Recovery


Dear Robyn,

I miss you so very much. There is a big hole in my heart, in my life. Nothing fills it, no amount of sunshine or rain, no light takes away the darkness. It just remains a hole. But I’m finding a way to rub along with it. 

I am trying hard to look forwards. I ask myself, what do you want from life because you can have it, you just have to want it. And I do want it, I just fear I won’t be able to handle it. And that makes me sad. What if I can’t handle happiness? What if I make a mess of it?

Recovery is hard. It’s this word that encapsulates so much, carries so much meaning and yet is so hard. I wonder sometimes if recovery is as meaningful as it portrays. 

I know recovery isn’t crossing a finish line and being handed a shiney medal. I know recovery isn’t time limited. I also know recovery is ongoing, it spans further than the number I can count on my hands. I know it’s about being patient and not running before you can walk. 

I know it’s about being kind to myself and going with the flow of the day. I know that recovery involves tears and sadness, anger and frustration. I know recovery is either done or is not done. I don’t know if anyone is reading this, if you are reading it, or if my words are as lonely as I am in all of this. I keep putting one foot in front of the other and hoping that is enough. 

The only thing I do know, is that I am looking forward to today, to your brother waking up, to getting all the toys out. I wanted to take him to the park to go on the swings for the first time but the weather forecast is for heavy rain. So instead we are going to plant some flowers, I thought it would be poignant to watch them grow as recovery evolves. 

Maybe you will blossom with the flowers.

Lots of love, 

Mummy xxx

P.S, your brother is 9 months old today and has started crawling! We now need many baby gates.

The Writing’s on the Zine


So a slightly different post from me this time. Yesterday I went to a zine fest which I have done before. I love zines. I love that you can express any emotion, experience, or piece of writing you so wish. And no one judges it. They just appreciate the love, care and passion that went into making it.
The consist of all kinds of colours, layouts and styles. All different kinds of content from 90s television to feminism to music. You name it you will find it in a zine. I met some lovely people and went home inspired. My brain has been a little slow lately on the creative writing front, so a change of tack was just what I needed. Anyone can make a zine was the message I got from the event. So I pulled out my pens and paper and started collating ideas in my note book. If I was to write about my history, about my experiences, what would I write about? How about the most emotionally and time consuming event of my life- IVF. And grief, the grief of IVF, the grief of losing Robyn, the day to day grief it leaves you with like a film over your skin.

I decided to commit to a challenge called a 24 hour zine, which means quite literally producing a zine in 24 hours. I met that challenge with 90 minutes to spare. I made a zine called “The Golden Embryo”, about going through IVF, failed cycles, how it leaves you feeling and when it does end in a positive for some. I’m quite proud of my 24 hour creation and dedicated it to Robyn. I think this just may be a new writing outlet for me.

Now just to work out how to get it out there!

The Return


I’ve been away for four months, in a mother and baby unit after I was sectioned with a relapse or bipolar and severe postnatal depression. It’s been an incredibly rough time but I’m starting to see some light.

Robyn gave us our new baby as a gift, I’ve no doubt about that. It just doesn’t take away the pain and sadness of losing him. All the things I do with Oskar I imagine I would have done with Robyn. I am still learning to live with grief. To live with the well of sadness deep inside. To breathe deep on sunny days. To stem the tears on rainy days. 

The question left now is what we do with our remaining frozen embryo. Do we try again in time or do we let it go, our last piece of Robyn?

Today we went to feed the ducks, a first for Oskar. A little robin flew down and sat on the branch to say hello.


Lots of love from mummy xxx

Tidal Wave


Dear Robyn,

I’m sorry I haven’t wrote to you in person for a while. I hope you know that you are always on my mind. It’s been a funny time of late, I have been feeling much brighter now my hormones and mood have settled down. Oskar has some sort of pattern to his sleep now and we have been going along to a couple of baby groups which has helped. It helps in the day to day but none of it helps with your loss.

