The Birth and Death of my Baby Boy Liam
It was Sunday 24th June and I remember lying in bed with my husband and it was 830am, my 3.5 year old daughter Alethea was staying with her grandparents for the weekend, and I looked at my hubby and I said ‘who would have kids…this is fantastic’ I of course was referring to the sleep in that we were having. I was also 39 weeks pregnant and due to be induced on Tuesday 26th at night. I have to admit, I was a little scared about having my second baby, Alethea had been such a bad sleeper, she was a 40min cat napper during the day, and of a night I was up with her, even at 3.5yrs sometimes twice or three times and the thought of going through it all again was a little daunting.
I had had 4 miscarriages in between Alethea and this baby, each one was heartbreaking and at different stages, so the baby was sooo wanted and loved. It had been a hard pregnancy, my hubby, a few of my work colleagues and a couple of friends had known how hard it was, but to everyone else I had acted as if it was perfect, I hadn’t wanted to complain as I was just so happy to be pregnant, and I knew of a lot of couples that couldn’t even fall pregnant, so complaining about it seemed heartless. Truth be told I had vomited nearly every day, I had the worst heart burn and the baby was very active, it moved day and night constantly, which yes is a beautiful part of pregnancy but can also be very tiring as sleep is hard to come by when this happens, on top of that I had insomnia which would leave me awake for nights on end.
However no matter what you read above I loved this baby and I was overjoyed to be pregnant, I loved the idea of giving Alethea a baby brother or sister, for her to have a sibling to bond with, be friends with, love and adore. I had wanted a closer age gap of the perfect “2 years” but due to the miscarriages that hadn’t happened. After the 4th miscarriage we got a referral from our obstetrician to see specialists in miscarriages and IVF etc., they had done a lot of tests on us and everything was normal except I had a ‘prothrombin gene mutation’ and they suggested to try falling pregnant again naturally and use Clexane (an injection that helps prevent your blood from clotting) and see if that helped make the pregnancy stay, if not, we could try embryonic selection. We were ‘lucky’ and the clexane worked a treat, and that very next month we were pregnant and this one was here to stay.
Anyway I digress…On Monday the 25th I went to bed and I said to my husband, ‘This time tomorrow night I will be being induced and by Wednesday we will have a baby, I can’t wait.’ Sleep came easy to me that night, I remember the last time I looked at the clock it was 1030pm, next thing I knew I was woken up, I looked at the clock and it was 11pm I felt like I was wetting myself. I laid there for about 30seconds thinking, ‘what if my water has broken, how will I get from bed to the bathroom?’ (I had envisaged a great gush of water like you see on the movies) so I ran as quickly as I could to the bathroom. Truth be told I thought I was passing urine, came out of the bathroom, but it kept on coming, so back in I went. I did the appropriate things and came out, my husband, eager as he was, was already getting dressed. I told him that I thought my waters had broken, called the hospital and told them my name, that I was due to be induced tomorrow and that my waters had broken, they asked me to relay how I knew they were broken and I told them, their response was ‘good girl, is the baby moving’ yes ‘come on into hospital, there is no need to rush, whenever you get here is fine.’ My hubby called my mother in law to stay with Alethea, she came and was very excited, and off we went to hospital.
In the car my contractions started. The first couple were not that bad then the next couple were quite intense (I had had Alethea naturally and had laboured at home until 8cm) so I was a little surprised at the intensity of the contractions. I had around 5 contractions by the time I got to hospital.
We arrived at midnight and were taken to delivery and a nurse met us and showed us to the room we would be in. She told us that the ward was extremely busy and that she had been called in on her day off to help out, I felt sorry for her. I was connected to the CTG machine and the baby’s heart rate was good, around the 150 mark and I was excited. Hubby and I again said to each other ‘ok what are you calling, boy or girl’ we both agreed on boy.
On my first contraction I wasn’t really focussing on the midwife, I looked at the CTG and saw the peak of the contraction and waited for it to start going down, it was around 1220am, after the contraction had passed I saw a perplexed look on the midwifes face, she shook my belly around and then said ‘ah that is better.’ She waited with us and another contraction came I watched as the numbers went up, but then I realised that as my numbers were going up, baby’s heart rate was dropping, and I watched it drop from 150 down to 80 and as the contraction subsided the baby’s heart rate regained. Again the midwife looked perplexed. I knew that foetal heart rates drop during contractions but I was not sure how low they should go, so I asked her ‘Is that normal’ she skirted around the issue saying that the machines were very sensitive and old and it depended on where baby was situated etc. to what it picked up. Another contraction came and same thing, again the midwife moved my belly and the probes on my tummy to try and get the baby’s heart rate to come back up. Then the midwife disappeared.
