Exactly one month since I gave birth. Exactly one month since we said goodbye to our baby. Where has the last month gone? To think of all that has happened and all I have been through these last 30 days seems unreal; like a horrible nightmare that only ever happens to others. Whilst going through it all, I wondered when it would ever end… and although the physical pain and discomfort has gone, the emotional pain and discomfort is still there. Laying dormant, however, erupting every now and then when the pressure builds up and it becomes all a little too much…
My husband was stuck in the UK, so I had to go to the appointment with the boys. This was one occasion which called for “tablet time” for which the boys did not complain. Neither did I. I was anxious enough already without worrying about whether they would sit still, or let me listen to the doctor.
Today I would receive the results of tests done on the placenta. Today I would learn if my husband and I were carriers of something that had caused Arran to have anencephaly. Today we would learn if Arran were a girl or a boy.
And it was this last lesson that worried me most…
I have already spent many a night wondering if my actions had caused Arran’s fatal outcome, and that has been put to rest by professionals and loved ones around me. I took my folic acid, I refrained from alcohol and I did the best I could for my baby. Our babies. See, we also lost a baby 6 months prior and the same questions had arisen for that baby too. Did we do something wrong? No. It was out of our hands.
But then there is the question of gender. And several people had suggested that perhaps both babies lost were female, and that perhaps I am unable to carry little girls. As 75% of anencephaly babies are female, there was a strong possibility Arran was a girl. There was also the strong possibility that I would not be able to carry a girl to full term, which would cause unbearable anxiety and anguish in any future pregnancies. I would also feel extremely guilty as I have always assumed that Arran was a boy, and have referred to him as a he. If Arran were a girl, I felt my grief would start all over again, yet this time for the loss of “my daughter”.
So many questions. So many concerns. No wonder I was a little preoccupied that day.
To take my mind off of it, me and the boys went to Auch cathedral where we had lunch and played “I spy” on the tall cathedral steps overlooking the city.
The highlight of the game was the 15 minutes spent trying to identify my youngest sons spot beginning with “S”. My eldest son and I had scanned the horizon numerous times, naming everything in our sight beginning with S, but to no avail. In the end we gave up, only to be told that what my youngest son had spied with his little eye – was the CITY. Aw bless, time for a lesson on C sometimes sounding like S.
We got to the hospital 15 minutes early, but were made to wait a further 45 minutes. The wait was excruciating. I wished I had a tablet to play on like the boys, to distract me.
We finally got called in where I was immediately reassured there were no genetic issues with my husband or I. I was so relieved. However there was a ‘but’. The blood tests had revealed that I had a vitamin B6 and magnesium deficiency which I would need to take supplements for, along with a high dosage of folic acid, should we wish to try again. The doctor told me it was nothing of concern.
She then asked if I wished to know the gender.
I nodded, and my heart pounded in the back of my throat.
“A boy” she told me.
A boy. My little Arran was a boy. Just as I had thought. I felt relief to an extent, but I also felt a deep resounding love which caught me off guard and I cried softly into my hands. Luckily the boys were too absorbed with their tablets to notice their Mummy was crying.
We discussed contraception. We discussed periods. I told her about the cramps I had been experiencing and the doctor told me to expect my first period any day. If it hadnt returned within 5 days, I should go back to the hospital for a blood test. She then asked if I had a gynaecologist.
“It’s you!” I told her.
She gave me a full check up, service and MOT!
Cervical check. Ovary check. Smear test and breast check. I was prodded and poked and groped in ways I’d not been for quite some time! As she inserted the speculum, my eldest son shouted out to ask if I was okay. From behind the curtain I shouted back, “Yes, mummy is fine!” But in doing so the speculum popped out and fired onto the floor. The doctor politley asked me not to talk from now on to avoid further loss of sterilised instruments. Oh and I should add, I was completely naked on the bed for the majority of this. Dignity had well and truly left the building! But I was grateful for the doctor’s thoroughness.
Before we left, I gave her some chocolates I’d bought earlier that day. We also delivered chocolates to the maternity and labour ward and the operating block along with cards to thank them all for their care and support exactly one month prior.
Sadly Fanny, the midwife who had delivered Arran, was not working. I was a little disappointed as had made her an extra special present. A crocheted midwife with angel wings – as she was an Angel on that fateful day. I left it with a colleague to give to her, and I hope she liked it.
As I walked out of the hospital I knew it were the last time I would be there for this pregnancy, and for Arran. A sadness befell me.
I cried most of the way home. I could’nt hold it in. Justin who was sat next tome leant over and kissed me on the arm. “We love you Mummy,” he said gently, “And we love Arran too”.
He understood. His words meant so much to me. This sad chapter of our lives had come to an end, but Arran would continue to be part of the next chapter, and the next and the next.
When we got home, we all went to Arran’s bench and we sat there and hugged, and then tied a blue ribbon onto one of the branches of his tree.
Blue for a boy.