November 2017 made it ten years since my last drink. I know the exact day because it’s the day my high school bestie brought her daughter into the world.
I stop in to visit bestie and baby at the hospital on my way to the serious business of the night: getting trashed. Mom and baby are in a bubble of love, their eyes are shining in pure oxytocin-induced ecstasy. Something clicks. Something has been clicking or trying to click for a while, then more with the arrival of my first niece and the imminent arrival of my second. This is it. I know what my heart is beating for. Suddenly it all makes perfect sense. I need to have children like I need oxygen. As is, I’m in no way fit to be a mom. I need a complete overhaul. My expectations are sky high. Best version of me required attract Mr Wonderful and be the best mom to our amazing offspring.
Skip ahead eight years and life is very different. I’ve put in the work. I’m stable and sober. I’ve manifested a significant part of my vision. I’ve found my Mr Wonderful, had our first amazing son, and am very pregnant with our second.
It’s Monday morning, and we’re in Cape Town planning a move from Port Elizabeth. I have a heap of estate agent appointments set up for the day. The first one is in Bergvliet. I know nothing about this area, or any area on my list today. It’s a process of elimination. Go, look, see and feel. Our move to Cape Town is imminent and my time is limited. The pressure is on, and of course, my expectations are sky high.
I must find:
- an area with great schools, where we will be sublimely happy
- a house that ticks all the boxes (budget, secure, family friendly, commute “able” for Mr Wonderful…and then some)
- Only six weeks to go before new baba arrives, almost three of those will be in Cape Town running ‘Operation Feel-Things-Out’
- Mr Wonderful is working, so its up to me and my toddling right-hand man to find this little piece of paradise
The morning starts at 4am. I feel odd. I can’t sleep. I’m holding, poking, then prodding my tummy. When last did I feel this little baba kick? I’m glued to google, checking his development stages, checking the survival rates of babies born prematurely. Somehow I’m convinced this baba will be born today. My toddling right-hand man has an in-built radar detection system. He’s usually a great sleeper but this particular morning he’s awake at my side. Good thing too, its forcing me to stay calm. We flick through images of what baby brother looks like in mommy’s big tummy.
Day breaks and Mr Wonderful wakes. “Everything is fine” he assures me. “You’re just stressing about everything going on”. He tells me to phone our home doctor and get a referral appointment with a Cape Town doctor just to put my mind at ease. Yes, this is good, solid, I can work with this. I can do this, check it out and then stop the stressing.
I’m dressed in a flash and straight onto the phone. No one’s picking up. Machine recording after recording. Why aren’t all gynaes like mine – at work at 7.30? We eat breakfast, and Mr Wonderful sets off. It’s 9am when I start getting answers but none of the referral doctors have openings. It feels like no one cares. I’m in real crisis here… but all of Cape Town’s ladies are having a gynae day today. Finally, a kind receptionist offers to add me to the end of the doctors schedule, 5 pm. 5pm …seems a life time away, but i get going with the busy morning of house hunting. My first stop is the farm village deli for the strongest shot of coffee and something chocolatey to get this baba jumping and jiving. Then off on my way to the first house. My focus is completely off. I’m half listening, and vacant. The agent waltzes me through the home, but it’s invisible. I can’t see a thing. Every minute feel like an hour. I feel like I’m going to explode. I politely ask the name of the closest hospital and make my escape. I’m now certain, I’ve felt nothing. I message a friend who’s carrying an (almost) term baby. “Have you felt any lull in movement lately, now that it’s coming to the end?” The answer is very clear, “No, is everything ok?” No, I’m desperate. I call Mr Wonderful and tell him I’m headed to the hospital. From the urgency in my voice he chooses to meet me there.
We park at the hospital. It seems like the series of parking lots are set up as a maze to confuse and delay me further. My toddling right-hand man is carrying me, my feet don’t touch the ground. I don’t want to go inside, but I’m moving with panicked certainty. Finally, we find the labour ward. They hook me up to machines. By the time Mr Wonderful arrives, we’ve established they can’t find a heart beat with the heart rate monitor. Somehow, I’m still optimistic. This is just our baba’s exit strategy. He’s coming to us today.
