Mom to Samuel Logan
Born still March 14, 2012
Stevenage, United Kingdom
After suffering with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) since I was 17 years old, I thought I would have a battle on my hands to ever have a baby. My husband and I were quite philosophical about falling pregnant: “it’ll happen when it happens”. It did happen; completely unexpectedly and without real effort. My pregnancy was without any major issues. I had slightly more checks than average due to my raised BMI (thanks to the PCOS). I was sick throughout, but it was manageable. I had raised levels of amniotic fluid seen on scans at 28 and 36 weeks (but not at 32 weeks strangely). I was told by the Doctor at 36 weeks this wasn’t an issue as he was in the head-down position. For nine months, I had this constant feeling that it was all too good to be true. And it was.
My angel, Samuel Logan, was born at 38 weeks+3 on 14th March 2012 at 22.51. He weighed 6lb 9oz and was absolutely perfect. I had no clue that something was wrong. On 12th March everything was fine and on 13th March at a routine midwife appointment, his heartbeat couldn’t be detected on the Doppler. It was a morning appointment and I hadn’t felt any movement from when I woke up, but that wasn’t unusual, he normally waited until the afternoon and evening to kick around and jiggle. I was sent from my midwife straight to the hospital for a scan. I even drove myself there!
My husband was rushing to get back from work, but I was fortunate enough to have my mum with me. I was rushed into a room straight away and that was when I truly started to panic. They scanned me and it was checked by two separate doctors. It showed that he had passed away. Cruelly, I could still feel movements in my tummy, but I was assured that it was just the baby being moved by the amniotic fluids. When my husband got to the hospital, I had to tell him the worse news imaginable – our beautiful baby boy had died. We had another confirmatory scan, this time not in a private room but via the regular scanning unit, passing a waiting room full of pregnant women. I still had hope that he was just in an awkward position for them to be able to see his heartbeat, but it wasn’t the case. The world as we knew it had ended.
I was given medication to induce the labour and was told it was going to take at least 48 hours to take effect, but by that evening, I’d already had my show and contractions started around 9am on 14th March. I can’t remember who said this to me, but someone said that as the labour had come on so quickly, the birth would probably have happened soon anyway. That comment hurt so much! Why couldn’t I have gone into labour a few days earlier? Samuel might have survived then! All I knew was that the pain I had in my uterus didn’t even compare to the pain in my heart. How on earth was I going to find the strength to deliver my longed-for son in a way that I had never even imagined?
We went back to the hospital about 4 in the afternoon and I was given some gas and air and codeine, although by about 7pm I had been given loads of morphine and was begging for an epidural. A whole host of doctors and midwives tried to take blood from me and/or get a cannula in, but my veins weren’t playing ball and they couldn’t check my clotting factors in order to give me an epidural. I do remember excruciating contractions and urges to push way before I was allowed to. A lot of the labour is a haze to me now; I wish I could remember every second of it. I am pleased now that I didn’t get the epidural and that I felt everything. I felt my son finally being born into this world.
When Samuel was born, the midwives cleaned him up for us and gave him to us to hold. I was so scared of what he might look like, but the moment I saw him, my heart exploded with love for him. It was the best and worst moment of my life. The hospital staff were wonderful to us, letting my husband stay in the delivery room over night, giving us a memory box with a lock of his hair, his footprints, and more. We took photos of him – I only wish now I had taken so many more of him. We had less than 24 hours with him, but it was so precious. My family were able to come and hold him and we had him blessed by the hospital chaplain. Saying goodbye to him was awful; I thought we’d have a lifetime together not just a day. I honestly didn’t feel that I could make it through. I’ve never known emotions so strong, I was overwhelmed by them. I repeatedly stated that I wanted to die too. How do you choose how to say goodbye to your newborn son? Have him taken from you or leave him behind? An impossible choice.
As there were no obvious reasons for Samuel dying, we decided to have a post mortem. When he returned at our local hospital after going away to a specialist for the post mortem, I decided that I wanted to see him again while I had the chance. We were advised against it; after all, almost a month had gone by at this point. It was the right decision for me to see him one last time, although my husband didn’t want to, he’d already said that torturous goodbye once before. Leaving the hospital without my baby in my arms, not once but twice, was almost too much to bear.
We managed to have Samuel’s funeral in April, a month after he passed away. Nothing can prepare you for that moment of seeing your baby’s coffin. You mentally prepare yourself for it being small, but never that small. We spent so much time agonising over making the right choices for the funeral, it was something we wanted to do and felt that it was the only decisions we were really going to be able to make for him. Our closest family and friends were there to support us. It’s only until you experience something this horrendous that you truly realise who you can rely on and it can surprise you. The weather was awful that day, until the very last moment of the service – the sun shone right through all the windows. I took that as a sign that Sam was with us in that moment and hopefully proud of his Mum and Dad. I haven’t been able to listen to the songs we’d chosen for the service; they’re just too poignant now.
After the service, my husband and I took our dog for a walk to nearby hills. When we were right at the top, we released a helium balloon on which we had written a personal message to our son. This is something we can do together each year to honour Samuel’s life and his birthday. We have to make new, unexpected traditions in order to keep him actively in our day to day life. We’re still figuring this out as we go.
We are now 15 weeks into our new life. It’s certainly not the new life we had spent nine months preparing for. Instead of measuring milestones such as Sam holding up his own head or smiling for the first time, we acknowledge that we have made it through another week without him. We have wonderfully supportive family and friends, and they have been lifeline, along with the SANDS forum and support meetings, counselling and other angel parents I talk to on Twitter (@CarlitoDiva). It takes a tenacious kind of person to keep persisting with contact when I’ve continually pushed people away. I never knew grief could cause such physical pain and I am in pain, constantly every second of the day. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true, my arms feel empty. I don’t feel whole or complete. It’s chemical. On a particularly bad day, it’s a crushing feeling like concrete around my chest.
At the moment, I am managing to function more and more during the day, but as soon as I get into bed, I fall apart. That is when the tears get me. I cannot sleep until the early hours – last night it was 4am before I dropped off. The wait for the post mortem results was agonising, we didn’t feel able to make any decisions about anything. Samuel’s bedroom is still exactly as it was on 13th March. His little clothes are all washed and ready in the wardrobe, never to be worn. His moses basket – our very first purchase – still lurks unused and empty. I quite often sit in the chair in his bedroom, where I was going to nurse him, and think of him. I wonder what our new neighbours must make of all the howling that comes from our house. I have a toy sheep, all soft and cuddly, which I hold onto when I cry. It is slightly soothing to have something in my arms.
We now know that Sam died because of an acute problem with the placenta. It was smaller than it should have been and because of an excessively long umbilical cord, it was put under too much pressure to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the baby. It quickly and suddenly failed. I had grown a perfect baby boy, and at this moment in time, I feel like my body failed him.
I absolutely and unequivocally ache for him.
I am forever changed.