Mummy to Ava Madison
Born February 25, 2012
Passed February 25, 2012
At 39 weeks and 2 days I went for my routine check-up. My daughter’s heartbeat was 145 bmp and she was kicking up a storm. As I walked out of the doctor’s office his last words to me were “Next time I see you, I’ll get to meet your baby.” That turned out to be anything but the truth. This is my story.I never thought in a million years I would be able to get pregnant or to have a baby. I had no reason to think this, but I just never believed I would. Then one day in the early morning I took a pregnancy test and the two most beautiful pink lines appeared, and in that moment I became a mother. In that moment I loved something that was so pure and amazing I thought I’d never come down from the high I was experiencing. I ran around my house screaming at the top of my lungs “Oh my God, I’M PREGNANT! I’M PREGNANT!” I was so proud of myself and Paul; I was so proud that I had a little bundle of cells growing inside me that would one day become a beautiful little baby and I’d get to love and care for my child. We found out we were pregnant at 3 weeks and 1 day. That day was the best of my life.
The morning (all day) sickness started at 3 weeks 5 days and from then until 16 weeks, I vomited pretty well all day. I thought it was going to kill me. I think I even got a little depressed towards the 12-week mark because I just couldn’t fathom that I’d got this far and was still throwing up. All the pregnancy books said it would start to ease off but it hadn’t and I was wondering if it would ever stop. I saw my GP at the time a few days after my initial pregnancy test was done and I had two hCGs: the first was <50 and the second was 2476. I was so excited that my little baby was growing and healthy and I had helped the little one along.
At 8 weeks and 4 days I went to the antenatal clinic at the local hospital and had my first check-up. The check-up went for ages and I never expected to get the chance to have a little ultrasound but I did! She was 1.9 mm long and her heartbeat was around 160 beats per minute. This tiny little bean was MY child. I fell deeper and deeper in love with this little bean with every passing second but actually seeing her was simply blissful. My heart skipped a zillion beats and I felt like I was floating off the table. Paul missed this appointment and I was so sad he didn’t get to see what I had. We had an official appointment that Friday so it turned out ok and he got to see her too, but I got to see her first and for that I am grateful. We had to wait another month until we got to have the 12 week scan. This scan was so exciting; she was kicking and flipping and moving around. I was so proud of this little baby; her tiny little arms and legs were the most beautiful I’d ever seen, and Paul had the look of a proud daddy all over his face. We walked out of that appointment with smiles from ear and ear and a spring in our step. We had gotten to 12 weeks we had passed the danger zone and our little one was happy and alive and we were more in love then ever before!
The rest of my pregnancy went by without too many issues. The baby was physically healthy and thriving. I had developed a heart condition called second-degree heart block as a result of being pregnant, and I had also gone hypothyroid and was being closely monitored by three different doctors to get the medications right for this, but it was all under control. At 30 weeks I was on the hospital grounds when I suddenly fell over straight onto my stomach landing with all my weight on it, straight onto where my baby’s back was situated; after almost six hours of monitoring and baby kicking just fine, I was allowed to leave, being told I was ok. Apart from that all was fine.
The day after my appointment at 39 weeks 2 days, things started to change. Her movements became less forceful and when I was poking and prodding her to get her to kick, I’d get these little popping movements, nothing like how it felt before. I had four days until my due date and after having three weeks of on-and-off pre-labour I figured she was getting ready to come out and had officially run out of room. Over the next few days I did my movement counts and I called the labour ward three times to tell them I was concerned, only to be told that as long as I was feeling something she was ok. I am a registered nurse, so I did know a thing or too about babies and I knew that a lot of them do quiet down before birth, but something in my gut told me something wasn’t right. But, as I was being told to stay at home and prepare for her to meet us and that everything was ok, I tried to ignore it all and go about my days telling myself I was being a paranoid first time mum.