I think I have hit one of those tides of grief again. You would be 16 months old now, which sounds so little but also feels very far from you. Sometimes I wonder if I should be ‘over it’ by now, that other people will look at me and think I should be. How can I ever get over or forget you? I don’t want to. I know that I have to keep taking steps forward and looking to the future now your brother is here but I won’t be leaving you behind. You are not the past in any sense. That is what makes these tides of grief difficult, remembering you, feeling very sad, knowing that life keeps moving but being reminded that you are not here. 

Watching Oskar develop, now that he’s smiling and laughing. Seeing him grow out of clothes, learning to chew his hands and hearing him making noises, it reminds me of what I never got to see you do. I’m feeling your loss more than ever at a time that is a happy one with Oskar. 

Yesterday when we went to the country fair, I thought about you all day. You would have liked to have seen the animals and watch the displays. I thought of you when watching the hot air balloons take flight, wondering if they could reach you. I was missing a tiny hand in mine. I just still feel there is a piece missing that I can never replace but I don’t know how to adapt to living with that. I doubt there is any instructions or method to it. Somebody did say to me “allow yourself the space to grieve”. At the time I don’t think I fully understood but I do more so now.

I hope you are growing big and strong and  that there is lots of lego to play with, you can build us a big castle to live in.

Oskar sends a dribble, missing you and love you always,

Mummy xxxx

After Reclamation Comes Transformation 


After the reclamation of my body following five years of trying to conceive and loss, I find myself looking across A vista of change. Physical change, emotional change and environmental change as we decorate our living room. I pushed for the redecoration because I felt I couldn’t spend rainy winter days stuck in there with Oskar. It felt sad, almost uncomfortable. Full of memories maybe?

You might recognise the photograph above- it’s the place I went to in the days after Robyn was born sleeping. I had another photograph taken there on his due date when I was first pregnant with Oskar, and this one is of me with Oskar recently. A tryptch of change in the one landscape.

Postnatal cycle number two rolled into town with so much emotional baggage I didn’t see coming. Until I looked on the calendar- it’s September this week- which means a year since the cycle I got pregnant with Oskar (8th September for the period & 22nd of September he was thawed, if we want to be precise. Those dates are stamped in my mind). 

Well, so what right? That’s what I asked myself while I cried all afternoon. 

So what, because it reminds me that it has been a year since we entered a new chapter. And what an amazing chapter, no doubt about that. 
So what, because I don’t want to leave the previous chapters behind or put them on a shelf or under my pillow. I want them to be alive with the pages turning in the chapter I’m in now. I want them to breathe the same air and squint in the same sunlight. I want to hear their heartbeat at the same time as mine and I want to hold them tight and not let go.   So what.

I know Robyn and his twin have gone. I know time is lapsing those moments now and these new chapters are growing into beautiful stories. I know Oskar is here and illustrating some of those stories.  And I know, I really know I have to find a way of taking them with me in a form that acknowledges the continuation of life.

Transformation. 

New baby.                                                      New routine.                                                 New living room colours.                          New book shelves.                                      New photographs.
The spot where I sat in the dark at night, numb, when I couldn’t sleep, is exposed and pale now the sofa has moved.       After the highs of reclamation, I’m in the lows of transformation with no sense of where it is I should be stood. 

The song ‘Dancing on my own’ by Calum Scott is on repeat for me at the moment. Although it’s actually about unrequited love, the loneliness and emotion of the words just remind me of this chapter in transformation. 
“So far away but still so near,                   the lights go on, the music dies.              but you don’t see me standing here,           I just came to say goodbye.                       I’m in the corner watching you kiss her, I’m right over here, why can’t you see me,                                                                    I’m giving it my all but I’m not the guy your taking home,                                             I keep dancing on my own”.

Transformation is inevitable but painful.Maybe it takes time to find your place within it? 

Until then I’ll keep dancing on my own.

Reclamation


Something very interesting happened this weekend, the emotion of which completely took me by surprise. I have finally got my first period since having Oskar and I can’t tell you how happy I am about it! I’ve not had one for 11 months, the last one was September when I got pregnant. 

