|I am putting this here, copied and pasted from Brenna's Original pages (a) to keep all the Birth Stories together and (b) as a 'backup' in case the original pages go AWOL. |
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
|HOW ONE DAY CAN CHANGE SO MANY... |
The morning was as lovely as any other...
I had taken Brooke (recently turned 8) and Jake (5, nearly 6) to school, and gotten Zeke (2.5) and I ready to go to the Birth Centre for your checkup, to hear your heart beating, which is something I think everyone looks forward to, I know I do - and hand in all your paperwork, including the ultrasound results we had had done at ten weeks, confirming you were there, and very active and growing along just nicely.
We arrived at the Birth Centre, Zeke played with toys until it was time to go in. (I was with the Blue Group midwives.) I answered all the usual 'first visit' questions, we went through blood/urine test results, all spot on, and did the paperwork side of things.
Then came the part I was waiting for, and had been telling Zeke about. Funny thing is... usually when things are going to happen I can imagine them and this I just couldn't, I had this odd feeling... but I dismissed it.
[I had had this 'are we tempting fate' thing for so long before you were conceived. And Zeke regularly for a couple of weeks before today, had been touching my belly and rubbing it and saying 'Baby's sleeping'... the first time I thought it was sweet... the next few times I felt a little fear because I thought he might be right. I talked myself into thinking positive. Zeke was also all keyed up and keen and inquisitive about babies in general, and my belly... but this subsided not long before we found out...]
I hopped up on the table. We could hear my heartbeat (pulse) loud and clear. The midwife said well you have a great blood flow to your uterus. After a time, we still could not 'find' your heart beat.
Small talk was made, although somehow nothing seemed too negative, odd though it was. The midwife said sometimes if the placenta is on the front, and baby is 'behind' that the maternal heart beat can mask or 'hide' baby's heart beat. She said usually if there is a good blood flow to the uterus, as there was with me, then there's usually a reason for that good flow, and that it's just a case of Baby playing 'hide and seek' more or less.
The midwife said she would go get another doppler, just to make sure that it wasn't something with the one she had, which really... since she could find my pulse fine well it probably wasn't.
So she got the other one and the same result.
We finished up in the appt room, I was still just going along like it was any other day, and not really 'anything' - maybe just that this was a glitch and it would all be sorted, although I think somewhere I knew it wasn't. But I was still just me at this stage, and listened as they organised for me to go to the Emergency Centre (EC) for an ultrasound. We waited in the waiting room and I started to hear the words 'I'm sorry but there's no heartbeat' in my mind, my eyes started to prickle and I told myself don't be silly, think positive. At this stage, in hindsight, I was strangely calm... maybe 'going through the motions'? I don't know but I wasn't particularly anxious or anything.
Maybe I really did, subconsciously at least, already know...
The midwife said that was all organised, she said one of the midwives up the main hospital said sometimes even she hadn't found the heartbeat at my gestation (nearly 16 weeks) and that it wasn't unusual, and that the ladies in question and their babies had been fine.
Anyway, she said when I came back they'd finish the appt and book me in for my next check. So the receptionist and I went up to the EC, with Zeke walking beside us, chattering away.
We got there, handed in my file to which the midwife on the desk repeated that same thing, that it wasn't unusual, to which I replied well it is for me - three previously normal healthy pregnancies with three very strong heartbeats at the same gestation AND this baby's heartbeat was clear and well at the ten week ultrasound and I didn't want to just 'wait' and see...
I rang Michael to let him know what was happening so far, that it might be nothing, that it might be any of the before mentioned reasons why they couldn't find the heartbeat at the Birth Centre. I had to hang up on Michael then because Zeke took off - I had bought with me enough snacks and games for the Birth Centre appt and he had had enough - he was ready for bed. Anyway...
So into the room we went, me laying on the bed trying to keep Zeke busy, while they did the u/s. They took a long time and were very quiet. What little I could see of the screen I couldn't see movement. After what seemed like ages, he said look I'm sorry, I can't see any heartbeat, I'm going to get a second opinion' - to which I folded my arms across my face and burst into tears... I knew, I knew even beforehand but now there was no not knowing. One of the nurses even said to me 'there there let's not get emotional yet, let's wait for the second opinion' - but I knew, dammit and don't try and pretend! I didn't of course say this to her but I was thinking, 'what, like they might be wrong, our Baby isn't moving, they can't see the heartbeat.'
