Thursday, May 7, 2009

From the very beginning

I have decided to write the story of my beautiful angel daughter for two reasons, firstly to help the healing process but also as a way to remember.

Thursday 30th April
I had a small bleed so we decided to head to emergency and just get it checked out. It turned out to be fine and we were sent home but I was asked to come in to the hospital the next day for monitoring just to be safe. Mind you they also told me that my cervix was well and truly closed, I was four days overdue at this stage and desperate to meet my bubba so this was not good news to my impatient self!!

Friday 1st May
I went into 'the womens' Pregnancy day care centre in the morning and was hooked up to all the monitors, there was that reassuring sound of my bubba's heart beating. At one point they were concerned that she wasn't very active but they put that down to me not having had any lunch. There was also concern about the amount of fluid around the baby however the midwife changed her mind. I went home in the early afternoon, reassured that all was well with our bubba. In retrospect though I wonder if I should have been kept in longer for further monitoring on this day, the last I was to hear Lola's heartbeat.

Saturday 2nd May
I started to notice, around midday, that bubs had been a bit quiet. I hoped this meant she was thinking about joining us 'on the outside'. When I went to bed on saturday night I also noticed that she was still quiet inside me. This was unusual for this time of night as my bedtime was usually when she gave me a few loving kicks and wriggles.

Sunday 3rd May (41 weeks pregnant)
I woke up feeling pretty good on sunday and feeling like maybe today would be the day, I was still thinking (hoping) that the bubba's lack of movement was because labour was close. We made plans to spend time with Bren's parents and our special, adored nephew Benny, so we were happily distracted. I was absent-mindedly poking and prodding my belly all morning and shooting Bren a concerned look every now and then. Eventually Bren suggested we just go into emerg, get it checked out, and then we could just relax. The decision was made pretty easily. The kids were happily occupied and we were fairly close to the hospital so we headed in. I did start to get a bit nervous, however I was also feeling a bit silly and imagining the hospital staff rolling their eyes about another pregnant woman being overly anxious. On our way in Bren reassured me that everything was going to be fine and I replied "I know Im just being paranoid but at least we'll know for sure!"

I was relieved to see that the waiting room was empty. We walked up to the triage nurse, told her what was wrong and we were taken straight through to a bed. The nurse was already in there setting up the monitoring equipment so I jumped straight up onto the bed. She started fitting the equipment to my belly and was moving the first monitor over my belly trying to find the heartbeat. Hmm this was taking a little longer than usual, I thought perhaps the nurse was new and needed another tutorial on finding babies heartbeats. Actually it really shouldn't be taking this long, the nurse decided to get another midwife in for a second opinion. At this point i started to panic and tears started pouring. Bren looked me in the eyes and told me everything was going to be ok! but I could see the fear in his eyes too. The midwife came in and told us straight up "Im not going to muck around with this for long, if I dont get anything straight away Im just going to take you up to labour ward for an ultrasound." She found nothing, so up we went.

They took us to room 10 on the labour ward (we would later find out why this was significant). The ultrasound equipment was already there, we just needed to wait for the doctor. It was probably only about 20-30 minutes but it felt like we waited for hours. I was trying to keep my panic in check but not doing a very good job. Bren was calm and reassuring the whole time but I felt like I was having an outer body experience, I couldn't comprehend that this would be happening to us! The doctor came in and did the ultrasound. We could see the babies spine perfectly formed but no fetal heart beating. The doctor grabbed another doctor from outside the room who also confirmed that our baby had no heartbeat. Bren started sobbing and I just stared, not quite believing what I was hearing. They gave us a few minutes to absorb the news. We just held each other and cried, I felt numb, I still half-expected to hear that they had made a mistake and our baby was fine.

They then came in to have the 'what next' talk. I assumed they would tell me that I would be having a c-section to get the baby out and despite my dreams and hopes of intervention free birthing of babies all I wanted at this stage was for the baby to be cut out of me, I couldn't contemplate any other option. The doctor told me that we had two options, neither of those options included a c-section! Firstly I could be induced into labour when I wanted or secondly, they would let me wait up to three weeks for my body to go into labour naturally. I was in shock! Not only had we lost our precious baby but I still had to endure labour, how do you do that when you dont have the incentive of meeting your beautiful, alive and breathing baby. Words cannot describe how we were feeling at that moment. Total devastation just doesn't cover it.

The hospital staff wanted to take blood and I dont know what else they wanted but I asked if we could just go home and come back the next day. Nothing they were saying was making any sense. We phoned Bren's parents and asked if they could meet us out at our place with the kids and stay the night. We didn't want to be alone that night. We then told the rest of our families and close friends, thank god for technology! SMSing is not very personal I know, but I was grateful to not have to tell each person individually.

My family pretty much jumped on a plane from Perth straight away and started arriving first thing in the morning. I cant remember really what was happening on sunday night but I know I was up until 6.30am monday morning and then awake again at 8am. This time is such a blur, I think I was well and truly in shock.

