There are mornings I hear the little voice from the next room, turn and squint at my phone and see that it’s only 4 am. (Really, Delilah?!)
Or nights when I’ve just sunk into a divine bubble bath… and then hear the cries start.
Weetbix is in my hair on the daily, I have 900 loads of laundry to fold, and I live on brown rice and cans of tuna because that’s the easiest thing to make when juggling a clingy baby.
There were weekends when I did nothing but watch TV, nap, and eat when I was pregnant with Delilah, and I long for a day like that again! But her little face is worth all the interrupted plans, sleepless nights, and anxious parenting moments.
This, I know, because there was a time when I lost the opportunity to meet another little face – the face before Delilah’s.
The topic of pregnancy loss is still taboo.
So many people feel like they shouldn’t talk about it. It is a huge tragic emptiness that everyone deals with in their own way.
When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I felt terrified, but excited too. I created a Pinterest board for nursery inspiration and I shared our happy with new with others well before the first scan; the superstitious side of me didn’t even flinch.
Then came our scan on Christmas Eve. There was no heartbeat. In fact, there was no baby. Yet, I had all the symptoms of being pregnant; a sac on the scan and blood tests that stated “positive.”
This is called a blighted ovum. Most miscarriages happen without women realising, and 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. I was 10 weeks into my pregnancy already, just a few weeks shy of the second trimester when we were getting ready to tell everyone else.
Shortly after our scan I was booked in for a D & C, but I started to miscarry the day before. The hospital nearly cancelled because of this but then said to come in anyway just to be safe. I’m glad I did as the pain was unbearable. (Having had a baby now, it felt like being in labour.)
It was a very public miscarriage.
I was rushed from the floor of a hospital toilet to surgery. Like a moron, I wore a white top that day too! No matter how many times I washed it, it was clean but it never felt right again.
I lay on the bed in the pre-theatre room feeling terrified, and embarrassed. And then I was out like a light. It was over.
Like with most traumatic or stressful things in life, I decided to just push on. I was told to rest as I’d lost a lot of blood, but I hate not being busy.
If I wasn’t ever really pregnant with an actual baby, then did I have the right to be upset?
I deleted the Pinterest board and busied with planning new year goals.
My partner received a job offer on the Sunshine Coast and I supported the move. Meanwhile, I also accepted a job offer closer to home, threw myself back into exercise and said yes to every social event possible.
Eventually I fell pregnant again.
But I lived in constant fear that I would never meet my baby or that something awful would happen. I found it hard to be excited.
Then, at 8 weeks I started to bleed. It was a terrifying 20 minute journey to emergency on my own.
My stupid anxiety was telling me it was a sign. But it was all okay – my baby was fine.
I felt like I was constantly waiting for the ‘what if?’ and I began to realise how much of an impact my previous loss was having on my state of mind for my current pregnancy – for my rainbow baby.
With the support of a counsellor I began to practice mindfulness techniques. Apps like ‘Mind the Bump’ – geared for pregnant and new parents – gave me quick meditations I used to catch thoughts and feelings without judgement.
We waited until the 20 week scan to tell most people other than family, a few close friends and those that worked it out. (Frequent nauseated trips to the bathroom is a giveaway!)
A rainbow baby is baby that is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of an infant.
And after months of preparing for what most midwives said would be a long process, Delilah – our rainbow baby- arrived after a very swift labour. (I didn’t even have time to play Gangstas Paradise!)
She was perfect and healthy with a head full of red hair. “Wow!” I thought, “I am actually a Mum!”
Five weeks later, my husband Hayden phoned me while he was at work. I could hear that he was crying. He’d felt a sudden sadness about our previous loss. He told me that he wondered what it would have been like to have two littlies now.
While I was rely on him to support me I’d never really considered what a profound effect this had on him, because he was always busy being strong for me.
The pregnancy loss revealed our vulnerable sides.
But it’s this vulnerability I’m grateful for today as a mother to Delilah.
I still worry about her all the time, but I’m relieved to know that’s mostly normal. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that mum-life is also anxious-life. But mostly I’m excited-anxious; to see her grow up (and not interfere too much!) and see who this loud, alert, flirt of a baby will be.
I’m excited to create 100 more Pinterest boards for our activities and adventures. I still feel still anxious about my ability to equip her with skills to deal with situations that might be bad or hurtful, and saddened that I won’t be able to protect her from everything.
Most of all, I’m excited to be her mum and her forced best friend.
– By Charlotte