The labour ward nurse seems hopeful too (bless her) – she explains that he could be under my hip bone, or something like that. I’m not really listening to actual words. I’m filling in the gaps. I can see lips move and hear a muffled voice-like noise. I’m drawing my own conclusions at this point. Somewhere in the noise I gather that the doctor will do a scan. We need to exit the maze and find her consulting rooms, apparently an annex to the maze. We set off. There are no words. We are all silent. Even toddling right-hand man is silent …or maybe he’s talking. I don’t know.
We find the doctor, complete forms and wait. We’re next. Mr Wonderful is holding my hand and squeezing. Neither of us want to look at each other. We won’t cope. She appears and we greet. This is the woman who has the job of crushing us today? She asks a few questions. I lie down and she applies the cold gel to my enormous hump. She moves the scanner thingy and looks into the monitor. …It’s instant. I can see. I’m staring at her face. She knows. It’s like she knew before. Our little man is gone. She points to the monitor and explains, showing the heart chambers, that his heart has stopped. Nothing is moving, there is no sound. My eyes follow her hands to the screen. I can hear what she’s saying but I’m still hopeful in some way. Maybe she has a magic miracle plan. Instead she leaves the room to fetch a second doctor for “standard procedure” confirmation. There’s nothing else to conclude. The second doctor agrees. All life is gone, and we are left, spinning in space. Except we need to spin in space somewhere else. We need to find a place where our world can stop. Here things still need to continue. People with happier news need to greet this doctor today. Why and where and when and what are questions for tomorrow. The doctor advises that we should get to Port Elizabeth, to our own doctor. He’s the one who’ll make the next decision. For now, we just need to get home. We need a plan.
- Don’t crumble, for the sake of each other
- Don’t crumble, find the car in the maze
- Don’t crumble, pack up temporary Cape Town accommodations
- Drive 10 hours back to reality. Back to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, pregnant friends, and a world where life continues.
- Don’t crumble
We both move like machines. Our bags are packed, then the car. Within a couple of hours, Cape Town is behind us. As we drive, I let everyone know. Everyone I know. I’m trying in some way to let the world know so that somehow this can change things … but it’s just us in crisis, the world is unmoved. We drive into the darkness. The familiarity of home, the comfort of our bed will elude us tonight. The darkness has swallowed us. Its pitch black and rural, so we stop and make an attempt at sleeping. It feels like a year. The ball attached to my body makes BEING desperate and painful. Mr Wonderful has transformed into my Protector and Shield. Toddling and I are his gold.
Once morning arrives it doesn’t take long and we’re at our doc. Its familiar but today we have no friends. My Protector and Shield is up. He’s vacilating between rageful agony and emptiness. Still he finds 100% to give me. “What is the least risk to my wife.” Our doctor is candidly considering options. Thinking aloud. There’s no risk to the baby’s life, so the main focus is keeping the risk as low as possible for mother. Mom has a caesar scar that’s two years old, there’s a risk that it ruptures however a caesarean is still riskier so the answer is natural delivery. At this point It feels like I’ve not only been kicked to the floor, but had the wind knocked from me. I’m processing. I’m not sure what I was hoping for but every new piece of information is cruel. I’m in a state of super consciousness. I can see myself as if standing on the outside. He continues. The tricky bit will be to get the body into labour. Induction will need to be slow because of the caesar scar. He also explains that we are fortunate. This is better news than for someone in my position without medical care. This unfortunate soul would just ‘keep walking’, until the body catches on to the tragic news and expels the foetus.
What could take up to 3 weeks in nature is reduced to 4 days of ups and downs as my body resists and then finally concedes to labour.
Once admitted into the labour ward it feels as though we are sealed into a cocoon of nurturing. It’s surreal. For me, there’s an uncanny sense of lightness to the experience. Not long into our stay I have a dream. It’s heaven sent. The message is that our baby is coming back to us. Theres a name too: Phoenix, and Phoenix is a girl. I’m in a drug-induced state, I ask Mr Protector what this means and he reminds me of Greek mythology. This feels good and I hold onto the feeling. I’m full of faith and love. Perhaps its all the drugs.
