Those of you that follow my blog know that I have difficulty with my fertility, for those of you who are unaware you can read more about it in Infertility: Endometriosis, Blood Clots (Factor V Leiden), Low Progesterone. Much to my surprise and excitement, I found out I was pregnant on October 20th; which also meant I was pregnant when I wrote that blog post thinking my time as “The Mother” had past and I was entering the time of “The Crone” was starting.
With my past history of very early term miscarriages, all of which are considered “chemical pregnancies,” I called my Ob/gyn right away to make sure everything was going to be okay. We got to see our little one with a vaginal ultrasound 3 days after taking the first test. There was a gestational sac visible measuring about 4 weeks gestation. Per my LMP, and the fact I was on fertility drugs, I should have been about 7 weeks pregnant, but since my progesterone was so low on day 21 it is clear that I had ovulated later, and on my own.
We did a quantitative HCG that day and two days later, my levels were going up but not doubling which is ideal. The following week I had another ultrasound; this one showed a larger gestational sac with a small yoke sac, but also some uterine hemorrhage. I was scheduled for another ultrasound the following week. At no time did I have any cramping or spotting. Another week, more growth, still yet to have a heartbeat, more growth, this was the first appointment that we were told something could be wrong, this was 6 weeks gestation. As the ever optimist I met with, and hired, a midwife who would do my homebirth with me. I had planned to do concurrent care with both an ob/gyn and a midwife, so that I could have my homebirth, but if something went wrong I could be transferred to someone I was comfortable with and who knew me. My 7 week ultrasound was hard, the growth had reached the point that you could clearly see a spine and a head, yet still no heartbeat. My doctor told us that he didn’t think things were going to work out, I told him I did not want a D and C and he agreed it was too early to worry about that. We were prepared for the worst; he told us what to do if I started hemorrhaging and to have an ultrasound in two weeks.
Two days later I started to have cramping, two days after that I started spotting. I birthed the placenta first, on Monday. Since I have Factor V I had almost convinced myself that it was just a blood clot and that everything would be fine, since I was not bleeding or cramping. On Tuesday 11/26 around 11 am I was curled up in a ball, in unmeasurable pain. I fought the pain by doing homework. I finished the last 3 weeks of the semester for two classes in just 2 hours. For my fourth class of the semester I had to watch films and write a review comparing them to historical events around the eta that the films took place. I curled up to my husband and we started to watch Argo so I could try to focus on something other than the pain. While watching the movie I had the urge to push, one controlled muscle clench later, and I felt something slide out. We stopped the movie and I went to the bathroom. In my bottoms was a perfect little 1 inch human curled up in the caul. I cleaned it up, and held it in my hands. I kept it in the caul knowing that at 9 weeks gestation it did not yet have bones. I could see its little brain, two eye spots, and little arms. I took some photos and wrapped it in a white cloth. That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
A little over a week after my Still Baby’s Birth Day, was my birthday. My two closest friends had made plans to meet with me the night before my birthday to hang out. Little did I know that they had planned a special ceremony for me, and my baby, with the help of 4 other friends. The ceremony, called “a closing of the bones,” is based out of traditional Mexican and Mayan cultures. The purpose of the ceremony “is a calling of her spirit back home as she has been a portal for carrying new life, and has walked the threshold between worlds. A transformation has also begun as the mother embraces new aspects of herself through this rite of passage into new stages of motherhood.” Since I was not taking a step into new stages of motherhood, it also focused on remembering my little one.
I walked into a room lit bright by white candles. The space smelt spicy with herbs. Surrounded by my 6 life doulas we opened the circle a shielding energy exercise followed by a poem written in parts by all those present.
Strength, Power, Warmth
All shining energy wound together and radiating through her laughter.
Building up, hurt upon hurt; Laughing through heartbreaking pain.
Another wound, as the heart is broken yet again.
The wound is the place light enters you.
As the light increases, so dies faith.
Faith is stronger than pain, Let faith down the searing flames of despair.
May you always remember your strength.
And when you are need courage, May tiny wings lift your spirit.
Drawn your strength from earth and sun.
Words compiled without knowing what the others wrote, so beautifully blended you would think that they collaborated they each sent two sentences to one person and they fell together just like this. The poem was placed in front of a picture of my nursing my angel baby in weeds near the Jordan River. Next I was given another poem, this was a special gift from Cara, btw she is the one that compiled the poem.
