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Little Limeheart – A journey towards meeting our third daughter

The following are unedited pieces written both before the conception of our third daughter and through out our pregnancy together…leading up to 9 days prior to birth…

I won’t have access to post my thoughts again until after the birth but very much look forward to ‘introducing’ Little Limeheart in the not so distant future…who will have an entirely different name by then!!

Monday September 20, 2010

To our dear third child,

How we long for you and look forward to meeting you! We are ready for you to come along now…and so hope you are ready to be part of our family…to grow within me, healthy and strong, to emerge into the world and be with us in every way…to make our family whole. To help us like your big sister Tienne does, by just being you! You will remind us again of how precious life is…give us hope…fill our hearts with love of the purest kind and help us enjoy our love of both Saskia and Tienne as well as our love of you.

I am preparing my body and mind for you as I write, it is spring and new life is emerging everywhere – we are ready for you our precious child and so hope you are ready for us!

Much love,

Raelene Joy Pethica
Your future mum xxxxx

…and if by chance I am writing to two, not one…we will feel doubly blessed in having both of you!

November 6th, 2010 – A Poem for our Third Child…

You are skipping through my head with your whisper quiet steps
You are nestled in my heart, bringing hope with no regrets
You are reflected in my eyes and in the memories of your sisters
You provide meaning for survival…

May 13th, 2011

Dear Tienne,

I’ve woken up thinking of you – which in itself is not so unusual… although I feel that I need to try and record some of my feelings, feelings I experience daily…

I am so very proud of you my beautiful eldest daughter.

I had the privilege of watching you at swimming lessons yesterday afternoon. It was a late lesson, following a busy day at school and playing with your friend Annabel. I needed to coax you to go – I’m becoming quite good at coming up with imaginative, creative stories to ‘warm you up’ and get you in the right mood to do things (sneaky mama!)…but once you were at the pool you were fine. I’d forgotten your goggles and so we purchased a ‘spare pair’ – you momentarily despaired that they were green and not pink but were easily swayed to decide that green was quite cool after all and then you never looked back…

A new swimming teacher, a small class – just three children, Tiki, Kaiser & yourself…You concentrated, you listened and you tried so hard…you were determined…you had fun…you were great…and I smiled both inwardly and outwardly and even laughed out loud. You really are a precious girl.

Sometimes it still catches me by surprise just how much I love you. The way you think about things and question me…how thoughtful you can be…how you instinctively seem to know how I am feeling, sometimes seemingly before I know myself. Your cheeky grin and gentle humour, your thirst for knowledge and love of learning…love of music, dance, art and imaginative play…love for friends and family & fun…love of life…

You speak often of ‘my brother’ or ‘my sister’ – they have replaced Condi and her brother Jack, your imaginary friends who seemed to exist no longer once Saskia died. I sometimes wonder if there is a link or it was purely coincidence. You still ask on occasion if there is a baby in my tummy – if you will have another baby brother or sister – one that won’t die and that you can play with and look after. You still on occasion speak of Saskia and wonder out loud if she is lonely. It breaks my heart every time but at the same time my love for you just grows and grows and I feel grateful yet again to have you in my life.

Your dad and I have had our ups and downs of late but we seem to be bumbling along together okay at present and we too would love you to have a baby brother or sister.

I am scheduled to have an operation May 20, to have a polyp/fibroid removed from my uterus. After that we will try again to conceive another child. There has even been talk of IVF – something neither of us had really considered until now, until we were told unequivocally that given our ages it was our best chance…and so another option/decision may need to be made.

Regardless of what we decide one thing is certain; my love for you. I love being your mother, every stage, every age has been amazing. I have learnt so much from you over these past 5 years (including our pregnancy together) and I look forward to continuing our mother/daughter journey through life together.

I love you Tienne Yasmin Pethica.

Thank you for being the unique and very special little girl you are. I feel eternally blessed that you are part of my life, as my life wouldn’t be nearly as bright without you.

Friday August 27, 2010

Dear Tienne,

For so many months I have written to your baby sister. I write often; whenever the mood takes me. Somehow it helps make me still feel connected to her and eases a little of the deep seated grief I feel on an ongoing basis. I have come to think of late that it will also provide a written record of this time in our lives as a family although this is not the reason I continue to write.