My protector has a different experience: he’s on the outside looking in. He camps in the arm-chair beside me for every single second of every single day. I’m not sure that he even eats, sleeps or visits the bathroom. I can’t help feeling a deep sense of gratitude. I start feeling grateful for everything. So grateful that we’re alive, grateful we have a beautiful son, grateful I have my Protector. Grateful for my amazing family and friends … they inspire awe. My dad has shown his superhero true colours, my family is doing everything they can, my son is getting pure love from his granny, my friends are making sure I wake up to coffee and pastries, jewelry, magazines, love quilts, flowers, messages full of love … its pouring in, washing over us.
The staff in the hospital appears to be hand-picked from the Divine just for us. Our nurse is my Champion. She’s dedicated just to us. Every minute of every day she is there, or so it seems. She knows what I’m going through, she’s experienced it first hand. She has so much love and wisdom. Some things are so super difficult to digest, but coming from her, its helps. She explains the importance of holding our baby. We haven’t processed these details. We haven’t projected the consequences into the future, we can’t see that far. She knows and she shares. She motivates me and gets my mind to focus and harness its power. She explains that the way we are heading I will not deliver naturally. My body is just not opening up. It looks like a caesarean is inevitable. I have the drugs administered and the contractions start and then slowly peter off. This was the same with our toddling (at 41 weeks). She explains why this is not good news for me. She shines her light. She explains how the body doesn’t heel as well after a UTI. Normally after a c-section, mom is so focused on the joy of a new baby that the wound heals naturally and easily behind the scenes. Not so the case with no baby. There will be a wound, it will scar, there will be pain, no driving, no independence, no moving on for another 6-12 weeks. In some strange way, it brings me great comfort to know that my doctor has my back, he’s been adamant. I find strength and determination and focus and I make this labour into my victory. I give it everything. They administer the drugs, I feel the contractions start and I hop onto the bouncing ball and I don’t stop. It’s like its my only purpose in life – I give it 100%. I’m like an olympic athlete in training. I set intervals and take short breaks to eat and rest. Slowly but surely I start to dilate and within 24 hours, I feel the pressure of his head and call for the nurse. Its time … I check the watch on the wall.
At 8pm on Friday night it’s over. I gain feeling in my legs quickly and have a shower. The angelic staff of the day are now gone and the night staff ship us off out of our cocoon to the cold general ward, my Shield has to sleep on the cement floor of a multisleeper. Reality sets in. My mind wants to slip into a hole. I hear news of a friend delivering her healthy baby girl earlier that day, in the same ward as me and my tragedy. Reality is biting down hard. I handed away 10 years of my life to addiction. I started at this family thing late. My friends are having their second babies, and they are 10 years younger than me. If I’m blessed to have another baby it will be on the doorstep of 40. It feels like a cold harsh reminder of the consequences of my actions in my twenties. …This is not the time to think… I remind myself, Its been a long day. We held the shell of our little boy. We watched his body being taken away by the funeral home. We signed the papers. We’re not supposed to be finding positives right now. It doesn’t take long and we find sleep.
In just three short months I’m pregnant again. The doctor assures us that as long as we are ready mentally, physically we’re good to go.
It may seem crazy but it feels like my mind has had a makeover. It feels like the loss of our baby angel has pulled me into alignment. Off my perch of longing and negativity and fear. Straight into the here and now where love resides. Where infinite possibilities reveal themselves to those who care to look out for them. I was clean and sober but living in the prison of my mind. Locked in regret of the past. Allowing failures and missed opportunities to keep me down.
This baby angel came to teach me the most valuable lesson of my life. It’s all here in the now. How I choose to live in the now. Those choices are clear.
- I choose to BE present and put regret behind me where it belongs.
- I choose to stay focused on what matters most. Fancy things can’t give cuddles at night.
- I choose to BE authentic and stand in my power. What’s up with feeling anything less?
- I choose being kind and gentle to me.
- I choose to stay open, & aligned to all that is good, God as I know it to be.
I gaze down at my baby boy, and feel infinitely blessed. I realize that it’s me that has risen from those ashes. I am strong enough to live 1000 years. I am the girl from my dream.
The Phoenix is me.
Thank you for reading
I'm Sharon Schneider
I have a crystal child, and have discovered the crystal vibrations in our family. I write about family, food, the earth, and my life before children.
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