I met Guest Blogger #15, the lovely Aussie April, through Snapchat. She has been involved in my #tellthetruththursday and also the #30daysofgratitude challenge. We’ve connected on Instagram and Twitter too! She is so supportive and a sweet loving lady. So when she said she was working on a LOVE story for the Guest Blogger Month I was delighted. Then when I read her submission I was floored, blown away and in awe at this woman’s strength. Get yourself prepared….
Experiences of LOVE
Our first baby died on the 26th February 2013. Our second, on the 31st January 2014. The first died inside my womb but continued to grow, even without a heartbeat and had to be removed. The second, an organic, spontaneous miscarriage.
In April 2015 I gave birth to a healthy baby boy and in April 2017 a healthy baby girl.
These experiences challenged and changed me, but most of all challenged and changed my concept of love, completely.
From early in my adolescence I felt different to other people. I never felt I fit in anywhere. There were a group of us at High School who knocked around together, but I always felt that I was on the fringe; that I was missing ‘the joke’ or worse, that I was the joke. I never had a steady best friend or a confidant. Instead, I wrote. I wrote about all the things (real and imagined) that happened to me. My pen was my best friend.
Writing began the thing I loved the most and I have written my way out and through almost every experience in my life.
In my early 20’s, after several medical issues, I was told by my Doctor that I would never have children.
Once I had this confirmed via second opinion I made some tough decisions. I ended my relationship. I moved to a new house. I put my energy into my career and I worked every spare minute I had. I spent time with my new nephew; I got on with my life knowing I would never have my own children.
And I stopped writing.
In the next few years I purposely looked for a partner who didn’t have kids and didn’t want any. I had several relationships, none of which panned out. When I met Cory, I was 25 and he was 37. We became close friends — best friends. We talked every day and soon we knew we wanted to spend our lives together. In one of our long talks I had explained my infertility. He understood and I felt that I’d met someone who didn’t want anything from me except love and I was happy to give it.
When we started to talk about getting married we also reconsidered having children. We talked a lot about this. I made a hard decision to go to be examined, again, to see if anything had changed since almost ten years had passed. I was astonished to learn that my Doctor now believed it would be possible to have children. He warned it may not be a smooth road, however.
This took quite some time to sink in. For both of us.
After a few medical procedures we were given the green light to try and conceive. It took longer than we expected. But eventually, when I was 32, we conceived our first child.
We had a couple of ultrasounds and we saw our baby’s heartbeat. We both cried. I had not anticipated how much I loved this little being growing in me and seeing a heartbeat everything seemed perfect. Only a day or so later I started to bleed. This went on for a couple of weeks, but I had no pain and the doctor assured me it was okay, that this does happen sometimes. I worried and I stressed. I worked myself up into such a mess that when the pain started I was out of my mind with grief. After another ultrasound it was confirmed — there was no longer a heartbeat. The baby had grown normally but the heart had stopped. We were shocked and distraught. Even the ultrasound technician cried.
The Doctor at the clinic arranged for me to go to hospital. I had to go home for a couple hours and then present to the local hospital. I cried desperately, Cory held me, we sat there watching the clock. When we arrived at the hospital we met with the surgeon and discussed our options. We agreed to have our baby surgically removed to prevent any risk to my health or future fertility. They had given me medication that started contractions and cramping and I was in agony. Tears, inescapable, ran freely down my cheeks. Any amount of self-consciousness was gone, I felt stripped to my bare self. Cory looked panicked and he felt so far away.
Just before they came to take me for surgery I kissed my Cory good bye. My helpless, lonely, hungry and tired Husband had to let me go. I looked at him; terrified, only-just-holding-it-together. The guilt overwhelmed me. I explained to Cory that I expected he might leave me now that I was unable to follow through with the birth of our first child. He looked confused, hurt and astonished. He wrapped his strong, twice-the-size-of-mine hands around mine. He squeezed my hand so tightly that my nails dug into my palm. He told me how wrong I was. How I was what mattered to him. That if there was a choice between me and the ‘pip’ (our name for the baby) it was always me. Warmth filled my heart. Even though we were married, I had not ever really known how much he loved me. It was wondrous and it was heart breaking at the same time. Heart breaking that I had never realised how truly amazing my Husband was and how much he loved me. I was as much a part of him as one of his limbs and I felt so humble.
