I have never done a post in this much detail before. Things in the post I have never shared before. I do so not to frighten anyone or for sympathy and such like. I do so because what I have always strived for is a deeper understanding and acknowledgement of baby loss and all the trauma that comes with it. In writing this so publicly I hope to raise awareness and to allow those who wish to a gain a better understanding of what couples who loose a baby really do go through.
So let’s set the scene.
My waters had broken and 2 days later baby field was being as stubborn as me during an argument and active labour hadn’t started. So we are called in for induction at 930pm on Friday 18th December. The drip of syntocinon was started around midnight. I’m nervous excited but ready to meet the baby we had waited so long for. I was told I couldn’t eat during the labour which was clearly devastating to someone who loves food but I had bigger fish to fry, I had to bring our perfect baby into the world. Thoughts rushed through my mind. Are you a boy or a girl our perfect baby, what outfit will we put you in for Christmas, hurray I can eat a huge Christmas dinner without a baby taking up precious stomach space, you know, all the important stuff. Most of these thoughts along with frequent squeezes of Marks hand, got me through the entire labour, which thanks to hypnobirthing, a tens machine and a LOT (trust me it was A LOT) of gas and air, was no where near as bad as I had imagined. At 12.31 Saturday lunchtime Mark (having been told to say “up top”!) Had a peep as our babies head was born. So close now he squeezed my hand as I was told to push again. Mark was told to push a red button. I was in lithotomy (already feeling super degraded but by that point I just wanted to meet my baby and have a long nap). The room filled with people and at 12.33 our baby was born. He was placed on me for all of a second then taken by one of the midwives and given to the waiting team of people. I didn’t know the sex of my baby and I couldn’t see what was going on. I could hear the mumbles of voices in the corner but no cry. Why wasn’t he crying I wanted to scream but the words wouldn’t come. A jab in the leg and tug later the placenta was out and my husband returned to my side after been pushed into a corner by the hordes of people who flooded the room. But still no cry. We were told we had a boy and asked if we had a name. Our Alfie. He was briefly shown to us then taken away to nicu we were told. Still no cry. I’m sure this happens a lot we told each other, I don’t think either of us believed our own words.
I was told I’d need to go to theatre and after a lot of begging them to let Mark come (he’ll be quiet as anything, you won’t even know he’s there, I promised) I went alone. Back on recovery passing every women with their baby “he must be with Mark waiting for me” I thought. My heart dropped when I returned and there was Mark looking a little lost sitting by himself all of our bags the only thing surrounding him. He asked me where the hell I’d been, I was longer in theatre than expected, I told him I’d clearly been to the shops and back and sorry it took and so long. A nurse came and explained Alfie was a very poorly boy but those words floated over our heads. We just wanted to see him. We were taken to meet him. Wires, beeping machines covered his lifeless body (except for a gasping action which happened a couple of times a minute- not actual gasping we were assured it was just a reflex) but I saw past it all. He was our beautiful perfect boy. We were told little about what was wrong but that he was being cooled to protect his brain. The day that followed were spent taking in all his features and holding his hand, stroking his head and feet and telling him all our grand plans for our life together. At midnight we held a christening. If I am totally honest I think I knew exactly what this meant but I convinced myself it was “just the done thing in nicu”. The next morning we were told to go and have something to eat-even I couldn’t even begin to think of food at a time like this. We returned around 11. It was the earliest possible time we could consider lunchtime. We both went straight to Alfies side and held his little hands. A consultant came and told a nurse to prepare the quiet room. I fell apart. At that single moment my world was ripped from underneath me. All of our plans, our future together. Gone. I know what that means I mouthed to Mark. We were ushered into a room and our worst fears confirmed. Alfie was going to die. We had to move onto palliative treatment. I was silently sobbing into my hands. I couldn’t look over at my husband but I could hear the roars, sobs and screams coming from his mouth which I can still hear and still haunt me to this day. This cannot be happening to us. We came in yesterday to have our baby. He can’t die. Our future everything we had planned gone. Our home was set up for a baby. He had presents wrapped under the christmas tree. We returned to his side and all I could say was I was sorry. I’m so sorry mummy can’t save you my darling boy. Your great nanny, grandad and uncle will take care of you now. I’m so sorry we cant share our life together. We spent time together making a life time of memories in just 5 short hours. To this day I will never know how we left that room and you behind. We choose the one and only outfit our baby would ever wear. A pair of Paddington pajamas. I stood outside totally composed (it still haunts me how composed a human being can be when the world has been ripped from them) and thanked the nurses for all they had done for him and us and how they had cared for him. We then went to Costa and ordered all the cake you could imagine (we didn’t even eat half of it) and made small talk with each other. We returned to our room. Like robots who had been giving a task to complete. The next day we went home. With empty arms, an empty car seat and empty hearts. Our change bag, loving packed the week before, was as full as our heads with all the things we would now never do and trying to figure out what went so wrong.