Finding My Joy One Stitch at a Time


If you’re here, it’s because you’re curious to know what happened to me and my little girl. 

I wrote this shortly after everything happened with the intent of sharing it with you - I just needed more time to process what had transpired before finally sharing it with you today.
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This is not my typical post. Normally I’m all about the quilty goodness. And this post certainly has a component of quilting, but it’s not the primary focus. It’s also not a topic I would usually share, however, I felt the need to say something to explain my sporadic presence here and on social media over the past 6 months. It’s also to offer some form of comfort to anyone going through a similar experience.

This is about hope. Persistence. Courage. Soldiering on. Finding joy. About my greatest happiness. To my ultimate heartbreak. This is about my very personal journey to start a family. A journey I’ve been on for about 8 years now.

It was several years back that I turned to sewing and quilting as a way of bringing colour and hope into my life. It was a comforting craft no matter what mood I was in. And everyday it brought me joy, even in those darkest days of wondering if I would have to live my life without the one thing I treasured most – starting my own family.

A journey I was beyond elated for when on October 19, 2016 I got the best news ever. That after 8 very long years of trying I finally got the call to say I was pregnant. A call I initially thought was going to end with the usual crushing update that the results were negative. Only this time it was to say the results were positive! I remember standing in my office, speaking with the nurse and asking her if she was sure. As in, had they double checked the results! I remember running into the bathroom where my hubz was showering and jumping up and down completely excited that our long path had finally found success!

I kept this glorious news to myself, wanting to make sure that the follow-up tests would keep bringing us joyful news. And they did. Until early in November, at my six week appointment, when we heard our little one’s heartbeat for the first time and turned excited to see our Dr. with a concerned look on his face. The baby’s heartbeat was half of what it should be. Crushing news to hear so early on in this new beginning. We were told this could go either way and were sent home with a booked appointment for later that week to check-in. We received amazing news that our Little Wiggles’ heart was getting stronger, but they discovered a large blood mass in my uterus. My Dr. was again concerned that this could be dangerous for our little one if it ruptured and I was sent home on strict bed rest until my next appointment. Those weeks on bed rest were tough. I’m not one to sit all day doing nothing. And nothing was exactly what I had to do. I couldn’t make dinner. I couldn’t go on my daily walks. I wasn’t even allowed to quilt. I had to stay lying down and could only get up to go to the bathroom and get a quick snack. Those days were hard. But knowing that I was growing our little baby, made those difficult days worth every minute. And I was encouraged when about a month later we found out the mass had subsided and I was in the clear. I was released from bed rest and given the go ahead to resume some activities, albeit still very limited.

We went for a drive to visit his godmother who had recently moved and as we pulled up I could feel a gush of wetness. Pregnancy brings lots of interesting side effects, but I went to the bathroom to ensure all was ok. All was not ok. I was spotting. It kept up for several hours and subsided. I went to bed early, thinking I was in the clear, only to awake later that night to find I was now full on bleeding. I won’t ever forget that night of terror. Thinking I may be losing my baby and hoping that was not the case. It was terrifying. It was beyond worrying. And the hours seemed to drag by at an alarming slow pace. To hear my little one’s heartbeat at an early morning meeting with my Dr. that Monday was such relief. They couldn’t explain why I had bled. My Dr. even said had I not told him that I had bled there was nothing on the scan that would have him think anything was out of the ordinary. I was told to continue to take it easy just to be on the safe side. And take it easy is exactly what I did.

There was lots of time spent watching movies and catching up on shows. I made light meals and kept laundry to an absolute minimum. I even refrained from any exercise to be extra sure I was giving our little one the best chances. Only to have my Dr. tell me later in December that he found a couple of new blood masses in my uterus. Normally we would head up to the cottage to celebrate the holidays with my hubz’ family. And we were so excited to get to spend time and finally share our amazing news. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be. I had to get permission from my Dr. to be able to visit family in the city. And I received permission on the promise that I was to sit while I was visiting and to keep my visits short. We did as promised. And it was such a joyful time for us and our families. We brought our ultrasound pictures to show off our little one and there was such an overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude.

Each subsequent month seemed to get better and better. With my Dr. telling me at the end of February that I could resume some regular activities. It was an appointment I left feeling beyond thankful and hopeful for the future. I had seen my little one’s heart. I had seen the four chambers of the heart and the blood pumping in and out. And I was just amazed that we had gotten this far and we were both healthy!

In the weeks that followed, I had noticed a decrease in movement. And the typical little thump that I felt low down was no longer present. I looked forward to my 25 week appointment to check in and get reassured that all was well. All was not well. On Thursday March 16, 2017 my Dr. couldn’t find a heartbeat. I was 25 weeks + 1 day and my world came crashing down. All the hope, joy and happiness I had been feeling were instantly replaced with grief, sadness and an overwhelming feeling of loss. Loss of what was to be. Loss of our family. Loss of so many hopes and dreams that, in an instant, were dashed away.

