Life after Babies

3:37:00 PM

A story about miscarriage and moving on...

When I regained consciousness, I discovered I was lying in a pool of blood. As I was unable to get up, I shouted for Andy. It took several attempts before he woke up, but when he saw me, he became instantly alert. After picking me up and helping me to dress, we left for the hospital.

Andy drove right up to the door of the accident and emergency department, but when he tried to help me out of the car, I shook my head helplessly. I couldn’t even walk a few steps. So he ran into the hospital, and a moment later, he returned with a nurse pushing a wheelchair. Soon I was lying in a bed, while a young doctor in a pristine white coat, clipboard in hand, took initial notes.

“I was 12 weeks pregnant. I’m miscarrying.”

“Miscarrying? How do you know you’re miscarrying?” interrupted the doctor. “We’ll have to do an ultrasound before we can decide that.”

I sighed. After giving birth to eight live babies, burying a newborn and suffering seven miscarriages, I knew exactly what was happening.

I tried to explain about the huge pains I was experiencing in my abdomen, but the doctor didn't want to hear. “We’ll transfer you to the women’s ward, and then first thing in the morning, we’ll send you for an ultrasound. That’ll give us more of an idea what’s going on.”

I tried again to tell her about the pains, and then gave up. It was far too difficult. No one was listening.

A wardsman arrived and he wheeled my bed along corridors, through double doors, along more corridors. Andy followed alongside me. He tried to smile in order to reassure me, but his eyes were anxious. The bed was bumped into a lift, and when the doors reopened, I could see we had arrived at our destination: the women’s ward.

A nurse directed my bed into a room, but before she could examine my notes and find out more about me, an old lady in the opposite bed cried, “A bedpan. Nurse! I need a bedpan.”

The nurse started towards the door to go and collect the necessary equipment. Then she turned and noticed the look of pain on my face. I’d let my head slip over the side of the bed in an attempt not to faint.

“A bedpan!” The old lady was getting desperate but the nurse ignored her plea. She took my pulse, and read my notes. And although I was incapable of saying it, I thought, “Poor lady. Please go get her the bedpan. I’ll be okay.”

But apparently I was far from okay.

“Why have they sent you up here?” the nurse demanded. I had no idea. “We’re going to have to send you right back downstairs again.” A few minutes later, I was being wheeled back into the lift, down a few floors and out along another corridor.

Was I dying? I considered the facts and decided I was in a very bad way. Perhaps I should pray. So I began to recite the Rosary in my head, as we continued our journey along the endless maze of corridors. After a Hail Mary or two I gave up. I’d always assumed if I were in dire need, I would pray more fervently than I’d ever prayed before. But I couldn’t. I had no energy. I could concentrate on nothing but the pain.

Finally we came to the high dependency unit.  A nurse came out to help manoeuvre my bed through the double doors. “I’m sorry, sir,” the nurse apologised to Andy. “We need you to wait here. We’ll come and get you when your wife’s condition is stable.” Andy’s worried face disappeared instantly as the doors slammed shut in front of him.

What happened next is a bit of a blur. I remember nurses and doctors saying worrying things in very calm and controlled voices. There were needles and tubes and injections and drips. Electronic numbers raced and danced on a monitor behind my head. And then finally, the pain in my abdomen subsided and I knew I was going to survive.

Once all the drama was over, I was left alone to rest. I wondered where Andy was. A long time later, he appeared.

“Where have you been?” I asked.

“Outside. No one came to get me. They forgot I was waiting. In the end, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I came in to find out what was going on.” Then he added, reaching for my hand, “I thought you’d died.”

I squeezed my husband’s hand and immediately reassured him: “No. I’m not going to die. I’m fine.”

 I wasn’t really fine. I still had surgery to face but the worst was over.

Later that day, once back from surgery, I was anxious to be discharged and allowed home. The doctor had promised that as soon as I’d had a few units of blood pumped back inside me, he’d consider my release… as long as I could walk without fainting. While the blood was being transfused, a social worker arrived.

“I visit all the mothers who've had a miscarriage...  I’m sure it’s a very sad time for you. Your feelings of loss and grief are normal. I’ve brought you some information…”

I brushed the woman’s words aside. There was nothing new she could tell me about miscarriage. I explained I’d suffered a few before. The social worker smiled uncertainly, and then seeing she couldn’t help me, rose from her chair. Before leaving, she added, “I hope next time you are here, it will be under happier circumstances. Good luck with your next baby.”

I shook my head, “There won’t be a next time. I won’t be having any more babies.”

I was so glad to get home that night. All the children crowded around me as I walked through the door, their eyes big and anxious. Was I really all right?

“I’m fine,” I said smiling. “A bit of rest and I will be back to normal.”

Everyone sighed with relief and someone said, “We’ll look after you, Mum. We’ll do everything around the house. You can rest in bed.”

Many years ago, when I had only a baby and a toddler, and I was wrapped up in the delights of young motherhood, a close friend said to me, “Sue, what are you going to do when your baby years come to an end?” I barely acknowledged her question. It was much too soon to worry about the next stage of life. I had plenty of time to have lots more children. All I could imagine was being pregnant, having babies, breastfeeding… enjoying a growing family. There was no room in my vision for a time after babies.

I lay in bed that night, after having arrived home from the hospital, and relived in my mind, that difficult day. I thought about the baby I’d lost. He was the last. I’d come to the end of the road: The time after babies had arrived.  It wasn’t my decision. God was telling me my baby years were over, and I accepted it.

“What are you going to do when your baby years are over?” Years ago, I hadn’t wanted to think about it. I had no answer. I do now.

My baby days are over and I’m thankful for all the joys of that time. I have so many happy memories… plenty of sad ones too. There were many unexpected sufferings and I’m grateful to God for carrying me through them all. I am also grateful for my husband who hugged and laughed and cried with me, as babies were born and babies died.

Now I’m enjoying the present moment, with the family God blessed me with. I still have lots of mothering left to do. And God has other jobs for me as well, I'm sure. There are new adventures waiting…new joys, new sorrows...  God has it all worked out.

Life after babies? It’s good.

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