Mom to Carter Cooper Barry

Born sleeping October 20, 2011 at 38 weeks 2 days

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

October 20, 2011.

It was a day like nothing I have ever gone through, or nothing I ever want to go through again.

I woke up on Wednesday, October 19 and got my 3-year old, Jackson, ready for our day. I babysit another child, so I was able to stay home with Jackson, who I still have a hard time separating from. We went to the drop-in at our neighbouring school, where Jackson will attend when he goes next year. I was 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant…I am so busy every day that I noticed movement from the baby mostly in the evening. I went to the drop in and really didn’t feel movement, so when we got home I put the kids down for a nap, and drank a cold glass of milk…nothing, then juice…nothing. I called my doctor and no answer, so I left a message. I called the hospital and they said to come in. The kids woke up and I called the mother of the child I babysit and asked her to come and get her daughter a little early. I had to go to the hospital to see what was going on.

I called my partner, Jay, and 15-year old stepson, Nathaniel, and asked them to meet us there. My friend, Carady, was also there. I met them all at the hospital and went to the maternity floor. I signed in and had to get my son dinner because we were waiting so long. We waited 3 hours, and still no movement. Jay and Carady went to get the food and ran into my doctor in the elevator, who just happened to be the on-call doctor that night. Jay told her my concerns, and she told him that it was normal, and that once I got on the monitor the baby would start moving. After 3 hours, I called the nurse and told her my frustrations. She said, “I will take you in the back to just check the heartbeat so you feel better, but we don’t have a bed yet, so I can’t bring you in to monitor you.” I would agree to anything at that point.

As I went to the bed to hear the heart beat with my 3-year old son in my arms, and my partner by my side, the nurse started to look for the heartbeat…she could not find it. Tears started to come to my eyes. My partner looked at me in disapproval. He hates me crying in front Jackson, as he thinks it is making him soft (as if it is so bad for a man to be soft). I tried to hold it back, reasoning with myself, “She is just an idiot who doesn’t know what she is doing”. I have had a couple of those through my pregnancy, as my doctor had interns. I heard a heat beat…my heart stopped for a minute to listen…then I looked at the nurse and said, “That’s my heart.” My heart sank again.

I had a huge lump in my throat. She said to me, “I can hear rustling in there, so that’s a good sign.”

Ok, my hopes came back up, for a moment…then they brought in an ultrasound machine and an intern doctor. I told her that we did not know the sex yet, and if she would keep it from us, that would be appreciated…she said, “It isn’t going to make a difference.” What isn’t going to make a difference???? I knew then that something was horribly wrong.

I was in shock. My doctor finally came in, and the look on her face I will never forget…she said, “What happened?” She looked at the ultrasound and said, “Do you want to send the little one (my 3-year old) into the hallway with your friend?” I said no. She proceeded to tell me that there was no heartbeat. She told me that she thought it happened in the middle of the night. I broke down, holding my son as tight as I could. They put me in a wheel chair so I would not fall. I had him in my arms the entire way wheeling through the halls. I thought I would never get to a room. I was crying and screaming uncontrollably. And my son was, too…in my arms.

Jay called his parents and I called my mother…our words were simple and I never want to say them again…”The baby died”…”What?” “She said, ‘The baby is dead.” How could I be saying that about something that has not even left my body yet…I thought babies were supposed to be safe as long as they were inside me; it’s when they come out that you are supposed to worry.

Once Jackson calmed down, he started to play with his toys and I went to the washroom and melted down on the floor. I have not ever cried like that…ever, making myself sick. I could hear the doctor talking outside the door, but could not hear what she was saying. My mother-in-law came into the washroom and hugged me and just sat…she could not understand. She sat with me for a while just not saying anything. I could not even touch my belly. The baby was dead. My doctor was the next one to come in and she cried with me on the floor. She then asked me if I wanted a c-section (like I had with my first and was planning with this one) or if I wanted to try to push the baby out. I didn’t with my first son and could not imagine pushing a dead baby out of me. I told her I wanted a c-section. I had to wait until my 3-year old was asleep so I did not have to leave him. I could not even stand up. I felt like a piece of paper that could rip in two any minute. I have never felt so fragile. I consider myself to be a strong woman…but not today.

My sister came to take N to get our stuff, since we would be staying in the hospital that day to deliver my dead baby. I wrote a list for myself, Jay and Jackson because my bag was not yet packed; I was not supposed to deliver until the 25th. My mother finally got there. It felt like it took her forever, and I never needed her like I did today. My sister came back with our things and Nathaniel did not want to come back so was dropped at his grandmother’s. A million things were running through my mind. I had to make sure N had someone home tonight. I had J’s mother call his Aunt Cathy. It seemed like it took her forever to pick up the phone at her work. As soon as she knew, I broke down again. She has been like a second mother to me these last couple of years. I tried to hold it together for J. I could not have him see me cry anymore. It was 10:30pm and they planned to take me at 12 midnight. I had to get my son to sleep. It took a long time, and for the first time in his life he did not want to lay with me and more than ever that night, I needed him to need me. I think the intravenous in my hand scared him.