As promised the second and third opinion were sought.
Inbetween them telling me things, and my tears, I was keeping Zeke busy, as well as one of the learning docs trying to keep Zeke from taking off. I started him on the marble game on my mobile (something he's never allowed to have) and updated it for him as the game finished, while they were finishing the next ultrasound.
Finally yes, they were sure. Baby's heart had stopped.
The only composure I managed was enough to tend to Zeke, and to hear what they were saying to me.
They asked would I like to ring my husband. Between sobs I said no, I'll drive over to his work and pick him up - the midwife repeated this to the doc and in hindsight I think they were quickly trying to work out how to talk me out of it.
In the end I rang Michael and told him between breaking down and trying to get the words out.
My God how do you tell the Father of the child you're carrying such news... really...
Then I tried to phone my Mum, (didn't know if I would catch Dad at home) got the answering machine at work, so tried Mum and Dad at home, Dad answered and I told him in much the same way as I had told Michael. I asked him could he please phone Mum, but make sure she was by herself when he told her, or even if he could go down there to her work...
I think I rang my friend N then and told her.
She had lost a little one too and I felt so bad to tell her and make her sad for her little one but she was our good friend, our children's Aunty, I wanted to tell her.
After that the doc came back and explained the options for 'management of the pregnancy' from here on. He said options were D&C or induced labour - I burst into tears (more) and said I couldn't do a D&C, I just couldn't. The thought of it was just too much to entertain.
I also wanted to know, if I birthed, would they just take baby away and be classed as 'medical waste' - I wanted to see and hold my baby - the thought of the 'medical waste' disposal was just impossible - please let them say that's not what they do.
And it wasn't.
The rest of that afternoon was a bit of a combination of tears, sobbing, my brain going a thousand miles an hour, doc and midwives coming and going and me staring over and over again between tears at the pattern on the curtain in the ulstrasound room, and keeping an eye on Zeke who by this stage I had just given in and let him press the 'up down' button on the bed to keep him busy. One of the midwives bought him some paper and highlighters to colour with, and I had found some Minties in the bottom of my bag (they were fine to eat btw)... but the up down up down of the bed was much more fun.
Michael came. We hugged as we cried and I said once, 'I'm sorry' he said 'don't be sorry it's not your fault' and I don't know if that's what I meant, but I was saying 'I'm sorry for you, our Baby's Daddy'...
The midwife who does perinatal loss came in and the first thing she said was 'you look sad'... ?!
Anyway, an appt was organised for the next morning to come in and chat, and to make decisions as to where to from there. She said most women who instincively respond they don't a D&C, usually don't and if they do, they often regret it. I had already decided the first time the doctor offered the options.
Michael had at this time taken Zeke for a walk, a drive.
The rest of the afternoon was a bit like that. Seeing people, hearing different things, answering questions, asking questions.
Then we went home. Michael picked Brooke and Jake up from school. Then when we got home, we told them the news. I explained it quite simply I think, in the most sensitive way I could, that our Baby's hear wasn't working any more, and that when your heart doesn't work you can't live. Basically. I told them our Baby would be born, and roughly how big s/he would be. I answered their questions and said if they wanted to cry, or talk or ask questions or anything, they could any time they wanted to.
I said that Mummy and Daddy would probably be sad for a long time, because this is our child, their brother/sister and we are sad because of all the things that now can't be - watching them grow up together and so on.
A little more than that of course but overall that was the gist of the explanation. I surprised myself how calm I was explaining it to the kids - of everyone, I have been able to be the most lucid and composed with them...
My Mum was coming down for work, she came over that night striaght from the airport, and stayed a while, would come back the next night to stay for the weekend.
N was also coming the next morning to stay with the kids, as Mum had a meeting in the morning, so N would stay with them while we went in for our appt.
That was the Wednesday. The day I went for my routine 15+2 check at the Birth Centre... that turned out to be anything but routine, and the differences in what the world held for us, from the morning compared to the afternoon, was massive.
That Wednesday night in the shower I just leaned on the wall and cried in defeat. I know they told me that we probably couldn't get in until Monday, but maybe I knew I don't know, but I asked Michael to take a photo of my belly... with you safely inside... I didn't know if it would be the last time you and I would be at home together... and as it turned out, it was.