I have been trying to work this morning while you are at school and my thoughts keep returning again and again to you, my beautiful eldest daughter…and it is to you I now want to write…

I feel so fortunate to have you in my life, to have so many opportunities to spend time with you, enjoy your company and lovely presence, to be able to share in all those hundreds of milestones you continue to achieve…to watch you grow and flourish. You have on occasion said to me, “Mama, you are my best friend” – every time it melts and warms my heart in the very best way. You Tienne, at all of 3 and a half years are my best friend too. I don’t imagine you will always consider me your best friend but I hold great hopes that we will always be as close as we have been since the day you were born, since before you were born…when I would sing to you or play music and you would tap your feet from within me almost in time! It is you who knows me better than anyone else on this earth, sometimes even better than I feel I know myself…you have seen me at my very best and on occasion my very worst…you have seen me unbelievably happy and at peace with the world and almost floating away from myself immersed in immeasurable grief. Always, you are there, nearby…with your own unique way of looking at everything, those never ending questions (which are wonderful by the way), your thoughtfulness and ready sunny smile…the warmth and enthusiasm that you radiate and that sometimes seen stubborn streak and wonderful conviction you already have in yourself. There are so many beautiful sides to your personality – your gentleness and your great strength, your agility and on occasion awkwardness, your tenacity and peacefulness…two sides of a coin that somehow come together in harmony and make you YOU.

I know I write to you at Christmas time and/or around your birthday each January. I see and spend time with you, talk, laugh and cry with you daily so I haven’t felt the need to write and record more for me…for you…but I need you to know how important you are to me, to your Dad, to our family. I love that now that you draw, you draw families, sometimes just Dad, you, Lottie and I, on occasion Saskia too (always sleeping) but that you always include a rainbow. A rainbow has become part of our family and somehow it seems so fitting. I always think of Saskia when I see a rainbow as you know but I also always think of you and your beautiful artwork and your lovely outlook on life…and death…

Your Dad and I are currently trying to have a third precious child; a brother or sister for you, another daughter or a son for us. We will feel blessed if we are successful but even if we aren’t we will always feel so incredibly blessed to have you in our lives. A new baby will never replace Saskia and our feelings for her, never replace you and our feelings for you…we have plenty of love to go around! I didn’t think it was possible as I loved you so very much when you were first born and we had our first contact but my love for you continues to grow daily, just as despite Saskia’s death my love for her continues to grow daily also. Another child would just add to this love but time only can tell if this will eventuate.

Wednesday March 16, 2011

Dear Saskia,

Little escapes the attention of your big sister.

We were having a shower the other night and she said she would like to draw a picture just for you on the shower screen. She drew you holding her hand and me near by…we were all in our house (she asked me to help draw the roof)…no rainbow this time. I still write your name every day in the steam that collects on the shower screen, I can’t imagine a time when I will not. This fact Tienne has noticed, she is so in tune with me. She reiterated how her picture was a special one for you and I told her I loved her, that she was a wonderful big sister, a wonderful daughter and that her picture was indeed very special.

A couple of days ago I saw her watching a little boy at her school holding his two
month old baby sister. She just watched quietly and didn’t say anything to me then or later but I could almost hear her brain ticking…her favourite games at present all involve imaginary brothers and sisters and my heart continues to shatter piece at a time.

I knew how lucky we were to have Tienne before you were conceived. I wondered how we could possibly be so very lucky to have two beautiful children to love, nurture & learn from. I rejoiced knowing we were having two girls although of course I would have been just as happy had you been a boy. And then our luck changed, I didn’t listen hard enough and you died. I still feel so very lucky to have Tienne, she is the most important person in my life but I had (have) enough love for two of you, I so dearly wanted to have both of you in my life, in the reach out and touch way of life…

I find myself torn between running away from everything as I know it, it just feels too painful at times and rushing headlong into the pain, embracing it, harnessing it and directing it into more positive avenues…It just gets too much at times and I have finally made an appointment to speak with a professional councillor, to see if it helps me move forward more readily, not break down quite so often.