The nurse and doctor came in at 12:10 to take Jay and me to the operating room…the saddest walk of my life. I needed Jay to hold me up because I was not going to make it. The doctor talked to us before I went in and asked if we would want to see the baby. I said yes, but Jay was unsure. She said she would ask us again after it was over. They took me in the room to do the spinal. I was shaking uncontrollably and crying. The pain was immense, my doctor held me and tried to keep me still. It took so long for that damned needle to get in. They laid me down on the table put the catheter in and called Jay in. I could not stop the tears if it tried…the room was so silent. The total opposite of when I delivered Jackson, there were so many people, this time only my doctor, the anesthesiologist, and an intern…that was it. All I kept thinking is, “They are cutting a dead baby out of me.” My doctor took the baby out and said words that I will never forget: “Oh, Gill, he is a perfect little boy.”   Perfect????? How could he be perfect if he was dead?

He had died from a true knot in his cord. The doctor said there was nothing I could have done and it happens in about one in every 1000 pregnancies…Why did I have to be that one?

I could not stop sobbing. As soon as it was done, I looked at the doctor and said, “I need to see him.” She said, “I know.” As soon as he was placed in my arms, she was right…he was perfect. And he looked identical to Jackson, especially his little nose. He was 7 lbs of perfection, a full baby. I could not wrap my head around it. At first I was unsure if I wanted to touch his skin. Then I found myself crying with him, holding his cheek next to mine. I sang to him, the same songs that I sing to Jackson. I held him for 3 hours in the recovery room. I kissed him all over his little face. I called my mother in to see him. I knew this was hard for her, but I needed her to see him. They took me back to my room at almost 4 am. I could not sleep; I sat up crying and crying until Jackson woke up. I was still in shock. I could not believe it. I could not believe this happened to me. I could not believe any of it. How was I going to tell Jackson?

I had a social worker come in and tell me that I had to contact a funeral home. A funeral home? I just had a dead baby…it became more and more real.

That afternoon, I had to see him again. This time he was cold, and a little bluer. I kissed is mouth and his little face over and over a wept uncontrollably. Finally, I had to give him back.

That would be the last time I saw my angel.

They allowed us to leave the hospital that evening, even though I had a c-section. We could not stand to be in there anymore. The walk out of the hospital nearly killed me. First of all, I could hardly walk because I was in so much pain, but I had to try because I could not stand to stay in there. As I passed people in the hallway I cried and cried. I was not leaving the hospital with my baby…I was leaving with a cloth package with my baby’s blanket, and footprints. I was empty handed. The first stop we made on the way home was to the beer store. I didn’t ‘know what else to do, and when I got home, I could not even drink it. I called and made arrangements to go to the funeral home the next day.

That night was awful. Tossing and turning, I even thought I felt him moving…and then I remembered.

The next day, as soon as I got up, we got ourselves ready and went to the funeral home. I could not stand the thought of my baby by himself in a morgue. I had to get him cremated as soon as possible. It was awful! Sitting across the table from a man who pretended to give a shit (even though, looking back now, he was very nice, and compassionate). At the hospital they never asked me what his name was, so they named him Baby Boy Cooper. What the hell? How could you not ask me what his name was going to be? So at the funeral home I had to call the hospital and argue with them to change my baby’s name so the funeral home could pick him up without a problem, and his name would match with the name we had given him. He had a name, my favourite name, and I had been thinking about it since I first found out I was pregnant. I so desperately wanted a boy. Carter Cooper Barry. I told the funeral home to hold the ashes until we picked out our own urn. I did not want some old person urn, I wanted one for my sweet baby. We signed all the necessary forms and left the funeral home in tears.

I never let my 3-year old son see his brother, and I often wonder if that was the right decision. I do let him see pictures of Carter whenever he wants or when I am looking at them. I also have pictures of Carter up in my home. I have been criticized for this…but my son is 3 years old. He knew a baby was supposed to come and that he would be a big brother. I told him that the baby died and that we would not get to see anymore. This is his little brother and I will not pretend that this never happened…because it did.

Gillian blogs at

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  1. donna keenan says:

    Gillian you are so brave and thanks for sharing. I don’t know what to say, but i do know one thing even though Carter never took a breath on this side he still knows that he was loved by a very special mom. love

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