situation at that point that I was thankful for. During this time I made an important decision. As much as this news rocked me, and was challenging my beliefs, testing my resolve, and forcing me to learn things that I would have been happy to stay ignorant about for the rest of my life – I decided that This. Was. Not. Going. To. Define. Me. I had already lost the baby, but that was not WHO I was, but rather just one thread weaved through the fabric of my life. Where that thread was, and the prominence it would have would make no difference to my child – but it would to me. I want it to be there, and special, but not the central thing. Making this decision was a huge milestone in my processing of the whole thing. It had to be. It was up to me how this aspect of my life would affect me, and who I was… It didn't really change anything I was doing, but it changed how I thought about it.

Over the following days I would pick up my friend who came by train from Montreal with her toddler to see me – someone she had never met in person (just over FB and skype) but wanted to be with me through the process. The following weekend another friend from Montreal was coming to spend the weekend and take her home. Over the course of the next week there was much talking, tears, and chocolate, and my resolve was to have this baby with them with me.

In an effort to speed things along I tried homeopathic remedies, accupressure and trying to make sure that I was not mentally holding on at all. All the while praying for my body to release my dead child. I was sure that these things were going to work, but then they didn't. There were signs that it was close – but it didn't happen. I was SO frustrated. The friend coming on the weekend offered to bring something with her that should work that I could use at home, but that I didn't have to use it – she knew I wanted to wait and see this out. I told her to bring it, but that I didn't know how I felt.

Shortly before she got here I had an epiphany of sorts. I realised that I was making the same moment in my life that I did not want to define me, my 'hill to die on'. It was going to prove to me and all who knew me that God/nature/my body works – but NOT define me? Hmmm I had to think this one out. I KNOW my body was working to release the baby, and I KNOW that it was designed to do so when something happened to a pregnancy. Who was I proving this to, and why? The fact is I was proving it to the doubters. The people who were sure that without a D&C (but don't forget that at this stage that is a D&E) that I would suffer from infection and haemorrhage and die were the ones I was determined to wait for. *I* didn't want it to define me. So it came down to am I A) going to do this a certain way for them or B) MY way (cue Frank Sinatra). The fact is that I believe in organic and natural food, but I don't always buy it because of various choices made week to week in the grocery store. I believe in natural medicine, but choose to compliment it with Western medicine at times for different reason's. If this moment in my life was going to be like anything else I was going to make choices like in all those times for what I and my family needed. People would just have to learn to trust God and their body's themselves. This was my journey, and no one else's.

My second friend arrived, we visited some friends, came home and I took a small amount of the stuff she brought in the hopes that it would be the nudge I needed. Whether it was that or whether it was the knowledge that I had done this myself and for myself in a way that honoured my beliefs it began to work RIGHT away. 7 hours later I birthed my baby girl in one piece in the caul. Everything about that birth was perfect for what it was.

After the birth I took my time – I listened to my body and myself in terms of how to move, when to move, when to look at the baby I delivered. I cried oceans in the 19 days leading up to this, but on that day – not a tear. I was ready. I could look at my daughter as a marvel instead of a loss and a hole in my heart. In the moments after the birth I marvelled at HOW okay I was. My friends and I wondered if women who are rushed through the process to end it quickly, if they miss out on that? I think back to Hannah's birth as amazing, wonderful, a release. There is no sadness, no regret. I had who I needed with me and was in my space. I can't think of how I would change it given the limitation of the circumstances.

When I think back to Hannah's life – that is where the sadness is – that I didn't see her take a breath, nurse her, raise her. That is sad. But that is the way it was meant to be for reasons that I can't fathom. I LOVE that amid that sadness – that heaviness of heart – that I can look back on her birth and smile. It was perfect. What a difference 19 days made.

#92. 19 Days

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