I was numb. I was grief stricken. I was beaten. I was scared. I was broken. I was lost.

I was sent home to pack a bag before admitting myself later that afternoon at the hospital to be induced. If that wasn’t bad enough, we were now faced with so many decisions no parent should ever have to make. Did we want to hold our baby after birth? Did we want photos taken? Did we want a priest present? Did we want to handle the cremation and funeral? Or would we prefer having our baby be part of the mass cremation? Did we want a memory box? Did we have a name picked out? It was my worst fear coming true and now I had to make the toughest decisions I never even fathomed I would have to make.

I kept hoping to have the physical and emotional strength to get through the toughest days of my life.
After about 12 hours in labour, I gave birth to our precious little girl at 7:05 am on March 17, 2017. It was peaceful. It was devastating. It was the saddest day of my life. And I knew my life would never be the same.

It has been a couple of weeks since our little one was born silent and the continuing sadness is pervasive.

What I can say for sure is that I am grateful for the time we had together. For each little thump I felt. For all the tummy rubs I gave her while she was still in me. Thankful for the hope she brought me. And I hang onto those memories to help get me through this life challenge.

Since we didn’t know the sex before her birth, I had started a couple of quilts. One was especially girly - my Pink Lemonade quilt – in case we were blessed with a little girl. This quilt has represented a kaleidoscope of emotions for me. And I’m thankful for the immeasurable comfort working on the hand quilting has been bringing me as I try to process the multitude of emotions I go through every day. I feel close to her while I stitch away. I feel I am honouring my sweet little MJ. That by continuing her baby quilt, I am showing her how much I still treasure her. I initially thought it would be too hard to continue, that I would be a mess of tears as I stitched away. But it is bringing me peace. Each stitch is a symbol of my love. Of our journey, together. And although it came to an end way too quickly, it is one that has forever altered my life.

I know the future holds many challenges for me. Her original due date this June. The first Christmas we were so looking forward to spending with our baby girl. Her first birthday next March. All reminders of what should have been.

What I can say for sure is that I beyond grateful to my partner. My love for him grows every day, even more so as we faced these darkest days together. I am thankful for my family and friends and the outpouring of love we have received. We know this loss is theirs as well.

I share this to honour my little girl. And to help any mother who has faced the loss of their little one. Life is not fair – I know this hard truth. But I know that staying in a dark place will serve no one any good. And, so, I am choosing to find hope and joy, even if it is one stitch at a time.

xo

Shannon
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A year later - it still hurts.


I’m still caught off guard by overwhelming waves of sadness.

I don’t know how to respond to the question of whether I have children or not. I know the answer, but it’s the reaction it brings out in other people that is challenging. People generally don’t deal well with death. It makes them uncomfortable and their discomfort in turn makes me uncomfortable. At the same time, saying “no” feels disrespectful. It’s a conundrum that I haven’t quite figured out yet. Lessons that still need to be learned.

That’s the truth.

But the other truth is that life goes on. You find a way to persevere. Some days are easier than others, but you just do it.

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of my little girl. Some days it’s with sadness and other days it’s actually with joy.

None of this is easy, but I’ve found a new strength I didn’t know I had. That’s a positive. It’s made me stronger. It’s made me kinder, both to myself and to others. We never know what a person is dealing with. Often times with fertility issues and loss, people don’t talk about it. It can be a lonely and isolating journey. And I try and remember to be mindful of the questions I ask and instead let people share with me when they feel ready. And when they do, it’s about listening with kindness and respect. We all have our own trials and tribulations to face, so let’s support one another and be there for each other. We only get one life to live, let’s make it one filled with kindness.

6 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to read your story about your beloved little girl. To start out with such high hopes, and joy in your hearts, then to face all those challenges, with the final sadness happening. What can I say to you, as I sit here crying, half a world away, down here in New Zealand. Thank you for your braveness, and your courage, in sharing your story.

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    1. That is so sweet of you, Jenny. Thank you. xxx

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  2. Oh Shannon, I have no words...just want you to know that I'm thinking of your family today, and praying for peace and strength. And sending a virtual hug from the other side of the world xxx

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind note, Michelle xxx

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  3. Thank you for sharing the pain in your heart. Grief lasts forever...we are changed..Thank God for sewing and our quilting supports..sending love to you.

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    1. That is so sweet of you! Yes, grief does last forever and forever changes us, but I think it helps soften us and makes us more compassionate. An upside to a not so fun aspect of life. Beyond thankful for sewing and our amazing quilting community that is just filled with the most amazing people. xx

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