The night before my 40+4 appointment, as my partner and I were getting ready for bed, I looked at him and said, “I can’t put my finger on it but I’m afraid for tomorrow’s appointment; I think something is wrong.” At 4:00 on that Wednesday I awoke super nervous and my partner’s father (who passed when my partner was only 10 months old) suddenly popped into my head, and I whispered to him, “I don’t know why I am asking you this, but please make sure my baby is ok.” At 40 weeks 4 days, seven days after my last appointment (when I knew she was alive), I was so anxious to go to this appointment I felt sick. I knew something was wrong and on the way, in the car, I looked at my partner and my mother, who had flown interstate the night before so she could be there for her birth in a few days. I said, “I am afraid they will tell me she’s dead.” They both looked at me and laughed. “No she’s not, she’s fine; she’s just sleeping before the big event.”
The next few hours I cannot talk or even write about. The way my partner and I were treated in that hospital makes me feel physically ill and fills me with so much anxiety, anger and hatred that if I could rip off my skin and run away from myself I would. But looking into the sonographer’s eyes and having to ask him if she was alive, seeing his face drop and quietly whisper “I’m sorry,” will forever be the moment I remember as the one where I died. That was a Wednesday. Ava wasn’t born until 2:00 on Saturday.
The moment I realised she had passed away I jumped off the ultrasound table and began pacing the room, screaming “Oh no! Oh no!” over and over again. I coudn’t even feel; I was numb, and I kept expecting them to call out “Just jokes! It’s okay, she’s alive.” But they never did! I was screaming out for a cesarian but they told me I’d have to give birth vaginally. I thought they were monsters. WHY would they make me give birth to a full-term baby, go thought all that pain and suffering for NOTHING? She was dead; didn’t they understand that birthing a baby was supposed to be done when they were alive, not dead? HOW DARE THEY! I left the hospital, got into the car, and looked at my empty baby seat. We had installed it at 37 weeks and even put the “Baby on Board” sticker in the window. I was empty, alone, scared, and could not cope. We got a call from the maternity ward later that afternoon to organise to go to the hpsital the next day. That night we tried to sleep and eat, managing a few bites and a few minutes here and there.
Finally we arrived at 11 am on Thursday. We saw countless doctors, midwives and ancillary staff at the hospital. I didn’t care what they had to say. I wanted to be induced strait away; I wanted my epidural, and I wanted this to be over. I don’t know why but nothing was done that Thursday; they just left us there in that room, crying, wondering why our little girl had to die. Finally at 1:00 on Friday, the 24th of February (my 24th birthday), we were taken to the labour ward and I was given my first dose of gel to induce me. I was .5 cm dilated at 1:00. We tried to sleep but managed only a few hours.
At 6:15 I awoke and at 6:30 I was startled by a midwife and my water broke, gushing out of me. I just sat up crying. I couldn’t stop the tears. I had imagined my waters breaking for weeks before this, and it was not meant to be a sad moment. I was supposed to be excited for it to break because it meant a few hours later I’d hold my little one. I sat there as this ridiculous amount of amniotic fluid gushed out of me. I cried and cried and my partner just held me; he was my strength and I needed him so badly to take this pain away. Knowing he couldn’t take it away killed me. I cried into his ear over and over how sorry I was. The waters were brown, filled with meconium I don’t know if this is normal or not as she was overdue, but either way it was awful and it scared me. We were rushed back to the delivery suite and at 11 am I was finally given my epidural. I needed this epidural as I didn’t want to feel any pain; I was so afraid of the pain as I believed it to be unnecessary and pointless now that she has passed away. The hours merged into one another and at 5 pm I was re-checked; to my relief I was only 2cm dilated. As much as I wanted it to be over I was petrified of finally giving birth to this baby because then she would be out of me and I knew I’d never get her back. The longer I kept her inside me the better I felt because even a dead baby inside me was better than no baby at all.