For the first time since January 2011 I don’t have to track my cycles, think about ovulation, worry about whether I ovulate too early, worry about if I have spotting in the middle of my cycle, how many days a cycle is- 25, 26, 28. I don’t have to worry about wasting an egg, about peeing on ovulation tests, about whether I’m fertile.

I don’t have to make a decision about which month to cycle, I don’t need to call the clinic to say it’s day 1, I don’t need blood tests, scans, I don’t need to shave my legs! 

I don’t need injections, I don’t need to panic about whether it’ll fall on a Sunday when the clinic is closed and it will be cancelled and I don’t need pessaries! 

I don’t need to chase my thoughts through the tunnels of “will I get pregnant, won’t I get pregnant”. 

My period doesn’t symbolise failure, it doesn’t symbolise grief, It doesn’t symbolise a chance lost. It doesn’t symbolise the being on hold that life feels during treatment.
For the first time in years my period means nothing. Absolutely nothing! It’s unbelievably liberating. I’ve reclaimed my body from years of stress, tests, scrutiny and sperm. From pregnancy and loss and pregnancy again, from surgery, breast milk and raging hormones. I can just have a period!!

My body is mine again. Just mine, for me.
I felt the weight lift from my shoulders and it was only then that I realised how much stress we had been under for such a long time.

I almost did an ovary dance at my favourite place in the countryside. I spent many a day here gathering my thoughts after failed cycles, in between treatment and after losing Robyn. Going there over the weekend felt special, I really don’t have the words to share it with you. Maybe when I’ve processed it I will. 

Afterwards we had some lunch while we were out, just us and Oskar. It was a really nice day just being in that moment with no clouds of fertility treatment hanging over us.

Write of Passage


I am so far behind with writing and the blog. Mainly because I don’t get any time, and if I do it’s eaten up with sterilising or washing. I really miss writing. I also miss having a functioning brain to write in the style I’m used to! Call me old fashioned but I like to write by hand and then I transfer it onto screen. I just can’t get the flow when I sit in front of a key board. Perhaps that would be an issue if I were to ever pursue writing as a career, I’d be dead by the time each page of my novel made the journey from dog eared exercise book to screen. 

Each of those note books has it’s story not just between the pages but across their covers. When I pull one off our book shelf I might not remember what is written inside but I certainly remember which months or years they are from. They almost soak up the atmosphere and emotions of the time. And are littered with short shopping lists and scrawled appointment times. If I was to write a book one day, I would kind of like for those to be in there, in the margins or even a page to themselves.

I often hop out of a note book and into another because sometimes they hold writings from a difficult time. Cutting loose and into a fresh book can feel cathartic. A fresh start. Writing tools are often used as a fresh start too. Sometimes I like to rough it and scribble away with a biro. Other times I like to select the right pen. Or even switch to a pencil which is always good. Until they go blunt.

Given that I am behind with writing, dithering between notebooks and wrestling with time, I found a pencil under the bed whilst laying on the bedroom floor crying. Crying through sheer exhaustion, through fear and pressure, the relentless tournament of looking after a tiny person and feeing like I am losing every round. I saw this pencil looking at me, looking at it, beneath the bed, next to some pants. Are they my pants? I wondered where they’d gone. I reached out and rescued the HB and placed it on my bedside table, as a beacon of a new age- I WILL begin to write again before my brain dries up. 

I was trying to deny my bout of writers block. My bout of writers block so closely linked to my bout of depression following the birth of my very much wanted and long awaited, little boy (who I can report is a gorgeous, happy 9 week old baby who likes to pee up his nursery wall at nappy changes). I feel such shame about both of them. The shame of feeling depressed when we have a miracle baby after losing Robyn. I want to write about the sadness and shame but I struggle to find the words because I’m depressed and exhausted, which makes me feel further depressed because I can’t. 

How do I climb up and out of this subterranean trap? Maybe I need to embrace any pencil, any pen, any paper and just write without judgement.