We have still been unable to conceive again. My body is a mess to be honest and the stress of the past 15 months is showing…I have aged, my body is weary, my mind even wearier. I continue to sleep very little and have got into bad habits, not eating as well as I once did, not eating often enough and not taking time out for me – scared as I am of being with my own thoughts – longer than the already long nights spent with them…

My work keeps me busy and I still have the frustrating inability to say ‘no’ and I take on other commitments that I could well do without…at least for the short term…I know I need to allow myself to heal a little…think of time out as a balm…embrace it, not fear it…for the good of myself and all those who love me.

So many nights of late I have laid sobbing, the end result sheer exhaustion & despair…nothing can bring you back to me, nothing can change what happened…but still I sob again, great wracking sobs that leave my body heaving and shaking and myself looking down upon myself like I am some alien creature that I don’t really know. How did I get here? When? Why? Oh Why?

Your dad is off to Queensland today for nearly a week with a couple of friends. A surfing/bucks holiday away. It will do him good. Outwardly he doesn’t grieve as much as I do but I know he feels your absence keenly and I’ve seen his eyes when he finds me gently stroking your photograph and hear his whispered words when he sometimes wakes to hear me crying.

I have written to you daily in my mind but not so often physically of late…in part due to the sheer business of my life, in part trying to see if it helps…it doesn’t…I need to keep communicating with you the best ways I know how. I compose poems for you on my way to work, I yearn for you when I see the numerous babies around the age you would be now…I am starting to envy each pregnant woman I see (something I have never felt previously)…

There is so much sadness in the world at present; Japan has experienced the most devastating Tsunami and thousands upon thousands of people are dead, injured and homeless. It is dreadful to witness as the footage is plentiful. Other areas in the world are immersed in war or dealing with other natural disasters…a huge quake in Christchurch, NZ among others. And while these make me so very grateful for all that I have, my heart sad and tears roll… it is still the memories of you that squeeze my heart, make my arms ache and long again for the millionth time for something that will never be. My greatest wish is for a peaceful world…a peaceful world with you in it.

May 13th, 2011

Dear Saskia,

I see the spaces where you should be – always. They are physical and it pains me to see them and yet I don’t wish for them to go away. I miss you more than ever.

I sometimes find myself just staring at a space – it could be at home, at Tienne’s school, at a shop, sitting in a park, in the car, in the bath…spaces you should occupy.

A lovely couple came into the shop yesterday. The mother had been in before – she’s regularly purchased nappies from me for her little boy. I had not met her young son before; during previous visits he was always in the car with his dad. I met him yesterday though, a bright, solemn boy exactly one month younger than you would have been. It hit me hard looking at him, imagining you there too. This is just another moment in my journey surviving your death…just another moment…

Shane & Alicia had their legal marriage ceremony last Sunday at your Nanny & Poppy’s house. It was a beautiful day, clear skies, a gentle breeze, with warmth that settled on your skin in a pleasant way. Tienne, a little lost at the start of the day; soon settled into the familiar, happy rhythms of play with her cousins. I love seeing her with them but it also makes me acutely aware of how much she misses having another child nearby always…a brother or sister she can see and feel…that lives with her, with us; and shares our day to day life.

Sunday May 8 was also Mother’s Day and the date my mother died in 1974. Somehow I felt her presence on the day and it seemed fitting that such a happy occasion should be celebrated on the same date…reminding us how closely linked life, new beginnings and death all are. Remembering those not with us are loved no less in their physical absence. It was fitting that a beautiful union between two loved ones was witnessed by mothers from several now related families; with the spirits of other loving mothers nearby, dancing among the beautiful gardens created by your Nanny & Poppy. The grandmothers of both families witnessed the signing of the register with proud mothers (their daughters) looking on. What better Mother’s Day present could there be?

The day provided me with hope as well as melancholy, happiness as well as longing…tears for all emotions. I looked at my brother and Alicia and felt overwhelming pride and joy – they are a wonderful team and I have no doubt will have a happy marriage as they continue on their life’s journeys together. I looked at my mum and dad and felt great love and thankfulness…I thought of my birth mother and wished fervently that somehow she was there too, looking on, perhaps smiling…I looked at the children and felt peace…I looked at your Dad and just hoped…

Monday May 9 Tienne and I booked our flights to Paris – yes, we are going despite me having all but giving up on the idea. It feels like such a gift on so many levels…

Tuesday August 2, 2011

Yesterday we found out I was pregnant – the result showing clear and strong in the tester window. I have never got off the toilet, pulled clothes up and around and raced down our hallway so quickly…The look on my face must have said it all and I brandished the tester and grinned at Frank, hugged him and then didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so overwhelming were my emotions…

We took a photograph of the tester with its wonderful plus sign…a positive result…that small sign filling us with so much hope…we hugged and then neither of us knew what to do next!