The spectacularly gifted Laurel then sang Days of Plenty from Little Women.with the words changed to say they. It brought the room to tears. Laurel got through most the song without out crying too much. Her tears and pauses from crying made the song perfect.
Days of Plenty Lyrics
From Little Women.
I never dreamed of this sorrow,
I never thought I'd have reason to lament,
I hoped I'd never know heartbreak,
How I wish I could change the way things went!
I wanted nothing but goodness,
I wanted reason to prevail,
Not this bare emptyness.
I wanted Days of Plenty.
But I refused to feel tragic,
I am aching for more than pain and grief.
There has got to be meaning,
Most of all when a life has been so brief.
I have got to learn something,
How can I give her any less?
I want life to go on.
I want Days of Plenty
You have to Believe,
There is reason for Hope.
You have to Believe
That the answers will come.
You can't let this defeat you.
I won't less this defeat you.
You must fight to keep her there,
So Believe that [they] matters!
And Believe that [they]always will!
[they] will always be with you!
[they’ll] be part of the days you've yet to feel!
[they’ll] will live in your bounty!
[they] will live as you carry on your life!
So carry on,
Full of Hope,
[they’ll] be there,
For all your Days of Plenty
Sarah then presented me with a very symbolic necklace. Someday I may reveal the deeper meaning behind each of the stones, but today I will just cover their base meanings.
The pregnant mother in the middle represents me, and the stone in the belly is my Still baby. The middle symbol (me and the stone) is the exact size of Still baby. The 8 charms on the circle are all my chemical pregnancy angel babies. The one stone by the clasp represents my Rainbow Miracle R2. This brings me power and strength and helps me every minute of the day.
The part of the ceremony that everyone should experience some point in their life included several natural healing energies. I had at least the following all going on at once, reflexology, energy work, message, hip press, acupressure, aromatherapy, moxabustion and hot stone session, a bertungku (hot ball compress) massage and probably more. The purpose of all these thing were to align all my body systems, to heal that which was out of whack, and to put things back where they were before pregnancy. Plus it felt awesome to have 6 sets of hands all working together sharing our energy for good. As I was being loved in this way all I could think was that I wanted to do this for each of those hands someday too. It was a freeing and uplifting experience. Katie, Natalee, Laurel, Sarah, Cara, and Ruthie all have unique healing gifts that made the perfect mix.
Once I was 100% goo, and filled to the brim with loving energy we did my belly wrap. Now there are commercial belly wraps out there that are good, but the traditional Malaysian Bengkung belly wrap is custom to your body and look beautiful. They help the uterus shrink back to pre-pregnancy size, you organs fins their way back to their original positions, close your body throughout, and help your posture. (This picture isn’t me, but stolen from the website of Katie, who is one of the two that did the wrap for me. She has awesome stuff at www.treeoflifemama.com Natalee is the other one that did the wrap)
Now traditionally when you get a Malaysian belly wrap it is done for 5 days, because I live an hour and a half from my life doulas they arranged for me to get a corset from my favorite place ever. Damsel in this Dress. I even wore a corset for the start of the ceremony. This is me overwhelmed with getting it. I started crying at just the sight of the bag (they use unique bags that I can spot a mile away).
We had wonderfully yummy treats, and had the best time laughing as we recalled life events with each other. It was one of the best days of my life. It has filled me with joy, and is a bright spot on what was a very tough time in my life. I know I am blessed to have these women in my life and would do anything for them. Thank you Sarah, Cara, Ruthie, Katie, Natalee, and Laurel my life doulas, my friends, my sisters. Also a special shout out to Mekale for arranging meals and babysitting when I hurt, or couldn’t think straight. To Debbi for the flowers. To Rachel for the necklace. To Christina B for her kind thought, prayers and words of encouragement through every heart breaking step. To Chey for bringing me dinner, even though you should be taking care of yourself preparing for your sweet baby (your are so cute). To Roxana for being my midwife for a short time, and thinking about me, and knowing something was happening with me even when I didn’t call her until after my baby was born. To Christina A for hearing my story and for your support as a backup midwife, I wish we could have had the prenatals together. To R2 for hugging your mommy when she cried, you might not yet be two, but you always knew when I needed a hug. To My Dear Sweet husband and his loving care every step of the way. I know you hurt when I hurt, and I know you hid your tears so I could cry on your shoulder. Your words about your hurt will help so many other husbands, someday when I post them that is.