Heartache & Happiness: The Second Baby Wave

© Leila Thomas @Lisa Phillips-Barton

Once upon a time we joked about it, that we (our mothers group) are a good benchmark for averages, chances and statistics. 1 in 15 women will experience so and so during their fertile years; stats and facts about miscarriages, fertility issues, ectopic pregnancies etc. It’s always something that happens to a friend of a colleague of a neigbour. I think most of us were quietly confident that ‘those statistics won’t be us’, because all of us already have a healthy baby. The odds are on our side to do it all again, happily and healthy ever after. We would all “crack on with number two” whenever we felt was the right time for it. So with the first birthday parties of our babies out of the way early 2014 , the ‘second wave’ of pregnancies was announced. Being a tight-nit mothersgoup we would sometimes share our happy news already at 7 weeks. It’s hard to keep things a secret among mums anyway, it’s like we have a radar that picks up on the pregnancy glow (or more ‘absent stare’ and ‘pale complexion’ in the first trimester).
I shared my happy news with another mum from our group, over a coffee after our weekly swim. And guess what, she was pregnant too! Both 7 weeks, both due in March! Happy days. Our first ones would both be just 2 years old, and off we went with our life. My 12 week scans went by and the 2nd trimester started blissfully, but then on a sunny Monday morning, I was around 16 weeks, I got an unexpected  phone call from my obstetrician. Out of the blue she dropped an absolute bombshell, she said, “I am so sorry your baby is not well”. Based on scans and blood results we were advised and decided to terminate our pregnancy. It was such a shock, so unexpected and so hard. This is not happening to us. It took a few days for the news to really sink in and to pull ourselves together. I felt so pregnant. And to make things worse, we had to wait 11 days until we could be ‘booked in for the procedure’. I decided not to tell anyone (except a couple of close friends) until afterwards to keep life as “normal as possible” for 11 dreadful days, but after a mum commented on my ‘beautiful belly and pregnancy glow’ at the next mothers group, I cracked and shared our news. It was a sad morning, but I felt unexpectedly understood, being surrounded with other mums, pregnant, or trying to be, we shed a few tears and hugged each other while looking at our blissfully unaware toddlers running around, oblivious to anything different than the usual play and morning tea. And then the dreaded day came and I was no longer pregnant and life went on. I kept going; to mothers group, to the pool for my weekly swim with my friend who was still due in March, and in between we went on an overseas holiday and another one. Holidays are the best medicine to ‘reset your system’ I believe. It was good to be distracted, and to be anonymous in a different city and not having to think about what could have been but wasn’t going to happen in March 2015. And then in the middle of my second holiday we received another bombshell from my ‘swim friend’. She had a stillbirth at 38 weeks… It was devastating. The crushing end to a straightforward, carefree pregnancy, a life in tatters and no baby to take home. Except that sad hollow feeling and the fear of what will be next… will there be a next?
And life goes on again. It has to. But it’s different, and not the same as before. And there is nothing you can say or do to make it better, except to keep going. And other stories were shared in our group; the tough decision for some of us not to try again for different personal reasons, the mum who had three miscarriages and was pregnant again and finally over the dreaded 12 weeks hump – but of course still anxious, the mum who’s fertility specialist told her IVF was no longer an option and she had to find another way to fall pregnant – an overseas egg donor was the only option left. We all came together and sent her off last month and are awaiting anxiously to hear how it all went when she returns next week.
And in between all the heartache and tears the past year there was also good news: 6 (!) new babies have joined the ‘second wave’ (with special mention to the super, often sleep deprived, but never complaining trooper mums who now juggle two and manage to make it all look effortless and worthwhile and still have energy to come out, support each-other, listen and make each other laugh until we cry). And there are 3 more babies on the way who will join the group next year!
Without realising it looks like our group turns out to be a raw and real representation of how life can be trying for a baby after all … a mostly blissfully happy and sometimes heartbreaking journey, but always – without a doubt – unpredictable and life changing… to be continued in 2016.