Five days late, I had allowed myself only the smallest amount of hope. I had been told that the hormone injection etc might cause a delay in my cycle.

It amazes me how often you seem to need to take drastic action before life seemingly gives you a break. Two weeks ago today we ventured to Perth – Frank, Tienne, Lottie & I with Frank and I spending all day undergoing all sorts of tests, signing up for IVF treatment, due to begin next month. Today I could have been driving to Bunbury on one of numerous drives to have blood collected, injections made…in a matter or weeks time another Perth trip for counselling sessions, more doctor’s examinations and yet other trips to harvest and implant eggs & semen. I finally went through the remainder of Saskia’s items last week and it was just as hard as every other step has been since her death. I was left with a pitifully small bag of mementos, including a precious rug my birth mother made for me when I was born. Despite so desperately wanting a third child I knew it was time, that I could recollect items if/as necessary. Other women and children will now benefit from the things I collected for Saskia’s use and while it is a bit ironic it is absolutely fine…they are just material, all that matters now is that the tiny being that is starting to evolve and grow within me gets all the nourishment, care and love I can provide.

I went to work in a daze, unable to settle to any task for any length of time. Fortunately I had several customers to keep me busy. I was bursting to tell someone our news, to scream to the world in fact…and I found myself pacing…at this early stage I’m not sure that’s a good sign as there is a long way ahead! I held our secret tight though as I promised Frank, the knowledge of growth, love & family held safely within.

The happiness inside me bubbled and churned…how wonderful to feel like that after so long. I guess yesterday subconsciously I knew there was plenty of time for other emotions later, yesterday was all about the discovery, the wonder and the feelings of being blessed. The feeling of opportunity, of faith, of life…

Last week for some reason a book caught my eye at the collectable shop up the road from Fishica. Not a book I would usually buy but it literally jumped out at me…the shop keeper gave it to me when I explained this…she wouldn’t take any money. It was one of those insight books by Susan Hayward and yesterday I held fast to the idea of our third child and prayed that this time we would have a healthy, happy ending…I opened to a page and this is what it said:

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds;
Your mind transcends limitations; your consciousness expands in every direction,
And you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world;
Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be…PATANJALI

This will not be a normal pregnancy, although saying that sounds silly as no pregnancy can be normal – each special and unique…but for me this will be different.

Mixed in with the joy I am already starting to feel fearful and I know I will need to undertake measures to stay calm and find peace. I need to find time for this new baby that has begun growing inside me, in the same way as I find and love my time with Tienne. I need to find time for me, perhaps including Lottie more…long, leisurely walks among nature…time to be active, to breathe and just ‘be’.

This is the start of our journey our third much wanted child and your Dad and I truly (and sadly) know how fragile and precious that journey is. Let’s make it a wonderful, healthy and happy journey…the beginning of your life with us as your family.

August 21st, 2011

Nearly eight weeks pregnant and I can honestly say that I have not taken any moment for granted. I am grateful for each day that I find myself still pregnant. I am currently full of a particularly nasty flu which I just don’t seem to be able to shake. I have spent more time resting in bed than at any time in my life I can remember. Tienne has been so sweet coming up to check on me regularly, bringing me up cups of water, reading to me, making me things, helping me down the stairs, doing her bit to keep the house tidy and cuddling me when she thinks I need it (I swear her cuddles have more than a little bit of magic in them as they really do make me feel better for a while)…

While I feel lousy physically it is a conscious effort not to worry about any affect my illness might have on the baby’s development. It is a miracle that I am growing a third precious child. At 42 I do know how lucky I am but also the higher risks involved both throughout the pregnancy and birth. But I also realise that I need to try and stay calm, alleviate possible stress…be realistic but also allow myself to believe in this miracle.

