I’m so aware that there are people in this community who desperately want to be in my position but I also feel I owe it to those who have been PAL, are currently, or may be PAL in the future to be honest about this.
In the past 18 months I’ve left two babies in a hospital mortuary, held two funerals, attended two post mortems, spoken at one funeral and contributed to an investigation. I’ve set up and run a charity, led the biggest research projects of my career, trained my postpartum body to be physically fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been and cycled the length of a mountainous country – and I’ve had to live every day knowing I’ll never see my sons again. Like all bereaved parents I’ve learned in the most brutal and unfair way possible- I can do hard things. But I have to admit – this pregnancy after two very different losses malarkey is hard!
I’m in the third trimester, I thought it would get easier. I was wrong. My grief for Bhai is intense because he didn’t get this far and I feel I never got to know him. My grief for Lenny is off the scale because he should be here and his life was snatched at the moment of immense joy for most parents. So here we are and there are some worries medically – we aren’t sure the level of concern or the causes, there are so many unknowns so we need increased monitoring. Reassuring? No! Lenny’s monitoring throughout labour was fine and then he died.
We have a world class medical team who are so invested in this pregnancy, Lenny and Bhai are helping their sister by providing a wealth of information, I can access and interpret medical research and Roy can crunch numbers in milliseconds. Yet there is so much uncertainty. We are not confident we will bring this baby home and there are times when the fear, doom and dread is so heavy. This. Is. Hard.
PAL is an endurance test, more like cycling the length of New Zealand than going to a downhill bike park. I’m near the end now. I’m on the Haast Pass. The last mountain pass of the trip. It’s hot. Humid. I have morning sickness. I’m desperately missing my two boys and wondering wtf I’m doing here – I should be home with them. My bike is so heavy. I’ve come so far but this task feels impossible. I can’t see the road ahead, it’s windy. Parts of the pass are impossibly steep. Roy has taken some of my load but he can’t take it all. The bike is too heavy to push, I have to ride it, this is my journey.
Motorised vehicles are struggling to get up some parts of the pass (just like non loss people would struggle with these kind of worries in pregnancy) but it’s not on a par. Not nearly. Some sections are a 20% gradient and the only way through is to take tiny segments at a time. Self doubt is ever present.
Somehow though, taking tiny sections at a time, not thinking of the entire journey. I got to the top of the Haast Pass. That’s how I’m managing now- stepping stones. One appointment to the next. Unsure what is around the corner. The only way I’m doing this is by trying to be the mum that Lenny and Bhai would be proud of.
Unlike the Haast pass my grit, determination and hard work can’t get me through. The challenge is almost the opposite. To surrender, to accept the uncertainty, the unknowns, trust what we do know and clutch at hope. We all have different journeys. I fully acknowledge many in this community would give anything for PAL to be part of theirs. I need to respectfully acknowledge though that this is hard. But I’m doing it.
Disclaimer: I won’t be disclosing medical details here and please unless you’re on my medical team or are equipped with high quality RCTs or systematic reviews- no advice, no matter how well intentioned. The best support right now is to validate my feelings and talk to me about bikes/dogs/anything but pregnancy or babies. If you are pregnant and have any concerns, please seek medical advice.