Silence

I don’t want to say too much in this intro, there’s very little I could say that will add to the perfection that is this piece of writing about heartbreak, silence, grief and hope and love. Fee’s writing is never anything less than perfect, even when she is in the midst of unimaginable pain and travelling a road that most of us are fortunate enough not to have knowledge of.

What I can say is that it fills me with so much joy, knowing that Fee and Tom have welcomed baby Max into the world, healthy and gorgeous and doing a supremely excellent job of keeping them both up at night.  Their warmth and graciousness as a family have been nothing short of inspiring over the last 18 months and we wish them a future filled with love and noise and more hope.

Disclaimer: I usually have a purpose in mind when I begin writing and it was not to scare anyone who is currently pregnant. The odds of being born with the physical condition that caused the loss of our first son are tiny and the chances of then going on to experience what we did become miniscule. As I have said before – so very unlucky in some ways (yet so very lucky in others).

But I wanted to send it because I felt so very, very alone when I was going through it. Plus I’ve disproved about a gazillion statistics which I think others may find encouraging!

This love wasn’t enough for us to survive

I swear, I swear, I swear I tried

You took the life right out of me

I’m so unlucky I can’t breathe

You took the life right out of me

I’m longing for your heartbeat

Heartbeat, heartbeat

Beyonce, Heartbeat

We are no strangers to silence. Our first baby boy was born silently – not as people imagine into quiet grief but instead into overwhelming disbelief that we had made this tiny, perfect person. Our home reverberated with his silence for days, weeks, months. It wove new meaning into our less than a year old wedding vows, binding us together in a way we could never have imagined.

Four months later, we find ourselves in a small room, looking at an empty screen, searching for the telltale flicker of life, just 7 weeks into this terrifying attempt to try again. I feel my husband’s hand tensing in mine. Again, there is silence. Until the words we are dreading. ‘I’m so sorry’. Bad luck, they say.

Four months later again, a different room, a different screen. Silence. I stare at my husband, believing that somehow the love we have for each other and for the family we want will be enough. Again, the silence is broken. Again, ‘I’m so sorry’. Again, very bad luck.

I am alone in a room with my doctor, an uncomfortable silence this time. Examinations, tests, discomfort. ‘You’re fine’ she says. No explanation. Very, very bad luck.

‘At least you get pregnant easily’, people say. ‘You’re lucky it doesn’t take long’. Stunned silence. To compare the two is unfair to us and to those struggling to conceive. Who decides who is luckier? Who decides which is easier?

…………………..

One year and two days after our son was born, we’re in another room. Three times already in the past 12 weeks we have seen that tiny flicker but still we stare at each other rather than the screen, neither of us willing to hope anymore. This silence is, on our part, accepting and resigned. But then, the magic words. ‘There’s the heartbeat’. We are cautiously overjoyed, we are completely incredulous, we are overwhelmingly afraid.

Days later and I am in hospital having the operation that should keep our baby safe. I am then at home on bed rest which unbeknownst to me will be amongst the hardest three months I have ever had. My husband does everything for me alongside his job, from helping me get dressed to sitting up with me at night when I am too afraid to sleep. My friends and family ply me with DVDs, books and their company. I am reminded of the different kinds of love that colour my life. Very bad luck in some ways. Such very good luck in others.

…………………..

At an unrelated appointment, a new GP offers to find the heartbeat. I am hesitant and reiterate my history – my history that is so very much my present. I remind her that it is still relatively early and I will see the midwife next week. She waves my concerns away and proceeds. Silence, again. Silence.

My husband drives us to the hospital, my tears doing little to fill the heavy silence in the car. We walk those familiar corridors, stopping outside that familiar door, with me saying familiar words.

‘We’ll be ok if it’s just the two of us, won’t we?’

‘Of course’ he says. ‘Of course.’

I won the hospital lottery and am once again treated with overwhelming kindness and compassion. ‘This is a precious pregnancy’ says the nurse ‘we will do everything we can’. I lie back and once again take my husband’s tense hand. The silence becomes heavier and I cannot breathe so I run through our back up plan in my head. We will drive across America, watch the sun rise, spend months just the two of us, remembering why we will be ok if we are all there is.