I feel like Saskia is somehow looking out for this baby but that doesn’t stop me from worrying each time I visit the toilet that I will find blood or panicking at each and every slightly unusual abdominal pain…it is going to be a long pregnancy in more ways than one.

We have nicknamed this baby Clown Fish as he/she was shy in showing us they were there. We spent a day of extensive IVF testing not knowing we were pregnant…very allusive! A day planning and discussing our best chances of falling pregnant given we had been trying for over 15 months…through our grief, through our hope, through our despair, through life…A day that somehow brought Frank and I closer though, something infinitely valuable. I can’t help but worry that I had a hormone injection and a tablet to stop my milk…but despite my worry you continue to grow to the best of my knowledge and so I have to put my faith in you and me and continue to work through this pregnancy as a team…me nourishing and loving you as best I can…starting with getting over this flu…and you continuing to grow and do your thing inside my body. It truly is a miracle…

I had a scare week six, although I still kept my faith in you; in us…despite my tears and shock inside I still felt you were there…you were okay…After our very clear positive home pregnancy test I booked the doctors to start the process rolling…have initial blood tests, book an initial scan etc. A student doctor was visiting the practice and I was asked if I minded her seeing me also. I agreed although warned I might get emotional….I assumed the regular doctor would be there too. I was wrong. I had pre-empted the need for a urine sample and carried that in with me. The young girl was nice but on hearing my request to confirm my pregnancy and write out the appropriate paperwork to have blood tests and book a scan didn’t seem to know what to do. She started asking me all sorts of questions about my background and noted from my computer file that I had two previous pregnancies. I explained that Saskia had been an unexpected stillborn at 40 weeks, dying in the final stages of labour. She didn’t say much and took my blood pressure…I was feeling vulnerable and just wanted her to do what I had requested. My urine sample still sat under my chair. Eventually the regular doctor came in and I explained my story again. He was sympathetic and immediately took the sample to test. He came back in and I could see from his face something wasn’t quite right…I asked ‘is it not showing positive?’…awkwardly he agreed that it did not seem positive although perhaps there was a faint line…He wrote out the paperwork to check with a blood test…the results would be back the following day…

I walked out in a bit of a daze but fortunately the lady who took my blood I have seen numerous times through Saskia’s pregnancy and following her death. She took my blood and then gave me a huge hug.

Following work I took another home pregnancy test. Again the result was an extremely clear positive.

My blood test came back positive, the ‘score’ showing I was definitely pregnant, so I’m not sure what went wrong with the doctor’s test…with the student doctors questionable ‘bedside manner’ and my seemingly negative test result it had been one of the ‘bumpiest’ doctor’s visits ever! Proof though that all is not always what it seems…

I went back to the doctors to get the original paperwork I’d requested and finally had my initial bloods & scan documents written up. What a rollercoaster…but finally I felt like I was back on a level playing field.

We have an ultra sound this Thursday…in part to check whether Clown Fish is one or two and confirm our due date (although you are likely to be born caesarean two weeks prior)…and then an appointment with Dr McKenna in Perth at week 10. One day at a time…one day at a time…

So far we have only told both sets of parents. We would like to wait until after our week 12 ultrasound before telling others. It’s not been as difficult as I would have thought, keeping such a secret. Under different circumstances I would have naturally wanted to shout to the world but you have entered our lives almost quietly, shyly (or perhaps you are a trickster!) and I’m not ready to share you just yet. You are much wanted and my feelings through this pregnancy differ on several levels to when I carried Tienne & Saskia. I was fortunate enough not to know or understand the tragedy of the death of a child, my child…I was naive in so many ways…too trusting that all would be okay.

It will be too difficult for Tienne to understand and wait 38 odd weeks and I want her to be the next to know…I also want to be reassured you are okay…that you are developing as you should…I don’t want to get others hopes up…I want to stay quiet and try and envelope myself in some semblance of peace…I need to learn patience!

I try and imagine you enveloped in your growing cocoon, a soft pink glow around you… and I so hope that you are completely protected from the aches and pains I feel physically and the worry I feel mentally…and I find myself looking inwards to you to find the healing I need to ensure we both can be healthy and strong.

And Tienne each day provides the moments I need to remember how truly blessed I am already and what a gift you will be when you are able to join our family.

