Week 24 of Magpie’s pregnancy has been busy. Reaching a siginificant goal, scan and consultant appointments, and my thirtieth birthday celebrations.
This week signifies our biggest milestone yet: viability.
It is something that I have spoken about quite a bit over the last few weeks, mainly due to it looming, almost teasing us. It signifies a shift from pregnancy, to baby. From late miscarriage, to stillbirth. From lack of recognition, to registration. Unknown, to known. Helpless, to being entitled to help.
It is significant. It’s significant in the world of baby loss. I don’t really recall this as anything of note in Leo’s pregnancy. But in this world, it is something that is acknowledged. Right now, it feels good, a little bit lighter for a while. A shift in the goal posts.
Now the sights are on the third trimester!
Planning ahead to Labour
The conversations around labour are something I’ve been having since quite early on. I appreciate many people would say it is something that can wait. We have plenty of time. But for me, it’s something that I need several small, non-committal conversations about. To slowly tick away at the different thoughts and emotions, in a safe, paced way.
When I was pregnant with Leo, labour didn’t really phase me. We learnt what we needed to, and I figured we’d just go with the flow with whatever happened. Yet now, there are many layers to this conversation.
We spoke this week to our consultant about the possibility of induction of labour, which she is more than supportive on. With labour, the big question is when and we discussed the range of possibilities and the risks and benefits of each. When your baby died at 37+1, two days after a positive scan appointment, the vulnerability of life feels very real. So there is natural anxiety over this timing, and a balancing act across all the risk factors.
Why does the environment create anxiety?
Equally, the environment of labour is a big concern for me. We discussed how the brain processes elements of trauma. Smells, sounds and sights can unexpectedly trigger trauma and unwanted or negative memories. For example, when I had an ultrasound to confirm our miscarriage, the doctor looking after us was the same doctor who confirmed Leo had died. When I saw her, I didn’t recognise her. However, when she spoke, her voice alone instigated a panic attack. As a result, I’m incredibly aware of the power unknown memories could have.
We will be in the same hospital giving birth to Magpie as we were with Leo. That’s means that there is a high potential for memories to resurface at a time when the focus needs to be on labour and Magpie. Therefore, crafting a birth plan in response to this feels very important. We will work on this over the next month or so with our health care team, and devise the best way to minimise anxiety.
That said, it will be an anxious time, regardless of our birth plan. There is no avoiding it completely. Labour isn’t always easy. It’s a massive unknown. The induction process can be long and drawn out. We are aware of the various outcomes. We will be so close to the finish line. And we will be processing grief for Leo, in the place that holds memories of his life, his death and his birth.
Creating a toolkit against trauma and anxiety
Therefore, we are working with our counsellor, and seeing the Consulant Midwife to develop a toolkit and skillset to help. This will initally include methods of ‘grounding’ to help empower us both to know how to stay mindful and focus on the moment, and not the memories. We will work on and practice aspects of mindfulness and relaxation, and some guided mediation to help keep the anxiety at bay as best we can.
Giving ourselves the time to explore the layers of labour and the anxiety it may have, is so helpful. It allows us to ask questions, consider different scenarios, research and practice effective self-help. I’m hopeful that this will empower us to have a birth that is without too much new trauma.
In other news… Celebrations
This week has also been my 30th birthday and tomorrow, it is the Tommy’s Awards, and then in a few days time it is Mothers Day. The inclusion of the Awards has really helped us to ‘own’ these celebrations, knowing that Leo is centre stage of the events for us. He is present. Always.
I am often reminded of the benefit of sharing our Pregnancy After Loss journey, and several people have contacted me lately. Sharing information about the Rainbow Clinic in Manchester has led to others referring themselves there. I’m so pleased that Leo and Magpie, and the persistence in sharing their stories has given other families the benefit of specialist care.
This weekend, as we celebrate the power of sharing your voice with the charity that helps so many people, I will feel proud of the impact that Leo and Magpie have had, and continue to have.