Archives for posts with tag: stillbirth

This post is beginning to get as long and drawn out as his birth was! I did warn you there was a huge story here at least, so I will continue hopefully toward and end……but Lord! So much HAPPENED!! This post could literally go on and on…..

The weeks spent in hospital are long, each day seemingly endless. The only break in the tedious routine that was my life, was the “room mate”. I was unlucky at first. I was put in a room close to the nurses station, as I was considered high risk. My first room mate was a Princess having her first baby, along with a fairly lethal dose of diabetes. She was absolutely maddeningly perfectly fake. She’d been in and out of hospital (with diabetes), since she was a small child, and you could tell she was used to getting her own way, both at home and in the hospital. Then there”s lil ole country bumpkin me… armed with a “lethal” sense of humour and justice. It could only end in tears!!

She had this husband, whom she called, “Richard” like this, “Ritch-urrrrd”. She used to look down her nose at me and say things like, “Ritch-urrrd will be in later this evening. I do hope he doesn’t bring me any more flowers….There’s hardly any room left in hee-ure for them.”

I used to look up her nose and say, “cripes I’d be happy to get even one!” Looking around at the few cards and beautiful drawings my kids, and friend’s kids had drawn for me. I was grateful for every one of them!

Her husband would arrive and I would say, “Gidday Dick, and how was work today?” Because I am a bitch, and I hated my roomie, and it used to upset her when “Dick” and I spoke friendly to each other. She hated that he allowed me to call him Dick, she would say “Ritch-urrrd” over and over! Thankfully she asked for me to be removed after about a week. And they did! They gave me a new room, with a normal person in it!!

I often wonder how she went with her baby, (I’m not really a bitch), but I never saw her again, I think they let her go home shortly after. I can only imagine how she handled things like baby turds, and vomit, “Ritch-urrrrd? The baby is leaking dis-guuurssting things onto me!!!”

My next roomie was great, we got along ok. She wasn’t the type of person that I would seek out for company, but she was so much better than “Princess”, that I was so grateful. Things got tragic however and about 2 weeks after we were roomed in together she sadly lost both of her identical twin girls within hours of each other. They suffered from “Twin to twin transfusion”, where only one twin gets sufficient nutrition from the placenta and the other struggles to grow. They had actually started to do really well just before they died, so it was a tragic shock when they passed away. I was so sad for her, I knew exactly how she felt, she was only 11 weeks from term and had already done her nursery, named both her girls and her whole family was eagerly awaiting their birth. It was absolutely traumatic, and perhaps brought home the fact that I wasn’t out of danger yet myself. I remember talking to one of the nurses that night about struggling to be able to talk to Nat about her losses. It’s still so hard to put into words, and anything you say just sounds empty and toneless to the grieving mother. I remember feeling so guilty for still being pregnant, when she had lost so much! I never saw Nat again either. She was moved to another ward, (away from the other pregnant ladies), and then went home a few days later. There was a kind of hushed atmosphere in the ward that week. The nurses were sad, we patients were sad. The doctors were sad. Losing two little girls was almost too much for all of us.

I spent a few days in the two bed ward on my own, so when they introduced me to Kylie I was more than ready for someone to talk to again. She and I hit it off like rockets. We laughed and talked all night long that first night. We were so alike, and she was so funny!We ended up being roomies for the rest of her stay in the hospital. Right up until she had her baby. She was great. We had fun. We forgot why we were in hospital, and often used to find our visitors interrupted our fun!

Kylie had a spinal fusion, two of her discs had been basically fused together because she had broken her back as a young child. She’d been doing a “back bend” and had a jumper tied around her waist. One of her friends pulled on the jumper, next thing, Kylie’s back is broken. Such a tragic accident for a child, leading to a great deal of pain for Kylie for the rest of her life. Children can be so stupid! She was in hospital for pain management during the later stages of her pregnancy as the baby was causing a lot of pain.

We were a bit mischievous Kylie and I. There were some very newsworthy occasions that happened while we were “in”. One of them was the death of our beloved Princess Di. Again the entire ward, (up to 25 pregnant ladies, and 8 nursing staff), were sad and subdued.

On the day of her televised funeral, the nurses came by every 2 bed ward, (which were situated in a U shape around the nurses station in the middle), and told us we were not to go into labor or “anything” whilst the funeral was on that day! HA! Kylie and I got out of our beds sneaking around all the other wards plotting our secret plan. We were going to show those Nurses a thing or two!

As the funeral started one by one all the buzzers began to buzz in the ward. 25 ladies all complained at once that they thought they were “having the baby!” Just as we had arranged!!  Kylie and I were in hysterics, our plan had worked beautifully! Funny how the nurses knew instantly who was behind the scheme, they marched straight into our room and scolded us.

One of the things I used to do to fill in time was try and name my baby boy. I had long ago fallen in love with the name, “Dale”. I had been in hospital with a woman named Dale earlier who was kind and thoughtful, and I liked the unisex name a lot. He who used to be hated it though and urged me to come up with another. I was stumped, but there was no way I was letting him name the kid Malcolm, so I tried and tried. I quite liked Riley, but again, He hated the name. I was fast running out of ideas and time…

I even toyed with the idea of naming him “Diver” after Stuart Diver who incredibly survived  the Jindabyne mudslide disaster on the 30th July 1997. Stuart was found alive 3 days after the mudslide, buried deep in rubble. I felt that my boy had the same kind of special survival spirit.

Stuart Diver was helicoptered in to Canberra Hospital early in August. Some of us ladies from Antenatal ward wanted to go and visit him, but we decided not to as we felt we’d be imposing, all turning up in our wheelchairs like that, a bunch of preggers ladies? Imagine?

We all got to know each other so well, all the longer term patients like me, and the nurses. It was quite a lovely time for some female bonding actually. We all had the same worries, and we were all stuck in the ward holding on as best we could. I went in and out of labor a few times, causing a bit of alarm, and spent a few nights up on the next floor in delivery, but always with a dose of Ventolin, which is a muscle relaxant and used to stop uterine contractions, (or at least was 15 years ago), my labor would stop and we would return to antenatal ward triumphant!

