I've been wanting to write for a while about the 'grief' that can be felt after you give birth extremely prematurely but it is such a complex and difficult subject. From speaking to other women I know that it is a common feeling.
I went into completely unexpected, spontaneous labour with Blaine at 24 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy. I was still at work and hadn't bought much baby stuff - no pram, no moses basket, cot, nothing really. I had just had the second scan 2 weeks previous and was really enjoying the pregnancy. I was looking forward to all that was to come, ante natal classes and birth plans.
It all happened so quickly that I arrived at the hospital at around midnight and 5 hours 20 minutes later I was no longer pregnant. My baby wasn't placed on my chest. My baby wasn't in a cot by my bed. I didn't even see my baby. He was taken straight from me, behind a screen and then taken away. I was left sat on a bloody bed being offered a shower and a cup of tea.
In the shower I couldn't bear to look at my body; I quickly washed and dressed. Sat on the edge of a bed and offered more tea. After some time I was handed various leaflets and eventually handed a laminated photo of my baby. I found it so hard to look at that photo. This wasn't how it was meant to be.
For a while after I bathed in my top. I couldn't stand to look at my tummy. I hated the touch of it. Soft, jelly-like, empty. Where was my baby? Why wasn't he still inside me? I still had months to go. I was embarrassed to see people - what if they looked at my belly? When they saw me last I was pregnant, blooming, I had a big round belly and now it was gone. No round belly, no pregnancy, just a saggy empty belly but no bouncing baby in a pram.
At home, lying awake in bed, I felt the same. I was no longer pregnant but had no baby next to me in a cot. From the moment you find out your pregnant you expect to have that baby with you. To be separated is agony. Hormonally your body is pregnant and psychologically you yearn for your baby.
For the next weeks/months you go through the motions. Somehow get up, make small talk, travel to hospital and sit for hours by an incubator praying, longing and hoping to take your baby home. Every day drags but you get up and do it every day. No words can describe watching a baby the size of your hand, your baby, fight for it's life. Prodded and poked every hour of every day, machines bleeping and for a long while more setbacks than steps forward. The hope keeps you going.
Aside from this, you go home each night and there's no pregnancy and no baby to hold.
It is a strange type of grief. Grief for your lost pregnancy and grief for your 'take home baby'. Lots of people say 'it must've been awful but all is ok now' and yes, thank God, it is but it is a strange thing to come to terms with and difficult for anyone who hasn't experienced it to understand. It's as if when you lost that pregnancy you lost that baby and I only came to terms with this recently. The feelings are completely aside from Blaine. It is very surreal and impossible to explain, or understand unless you have experienced it.
Is it a type of Post Natal Depression - I don't think so. A sort of Post Traumatic Stress - again, I'm not sure but I do know from talking to other mum's that it's a common feeling. This post is a sensitive topic and is not meant to offend anyone. I know I am lucky - and am forever thankful - I have my baby and cherish every moment.