Shattered.

Oh Henry, I have nothing left in me, I feel like I’ve got nothing left to give.. I don’t know what to do with myself, how to keep taking steps forward, you see I thought there was hope but any hope we had well it’s been shattered in to tiny pieces like a window shattering in an explosion and the pieces fly everywhere all over the place and Henry I don’t have the energy to pick them up, I can’t clean up those pieces so now I just sit in amongst them in the dark feeling like there’s no point.

The last few weeks have taken a toll, my heart can’t take any more, my soul is tired, I feel so incredibly heavy like I can’t even crawl.

Weeks ago Henry the day after your six month anniversary the unimaginable happened, I had some spotting on your six month anniversary and I had dissolved in to tears thinking my period was arriving I sought comfort in your Dad and went through all the usual emotions that come along with that anger, sadness, despair, all of it.

The next day though nothing….. no bleeding ‘do I even dare to allow myself to hope’ I thought to myself, I got up went to the bathroom opening the draw with all the pee sticks and took one. I waited and waited it was only a cheap bulk test I had bought so after waiting I thought I saw a line a very faint line… I held it upside down, up to the light, squinted, held it against white paper all the crazy things we do while trying to conceive, I still couldn’t tell if my eyes were playing tricks on me or if it were real ‘can I really hope’ I thought to myself’

I had to meet your aunty in Kiama that morning so I left a bit earlier, marching in to Woolworths I bought a pack of three tests and then went off to the public bathroom 😬 ‘how lovely’ I thought to myself sarcastically but I had to know was your little brother or sister coming our way?? I peed on the stick put the cap back on and waited anxiously for what seemed ages but would’ve only been a couple of minutes AND that second line appeared 😮 I must be dreaming I thought to myself blinking and looking again but no there it was…

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I was shocked, what do I do.. I felt this instant urge just to run home to your Dad so I could tell him but I’d made a commitment to meet your Aunty, so instead after washing my hands and leaving the bathroom I ran to the car to ring your Dad “hey babe” he said as he answered the phone “hey” I said “whats up?” He asked “I’m pregnant” I blurted out “nice way to tell me” your Dad laughed “well I wanted you to know now” I said “and last time I tried to do it nicely I shocked you so it’s straight out saying it this time besides I couldn’t wait until I get home” he laughed a little more “I get it” he said “I’ll see you later on”

I quickly after this phone call phoned a really good friend and told her, then it was off to meet your Aunty and hold it all in and hope for the day to go quickly so I could get home to your Dad.. we had brunch, looked around the shops and talked the whole time my mind was racing, so many thoughts so many feelings…

We finished up and she went to drive home, I drove home to your Dad, once I pulled in the driveway running inside to show him the test, we looked at those two lines together then he looked at me and he began to cry, tears, tears of happiness, sadness, of being scared all of it rolled in to one. “I’m happy but I’m sad at the same time” I said to him “me too” he replied.

You see Henry pregnancy after losing you was never going to be the same, once we lost you, we realised that there’s so much that can go wrong, no guarantees, no safe periods, nothing.. it also comes with the sadness of you not being here, the mixed emotions of if you were we wouldn’t have been thinking about a sibling for you yet and of being absolutely anxious and shit scared that we wouldn’t get to take this baby home either.

The next few days afterwards Henry became hard days to get through, It was like climbing one of the steepest parts of the mountain, finding it difficult, thoughts raced and raced through my mind “what if” … all the what if’s, what if we lose this baby, what if something happens then there were the questions I asked myself over and over “is it ok to feel happy about this when we don’t have you here?” , “how will we cope when this baby is born what will it bring up for us birthing full term as I did with you?” , “will I get post natal depression?” “How in the hell if I’m this anxious now do we get through nine months”

Oh Henry my mind was a mess, it’s so hard, once you know one baby can be lost you can’t relax, we were happy though, there were moments of joy, we even started to discuss over the weeks how we might tell family and friends… we still wanted to try to make this so special and enjoy this little soul too, your little sibling we wanted them to know they were so loved and wanted as well despite the confusion, the ache, the way it was hard.

We had decided we would tell your Dad’s family on Christmas Eve, we would invite them all over for dinner… I had planned I would make Christmas crackers, with riddles in them to make them guess, we had worked them out, googled, sorted through and come up with the right ones.. ‘what gets a shower but doesn’t get wet’, ‘what grows without sunshine’, ‘what does a chef have when baking a roll’ and lastly ‘what’s easy to make but impossible to keep forever’… I even ordered cracker snaps, special wrapping paper with palm leaves to include you..