My bleeding would come and go, (only a small amount of loss), but any blood loss in pregnancy is serious, so I was never allowed much freedom. I did escape for a day or two here and there. I would be told I could go home and see how things panned out, but always within 24 hours, my bleeding would start again, and back I’d go to Kylie and the ward! Those little holidays at Magoo’s with my boys were precious to me. Being able to sit down for dinner with them and tuck them into bed at night was so lovely. Unfortunately they only happened a couple of times.

 

I was in hospital a total of 10 weeks before 6 was born. It all began with an innocent walk….

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So – we moved into Magoos house in Canberra, and we were there for exactly 3 days before we went to meet Dr M, the Specialist at the Ante-natal clinic on Tuesday morning. Magoo and I eagerly awaited the appointment. We wanted to know that everything was going to be alright.

I was questioned about the pregnancy and the hemorrhage that had occurred just a few nights earlier. When Dr M, questioned me about the pressure I felt down low in my belly, he decided to do a physical examination right then and there and upon completion he asked if my other children could be cared for by someone other than myself. Magoo said, “of course…. why?”

“I think the fetus has engaged very low down in the birth canal, and although the waters haven’t yet broken, you are in danger of delivering prematurely any time from now. I believe you should stay here in the hospital until the end of your pregnancy.”

I was absolutely shocked at this news. I figured the pressure was just soreness from the abruption of my placenta, which had caused the bleeding. I hadn’t thought that my baby could be well on his way down the birth canal and threatening to be born any minute. There was no labor pain or cramping, just pressure? Dr M discussed the logistics with us, and it was decided that I should be admitted immediately. An ultrasound was scheduled for early the next day, so we could see exactly what was happening down there.

My boys were with Magoo’s husband, back at the house. I can remember being really worried what they would think when “Nanna” returned home without Mummy. I was able to call them later that night from my bedside and tell them that Mummy was ok, and she had to sleep at the hospital because their baby brother was “sick” in my tummy. They were happy and fine without me, I knew they were in good hands with Magoo, but I missed them terribly. Being in a city hospital was very different than our own local hospital. So much bigger. But it was nice, clean and the staff were very friendly. I was expected to rest in bed and not even get out to use the toilet. Which I felt was a bit extreme. For the first night I put up with it though, and the next day requested to be allowed to use the bathroom and shower. It was agreed as my bleeding had stopped completely overnight.

My ultrasound was the next hurdle. I waited anxiously. I remembered James every minute, and kept thinking that they were going to not be able to find a heartbeat, or that there would be more fetal bands from the bleeding. There had been a lot of fetal monitoring throughout the night, and my baby’s heartbeat was loud and clear, but I still worried that the ultrasound would show something terribly wrong. I began to prepare myself for bad news. Magoo came in at lunchtime with my boys, and I was overjoyed to see them. 5 took a running jump from the doorway onto my bed, causing everyone to freeze with concern as he landed on my belly! Poor little mite was only 2, he didn’t know to be especially careful with his mummy. 3 was calmer, and stood back grinning from ear to ear at me as Nanna and Grandad scolded 5 for jumping up on me. I gathered 5 in my arms and explained to him that he had to be gentle with mummy’s tummy now. He understood, and his beautiful big brown eyes looked so concerned. I will never forget how it felt to be sitting in that hospital bed, knowing that my poor little man had to do without me for god knew how long I would be in hospital. It broke my heart. Nanna and Grandad were very caring, but very old school and strict. I wondered how my wild little buddy would cope?

As is the case in most hospitals, what they say will happen often happens long after. They eventually came to wheel me down for the ultrasound around 4pm that afternoon……..and it was kind of funny.

As I have explained many times, I knew I was having a boy. I’d never had it confirmed, not in any of my pregnancies. I just somehow knew. So when the ultrasound technician got underway, he asked me if I wanted to know the sex of the baby. It went something like this….

“So do you know what you’re having?”

“Yes. A boy.”

“Oh, so you’ve had an ultrasound to determine that already have you?”

“No.”

“Well then how do you know what you’re having?”

“I just know. I knew with all my boys.”

“Oh, okay, well lets just see if I can confirm that for you then.”

“Okay, thanks. Usually I don’t really want to know for sure. I kind of know already, but I guess it would be nice to know without a doubt. He will be my last baby after all.”

“OH? Not planning any more then?”

“No. I couldn’t go through this again. Nor would I put my family through it again. This is it. Whatever will be will be. But I think he’s going to be ok. I think he’ll survive?” Up until this point it was a very friendly conversation we were having back and forth. Then suddenly this…

“Um, I hate to tell you that you’re wrong, but I reckon this is a baby girl.”

“Nope. Have another look….” I replied. I wasn’t being “smart”, I just didn’t believe him. Of course I had hoped for a girl, at some stages in each of my pregnancies I longed for a girl. But not this time, not after James. I wanted, no I needed another little baby boy.

“I don’t know how you could lay there and argue with me Missy! Where are your 6 years of medical training? Huh? Just exactly who do you think you are to question this very advanced technology? You are having a girl.”

“Umm I’m sorry, I don’t mean to upset you or tell you how to do your job at all. I have no medical training. BUT I’m pretty sure I’m having a baby boy!” At this stage I was chuckling quietly to myself. What a loser this dude was, getting all high-horsey on me. But what if I was wrong, I thought. . “Just have one more look, please?” I asked this of him very timidly.

“There. You see it’s a Gi……!” He reddens quickly. “Oh there it is. It is a boy…..How did you know?” Looks at me somewhat suspiciously, like maybe I chant around a cauldron with my coven at night….

I went easy on him. Told him that I’d known with each of my boys, and that I had no reason to doubt my intuition this time. To give him credit, although he didn’t apologize for his little uppity rant, he did smirk and let it be known that he was wrong, and I was right, and all was cool between us again.

What really surprised me was what he said next. After all that crap about the sex of my baby, the real situation was now being laid out for me. The baby seemed fine. He had restricted womb space as I was apparently contracting regularly. I couldn’t feel the contractions. I felt a bit “crampy”, but nothing really noticeable, so this was news to me. He also pointed to a huge ball of dark matter. It was situated low down in the birth canal, between the baby and the outside world. This, was a blood clot. Estimated to be about the size of an orange, it was significantly bigger than my baby looked on the screen.  The forming of this clot was what stopped me from miscarrying the night of the hemorrhage. This “clot” was a life saver! It remained to be seen, just how long the clot could remain blocking the entrance, and stopping my baby from being born early.