When they wheeled me out to go home, Cory was there waiting. He looked nervous and sad. We made small talk. In the following days Cory was by my side almost every moment and we talked, listened and shared all our thoughts. It was the most honest I have ever been with anyone.
It was also the first time that I felt unconditionally loved by anyone other than my parents. This man had freely given me his whole heart and his trust. The lesson of this has left me with great gratitude that I met him and that he continues to be my biggest supporter, confidant and best friend.
Many months of grief and recovery followed and at Cory’s suggestion I began to write again. My love of writing returned and I healed myself by writing about our experience. I was wracked with nerves when I published some of my experience on my blog, but many people reached out to share their experiences. I realised that love could expand beyond me — that it could help heal other people too.
Sometime later we decided to try again. I felt certain that I would let us down. Cory reassured me that no matter what happened we loved each other and we could face anything. We did. A few months later, we lost our second baby. This time though, the difference was that I knew I was completely supported and loved. Truly knowing that made me go a lot softer on myself. I felt more rational and more capable. It was earlier in the pregnancy, so I could manage the miscarriage myself at home without the trauma of surgery. Again, Cory stayed by my side. He made me tea and sat through endless conversations of ‘what if…’ He made me laugh and eventually I made him laugh too.
Almost 8 months later, Cory offered me a glass of wine with dinner. I refused and when he asked me why I told him I was pregnant again. He grinned. I grinned. For some reason, it felt right. As if we knew that this time, things would be okay.
At Easter 2015, 2 days before my own birthday and 2 weeks early, our son, Jack came into the world to the tune of ‘My Happiness’ by Powderfinger. He peed on the surgeon as they took him out of me. We laughed and we cried. The moment I saw him and held him, my heart felt like it might explode.
It rained heavily over the next few days. On our second night in hospital I sent Cory home to rest. He was so tired and had not left my side and barely eaten since we arrived at the hospital in labour. That night, I held my son in my arms and we watched the rain drip down into the little garden by my window. I told him how much he was loved. I taught him about rain drops and the stars. He investigated my eyes and made gurgled baby noises at me.
Once again, unconditional love came into my life.
In the following 2 years I learned more than I had in the three decades before it. I learned what it is to love and be loved. To be selfless and to give everything you have for someone else. To hold a feverish baby in my arms — completely powerless; to teach a child to eat, crawl, walk, talk… I have watched his unique personality emerge and I am in awe of him.
We became a solid, bonded family, the three of us. I felt that we could take on the world. We discussed having another baby — the risks and the gains. We didn’t decide, but our daughter did and before we could even start trying there it was, a positive test which became a strong heartbeat. She grew big in my belly and I enjoyed every second I felt her roll and kick.
Again, 2 weeks early, in April 2017 along came little Violet. She was tiny and beautiful. On our first night alone in hospital I told her the story of her Dad and I and our Jack. I told her how much she was loved and wanted and she stared back at me with a serious face. I knew I was facing a new challenge with her — but that eventually she would smile as much as I did at seeing her for the first time.
When Jack first met Violet, he was distraught. He had looked forward to having a Sister. He’d rub my belly and he’d seen ultrasound pictures of feet and hands and her face. But he hadn’t bet on the fact that this serious little girl was coming home with us. It took time and patience, but I have watched Jack fall in love with his Sister. He dotes on her, shares toys and jokes with her. He teaches her and washes her hair in the bath. Violet loves him back equally, in fact, Jack dancing was the first thing that made her laugh. That serious girl has been lightened by his love — we all have.
Sometimes love is a gift you do not even know you have been given. For some of us we don’t open our eyes and hearts to it until we are faced with the unthinkable and finally see those that stand by our side and when we are broken, stripped to our basic selves, we can see what was there all along. My Husband’s love is eternal and unconditional and enduring. Our love for our children is infinite. Whenever I think I am facing something difficult or insurmountable I draw on that and I am filled with confidence, assuredness and gratitude. I will be forever thankful for the experiences that led me to love.
Thank you April for sharing your incredible LOVE story. It is a testament to you how you’ve weathered these storms in life and come out with such a grateful heart. Your two children are amazing and you and Cory are blessed to have each other. I hope other couples reading this who might have gone through similar situations hold fast to one another. You’re proof that hope is possible and LOVE ever present!
P.S. April’s snapchat handle is @violetashes If you’d like a wonderful friend on social media