Holding On To Heartbeats…

My journey began in 2004, as a 20 year old female, young, in love and ready to take on the world. An unexpected pregnancy threw life into a frenzy as my boyfriend and I struggled to accept our silly five minutes of fun had consequences! Unsure about life and where this situation would take us, termination was quickly ruled out, because of our strong Christian values.

As terrified as I was to tell my parents, my mother was actually very supportive. We started to get excited knowing we had the full support of our family for the pregnancy. We were going to be parents!! But that excitement was soon to change again.

Everything I knew about pregnancy, giving birth and motherhood from observations, the media and experiences witnessed by family and friends was about to be turned upside down over the next ten years of my life. No longer would it become the happiness and sugar coated journey I believed it to be, but a physical, emotional and mental game that my body could not understand.

My first scan of my first pregnancy detected no heartbeat. A fetal pole was discovered with a yolk sac- everything you should see at 7 weeks, but devastatingly- no heartbeat. Not quite understanding what was going on, or what was meant to be going on, I was just numb. I went on to bleed a few days later, and as my body was not responding as rapidly through the miscarriage, I was booked in for my first D&C. Whisked through to surgery, dressed in a hospital gown, as the blood trickled down my thigh that day while I filled in medical forms on a hospital bed, I was filled with confusion and a sense of loss-my last deep breath as I counted backwards from ten, that feeling of loss probably helped me fall into the deep sleep I needed for my procedure.

Waking up in recovery alone. Stunned, empty, cold, angry. I was wondering what on earth had just happened to the past two months of my life? I went through so many emotions in such a short journey, the feeling of loss ultimately controlled me. I was taken back through to a hospital ward where my boyfriend waited with some dinner. No appetite and no emotion. I just wanted to go home to bed.

We carried on our life and I celebrated my 21st birthday later that year, living a life of partying and alcohol trying to wash away that small hiccup of my life. Six months later, we were back in the same situation. Unexpected. But now wanted. This was it, I was going to be a mum! Thinking this baby was going to make the woman out of me, and change my life, we were excited. A 10 week scan showed a healthy heartbeat, and a baby was definitely healthy and strong. At 21 weeks we had an anatomy scan which revealed our little girl was doing great- “she” was going to be a real Daddy’s girl. Her kicks and movements every morning to wake me, were a reminder everything was going ok.

A few days after the scan, the cramps came, followed by the bleeding. Over the next 3 weeks I went through doctors visits, scans, hospitalization and of course, bed rest. I lay in hospital for seven days in a row and nobody could tell me what was wrong. After being discharged and sent home, I was hopeful the bleeding and issues we had experienced were behind us, and I welcomed a long warm bath. Lying in the water that evening at home, I could hear my boyfriend mowing the lawn. I closed my eyes and felt an sudden painful feeling, almost like an intense contraction. Not knowing what contractions felt like, I ignored the pain and got out of the bath. The pain came again a few moments later, this time more intense. Curled over in pain on the bathroom floor I screamed out to my boyfriend.

We called our midwife and were told to go straight to the Women’s Assessment Unit. As I couldn’t walk from the car, we whisked a wheelchair from reception and zoomed me to the unit. Anxiously I waited for the doppler to be placed on my belly. Where was the heartbeat? Was she ok? A heartbeat was there. Yes. She was ok. Then came another contraction.

After checking me, my midwife informed I was fully dilated. It was all foreign to us, and in complete confusion, and almost a state of delirium, I delivered my baby girl “Oliviana” at 24 weeks. She was born with under-developed lungs, alive but left us shortly after birth. The midwife and doctor left us in the room alone with her, whilst we watched her slowly slip away in my boyfriends arms. Why? What? Why? Questions overwhelmed me.

An autopsy report and follow up tests showed the pregnancy was complicated due to hemorrhaging and infection from Bacterial Vaginosis-a common problem in pregnancy causing preterm labour, late miscarriage and stillbirth. I was confused. I was young and healthy, how could I have done this to my baby? Why did I lose her when everything was going so well? These questions haunted me for the next two years. I never got over losing my baby girl- I held on to every momento of her in a little box that I put under my bed. Her ashes are still with me today.