I had no shortage of information while I remained in hospital. I was seen daily by my Specialist and told very early the next morning exactly what my chances of delivering a live healthy baby were. The worst case scenario was that he would be born immediately, and wouldn’t have much chance of survival. A 21 to 29 week fetus faces all the challenges you can think of. Most importantly before 29 weeks, the baby has not developed “surfactant”, a substance vital for the infant to breathe. This stops the lungs from sticking together, and collapsing when your baby first breathes. My best hope was to hang in for the longest possible stay in hospital before my baby was born.

I was given a tour of the N.I.C.U, (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), and met the staff who would be caring for my baby after he was born. It was incredible. There are 3 bays in the NIC, Bay 1 being for the most acute care, Bay 2 being for less acute cases and Bay 3 is where the babies go when they are in minimal danger, just waiting to put on weight and go home. I wandered through all the bays and saw some amazing, miraculous things. A tiny baby girl, born at 25 weeks and no bigger than my hand from heel to tip of finger. She was tiny. About as long as a coke can, but much thinner. These tiny babies are little miracles just to be surviving after birth. She was the smallest baby there, and sadly she didn’t live much longer than 27 weeks. I remember the day she died. All the nurses had red eyes. That little blossom had fought so hard for life!

The NIC unit was a real eye opener. The staff explained to me that 6 would probably be born and go straight into Bay 1, then depending on his issues and prematurity would be transferred to Bay 2 where he would spend the majority of his time in NICU. It would probably be months before he would be able to go home with me. Everything I was told was sinking in, I was mentally preparing myself for the fight not only to keep him inside me for the longest time, but also for the fight for life that would occur after he was born. We all underestimated my baby boy. He was truly a miracle. We eventually nick-named him “the cat on the screen door”. He just hung in there!

Just hang in there.....

Just hang in there…..

My baby, my wonder child. The baby who made me whole again. The baby I worked so hard to have. Here is your story at last, my wonderful youngest son.

When I lost James, I felt as if the universe had divided down the centre, leaving me and my grief on one side, and the rest of the “normal” world on the other. I felt like part of myself was missing, and I believe that part still is, in a small way, but during the months following a stillbirth, that missing part sums up just about everything you are and everything you do. It’s a very sad situation, as you are almost completely alone in your grief. Nobody knows what to say and there is no way of comforting you. Only one thing remained on my mind during this whole awful period, and that was to fill my womb again. It felt empty and ached for another baby. I had been given the go ahead by my Dr Lew, and I saw no reason to wait any longer.

In late February 1997 I fell pregnant with 6.  It had been He who used to be’s birthday, so I am exactly sure of the dates. I knew straight away that I was pregnant. I even told He who used to be the following morning, that I had just fallen pregnant with our new son! He said, “surely we’d be getting a girl this time?”

But I knew…. I just always knew. I would play around with the idea of having a girl every now and again, but it was as if my mind would just say, “stop that nonsense, you know it’s a boy!” It’s the weirdest thing to have to explain, as it is simply a thought in my head that is adamant about things, then these things come to pass. It’s awfully handy when picking out nursery and clothing colours!

I was ecstatically happy with being pregnant, but  I was concerned also, and when at 10 weeks I started to spot blood, I thought I would lose my baby again. I had been so careful, not done anything really strenuous, however 5 was a big toddler and I did have to lift him into the car and bath sometimes when Daddy wasn’t there. The spotting was minimal and Dr Lew gave me the all clear after a few nights in hospital.

I returned home vowing not to lift 5 at all, and enlisted the help of friends and family for lifting washing baskets etc. My friends were great, and even though they all had families of their own, they were there for me. I am a very lucky woman to have the friends I have. My sister in law J was again the backbone of my life. She did so much for us and our boys, I will truly never forget all the love and support she gave us all.

It was impossible not to lift and carry on with life as normal, He who used to be and I were living between our flat in town, and our new property out of town, so there was constant packing and movement between the two properties. The “farm” had no water supply other than a small rain water tank that was very old, and I couldn’t bath the children or do washing. Life was fairly basic out there, so mostly the kids and I stayed in town. We would pack up for a few days at a time and head out, but during the pregnancy I mostly decided it would be better to stay put in town.

Things progressed normally for weeks on end and I began to feel secure in the pregnancy. However as we approached the 20 week mark I began to feel crampy and sore. I told Dr Lew who examined me and couldn’t find a reason for the discomfort. He told me to continue taking it easy at home. With a five year old and a two year old this was not so easy, but the flat was small and easy to maintain, and the boys were able to do a lot for themselves. We split their bunk beds so I wouldn’t have to reach up to make them. We left things like cleaning showers and such for a much later date.

He who used to be’s older four children had moved interstate with their mother, causing a lot of grief for us at the time. We missed them terribly, and as they had moved so far away, we wouldn’t be able to see them regularly at all. I can remember one visit we had from them, just a few months after they moved away. The kids had all grown so much! The eldest boy was all of a sudden a young man, and the girls fast approaching teenage years. It was beautiful to get all the kids together again, and they played for hours with the younger boys. Helping their Dad make a sandpit in the small backyard of the unit for the little ones. We didn’t see the older kids again for almost 6 months!

Late in the afternoon one day in mid July ’97 I told He who used to be that I felt exhausted, and asked could he take the boys out to the farm for the night, I would meet him there the next day. I wanted to spend a night in town by myself, and rest. The boys were very demanding, and I was 20 weeks pregnant and feeling exhausted! He packed them up in the afternoon, and after promising I would be out with a yummy lunch for them the next day, off he went for the night. We often did this, sometimes He who used to be would go to the farm to do some work and leave us in town, sometimes we would all stay out there, and sometimes we would all stay in town. It was a very flexible way to live, and our boys loved it. So did we. We felt that we had the best of both worlds!

This night I decided to do some folding and catch up with laundry. I had done everything, had a last cup of tea and decided to head to the shower before bed. I hadn’t really done much, just folded a basket of washing and put it away. For some reason I had done everything I could think of in the flat. The dishes were all done, the beds were all made and everything was tidy and clean. Thank goodness for I wasn’t to return to the flat again for months after that night.