After 5:00 things heated up. I started to feel the contractions through the epidural and despite two additional bolus doses from the anaesthetist directly into my epidural space, I had no relief. I started to realise that the epidural was pointless, as I could feel my legs and every contraction through my whole body. I was trying my hardest to remember to breathe through the pain, adjust to and embrace it; after all, this was labour and she was my baby, dead or not. I was her mother and it was my job to get her out. By 9:00 (four hours after I was told I was 2cm) I was re-checked. The midwives told me to expect only to be around 3 cm by this stage, but to everyone’s surprise (except mine; I’d been fighting the urge to push for a while), I was told I was 10 cm. I was instructed to avoid pushing as they wanted the baby’s head to move down as far as it could on its own so I didn’t have to do too much.
I waited three hours. I was fighting the urge to push mostly because I was petrified of losing her and meeting her and then having to say goodbye after I’d only just said hello. At midnight on my birthday I started to push. I felt everything! I felt every rip, tear, contraction, push, I felt it all. The epidural did NOTHING. I pushed for 1 hour 40 minutes before her beautiful head finally came out and the burning stopped for a few seconds. Then came the shoulders. The next 20 minutes are a blur, but soon there were three midwives in the room, and my partner was holding my leg up near my ear and one midwife looked at me, yelling “Your baby is stuck!” I was laid upside down on my back, rolled onto my side, and had to push and push for 15 minutes to finally free my baby. Paul cut the cord and she was taken away and put in a cot behind a curtain. I was told whilst being stitched up that the baby had shoulder dystocia and that she was very stuck which is why it took so long to get her out. I was also told that, for a first-time mum, to go from 2 cm to 10 cm in four hours was very quick, and that’s why the epidural didn’t work. Next time I would probably need an early c-section to avoid stillbirth happening again and also to avoid the next baby being compromised by shoulder dystocia.
We finally got to meet our baby. She was 7 lbs, 4 oz and 52 cm long. She was the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen in my life. My heart broke over and over again. It kept refilling with insurmountable amounts of love for this darling baby, and then being shattered again when I would realise that my time with her was limited. She looked like her daddy but had her mummy’s nose. Her hands were big as were her feet, which is surprising for us because we are both short and small-footed. This baby was my miracle and I had done such a good job growing her; it wasn’t fair she had died after all my hard work. The midwives wouldn’t let us hold her on her own because they said she was too fragile, but we got to hold her on a mattress. We got to kiss her hands and tell her how much we loved her. We had to give her to the midwives and were taken back to the maternity ward. A few hours later we got her back and were able to let my family meet her and hold her too. I was so proud to be her mummy and I was so impressed to be showing her off to my family. We took lots of pictures, got hand- and footprints, and took pieces of hair. Finally we had to leave, and giving my baby away was the hardest thing. It breaks my heart even thinking about it. Walking out of a hospital without your baby is something no parent should have to do.
We had a beautiful funeral for her. We made 41 ribbons, one for each week we had the honour of having her, and placed them on the lid of her coffin. We played three songs for her and wrote letters from daddy and mummy and had them placed in her tiny coffin with her. I kept a ribbon, as did Paul, and we will wear these ribbons on our wedding day in three months. I bought a silver heart charm and wear it on a bracelet in memory of her, and I had one pinned on the beautiful little dress we had her dressed in for her funeral.It’s something that only she and I have.
The days since her birth have been the hardest of my life. Some moments I don’t think I’ll make it through. I feel desperately alone and constantly sad. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I talk to her like I did when she was still alive inside me, and I remember her and love her and I feel ok. Sometimes I wish I could die too just so I could be up there with her and look after her like I had always planned. I am sure things will get better and I am trying to look forward to one day having a baby I can bring home with me but right now it feels like that will never happen. I don’t understand why this happened to my little girl. I had such big plans for her, such big dreams, and now they will never come true. I am waiting for the autopsy results to come, but was told to be prepared for it to come back with no result. Either way I’d give anything to change what happened, to get her back even for just one second . I am honoured to have birthed my child, to have felt it all. That’s something special to me and something I’ll always remember and cherish: that I could give her to the world the way any other baby would have been birthed. I am a mum and despite not having my baby in my arms today, I have the stretchmarks and broken heart to prove I had a baby. I birthed her and I love her more then ever with every passing day.
Sleep well my beautiful angel, Mummy loves you! Till we meet again princess. xx
Tarni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org