We also purchased a little onesie with a rainbow too… I made a call to our obstetrician to book in “ok how far along are you?” His receptionist asked, she booked us an appointment for when I would be 7 weeks as he likes to do a dating scan.

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Ok it was all getting in to place, but the fear was there Henry the weeks until our scan were too long and I needed to know all was ok “what if it’s not?” I thought to myself and over those weeks Henry the nightmares I have, the ones that always occur, they became more frequent, showing up more often, they always involve a hospital bed its the common theme, sometimes the nightmares are in the hospital itself and present as what happened other times the setting is different but always a hospital bed and I am in it. over the past few weeks I have had a number of nightmares where I have woken up crying without realising or with my heart nearly beating out of my chest. One particular nightmare I was in a hospital bed in the middle of no where, nothing but dirt and dead tress surrounding me I was stuck in the bed the drip in my arm nothing surrounding me, no one there at all I couldn’t call out, I had nothing to contact anyone, I felt scared, alone when suddenly the bed started to move it spun one way and another I couldn’t stop it, it all happened so fast I had to just hold on to the bed I didn’t know what to do, it became faster and faster no control I became incredibly frightened crying out with no one to hear me. Eventually when I woke I woke up while trying to call out, my mouth and throat were dry, as my eyes opened to our dark room and I realised it was not real I dissolved in to tears putting my head in to the pillow trying to let the pillow muffle my sobs so I wouldn’t wake your Dad.

I wasn’t the only one Henry, with everything on our minds, with taking all this in, a new little life, a sibling for you, a baby we so desperately wanted to make sure came home.. I got home from the gym one morning to find your Dad sitting on the lounge under the blanket he didn’t look good “I’m not going to work today” he said to me, “okay” I said sitting quietly beside him and taking his hand…”I’m not coping, I’m not having a good day” he said to me “that’s ok” I said, he then told me about how he had woken up from a dream, he had woken in a sweat and burst in to tears “The hospital stuffed up again” he said to me “in my dream and it seemed so real and I woke up so upset” I just hugged him, I hugged your Dad so tight. 

In between all of this going on over the last few weeks I also returned to work a decision I made before I knew I was pregnant again. I started back part-time, I had to give it a go and I need to financially too, I have always felt this guilt and pressure that your Dad had to go back to work much sooner, he had to step back in to that space for us financially even though I know he wasn’t ready, even though I know he has struggled and I know he battles every single day.. Between paying for psychologist visits, having to up our health insurance and pay over double what we were before include pregnancy and birth for your siblings. Some may say we didn’t need to do that but for us we did. I could never go back to the same hospital, I could never go public and feel supported in that process again, with what happened the anxiety that it would cause has caused is huge, the trauma we experienced at the hands of those who we are supposed to trust, I couldn’t do it. So with all these extra costs and getting to the point we would have no income from myself I have had to step back in to that work space.

The afternoon and evening before I was due to start back I could feel my anxiety building, like someone slowly and steadily playing jenga taking pieces out and placing them on top of the other just waiting for it to all fall, I could feel myself getting worked up, it came out in different ways, with me being unable to think properly, my heart racing at times my breath becoming faster. I think I snapped a couple of times when Tim asked me questions as my head hurt, I got a headache.

The morning of as I prepared my things Henry as they were ready on the desk to go, I looked at them I looked at my work phone, tears instantly formed in my eyes, I felt my heart race so fast, my palms become sweaty ‘How do I do this?’ I thought to myself Henry, ‘How do I do this when I won’t be able to do what I did before?’ doubts then crept in further, it was like slowly being constricted by a large python, with each doubt it was like it would curl tighter and tighter around me, making it harder to breathe ‘what if I can’t remember?’ ‘what if they expect more from me than I can do?’ ‘what if people think I can’t do my job properly?’ all of my confidence in my abilities Henry both professionally and personally is gone, I feel as though I can not even trust myself with what happened to you. I had tears streaming down my face without even realising, once I finally snapped out of that moment I don’t know how long later and realised I wiped them away and tried to get started.