Call it instinct? Nature called for me to get everything organized for my baby. And I did!

As I headed into the bathroom I stopped and stared at the boys empty beds. Such a feeling of sadness and loneliness overcame me. I felt so melancholy looking at the striped “Bananas in Pyjamas” doona covers that 3 had begged me to buy for him and his brother’s beds just a few weeks earlier. Their room was so tidy, unnatural looking. It was an eery feeling. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be tucking my children into their own beds at home for a long time.

I stepped into the shower and as I began to wash I noticed a bit of blood in the bottom of the shower. I was alarmed and quickly decided to get out and lay down. It was as I stepped out and began drying myself that the flood began. It was terrifying. Buckets of blood seemed to be pouring out of me all at once. I knew that I was hemorrhaging and had just minutes to get to the hospital before I bled out. I had become an expert on survival strategies during my my pregnancy with James. (Ironically, I never bled at all the night James was born.) I shoved a big fluffy bath towel between my legs, threw on a night gown and shoes and bolted for the car. It didn’t even occur to me to call an ambulance as I was three streets away from the hospital, and knew I could get there in just over a minute. Waiting for an ambulance could cost me my baby’s life and I wasn’t going to chance that.

I had some car trouble with my Ford station wagon earlier that month and had to push or roll start it a couple of times. I thought it was the battery but as it had started first time for over a week I thought the problem had fixed itself? HA. Picture a panic stricken woman, who hadn’t even phoned the hospital to warn them of her arrival, gushing blood everywhere jumping into a car only to have it not start!!

Aaaargh! It was just over a minute since the bleeding had started, I threw the gear stick into second, opened the door and gently pushed the car out of the car port onto the slope of the flat’s communal driveway. It steepened quite quickly, I jumped into the driver’s seat, pushed my foot into the clutch and released it and THANK GOD ALMIGHTY the engine came to life. I drove like a maniac for the minute and a half to the hospital, parked my car neatly and then bolted for maternity, completely by-passing emergency, as I knew where to go to give my baby his best chance. The looks on the faces of the maternity staff as I came screaming down the hall!! “STOP RUNNING!” the mid-wives yelled to me, as they could see the blood flying from me. I had no idea what I was doing, panic had completely taken over, but strangely as I entered the care of these wonderful people, I became calm. I had another clear as a bell thought in my head that told me everything was going to be fine. Just lay down and let them take care of you.

Do I think it is God talking to me in my head? Kind of, especially when I remember the dream I had of letting James go the night before I had him. The dream I had as he was dying clearly showed me that James was going upwards, out of my body, and I was fighting to pull him back  down to me. The way I see it is that “God won”. James is with Him now. Maybe it is my own subconscious talking to me. The “voice” or ‘thought” in my head has always known exactly what is happening and what is going to happen next. (That I’m having a baby, that it is a male child etc). Something you would expect your subconsciousness to know, yes? I won’t know for sure until I meet my maker. But in my life I choose to believe, and therefore it is more logical for me to understand that “God” was talking to me, or allowing me to “think” for myself, these life changing and sometimes life-saving thoughts. I’m not saying, “God talks to me”, I’m simply stating that I “listen” to these specific thoughts I have at special times in my life. And that these “thoughts”  have an uncanny ability to be 100% right. The guidance is good, so I’m going to trust it. There is no clearer way for me to explain my faith.

It was scarey, but I knew things would be okay, I was filled with a feeling of calm once I arrived at Maternity. I knew I was in good, and most importantly, caring hands. These ladies are exceptionally good at their work, and as I had birthed a few times in their unit before, I was well known to them, and the risks associated with my new pregnancy taken into consideration from the start. None of these girls expected me to keep my baby that night, they told me later they were sure I was going to lose 6, the amount of blood I was losing was a very bad indication. I lay as still as I could that night. I kept saying, “I cannot lose another baby”. “I won’t lose him, I can’t!” I knew it would cripple me if I had to go home once again without a baby in my arms.

I was able to sleep for a few hours early in the morning, and when I awoke the bleeding had all but stopped. The nurses and midwives were astonished at how lucky I had been. I was scheduled for an ultrasound later that day that showed a good strong heartbeat, but because of the bleeding not a lot else could be seen. In the next few days while resting in hospital it was decided that I was a high risk case and should consider moving to Canberra Hospital in order to give my infant a chance should he be born prematurely.

Our local hospital, although fantastic, did not have the necessary skills or equipment to care for an extremely preemie baby. Dr Lew directed me to a top Specialist who I was to see when I arrived in Canberra. He didn’t think it was necessary at that point to put me in Hospital in Canberra, and thought it best if myself and the children could find somewhere to stay in Canberra, so we could be close to the N.I.C.U. (Newborn Intensive Care Unit), if my baby was born early.

Luckily Magoo was living in Canberra at the time, and she was delighted to have us come and stay. We were unsure how long we would have to leave our home for, but being with Grandma and Grandpa was so much better than me having to leave my boys at home with their dad and go to Canberra Hospital by myself. We moved into Magoo’s house to await the Specialist appointment. He who used to be brought us up to Canberra in the family wagon, stayed the weekend, but had to return for work on Monday, so he drove the 3 hours home, Sunday night.

I had an appointment with the Specialist at Canberra Ante-natal clinic, the following Tuesday. I was just under 21 weeks.

I have been dreading the writing of this post. This tribute to my son James, stillborn in 1996, has been approached with much trepidation. I know I owe it to him to write this post, he is after all, one of my children.  I know it will be an emotional journey. I hope to achieve some kind of peace with the publication of these words. It has been so hard to sit down and start….. harder still to think these memories out onto the page.

You never really get over losing a child. You just move forward in time from the place you were in when it happened. Other things occur in your life, but at the base of your being, is a lost moment. A future being constantly mourned by the mother you would have been, to that child. I have been very reserved in my mourning. I don’t like to share this very private grief, as the emotional backlash whenever I speak of James is uncomfortable for others. They cannot possibly know what to say. Even mothers of stillborn children are at a loss with each other. We know we feel more or less the same way, but no two experiences are the same. No two mothers will grieve in quite the same way, therefore making it impossible to find comfort and closure. Ever.

