CUPCAKE FOR CHARITY (AKA an exercise in gratitude & giving)

No mother-to-be wants to receive the news that, after multiple trips to the ER, 12 ultrasounds, 3 major hemorrhaging episodes, 2 monitored stays in the hospital and a month of modified bed rest, the reason for all the pregnancy complications is in fact a formerly undiagnosed “… large blood clot inside the uterine wall” (otherwise know as a subchorionic hematoma). No mother-to-be wants to be told her pregnancy is “high risk” or hear the words “some babies make it and some babies don’t”. Yet here I am, passed the 24 week mark of my pregnancy and these are some of the realities and challenges I have faced during its course.

I have never intended for this blog to be about anything other than creative personal projects, but I have been quietly embarking upon a very special project that is near and dear to my heart and have decided to share it (and the story behind it) here in the hope that it might help someone else.

At the very start of my pregnancy journey I was hospitalised with internal bleeding complications. Two weeks later (literally the day after announcing the pregnancy to family at dinner) I ended up in the ER and was told point-blank that I was losing the baby. I came home and cried in bed for days. After coming to accept my sad loss (but still grieving), the blood tests I’d continued to have after doctors suspected an ectopic pregnancy revealed something amazing, something miraculous. My HCG levels were continuing to rise… normally! Another ultrasound revealed a normal, viable pregnancy. Hope turned to fear when I had another bleeding episode in the middle of the night after waking up from a dream I was losing my baby. The hospital staff said that it could indeed be a miscarriage and that there was nothing they could do for the baby if so. Further ultrasounds thankfully revealed baby Cupcake was doing great. At 13 weeks pregnant I thought Cupcake and I had made it to the “safe zone”, but during the middle of a dinner party I experienced painful major hemorrhaging of crime scene-esque proportions (absolutely terrifying for both me and my parent’s dinner guests!) and was rushed back to the ER, my favourite dress soaked in blood, my heart in my throat yet again. It was so bad this time that I had to stay in hospital to be monitored until the worst had passed. I was given anti-hemorrhaging medication, pain killers to stop the cramps and contractions (yes, contractions!) and told “We’ll do another ultrasound to see if your baby is still alive in the morning” (tactful, huh?). I was informed the next day that my Cupcake was a “fighter”, but that I needed to go on sick leave. My boss and colleagues were all amazing and I had ample support offered by family and friends, but every day crawled by at a seemingly week-long pace.

At 16 weeks I was still cramping a great deal when I moved around too much, so put myself instinctively on full bed rest. I had already been on modified bed rest since being in hospital (which was again instinctive and surprisingly/worryingly nothing any doctor had suggested). I asked that my anatomy scan be pushed up a week as I really wanted to know where I stood and have some peace of mind before heading back to work. I imagined finding out whether I was having a boy or a girl. I imagined being told that I was “safe” now and had nothing to worry about moving forward. We were to go straight from the hospital to a concert and took the tickets with us. We were going to celebrate! Instead, at 17 weeks pregnant, I finally discovered the truth that although Cupcake was doing well, I had a large blood clot in my uterus and that in some cases SCH’s lead to spontaneous abortion and a host of other very nasty complications. I was told to expect further bleeding/spotting (which did happen), but that as long as it wasn’t fresh blood, it was ok and could even mean the hematoma was resolving. I was told that sick leave would continue and, other than taking it easy, there was nothing I could do… nor was there anything the hospital could do to save my baby at that point should the worst happen. I was too devastated as I lay there on the examination table to bring myself to ask the baby’s gender. I came home shell-shocked, the concert tickets sat on the kitchen table unused. I crawled back into bed, imagining my bedroom was my whole sad, isolated world and I felt myself slipping into a state of depression and anxiety. I found myself screaming inside “WHY ME? WHY NOW? WHY CAN THE MOST MESSED UP PEOPLE HAVE EASY PREGNANCIES AND KIDS THEY DON’T EVEN WANT?”, but after four days of spiraling downward I realised I was just adding negativity to the facts and doing nothing to help my healing process. My Cupcake was fighting to be with me… who was I not to fight too? And so I began a turn-around whilst still on bed rest; meditating, visualising my own healing, watching inspirational shows and so on. I realised that it would be much more helpful to ask the questions “What can I learn from this situation? What can I do about it? What are my priorities? What can I give back to the world? How can I honour my baby’s life (regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy)?” 
And so I did.