Throughout the day working with a colleague, I had to rely on her more than I thought I would, there was time spent trying to resolve IT issues and updates and I was so glad she was there as the thought of having to initiate contact and explain to some people scared me, it was so daunting. It had been bad enough for weeks before returning I had been trying to sort out my leave, I had been trying to withdraw the application for leave without pay and apply to come back part-time, but came across hurdle after hurdle Henry, first there was a freeze on the system… no ones fault, once the freeze ended I tried again, each time I did an error would occur, hours spent on the phone to our HR support for the system, sending them screen shots, by my first day at work it still wasn’t rectified, I phoned them again the morning before… You need to fill out a manual form and get your manager to sign it and email it, ok no problems…. as I asked a few more questions about the process and when it might be rectified and explained I was worried I wouldn’t get paid, they asked again exactly what I wanted to do, I explained I needed to withdraw my leave without pay on the system but was unable to do so as I wanted to apply to come back part time from maternity leave… When was the leave until they asked “May” I replied ‘well why are you coming back now?” the question sounded abrupt as if they were annoyed with having to try to fix the situation and my questions… the question took my breath away I paused for a second I didn’t know what to say, I honestly wish I could’ve just been so abrupt back Henry and said “Because my baby died” see what the reaction was then, maybe then they would’ve been a little more helpful and less annoyed who knows but I couldn’t say it I just repeated that I needed to return part time now from leave and needed to get it sorted so that I would be payed. 

All this happening, all the thoughts, work, visiting my psychologist we talked about it all, my fears about the pregnancy, my thoughts about planning ahead, my anxiety about going to my first team meeting for work in a few weeks and seeing everyone for the first time together. I don’t know how they would react? what might they say? what will they think? we discussed about sending them an article available on the SIDS website about your colleague returning to work after the death of their child. We discussed how I was feeling about being pregnant, I talked to her about how I felt guilty, I felt guilty that Henry wasn’t here and that we were already pregnant as if he were here we wouldn’t be, I talked to her about how we both wanted this baby so much and just wanted to know we would bring them home, I talked about how scared I was an anxious to get to the first appointment that first scan to know it would be ok.

At the 6 week mark Henry I was worried, “I am not sick” I commented to your Dad, I tried in my head to tell myself different pregnancy, I had been so sick with you I had HG, and when you have it there’s an 80% chance you’ll have it again, ‘maybe I’m in the 20%’ I thought to myself “I don’t feel pregnant” I had said to my friend.. Yet I still had hope, there it was that hope, the hope that allowed me to plan, to get excited, to think about names even.. I still let that in as I wanted too, I wanted to let this little sibling know I loved them. 

We finally got to the day of the scan, I had to work that day I kept myself busy with my work, yet it was still sitting there in the back of my mind, We finally got to the afternoon I finished work and off we drove the hour drive to our obstetrician’s office. We finally got there all the way there your Dad and I talked about how we would feel, I had your blue bear, I wanted to take a photo of us with it “Afterwards” your Dad said and now I am glad he did, it was a reminder everything might not be ok.

We sat in the waiting room, your dad looked at magazine I just couldn’t, I sat waiting our obstetrician walked out in to the waiting room and smiled at us “You don’t waste any time do you?” he said as we had only been in to see him the month before as we were worried about the fact we couldn’t fall pregnant. “Hop up on the table” he said, I stepped up and lay down “How far along are we?” he asked “seven weeks” I said smiling as he put the gel on my stomach “It’ll be a little cold” he said and squirted it on, he placed down the ultrasound wand and began to move it around after a few moments of moving it around he found something, I looked at the screen, having had an early ultrasound with you Henry at 8 weeks I knew what I was seeing wasn’t right, I knew it wasn’t big enough. “I’m not seeing a lot I may have to do an internal ultrasound” he said “Are you sure of your dates” “Yes I am” I said, I was able to tell him the date we got the positive pregnancy test, the date of my last period, when I had positive ovulation tests. He used the machine to measure 5 weeks 4 days the little sac in there measured. “It’s way to early to see much” he said to me, “I will send you for bloods today to check your levels and get you back in two weeks to scan” I nodded “It’s not very reassuring as I am sure of my dates” I said “I can’t give you that today” he said to me and we discussed the what if it wasn’t ok. He gave me paperwork to get bloods done that afternoon and then again on the Wednesday “We will see if they are doubling as they should” he said.

He didn’t charge us for the visit and we walked out, we went downstairs I had bloods taken and we walked to the car feeling deflated “I know it’s not right” I said to your Dad, “I know my dates” your Dad looked at me he still tried to have hope, “lets just see” he said to me, we got in the car and I cried, I cried all the way home, once home I climbed in to bed sobbing, we didn’t get the reassurance we were after, we were just left with questions and doubt. I tried to tell myself Henry it was ok, I googled and it had happened that people had measured behind and it was ok, I spoke to you, begged you that it would all be alright.