James, whom my partner and I nicknamed Jimmy very early in the pregnancy, started out his life as an unplanned, but very welcome addition to our growing family of boys. I have never been able to explain how I knew that all my babies were boys before they were born. I. Just. Did.

I have often thought I might be slightly psychic, bear with me, as you will see what I mean.

My experience, especially with pregnancy, (my own and my very close associates), is that I always just know stuff about babies on the way. I can tell if you are pregnant before you reach for the test. Just ask a few of my friends and my sisters. I predicted both my sister’s first babies!

I just know,  I say “are you having a baby?” “No freakin way!” is usually the reply, then a few weeks later the announcements are made. I don’t know what it is. Science has enough information to research the phenomenon, and they say it’s a hormone reaction, or an ability to “smell” the change in hormonal activity and “sense” pregnancy. Whatever? I’m hardly ever wrong.

When I was about 28 weeks along with 5 I had been hospitalized briefly for some bleeding. Not a lot, but enough for my Doc to advise bed rest for a few weeks and then to take it very easy for the remainder of the pregnancy. I worried for the next 14 weeks, but 5 was born bouncing and healthy with no further problems two weeks past his due date. No interference, just a natural labor and birth from start to finish.

I knew about my pregnancy with James very early on. I could feel my body changing in the first few weeks. I didn’t even bother with a test. As 5 had been a very difficult baby, with his acid reflux, screaming and constant feeding for 10 months, and here I was pregnant again. I sensed trouble.

When I fell pregnant with James I recall being very adamant that we tell everyone straight away. I had a funny feeling in those early weeks. I can’t explain why it was so important to let everyone know. In hindsight I guess it’s plain to see. I wanted to share as much of his life as I could in the limited time I was given. It still freaks me out a little how I knew?

As we moved past the 8 week and 12 week period I began to feel in two very distinct minds about him. On one hand, we had passed those milestones without a hiccup and I was feeling good and healthy. On the other hand, every time I would pass my hand over my belly, I would get this feeling, “sick, sick, sick”. Especially in the shower. One day as I brushed my hair in the bathroom mirror, (and I will never, ever forget this moment), I had a clearly defined thought. That this baby was not going to make it. That I would have another baby one day, and that baby would be ok. It wasn’t so much like a voice in my head, just a very clear thought.

I know you’re all thinking what a kook I am, but I have trouble believing this experience myself. Only that it happened to me, can I know that it happened. I had been sent a message. A warning not to hang on too dearly.

If only I had listened, as I clung on so much more fiercely to my baby’s life from that moment on. I denied what I was feeling on the inside and clung to the fact that I had made it to 15, then 20 weeks, and there had been no outward sign of a problem. No bleeding. No cramping. I was enjoying a full nights sleep for the first time since 5 was born, and he had fully weaned himself before his first birthday. Things were going well, the only thing I couldn’t feel, was my baby’s movements.

This worried me, as 5 had been a terribly active baby, and I had felt the first flutters of his movements very early on. With James I never felt a movement. Not ever. I just assumed he was a lot quieter, or that my uterus was getting “old” and stretched and wasn’t as sensitive this time around.

We had our first ultrasound at 21 weeks. I looked forward to it, as I wanted to see this quiet little person who was making me so concerned. I wanted confirmation that everything was ok.

He who used to be was working out of town, so I attended on my own. It’s not the nicest feeling to be laying there on the table watching the face of your ultrasound technician darken, become hard to read. Frowning at her instruments, trying this way and that way to get a different result. Eventually she turned to me and said, “Your baby has a problem. I’m not getting any movement at all, and for a 21 week fetus, that’s really not normal. From what I can see there is a lot of dark material surrounding the baby, that is possibly an internal bleed.”

A fetal heartbeat was found to be present and strong, but the dark mass and lack of movement was a big problem. No other abnormalities were found at this time, however measurements were hard to take because of the “mass”. She sent me to my Doctor, who referred me to a Specialist in Sydney. A better, internal ultrasound was required so they could diagnose the problem properly.

He who used to be and I went off to Sydney with heavy hearts. We were still hopeful. “He had a strong heartbeat!” we would say to one another.

Again I found myself in that situation of being at the mercy of the ultrasound technician, this time with a team of Specialists in tow. Minute by minute the tension in the room grew. We knew at that point that the news was bad.

I got dressed and we went to consult the specialist for a report on the situation. In a tiny office, hours from our home, we were told that James suffered from Amniotic band syndrome. This occurs when there is an internal rupture of the amniotic sac, causing fibrous “bands” to form and constrict parts of the fetus. As the fetus grows the bands do not, often resulting in arm and leg amputations and fetal death. James’ case was complicated by internal bleeds that had clotted, forming around his body as he moved in the uterus. My poor baby had basically entwined himself in fibrous “ropes” of blood and amniotic fluid. This was why I never felt him move.

However the doctors couldn’t tell us how serious James’ case was, or give us an absolute diagnosis on the outcome. There was no way of knowing “exactly” where the bands were.

We were advised the best decision was to terminate the pregnancy then and there. We had an hour to decide.

We went to a nearby coffee shop. I felt numb. Totally disassociated. I was in shock, and already grieving for my baby. He who used to be, was calmer, and more hopeful. “They said he had a strong heartbeat. They can’t tell what’s really going to happen?”

He said only God knew whether our baby was going to be ok, and shouldn’t we give him a chance?

I was surprised by his hopefulness. He usually took the easiest way out of situations, and here he was encouraging me to hope. He couldn’t in clear conscience “murder” his own child. His feelings took me by surprise, I had expected him to agree with the doctors. Together we made the decision to let God decide the outcome. One way or another, James would be born. Not “terminated”.

Lengthy discussions were then held with the Specialists, who were shocked at our decision. “You could hemorrhage and bleed to death”, they threatened. I decided to take my chances. Ultimately my partner left the decision in my hands. I just could not stop the beating of my child’s heart.

I knew I lived close by to the hospital, and that if I had to I could get there in under 2 minutes. When you make a decision like that, you have to take your life in your own hands. Literally. But who was I to end his life, in favour of my own? Deep down I knew James probably wouldn’t live, but I hoped.