4 Weeks In



Ok, so I finally have a couple of minutes spare to write a post. I’ve longed to write for the last 4 weeks but things have been all over the place. So while I’m sat shovelling cake into my mouth and drinking coffee, which is all I seem to live on these days as there is never really time for a meal, I can update you as Oskar sleeps. 

Things where busy when we got home from hospital, as they are with all new parents. Oskar likes to wake every 2 hours during the night and as he is a slow feeder, by the time he is ready to be put down in his moses basket, it was time to start all over again. This relentless schedule took it’s toll on me and with an already increased risk of postpartum psychosis, my mind crashed and was invaded by paranoid thoughts and shear terror. I started to think Oskar wasn’t mine and was terrified to go out because I thought people would harm both him and me. I became paranoid about my own partner and wouldn’t allow her to do any feeds. 

With thanks to my quick acting consultant and the brilliant home treatment team, I am now starting to feel more like myself and my head is much less scrambled. Not forgetting my amazing wife who has sacrificed herself to doing the night feeds so that I can take medication and get some sleep too. She is my rock and I don’t know what I would do without her. 

Oskar is just gorgeous, even when he screams or when he pee’s on me at changing time, he’s perfect. I hope that I’m doing all I can for him, sometimes it doesn’t feel enough and I feel like I’m failing him. One mum wrote to me this week and said that all he will know is that he’s fed, clean and loved and when he’s older he won’t remember anything apart from that. I’m holding on to this statement, it gives me hope on days when I’m anxious and tearful. 

I am slowly but surely making my way into the worldwide Oskar and have this week been out on a few walks and travels, some of which have been by myself. I’m not tracking round in the way I had planned but hopefully I’ll get there.

Times up! Oskar is awake and wants his feed. Until next time.

The Untethered Boat

Five years of trying for a baby, two years of IVF, one year after the loss of our little boy, here we are with our dream in our arms. A dream, a picture postcard, something we thought would never happen. I had thought whilst still pregnant, about the expectations such a journey could build and how reality might greet those expectations once baby arrived.

Oskar’s arrival wasn’t without incidence- he had fluid on the lungs when he was born which meant he was taken straight to special care. I didn’t get to see him at all when he was born, I only heard his little cry and then my wife went with him. I then developed high blood pressure and was unable to visit him. The first I saw of him was a photo she took and the first time I saw him, touched him and held him was 10 hours later. 

When we got home from hospital, we had this tiny two day old baby to care for, which we had longed for, the expectation of cute cuddles was met with the reality of fearful fretting over feeding, room temperature and being able to settle him. The night sweats, milk coming in and raging hormones left me elated, sad, frightened and tearful all at once.

I don’t feel like me at all and I’m told it will be a while before I do again. This definitely doesn’t match my expectation of getting out with baby, using cloth nappies, doing all the housework and feeling attractive again! So far I’ve put one load of washing on, he’s in disposable nappies and I haven’t washed my hair for two days! As for leaving the house, I find it terrifying. Then there is our role as new parents after the years of trying, IVF and loss. 

It is what I call the untethered boat, drifting over unknown seas, rocked by surging emotions. The pool of loss that remains in my heart from Robyn, doesn’t evaporate with the birth of a new baby. It has been a stark lesson in grief, that it never goes away, instead it becomes part of who I am rather than an event that needs to be worked through. Where do we belong? Where do you anchor your boat when you have been trying and failing to get pregnant for five years, when you are pregnant but lose your baby, when you achieve a pregnancy and a beautiful baby, where do you place your baggage?

I hadn’t expected to bring so much baggage with me. My expectation was that my baggage would be checked out once that baby was placed in my arms. And some of it was, don’t get me wrong there was some healing. I just hadn’t planned for the reality of setting sail in an untethered boat. I guess it’s one wave at a time.

Our Rainbow 


Just a quick update to say our little boy Oskar James arrived at 4.11pm on 2nd June weighing 7lb 13oz. He is just beautiful! We just got home from the hospital yesterday, once I get some time I’ll write a post.

Big kisses to Robyn xxxx