Also: Prepare yourself for an onslaught of about twenty F Bombs in this post, full disclosure.
Part III: Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Christmas Eve, 2015.
As this day rolls around, I am conscious of a conversation I had with my dear friend Ezzie Spencer at the beginning of the year. A gifted astrologist, she gave me a cosmic map of my fertility possibilities and shared that my Saturn Return would begin on this day. Saturn Return; the journey we all must take around the ripening age of 28 / 29, where we are slam dunked into whatever divine shit storm our Soul has set up for us in order to learn the most, grow the most, and emerge with the most to give. (Well, that’s how I reconcile the Saturn Return, anyway). Change is coming. Saturn demands it.
Christmas Day, 2015.
We have prepared meals and made punch and our house is clean and ready for Glen’s family to arrive so we can celebrate and spend some rare and precious time together.
But I am crying.
Actually, I’m inconsolable right now. I’m weeping in a way that’s quite frankly making my husband feel uncomfortable and frustrated. He doesn’t know what the hell to do with me. Who the bloody hell would?
But the sheer sadness in my heart is so heavy and the despair is so thick and all I can think about – despite the joys we experienced this year – is what we don’t have, what didn’t eventuate, what is missing.
Our baby was due today.
Our Christmas baby.
But she’s not here.
I pull myself together for our guests and proceed to drink far too many glasses of sparkling wine.
Boxing Day, 2015
We are at the beach, walking Layla, and I seem to have calmed down a little.
I mean, it’s fine to feel emotional on occasion, but yesterday… that really was something else.
The full moon.
Christmas fell on a full moon this year.
Maybe that’s why I was so out of control yesterday, I think to myself.
But hang on.
I normally bleed with the full moon.
My breath catches in my chest.
One hand shoots to a breast, the other to my belly.
Breasts, tender. Belly, bloated. Life, suspended in the longest of moments.
‘Glen! We need to find a chemist that’s open today! I think I’m pregnant!’
Of course, it’s Boxing Day, and everything’s closed. But nonetheless, with hope in our hearts, we begin diligently zipping around the Gold Coast, with Layla in the back, with Glen on a mission, with me, once again, losing my shit.
Adrenaline. Confusion. Questions that need answering.
This is not the type of situation that can wait a day. There will be no sleeping on this and returning to a chemist tomorrow, not when I just spent the last twenty-four hours grieving my baby, and now it may very well be possible that there’s been another one inside me, trying to make a home out of me, as if to whisper, ‘Wipe your tears, mama, you need to focus on me now.’
Thankfully, Palm Beach delivers with its 365-day chemist, and I am in and out of there faster than you can say ‘2 little blue lines.’
He roars his way into our lives
I run inside. I fumble the packet open.
In May 2015, that second blue line took more than 5 minutes to appear.
Today, in December, it takes 5 seconds. The line is bright, bold, and reveals itself loudly, quickly, matter-of-factly.
Oh my God.
I exit the bathroom and all I can do is look at Glen and offer a vague nod. He takes a big breath, so do I.
It feels different this time.
Last time, we were ready, but today, we’re caught off guard. Wasn’t it just last week that I said to Glen, ‘Should we try again in 6 months time?’
Last time, when we found out, I dropped to the ground and sobbed with joy. This time, whilst the joy is present and I immediately soften knowing that the finest of human cells are duplicating inside me to create a miracle, I am paralysed by fear.
I am afraid of how much I am afraid.
I am afraid of what I know and I am afraid of what I don’t know.
So I do the only thing I know how to do in this moment – I immediately adjust everything in my life in order to create some semblance of certainty.
It’s amazing how significant news like this can shift the total trajectory of your life. What you might have spent your time thinking about yesterday suddenly becomes absolutely sidelined and non-important. You pivot, instantly. Well, that’s certainly what I did.
The first person I told was Rach. Then mama. Then dad. Then my village of wise women (my spiritual mentor, naturopath, doula and kundalini teacher). But this time, I vowed to keep it a secret from anyone else. Not until we were ‘in the clear.’
