So, this blog was set up under a different name originally. I was going to use it to occupy my brain whilst on maternity leave. I only posted twice, and the posts were too hard to read given the place we are at now, so I have deleted them.
Because the person that wrote them has gone, and I don't think she'll be back.
Last week I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lucy Florence Jean - much loved, much anticipated. We had talked endlessly about whether baby would be a boy or a girl, what sort of parents we would be, would it put a strain on our relationship? Were we too young/old/ill prepared to have the responsibility of this new life? Many hours spent dreaming of names, what they would look like, who they would take after. Never once thinking that the unthinkable would happen. That we would never meet this little person in life. She would never see our faces, we would never see her eyes open, she would not feel our touch or our kisses.
Our story reads like so many other 'normal' pregnancies. I have lost angels earlier in pregnancy, which made me very anxious about the first 20 weeks. But we got to that scan and saw our little treasure waving and sucking her thumb, all appeared well physically and we left reassured. I also had additional growth scans as they suspected I had a bicornuate uterus, however this was never confirmed and baby grew and grew and the hospital did not seem anxious.
I left work to start my maternity with presents and good wishes and well meant advice ("It's like shelling peas!" the men all joked). I was so excited to meet this little person and find out if I had been carrying a pink or blue bump. I spent many days trying to think of ways to induce labour as I was just so impatient to start my life and journey as a mother!
Wednesday 23rd September 2009. The most awful day of my life. The one where the old Amy died inside and a new person emerged.
It started quite normally, John got up to go to work and I lay in bed thinking about the day ahead. I was going to meet my friend at lunch and then spend the afternoon at my Sister in Laws. As I lay there I thought how quiet baby was today. Normally my moving about and tossing and turning disturbed them and they would wriggle and kick. Today they seemed very lethargic and I hadn't really felt any movement. Of course these were just idle thoughts, I never realy considered that there was anything seriously wrong - yet I did feel that something wasn't quite right. Call it mothers intuition if you like. It boiled down to the fact that this baby was a precious gift to me, I had lost other babies and I did not want to take any chances. I was very 'in tune' with my little one and could tell you her position, movement patterns, anything. She was and is very, very loved. I hope that she felt that love from us whilst she was in her little bubble world.
I got up and had some breakfast and sat in front of the TV. Eating normally roused my little monkey, and I sat watching some programmes I had recorded about home births. Sure enough the food stirred a reaction in my tummy. Except it wasn't quite the normal movement I was used to feeling - this is the thing that now haunts me day and night, this little niggle, this dark thought, the thought that my baby was dying inside me and I ignored her. She was hiccuping, (she used to get the hiccups several times a day), but today it seemed more jerky and very fast. I gently prodded my tummy, 'Slow down in there!'. Eventually the movements stopped - that was the last time I felt Lucy move. I torture myself every day that I should have picked up the phone there and then, no in fact, BEFORE that, when I didn't feel she was moving quite right. I don't know if it would have changed the outcome -maybe not - but the guilt I feel as her mother, as her protector for the nine months she had grew inside me, is unbearable. People tell you not to blame yourself, and the rational part of my brain agrees, I did all I possibly could - but inside I still feel like a murderer.
So I still had this nagging doubt in my mind that all was well. I watched some more TV and prodded my tummy. No reaction, she must be sleeping. Out of curiosity I fetched my pregnancy books and flicked to the information about fetal movements. I knew that you could monitor them using a 'kick' chart so I thought I would do that to put my mind at rest. I made a hot drink as it advised this to make baby move, I settled back down on the sofa and waited for the first kick. And waited. And waited. 'Wake up bean' I gave my tummy a gentle push where I knew her bottom was resting. It was firm so I knew she was there but there was no indignant kick at being prodded like usual. I made a cold drink with ice - another trick to make baby move. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Time was ticking on, I needed to leave soon to meet my friend for lunch. I deliberated - should I go and see if walking made baby wake up? Or should I ring and cancel and wait at home for movement? At the back of my mind a terrible feeling was creeping, creeping.
I went upstairs and found my doppler that I had hired to use as reassurance in the early days when impending miscarriage was my biggest fear. Our earlier losses had made me very anxious. I lay on the bed and pressed the doppler to my tummy. Static. Static and a very cold silence. No 'whoosh' of the placenta. No little racing heart beat like I had listened to hundreds of times before. Just crackles and silence.
I can't explain the sick feeling that churned in my stomach. I was crying and shaking, I babbled to myself . 'It's the batteries, they're running out, it's not working properley and I'm panicking'.