Monday 4th May

We went back to the hospital on Monday and we decided that I would be induced the next day. If things didn't work out for some reason then they would try again on wednesday. Somewhere between hearing the news on sunday and going back to the hospital on monday I had decided that I still wanted to aim for a calm, beautiful, intervention free birth. I felt Lola deserved the same effort put into her birth as I had my older two babies. We saw Jenn (our follow through student midwife and dear friend) at the hospital and asked her if she would still be able to support us through the birth, she didn't hesitate in saying yes. This was a huge ask, especially for a student midwife. Jenn is an amazing midwife though and knowing I had her support was so reassuring for both Bren and I. We will be forever grateful for what she did for us during this time.

That afternoon and evening, with family around me and messages of support pouring in I searched deep within to find the strength to get through the birth of our baby. I had not slept the night before so I was exhausted enough to be able to sleep that night. I woke up at 3.30am and used this quiet time to prepare myself and read more messages of support. I also jumped at the chance to have a snuggle with both my babies when they woke through the night.

Tuesday 5th May
We arrived at the hospital a little late that morning so they had already called our name which meant that we had to wait in the waiting room for about 10 minutes. Jenn was already there waiting for us. It was hard seeing the other women checking in with their packets of newborn nappies knowing that we hadn't needed to bring any. My tears were sporadic as I was also feeling nervous about being induced. Finally they called my name and took us up to room 10 in the labour ward. This room was at the very end of the corridor and provided isolation from the rest of the labour ward. I guess they wanted to keep me away from the other mums as much as they wanted to keep them away from me.

We had to wait about two hours before they did anything so during this time we had breakfast brought to us and they made us tea and coffee. We reiterated the calmbirth mantra's that got me through Millie's labour and talked about pain relief strategies. The doctor told me I could have pretty much whatever I wanted for pain relief because they didn't have to take into account the side effects on our baby however I reiterated to the midwife that I was aiming for a calm, drug free labour. (I'd had a bad experience with an epidural during Jackson's birth) This time in the room was fairly relaxed and calm, I really just wanted to focus on birthing my baby and not on the fact that she had died. It may seem strange but I was also excited that I would finally be able to see her and hold her, maybe this was a survival strategy. I shed a few tears here and there but generally we managed to maintain this mood.

Finally the doctor was available to start my induction. She first broke my waters and I was then hooked up to the drip. Contractions started straight away, they were fairly frequent but only lasted about 30 seconds. The intensity seemed to be increasing fairly quickly. I easily slipped into the same routine I had used during Millie's labour. I stood facing a wall, pushing against it with my hands and rocking from side to side while either Bren or Jenn rubbed my lower back. I would then rest on a stool between contractions.

About an hour into the labour a bereavement counsellor decided it might be a good time to come and talk to us. She came in with a sad face and offered us her condolences and asked about our post-birth plans. While she meant well, she totally put me off my game. I lost all confidence in what I was doing and she had made the fact that my baby had died the focus rather than calmly birthing my babe. I told Bren and Jenn in no uncertain terms that I didn't want to see any more sad faces in the room, but it was too late. I started talking epidural, was weeping between contractions and fighting against the contractions during them. At first Bren and Jenn ignored my request and I didn't fight too hard for the epidural. However the contractions continued to intensify and I had lost my resolve. I turned to Bren, looked him in the eye and said "I WANT AN EPIDURAL". Bren found our midwife and let her know. The midwife went to organise it. When she came back she said it would be 15 minutes. She also said that in order to tide me over she was going to give me a shot of morphine. I find it interesting that she didn't ask me if I wanted it, she just told me and gave it to me. I dont know why. If she had of asked me I would have said no but I ended up being glad that she had. It didn't do much other than take the edge off the contractions and calm me a little bit.

Mid contraction the midwife came over and jabbed me with a needle in the leg. A bit of a mistake on her part as Brendon is not good with needles. He hadn't wanted to walk away because he was rubbing my back during the contraction. I asked him if he was ok and his reply sounded a little wobbly so I told him to go sit down. He decided to go and get some air. While he was gone I had a contraction that felt a little different. It had a bit of grunt to it. I felt like I was letting some anger out. I heard our midwife say to Jenn "hmm that sounded a bit pushy". She then asked me if I was starting to push. I replied "No I am just feeling angry". After a couple more contractions I realised that actually I was ready to push. I had only been in labour for about 1 3/4 hours and I hadn't had the epidural, I was probably in transition when I demanded it.

The midwife told me to get up on the bed. I lied on my side with my arms tightly around Brendon's neck and our faces close together. It took a few pushes and our baby girl was born. I cant describe the emotions we were feeling at that time. I was feeling a bit of everything. Joy, sadness, exhaustion, relief, dread. The midwives and doctor started working on getting my placenta out. They were being super vigilant about getting it out quickley because of the massive post-partum haemorrhage I had after Millie's birth. I have lots of questions about the things that happened after Lola's birth as I dont really understand all the reasons for what was done.