Life continued and our relationship went through a lot of troubles, I blamed myself for a very long time of not being able to carry our baby to term. It was all my fault. And I kept telling myself that. My boyfriend started to distant himself from me and got involved with his friends and partying. I busied myself with sports and my career, spending long days at work and with clients, my focus in life became my job. Our rocky relationship began to stabilise again when we found out I was pregnant. Third time lucky we thought?

Wrong.

I went on to miscarry at 7 weeks with no fetal pole found in my first scan. We carried on again and tried three months later to see if we could give it another shot. Success, a strong heartbeat, a healthy baby was growing. Maybe four times lucky? At 16 weeks I started to bleed. I spent the next three weeks on bedrest with continued spotting and clots. No doctor, scan or check could reveal why I was bleeding. Another hemorrhage was found away from the baby and the placenta, which indicated infection in the uterus around the baby. Antibiotics were administered, but it was too late. Those painful contractions came again. At 19 weeks, I knew it was not to be. I was about to lose my fourth baby. On April 29, 2007 I gave birth to a little baby boy, Kobe Daniel. He was even smaller than Oliviana, but so perfect in every way. Two eyes, two ears, a button nose, fingers, toes, and eyelashes. I wept as I held my little angel in my arms, repeatedly telling him how sorry I was. I remember the next morning the social worker came to visit me, and she spoke of how common loss at this stage of pregnancy was. I lashed out at her, and asked her to leave. I didn’t want to hear anything about how common it was and talk about loss or grief. I had just failed my fourth baby!? Why!? What the heck was wrong with me??? Why couldn’t the doctors tell me. The frustration buried me into a mild depression with the horrible sense of loss that wouldn’t go away.

Follow-ups and tests revealed an anticoagulant may have saved my baby. I was then to go on to spend hours and hours online researching and reading about complications for pregnancy, options for treatments, preventing miscarriage and so on. Then the information came to me. Aspirin may help me? Eager to try again just one more time…I made a decision two months after losing Kobe to try again. One more time.

A doctor’s visit confirmed a pregnancy and taking pregnancy aspirin every day began. My heart ached with the longing to make it work this time. Each visit to the bathroom was a worried one. Will I see blood? Every ache and twinge was a concern, was that a contraction? Weeks past, months past, my belly grew and grew. As a precaution I was checked every month, and every month we heard that heartbeat get stronger and stronger. At 34 weeks, I came off the aspirin. We were actually going to have this baby, but because of fear and concern, we didn’t even buy anything for our baby until I was just about to drop! No bassinette, no car seat, hardly any clothes, I smile at the days I spent at 38 weeks waddling around the mall frantically grabbing last minute items.

On 19 March 2008, at 9am I was induced (out of concern for possible stillbirth, doctors had advised induction). Two days of horrendous labour and an epidural later- our miracle baby Phoenix (Rising from the ashes) was born on 21 March 2008 at 12.28pm.

In disbelief I held my baby, perfect and healthy in my arms, weeping for my other babies, but feeling their love embodied in this little precious gift that we so frustratingly waited for. Hand on heart, I never gave up. My frustration and confusion over the years was replaced with determination and belief. I was finally blessed with an angel who was allowed to stay on this earth. He was and has continued to be my inspiration and believer of courage, strength and determination.

My story even though has a happy ending. It does not stop there. I find myself sitting here today, finding this website and longing to share my message of hope and determination, not only as a reflection on the past, but I find myself in that loss once again. Today, I suffered my fifth miscarriage. Early weeks, I lost my little peanut at 7 weeks. Again. This time around the pain is replaced with the voice of my son drifting through our home as he asks me to help him do his puzzle. My miracle boy, Phoenix. His heartbeat I held on to for so many months continues to beat in sync with mine.

We will continue to try for number two, successful or not, will will keep trying. I share my story to offer strength and courage to all women who are yet to share the joy in holding a little one in their arms. Those little heartbeats mean so much more when you long so hard for them to merely exist! I hope my journey can give someone some hope in knowing that life will give you bless you in ways you may never expect. There is definitely a plan for all of us. Time is all it will take.

God Bless

Phoenix21

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