Tuesday I had to go to Goulburn for work, I don’t even know how I drove after the lack of sleep, anxiety and worry but I got there to have a meeting with my manager, after the meeting the long drive home. I got home with just enough time to see your Dad before he went off to work. I cooked myself dinner even though I couldn’t concentrate, I had a shower and sat down on the lounge, I sat there blankly, I sat trying to ease all the racing thoughts running in my mind, round and round like a whirlwind they swirled, Suddenly I was snapped out of my thoughts I felt something ‘what was that?’ I thought to myself I jumped up from the lounge to look down at my shorts and see blood “no no-no no no my mind screamed this can’t be happening no, no no…. I ran to the bathroom and look at them bright red blood I then wiped there was more.. I managed to clean up and change, I phoned your Dads number my heart racing when he answered that was it tears poured down my face “Hey babe” he said I couldn’t answer straight away between tears I managed a “hey”, “Whats wrong?” he asked “Babe whats wrong”… “I’m bleeding” I managed between sobs “I’m leaving work now” he said hanging up I put my head in to my hands and sobbed.

One you dad arrived home he came straight to me and just held me as I sobbed “Why why why why” I screamed and your Dad cried, he held on to me and just cried as I sobbed unable to breathe properly… There it was Henry the shattering of the glass the pieces on the floor all my hope gone.

Finally later sleeping out of exhaustion, I woke up the next morning crying the bleeding had stopped, I phoned the obstetrician he managed to fit us in for an emergency appointment at 10:45 we showered and left, when we got in there “Lets look at whats going on” he said he had to do an internal, as he looked around the sac, you little sibling still in there still measuring the same as Monday, he looked around to rule out an ectopic pregnancy explaining that a sac would still develop in the uterus in that case as the body is still developing for a pregnancy. It looked ok, “It’s all going to depend on todays bloods” he said back to us “but it does look like a missed miscarriage, in rare cases there can be the odd bleed and I have seen it in twin pregnancies where one doesn’t develop but that is rare” we left his office ‘do we dare hope it still might be ok somehow in someway’ I thought to myself, we went to get the bloods done which he had marked urgent.

Driving home our heads full of worry, we had a whole day ahead of us to wait, I don’t even remember how we killed the time, finally late that afternoon I spoke to him on the phone “I’m so sorry” he said “The levels are not doubling and going up as they should” we discussed where to from here, he didn’t want to resort straight to a procedure to remove it as there is the risk of scar tissue in the uterus, so it’s all a waiting game Henry, waiting for the inevitable to happen. He discussed with me that he would be away for the weekend but that if I had severe pain or really heavy bleeding to present to emergency. otherwise any other concerns there was another obstetrician I could contact.

The days since Henry I have struggled, I have only had spotting but no actual bleeding, we don’t know how long it will take and the longer it takes the more it messes with my head and my heart. I had more bloods this morning and will again on Monday to see how far the levels have dropped. As I sit amongst the shattered glass, I don’t want to move, I have nothing left to give, there’s nothing in me and I just sit and wait. and the pain of that waiting Henry is excruciating, it’s like being slowly tortured and just wanting to die. I wait knowing that I am still technically pregnant but that its all going to end, I know I am pregnant but it’s not growing, so I still can’t bring myself to drink, while part of me wants to just drown my sorrows. I sit and wait for the pain, but that physical pain Henry doesn’t even compare to the pain and sorrow in my heart.

Why? How? how can this happen? why us Henry? why us? All we ever wanted, all we ever wanted was to be the best parents we could be to look after you, provide you with the most loving home we could, then the worst possible thing happened.. then we finally had a small ray of hope, a tiny bit of light in all the darkness a chance we would get to do that with your sibling, yet that’s been cruelly ripped away from us already and I don’t know how to go on now.

How do two people get through so much heartache and hurt, how do we ever trust that life will be good to us, I said to your dad if this is all life has for us then I don’t want to be here, I can’t continue to live with so much pain. In the days I am spending waiting I have found I don’t want to eat, I don’t want to get out of bed, I feel like I have gone right back to where we were coming home from the hospital without you, not only do I look at your room full of things we never got to use with you, I now look at the added piece of clothing I bought out of hope, hope that we’d dress this sibling in that outfit, hope this was the baby we’d bring home, instead my hope is gone and Henry I’m not sure I’ll find it or my way out of the darkness. 

I feel so stupid for having had that hope Henry, I feel so stupid I allowed myself to get excited, to plan ahead, I feel so incredibly stupid I even puschsed that onesie that I somehow at that stage thought it would be ok, that we would get to go through a pregnancy and bring your sibling home, I just feel so incredibly stupid that I let myself think that early that I could do that and where does that ever leave us for the future. 

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Author: Letters to Henry

My husband and I live on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia. We are currently learning to rebuild and navigate through life after the loss of our son Henry to stillbirth due to medical negligence in April of this year.

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