Thursday, 21 April 2016

Reflecting over the past 10 years by Kristina

When I look back over the last 10 years I still can't believe I'm still here let alone breathing. I have had so many people say to me you are so brave,  I couldn't do it.

My answer is always the same. I'm not brave, I have no choice. My heart still beats, my lungs still breathe, the world keeps going.

Do I wish it the world would stop, that my heart would stop?
Many many times have I wanted the world to stop, to let me off, to let the pain and grief stop.   Is that brave?

It's not brave to wake up every day with two pieces of your heart missing. It’s one of the hardest things to do.  To see days, weeks and months then years go by without your babies is indescribable. I have tried many times to write it down, to find the words, but there aren't words for a feeling that fills your whole body with pain and  emotion and not just once but daily.  When I'm told I'm brave I know people really truly mean that.  That they believe it. At times I guess I am or have had to be. But I don't like the word brave.

When we said hello and goodbye not once but twice I thought that was it. I would never take a baby home. Never watch them grow. Curt and I looked into adoption as the thought of being pregnant again filled me with fear and anxiety.  I couldn't bear the thought of losing another baby.  We also decided to get married. I put all my energy into wedding plans. Looking back now I was just putting my head in the sand.  If I didn't have to remember then my grief just for a while would stop.

It didn’t stop at all it just came in other forms. I was so angry. I would snap for no reason. I would get annoyed at the smallest things. I didn't know this me. This me was new. The old me would find the good in anything no matter how small.

I can't remember the last time I slept through the night without remembering something about their births.  I think everyone I love will die or if anyone is sick I stress.  I ended up with this constant pain in my left shoulder. Doctors could not find a cause for constant pain and tingling.  I saw a counsellor just after we got married as I was struggling with working at the same hospital where both mum and Charlie passed.  One session I happened to mention this pain. After a few questions she told me that pain is grief.

When we try to suppress our pain, the body stores it and it can manifest into pain. She asked did it hurt more some days than others?  I sat and thought it hurts mostly at night and when I’m at work. She told me to stop the pain or to ease it I must let it out, to talk.   To be honest I thought she was crazy. How can my body store grief!  Yet it did. When I told her my biggest fear was to never bring a baby home my shoulder started to really hurt. The more I talked and opened up about my guilt at wanting another baby but fearing it would never be, I could feel the pain lessen.  Over our sessions the pain begun to subside. She said I may need physio as it could help release the tension that had built over the last year.

When my shoulder flares up now I have to stop and ask myself, am I holding my grief in or is it something simple like overworking it. Most of the time it is simply too many years of nursing and holding babies.
Around Neve and Charlie birthdays the pain really builds. Sometimes i have to take me time, to sit down in a quiet place and let myself feel the pain and let it out.
Most of the time it's tears that flow and the grief of not having them. Sometimes its guilt at not being able to help them or for having two beautiful rainbow babies.

With the help of my counsellor and some very good friends, I decided that Curt and I would try again.  We fell pregnant on our wedding night. We found out we were expecting Maya when we were in America.  Deep down I already knew. I knew the signs a lot earlier now.  We were happy but so anxious and scared. Could we survive not only as a couple but as individuals if we said goodbye again?  I knew I wouldn't.

Her pregnancy was normal in the fact that I had reflux and morning sickness. We had no complications.  In no way was it normal in the sense of joyous and glowing and full of excitement.  I was petrified every time I went to the toilet. What if there was blood?  Every pain was that labour or her pulling her cord and stopping her oxygen?

Half way through her pregnancy I was put off work by my obstetrician as I was so anxious my bp was high. I was lucky he was a lovely man who stopped at nothing to give us Maya.  Neve and Charlie’s birthdays came and I was a blubbering mess. I missed them so much. I felt guilty for wanting another baby.  We sat down with our obstetrician and decided it would be better to have her by C-section. I would have loved to give birth naturally again but i was so scared. This way I had a date and a time.

The day came to meet her. All I kept thinking was not until I hear her scream will it be real. Not until I see her kicking and crying. Only then will I truly believe.
I remember Dancing Queen playing in the theatre. I remember Curt holding my hand so tight.  I remember talking to Neve and Charlie asking them to let it be ok. That I loved them.

The doctor began. I was staring at the celling telling myself you have to breathe, she needs you to.  She was here at 11.47am on the 18th February.   What was my first question?  Is she breathing, is she alive?  The whole theatre shouted she is, she is. This tiny little crying baby was popped over the drape. There aren't words to describe the feeling of utter love I felt and quickly followed by tears over what should have been.  You see,  when you lose a baby and then get to take one home, it’s filled with bitter sweet moments.  The beauty of taking Maya home and watching her grow is tainted with the what ifs.

We also went on to have our beautiful Zack 2 years after Maya.  This journey of grief is never ending. It always surprises me. I can go long periods now without crying but when it hits it hits hard and fast. I wish I had magic words of wisdom that can help others to say it stops but I can't.  All I can do is share my honesty and my journey and hope I can help someone who is feeling the way I was.

Grief is a journey that we will walk forever.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

Kristina Riley

Kristina is a children's nurse and a counsellor.
She has four beautiful children.
Charlie and Neve are her two angels who are the  inspiration for raising more awareness about stillbirths and pregnancy loss.
Her two miracles Maya and Zack are the reason she keeps moving forward on this journey of grief.
Her husband Curt is also her inspiration to raise awareness for fathers and their grief.

There needs to be more awareness for us all.

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