Friday, December 3, 2010

Mom to Emma Faith
Stillborn October 14th, 2008

When I saw the positive pregnancy test in February 2008 I felt elation - but also fear. I was pregnant for the fourth time, four months after an early miscarriage. We hoped for one more child to complete our family. This pregnancy was different from the one I miscarried - my symptoms were strong and we got to see our baby's heartbeat at our twelve week scan. We were utterly in love!
I thought my fears might abate somewhat once I left the first trimester but, actually, that wasn't the case. I continued to suffer bouts of anxiety throughout my pregnancy, despite it being physically plain-sailing. Some of that, I think, was due to concerns about labour. My previous births had been difficult and frightening and my babies had been distressed. I had had an awful experience with the hospital which had consolidated my decision to have an out of hospital birth with this baby. Although this proved controversial, my midwife (who had cared for me through all of my pregnancies) was very supportive.

Everything looked perfect at our 20 week scan - and we decided not to find out the gender of our little precious. I was sure I was having a boy (!) Having confirmed that my placenta was well positioned, I felt more confidence planning my home birth and started to get moments of pure excitement about welcoming a new little person into our life.

However, I  also still had moments of intuition. At 29 weeks pregnant, my husband came into our bedroom one morning to find me crying. He asked me what the matter was. I sobbed, "I'm not sure this baby will make it." Of course, he reassured me - as did the other mothers on an internet site I used when I posted about it. We had no reason to think that everything was not perfect. All my appointments indicated a robustly healthy mama and babe.

My due date from my scans was 13th October but I had been using fertility charting to conceive and I worked out 14th. Our daughter proved her mother correct (in more ways than one.) On 13th October, around lunchtime, I started having contractions. Unlike my previous labours, it became apparent very quickly that this was the real thing. I rang and told my husband to come home straight after work. He did - and immediately set to work setting up the birth pool. My sister came and took our children to my parents house for the night and, early evening, we called for the midwife and my best friend who had agreed to be our birth partner. What followed was several hours of beautiful, intense labour. I wallowed in the birth pool with two midwives (one of whom was "my" midwife) checking on me and my baby after almost every contraction. I felt safe and well cared for. Everything seemed to be going extremely smoothly - until the time came to push. My baby didn't want to come. My midwives suspected that baby had twisted into an awkward position and though I might need forceps or a ventouse delivery. So, off to the hospital we went in an ambulance. Everyone was wonderful and reassuring. The midwife held the doppler against my tummy almost the entire time and everything we heard suggested that baby was still doing extremely well.

At the hospital, everything proceeded efficiently and smoothly. The staff were wonderful. We last heard a heartbeat seven minutes before our baby was birthed. She was so low and so close to crowning that it didn't worry anyone that the tummy belt for monitoring was not picking anything up. In the end, I didn't need an instrumental delivery. She had turned and I pushed into the world all by myself. I was elated and so excited to discover that the baby on my chest was actually a little girl ... and then, they took her away because she wasn't breathing. They took her to a resus. unit behind my head and began to work on her. So many people, so much effort. I don't know how long for - it seemed like no time and it seemed like a lifetime. I know there came a point when I knew that, whatever happened, our lives were going to change irrevocably - she had been without oxygen for too long. Then those words - words no parents should ever hear, "I'm so sorry". The next few minutes are a blur. I remember saying "On no. No. Oh no" over and over. And yet, I also remember that I wasn't surprised. Shocked, horrified, frightened and beyond devastated - but not surprised. I had felt this coming. And then we got our daughter back, all wrapped up, still warm and pink and wet from my body. Nothing else mattered - only her. She was so very, very beautiful. She looked so very like her big sister, but darker. A little reddish brunette with chubby cheeks and gorgeous almond shaped eyes. She was 7 lb 4 oz, born at 2.22am on her due date. We spent the night and most of the next day with her, with family coming and going from the special room we were in. We left her - I still don't know how - to come home and returned to the hospital to say goodbye to her for the final time the following day. I look back now and don't remember how we found the strength to do that. We don't know why a healthy term baby didn't survive a healthy, straightforward term labour. The medical staff can only guess. Her placenta was perfect and her cord blood did not show evidence of undue distress. Their best guess is that her cord was pinched between her and I when she was turning into a better position to be born. I still find it so hard to believe that something so tiny should have robbed my daughter of her life.

We have recently celebrated her second birthday and I still ache to hold her in my arms. I love her so much.

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Anonymous said...

Jill, Thank you so very much for sharing the story of your sweet little Emma Faith. I'm heartbroken for your loss and moved to tears reading it and remembering delivering my daughter and I too ache to hold her in my arms again. You and Emma will be in my thoughts.

Jeanette said...

Jill, thinking of Emma. x

Claire said...

Thinking of you and Emma. xxx

Anonymous said...

Thinking of Emma and you xxx

Babinmama xxx

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