And then, the silence is broken. For the first time, we hear rather than see our baby’s heartbeat. Fast like a hummingbird’s wings, faster than I would have thought possible if I hadn’t heard a different heartbeat in what feels like a different life. We listen as it echoes loud and strong, anchored to life by my own beating heart which in turn is tethered to the unwavering strength of my husband.

A few weeks later and we wait in anticipated silence for three little words. ‘It’s a boy’, they say. And just like that, all of a sudden, our first baby boy is there in that room with us and his little brother, reminding us that our battered hearts might one day heal.

…………………..

As I write this, I am 35 weeks pregnant and could share endless fragments of the last eight months. The point at which my attempts at stoicism broke and I called my midwife begging for help. The SANDS sticker on the front of my pregnancy notes that simply says ‘Patrick’ and breaks my heart every time I see it. How we still use the word ‘if’ to talk about our son’s pending arrival.

My thoughts behind these words were to give a little hope to anyone who finds themselves lost at this time. My husband and I have travelled through crushing grief to resigned sadness to abject fear over the last eighteen months and if you had told us we would end up here, we would have shown you a raft of medical information to back up our loss of belief. Yet somehow, a miracle happened. Our baby kept his heartbeat. He was not born too soon. We are among the lucky ones.

For any of you struggling with making the family you wish for, you are not alone. Hold on and remember that every parent who misses their baby or is still waiting to hold their baby or struggled to have their baby will be standing behind you, cheering you on. You may not always hear them through the suffocating silence but they will be there.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Health
23 interesting thoughts on this

23 Comments

  1. Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Oh Fee. There are simply no words for how beautiful and heartbreaking and yet uplifting this is. I cried like a crazy person when you told me you were having Max, and again when he was born. You guys are icons of strength and the huge amount of love and goodwill you have for other people is simply amazing!

  2. Katielase
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Love you, Fee! All I can say is, you are surrounded by love and support and strength because you give those things so generously out to those around you. It isn’t just luck, you created all that love by being the incredible couple that you are, and now you have created one more type of incredible love for your lives together. I am so so delighted for you.

    KL xx

  3. rachel JHD
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    What fantastic writing – the last paragraph is amazing. All love to you & your family x

  4. Caroline
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I have no words to write here that I haven’t said to you directly but I just wanted to say I love you and Tom and I’m so proud of you both and am so super lucky to have you guys in my life.
    What is brought to mind is the sentence that has been the end of many a text conversation between us….”This baby making business is a tricky business!”
    Tell Max I will see him again soon. And to embrace clothes with ears. Xxxxxx

  5. KateQ
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Short comment as on phone…but just wanted to say how this post has really struck a chord with me. My brother and sister in law are trying again after miscarriages and losing a baby due to a genetic condition, we aren’t that close and I struggle to know what they are going through and how they are finding the strength but that last paragraph goes someway to helping me “get” it.

    Unbelievably happy for you and your family at the arrival of Max, such a hard journey but such a wonderful outcome xx

    • Fee
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I will keep everything crossed for them. It has been an unbelievable rocky road but things like having a supportive doctor (we got very lucky in that sense) and having friends/family who kept us going made all the difference. I really hope they get everything they wish for xxx

  6. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    My darling Fee, you write so beautifully. You have walked a road too many women walk alone, and if they read this, they will know that they will manage to keep on going, when they can’t see past the next hour.

    SANDS is a wonderful organisation, they were an amazing support to my mum after the stillbirth of my little brother in 1992, and I still hold the charity close to my heart. If anyone has a spare penny or two, please think about donating to their hard work.

    All the love in the world to you guys; Max is an absolute peach and I know he will fill your days with light and joy

    Xxx

  7. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Fee this is beautiful. Along with everyone here I was cheering you on from afar as soon as you announced you were pregnant with Max and I’m so glad he’s here to break your silence x

  8. Zan
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Oh Fee *sniff*. Such wonderful writing – made me cry while I was waiting in the doctor’s reception (everyone looked at me…!). So, so happy for you and Tom. You’ve both been through so much and I felt so incredibly joyful for you both when Max was born.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be write about what you’ve been through, but it’s such a testament to your strength and bravery that you do so in the hope that it’ll bring comfort to other people who are in similar situations.