Almost like a chiropractic adjustment, I straightened up into baby-growing mode. The foods I ate changed again. My morning sadhana changed again. The music, television and media I exposed myself to changed instantly, again — all in the name of creating the most nurturing environment for both me and bub.
But the anxiety.
It sat on my back like a heavy little gremlin and I just couldn’t shift it.
What if I lose my baby? Could I endure that again? Is there anything that I need to do differently this time?
Holding out until the ‘safe zone’ — 12 weeks — just seemed so long and torturous, and I had no idea how I was going to face my own thoughts of flat out worry for that long. My human mind tried to figure out how I could make sense of this pregnancy. If I thought the last pregnancy was going perfectly (I was glowing, radiant, and had some serious rose-coloured glasses on, it was magical) and it failed, then perhaps this time round, might it be a good sign if I experienced a little morning sickness?
Anything to make this experience different to the last. Anything to show me that this pregnancy was progressing.
New Years Day, 2016.
Still fearful, but still honoured and delighted all at once, a few waves of nausea rolled in.
‘Signs of a strong pregnancy,’ says everyone.
Good. This nausea is good. Bring it on.
I laugh it off with a reaction of ‘Ooofff, this is a little rough’ all with a smile on my face. I’ve never been so happy and relieved to feel sick.
Hormones are strong, baby is growing.
January 5, 2016.
I’m sitting in a sacred circle with my fellow Kundalini Yoga teachers as we map out a full calendar year of events for our students. The content is breathtakingly stunning and I can’t wait to be involved in facilitating it, but… my stomach is churning.
I’m trying not to entertain the thoughts that are questioning whether I’m going to be able to teach all the way through to August. I shove those thoughts deep down and bring myself back to my mantra that this nausea is good; that I should be grateful for it.
January 6, 2016.
There is vomit.
Okay. I can handle a little vomit.
January 7, 2016.
I text my yoga sister Puran Shanti, asking if she can cover a few of my yoga classes.
January 8, 2016.
I’m finding it hard to function as a human being. I can’t get out of bed and the smell of, well, everything, is sending me rushing to the toilet to throw up every hour or so.
Something doesn’t feel or seem right. My mind keeps repeating ‘nausea is good, nausea is good,’ but my heart is saying ’Tara, this is not nausea, This is not morning sickness.’
I think back to one of my first mentors, Leonie Dawson, and her articles in which she wrote prolifically about her experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Her words were haunting, piercing, heartbreaking, and they described her horrific struggle during the pregnancies of both of her daughters.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a life-threatening condition of pregnancy (for both mother and baby), which effects .5-2% of women. Far from morning sickness, it’s characterised by extreme weight loss (10%+ of total body weight), severe dehydration, crippling migraines, just to name a few. There is no ‘cure’, no one really knows what causes it, and the only thing that even comes close to managing it are hospitalisation (for IV fluids) and anti-sickness drugs. Little side note here: the hospital visits and the drugs are to keep the mother and baby alive. Without them, the mothers could – as many in the past have done before modern medicine – starve, dehydrate to death, or worse, commit suicide. Many women even require steroids to keep themselves and their babies alive whilst they violently vomit every morsel of food or water that enters their bodies.
I remember reading those articles and crying for her, wondering why something so awful could happen to someone in such a vulnerable state, because truly, what could be more vulnerable than a woman that is growing life within her? I prayed to the gods that I might be blessed not to experience a complication in pregnancy such as HG.
But here I am, today, retching and crying and splayed out on my bedroom floor, writhing around in pain, repeating out loud, ’No, no, no, please, please, no.’
Please don’t let me have HG. Please.
The truth is, though, those years ago, when I was reading Leonie’s articles, I wasn’t simply praying ‘please spare me from HG, pregnancy gods.’ I was in fact praying, ‘please spare me from experiencing HG again.’
