Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I know there’s been radio silence around these parts. So much has happened to our little family in the last month that blogging just had to take a back seat. There’s been a lot to deal with, whether physically, mentally or emotionally, work-wise or at home. The last post (Chinese lessons at home) was written a couple of months ago, and kept in draft as a back-up post for when my blogging mind was switched off, as it has been for the past month.

Anyway, I’m back and I will fill up the blog with our updates over the next few posts. In today’s post, I will start with the thing that affected us the most and which was also the first factor that caused my temporary withdrawal from the blog.

I was pregnant.

And then I was not.

Let me explain.

Richard and I have always wanted to expand our little family and recently we decided it was time to get down to business. I did all the calculations to make sure we didn’t miss the window in late June and, lo and behold, in the first week of July, a home pregnancy test confirmed we were pregnant. We were ecstatic and started dreaming of names for the baby. We weren’t ready to share the news yet though so life went on as normal. We went to work, we met up with friends, we even went to Ho Chi Minh City for a short break and, when we got back, we went to see my gynae. The scan showed the sac clearly enough, but we didn’t see the heartbeat. My gynae said the baby could still be too small/young for the machine to pick up the heartbeat but other than that, everything looked fine. We were less than 6 weeks pregnant then. Dr Chan told us to come back and see him in two or three weeks’ time. I decided that three weeks would be fine.

In the following three weeks, nausea and fatigue were my constant companions. I felt ill most of the time and I was extremely sensitive to smells. Although I didn’t actually throw up, I had to eat every two hours to keep the nausea at bay. My milk supply dropped drastically and there was nothing I could do about it.

Two days after Singapore’s National Day, we went back to see Dr Chan. Our excitement disintegrated when we saw the scan. The baby had hardly grown and there was no heartbeat. Our baby had died. Dr Chan explained that I was still feeling pregnancy symptoms because the placenta was still live and working. The medical term for this is a “missed abortion”.

We did an evacuation later the same day at the clinic. I went back to work the next day, preferring to surround myself with people and work, instead of moping around the house.

So what happened? According to Dr Chan, it was plain bad luck. He reassured me that there was nothing I could have done, there was nothing I did/didn’t do, there was nothing I ate/didn’t eat, that would have made any difference. I could have been pumped with all sorts of hormones and injections and put on complete bedrest - the result would have been the same. More importantly, Dr Chan reassured me that it was not a sign of infertility and it has absolutely no bearing on future attempts to get pregnant.

I'm feeling all right now. Once the placenta was evacuated, the nausea went away and things went back to normal pretty quickly. There was some cramping as the womb contracted and a little bit of bleeding, which is normal. We're going back to see Dr Chan next week to check that the placenta is all cleared and the womb is all good.

I’m keeping this post as unemotional as possible because I don’t want this experience to stand out as a horrible, terrible thing. Of course, it was a horrible, terrible thing, don't get me wrong. Richard and I were on the top of the world when we saw that positive home pregnancy test, and when we found out it was not meant to be, we were crushed. But we have done our mourning, we’ve reconciled matters and we've come to terms with it.

I thought long and hard about whether I should share all this on the blog. In the end, I decided that it shouldn't be forgotten as an unpleasant experience. Instead, it should be documented as a prelude to a happy ending. It's not the end of a chapter but the start of our journey and remembering the tough times we went through will help us better appreciate and treasure the successful outcome. We got knocked down for sure, but let's pick ourselves up and keep moving towards the target.

Some of you may know that we had a miscarriage before Ryan came along. Our baby girl died at 10-11 weeks gestation because she had Down’s Syndrome. They tell you that your risk of a Down’s Syndrome baby shoots up when you turn 35. I wasn’t 35 yet and I had drawn the short straw. Once again, plain bad luck, nothing to do with anything I did/didn’t do, no implication on fertility. And yes, the happy ending came eventually, in the form of our beautiful baby boy. He was so healthy, he didn’t even have clinical jaundice. I like to think that we purged all the bad stuff and got it out of the way so that Ryan would be perfect, and he was.

That’s the context in which Richard and I want to view what happened. We’re focusing on our happy ending. The bad stuff is just what happens along the way. Of course I don’t want to shrug off what happened as just one of life’s curveballs, but neither do I want to give it so much significance that it paralyses us and keeps us from moving forward.

It’s like pregnancy itself. There is a lot of discomfort to go through. Some mothers-to-be go through hell and high water to have their babies - some battling with morning sickness all through the pregnancy, some having to deal with gestational diabetes/high blood pressure/anaemia, some having to be put on bed rest. Even if your pregnancy is medically smooth, you still have to adjust your wardrobe, your diet, your lifestyle. You have to carry all that weight around in the day and sleep upright at night because of the heartburn. Half of the time you’re hormonal and the other half you’re too tired to care. Then there's the delivery which can be torturous and painful for some. I actually do know some women who are reluctant to have another child, because they dread going through pregnancy again.

Yet - and I am sure that most mothers can relate to this - the moment Ryan was placed in my arms, the moment I embraced that tiny bundle of goodness, all the discomfort was instantly forgotten. The bad stuff was just part of the journey and, knowing that the journey to get to my pot of gold was so uncomfortable/stressful/etc, would I be willing to go through all of it again? Hell, yeah.

I guess for most of everything in life, the more valuable it is, the harder you have to work for it. If you want better grades, you study harder. If you want a promotion, you work harder and prove you deserve it over the person next to you. If you want to excel at something, you put in hours of practice. Nothing of value comes without a price and, generally, the more valuable it is, the higher the price you have to pay. In our case, it looks like we have to "pay" a little bit more than the nine months of pregnancy - Ryan came after a miscarriage and it looks like our next one cost us a pregnancy as well. It doesn't matter. To us, the outcome fully rewards the effort.

So, let's get this show officially on the road! We've been de-railed but once Dr Chan gives us the all-clear and my cycle is back on track, it's all systems go!


Unknown said...

Hey it's alright babe, if a shld go their way, my 2nd would be about 4-5 mths preggie now. Totally understand .., it's just life :)

Jasopheleb said...

Dearest Leona, Richard and little Ryan,

I am saddened to read about your loss :( but glad to know that you guys are coping well. Please keep positive thoughts and we believe that we will hear wonderful news from the baby department really soon. In the meantime, do have a good rest! Hugs, Ophe.

Flo, to you, T and Vic as well... Hugs...

Anonymous said...

Hey Leona,
Stay strong and go forward, reha ur body and have a gd rest. Totally understand the emotional part that u & Richard gone thru, experienced that 6mths b4 i was preggie with Adler.
Hugs..... Alice.

Flo, same to u... hugs...

Serene said...

Babes, I feel you. Please take care ya, hugz!

Anonymous said...

Flo, Leona,

Sorry to hear about your loss! Take really good care and i m sure baby dragon will come knocking on your door soon!

Luv, Ni :)

Geraldine said...

Take care leona...

and take care too flo...

dont give up!

Anonymous said...

Hugs to both my dear Leona, Flo!

do have a good rest :)

smilezz said...

Hi Leona, sorry to hear about the sad news! Glad you, Richard are staying strong and keeping positive! Hope u had a good rest and ready to ganbatte, move forward!

Sue Lin

Jean said...

Sorry to hear about the baby, but I'm sure your strong and positive mindset will carry you through, and it'll be a matter of time before Ryan will have a new sibling to play with. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing.

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