Among the many realisations I had as a result of going through this process was the thought that this little life can make an impact on the world before it is even in my arms. And that is where my Cupcake for Charity project comes in! I decided to honour Cupcake (and my family) by donating money to a different charity every week. We already support a few charities (including WWF & Amnesty International) on a monthly basis and sponsor a child, but as I am not working due to sick leave, I am not buying anything; no lunches, no office clothes, etc. I don’t miss the extra money that we donate now. The fact that I am getting less in my bank account each month by being on sick leave doesn’t bother me either. I know my family is provided for and we have everything we need. In the event of the very worst case scenario, I wanted to know that my pregnancy and my baby’s life meant something positive… and not just to me. And now that the prognosis is looking good and I have reached “viability”, I feel so happy to think that my little unborn baby has already made a positive impact on the world!

Here is the list of charities and causes that we have donated to on Cupcake’s behalf thus far:

J/P HRO
WSPA
March of Dimes
Animals Asia
Doctors Without Borders
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Sea Shepherd
We have also made a contribution to a film project being undertaken by an old friend of ours to promote awareness in the fight to save the Giant Australian Cuttlefish.

It has been exciting to research/give to various causes and, of course, it puts my issues into perspective. I was heartbroken to think that one day I might have a sad and scary tale to tell Cupcake… one of hospitals, doctors, bad news, pain, isolation, months of bed rest, sorrow and anxiety. Instead the tale I’ll be able to tell is one of hope, of overcoming challenges, of us fighting to be together and of how my pregnancy experience and my tiny baby inspired me to become a better person and make the world a better place in some small way. I will be able to say to my child “Before you were even born, you were a blessing to me… and to the world!” And that in itself is a blessing!

*** For an update on Cupcake for Charity, please see: http://missmarzipan.com/2012/10/30/cupcake-for-charity-part-2-aka-changing-the-world-diy-style/

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28 thoughts on “CUPCAKE FOR CHARITY (AKA an exercise in gratitude & giving)

  1. Such an inspirational post. Thank you for your comment on my post about the Animals Asia bear sanctuary – I came over to check you out after getting your message and of course until now I had no idea what you were going through personally. After reading this I realise you are already an Animals Asia supporter which is fantastic and I am so inspired by your positive attitude and your focus on the needs of others when you have such deep concerns of your own. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I look forward to hearing about the safe arrival of your beloved Cupcake and wish you every joy.

  2. Oh, thank you so much! Your comment made me get all teary-eyed. I actually feel that focusing on things outside of myself has been a blessing… it’s helped me stay sane. I truly feel that it’s the very least I can do to contribute a little. I admire people such as yourself who dedicate so much time, passion and emotional energy into making the world a better, kinder place. I take my proverbial hat off to you! All the very best to you and thank you again! :)

  3. I pray everything works out for you, I only wish I could have convinced my drs I needed more than two weeks of bed rest . I also started donating to charities because ,even though my son is no longer here, we were blessed to have met him and had him around as long as he was. After seeing blogs about stillbirth and SIDS and other problems or worse situations than ours, we need to be thankful…the only way I can think is to donate. I also work with autistic children and they are so special. They help take my mind off of the loss of my son and let me use my maternal skills(if I can call it that) to teach them and take care of them…something I yearn to do for my own son or god willing future child. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Thank you so much! Reading your story broke my heart and the medical negligence and ignorance you had to deal with is a nightmare. I hope and pray your rainbow comes and that in the meantime you continue to find solace in the good work you do with children who need you and in giving to charitable causes. Having experienced loss early in previous pregnancies and knowing the devastation that can bring, I cannot imagine meeting my child under such dramatic and difficult circumstances to lose them further on. I am sure if you were to write a book or speak on your experience in the future you would be an inspiration to thousands. For now I will follow your blog and wish you well from afar with your healing process and beyond. My best to you!
    Oh- and do you mind me asking for a suggestion for a charity you know of and like to support? I would love to contribute to the cause in the memory your precious Saif.

  5. Very inspirational Miss Marzipan. Its so good to hear such a positive outcome from an SCH. Its not surprising it took a while for the diagnosis so little is known about it. You are right to channel your energies in such a positive way, it will leave you with really positive memories of your pregnancy and something lasting to share with your child. Having experienced one already I live in fear of its recurrence but have been assured these are freak incidents and not inter related. Thanks for sharing your experience too. Sometimes the hand you are dealt serves to show you what you are truly capable of. I look forward to monitoring your progress. Thanks for showing an interest in mine. Big hugs.