I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum when I was 21, although I didn’t know it then. Terrified, far-too-young (for me) to be a mother, with $200 to my name, and having just broken up with the father of the baby, I was desperate – desperate – for a termination. Not only because I was in an inadequate position to enter motherhood, or because I had just uprooted my life and moved to Sydney, away from my family, but because I was tremendously ill. At the time, I put it down to morning sickness. I didn’t know any better. But after reading Leonie’s accounts, I was taken back to those days and nights in 2009, sleeping on my single mattress on the floor in a share house in Maroubra, not knowing a single soul in that city, only able to roll out of bed to heave bright yellow bile from deep within my gut. For five minutes, relief would flood in, until once again, I would start writhing and clutching at my belly, almost as though I were trying to sever myself from it so there was nothing to throw up anymore…
That is what I truly thought when reading Leonie’s posts.
I had HG. I had that.
Please. Please. Don’t let me get it again.
But today, as I continue squirming in agony and spitting out my food and howling out for the Grace of God and screaming FFUUUUUCCCKKKKKK!!!!!! in between dry retches into the toilet bowl… something is abundantly clear.
I have it again. It has come for me again.
I didn’t want to go to the hospital.
Hospital meant that things were getting very bad and though my heart was trying to guide me to reach out for the most support, my mind was hanging onto the hope that this might just be a phase. Just give me a few more days.
But I was disappearing, literally. With every day that passed, I lost more weight, more colour drained from my face, my eyes dulled, my spirit – it absolutely plummeted.
Dad – frustrated that there was nothing he could do to help me from his home ,which is four hours away – made the journey to see us so he could help Glen care for me. I think it’s fair to say that that may have been one of the most traumatic things he’s ever been through; watching his baby girl in the state I was in. And Glen, he was doing everything he possibly could for me, but he was en route to burn-out. He was my full-time carer, the house keeper, and he was running Let Us Feed You Organics all by himself. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is so rarely spoken about, but what’s even more rare is acknowledging how much it hurts the men in our lives.
On day two of dad’s visit, after enduring the sounds I would make every half hour in the bathroom, he announced, matter of factly: ‘Fuck this. We’re going to the hospital.’
It took me hours to build up the courage to leave the house. In between vomiting and trying to eat and ‘showering’ (which required me lying on the floor letting the water pour over me) and getting some personal items together, just the idea of walking down the stairs and getting in the car seemed impossible. I wish I could explain it properly to you. I wish I could articulate that every time I stood up, I cried, because I was so dizzy, and had so little strength, and I simply couldn’t trust my body to stay upright. I wish I could explain how much of an ordeal eating was. How fucking terrible those textures were in my mouth, how ugly it was to be trying to chew food through tears and snot, knowing that it was going to be agony to digest, and that it would all end up in the toilet bowl, anyway. I wish I could explain the pain I felt when I didn’t stay on top of eating; when my stomach would become empty. It felt as though knives and daggers were in my gut, and that they were slicing at me, and that acid was bubbling around in there like lava. If ever I allowed my stomach to become empty, the vomiting would perpetuate and my trips to the bathroom would become more frequent; every 3-5 minutes, spewing up … absolutely nothing… just the air in my gut; rancid and poisonous and driving me insane in the process. The emptier my stomach was, the more trouble I had eating. It was all just so repulsive. Nothing brought relief.
But off we go, to the hospital, to the emergency ward, and this is the day that I learn that being in a car brings on a whole new level of hell.
The vibrations of the car on the road made me want to scream, the scenery passing by made me so damn motion sick, but when I closed my eyes, it was even worse. The fumes from other cars would make their way into ours, and, as I’m sure anyone who’s ever been pregnant and thus experienced a super-sonic sense of smell can attest, it made me gag. I had the very elegant assignment of heaving bile into a bucket at the traffic lights for all to see. Dad, beside me, but beside himself, also, now has a new mantra. ‘Fuck this. Fuck this. Fuck this.’ What else can you say when you don’t know what to say and you don’t know what to do?
I’m on a hospital bed.
I am given two litres of fluid intravenously.