Thursday, September 20, 2007 AMNIO, BOOKING IN... & BEING FORGOTTEN...
Thur morning 20th Sept, for our 'chat' appointment with the midwife, to confirm what 'management' plan we would like to chose. The choice was (as was explained the day before) a D&C or induced labour - take your pick which terminology different staff used - some of it I wanted to object to, but I just didn't manage to form the words for my thoughts. Perhaps they thought they were being kinder by using more medical terms, more clinical, but it felt harder.
So the choice was D&C, or induced labour
I did not want to do either of those...
I wanted to not have to choose, I wanted for our Baby not even to BE in the position such that we had to make this choice...
There was some mention that I would be 'borderline' for a D&C if we went that way anyway, because we were technically in the 2nd trimester, that it would be up to the head of whichever Dept whether they permitted this option.
It wasn't an option for me, so thankfully we never had to have that discussion.
But as I has said to the doctor the day before, after final confirmation from a third opinion that there was definately no heartbeat, I just could not do a D&C. I know it's such a personal choice, and one no one else can make unless they stand in your shoes, but I just couldn't do it.
I have a good friend who lost her little girl at a similar gestation, although different circumstances. We both made different choices, but in no way does this make either of us right or wrong, we just made the best decision we could, with both our heart, head and medical info.
Our decision was to induce labour and birth our baby, as we would have done anyway, just much later.
From there, there was a lot of waiting as there usually is, seeing different people, nurses, registrar, doctor etc. I asked for another ultrasound, to be sure. I wanted to be SURE...
That was with the perintal loss midwife.
Somewhere in there was a wait before and after, so we decided to go for a walk/sit in the car rather than sit in the waiting room with all the other bellies.
The reigistrar really took her time, showed us everything, put on the 'colours' so you can see blood flow and it was clear that the blood flow ended where the umbilical cord met baby's belly. Then we spoke to a professor who explained the induction process and all that went with it, she also was very thorough and this was something positive.
We asked all the questions we could think of, even those we didn't really want to contemplate at the time.
I couldn't understand how we could have three 'disgustingly normal' (that was the midwife's words a couple of years ago) pregnancies, and natural births, yet be here.
We spent a long time in that room, waitng mostly, seeing people occasionally.
I said to Michael at one point.. 'I can't do this again, I just can't'...
We asked even the same questions we had already asked the different people we had come across, and still it surprises me at some of the differences in the perspective the answers give - surely not all of it can be put down to their personal opinion on risks and procedures, surely there are some facts?
Also, while we were there at the EC, a couple with their newborn baby came in, their baby was crying and it was honestly one of the second-hardest things to hear...
It seemed we were going to have to wait until Monday before our Baby could be born. What can you do but wait in that situation you know. They did really try, as best I could tell, several phone calls, speaking to the head of the ward etc
We had in the meantime, decided to go ahead and have the amniocentisis, to confirm gender as it may not have been obvious enough at birth (due to the way both boy and girl babies develop in the first three months) and to see if they could work out the 'why' from the same tests. We have chosen to have the 'why' looked at, but we don't want results. We just want to have the results there should we want them later on, because at the moment, it really makes no difference 'why', because it doesn't change the result. However, now was the only time to have those tests done - can't change your mind later and add that to the 'wish I did this' list.
We were given the risk assessment for the amnio - the biggest risk normally being to the baby and the pregnancy, which as was concluded each time to us, was not relevant to our situation.
So I had the amnio. I've never had one before, but the two ladies who performed it were excellent, and lovely. They printed out extra (and better) photos of Baby, for which we were extremely grateful as they were the best and most clear ones we have.
At which time the amnio person said did we want to find out if we could go in that night, she would check just in case there was a bed and enough staff.
I nearly said don't worry about it, thankyou, we know we will just have to wait until Monday...
however, I thought well it can't hurt to ask...
I think she used two things (a) time elapsed since baby had died, risk of infection etc and (b) our emotional state, and a bed was found. The amnio was done, I showered to wash off the betadine they paint your belly with. I slumped against the tiles in the shower... I cried and had my hands on my belly, and said to our Baby 'I'm so sorry, Baby I am so sorry'...
