Loss – definition: the fact or process of losing something or someone.
This week is bringing us ever so quickly to Betty’s 4th birthday. 4 years is a long time but in some ways it has flown, I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember the 16th October, nearly every detail, I can remember how I felt, how I cried all night the night my daughter died. The afternoon of the 16th, it was a Friday, I was booked in for a scan , I had been for a midwife appointment on the Wednesday and I was measuring over (not unusual I guess as it had happened about a month prior to this) and Archie was 9lb 2oz this was probably going to be a big baby too! The hospital couldn’t fit me in any earlier than the Friday, I was due that week – they said I would probably of had the baby by then and wouldn’t make the scan! I made the scan, I was diagnosed with Polyhdramois (excess fluid) and they were estimating the baby to be well over 10lbs! I was asked to go to the maternity unit across town for 7pm that night, they said as I was already due and given these new risks I would be induced. I wasn’t worried, they weren’t worried, I was excited we were going to meet our baby girl at last!
We went home, I had a bath, we told Archie we would next be home with his sister that weekend. This still hurts so badly to write, I promised him, I will always feel like I let him down. We headed off to the hospital, left Archie in the safe hands of Scott’s mum and got put in a side room on the day assessment ward. The midwife came in and asked if we would like to listen to the babies heartbeat (we said no because we didn’t think there was a need to, we had seen her just a few hours ago and she was moving about and happy) this will of course always be a regret, although I am certain she was still alive at this point.
After a little wait we got taken to the maternity ward, we were ‘checked in’ they were waiting to speak to a consultant who was in with an emergency, they said they would not be starting the induction that evening because they were too busy and as this was a second baby she could arrive quickly. She told us to go and get some food, eat and come back when we were ready. We went and got a take away pizza, the midwife phoned whilst we were out and said not to rush back as they definitely wouldn’t be doing anything until the early hours – I asked if I could pop home and get my dressing gown as I had forgotten it, she said that would be fine and to not rush back. We didn’t take long as even tho she had said this I didn’t feel comfortable being gone from the hospital for too long.
We returned and they told me to get ready for bed, they told Scott that he could go home and get some sleep and they would call him when it was time to come back, they still weren’t sure when they would start the induction it could be the early hours. He stayed while I got into bed and the midwife said she would listen to the babies heartbeat before I went to sleep. She put the machine on – nothing, she could only find my heartbeat – I wasn’t concerned at this point. She went to get another machine and had some troubles with the plug, still nothing. They then wheeled a portable scan machine in, their faces said it all and then I saw the grainy image on the screen her little hand was limp, I knew she was gone.
We were whisked off the ward and taken to a side room, I kept asking them to do a c-section get her out quickly, they could save her. Their answer was no, she was gone. 4pm we had seen her in a scan, 10pm she was dead, how does this happen? We would have to wait until morning for a consultant to come and do a second scan to confirm she was dead. They pulled a ropey uncomfortable double bed out of the wall. My mum and dad were on holiday in Thailand, they were returning the following day, my mum had said the baby would wait for Nanny to come home before she arrived none of us could ever have imagined this. I phoned my Aunty because I just didn’t know what to do, her and my Uncle came to the hospital we told them what had happened we all sat in shock, I don’t know what time they went but I just remember laying on that bed all night I cried all night, I didn’t sleep, Scott didn’t either. I went in with a living baby and now I was lying in hospital with a dead one inside me. I was in hell. We laid there all night crying and just saying ‘why’ out loud, neither of us knew the answer, we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t even understand what had happened.
