real life

'I was living overseas when my waters broke at 21 weeks.'

I was living in Manila with my husband when my waters broke at 21 weeks. I immediately went to see my Obstetrician who told me that I might be in labour, and I should head back to Australia, as the hospital couldn’t assist us if our twin boys were born prematurely.

I jumped on the first flight out of Manila not knowing if I was going to have the twins on the flight home or not. It was a terrifying experience.

As soon as I arrived in Melbourne I went for an ultrasound and they confirmed my worst fears, I had an incompetent cervix, it was funneling and the babies would be born any day. There was nothing they could do to stop the labour. I had the option of terminating or going on bed rest. I chose the latter as termination was not an option I could have lived with.

pregnancy loss overseas
"I can still recall how loud their heartbeats were when I held them on my chest. It was the loveliest feeling I’ve ever experienced." Image supplied.

I tried my best to keep my boys safe inside me, even hiding my contractions from the midwives, however our darling twin boys Edward John and Harry James McNamara came into this world at exactly 23 weeks, and passed away on the same day – 16 March 2017.

The boys were born 45 minutes apart. Edward weighed 522 grams and Harry weighed 520 grams.  They were perfect in every way, except their lungs were not formed, and there was no way they could stay on this earth longer than several hours.

The day itself was a bit of a blur. I remember the happiness I felt that I had met my boys, and became a mother not realizing they both would pass away shortly after. Had I known they were to pass away so quickly, I would have said so many things to them about how loved they were.

I can still recall how loud their heartbeats were when I held them on my chest. It was the loveliest feeling I’ve ever experienced. I’m certain they knew we were their parents. Before they passed away we read Dr Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places you’ll Go!’ as a family and had them both baptized.

pregnancy loss overseas
"Grief comes in waves. Some waves are so big they dump you, and you can’t catch your breath, and you think you’re going to drown." Image supplied.
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That evening at the hospital we kept them together in a cold cuddle cot so we could spend the night together as a family. A beautiful photographer from Heartfelt visited us and took photos of our boys, and the four of us together.  We felt so blessed we were able to have photos of our boys to keep as a memento. We were the lucky ones, as others don’t get to hold live babies before they pass away.

My husband and I decided we did not want to have a traditional funeral for our boys, as we wanted to celebrate their lives and not mourn their passing. We chose to have a ‘birthday party’ at Fitzroy Gardens to celebrate with a small circle of close friends and family, and their children. It was exactly how we would have celebrated their 1st birthday if they had have lived to see the day. We told everyone to dress in colourful clothes as we had a Dr Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places you’ll Go!’ themed party. We served party food, cakes and lollies and the children kicked the footy and threw a Frisbee around the garden. The day was one of celebration and joy, and not one of sorrow, it was a perfect day.

I always thought dealing with grief would be difficult. I’ve witnessed quite a few of my friends saying goodbye to their parents. I knew I would have to deal with grief one day, but I never thought I would have to say goodbye to a child, or children. Grief comes in waves. Some waves are so big they dump you, and you can’t catch your breath, and you think you’re going to drown.  Other waves are small and they come over you and leave pretty quickly, and you can continue with your day. Waves of grief in the middle of the night are similar to a tsunami. Sometimes I wake up and I think I’m still pregnant. I feel like the ‘old me’, and then I remember the dread of what has happened, and again I mourn the loss of our babies.

My mind starts drifting to the ‘what ifs’. What if I hadn’t walked around so much whilst I was pregnant? Did all the walking make my cervix incompetent? Should I have known that I had an incompetent cervix? Probably not, but in the middle of the night, the ‘what ifs’ are so loud in my mind they scream at me, and I can’t stop crying for hours at a time. The sun rises and I muddle through the day trying to avoid a grief trigger. Seeing twins can set me off, especially twin boys. Also seeing a newborn baby in a pram takes my breath away. That should be me. I should be the mother with the pram. So I take another route avoiding anything that resembles a mother, a pram, twins, parenthood, happiness…

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I cope by attending counselling on a weekly basis. I find acupuncture helps, as well as attending bereaved group counselling sessions. The group counselling sessions give me a lot of hope, as I’ve met a number of bereaved parents who have travelled this path before me, and have promised me that I will feel joy again.

UPDATE: Welcome back, Monz. A story about miscarriage. Post continues...

Grief is a lonely and isolating journey to go through. Most people don’t tend to know how to deal with grief. I’ve experienced everything from people who I’ve known for quite a few years ignore me whilst I’ve walked down the street, to people not saying anything at all. I’ve also experienced a lot of positive experiences as well. I’ve had multiple friends contact me about their miscarriages they’ve experienced but haven’t been able to tell anyone about them. I’ve also heard from old friends who have lost contact but want to reconnect. This experience has also made the relationship with my husband stronger than ever.

Since the boys have passed away, I’ve had an operation to ensure my cervix doesn’t fail me, and I’ve started the IVF process once again. Having another child will never take away the love we have for our gorgeous boys, Edward and Harry.

We will never forget we have two angel boys in heaven , the 16 March 2017 will continue to be the happiest and saddest day of our lives. We know we will see our boys again one day, and that gives us a great deal of comfort.

Mamamia Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week

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