  6. Thank you so much :)! I really appreciate your kind comments and reflections. Yes, it amazes me how little is known, despite SCH being one of the most common causes of bleeding during pregnancy (and especially given the surprising statistics of how many women actually experience bleeding during pregnancy). I am so sorry that you had such a harrowing experience with SCH :( It really can be devastating. But you are right, of course. It is highly unlikely you will go through the same thing again. I look forward to following your story too and wish you the happiest and healthiest of pregnancies! Hugs to you! :)

  7. reading your story reminded me so much of what i went through with my own son. i remember well being terrified and thinking the same things you did so many times. please know it can be absolutely okay. healthy babies and natural births do result even if the pregnancy is riddled with ridiculous horror and blood throughout. i had my son without a c-section, and he was born right on time, as you know from my own blog. i know you said that there is very little medical intervention, and even though i find this a little surprising, i wanted to tell you that there was some stuff that my naturopath suggested to me to use when the doctor stopped the progesterone i was taking at 24 weeks. i used emerita pro-gest paraben free cream. you can buy it over the counter. it is all natural progesterone cream. i rubbed it on my tummy for the rest of my pregnancy, twice daily. did it do any good? i have no idea. it certainly didn’t hurt. i also drank an amazing amount of water to keep even the slightest contractions away. it seemed to make the bleeding worse.

    you are doing an amazing job of keeping positive energy and light during your pregnancy. keep up the amazing job. even though it’s scary, it can be empowering. you will never have to wonder what kind of frightening things you can live through, because you will have done it. i have no doubt you will hold your baby, and will look forward to updates about your pregnancy and sweet baby. :) xoxo

  8. Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful suggestions. I think I still my have progesterone cream that I bought from a health food store left over from my TTC days… could be worth finding it :) Yes, water is a real help… and bed rest too. I am so glad that, despite the horrors of your high risk pregnancy, everything worked out perfectly for you and your precious son in the end :D! Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational story and encouragement (I really do appreciate it) :)… My best wishes to you and yours- wishing you good health and happiness xxx

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog! Thank you for sharing your story. What you’re doing for these charities is such an awesome thing! Have you heard of the HER foundation? They are a nonprofit with a mission to find a cure for hyperemesis. Maybe that can be your next charity on your list.

    • Thank you so much for your visit and suggestion. I had not heard about the HER foundation but will definitely look into it and send a contribution their way! I have loved embarking on this charitable giving adventure for many reasons, one of which is opening my eyes to various causes that might have otherwise escaped my awareness. Very grateful for your suggestion and the info you’ve shared about hyperemesis. All the very best to you and yours!

  10. Your blog is beautiful and this post speaks the passion from within! What an outstanding charity! And definitely makes us think of our many little blessings.

  11. Very inspirational. You are very strong woman. And I only have one sentence to tell you and that is KEEP IT UP! You are going to be a blessed woman with a blessed motherhood!
    Take care

  12. That really was an inspirational post… You have showed courage and optimism when it was needed the most. I was having a rough day at work and your post has certainly helped me motivate myself and rise up : ).. Keep this positive energy around you all the time, and I pray that only good things happen to you :) Take care.

  13. What a beautiful post and an inspiring way to get through a difficult time. I am truly moved. I think we often notice how much others need when we find ourselves in need, and you’re doing something about it. Just heartwarming. What a lucky Cupcake you’re cooking! Best wishes as your pregnancy continues. SCH can be scary (yours sounds particularly alarming in that it took so long to find out what it was and therefore it kept surprising you!). But most of them go on to have no ill effects (You know my story already, but I was told it was very unusual. When the SCH heals, it can leave behind scar tissue which makes the membrane a bit more vulnerable; I didn’t know that at the time. You’re taking it easy, and I imagine that really helps!) Sending you all good vibes, and so glad we stumbled onto each other’s blogs! I look forward to following your story (and trying some recipes when I’m back on my feet!).

    • Thank you so much, Leda! So kind of you :). I really love your blog and can’t wait to go through post by post. Your writing is fabulous- funny, entertaining, honest and moving. And of course their are aspects of your story to which I strongly relate. I feel the same way about your children… that they were blessed to have *you* to bring them into the world. I wish you the happiest remainder of your pregnancy possible and your children health and happiness always. The best to you x

  14. This is simply amazing Miss Marzipan! You’re one of my role models for being strong despite the circumstances. I wish I was as strong as you are. You didn’t let the negativity surround you… instead you turned it around. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Cupcake is lucky to have a mom like you :) Thank you for sharing this and keep inspiring others to do the same. We need more people like you. Helping out without getting anything in return. This is truly the essence of charity and compassion. I will always pray for your health Miss Marzipan. With much love… :)

  15. Pingback: An award…for moi? « Heart And A Half

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