Next thing I know the midwife was back in the room saying that she had called my OB and he was on his way in, another contraction, same routine. Then she disappeared. I looked at hubby and said ‘well, I am only 2cm, we are definitely having a Caesar as no OB will wait for me to be fully dilated, that could take all night, and he is not going to go home and then come back in a couple of hours, he will just want the baby out.’ I had not grasped the enormity of the situation.
1am my OB arrives, and I say ‘what is it about my babies that always gets you out of bed!’ He looks at the CTG, examines me (I was still 2cm) and says that if we want we can continue on with the labour, sometimes these things happen and see how we go or we could consider a Caesar. He walks out of the room and we discuss and both agree a Caesar. He comes back in (115am) and says ‘I know that you wanted to go naturally but I think we might do a Caesar.’ My response was ‘You know me, whatever is safest for the baby that is what we will do, let’s do the Caesar.’ He tells me that he thinks that the cord is beside the baby’s head and that each time I have a contraction it is squashing the cord and reducing blood flow and oxygen to the baby. My OB queries the midwife about an anaesthetist, she tells him that it is ok, that he is already on site putting in an epidural to some other lady and my OB says good.
A cannula is put in my right arm, blood is taken from me and I am given IV antibiotics. I look across the room and realise that Ryan is about to faint (he is not good with needles) and he is told to put his head between his knees and another nurse attends him. I am told the anaesthetist is going to put an epidural in me, I was concerned about Ryan and ask that he be moved away because he would pass out. The epidural is put in but no drugs were given at this stage, I look up and realise that my OB is holding my hand as Ryan was unable to.
I was unhooked from the CTG machine (205am) and waited a while, then wheeled to delivery. We wait in the recovery room to enter the OT. Ryan disappears to put scrubs on and I am wheeled into the OT, people greet me and introduce themselves to me, I really don’t take it in. I wait in the OT for what seems like a LONG time, and I get cross at Ryan because I think that we are waiting for him. I make small chat like, ‘My camera is still in my bag’ (which wasn’t in the room) I say to my OB ‘We are going to wait for Ryan aren’t we, you won’t start without him?’ still not realising the seriousness of the situation. Unbeknownst to me, Ryan was waiting outside, they wouldn’t let him in and he thought they were doing the OP as he had been there for such a long time. Ryan comes in and says to me ‘what have we got’ I looked at him perplexed and asked what he meant and he said ‘boy or girl’ and I told him they hadn’t done the surgery yet.
The surgery starts and then everything goes soo fast. No-one talks, I am aware that Ryan was standing and I realise that he is watching the baby come out, he looks at me and says ‘it’s a boy’ I focussed on Ryan who was on my left, I had tears coming down my cheeks, I was sooo happy, I kissed him and said ‘I can’t believe we have a boy’ happiness filled me. It was very different to when I had Alethea, I had laboured for 24hrs and although I was happy, I was exhausted, this time I was ‘over the moon with joy’ I hadn’t heard the baby cry, but I wasn’t too concerned about that as Alethea did not cry when she came out. I looked over to my right and there were a couple of people around him, I don’t recall who, still nothing, a couple of minutes pass and a have tears rolling down my face, still no one has said anything to us. I ask my husband the time and he tells me, we wait, I could see his little foot and it wasn’t moving. Someone asks us what we will call him to distract us, I look at Ryan and we both know, we had had 3 boys names picked out and without discussing it we both say Liam. I look back, silence. I looked at Ryan and shook my head, I wanted him to realise that our baby was in SERIOUS trouble. I started hyperventilating and crying, I couldn’t control myself. More people enter the room, I still can’t see. Someone was telling me to breathe normally or I would pass out, I didn’t want to miss a second so I try to calm down. Another wave of emotion comes over me; I hyperventilate again and sob uncontrollably. The OB comes over to reassure us. He tells us that Liam is ok, he is breathing on his own but his heart rate is lower than what we would like it to be, that they are working on him but everything was ok. I calm down a little; this seems to be good news. The anaesthetist then comes, not knowing that the OB has just spoken to us and says that it doesn’t look good, I want him away from me, I hate him, how dare he say that to us. The NETs team arrive (Neonatal Emergency Transfer Service) I realise that Liam is not going to make it. I looked at Ryan and said ‘what am I going to tell Alethea?’ I had built this baby up to her for 9 months, she was so excited, how was I going to tell her that the baby had died. The OB comes again and says they have been in contact with a neonatologist at another hospital and he recommends giving Liam fluid, that is what he needs, but they have tried to get a UVC (that’s a cannula that goes into the umbilical cord) in and can’t and I think to myself ‘who can’t get a UVC in, anyone can do that’ (I had previously been a neonatal intensive care pharmacist, so could tell you everything about care after birth and could tell you everything about prenatal care but new nothing in terms of what should happen during delivery as a pharmacist is not required there) They finally cannulate Liam in his left arm and get the fluid into him. I was aware that I didn’t know what time Liam was born, so I asked a nurse and she went to find out, came back and told us 244am. The OB comes over again and tells me that everything will be ok, they are thinking of transferring him to another hospital, that once he is stable he will be ok, but it will be touch and go for a little while. I look at my hubby and tell him that he needs to go with Liam, I give him instructions on how to touch Liam, (you see these babies don’t like being stroked, as much as we adults love to stroke them, it actually irritates them, they like to be held, so I tell him to hold Liam’s hand and tell him how much we love him) I ask that he calls my parents, as with Liam and him gone I don’t want to be alone. I watch him call from a phone in the theatre. I am also aware that they have come back to work on me and that they are now closing me up, I had been left open for 2 hours
Our world changes, false hope, that’s what they had done for 2 and a quarter hours. The OB comes to me and says that they could transfer him and could try to cool him down and see if that helps but….his pupils were fixed and dilated, although he had been breathing by himself, they had now intubated him and were bagging him, they still couldn’t get his heart rate up, it was sitting at around 60, even after multiple adrenalin doses, and his oxygen saturation was next to nothing and his pH was 6.2, all his organs were shutting down, he then tells me they had been manually compressing him for all that time, he was unlikely to make the transfer, and if he did he would have extensive brain damage. (I had seen this before when working, and I remember the neonatologists telling me that if this happened, parents needed to be braver, rise above, kiss their baby and cuddle it goodbye, that when this happens the baby is unlikely to ever leave hospital, they will never open their eyes and usually they aspirate and die within a year) The OB looks at me and says ‘we could transfer him, or you can decide’ my rationality goes, what does he mean we can decide, SAVE MY BABY, I look at my husband, he has tears rolling down his cheeks and we sob uncontrollably, I look back and for the first time see my baby on the table, everyone has moved away from him, there is nothing more that they can do for him, other than the paediatrician bagging him, there is no one there, no one was performing compressions keeping his heart going, they had given up. I felt like everyone was staring at us with eyes that were both comforting, but they were also thankful they were not us. Ryan and I look at each other and nod. We know what is best for Liam, but it is too hard to say. We sob again. My voice was hardly audible as I say ‘we will cuddle him goodbye.’ No one moves, so I ask, can I see him. Of course I can, they try to clumsily move his table to me, he is still connected to the machines. My beautiful boy, ‘Ryan, can you take a photo of him.’ I stroke his little arm and tummy, he is soo soft. ‘Can I hold him?’ Again they look perplexed and rush around clumsily. He is put into my arms and I sob. The paediatrician is still bagging him. The OB looks at the paed and says he can stop. They fiddle around with Liam while he is on my chest, taking tubes out etc. I hear him breathe, it was a gurgle of a breath, I wait, and then another breath, I kiss him and tell him how much I love him and sob. My husband is stroking Liam’s head crying, talking to him too. I look at the OB, ‘can Ryan have a hold.’ My beautiful boy is in his daddy’s arms. I look at Ryan and see a broken dad, I know his thoughts, my arms were meant to keep you safe and I can do nothing for you. He tells Liam how much he is loved and wanted. Next minute I have Liam again I kiss him, tell him what my hopes and dreams were for him, I tell him that it is ok to go and that I love him.
All of a sudden I am aware of all the intruders around us, they are listening to our most intimate moments, they look at me and tell me that they are going to transfer me to a more comfortable place, all I need to do is hold Liam, they will lift me onto another bed and do all the work. I am confused, I know that Liam is about to pass, why are they bothering me, but I agree because I feel I have to, they transfer me and Liam breaths again, one last raspy but peaceful breath, and I knew that was it, I looked at my husband and said ‘that is it, he is gone’ he looks at me and strokes my head and we cuddle, they wheel the bed into recovery and I know that Liam is dead. We were given 20mins with our beautiful boy, that is all. The Dr listens to his heart and tells me that he is gone; I am holding a perfectly beautiful, yet dead baby boy.
I become aware that my parents must be here. They still think they are here to support me while Liam is transferred. I ask Ryan to check for them. He returns about a minute later with them, they are both in tears. My mum hugs me, my dad can’t even look at me, he can’t bear to see the pain I have. Mum asks to hold Liam and I say yes, she tries to show dad, but he is too distressed, he doesn’t want to look, she coerces him, telling him that he is beautiful and he does and I can see the pain in his eyes and then he moves away, he comes and gives me a kiss and a cuddle, he can’t speak.
- Posted in: The First Weeks