Today’s guest post from Hannah may be heartbreaking but the arrival of her beautiful rainbow baby Edie shows that love conquers all. I can’t even begin to imagine what they went through and their story is testament to the strength and love they have as a family.
We are a little family of three, my husband, daughter and I, but it wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were having twins! We had struck lucky: our family was going to be complete in one go. I wont lie, it took me a while to get to grips with the news. I worried constantly about how my body would cope and how we would manage as parents of two tiny people. However, six months later we were ready and waiting with bags packed, antenatal classes attended and two of everything purchased.
At 34 weeks our worst nightmares came true. Life was forever changed in October 2014 when our beautiful boy and girl twins were delivered stillborn by emergency cesarean section. It turns out that I had been ill with a rare condition called Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy that had gone unnoticed until it was too late. I’m lucky to still be here but our babies, Max and Emily, couldn’t cope and passed away before birth.
The following weeks and months were dark and looking back I don’t know how we survived them. I recovered from a c section and liver damage, attended my 10 day midwife check without my babies, went to the register office to register their stillbirth and planned and attended their funeral. We returned their double buggy and two car seats to the shop and shut the door on the carefully decorated nursery. I developed anxiety and couldn’t face going anywhere where there could be pregnant women or babies. We clung to each other and tried our best to shut the rest of the world out. In the three months following Max and Emily’s arrival, our newphew, niece and a close friend’s baby all arrived. It was the worst timing and I’d love to say that I handled it well but it was one step too cruel for me. I was angry and bitter and no longer recognised myself.
But that’s not why I’m writing our story. It’s because our family grew a year later in the shape of Edie, our beautiful and brilliant ‘rainbow baby’, who is now 14 months old.
We are now a family of three and are living a simple and content life together. Don’t get me wrong, we are still grieving for our twins and the lives they and we were supposed to have. Some days it is bloody hard. Seeing twins out and about still floors me. I have tried out and left two baby groups now because there were twins there and I just felt too sad. Seeing pregnant people sometimes still makes me want to run away and hide. I dread, even now, bumping into people who may not know what happened. As a family we will always do things to honour Max and Emily: lighting a candle, taking yellow roses to their garden of remembrance on special days and having a cake on their birthday. They will always be the missing piece in our lives. But my goodness they have taught us so much. I am certain that I am a better person and certainly a better mother because of them.
I appreciate the second chance I have been given and refuse to take it for granted. The online baby loss community are a group of totally amazing women who, for many, a rainbow baby has not been an option or blessing yet. The milestones, the days at home playing, the quiet cuddles at bedtime are all things I never got to do with Max and Emily so I will treasure them more with Edie. The negative things too: the mountain of tiny clothes to hang out to dry and the lounge full of toys and baby crap. Coming home without our babies to a tidy and silent house was a torture I can’t describe. I now try to revel in the noise and chaos that Edie brings to our house. I’m not saying I don’t moan. I have my bad days and I know parenting is hard but I guess what I’m saying is that I now have the perspective to know that it is a priviledge to be a family and many do not have that opportunity.
So we are a family of three. Forever changed by our extra two. Happy and grateful and a little bit sad all at the same time.
As soon as your baby turns one people seem to be desperate to know when you are planning on having another. I find these questions frustrating for many reasons. Pregnancy after loss was the hardest thing I will ever do. I spent months too scared to move, analysing every twinge or lack of twinges. We spent a very long time in that hospital clinic waiting room and even more time debating whether to go to the hospital waiting room for extra checks and reassurance. Only now, a year on, do we feel like we have regained our lives and are living happily. The thought of doing it all again and risking losing myself… I can’t quite bear it. I think people forget that I have been heavily pregnant twice and had two c sections. It all takes its toll. I’ll never say never but for now we are content and grateful to have Edie. She really did put me back together again.
Image via Coco & Wolf.