December 27th 2011

Dear Little Lime-heart (your nickname changed at about 20 weeks;  your big sister has named you Little Limeheart and it has stuck – our tiny greenie!),

We are 26 weeks through our pregnancy together today and what a long 26 weeks it has been… how I look forward to meeting you face to face!

My feelings are so mixed where you and our pregnancy are concerned…and you reassuringly kick and move about inside me as I type these words as if to parlay my fears, my anxiety…and retain my hope and optimism.

Hope is mainly what I feel but the fear that continually butts against my hope is real and I suspect nothing short of holding you in my arms; a healthy, breathing baby… will completely alleviate my anxiety for any length of time.

We visited our specialist in Perth on December 23 and all seems good where you are concerned…I even had the privilege of feeling your tiny head through my skin…

Christmas was wonderfully relaxing, such a contrast to last year with its largely underlying tensions and swirling emotions. Time with family and most importantly children Tienne, Lilli & Hamish…and you & Saskia, you frequently making your physical presence felt within me and Saskia always in my heart and mind.

The changes in my body this pregnancy have differed from those when carrying Tienne and Saskia. Definitely many more veins (sometimes very painful) down my right leg and so far no vertical linea nigra line on my stomach. But then you are a unique, precious child and rightly so seem to be demonstrating some differences already!

February 5th 2012

Dear Little Limeheart,

Less than 7 weeks until I hope my wish of holding you in my arms, looking at your precious face, watching the rise and fall of your chest, feeling the warmth of you against me…will be realised.

Our last scan went well. You are slightly bigger than average for your due dates, “A little fatty” the obstetrician said, which made me smile – it is so wonderful that you are healthy. Clever girl, you are already in position and the flow of blood to and from your placenta and through your umbilical cord are true and strong. It made your big sister Tienne jump when we heard your heartbeat through the monitor while watching on the screen…loud and proud…so reassuring. But you were shy, covering most of your face with a hand for the scan’s duration with only a teasing hint of the bottom of your nose and lips to be seen!

And all is on track for either and induction on March 22 or a caesarean on March 23. As natural as it would be given how healthy you are to date to allow you to remain within me until full term and deliver naturally like I did with Tienne & Saskia both the medical profession and my mind won’t allow it and you will be born nearly two weeks early; your original due date being April 3.

I admit I am anxious and the next weeks are likely to go as slowly as the rest of our pregnancy has for me. In a cloud filled with seemingly equal amounts of hope and worry. Hope is what keeps my spirits up (you wriggling around inside me!), that and Tienne…and my promise to Saskia to be the best mum I can be.

These past days I have been researching inductions and caesareans – neither appeal and given a different history and your current health I would not for a minute be contemplating either, but at the end of the day I just want to give you the very best chance of survival, of joining our family in every sense of the word and I’m slowly leaning towards a caesarean, as frightening and foreign as the prospect might be.

I have spoken to a doctor friend who recently had a caesarean. She asked if I would like to see photographs of her experience. I agreed and it was wonderful to see – graphic yes, but at least I have some knowledge now of what it might be like, what to expect…sometimes pictures really do tell a 1000 words. And sitting watching her beautiful now 6 week old daughter it made me realise that as long as you come into this world healthy I will be so very thankful, no matter how you are delivered and I will endeavour from that point on to give you everything I can as a mother and that care and love is what really matters. That said, I still want to make the best decision regarding your birth as I can and while your Dad has been keen on a caesarean from your conception (it would have been horrific watching some of Saskia’s labour & birth) I have been unsure still, worrying about ensuring we are doing the best for you.

