When we have experienced a great loss, we live in the realms of past, present, and future all at the same time.
Rewind to a week earlier, and I was sitting in the same seat wondering when our baby was going to enter the world. She was due the next day, and I was anxiously thinking of how much our lives were about to change forever. I remember sending a text to my friend, telling her that for the first time during my pregnancy, I was over the waiting game and more than ready for my baby to arrive. I was a patient pregnant woman up until that weekend, I had nothing but unashamed bliss during the 9 months and I had no reason to be impatient. As I sat in my sisters arms, all I wanted was to be pregnant again, back when Isobel was healthy and safe.
The moment my contractions started every minute was crucial. I hadn't experienced any Braxton Hicks during the pregnancy, but even so I still couldn't be sure whether what I was feeling were real contractions. I got my timer out and started counting. I rang the hospital and they told me to patiently wait, and get some rest, nothing will happen for at least 12 hours. The contractions suddenly leaped from 10 minute apart to 4 minutes, and became much more painful. I could feel something was wrong, but I also lacked confidence with what was normal. Then it happened, in one second it all changed. The cord had come out. Suddenly the timing of contractions was no longer relevant. Counting the minutes of waiting for the ambulance, counting the 45 minutes of restricted oxygen she had by the time we reached the hospital, counting the 8 minutes it took for her to be delivered naturally, that was all we could focus on. The pain, the heartache, the fear, they all had to take a step back to make room for the hope that it would all be okay.
Every minute of every hour during Izzy's life was significant to the fate of ours, and I was far from the impatient pregnant girl sitting and waiting on the couch only days earlier. Now all I wanted was for time to slow down, for the seconds to be hours, the hours to be weeks, and the weeks to be years. The world outside those hospital walls no longer existed, it was like we were on a different planet all together. A planet where healthy babies are not guaranteed, where a pregnancy does not equal a living baby at the end. As an expecting parent, you simply can't understand how such a place could exist. Cancer can be cured, immunisations created to fight disease, antibiotics to fight almost anything, but nowhere in modern medicine is there a guarantee that your baby will live. We are living in 2014, but it feels more like the world our grandmothers and great grandmothers lived in.
It has been almost four months now, but it feels like that time has been lost forever. When I try and think back to yesterday, last week, or last month, it is mostly a hazy blur. We wake every morning and sleep every night, and in between we try and go about life. Our friends and family urge us to get out of the house, to attend their parties, join them for lunches and dinners, because they want to see us living life again. Each day has empowered us to heal, even if we didn't know it at the time. Every daunting kids birthday party, every anniversary of Isobel, every tear from the end of a hard day; they are all a step further out of darkness.
Even though it felt impossible at the beginning, we are surviving. The six days we had with Isobel are the memories that give us the energy to start and finish each day. The hope that our family and friends bestow upon us gives us the power to overcome fear of the future. The love that we have for each other is the essence of the family we so desperately want. On some days I imagine myself as a mother with a baby, instead of the lonely woman at the supermarket checkout. I think back to the care -free person I was four months ago, and I am full of hope that I will be that person again. That one day I will be a mother with a baby, and my husband will be a father with a son and daughter, maybe one or maybe five, but we will be a family.
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Living in quiet beachside Adelaide, Jess is a fundraising officer for Motor Neurone Disease SA, freelance graphic designer, and social blogger. Married for 5 years (together for 12), Jess and her husband experienced the saddened loss of their first child in 2014 at 40 weeks. Their daughter Isobel Lola, passed away 6 days after she was born. A perfect pregnancy ended with a cord prolapse during labour, and now Jess and her husband are walking the road of grief while trying to survive each day without their Isobel. Love, hope and support are the essence of their survival, and Jess has chosen to share their story on Sands to hopefully support other bereaved parents walking this road too.