Things I remember from the last time I was in the maternity ward

maternity ward


I feel this post needs to come with a massive disclaimer, so here it is. This post is intensely personal and most likely incredibly triggering if you’ve experienced a stillbirth or miscarriage yourself.  I’m sharing raw details about Orion’s birth, more than I’ve ever shared here on the blog before. I have been writing pieces like this in my book, but never here. For some reason a book feels more intimate and private. I feel safer sharing in there, despite the fact that I do intend to publish it (one day). 


I’m not sure what compelled me to write this post today. Maybe it’s some sort of instinctual knowledge that it’s time to let go of this birth story and turn instead to the new one that is about to unfold. I bawled as I wrote these words and I suspect there might be some of you right there with me as you read them. You’ve been lovingly warned. xx


I remember vividly the last time I was in a maternity ward (the place they put you once you’ve had the baby, not the birthing suite). Although the time I’m talking about was never going to end with me taking home a healthy baby.


I often have flashbacks. I can smell the hospital disinfectant. I can hear the cry of fresh babies in the rooms right next door. I can feel the hustle and bustle of the hospital and remember wishing to be anywhere but there.


I remember with painful clarity exactly how I felt even though it was over two years ago now.


I remember feeling a bit like a deer in headlights, wide-eyed, shocked and almost disbelieving that this was happening to me, to us. 


I remember hours of watching mindless tv waiting for my body to start releasing a baby that it didn’t really want to let go of.


I remember the moment he was born and how unlike my other births, there was no one there to catch him.


I can close my eyes and picture cradling Orion in our hands, barely able to see him for all the blankets and the tears as the midwife tenderly drew his hand out with a single finger.


I remember the midwife whispering to me as she took him away that next time would be better.


I remember feeling my body flashing hot and cold as they helped me off the toilet floor to the bed where I promptly passed out.


I remember not caring at that point if I ever woke up.


I remember feeling pissed off when I did come round, only to be told I would be going to theatre after all because my body was retaining the placenta.


I remember thinking ‘Are you fucking kidding me? I just went through ALL OF THAT and I still have to go to theatre anyway?!


I remember feeling relieved when the physical process was over.


I remember walking from my room to the lift on the way out. I had to pass five bedroom doors, each with brand new babies and mothers inside.


I remember walking past the common room where the extended family was meeting a new baby for the first time.


I remember turning my face away and sobbing, and the look of pain on Andrew’s as he watched me.


I remember getting home to my boys and feeling overwhelmed by the feelings of sadness but also of deep gratitude (that I didn’t fully understand yet.) Grateful because I now knew how much of a miracle they both were, but oh so sad because all I could think about was their brother who I had lost. And how because I had lost him all the things that they in turn had lost. All the firsts. All the love. All the craziness of what would have been three under four.


I don’t remember the postpartum period or how long it took for my body to recover. I do remember they gave me a little tablet to stop my body making milk.  While I am normally someone who won’t even take a panadol unless I absolutely need to, at the time I gratefully swallowed that little pill wishing they also had one to turn my mind off in the same way they could with my body.


I don’t remember how I made it through those first few days or weeks, or even months. I have no recollection of what we did, or who we saw or what I said. I can however remember the excruciating pain and deep sadness that I felt and how I couldn’t imagine how I would ever escape it.


I remember the extreme anxiety I felt whenever we would leave the house, especially if we were going to see someone for the first time since we’d lost Orion. It’s funny how time in my head is now divided into “before” and “after.”


I’ll carry these memories with me always and despite the pain of them I’ve now come to a place where I wouldn’t choose to skip any of it even if I could.  These are my only experiences of him and I am grateful for them.


I remember feeling at the time that I wasn’t strong enough to bear the weight of all of it. But I am. 


We are.


This still amazes me but doesn’t surprise me. We are so much stronger than we even know and sometimes it takes the shittiest of experiences to show us.


The last few weeks of this pregnancy I’ve felt lighter. (Not physically obviously – because I’m heavier than I’ve ever been and totally committed to #pregnantcarblife)


But emotionally… mentally… spiritually – I feel somehow lighter. A little more like my ‘before’ self, but still a very changed version of me.


Don’t get me wrong, I am still feeling scared and anxious at times – after all he is not in my arms yet.


But mostly I feel that excitement and joy about life again.  Something I hadn’t really even realised I’d been missing.


So here’s to happy endings… that are really just new beginnings after all.

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