I rang John and told him I couldn't get baby to move and couldn't find a heartbeat. "It's OK, you're just panicking baby, I'll come straight home though" he said. I rang the hospital in hysterics as I knew, I knew, I knew that something was bad here, something was bad. But I still did not think baby was already gone, I still had this hope that it was me, or it was something that could be fixed. I told the lady on the phone I hadn't felt baby move for over an hour and I couldn't get her to move now. "You should feel 10 movements in a day, not an hour. You've felt her today so I am sure it's OK". My tears became hysterical again and I think the panic in my voice made her soften. "Come up, we can't have an anxious Mum, can we? Come up for a scan in an hour and we'll put you on a monitor to check baby's heartbeat".
I call my friend and tell her in sobs that I can't meet her, I have to go to the hospital. She is very understanding and calming and I feel momentarily better. Things will be OK.
John arrives home and we go straight to the hospital. We don't speak a word all the way there, I sit silently willing baby to move. I still had this hope she would wake up and kick me, and I'd be forced to go sheepishly into the hospital and say 'Sorry for wasting your time, she's moving now'.
We sat in the waiting room in silence, surrounded by other couples and their bumps. I am rubbing mine, pushing and prodding and praying over and over and over that she would move.
And then we are called into the scan room. We had seen the sonographer before, when we had the MMC. Now, I think that was an omen. If I ever walk into a scan room and see her again I will probably have a nervous breakdown.
I knew before she even spoke. This image plays around my head over and over, I look at the screen and where before there was movement and a heart beat and life, there is stillness. An incredible stillness. And a black and gray image of my baby, my beautiful, adored baby, lying in my tummy without a heartbeat.
And the sonographer scans again, and again. And then she says the words that I want to shove back down her throat, those horrible, sickening words that totally turn my life on it's head. "I'm so sorry".
And that is when my world collapsed. I am screaming. I am crying. I run around the room, nurses are running in, the sonographer looks almost scared of me. I run from person to person, I have no idea who they are, but I am begging them to change it, to save my baby. 'This can't be real', I am thinking and I wait to wake up or snap out of the daydream. But it doesn't happen. I look to John and he is crying and crying. I am begging everyone in the room, "Please, save my baby". I am hysterical. I bizzarely think in the back of my mind this is one of the occasions you see on TV when someone slaps you round the face to stop the hysterics and I wonder if they are gong to slap me, or sedate me. I cry, I wail, I beg. I don't care who hears me or what they think. The room seems busy and hectic. A Midwife comes in with a kind face, she is only young. She tries to calm me, she tells me her name is Heather. And the fighting against this awful news stops and I cling to her and I cry with a depth of grief that I have never experienced before. I want to howl like an animal, I want to scream and I want my baby back. I want this to not be real.
They tell me thay have to scan me again and get a doctor to confirm the death. I can't look at the screen. I hold Johns hands and we sob together. In the background they talk in hushed voices "The cord appears normal"...."There's no swelling,...it must have been sudden".
We are ushered into a back room. Heather tells me again how sorry she is. I think about how her eyes are very green. I wish my eyes were green. She offers to call people.
The sickening realisation that we have to tell people hits me. My parents will be so sad. They will be so, so sad, it is their first grandchild and they are so excited. I feel like I've let them down, I feel guilty that I am going to cause them so much pain and anguish. I can't bear the thought of them hearing the news and being so far away. I worry about them crashing the car on the way to see me. We give Heather a list of numbers to call, which she does. She sits down and gently explains what needs to happen next. I am to be induced.
I will have to give birth to my dead baby. I will have to endure hours of pain and discomfort and I already know that there is no happy ending. No ballooons and flowers, no excited phone calls, no sleepless nights, no mastitis. Just tears and grief and a loss so painful I feel sick as I type this. My baby will be born asleep.
I panic and tell everyone I can't do it. I can't go through with the birth. Heather tells me they do not want to do a C-Section, it's a major operation and my recovery will be slower. I think about this and I think about how it might affect any more pregnancies. So I agree to be induced.
Heather asks if I would like to go home first. The thought of this appalls me - go home? Go home with my dead baby in my belly, to sit and cry and try to sleep all the while knowing what I know? No chance. I want it over and done with I tell her.
My friends arrive and we cry and sit in despair together. The silence is broken with random conversations, trying to be normal and escape the sitution we are in. The nurse tells me are getting a room ready for me, the 'normal' room they use for 'situations' like this is already occupied. I feel sad for the lady who is in that room, already going through this.
I muse that I am glad we have our dog Marley, he will be some comfort to us. I think about trying for another baby and then check myself - why am I thinking about another baby when I am pregnant with this baby, how can I think like that? I ask John if we can go on holiday. My thoughts are random, empty thoughts. I am in shock. I am disbelieving. I am pretending to be me when I am not me. I play the role in the film.