Ever since I started confinement after pregnancy loss on the 23rd of August, I’ve felt as though time has slowed. Mum was very sure that I should do confinement (although not in the strictest sense) and I complied. I believe that it does help strengthen our bodies postpartum or post-pregnancy loss even. In the case that Florian and I would like to conceive again, I think that there’s little harm in following what tradition has taught us.
One Month Confinement
For a month following our loss, I was eating confinement meals. They were typical Chinese home cooked meals, with the addition of more ginger, black fungus, black vinegar, goji berries, and herbs like dong gui (angelica root) and ginseng. They mostly serve to dispel wind, clean and replenish blood, strengthen the womb, and improve our immune system. Every meal consisted of at least two proteins from chicken, pork and fish, with one being part of a main. The other protein came in a soup, and there was always a dish of vegetables.
Early on, we had planned to order in confinement meals seeing that it’d be too troublesome for Mum to cook for me – we figured that three babies would be taking up most of our time. We stuck to the plan and ordered from the confinement caterer we had long decided on. The two dishes and one soup were delivered to us fresh before lunch and dinner every day for 28 days. They also served rice to go with – often, it was brown rice. Sometimes, there’d be other variants like rice with red beans, rice with mixed grains, pumpkin rice, or plain white.
Some meals, they served noodles instead of rice and once in a while, we’d get a Western confinement-friendly meal. Not too shabby. Still, less than two weeks’ in, it felt like we’d been eating confinement meals since forever. I was eager to have a nice meal out. The portions were generous and were always enough for both Mum and I. At least, having her company helped encourage me to stick it out.
Postnatal Massages and Traditional Chinese Medicine
I had postpartum massages to help shrink my womb and get rid of more wind. A week and half after losing our babies, I returned to Oak Health to receive extra support during the confinement. The acupuncture I had really made the ‘dirty’ blood and clots come out the next morning. It was shocking and slightly disconcerting at first. Quickly, the bleeding settled and I felt a lot lighter and cleaner somehow. I was also back on tonics to help get my strength back up since I’d lost so much weight post-hospitalisation.
A week postpartum, I was more or less back to my pre-pregnancy figure. In fact, I was even skinnier than before, aside from my ribcage which still hadn’t quite contracted back to normal. It was surprising since doctor had said that my 20-week belly with triplets was like that of a 30-week singleton belly. I assume my 23+4 week belly could have been like that of a 35 week singleton belly? I guess our bodies are all different and the stress from what had happened didn’t sit well with me physically. That, as well as the cocktail of medication and antibiotics they were pumping me with post-delivery.
Honestly though? It sucked having to go through all the things a new mother go through, without having our babies with me; sucked having to deliver each one of them, and leave the delivery suite without them; and it sucked having our loss be labelled a ‘miscarriage‘, and then have it written on my discharge report that I had had an ‘abortion‘.
‘Abortion’ carries with it such a negative connotation in my opinion. While I understand that medically, it is correct, my heart broke when I read it on my discharge form. Flo and I would never, ever, consider abortion.
From the moment we found out we were having our triplets, we accepted them, wanted them, loved them. ‘Miscarriage’ too, doesn’t seem the right word – Our babies were fully formed and alive until shortly after they were birthed. They weren’t given birth certificates, or death certificates. It was as though they never existed. But they were real. They are real! And they mean the world to Flo and me.
It sucked having to eat confinement meals, have lochia discharge for weeks after, feel postpartum bodily aches because of the pregnancy and labour… It sucked having to go through confinement after pregnancy loss without being able to experience the joy of carrying our babies, connecting with them, admiring their lovely faces, hearing their cries, cleaning their poop even, to make everything seem more worthwhile.
Some days, I feel totally fine. Others, I speak of our babies, or think of them, and tears well up and spill over. The ache in my heart from missing them, is not one that can be kneaded away. I can build my body up again, but the hole that they left behind cannot be filled up with food, or retail therapy. Still, I know that things will continue to get better every day.
I trust in God’s plan and that He can see the bigger picture better than I can. I have faith that Flo and I will one day have the family we yearn for, and that we will be great parents. For now, we just have to be patient and lean on God’s strength and wisdom.