"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Snail

(detail from Frida Kahlo, Henry Ford Hospital, image from here)

Thank you so much darling ones. For the hugs and the donkeys balls and the love and light and thoughts, stories, your own tears - all of it. I'm so sad that so many of you know what this pain feels like (and that some are experiencing very similar losses at the moment too). It makes such a difference to know that others are cussing this loss for us too. I had no idea how many women have been through similar experiences - thank you for sharing your stories here - particularly what choices you made in similar circumstances.

Our doctor hadn't given us the medical (ie, non-surgical) option - the drug involved, RU486, was banned in Australia for nearly a decade thanks to a deal between a fundamentalist senator and the previous conservative government (well, it was listed as a legal drug, but the Health Minister - a conservative, anti-choice catholic - was given a power of veto to prevent it being used). Then, in 2005, a cross party group of women parliamentarians worked to lift the veto. But all of this was very far from my brain when we had our scan last tuesday morning and were sitting shell-shocked in our doctor's office.

I had thought, very pragmatically, that I could teach my seminars as planned on the Wednesday and Thursday, and then go in for the surgical procedure on Friday. But the anger wasn't going anywhere. I didn't feel safe to drive, so I walked and caught the tram to work, hoping that none of my students would see me sobbing. Finally, I spoke to my boss, let her know the diagnosis, and that I wasn't realistically going to be able to teach that day or the next. I haven't ever felt so violently angry as on that Wednesday morning - I'm just glad I got home again without seriously hurting anyone or myself.

Part of that white hot anger I think was with myself - for thinking that I could just timetable my grief around my work responsibilities. But the whitest white-hot anger focused on the planned procedure on Friday - I had handed my body over to the IVF people so many times already - I didn't want that again, not for something my body could most likely do on its own. I called our IVF clinic to ask about the medical option, and finally after a few hours, heard back from our IVF doctor - yes, it probably was possible, but you needed to be specially registered in order to prescribe it, and he wasn't. He gave me the name of a private provider, and I drove nearly an hour to get to an appointment on Thursday, but after discussion with the doctor there about wanting to be 100% sure this pregnancy was not viable, decided to wait and have a further scan before doing anything else.

All of which led to me and El Prima leaving the house in the morning dark of a tuesday morning - just like the week before when we'd been on the way to our scan, but this time with a tired sadness rather than the excitement of 'we might see a heart beat today'. The scan showed the same little empty sac - I was readier for it this time, and in a way it was relief - I wouldn't have to wonder if there might have been a chance. I opted to go to the public women's hospital, rather than with the costly private provider, and the Womens' protocol for "medical management" involved a day admission. While I could have done without some of the prodding (why put in an IV canula 'just in case'? Painful and unnecessary!) I very much appreciated the pethidine, and the nurses were universally kind and compassionate. This is the hospital adjoining the general hospital where I was taken after the accident, and where Z was born, with the assistance of obstetricians and midwifes from the womens, so I feel that at least this PLB has another connection with his/her sister.

I see now why Frida Kahlo included a snail in her painting, "Henry Ford Hospital" about her 1932 miscarriage to represent the slowness of the pain. For me, it took a while to allow myself the slowness - to realise that this loss can't just be skipped over so I can move onto the next thing. It meant so much for me to be pregnant - how could I expect it to mean nothing to lose this pregnancy, even if it were only very early in the piece? I knew all along that this was a very tentative, border-line pregnancy, but in a way that only made it more precious. Last night, El Prima took the girls and me out for an impromptu family dinner. For the first time since our bad news, we really laughed. I wish we had more family dinners to look forward to with the PLB, but I'm glad we had this one while we could.

I feel hopelessly sappy to be mourning for this tiny sac which never even grew the beginnings of a neural tube, but I'm learning not to expect these things to work logically. A little pink crepe-myrtle tree is waiting on our porch to be planted near Z's pomegranate tree.


  1. I think the sappy is to be expected, and of course you're mourning. Regardless of how far the baby developed, it was there, and it was your hope. It's so hard to lose those things. ♥

  2. You have every right to be hopelessly sappy and mourning, regardless of what your pregnancy did or did not grow into. It was a little spark you created, that did indeed grow inside of you, that you had hopes and dreams for. Losing all of that is significant and will require grieving. Thinking of you and wishing for more laughter in your life in the time to come. xx

  3. so traumatic. especially at the same hospital. I mourn for your little hope too - its not sappy. myrtles are beautiful. xx to you and ElP xxx

  4. So sorry for the pain and anger and fear and rage that comes with this type of loss. I remember feeling like I 'shouldn't' feel as sad as I did... my first loss never made it far enough to show on ultrasound, and yet it was all-consuming. Feel what you feel, get all the support you can, and know that you are being thought of all around the world.

  5. sometimes i think the world tried to fool us into believing that if we only hit on the perfect way to feel things, they won't hurt so much. if only.

  6. Hanen I've been thinking about you all night since your comment on my blog last night. I honestly can't believe I didn't know you had a blog until now, and I truly feel terrible. I have followed your story, and the story of Haloumi, so closely since it all happened. I must have read your victim impact statement a dozen times. I shed so many tears for you and almost blogged about your story myself.
    I am really so sorry for all you're going through now and am glad I have finally found you out here in blog land.
    Feel free to get in touch.

  7. Sending you all my love Hanen. <3 I love Frida Kahlo, I have always been drawn to her and felt a connection since I was a little girl- I had no idea just how much I would end up relating to her. :hugs to you:

  8. There is a great quote, which of course I can't find, about how you start planning a whole lifetime the minute you see that positive pregnancy test. Of course you have to mourn the loss of that, and you should feel no share for it. I'm sending healing thoughts to you. And hope for what is to come for your family.

  9. oh yes, what meegs said about all the planning and hoping that starts as soon as you see the +. i love that snail. very glad, that among so may bad options, you were able to access the medical option that was best for you. so important, i think, to feel a little control over all these uncontrollables. thinking of you and sending love. xo

  10. I am sending your PLB as much love as I am sending to Haloumi. In their passing away, lies the passing away of all the memories you could have created in a long lifetime.

    Hanen, I completely understand what you say when you write - "for thinking that I could just timetable my grief around my work responsibilities"...am glad you asked for the day off and the next.

    Take Care.

  11. I read this post last week and delayed responding because I wanted to write something coherent and thoughtful. Apparently, that's harder than I thought, but I want you to know that I'm thinking of you.

    ((much love))

  12. Oh Hanen, I've missed so much while I was away. I am so sorry for your loss, its all so heartbreakingly unfair :(

    You and your babies are in my heart and thoughts xxxx

  13. Dear Hanen: I came across your blog this evening for the first time. Am saddened to read of your loss and angry right along with you. Take care of yourself, sweet woman. Love to you and your partner. xo

  14. "For me, it took a while to allow myself the slowness - to realise that this loss can't just be skipped over so I can move onto the next thing. It meant so much for me to be pregnant - how could I expect it to mean nothing to lose this pregnancy, even if it were only very early in the piece?"

    beautifully written hanen, take all the time you need , sending you loads of love and huge hugs, love anne (littleharves)