Monday, 26 March 2018

Guilt & Grief.

I'm not a big fan of describing grief as a "journey", I guess it's because I never wanted to have to embark on it. My counsellor has a better description and explains grief as "waves" of up and down moments. I much prefer this idea of waves, some days I have my head above water and other days I'm only just staying afloat. Some days I can laugh and smile throughout the day and others I'm drowning in this overwhelming sadness. But that's okay. It's okay to laugh and it's okay to scream, because that's all part of riding the waves. And eventually, not anytime soon, the storm will settle and I will learn to live with my new "normal". 

It's still less than two months since Jonah's birth. It's a very surreal feeling, it almost feels like years ago because so much has happened but at the same time it feels like yesterday. I'm no expert at this grieving process, I'm just doing what I need to do to get from one day to the next and survive. And some days all I do is survive. I make sure Violet is kept busy and enjoying herself, but we do sometimes just spend time outside where I need not talk to anyone else and can shed a few tears if I need to. 

Grief brings all sorts of unwanted gifts with it. Sadness, anger, frustration, exhaustion, and guilt. And I have a lot of guilt. Guilt for what happened to Jonah, guilt that I'm not with him and guilt for not appreciating that I am with Violet and she still has her mummy. I felt my whole pregnancy that I was torn between my two children. I wanted to protect Jonah so much, that I couldn't do the things with Violet that we had always done. Towards the end, I wasn't able to lift her or carry her and that was really tough on her and me. But now I'm still torn between them both. I'm here with my precious little girl, however the price I paid for that was loosing my little boy. There was no option to keep Jonah alive, but that won't stop these feelings haunting me. 

As a mother your instinct is to protect your children. I would walk on hot coals for my babies. They are and always will be my number one priority. So what do you do when you're no longer able to protect your baby and to prevent the worst from happening? The moment I signed for my surgery plays over and over in my head. I had no choice, I know this, but it doesn't make it any easier. My body failed me and more importantly failed my little boy. I tried so very very hard to protect him, to keep him safe and I wasn't able to do that. I guess that's the thing about grief, it makes you irrational. I had no control over what happened but I do and always will feel responsible. This is something I'm really working on with my counsellor. 

And then the guilt creeps in again. This time the guilt for not appreciating that I'm still alive. Not appreciating that I'm still here for my beautiful girl when she needs me and not appreciating that amazing work the surgeons and staff did to make sure I lived to tell the tale. I am appreciative, so so appreciative to those wonderful people who gave me their blood and saved my life and made sure I got to see Violet grow up. I will always be thankful for that but it will never bring my little boy back. 

It will get easier because it has to get easier. The worst has happened and I'm somehow still standing. The days will be brighter and filled with more hope. And I know someday I will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But for now, I'm just riding these tidal waves in the hope that I can stay afloat. 

Katie xx

Monday, 19 March 2018

Jonah's Birth Story: Stillborn at 21+4 Weeks.

I'm sat up in bed at 6:30am on a Monday morning, attempting to start writing down Jonah's birth story. It's long and far from glamorous and I'm not entirely sure how long this will take me to write down. Please be warned, this isn't a magical birth story. There is no Hypnobirthing or wonderful water birth. It's real and raw, there is lots of blood and I'm not going to apologise for saying it how it was. This is how my precious boy arrived in the world, and he deserves me to tell the story the way it happened. Because if I could have changed the outcome, I would have in a heartbeat. 

I'd had a pretty regular, quiet Monday. V and I had been to Parent and Toddler group that morning, as it meant I could spend two hours sitting and she could wear herself out. We went home, Violet napped while I rested on the bed. Fast forward to 8pm. Again, I was lying on the bed (apparently I did a lot of that during this pregnancy), watching Grey's Anatomy. A few minutes into the episode, I turned to Jonathan and said "I'm bleeding". I had been spotting the whole way through but this felt a trickle, much like a period, so knew immediately and rushed to the bathroom. I then had a large gush of blood, much like the bleed I'd had at 18 weeks.  Jonathan called Triage and I somehow calmly, managed to speak to the midwife who had asked if Jonathan could bring me in. I agreed and put down the phone.

A few seconds later, another gush of blood, this time with clots and I vividly remember this weakness suddenly rushing over me. I could no longer physically sit up properly and had resorted to resting my head against the wall, whilst still sat on the toilet. Of course, the next step was to ring 999 and get an ambulance. The operator advised getting me onto the floor, so I laid on several towels, for 45 minutes until the ambulance arrived. During this time I'd soaked through them, but could still feel Jonah moving around and I had no pain at all. 