I am offered drugs, but I am scared of taking them. They don’t match up with my beliefs and values. I ask if the fluids alone will make me feel better. The doctors raise their eyebrows and say: ‘The medicine will help you eat.’
I accept them. The drug is called Ondansetron (or Zofran), and it’s the drug they give to chemotherapy patients to prevent them from yakking.
After eight hours in the hospital, I’m feeling much better – I even manage to eat lunch, which feels like a miracle – and I’m sent on my way.
Once back in the car, I glance at the hospital paperwork, and there it is, in writing:
Diagnosis: HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM.
There’s something about seeing it in writing for the first time.
How can you feel so afraid and powerless over a diagnosis, and yet simultaneously feel relieved and understood? Seeing those two long words on the page demanded that I show this stupid fucking disease some respect.
So few people understand, or have even heard of, Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Now that I’ve experienced it, I know why that is, I get it. It is so painful, and so entirely devastating to all who are involved, that once it’s over, all who endured the dark days of it push it away, deep into the archives of Things We’d Rather Forget, Thank You Very Much, rather than sit around a table discussing it. And the nightmare becomes replaced by the miracle that made it all worth it – the babe on mama’s breast.
That’s what I was holding on too. That image.
And yet, while the hospital visits sometimes gave me 8 hours of relief, the fluid would eventually wear off, the drugs often didn’t work, and before I knew it, I’d be weakly preparing myself for another trip to the hospital. This turned into a weekly ritual.
Shove your ginger up your ass.
To the people that suggest ginger, dry crackers, acupressure bands, homeopathy… I’m going to use a Leonie-ism here, please quietly go fuck yourself. If you found relief in those things, with all due respect, you did not have HG.
To the GP that I visited to get my prescription renewed so I could carry on surviving; the GP who told me, ‘No, I will not give you a prescription for that drug, you don’t need it. Just eat peanut butter on toast and get on with it. All women who make the decision to get pregnant have to go through this,’ please, quietly go fuck yourself.
To the nurse at my second hospital visit who said to me ‘My wife had what you have when she was pregnant. She didn’t vomit though,’ please, you clueless prick, go fuck yourself.
(You can clearly see that this condition brought out the best in me, huh?)
One of the most crushing things about having HG is that the condition is so rarely spoken about, and so misunderstood. I didn’t so much want people’s sympathy, but I badly wanted them to know what it meant when I said: ‘I’m 8 weeks pregnant, and I have Hyperemesis Gravidarum.’
The only people that know what it really means, are the people that have been through it and survived it themselves, or the families that watched on and witnessed as their loved one deteriorated.
Half the people in the friggen hospital didn’t even know all that much about it, and at times, I had to beg for a second bag of fluid, or beg for another dose of anti-semetics.
By the way, if you’re a regular around here, you’ll be no stranger to the idea that taking prescription medication and living off a diet of popcorn, Starburst lollies and white bread is my idea of hell on earth.
When I have a headache, I use my essential oils.
We eat mostly organic. We slow cook our meals from scratch.
As often as we remember, Glen and I aim to live as close to the earth as we can.
And the pregnancy and birth I envisioned for myself and the baby was one of stillness, prayer and joy.
I say this so that you can appreciate the level of surrender it took for me to practically beg for drugs and fluids. When they were denied, I truly, truly thought I might die. Nothing ever felt more real to me.
Eight weeks into my pregnancy, I found a support group that allowed me to feel a little less alien; a space that provided the level of understanding I wasn’t able to find anywhere else.
Over 5000 women who had battled their way through Hyperemesis Gravidarum existed in a space where they shared their wins (‘Yay! I managed to avoid vomiting in my hair today!’) and their defeats (‘I haven’t shat in over three weeks, I’m in agony, I don’t know what to do.’)
Many of these women carried to full term and gave birth to big, beautiful, fat babies. That’s the best outcome; mama, completely malnourished, exhausted, spiritually raped, at risk of PTSD and post-pardum depression, but baby – divinely and perfectly well.