A little over 4 weeks later, my son was born sleeping in the middle of a March night. I was alone in the home. I can remember feeling strange earlier in the day, and had a strange dream the previous night.

In my dream, I was frantically drawing an invisible rope back into my body. I could see nothing in my hands, but could feel the weight of something. I was desperate to pull this rope back toward me, but the more I tried to bring it back, the more “rope” spun through my hands. It went straight up into the air. I awoke feeling upset and unsettled. I spent the remainder of the night tossing and turning.

This was partially the reason why I was left in peace for the next night. He who used to be had taken the 2 older boys out to our farm house for the night, to give me a rest. We both thought I was overtired and stressed, and as 4 weeks had passed since the Specialist visit, we had both begun to feel hopeful about James. Nothing averse had happened, he was still hanging in there. I really didn’t have any fears for my own safety at this time. I was just passing the days quietly, waiting for something to happen.

Around midnight I woke with slight pains and pressure. I knew what was happening and called the hospital, letting them know I would be there in a few minutes. I called He who used to be, and advised him to stay where he was with the children. I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle the upset, and in some strange way I felt that I would be stronger without him. I also told my best friend to stay away, she was extremely upset with me, and wanted to be there to support me, but I felt the experience would be too horrible to share with anyone….my baby was about to be born dead. I think I really wanted the experience to be mine alone. After all, it was I who had carried him, and I didn’t want to have to worry about anyone’s feelings but my own.

I knew he was gone, the dream had told me so. I arrived at the hospital expecting nothing else.

The pain of the labor was diluted by the drugs they gave me. So much my head swam. I suppose they do that on purpose, so that your emotions are dulled. I felt detached from the birth, but was able to ask questions and comprehend answers.

Yes, he was a male child. Yes he was stillborn. Yes he had died sometime in the last 24 hours or so.

I was asked if I wanted an autopsy. I was advised that I wouldn’t get my son’s body back if I wanted an autopsy. He was too small.  I was told his placenta was abnormal. His femur length abnormal, and his entire body was covered in blood clots and bands.

I lay in that bed in the delivery room, all night. The maternity ward was quiet. I was left alone, offered more drugs to sleep. But I didn’t really sleep that much. All I could think about was being given some time with my son. I had one tiny moment with him, just after his birth, but there were things I needed to see for myself.

They brought his tiny body to me the next day. I was given as much time as I wanted, and left in a room on my own with him. Hours passed. I held him. I unwrapped his blankets and committed every part of him to my memory. I told him I loved him, and I was sorry I couldn’t be with him.

In time we buried him, just the two of us and the Funeral Director. We felt our grief was very private, and didn’t want any friends or family with us on that day. Just James and us.

It was a long time before I felt that I could even go to a shop, buy food for us, without feeling like screaming. I don’t know how I held myself together in those weeks following his birth. I remember feeling numb a lot of the time. Having my other boys to look after helped, and it wasn’t all bad. I had brilliant friends, and great support from them. My family struggled to understand my grief. It wasn’t something my parent’s generation “talked” about, but they did their best.

5 was around 15 months old, and strangely at this time, when at no other time would he sit still, he allowed me to cradle him in my arms like a younger baby. It was his way of comforting his mummy, the only way he knew. The rest of the time he was 100 miles an hour, and so kept me busy along with his older brother 3. At five years old, my older son was curious and supportive. Comforting me by telling me how much he loved me. He wondered why he wasn’t allowed to see his baby brother, but he soon forgot about the pregnancy. Yet, to this day, is the one most likely to remember James’ Birthday and call to ask me how I am doing on that day. He remembers.

There isn’t an end to this grief. You never get over it, but you move past it. You allow yourself some sunshine, because without the sun, the world can be a cold, hard place to live in.

5, around 10 months.

5, around 10 months.

My gorgeous boy began to grow big, crawl around the floor, and feed a little less from me. Around this time I had a bit of a health crisis, was visiting my quadriplegic brother P and his wife to be J, and collapsed on their lounge.

The doctor was called, and I was told I should really stop feeding. 5 had stripped me of all my reserves, and I felt giddy and faint all the time. I could barely keep up with my two young boys, and I considered this pretty good advice. My sister in law J was a god send, she spent the next 2 days attending to my children, while I snored on their lounge. I really needed the rest, and she loved my boys like her own. I will never forget the help she gave me when my  children were young. She had 3 girls, and I expect she loved the different energy of my boys. I know they all love her dearly, and they share a very special bond today.

J had a lot of trouble initially getting 5 to take a bottle of formula, and seeing as I was passed out on her lounge, wasn’t getting a lot of help from me. Sometime in the afternoon of that first day he was so distraught she brought him to me and had to hold him to my breast herself, as I was so exhausted. Now that’s support! I have never known a more devoted Aunty than J. She eventually, she says, at some point in the night got 5 to take some formula in a bottle. He just got so hungry he had no choice! (I’ve had to stop writing this post to send J a message of thanks and love, re-living this time has made me aware all over again, just how much I relied upon her support and love.) If every woman had a friend or sister-in -law like J, the mothering world would be a better place.

I still fed 5 morning and night, I couldn’t take that away from him all at once, but I think we were both ready to give up the all day long demand feeding, it just took a while to convince him of that. I used to love those early morning cuddles and feeds, and I really enjoyed when he would crawl over to me at night, pull himself up on my chair and demand to be picked up for his night time cuddles and feed. He was so gorgeous with his big brown eyes, and his long eyelashes. His chubby little cheeks and rosebud mouth. He got used to having a bottle too, and would throw it around the room, usually behind the furniture, when he was finished. I suspect he was trying to hide it from me so I would be forced to feed him myself!

His reflux began to repair around the 10 month mark, and the full nights of sleep began. He who used to be and I didn’t know ourselves. We began to have a life again.

I also discovered I was expecting our third child. We were thrilled….

Let it be known to all of parenthood. Breastfeeding is NOT a foolproof method of contraception!! I should know, I was doing it 24/7 for months and I still fell pregnant!! But we were happy, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

I was right, and in the end my third son was stillborn at 25 weeks. I will elaborate on this story  in future, but for now will simply say that poor baby 5 was caught up in a whirlwind of emotion. He didn’t understand what was happening, whereas my older son, at the tender age of 5 years, was to become a brilliant support for his mummy.

