On Tuesday night I was worried – I hadn’t felt Luca move since the afternoon. I tried not to worry – he hadn’t seemed to move as much in the past few days and I’d read that babies slow down in the weeks before birth when they run out of room. In the morning it was in my mind again so I mentioned it to DH Steve on our way from the car to the hospital. I really thought in my heart of hearts that our little boy was still with us though. When I said to the obstetrician ‘I’m nervous because I haven’t felt him move since yesterday’ she asked me to lie on the bed and used the Doppler to check for his heartbeat. Nothing on either side of my tummy. I should have been more worried about the short time she checked for but I was still hoping he was ok. She took us to the day clinic area and we waited for an ultrasound machine to warm up. She looked for the heartbeat and didn’t find it but said he was on a funny angle and she’d get an ultrasonographer. She also said she was looking for other signs of movement but couldn’t see any. We were asked to move to the ultrasound area. On our way up the hall I said to Steve quietly ‘it doesn’t look good’. I was still hoping though. I lay down yet again and we waited. The midwife who had been with us brought in a box of tissues and put them on the table near the door. I was thinking ‘oh no’. Finally the ultrasonographer arrive and checked for the heart. It was so obvious when she found it and I just knew. She said ‘There’s the heart but unfortunately there’s no heartbeat.’ She measured him and confirmed that he was measuring 36 weeks and therefore had died recently. I thought of the last time we were in one of these rooms seeing our dear baby’s heart beat at 20 weeks and wondering over the tiny baby we’d made.
We had to walk back through the antenatal clinic waiting area to the consultation room, past all the pregnant women. The obstetrician said I would have to be induced and we decided on the next day. She did an internal and it was so much worse without the consolation of a live baby to look forward to. I was closed and long and she said I’d have the gel put in the next morning when I came in at 6:45am. I had to sign a consent form. I said it was unfair I had to go through the pain of labour for a dead baby. I was about to say I’d like to use a wireless monitor (my last induction I had hated being restricted to near the CTG) and stopped when I realised that there was nothing to monitor – the reality came crashing in. I asked if we could spend some time alone in the room. Steve and I were so shaken. I can’t even remember what we said. I think we mainly just embraced, clinging to each other for some comfort in the despair.
When we left we again had to walk past all the pregnant women. I was no longer like them, eagerly anticipating the arrival of our son. His aliveness had been snatched from us and no amount of wishing could bring him back to us. All I could think was ‘this can’t happen’ and ‘thank goodness Steve was with me’.
Mum was the first person we told ‘the baby died’. She had been looking after Eliana for us. It was just so sad. So unbelievable. This didn’t happen to my baby. When we got home we had to call people and let them know. It went something like this ‘Hi Bec, how are you?’ ‘I’ve got some bad news – the baby died’. Then I’d start sobbing. This was repeated by myself and Steve over and over until we’d told our closest friends and family. It was just the hardest thing.
We kept saying to each other that we’d get through the birth tomorrow before thinking about anything else. I said I felt sadder about having gone through pregnancy with nothing to show for it than about this actual baby – of course I changed my mind when I met him later on. That night I went to bed and just lay there stunned. About 12am I started having contractions. After the third I decided I may as well get up but just as I was starting to move I felt a gush of warmth. I got up and turned the light on and saw that I had lost blood. Steve woke up and saw and we got ready to go. That afternoon I’d finished packing – which meant taking the nappies and most of the baby clothes out of the suitcase.
Going to the hospital in the middle of the night was like I’d always wanted to go into labour. I’d got my spontaneous labour after all – something which was not on the cards for this pregnancy due to the cholestasis again. I called emergency while in the car to let them know we were on our way. I had to explain my baby had died and I’d been asked to come in if I had any blood loss. I had a few contractions on the way. They were four minutes apart but short. Probably only 10 seconds or so long. When we got there the kind midwife in emergency took me into a room while she called the birth centre. There were tears in her eyes as she talked to us. I was so touched. She wheeled me in a chair up to the birth suite and as we were going down the hallway we passed a woman and her partner and their new baby who must have been heading for the antenatal ward. I smiled at her. They looked so beautiful. The midwife apologised but honestly I was really happy for them.
We were shown into suite 10 and introduced to Cathy our midwife. She was also so very kind. She outlined some choices for labour and it was all a bit much. She wanted me to take something for the pain and try to get some sleep. I was worried about leaving Steve awake by himself. I said I’d like to be examined and then decide. The doctor came in to do an internal and found that I was 3-4 cm dilated. He also thought I should take some drugs and get some sleep and recommended panedeine or panedeine forte. When he’d left I told Cathy I was dubious. The contractions were surely too painful to sleep through. I ended up accepting pethedine but couldn’t lie down. I laboured in a little pattern – hovering around Steve in between contractions and walking around the room with my hot pack during them – on my tippytoes. Then I’d go and sit on the toilet because I constantly felt like going and it became a soothing routine. I thought the contractions were getting closer but they were still really short. I thought I would have quite a while to go. Cathy encouraged me to try the gas but it didn’t really do much. I asked for an epidural and she said she needed to get some blood tests done to check my clotting first. About half an hour later the anaesthetist came and gave me the epidural. I had to hold still through maybe five contractions.
