Parties, Fun and Sadness
Alethea had been invited to a couple of birthday parties around this time, I had of course said that she could go, because when you are 3yrs and 10months birthday parties are one of the most important things in your life, they can also be used as bribery by the parents for extra special good behaviour, we usually put the birthday party invites up on the fridge and so when misbehaviour happens it is the easy cop out to re-establish good behaviour, for example ‘Oh dear Alethea, you don’t want mummy to have to call Bianca’s mum and tell her that you’re not allowed to go to her party because you’re not being a good girl do you?’ and extra special good behaviour then occurs immediately, mean-yes, effective-always. Although to tell you the truth Alethea very rarely misbehaves or is naughty, I totally admit I had a VERY hard time with her as a baby and between 1.5-2yrs she went through what I refer to as the “woeful ones” but as soon as she turned 2yrs I had the kindest, most beautiful, good hearted and natured little girl, strong willed and determined but just absolutely gorgeous. Ryan and I usually always go to birthday parties together, I have often told him that if he wants he can stay at home and relax as most of the time at birthday parties only one of the parents is there, but for us we always seem to turn up together. Ryan’s response when I say he can stay at home usually goes something like ‘I work all week, and only see Alethea for an hour or so each day, so on the weekend I want to spend as much time as possible with the two of you.’ The next part that he said, we have both said since the day we had Alethea which was ‘As an adult the fun that I have is measured through how much fun Alethea is having, and if she is enjoying herself then I am having fun, if I stayed home I would miss all the fun that she has’
Anyway I digress; the first party that we went to was a friend from day care Bianca’s 4th birthday, held at one of those indoor play places. Alethea had all the nervous excitement built up in her, eager to get to the party, so when we arrived she was nearly bouncing off the walls. She was excited to be at Bianca’s party, but she was even more excited that her best friend Talaan would be there. When we first got there, Talaan and her mum were running late, so Alethea had a play with some of the other little girls there, Ryan and I took a seat and it felt very surreal being there. Some of the mums from day care had their second baby with them; I had been pregnant at the same time as them. I looked around the play place and there were babies everywhere, I remember that I started to hyperventilate, on the verge of a panic attack, Ryan had realised how I was feeling and had put his hand on my knee which told me he too was struggling, he too knew what I was feeling, but we were together and we could get through it, just then a little girl stood right before me, looking up at me Talaan said ‘where is Alethea’ she was such a welcome distraction because I had been close to losing my handle on the situation. The start of the party had been a little hard for me, but as time went on I became more comfortable, the kids were brought to a room for party food and party games and we watched as Alethea indulged in many pieces of fairy bread and then tried some lollies, to which I had to have a little giggle, because generally Alethea doesn’t like lollies, but as all the other kids were eating them, so did she, so I watched as she put one in her mouth and chewed and I pointed out to Ryan that it wouldn’t last very long, however to my surprise she chewed for some time then all of a sudden she screwed her face up, caught my eye and shook her head, I nodded at her to let her know that it was ok to spit it out, which she did in disgust. After the food and party games were complete it was time again for the kids to run around the play place, and I watched as Talaan’s mum went all the way up the top with Talaan and flew down the long and bumpy slippery slide, well given that I am young at heart I too eagerly grabbed one of the sliding sacks and went up and down with Alethea for the afternoon, it felt fantastic soaring faster and faster on this slippery slide, hearing my little girl cackle in my ear and I laughed and smiled the whole afternoon. After many hours of play, all the party kids and the birthday girl were exhausted and headed for home, all that is except for Alethea and Talaan, who played on and on even when everyone else was gone. What had started as a surreal, sad/panic attack day had ended up in an elated and exhausted afternoon.