He adored his younger brother by now, now that he could walk and was saying simple words. 3 was amazed at the difference in his brother, and would often remark how good it was now that the baby wasn’t crying all the time! Boy did I agree….

The boys had a great time together, and when their dad built them a sand pit in the back yard, that was the place to be. Every day they would push their little trucks around, pouring sand and building things. They rarely fought as littlies. It was only later, when 5 learned to talk properly and take 3’s toys, that things began to get curly for them.

5 was a bundle of energy, a regular little crazy man. He would often pretend he was a motor bike and roar around the house and yard making appropriate noises. He spoke with a very deep southern American accent?? I have absolutely no idea why, it was just the way he spoke. He used to crack us up frequently as one of his favorite things was to have ice  cubes in his drinks in a cup. He would ask his Auntie J, “can aaah haaave suuum aaaace?” (Can I have some ice?)

He LOVED his Auntie J so much, was always sitting on her knee or telling her a story, but one day he astounded us all when he roared up beside her, (pretending to be a motorbike again), and said in a loud voice, “J, you’re the motor for my kiss” He was 2 and a half years old for god’s sake!! I am profoundly at a loss to explain his behavior, then or now…

I still to this day do not know where this child got his language skills from. Sure he watched television, but only Playschool and Sesame Street and such. I really don’t know whether he may have absorbed the dialogue from TV shows such as”Friends”, (all those long nights of watching TV and feeding??) Whatever the case he was hilarious.

He who used to be would host music nights, and his friends would come bringing their musical instruments and microphones. Enter 5 at about 2 years old, singing his own words and melody into the mike, “well you’re my baby, and I looo-uuu-ooove you–u-00000h”. Like a 2 year old Elvis! What’s worse, is that he showed more musical talent at 2 than most of his father’s guests!

Full of fun at 2 and a half.

Full of fun at 2 and a half.

He was a magical mystery ride that kid. At 5 when he started school, he was just like his older brother, no time for kisses goodbye. Make way for me because here I come! He was loud, he was fun, and he was very confident. 5 had an imagination you just couldn’t fathom. He once told me he had ridden his motorbike up into the sky, bumped into a cloud, rode down a rainbow and that was why he didn’t come when I called him for dinner. Later on in around 2nd grade I worried about his ability to stretch the truth.

He had asked a school friend over for a play date one afternoon. Once he had been dropped off, the wide eyed child approached me excitedly and asked “do you really have a whale in your backyard?” It appeared that 5 had told him so, and the poor gullible child believed him. The fun never stopped with 5, he was always getting into trouble at school, talking in class, showing off, telling big whoppers. I never knew what was coming next.

One thing I can say about 5 is that from very early in his life, he was given what he wanted. His acid reflux made it impossible for me to ignore his cries, and I attended to him immediately every time. I have since spoken to many mothers of babies with reflux, some of them as severe as 5’s and some not so severe. We all agree that our “reflux babies” were our most “difficult” children. My sister had a daughter with reflux who is just a few months older than 5. She is very similar in her dramatic ways and her inability to be told or take “no” for an answer.

In giving in to every need my baby had. In not ever letting him cry in pain, I created a child with a sense of entitlement. A feeling that whatever he wanted at any given time, should immediately be given to him. On a positive not I also raised a very confident boy who knew his mummy loved him.

As 5 grew he became harder to handle, often fighting for more freedom than I was comfortable giving him. When he was 13 years old he broke my heart by leaving me to live with his father. I was devastated. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know how to cope. I was so worried about him, he had chosen a life style that was no good for him at all. He was smoking and drinking and running around town at night. I never knew where he was, or what he was up to. Who he was with became a nightmare, as I imagined the worst possible scenarios. His father had a different approach, and gave him more of a free range. Neither of us could control what 5 was up to. We were both powerless and yet I tried to blame He who used to be for all the problems. It wasn’t anyone’s fault it was just a teenager acting out.

13 years

13 years

Thankfully 5 had one good influence that he would actually listen to during this time. His girlfriend.

5 and The Lovely One deep in thought...

5 and The Lovely One deep in thought…

kim and jake hugging

5 shares his free time, with The Lovely One, his girlfriend of 4 years!! They met at high school and have the most adorable relationship. I often say, if I had to go out and shop for a girlfriend for my son, I would have brought this one home. She is everything a mother wants for her son. Beautiful, loyal, soft, giving, loving, funny, natural, adorable, cute, and very very cheeky! I just love a cheeky kid!

One of The Lovely One’s cheeky habits, is to take your phone or iPad while you’re not looking and take “selfies” on it. Then she sets those photos as your screensaver. You pick up your phone next time and there’s a goofy photo of The Lovely One staring back at you. She absolutely bombed Fitty’s iPad one night, putting heaps of photos on it. We don’t know how she does it, in our tiny house, it’s not like you can get away from everyone? One sneaky little girlfriend that one! We love her, and she has become such a part of our family we can’t even think about hosting a family occasion without her. Her and 3’s girlfriend the Nut are included naturally.

I often wondered how The Lovely One stuck by 5 when he was at his worst. I know that there was always another side to him. A sensitive side, a loving and playful side. And he definitely puts across the “strong, manly vibe” that maybe a young girl would look for. But I honestly thought for a long time, that she was entirely too well behaved and nice to put up with some of the “gansta” behavior 5 was exhibiting.

5 at the mixing desk. Some dubious good times?

5 at the mixing desk. Some dubious good times?

5 my darling boy, you ended up being quite ok. Having been there and done that at such an early age, you are now showing signs of becoming a very responsible, loving and reliable member of not only our family, but of your community as well. You perhaps just need to learn your limits a little better, and stop worrying your poor mother and girlfriend to death!

I have every faith that you will outgrow your need to push the limits, and that you will settle into a peaceful life. A life filled with love, for you really are made for love you know darling? Your empathy and compassion know no bounds, and you have always shown an extra sensitivity in life that tells me you are destined for something very special. Perhaps one day you will help teenagers such as you were. You would make a superb counselor, with the life experience you have had.

I love you young man, and have many hopes for your future.