Cathy got the trundle bed for Steve and we both had a rest for a couple of hours. At around 6am I realised I felt pushy and buzzed. Cathy came and I told her. She felt Luca’s head ‘just there’ and said I could push when I had a contraction. They were so far apart it seemed like I was waiting for ages. Finally she gave me the go ahead and I pushed down – he started coming out straight away and Cathy guided me through, helping to turn Luca (he was posterior) and pull him out. I had a lot of trepidation about seeing him – would he look horrible? How would I feel about him?
Luca was born at 6:30 am and Cathy asked if I wanted him placed on my stomach. I did – he was still warm for quite a while from being in the womb. He looked like he was just sleeping and we were both thinking he looked like he might wake up any moment. He didn’t look scary at all. He looked precious – like he would have been a really sweet baby. He looked contented. We were amazed at how long he was. He hardly looked premature at all – he looked like he would have made it if he’d only been born a couple of days earlier. We felt like he’d been snatched away from us – we were just a bit too late. Steve and I talked about how I might have been induced that week anyway. The loss was too much to bear.
‘We made him’ I said to Steve. It seemed like a small consolation. We cried a lot that day. Knowing that our time with him was fleeting was so hard.
I wanted to lift him to my breast and feed him but I couldn’t. That was just so hard and a feeling that returned to me again and again during the day that we spent with him.
Steve took some pictures of Luca on my chest. My labour had been so easy. I would have been so elated if our beautiful son had not been stillborn – it would have been just perfect – probably one of the best experiences of my life.
That morning we phoned close friends and family again. We let them know that Luca had been born and invited them to come and see him. Mum said she’d rather not but called back after changing her mind. Dad was driving between Araleuen and Sydney and told me I’d need to move on. He called back later to tell me he would be on a plane that afternoon.
Charlotte took over our care when Cathy went home. She was just lovely too. Steve and I spent our time with Luca until people started arriving to visit after 11am. It was all too short. We held him. I did ‘this little piggy’ on his little toes. We thought about all the things we couldn’t do with him. Charlotte helped us wash him in the baby bath though I missed this experience as I felt like fainting and had to sit down with my head between my legs.
The day flashed by with a stream of visitors. Everyone held Luca, which was really special. DD Eliana (3 yo) coped really well. We got a family picture, which we shall cherish. When Eliana was leaving I asked her to say goodbye to Luca. She said ‘goodbye Luca’ in her beautiful sweet clear voice. My heart was breaking for the times they wouldn’t have together.
The professional photographer came after 2pm and I asked if we could have some photos in the garden. Luca was put in a carry basket and covered over for the only outing he would ever have. We had our photos taken sitting together in the garden – Steve, Luca and I.
When Steve and I were alone with Luca again we just started sobbing again. We’d both been holding it together for the photos. I gave Luca a kiss, realising that I hadn’t given him any. I couldn’t stop kissing him. I realised I could never kiss him enough and said ‘lifetime of kisses’.
Steve said ‘kiss for daddy’ before rubbing his cheek along Luca’s mouth and dissolving into tears.
It was the sweetest time; the saddest time.
Leaving the hospital without our baby was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We said goodbye. We left him in the room in the bassinet with one last kiss from each of us. Claire, our last lovely midwife, promised to take good care of him.
The next day Eliana asked ‘where’s Luca?’ right out of the blue. All my pregnancy I was worried about how she would react to the new baby. But it seemed I had nothing to worry about – I think she would have been a wonderful big sister – and now this chance had been stolen away from her and from us.
Now I have the lochia and my stitches without a baby to show for it. I have empty breasts due to the drug I took to stop my milk coming in. I keep looking down at them. The breasts that should be nurturing my little baby – empty and flat. On Friday in particular I kept getting glimpses of my small tummy and being confused for a second – shouldn’t the baby still be there since he’s not in my arms – reality kept crashing in again and again.
Steve and I have never felt closer to each other, or more supported by family and friends. We’ve also never felt so lonely and bereft. Making funeral arrangements is not something we should have to do for our little boy. He should be here with us. Both of us are constantly searching for answers. I keep asking what if… What if I’d been given the urso, what if I’d gone in when he wasn’t moving as much, what if I’d been induced just that little bit earlier. And why. Always why. There are no answers.
Edited by becburger, 13 January 2009 - 12:01 AM.