And many of them lost their little ones; losing a piece of themselves in the process. We would hold space for their loss and cry with them as they grieved the baby they went to the ends of the earth for.
This is what happened to me
I lost nearly 20% of my body weight. I dropped from 68kgs to 56kgs.
My muscle mass completely deteriorated. My arms became narrow and boney, my collarbones and hips protruded offensively, my butt melted away, and my legs halved in size.
My teeth were shot to shit. They became transparent down the bottom and began to rot towards the gums.
And for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I was deeply, no-doubt-about-it, depressed.
I hated being alive.
Everything that I once loved, sickened me.
All things personal development could kiss my ass. Positive thinking? It’s all bullshit.
The touch of the afternoon sun on my skin would send me recoiling back into the dark like a vampire. (Yep you read that right – sunshine made me vomit)
I hated the mornings and I hated the evenings. Mornings meant I had 15 hours of battle ahead of me (a far cry from my usually optimistic morning mantra of ‘thank you for the blessing of a new day.’)
And evenings meant that soon it would just be me, in the lounge room by myself in the pitch black, trying to force feed myself biscuits between spews so as not to let me stomach get empty. Sometimes Layla would come out and sit with me. She knew.
Leonie Dawson wrote in anguish about her experience of completely losing her faith while she had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. She lost faith in her body, which she once thought was a miracle, she lost faith in the Universe, and in Life itself.
I felt exactly the same. The God of my understanding died for those three months, and ceased to exist. There was no Grace. There was no undercurrent of peace. Not a smidge of This Is All Happening For A Reason. There was zero optimism, positivity and hope. I just wanted to survive it. I just wanted to have this baby, and then be done with this cruel joke.
Glen became increasingly exhausted and depressed, too. I will never forget when he looked in my eyes, grey with heartache, and said, ‘Babe, we can’t go through this again. This is too much. You might die.’
I never pictured myself as someone that would only have one child, but he was right, and I agreed. ‘It’ll just be us three.’ Hyperemsis Gravidarum hurts the people that love you.
The very few things that helped
Marijuana. All in favour or medical marijuana and/or the legalisation of marijuana, say ‘Aye!’. This in fact was NOT medical marijuana, and instead was sourced from, you guessed it, Craigslist, actually. Classy, I know, but desperate times called for desperate measures and we’d heard enough accounts of weed being effective in offering solace that we were willing to try. I would smoke a little bit after trying to eat and every now and then it would allow me to sleep for a little bit. Honestly, it helped me more than the anti-sick medication, which failed to keep me from vomiting more often than not.
Essential oils. I just want to be clear that my sense of smell was so acute that everything from the smell of toast, to Layla’s fur (you’ve gotta understand, I usually sniff her daily because normally I adore her scent) made me gag and bury my head under the blanket. Even the smell of my own skin (my shoulders and arms) made me feel sick. I would hold my peppermint oil under my nose to drown out all the other smells in my environment, and I would put a drop in my mouth in between vomits.
Enemas. If only I could explain to you the agony of the Ondanestron Shit. A healthy pregnancy will cause enough constipation to be a legit pain in the ass, but add life-threatening dehydration, anti-sick drugs and a complete sedentary existence to the mix, and you’re in for some next-level torture. The thing about anti-sick drugs, is that, a) not only are they often non-effective, but, b) they don’t just attempt to keep the sick in, they keep everything in. Read: no pooping. Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you’re trying to shit a rock solid softball out of your ass while hauling spew into a bucket. Imagine that the only way that you can get it out is to insert your fingers into your vagina and try and massage it out. (Yes, you guys, I’m going there) Some poor ladies in the Facebook group used to have to glove up and literally dig it out. Luckily, I’m no stranger to enemas (thank you, Jess) so I would flush myself with litres of water, and sometimes I would need to spend over an hour, tag teaming between the toilet and the yoga mat, trying to release my bowls, and trying to loosen everything up with the enemas. It was so painful and excruciating and the first time I experienced an Ondansetron Shit, I actually screamed out loud when I saw what was in the toilet. It was traumatising.
