As the one year mark quickly approaches, I find myself writing less and less. I know I’m not writing because I find myself avoiding the inevitable emotions of one year. We will have made it a year. Of course we made it, we weren’t given the choice. No one chooses this path. It just happens. You make yourself get through it. Slowly and painfully, but you do.
I was reminded today that one year ago, I was 40 weeks and I left work on maternity leave. I felt proud that I was able to keep working that far along in my pregnancy.
“Happy 40 weeks and guess (due) date to me! Made it this far, so I decided it's time to go on maternity leave 😂😜 maybe some rest will coerce her out during the next 2 weeks“
I remember enjoying the time off work, relaxing and getting the remaining details put together for her birth. I remember the false start I had the following Tuesday. We were so excited, Camden took the day off. When the Braxton Hicks subsided a few hours later, we ended up going out for breakfast and enjoying the day together. The last few days of “just us.” I remember my last prenatal appointment the next day. She was head down and had a healthy heartbeat. Everything was perfect.
As her birthday approaches, memories pop into my head from that day and the days following in the hospital. The emotion is just as strong as it was a year ago. The longing for her is still there, the ache in my arms to hold her is still there, every detail of her birth will always be there in my mind. Nothing will ever change those feelings.
No, it’s not short for an explicit word. It’s an acronym for methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase. It’s the gene responsible for making the MTHFR enzyme, which plays a part in processing amino acids. This enzyme specifically involves the processing of folate. After some recent blood work was done, I have the MTHFR gene mutation. More accurately, I have the MTHFR C.665>T gene mutation.
First, it’s fairly common and most people don’t know they have it. It’s not just a mutation in women, it’s also found in men. It’s associated with various health problems, but may not cause any issues if you have said gene mutation. There’s a bunch of research and information out there on the internet. Some helpful websites were:
Again, these were helpful for me. There are many other websites with information if I’ve piqued your curiosity. What I’m about to write is my own understanding about it. I’m not a medical professional, just a mom trying to figure out what it all means.
In regards to me though, I’m going to stick to what MTHFR means to me and future pregnancies. The main concerns with MTHFR and pregnancy is 1. I am susceptible to blood clots. It doesn’t mean I will, but there is a higher chance I could and 2. Since MTHFR is responsible for the processing of folate, the gene mutation mean my body cannot process any form of synthetic folate (aka folic acid) into a usable form. As we mostly all know, folate is a key vitamin in early fetal development.
This wouldn’t have been discovered if I never had the blood work done. I only had blood work done because at the end of December I had an 8 week appointment, only to discover an empty gestational sac (also known as a blighted ovum). There was the initial sadness and anger of another loss, but that was later replaced with a peace that if the MTHFR was never discovered, what if it would have caused a later loss? I am also choosing to not dwell on if this played a factor in Penelope’s birth. I am using this information to help make decisions about what it means for a future pregnancy.
My midwife has a plan of what to expect the next time I get pregnant. However, before that can happen, I’m starting a regiment of vitamins and supplements to prepare my body: a food based prenatal containing folate (not folic acid – which is harder to find), vitamin B12, vitamin B6, additional folate and baby aspirin. In addition to that, there are other vitamins and minerals which my body needs too: Iron, Magnesium and vitamin D. You might think that’s a lot to take and it is, but if this is what is required for my body to be prepared, then so be it. This is only to prepare my body. When I do get pregnant again, I get to add more. First is progesterone, a hormone often given to pregnant women during their first trimester. Next is a blood thinner, Lovenox. Lovenox, is a daily injected medication. Yes, injected. I’ve had to come to terms that in the future I will have to stick myself daily with a syringe for approximately 36 weeks. It’s a lot to do, but I’m not the first woman to experience this. There are many women who stick themselves daily throughout their pregnancy because you do what it necessary to bring that baby home. Is it over the top? Perhaps. Is it being cautious because you don’t want to have another loss? Yes.
I am not my midwife’s first case of MTHFR, she’s had many healthy babies born to moms with this gene mutation. Moms who probably took the same vitamins, supplements and medication. She is optimistic and reassuring for me when I can’t be for myself. As much as I want to look forward to what this year holds, I rely on other people to be hopeful for me. I just need to take it one day at a time.
2017, you were by far, the most devastating year in my life.
I wish I could celebrate this wonderful day with you. I wish I could see the wonder in your eyes, taking in all the exciting new things Christmas brings. I wish I could be happy today. I wish I could have woken up to you, excited to show you the joy Christmas brings. Smiles all around.
Eight beautiful roses were bought today, meaning eight months have passed. Today started like every 10th of the month does. I get ready, buy roses from the florist and head over to the cemetery. Typically, I clean off her headstone, put the roses in the vase and I write in my journals. I often wonder at these dates what she would be like, but the imagination can only run so far until reality hits. Tears flow and I grieve again.
I sometimes wonder what goes on in people’s heads when I post blogs about Penelope or articles about loss. I sometimes struggle with words to say when people say ‘you’re so strong’ or ‘I don’t know what I would do if that happened to me.’ I often think of what today would be like if Penelope was alive. I still think about what her personality would be like, what her laugh would sound like, what color her eyes are and if she would still have curls in her hair.
The grief is still very raw. Only today, it’s magnified. 6 months. 6 MONTHS!! How? How has it been 6 months already?! It’s a well-known fact that I’ve been dreading today, mainly because I’ve been sharing it freely. I’ve cried almost every day the past 2 weeks. It’s been a horrible countdown in my head and now it’s here.
As Penelope’s 6 month angel-versary approaches, I can’t believe I have made it this far. It doesn’t mean that the next 6 months will be any easier. No, I have my birthday and holidays to “make it through.” Days I don’t want to celebrate because again, I am reminded that she’s not here and she should be. Those important firsts. And in my mind, since the holidays seem to make time speed up even faster, then her 1st birthday would be approaching faster than I want it to. A day I dread most of all. A day that was supposed to be joyous. A day that means I’ve made it a year without her.
That phrase, encounter, action, or situation that sets into motion tears of sadness. They vary for everyone and sometimes I wish I knew what mine were ahead of time before the tears start. Typically it’s my thoughts and situations that get the tears flowing.
I’m finding this post extremely hard to write. Maybe it’s because I feel the pain my husband feels, or I’m trying to keep myself together for him so he can “enjoy” his Father’s Day or it’s another holiday without Penelope. Most likely, all the above.