The paramedics put up some fluids and managed to get me up into a chair and carried me down the stairs to the ambulance. It was the longest journey to the hospital I've ever had, despite being blue lighted in. The paramedics estimated around a 2 litre blood loss at home. I specifically remember them saying "we're going straight to delivery because she's over 20 weeks". We arrived at maternity and I was wheeled on the stretcher to Central Delivery Suite.

By this point, the bleeding had calmed and was more like a heavy period. I was greeted by several midwives and Drs, who brought in the portable scanner to see what was going on. I knew Jonah was fine even before they scanned, and sure enough there he was kicking away on the screen. At this point, they diagnosed Complete Placenta Previa (I will go into all these conditions properly at another  date), this diagnosis was different from 18 weeks and meant the placenta had moved further down into an undesirable location. As soon as I was settled on the ward, Jonathan was sent home.

At 4am, I began to bleed again. I soaked through the bed sheets and my gown, but the bleed seemed much less than the previous one. I passed several small clots but nothing significant. I was given two units of blood and some more fluids to ensure my blood pressure wasn't dropping too low. The now familiar, weakness came over me. I vomited several times and remember not feeling like I could physically even roll over. I was nil by mouth and was shouting "I'm thirsty" over and over again - of course I was, I'd lost a lot of fluid. Jonathan was on his way back to the hospital and arrived during all the chaos. I specifically remember the midwife saying "if you were over 24 weeks pregnant, they would have got him out by now", this is something that has played on my mind over and over again. The bleeding slowed down and I attempted to get some rest, hoping the worst was over. 

A few hours later, at 7:45am, the bleeding began again. This time the bleed was huge. Like nothing I'd ever seen before. The bedding was soaked and it was just coming and coming. I felt like I was in a bubble, with all these people rushing around me, lifting my legs and putting more blood and fluids up. This is where everything becomes a little patchy and surreal. I was in and out of consciousness due to the blood loss, but told I was being taken to theatre so they could manage the situation more effectively. I was wheeled around to theatre and surrounded by 15-20 medical professionals, each trying to tell me what was happening and inserting more lines into my veins to ensure they could give me everything they needed to. The blood was still coming, clots the size of my fist were being passed over and over again. I was told we were waiting for the surgeon to arrive and he would explain what was going to happen during surgery. At this point, I knew Jonah would be born in the next few hours.

Around me were anaesthetists, doctors, midwives, nurses, but I remember one specifically. She held my hand, looked me in the eye and said "all of these people are here to save your life, you are going to be okay". I was asked to sign a consent form for the surgery and the consultant arrived and explained that they needed to get Jonah out as quickly as possible and that a c-section was the only option at this time. I nodded and signed the form. The last thing I said before being put to sleep was "I'm frightened, I need to see my little girl", I whole heartedly believe Violet is the reason I pulled through and I'm sat here today.

Surgery was predicted to last 90 minutes, I woke up five hours later. This is when I realised something massive had happened in theatre. At 8:50am on 30th January, Jonah George Atkinson was born sleeping peacefully weighing 13oz.

Unfortunately, surgery hadn't gone as smoothly as predicted. The surgeon was unable to stop the bleeding from my placenta, which had grown through the uterine wall and attached itself to my previous c-section scar. This was the rare diagnosis of placenta percreta, the most severe form of placenta accreta (I will do a whole post on this at some point). After attempting to stop the bleeding with the usual methods, they were left with no choice but to do a hysterectomy.

In total I lost around 9 litres of blood. I received 16 pints of blood - twice the amount in your body, 2 bags of plasma and 2 bags of platelets. I was put in an induced coma for two hours, whilst I was stabilised before being taken to the high dependency unit for 24 hours. I have been told by lots of the staff from theatre, that I am very lucky to be alive.

The rest of my stay in hospital was spent in a private room back on Central Delivery Suite. We were incredibly lucky to have a cold cot, which meant Jonah could stay with us for the whole time I was in hospital. I am so thankful for those days, so we could make some memories and spend some time with our precious little boy. I will forever be thankful to the bereavement midwife who pushed us to have some photos with Jonah from medical photography, we now have a very special album of his pictures. We were also given a memory box from a charity called 4Louis, which allowed us to have hand and foot prints done.

Leaving delivery suite without your baby, is hands down the worst thing anyone can ever have to do. A midwife walked us out to the car and suddenly reality hit that I didn't get to take Jonah home. Our family will always have an empty chair at the table, a missing piece. Violet's little brother will forever be in our hearts but not our arms. But I'm going to do absolutely everything in my power to make sure Jonah's name is spoken and his memory is kept alive. I will make you proud little man, I promise.

Katie xx


Sunday, 18 March 2018

A New Chapter: Wild Flowers.

A little explanation...