What I do know is that while I went into labour with both Tienne and Saskia feeling fairly relaxed and comfortable with natural labour, with you I already harbour deep anxiety. Given Saskia’s death this is not surprising but it is something I am aware might cause problems both for me but more importantly for you – I do not want to cause you distress my little one.  And in reading all manner of articles & forums relating to induction and speaking with local women who have experienced them I am concerned about the extra pressure I may place on you and know that should you go into even the smallest amount of distress my anxiety levels are likely to sky rocket and I’ll send both of us into a panic. It is also mentioned that there is a quite high percentage of inductions that end up in caesarean; particularly when inductions are carried out prior to full term and while the idea of a caesarean is worrying enough for me, the idea of an emergency one (particularly if I can avoid this) is much more scary. I do realise that ‘it might never happen’ and all would go well, I understand that delivering vaginally rather than by caesarean is much more likely to mean I have a quicker, easier recovery and can just get on with attending to your needs without potentially requiring others to help…but there is that overriding niggle that reminds me that everything appeared fine with Saskia also and my heart breaks again to think of how close she came to surviving, how there was nothing wrong with her, how unexpectedly and tragically things can go wrong. The biggest part of having a caesarean (that is not really required for medical but rather mental reasons) that feels wrong, is that you will not be prepared (although I plan on speaking to you before and throughout if possible), that you will not start the labour process off yourself and go through the stages of labour naturally. I am not scared of experiencing pain, while I have been told the power of contractions during induction is many times that of natural labour as you don’t have the slower build up generally experienced with naturally occurring labour I know I would be fine if not for the anxiety of it potentially distressing you. And my body is not as strong as it was with my previous pregnancies, I am older and haven’t slept well since Saskia’s death…and of course mentally I am not as strong. When I think of labouring for hours on my feet with Tienne it is with a smile – I was strong and I felt so sure that all would be fine and it was. I can remember going almost completely within myself and just working through each contraction with Tienne – I had the very strong sense of us working as a team with each contraction bringing me closer to meeting her face to face – it was a long labour but it was generally a calm and beautiful one. Saskia’s labour was different – I had a strange sensation at times that all was not completely right but the double and triple length contractions left me without space to truly think and when I could have done with some help or outside assistance there was little or none.  This will be a different birth just by the very nature of having others (possibly three or four) nearby monitoring everything…so much more clinical but again, if you are okay I don’t mind at all…it seems the ‘everything must be as natural as possible’ mum has completely taken a step backwards and I just want you in my arms safely…

That’s not to say that I won’t be requesting to hold you as soon as possible once you are delivered, that I won’t still ask to bring your placenta home to plant under your tree and that I won’t insist on having you with me all the time (with exception if medical intervention is required)…that I won’t want to nurse you as soon as possible in recovery if not before. I know a caesarean will limit my mobility for a short time but I still want to have you with me in the same way as I would if I had you naturally.

I just need to find ways to alleviate some of my anxiety for the sake of both of us and ensure that how ever you are birthed I go in with as positive an attitude as possible, knowing that I will strive to give you the best life I can and what huge joy you will bring to our family.

How I look forward to meeting you little girl, my precious third daughter; it’s going to be the most wonderful moment when I first get to hold you in my arms.

March 2nd 2012

Dear Little Limeheart,

All going well, three weeks today we will meet you face to face. Friday 23rd March 2012 will be a very special day for our family.

I speak to you often, as does your big sister Tienne who has started cuddling you through my tummy, telling you about the world you are soon to enter. She is so sweet and thoughtful, I am sure she is going to make the very best big sister for you and you in turn will give her (give all of us) so much love and joy. I have wanted to write to you almost daily but have felt concern that in some unfathomable way, any of my negative thoughts might play out in real life if I place them on paper…something I have overcome in order to record even a few of my thoughts…

These past weeks I have felt even more fearful and prone to tears. I try so hard to stay positive but the anxiety is never far from the surface.

I was in Perth last week for my most recent appointment with our obstetrician and was scheduled for a scan first to check your growth and the blood flow etc through our placenta. As soon as I saw your little face, half covered by one of your hands; tears bubbled up and poured out much to the concern of the lovely lady doing the scan. I encouraged her to continue, reassuring her I’d be okay soon…I just felt so overwhelmed, so hopeful but so very worried too, realising for the thousandth time how much I want you in my life. I left the scanning room very red eyed but in general feeling blessed to have had the opportunity to ‘see you’ one more time before your birth and to be reassured that you were looking wonderful and still slightly ahead of due dates size wise.

Up stairs to see the obstetrician and he mirrored the scan results saying all looked really well, including the comment mentioned at a previous appointment that he expected a tall, thin woman like me to carry a long baby but not such a “little fatty” – a huge compliment as you seem so healthy. I explained that both your big sisters Tienne & Saskia had been the same, I seem to carry big and low, I eat well and you seem to be thriving – hooray, we must make a good team!