I have been in hospital, and was just browsing through my reader catching up on my favorite girls, Patty, Laurie and Joey’s latest posts, when I noticed Joey had been awarded a “Shine On” Award from a fellow blogger. Knowing she deserved this honour, I continued reading excitedly, and then stopped cold when I realized she was nominating ME. Fancy that?

I don’t know exactly how these things work, but I think I’m meant to nominate this award onwards as well!

I’m supposed to nominate my favorite 15 bloggers and answer a few questions, so here we go:

AThankfullyImperfectWoman

Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

Sethsnap

MyLores.com

Bucket List Publications

whatImeant2say

The Top 10 of Anything and Everything

About The Children LLC’s Blog

Simple Pleasures

Eye Dancers

Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

Cristian Mihai

Lilacs and Linens

John Mitchell

Cancerkillingrecipe

Well that’s 15 of my favorite bloggers right there. A very varied bunch if I may say so, designed to tickle any fancy I may be needing at various times of my day or week. All of them inspiring, funny, creative and awesome.
Now for these questions:
1. How did you choose names for your children?
For my eldest son I chose the names Elliot James. I was entranced as a teen by the movie E.T. and the way he would say “Ell-i-yot”.
I would sometimes talk to my belly, as I guessed he was a boy early on, and call him Ell-i-yot in the same way.
My second son was named Jacob Patrick. I loved the story of the Biblical Jacob, who was born holding the heel of his older brother, his twin, Esau. Patrick after my eldest brother.
My final son was named Dale Micheal. Dale after a lady I met in hospital whilst having him, who struck me as a most kind soul, and Micheal after a dying friend.
I had a wee son between Jacob and Dale, all through the early pregnancy we called him Jimmy, unfortunately we lost him at 25 weeks. We would have celebrated his 17th birthday yesterday.
It’s weird, but I knew all my kids were boys, almost as soon as the pregnancy began. I never found out until they were born for sure, but I always KNEW. I had all the blue stuff ready and only with Jacob did I falter close to my due date and put a couple of pink things in the drawers just in case.
2.  What are your moral guidelines or what is your religious faith?
I believe in being a good person, doing the right thing.
I believe in “God” whoever or whatever God may be. I have faith based not on any organized religion, but on my inner feelings of peace and love. The “oneness” I feel directly after I ask for guidance, help or relief.
I believe in Hope. I would never have gotten through the last 20 years without it.
I believe in fidelity and love, loyalty and passion.
I believe that I am finally with my soul mate, my intended love, and will stick steadfastly to him until I draw my last breath.
Soulmates. Fitty and I.

Soulmates. Fitty and I.

I believe in humanity. I believe we aren’t all bad. I believe in trying to maintain this planet and keep it “clean” for future generations.
I believe in parenting to the fullest extent of our abilities. We are not here to be our children’s “friends” but to provide a clear moral and ethical blueprint for them to choose their path in life.
I believe in rules and regulations, I follow laws. I believe in authority and the wisdom of elders.
A wealth of wisdom. Four generations in one photo!

A wealth of wisdom. Four generations in one photo!

3.  What do you do in your free time?
I actually have quite a lot of “free” time now that I am an ill person. I have always loved to read, and have now, at the insistence of my partner, added writing to that pastime.
I love the beach, summer, and living by the water. I am endlessly fascinated by nature, and will just sit quietly and observe my beautiful surroundings for hours.
I don’t have much time for television, but love a good movie.
creating a "shot" for Fitty in our front yard, the lake.

creating a “shot” for Fitty in our front yard, the lake.

Beach cricket, a favorite pastime for the whole family

Beach cricket, a favorite pastime for the whole family

again in the front yard playing up to the camera with our dear departed friend, Razor the dog.

again in the front yard playing up to the camera with our dear departed friend, Razor the dog.

Taking a dip at the beach at the end of our road, a secret spot for locals. 4 and 7, back a few years..

Taking a dip at the beach at the end of our road, a secret spot for locals. 4 and 7, back a few years..

4.  What song, television show, film speaks to you, and why?
All time favorite artist without a doubt, is David Bowie. As a teenager he was my hero. I don’t really have a favorite song of his, they are ALL AWESOME! I think he is one of the coolest people ever born, I really do.
The next best thing is Queen for me. I just love Queen’s music, the majestic “Bohemian Rhapsody”and “My Best Friend”, are my all time feel good songs.
I love romantic comedies, but enjoy a good tense thriller just as much. All depends on the mood I’m in.
I’ll never forget watching “Flying High” with my little brother, and laughing so much my stomach hurt the next day. I suppose that was the movie that began my love affair with film.
Like my friend Joey, from Joeyfullystated I just love “Friends”.  You simply cannot go past “Friends” as a TV show. My babies were being born as this show began it’s life, and I would sit and feed and watch and laugh. Later, the mutual love of this show was a real help in developing a bond with one of my beautiful step daughters. (She was at a difficult age, and the shared laughs went a long way in breaking the ice.)
4 and I playing dress ups for the camera

4 and I playing dress ups for the camera

5. What is your favorite animal and why?
When I was a young child, I never wanted a puppy, kitten, bird or fish as a pet. I would ask Magoo, (my mother, so named for her driving abilities and style), for a pet Chimpanzee. I don’t know whether it was because of Tarzan and “Cheetah” or because of the chimps I would frequently see on TV dressed in little dresses or nappies. I can’t remember when the obsession started, but it did.
I was somewhat turned off them at age  7 or 8 when my parents took me to Taronga Zoo and I saw the many chimps in the enclosure throwing pooh at each other, and the watching crowd. I remember thinking that my monkey would never do that, and besides, it would be wearing an adorable little nappy and dress anyway.
I never got my monkey of course, but to this day I am fascinated by the mimicry these animals make of humans. I am always chuffed when I see a monkey, and will watch or read anything about them, anywhere.
I’m also rather partial to dogs. My little doggie Pooh is a part of our family, and is my best friend. She doesn’t know she’s a “pet”, so I won’t tell her if you don’t?
Now you know a little more about me. I wrangled a bit in my head over whether to “name” my kids, but figured it couldn’t do too much harm? Others do.
I’m getting back on my blogging horse, slowly but surely you’ll be hearing more from me. I just had a terrible week after busting loose at the Wedding last weekend. I want to share a few more of my fave photos with you as well. Catch you soon.