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  • Gemma

How are you? Who are you?

(A post on life after second trimester loss of twins and early miscarriage)

How are you? A question we get asked and ask others a lot. A more suitable question for me at the moment is: who are you? The answer to that question is: I have no idea. The woman in the photo I’m looking at is me, but yet she's a complete stranger to me. I look in her eyes and don’t see me, not even a little bit.

‘They’ say big life events change you and God knows I’ve had enough of those the past three years. But for some reason, deep down I still knew me. That was until August 23rd. The night of my emergency hysterectomy. I needed a full hysterectomy. Now don’t go and tell me “of course that changes you”, because I know it does. However, what I’m talking about is bigger than just me.

5 1/2 months prior to this night, on March 4th, we lost our precious twin girls Roisin and Caoimhe. On August 18th we also lost our 3rd baby. A beautiful little girl who we named Aibhlinn Victoria. Our daughters dying was (together with my fiance’s death) the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, but I don’t have to tell you that, because if you read this you know how it feels or you have someone close who knows.

The embryo that grew and became baby Aibhlinn, was our last one so we knew no more babies, but it hadn’t sunk in yet, we were too busy grieving our babies.

When I came to the hospital that night, August 23rd, I didn’t know I was going to have surgery. I didn’t know it would turn my life upside down in a way that was forever changing everything. I didn’t know all the hopes and dreams my husband and I had for the future would be completely crushed that night. I didn’t know they would traumatize us both so much that I would end up desperately wanting to die. But it did.

The next weeks were spent trying to recover from surgery. One of the things they don’t inform you enough about is how insane your hormones get after a hysterectomy. Or maybe it was just this hospital, which, during my time there, failed us in many ways. Anyway, I wasn’t able to start HRT (hormone replacement therapy)for several reasons, I was severely depressed and slowly but surely my mental health started to deteriorate. In the meantime I was trying to support my traumatized husband and be somewhat of a mama to my big kids.

At the end of September my husband flew back to our home in NL with my big kids (they needed to go back to school). I wasn’t allowed to fly yet due to my slow physical recovery and mentally I was not able to take part in family life. Am I ashamed to say this? You bet. But it’s the hard and painful truth. So I stayed here and two of our friends stayed at the house with me. I continued doing my daily therapy, with my husband doing his own and our joined sessions virtually.

It was during these weeks that reality slowly started to sink in and almost killed me. After that moment of utter despair and a shit load of stitches, I decided I had to fight. I kept going to therapy, got extra meds for my depression and after a lot of consideration I also started HRT. Everyone was keeping their fingers crossed the combination of these would give me some breathing space.

It did. The dark clouds in my brain were lifted a little bit. They lifted enough for me to be able to acknowledge a little bit what I was feeling. Which was mainly confusion, sadness and fear. And this is the part where we go back to what I was saying at the beginning. Who am I? I don’t know. What do I know? I know my body is empty. I know my heart is broken. I know I love my husband. I know I love all my kids. I know I am so proud to be his wife and their mama. I know I'm not who I was. I know I want to live.

But… if I don’t know who I am, how does my husband feel about me? Will he love the new me? (whoever she is)...Will he be disappointed in me? Am I still able to be the mama I was to my earthside kids? Will I ever become a good mama to my girls in heaven? What kind of life will we have? So many questions, so few answers.

It's now 7 weeks and a few days since my surgery. Yesterday, my husband and big kids arrived back in Ireland and all four of us will fly back to NL next weekend. It was (and still is) one of the happiest and also most nerve-wracking moments of my life.

Because I knew, once they walk into the house, our new life will start. A life without Roisin & Caoimhe or Aibhlinn on earth. A life without a uterus and therefore without the hopes and dreams of my husband and I ever having a baby earthside together. A life without all the hopes and dreams we had built together. My life, our life, has been altered in such a way that we’re beginning from scratch. A life unknown. And that’s absolutely terrifying, which is an understatement in itself. We have so much healing to do, which is probably gonna take us a lifetime. But we have each other, and guess what? We still love each other very much, even though right now I don’t have a clue who I am.

Finishing with the sweet words of my husband: Right now you might not know who you are, but I know you because your heart hasn’t changed.

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