I let the obstetrician know of how increasingly fearful I have been and he sent me for further blood tests and a cardiac diagnostic test up at St Mary’s Hospital which is where we will stay for the days following your birth. We sat hooked up to the monitoring device and you proceeded to wriggle with short periods of rest for about 20 minutes while your heart rate was monitored and I pressed a button to record whenever you were moving which was reassuringly often!

Despite all these reassurances I have still given myself ‘scares’ throughout this past week. I couldn’t feel you move for some hours one early morning following a particularly restless night & some shortish but quite sharp pains in my lower left abdomen…I was all set to take myself to the local hospital (something I find extremely stressful since Saskia’s death) when I forced myself to calm down, take some deep breaths and really let myself tune into you…you kicked with gusto, “I’m fine mum, please just calm down!!”…not for the first time during this pregnancy you seemed to be looking out for me…

This pregnancy as I’ve said before has been an uncomfortable one – my right leg is riddled with plum coloured veins that seem to have a life of their own and it is difficult and painful to walk at times as a result, I suffer from indigestion & some lower back pain and have scratched my scalp raw in places through what has become a bad habit during times of stress. Topped with the usual tiredness and heaviness associated with the final months of pregnancy and a head cold I thought I’d escaped but then hit with a vengeance a few days ago I have moments when I feel quite sorry for myself…only to quickly remind myself how worth it every uncomfortable moment will be to have you safely in my arms…how fleeting any discomfit will be compared to a lifetime of watching you grow up alongside Tienne and with Saskia’s memory forever etched on my heart.

I am slowly getting my head around the idea of having a caesarean. I have read all manner of articles and books on the subject and really feel it is the right decision, given our history and need to ensure you are born safely and with as little stress as possible. I even like the idea of having to stay in hospital for 5 or so days following your birth (did I really say that!) It will force me to take it easy and just concentrate on you and the family and friends who come in to meet you. I am already so looking forward to the first time Tienne meets you – to the first time I see her following your birth…I’m going to miss being away from her for any length of time. She really is my best little friend, just as you will be too.

And so I embark on a new day, three weeks before I meet you. Stay well little one. I love you!

Thursday March 14th, 2012

Dear Little Limeheart,

Tienne and I head to Perth today in readiness for your arrival out into the big, wide world.

I’m not sure who is more excited. Tienne’s teacher recently said that she has been unusually ‘away with the fairies’ of recent days in anticipation of meeting you! I’m sure I have been the same, being much more absent minded than usual despite trying to stay focused and calm. Anxiety is never far away but I am largely keeping it at bay by responding to your frequent movements and the thought that it is now only days away until I meet you.

I am looking forward to a few quality, relaxed days with Tienne at mum and dad’s place. I suspect I will feel more relaxed just knowing I am not far from the hospital and care should you and/or I require it prior to our scheduled caesarean section on March 23rd.

I can’t help but reflect on our pregnancy to date and feel that we have already come a long way as mother and daughter…the scares…and there have been quite a few… (bad flu, minor electrocution and resulting anxiety caused by hospital visit, exposure to whooping cough on two occasions, evacuation from our home due to bush fire for 3 days, bad skin infection, and exposure to Parvo Virus)…we weathered them all and you continued to thrive – clever girl! I really do feel that somehow your sister Saskia and my mother and other much loved relatives have been looking out for us; that somehow their beautiful spirits have cast some sort of protection over us both to ensure we get through this journey together safely.

It’s been a difficult pregnancy on many levels. I fully expected to feel anxious & emotional which of course I have…but I wasn’t prepared for the physical strains…the veins, the aches and pains…but of course it is my third pregnancy and despite me often forgetting the fact, I am 42 years old and my body has seen a lot of life! All will be so very worth it to have you in my arms…warm…breathing…alive…

All going to plan, your dad is going to come up to Perth a couple of days prior to our caesarean, which at this stage looks scheduled to be done first thing in the morning, around 7.30am…which will be wonderful as I won’t have too much time to become nervous about it all (although whether I sleep or not on the night previous remains to be seen!) I’m getting butterflies just thinking about it all now…

When I am able, I will write about our experience, your birth…so that you have a record when you are older. Until then, stay safe little one and I look forward to seeing you really soon….Lots of love, your mum. xxxx