The next morning it was confirmed she was gone. That night Betty was born. For a brief moment I thought she would cry, as the room fell silent I forgot for a minute she was gone. She just looked so perfect, so peaceful, this wasn’t how it was meant to be. She quickly became cold, her skin was clammy and she felt empty. I can’t explain it properly that’s the only word I can think to describe it. She was so beautiful, I was so sad I couldn’t see her eyes – I know they would of been huge like her big brothers, I think they would of been green I don’t know why. These are the silly things I just won’t ever know. We took some photos but we definitely didn’t take enough, I wanted to capture her but I almost didn’t feel like I could take photos like we would of done if she was alive it didn’t feel right. But I knew this was all we would have. The nurses kindly took her feet and hand prints and did little imprints in clay, I wish it would of been possible to get a proper cast of her hands and feet. Nothing was rushed, we could stay as long as we wanted. But I felt so conflicted, I needed to see Archie but I wanted to be with Betty. I didn’t know how we were going to tell him but we needed to be with him. We made the decision he would not meet Betty. I think it was the right one for us. He was 4, I don’t think he would of been able to understand that she wouldn’t be coming home I didn’t think it would be easy for him to process seeing her dead as she looked so normal.
My mum and dad found out what had happened in their airport car on the way home from Thailand – I couldn’t say the words, Scott had to tell them. They came straight from the airport to the hospital with my brother and his now wife, they all saw Betty I’m so glad they did. My mum stayed with me all night and Scott went home to Archie. Mum bathed and changed her and spoke to her all night. I’m glad we had that time. By morning she had already changed her lips had changed colour and there was fluid leaking from her nose, I didn’t like it, she was so different to just a few hours before. They brought us a cold cot to keep her in when we weren’t holding her. I wanted to cuddle her but the more she warmed up the more she deteriorated. Every time I picked her up she was cold from where she had been on the mat in the cot, it was such a contradiction from what should be the snuggly hot water bottle newborn we were supposed to have.
We had to decide if we wanted a post mortem, the priest came and christened her, he said prayers and lit a candle in a little star shaped holder for her which we still have. He was so kind and caring and lovely. I don’t have a picture of me and Scott together with her, I wish I did. We decided although invasive a post mortem had to be done, we had to know how our perfect child was off to the morgue rather than our home.
We had more visitors that afternoon (which I will talk about in another post this week) we then got ready to go, I knew this was going to be the worst moment, the last time we would ever see her. We asked the nurses to take her as we didn’t want to walk away and leave her on her own in the room. So we kissed her, told her we loved her, tucked her up and they wheeled our baby away. 9 months of growing, excitement, love, plans for the future. Our whole life with our son and daughter were mapped out in our heads. Our life lay ahead a blessing to have one of each child, a son, a daughter. Our new life was about to begin without our longed for baby girl. At that moment our loss felt so great it might aswel have been the end of the world. We left hand in hand to embark on a new journey, a journey of loss, grief and pain. If only I could of told that mama that left that hospital that day that she would be ok, where she would be in 4 years time, that she would feel happiness and have hope again I probably wouldn’t have believed her. That was something I had to find out for myself. I had limited resources and people to reassure me of this at the time but I am so proud of how far we have come now.
It was clear from day 1 that I had no choice in this, the decision was firmly taken out of my hands. However unfair it did and still continues to feel it couldn’t be changed. But I did have a choice of how I would move forward, it could break me or it could make me. It could make me stronger, it could make me more resilient, it could make me see the good and it could make me see the bad. It could make me appreciate the small things and it could make me put perspective on every aspect of life. And it did. I was and continue to be sad and upset because my daughter died but I am lucky that I am here. I have so much in my life that I am to be thankful for and I live everyday feeling so thankful that she was ours. I would NEVER change her, because it could of been different and just because she didn’t survive doesn’t mean I have a regret her. In life we have to take risks because if we don’t then nothing wonderful would ever happen. Sometimes, like in our case things do go wrong and it’s hard but we have to learn to adapt to our ‘new normal’ and simply keep putting one foot in front of the other.
If today you are crippled with grief or loss and you stayed in bed all day, it’s ok. You can try tomorrow, if all you do is move from the bed to the sofa you still moved, small steps will turn into big ones and the days you have been wishing by will somehow turn into months and then into years, although you will always ‘feel’ your loss it will naturally become less raw and you will learn your own way of dealing with everything that encompasses the death of your child.
Everything we do in life often derives from love and life after loss is no different to this. If you have love you will get there, I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but love will guide you. For anyone feeling their loss today please know I understand and am here for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I am so proud to share my words and my Betty with you all. I wish she was here but this is the next best thing to sharing our wonderful little girl with as many people who want to know about her.