Assistance with food. Big, beautiful hugs to my husband, my dad, and dad’s partner, Gail, who served on me so lovingly and always tried to ensure that there a something that I could eat close by. Even my bestie Rach would drop around whatever ‘safe’ food I was experiencing at the time (this included such monstrosities as McDonalds fries and Grain Waves crisps). As horrible as it was to eat, it was certainly easier when I didn’t have to prepare it. I have a pathetic memory of sitting on the kitchen floor on a day where Glen was at work, before we had realised how important it was to be constantly eating, and I was just sobbing. Unable to stand. Unable to imagine that I could eat anything in the house. Unable to drink water. Just crying, with Layla beside me, licking at my tears.
Love. From my husband, from my family, from Rach and my soul sisters, from my doTERRA team, from total strangers on social media who had an inkling that something was up (I was completely inactive on social media during this time), and would send gifts in the mail.
Layla. She looked after me, all day, every day. She didn’t leave my side. She didn’t look at me like, ‘Mama, why aren’t we going to the beach today?!’ Not once. She just knew. She just lay on me or around me, often with a paw on me, for nearly three months.
At our 13-week scan, Glen held onto my hand, and behind all the depression and malnutrition and despair, tears formed in our eyes as we watched our baby’s heart thump, thump, thumping away.
I left with a greater understanding that I had a role to play here. As long as baby kept growing, everything would be okay. I could do this. Please, I begged my body, hold out for another six months.
Part IV: Losing What We Fought For
As we journeyed into the second trimester, I was absolutely devastated to find that my symptoms weren’t getting better as my doctors had hoped they would. I had a tease of day during week 10, in which I only vomited twice, and I was so excited by the idea of HG ebbing away, but alas, it didn’t slow down, it sped up.
Week 12. Week 13. Week 14….
It starts to dawn on me that I’ll likely be one those women that have HG for their entire pregnancy. That idea is one that is far too painful to even contemplate, so I attempt not to. Instead, we try and distract ourselves by tossing around baby names. We feel it’s a boy this time, so we throw out names like Barry, Jackson and Hugo. As the days go by, they’re becoming increasingly difficult, but seeing our baby on the monitor has undoubtedly given us a little more mental stamina.
Happy Birthday, your baby has a defect.
We receive a call from our GP. She wants us to come in to discuss the results from our scan, and bam! – just like that, we’re back in the Land Of Anxiety.
It’s my 29th birthday, I’ve already lost more than 10kgs, and then, in our doctor’s office, we hear these words:
‘We’re concerned it might be spina bifida.’
‘We don’t know for sure, but we’ll need to do some more scans, I’m going to send you to the Gold Coast hospital, we’ll get you in there as soon as we can.’
I don’t really know what happened for the rest of that visit. I just remember Glen tightening his grip around my hand.
Later that evening, there is a dark, heavy and silent shock that hovers over us as we google image spina bifida.
I am crying. Glen is internalising; no doubt imagining what it might be like to father a child he may not be able to play backyard cricket with, or take surfing.
We convince ourselves that ‘everything is going to be okay’- that we’ll get some more tests and they’ll come back perfectly fine. I mean, Baby has to be healthy, look how sick I am, he’s taking everything from me. (Again, that’s the gem that everyone offered us. If you’re this sick, baby will come out healthy and fat and perfect.)
3 long days later, we make the trip to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit at the Gold Coast University Hospital, and before I know it, I’m on another bed, lubed, ready for some more scans.
Glen takes his custom grip on my hand and again, we look up at the screen, and we see that little heart thump, thump, thumping away.
The sonographer is being meticulous, measuring the baby’s head, spine, the placenta, my ovaries.
‘I’m just trying to find some of the internal organs….’ she explains.
Minutes pass by and she glances at me and says, ‘Are you okay looking at the screen?’
I quickly nod, but then think to myself, Why did she just ask me that? Why wouldn’t I be okay looking at the screen.