Basically they were unable to get the placenta out quickley enough so I was taken off to theatre fairly soon after the birth for a manual removal of my placenta. I was given a general anaesthetic. In recovery when I woke up I felt dreadful so woozy and out of it. The midwife came to get me but she wouldn't take me as my pulse was all over the place and I felt so bad. I was given some medication to stabilize my pulse. 2 1/2 hours later I was still in recovery!! I'd seen so many people come and go, why was I STILL there. I started to panic about how Brendon was going, I knew he'd be stressing out but I also didn't want to go back feeling so bad, I hated the idea of not being able to enjoy the small amount of time I had with my baby because I was feeling so awful. The nurse in recovery said I'd start feeling better if I left. Anyway a doctor came to inform me that I had to go and have an Xray as when they were doing their equipment count they were one needle down. I couldn't believe it. This took an extra 45 minutes! Finally I was taken back to the room and I was feeling much better.

Before I had left for theatre I had requested that our families didn't meet Lola until I was back, at the time I'd said this I thought I'd only be gone about 1/2 an hour. Bren was pretty much beside himself with worry when I returned as he hadn't been told about what was going on. Thank god Jenn was there to support him. The photographer had also been there for most of that time as well which I am so grateful for because he captured Lola being bathed and dressed. The photographer was really amazing, he had such a calm prescence about him and acted in such a respectful way.

Prior to Lola's birth we had been unsure about Jackson and Millie meeting Lola but once she arrived there was no question of it. Our family joined us in the birthing suite and they held Lola, kissed her and told us how beautiful she was. Jackson was a little wary but eventually relaxed. Millie was hilarious with her, she would give her cheek a gentle poke and then start giggling, it was so cute. This is a lovely memory of our time with Lola, there were a few tears shed but mostly it was a joyous occasion, as a family meeting its newest member should be. Even though Lola had died, Brendon and I both commented that we still felt that post-birth high, we had our truly beautiful baby girl in our arms.

Our families stayed for about an hour but were planning on returning in the morning for the naming ceremony we had planned. Brendon was allowed to stay the night with me and we didn't have to move from the birthing suite both of which I was very grateful. Brendon and I spent the night with our baby girl. I lied on the bed with her snuggled right in close so I could look down on her, a position I had cherished with my other two babes. Brendon and I talked to her, held her, kissed her cheek, touched her stunning lips and smothered her with as much love as we possibly could in that time. I will never forget the way her cheek felt against mine or how beautiful her fingers looked clutching the little teddy bear she'd been given or how perfect her little lips were.

The next day a chaplain from the hospital came to our room along with our family so we could have a naming ceremony for our precious baby girl. Her name is really special to us. Jackson picked Lola to be her first name. He wanted Lola for a girl or Charlie for a boy after his favourite TV show. He really couldn't have picked a more perfect name for her. Constance is after Brendon's Nanna's name and Evelyn is after my Great Gran who passed away a few montha ago and who I know will be looking after our princess. The ceremony was lovely but also very sad. There was not a dry eye in the room especially knowing that this was our last moment of being able to hold her. We had decided that after the ceremony we would let the midwife take her and we would leave the hospital. Saying goodbye was a surreal experience. I dont think it had sunk in for me that that would be the last time I would hold her. We said goodbye, kissed her for the last time, touched her cheeks and lips for the last time and we then asked the midwife to take her. I couldn't leave the room with her still in there alone. Walking out of the hospital with empty arms was truly devastating. It felt like we were taking a walk of death as we walked the corridor of the birthing suite to leave. I buried my face in my husbands chest as I couldn't bear the thought of seeing a newborn baby. Arriving home was equally difficult but we had lots of family around to help us through it.

The first week we were distracted by organizing Lola's funeral. We wanted it to be really special. We decided to have an open service and it was to be held at the Chapel at the Police Academy, a stunning location. The funeral was so sad but it is also a bit of a blur to me. We were touched by the number of people who attended and the support we were shown by all those around us. There have been many instances since Lola died where we have been blown away by the kindness shown to us by our family, friends and even strangers. It has meant so much to us that so many care about our Lola.

Living without Lola is so hard, in fact it still feels like it is getting harder. If it wasn't for Jackson and Millie I doubt I'd get out of bed each day but we have to be strong for them. Our celebrant said during Lola's funeral "Lets resolve to make a difference on Lola's behalf", this has stuck with me. I have to believe that Lola's death is not in vain and I hope her legacy to this world will make itself known to me soon.

Apologies for the poor quality of the slideshow, I havn't used the program before. The audio goes for much longer than the images.

Images by Photographer Gavin Blue (Care of ACOCP)

Audio : Gorecki by Scala and Kolacny Brothers (Played at Lola's Funeral)