Part 2 – The birth
Leaving the hospital and going home to wait for 48 hours was torture. Knowing that my baby had died and was still inside me, not knowing why it had all happened and the prospect of having to tell everyone made me feel scared, guilty and lonely. It was the longest night of my life.
Saturday morning eventually came round and for some reason we both went into cleaning mode. I think it was just a way to keep busy and not really think about what was to come. Jamie got the shit job of calling our parents and telling them the bad news as I just couldn’t face doing it. How he had the strength to call people and tell them repeatedly that we’d lost our baby I’ll never know. Jamie’s mum came down that day and an hour after her arrival, whilst she and Jamie went out to get food, I started bleeding. I had no idea what to do because none of what the midwife had told me the day before had sunk in, so I had to call the labour ward and say what do I do, what do I bring with me? The lady on the other end of the phone was so lovely she just very calmly said, “Well, its evening time so pack your pyjamas and if you want to, something for baby.”
Never in my life have I been as productive as I was in those ten minutes waiting for Julie and Jamie to come home! I’d rang the labour ward, packed mine and Jamie’s hospital bags, got changed, fed the dogs and the rabbits, got towels and bedding ready for Julie and tidied up the kitchen. I remember Jamie came back and started saying I need my – got it, what about my – got it, we need to – done it! 45 long minutes later we were at the hospital and the contractions were constant.
At this point I was really panicking, the pain was excruciating and I was worried it was going to get a whole lot worse and that it would be a really long labour. Once we were in the labour ward the midwife looking after us gave me gas and air and left the room to go and get a morphine prescription. Of course it was at this point the baby started coming, so now it was Jamie’s turn to be super organised! He stripped off my clothes – pretty sure my pants were thrown across the room in the air, kept giving me gas and air, got me on the bed and then ran outside and shouted “It’s coming!”. I mean we laugh now, but it was pretty terrifying at the time, this was our first child, we hadn’t been to any antenatal classes and we knew we wouldn’t be going home with our baby.
The midwives rushed back in and I was given a morphine injection into my thigh (which by the way, was even more painful than the contractions, my thigh was bruised and sore for a week after) and next thing I was being told to push and Beatrice was born. The placenta came out straight after. 20 minutes was all it took. It all happened so quickly that mentally I wasn’t prepared. My body had gone into shock and I was literally vibrating from top to toe and vomiting. Luckily the drugs were starting to kick in in at this point and after asking the midwives whether we could go home, rather non surprisingly the answer was no, I fell into a deep sleep.
One of the things we both remember differently is how each other looked. I remember looking up at Jamie holding my hand and thinking he was so calm and brave, but I could see the sorrow in his eyes. He remembers looking at me thinking I was being calm and brave, but neither of us felt calm and brave at all! It’s a strange thing giving birth, everyone tells you that there is no greater feeling in the world and that the love you feel for your child is instant and overwhelming, but you really can’t understand it until you’ve felt it. Giving birth to Beatrice was no different, but because she wasn’t in the room with us to start with, the love had to go somewhere else and we just shone it on each other. I might sound a bit hippy like now, but you could feel all this love and energy in the room, it was everywhere. It was something I’ve never felt before.
After I’d woken up Jamie told me that we’d had a little girl and that she weighed only 200g. The midwives brought her in to us and the atmosphere changed again. One of the saddest and hardest emotions I’ve felt was being too scared to look at my own baby. And then when I did look at her I didn’t like what I saw. I actually told our midwife that she could take Beatrice away. Thank god she didn’t. I owe my sanity to the midwife on that night. Instead of taking her away she explained that yes she did look more foetal than was expected, but she still had 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes and a perfect little face. She made us look again and look properly, and then she left the room. She knew what we needed before we did. We looked closely, we pulled back the blanket and looked closer again. This was our baby with her little white fuzzy eyebrows, her long fingers, her big bony knees and the sweetest little face. Our baby. And just like that, that feeling of unconditional love hit us both, and it was this that took us both by complete surprise.
We made a U-turn. We had the photos taken, we had the handprints and footprints taken, we opted for a full funeral service with us present, we wanted the memory box making, we gave her a teddy so that she wasn’t alone and we asked for the clay moulds of her hands and feet. Everything that we initially thought was a bit morbid and strange, we no longer thought was and we completely changed our minds. Our midwife was right, she is our baby and we do love her, so why wouldn’t we want all these things, just like “normal” parents do?
We stayed with Beatrice until the early hours of Sunday morning. We completed all the necessary paperwork, Jamie held her, we held each other and we just sat and stared at her and memorised her body. At this point we were quite frankly exhausted and didn’t want to wake up in the morning at the hospital. So we packed up our bags, left her with the teddy that Jamie had bought her after we’d had our first scan and then went home, without our baby.
At the time and for weeks after I felt guilty for not wanting to look at her in the delivery room, I felt ashamed that I didn’t like how she looked at that initial glance. My own daughter. Not now. Nor do I feel guilty for not holding her at the birth when Jamie did (I waited until after the post-mortem), I simply wasn’t ready then and I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted that my fear was normal and lots of baby loss parents actually feel this way initially. After all why wouldn’t we have been scared? But most importantly, I can look back now and see that she was in fact perfect. She’s our daughter and we still have that unconditional love her.