We waited outside the amnio/US room, thankfully didn't make us go back to the waiting room with all the other bellies and happy couples...we had a spot off to one side... the walls were covered in photos of newborn babies, birthing, breastfeeding. I looked at the floor and chairs and anywhere else but the walls. We were also shown the amnio samples and explained to us, which was good.
booked into the ward, went up at about 3pm, met the head nurse [P] who was great. All the nurses on shift that afternoon were. She took her time, really explained everything, answered all our questions, and left spaces so that we could just think, she didn't rush us. I've never really liked the term 'Bubby' but this time, the way she said it, the way she spoke, it was so nice that someone was treating the term they used to speak of our Baby, so gently.
Since I had never birthed in a hospital before, I wanted to know, would I be allowed to move around and so on - she said yes I would - the only monitoring they normally do, is to monitor baby's heartbeat and so on, and again, for our situation that didn't apply.
She asked had I had any contractions or anything, I had had three or four over the space of the day, and each time I had to breathe through them.
She said they wouldn't start anything until about 9pm that night, so no worries to go home, collect clothes and so on (they would bring in a fold out bed for Michael), and we wanted to bring back some blankets for baby too.
We went home, after the shops, spent the afternoon with Mum and the kids explained to them what was happening as well, that our Baby was going to be born, that s/he would be really tiny and that the could meet Baby if they wanted to - the didn't have to but could if they wanted to, what to expect and so on.
Then we went back, getting back to the ward by about 7.30.
The nurse came about 8.30 and did BP, temp etc
I was grateful that we weren't on a 'maternity' ward... I had been pondering how that would be, and that I would just have the door shut and the tv on to hopefully not hear what I otherwise would.
Turns out we were on the oncology ward... and 'elective termination' and 'for parents like us', ward... no less a happier place for all the other ladies/families who were in that ward.
Still for us it was something in not hearing new babies cry.
Saturday, September 22, 2007 So this is the day after you were born.
We got home yesterday to many bunches of flowers and cards, and more coming, phone messages and so on. I caught up on the lovely emails people had sent.
I think I spent more hours with tears running down my face, than not. Making toast, didn't matter what, my thoughts were mostly of you, and us, and why and what if and all the thousand thoughts that parents who have lost babies entertain... But, I took it to mean that the pain and ache and tears was just so true to how much you were and still are, loved and wanted and missed so tremendously...
Sometimes I looked forward to bed time, although I had to stay up until I was worn out before I could actually sleep, because it meant just for a little while the ache and tears could have a rest. Until the morning.
I kept thinking
I can't do this, I can't...
but I was.
The days just passed really, the sun kept coming up, and later on, kept going down... because even if your world has fallen apart, the world in general, no matter how rude it seems, just keeps turning.
Sunday, September 23, 2007 It is November that I am entering this into Brenna's journal. I put it here because I know it was in the few days immediately after she was born, but unless I wrote it down somewhere and can't remember, I am not sure exactly what day. And I have thought about it often, whether or not to enter it in here. I have chosen to obviously, and I've done so because this is ~Brenna's~ journal...
Do you know...
I saw her.
I saw Brenna. Not like a ghostly ooooooo-oooooh kinda thing, but in the days after we got home, the whole lounge and kitchen was full of flowers. I was in the lounge room, sad as ever, by myself I think someone had gone to get Brooke and Jake from school and Zeke was with them, I think, I know I was home by myself at least inside the house.
anyway I was bending down to pick up toys and so on off the floor, slowly because it still felt like my insides might hurt at any second...
when I happened to glance up - you know, the kind of automatic for no real reason kind of glances? Well one of those, just a quick few seconds one - and in that second, right where a red carnation was in amongst a bouquet on the table... I saw Brenna's face - not as in from the shape of the flower but as if someone had opened a little 'window' for me to see her right there in front of that flower, just her face.
She was perfect.
All newborny... and full term and just perfect and beautiful. And a LOT like Zeke - ~that~ spun me out! Given her name means 'raven haired', I think it suited because I think she was a lot like him in terms of colouring, the light olive skin, dark hair and blue eyes... just from how she looked this time, so similar to how Zeke looked, but still a different Baby.
I am so so grateful to have seen her in this way - because it gives me something... something to, I don't know... 'have'... or something? I don't really know WHAT it means but I think it was something good.
Since that first glance was but a second, I quickly glanced back up... but her image was gone. I wasn't even contemplating anything like that Red carnations have absoloutely no significance other than this one newly created... so I truly think that it was her, Brenna... right then...