My untrained eyes are not seeing what she’s seeing. Finally, she sighs. It’s not a good sigh; an ‘Okay we’re all done here’ kinda sigh. It’s a ‘fuck,’ kinda sigh.
‘I’m going to go grab an obstetrician, I’ll be right back.’
I’ll spare the minutia and instead, share with you the words and feelings that I remember from what came next.
‘It doesn’t look good.’
‘Your baby has a very rare condition…’
‘Body stalk anomaly.’
‘The baby’s spine hasn’t developed….’
‘And therefore the nervous system hasn’t developed…’
‘None of the organs below the heart….’
What do you mean…
‘The baby’s organs are floating in a sac outside the abdominal wall’
‘It looks as though only one of the baby’s legs has formed.’
‘This condition is not conducive to life.’
I know HG Women (for lack of a better term) who have three children, four children. When I had HG, I would think about these women and marvel at their sheer bravery. I would think to myself ‘How did they do it? How did they muster the courage to go on and do it again knowing what they were getting themselves into?’
But the answer was abundantly clear to me. They went again, they risked it all again, they suited up for battle again, because they knew what was on the other side. Another baby. They had the evidence in their arms; their reminder of why they endured. I cannot tell you the amount of women that left comments such as ‘I would do it all again in a heart beat’ in the Facebook support group. Those women make claims like that with such certainty because they’ve experienced, first hand, the miracle that awaits them after they journey to the Underworld. They know that ultimately, it’s all worth it.
But unlike me, they didn’t come up empty handed.
I have lost babies before.
I can find the spiritual significance and divine teachings of unconditional love that come from losing babies (of which I wrote of in more detail in Part I), but what I cannot come to terms with, is Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
When I compound my experience, one which included:
+ A life-threatening condition which affects less than 2% of women (a percentage which I actually think is quite high)
+ A defect in our baby that affects 1 in 40 000 babies, and
+ A second trimester (16 week) loss…
… I feel as though I am hovering in a lie; that perhaps none of it really happened and it was all just a drawn out, horrific nightmare.
The loss itself is again compounded by the very fact that it’s one that I needed to ‘sign off’ on. I went to war with myself for this baby every moment. Our baby was loved, it was wanted, it was cherished, we would do whatever it took, and yet…
…and yet, in the end, officially, when it all comes down to it… this pregnancy was terminated.
Abortion is a criminal offence where I am from. After fighting so hard, literally, every moment, to keep this baby alive, to keep myself alive… how did we end up here, with abortion being our only option?
This is where I become unhinged. This is where everything falls apart in my heart.
The two obstetricians that supported me were concerned and compassionate Earth Angels. They saw how frail I was and were honest with me about the state the baby would be in if I carried to term. That he would probably only breathe for a few minutes before passing, if he hadn’t passed in the womb already. The thought of continuing to fight with that every day, knowing that I would be giving birth to a baby that would die in my arms was just too painful.
Another six months of this, of dying a little more with my baby, not to have that moment with my babe on my breast, not to have a beautiful life with him… it just seemed like the ultimate act of self-harm.
I am still often left thinking…
What fucking karmic bullshit must I have needed to clear with all this?
But as I have written in a previous post, asking ‘Why?’ hurts too much; so I try to remember not to ask it.
I spent the night before the procedure in the hospital, doing what I had been doing every week before then, receiving fluids and drugs intravenously. I had to fast for 16 hours before I went to theatre the following morning, and because my stomach was empty, I was in agony, but with tears falling down my face, I managed to send out the following text to the angels in my life.
Beautiful soul sisters,
Please hold Glen, our baby and myself in your thoughts and hearts at around lunch time tomorrow.
Last week we discovered that our beloved little one is not going to make it, and has severe abnormalities that aren’t conducive to life Earth side. Tomorrow we say goodbye to this soul that we have fought so hard for.
In the tradition of Kundalini Yoga, the 120th day of pregnancy is revered as a time where the baby’s soul incarnates into its body. I am at the 120th day mark now and it tears me apart to say goodbye just as baby ‘moves in.’