If you don't follow me on social media, you may not know that I've had a pretty difficult six months or so. This in turn, meant my blog took a backseat while my mind was preoccupied elsewhere. So where do I start? 

On 27th September 2017, I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. A very much planned and longed for addition to our family, a sibling for Violet. We were incredibly excited about our new addition but also apprehensive after finding out at just four weeks. Our excitement was short-lived as I began bleeding on the 1st October. A few trips to Early Pregnancy Unit, to find two weeks later, our little peanut was happily growing, and the bleeding brushed off as being a clot they'd seen on the scan.

Unfortunately, the bleeding never subsided. I bled every day for 21 weeks. That takes its toll on you. We were in and out of EPU and then when I reached the 16 week milestone, trips to triage became the norm. Every visit we were told our little boy was growing well, there were no concerns, and the bleeding was 'just one of those things'. By this point I was really taking it easy, not picking Violet up unnecessarily and making sure I was resting as much as possible.

At the beginning of January, I hit the 18 week mark. I woke up to find fresh, red blood, so immediately called triage, who asked me to come in. Trust me, I have never been more thankful to have friends that could help me out with Violet, sitting in triage with a one year old is not fun. This time, I was kept in overnight to monitor the situation. Bump was doing great, heart beating away but I was still having this unexplained bleeding. During the night I experienced a much larger bleed, which again subsided and I somehow managed to get some rest. The following day before I was discharged, I was scanned and diagnosed with partial placenta previa - this must be the cause for all this trouble?

Two weeks later on the 29th January at 21+3 days preganant, I bled again, this time at home. A very significant bleed. Which eventually would lead to my little boy, Jonah George Atkinson, being born sleeping peacefully, at 21+4 weeks gestation. I want to dedicate a whole post to Jonah's birth story, because he absolutely deserves his own, just as Violet had hers. My diagnosis after Jonah's birth was complete placenta previa and placenta percreta - both of which I knew nothing of.

Without writing all the details right now, this is pretty much a whistle stop tour of my life the past six months. This blog is now going to be an outlet for me to share my story, raise awareness of late miscarriage, stillbirth, baby loss and placental issues. I want this to be a safe place for others to share their stories too, if they wish. This will be somewhere to laugh and cry and just talk. Baby loss needs to be spoken about, we need to break this silence and talk about our beautiful babies, who never got their own voice.

We scatter wild flower seeds for Jonah with Violet, hence the name behind the rebrand of my blog. There is something about going through grief that really connects you with nature and for one reason or another I feel closer to my boy when I'm outside.

So this is for you Jonah bear, I love you to the moon and back, always always always.

Katie xx

Monday, 12 March 2018

Back to Basics.

As Violet has got older, we've been really lucky with nappy rash. In fact, I can probably count on my hands the few times she's suffered with it. I'm not sure if it's down to the products we use or the cloth nappies but her bottom usually rash-free and I have a happy toddler. Except when she's teething. 

I assumed it was an old wives tale, that babies get a sore bum when they have teeth coming through. Well for us, it's definitely not a fable and poor V can get quite sore. Despite that, thankfully she gets pretty much, no other teething symptoms.

Of course, we've used all the nappy rash and barrier creams to try and combat a red bottom. They all have their perks and we definitely have a handful we prefer. Ive recently been reminded of the wonders of Bepanthen* so it's become out go-to cream the past month or so. It ticks all the boxes for us at the moment and it's really been doing the job. 
I've know about the wonders of Bepanthen, long before I had Violet. I used to use a super thin layer when healing tattoos and it was brilliant. I assume it's the Vitamin B5, within the cream that helps to recover the skin when it's been damaged, which makes sense for it to work perfectly on my skin and Violet's bum. 

I really appreciate that a little goes a very long way. There is one culprit in the nappy rash world that is unbearable to use because it's just so messy - Sudocrem, I'm looking at you. Bepanthen doesn't have that super thick feeling, nor does it manage to get on every surface within a ten metre radius. It's clean, easy to use and does the job and that's all I really want from a barrier cream. 

You may remember over the summer of last year, Violet had a really awful time with her skin. She takes after her mama and is very sensitive. Cue anything with a fragrance is an absolute no-no. Thankfully Bepanthen is fragrance free so we can use it happily on V, knowing it's not going to make her bum any worse. 
One thing that's great too, is Bepanthen didn't seem to stain her nappies either. If you use cloth nappies, you'll know some brands can leave marks on nappies which can affect the absorbancy. However we've not had that issue with these barrier creams so that's definitely a plus for me. 

So if you have a tube of Bepanthen hidden away in your cupboards, it might be worth picking it back up and giving it a good on that pesky nappy rash!

Katie xx
Blog Design Created by pipdig