    Much love xx

  9. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Fee, I have no words which could do yours justice. To go through everything you’ve experienced and come out the other end thinking of others and wanting to give them hope is just amazing. And such beautiful words too.

    Max is incredibly blessed to have such strong, committed, brave parents as you two. You’re an absolute inspiration lady. xxx

  10. Rach M
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Fee this is beautiful. Your writing is breathtaking. I’m overjoyed for you at Max’s arrival. Sending you so much love, Rach x

  11. Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    This is just perfection. Strong and sad and hopeful and everything wrapped up in these few paragraphs. Thanks Fee, for writing this. I’m so glad you finally got your Max.

  12. Lottie
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Dear fee,

    You have summed up so much here. I think the insensitivity of others even when not intended and the ‘back-up plan’ if it ends up being just the two of you are what I relate to most.

    No one deserves what you have been through. I am so happy you have Max here safe and sound. Your pregnancy must have been a very, very tense time.

    Wishing you all the happiness in the world.

  13. Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    So beautifully written. I am so pleased to hear about the safe arrival of Max to ensure that there is never silence in your life again. Xx

  14. Fee
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for all of the lovely comments. I am very lucky to have this community supporting me.

    I think anyone who has suffered recurrent losses will identify with the feeling of blindly throwing yourself back into the fray, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. It’s exhausting and terrifying yet so often kept under wraps. I hope by talking about it a bit it might help others feel less alone.

    We know how lucky we are to have Max and will be thankful every day for the rest of our lives. I wish as much happiness to everyone else who is waiting for their baby to arrive x

  15. Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    There are no words – this is just beautiful writing Fee. I’m so glad Max is here – he is a lucky boy to have parents like you x

  16. Posted February 12, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    As so many others have said, I’ve been keeping everything crossed for you since you told me you were pregnant with Max. I can’t believe I’ve never actually met you, but the feeling of joy I felt when Max came safely into the world was very real.

    This post is so heart breaking but hopeful at the same time. I’m in awe of what you’ve achieved.

    Xxx

  17. Posted February 12, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I can’t tell you how much I admire and respect you. The journey you’ve been on, the way you’ve dealt with the heartbreak and horror and come out fighting, the way you come back time and time again to give others hope… it’s testament to the human spirit. Max is blessed to have a mother like you.

    Px

  18. Posted February 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I read this first thing and have just come back to reread and comment – Fee I have been so impressed (via being nosey on twitter!) with how you dealt with bedrest and other difficulties with what must have been a really stressful pregnancy. You and Mr Fee have had so much to deal with but have had all the AOWettes rooting for you and whooping at Max’s arrival! Congratulations again – and that last paragraph is amazing.

    K x

  19. Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Love to you and your new family Fee. Xx

  20. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Fee this post is beautiful, heartbreaking and floods of tears beautiful. I read it this morning & honestly couldn’t decide how to comment, what you have been through is so difficult to even imagine yet you have lived it and are still thinking of others. I can’t believe I’ve never met you, it makes me sad. You have no idea how often over the last few months I’ve grinned along to one of your tweets saying you’d made it to 30 weeks, 32 weeks etc. and now Max is here! And what a lucky boy he is. Lots of love to the three of you and Max’s big brother xxx

  21. AJS
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Being 30 weeks pregnant myself at present, I can’t even begin to imagine what you and your husband have been through so to have the courage to write about it, so eloquently and with such dignity is awe-inspiring. I was thrilled to read that you now have baby Max and I’m sure he’s gone a hugely long way towards filling the hole in your chest where you no doubt felt like your heart had been ripped out. Beautiful piece, thank you for sharing.

  22. Sharon
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    So beautifully written Fee. I am so over the moon for you on Max’s safe arrival. Again, through twitter I have kept my fingers crossed from afar for you and am so pleased the silence was broken. Huge love to you all xxx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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