Please light a candle, or say a prayer, or maybe you would even like to listen to some sacred music… There is a beautiful mantra by an artist named Nirinjan Kaur called ‘Puta Mata Ki Asess (it’s on youtube), and I have listened to it everyday since Boxing Day; the day we discovered we were pregnant. It means ‘Oh child, this is your mother’s blessing.’ ?
I reach out for you all now hoping you will take my hand in the ethers because after nearly 3 months of being so desperately ill, I don’t know myself anymore, and I feel so empty and alone. Please, when I am asleep tomorrow, send the 3 of us your love… I will not be the same personal when I wake up.
I love you.
PS: My Kundalini Yoga name is Karan Prem Kaur. it means: ‘the lined who loves unconditionally, knowing that God does it all.’ Maybe someday I will better understand why God is doing this.
When I wake from the anaesthesia, I am literally screaming for Glen. I look around like a deer in headlights, expecting to see him, but am instead greeted with fluorescent lights and a decent puddle of blood – my blood – beneath me, on my bed.
Mum comes to my side, she is right there, emptied of life but full of love. She feeds me biscuits and juice and eventually we make our way back out into the world and towards the car park. I stop before approaching the car for a violent, powerful spew into a sick bag. This particular spew, which is causing quite a scene amongst everyone around us, will be my last.
Almost like magic, Hyperemesis Gravidarum starts to slip away… a reminder that my baby has slipped away, too.
That, my friends, explains my absence earlier in the year.
Actually, that explains my distance over the last 15 months. How can one go on sharing when one has been exploring the depths of the Underworld?
Let me bow to you in reverence for your patience, for your time, for your beautiful eyeballs that have been reading these little words on this white screen.
Let me appreciate that you sat through what was probably an uncomfortable 4-part blog series. It is not cosy to witness someone in their most painful truth. It’s kind of awkward, I get that.
When I outlined this series I asked myself: Why on earth would I want to write about this and share this with, um, everyone?
But then I remembered that if I hadn’t of read Leonie’s words on HG, I might not have ever have taken myself to the hospital in the first instance. And I remembered that this isn’t about the wounds of MY womb, it’s about the wounds of OUR wombs. I know many of you out there are wrestling with your journey into motherhood. There are those of you that have miscarried, those of you that have terminated due to circumstances, those of you going through IVF treatment, those of you who have been told that you’ll never have children (I love you), and – God bless you – those of you who have given birth to stillborn angels.
I wrote this for us.
We need empowering birth stories.
But the world needs this – our dark night – too.
In the fifth and final instalment of Wounds Of My Womb, I’ll speak to the blessings that rose up out of my grief and pain after we lost our boy (and we did indeed discover that he was a boy, after all).
The things is, and I almost cringe typing this, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. If you had of told me that four months ago I would have asked you to get the hell out of my house, but alas, time tends to tend to the tender bits.
I very much look forward to capping this series off with some some Grace, but until then, be good to yourself. Be kind, be very gentle. Your body, your health, your ability to do normal, everyday, wonderful things like smell and eat and stand and embrace someone, is a blessing beyond words. Don’t wait to lose your health before you discover that.
And mamas, hold your little ones extra close today. Extra close. Smell their hair, nibble on their little hands, plant dozens of soft little kisses on their soft little faces and breathe in the utter blessing of having brought them here.
Every time I see a baby or toddler, I pause, smile and send them and their family love from my heart. It’s all I can do to stop me from breaking down and fearing that I’ll never be blessed to birth my own.
With all my bliss,
PS: It goes without saying here but I’d be terribly grateful if you’d share this message with your community of women. Posts like these teach us how to better care for one another.
PPS: If you’ve been touched by this article and you know someone in your life has suffered from HG, it’s not too late to reach out. Ask her about it. Tell her that you’d like to hear her story if she’s open to sharing. She very well may need to reconcile her experience and you could be that beacon of healing for her.
PPPS: If you are moved, you may make a donation to the Help Her Foundation.