The second party that we went to was Sami’s 3rd Birthday, each child needed to be dressed as something from under the water, my daughter of course was a mermaid because her favourite ever character is Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Alethea believes with all her might that when she grows up she is going to be a mermaid princess. This was a very hard party for me to attend. I had slept poorly the night before and so my head was very heavy and my eyes were puffy, however I was excited because Alethea was excited. This party was held in a hall with a great big jumping castle and tables of yummy party food, with a princess painting the children’s faces, it was gorgeous but as I entered I looked around at all the happy families and this day I struggled to be happy, I couldn’t find peace. One of our friends was also there and she was due to have her second baby any day and I kept seeing her belly and I was so jealous, I remembered how excited I had been when I was as pregnant as she was with Liam, I had been tingling with delight, I had known that Liam was a sure thing and I was going to be a mummy for the second time any day, and seeing her this pregnant brought up all those unexpected memories of pure delight (which as I write it down sounds lovely, but it wasn’t, those memories made me know what I was missing, made me want to rewind the clock even more) and I looked at our friend and wanted to put her in hospital straight away and make them take her baby out of her so that her baby would be safe, my heart was beating so fast because I knew her baby was alive and kicking inside and I wanted to make sure nothing happened to her baby, I wanted her baby to be safe, and to me at this stage safe was NOT going into labour naturally, safe was getting that baby out. I had to leave the party and walk outside, I needed to be by myself and Ryan was left inside with Alethea, I felt like I was suffocating and I didn’t want to say anything to our friend that would cause her to worry about her baby because deep down I knew that her birth would happen without a hitch, to say anything to a lady soon to give birth would be horrible, so I couldn’t stay there. I was flat that whole day, I tried to shake myself out of it but I just couldn’t, I tried to be happy but I could feel that even my facial expressions were non-existent, it was just one of those days that knocks you off your feet and you struggle to get back up from.
Ryan and I also went to our first church service since Liam had died, I would like to say it was lovely, but it was not. In the announcements there were two couples who had just given birth again, one for the 10th time and I shook my head, all we wanted was two, what were we doing so wrong that we couldn’t even have two live kids yet some very lucky people could have 10. Then there were the new grandparent announcements, this too was hard to hear, but I breathed through it. The worst thing about the church service unfortunately was the topic that the sermon was on which was “Singing in the Rain” and the pastor asked people to put their hands up if they had turmoil in their lives and challenged us all to “sing in the rain.” Well I wanted to stand up on my seat and yell at the top of my voice that my baby had not long died, how on earth did he expect me to sing in the rain because that was just not possible. I hated every second of that church service and couldn’t wait to leave. To those who are atheist again I say I have to believe in God because I have to believe that I will one day see my baby boy again. To those who are Christian I say this is a very hard road for me, just because I hated the service does not mean that I am atheist, it does not mean I should be condemned by God it just means that at this time I was struggling. We left to pick up Alethea from kids church and as always she has the ability to turn my bad day into a good one, this day she had taken her kids Bible to church and as we approached her she said ‘hang on mum, I have to get my magic spell book’ aka the Bible and I laughed at her innocents. I laughed also because as I picked her up to give her a cuddle she said to me ‘Poor snakey snakey, all he wants is a bite of the apple and no one will give him any’ In a few seconds she had managed to change my uptight mood into one flooded with love and happiness, and those poor cheeks of hers got kissed at every opportunity.
Friday 24th August I received my first phone call from the hospital giving me an update on how the RCA (Route cause analysis) was going. Basically the person told me that it was a very extensive investigation and it would take some time to complete. While I had the person on the phone with me, even though I had written in my email that Liam had not been monitored from around 210am till 244am it had not occurred to me whether this was normal or not so I said to the person ‘My CTG monitoring ceased at 210am and Liam was not monitored all the time till he was born, is this normal practice?’ and the person on the other end of the line said to me that ‘no this usually doesn’t occur, normally we monitor the baby until birth, especially when the baby’s trace is not that good, because then if the baby deteriorates more then we can speed things up even faster, it is not normal for a baby not to be monitored at all, and that is one of the things that the RCA will be looking at’ At the time of the phone call I had just left Target at Warringah Mall and I was walking around the mall listening to this lady with silent tears streaming down my face. Not only had they taken too long to get Liam out, they hadn’t monitored him, so that when he did deteriorate even further they had no knowledge of it and they hadn’t sped things up even faster to help enable a safe delivery to occur…my poor little boy never stood a chance at that hospital, and I hated all of them for it. I hopped in the car and called my parents crying on the phone to them, I was so angry, my head and shoulders felt hot and my stomach churned with disgust. About an hour later my parents surprised me by arriving at my door step (they live 50km away from us, so it takes a while to get here) they told me that they couldn’t leave me by myself and they had come to take me out for lunch.
We all headed down to Dee Why beach to one of the cafes there, and on the way in the car I asked my dad something that had been weighing heavily on my heart. Liam’s full name was Liam Edward Campbell, the middle Edward is named after my dad, and it was the first of his grandchildren to carry his name. We had planned to name our baby after my dad since the moment we knew we were having another baby, had the baby been a girl her middle name was going to be Poppy, which is a girl’s name, but is also the name that I had used to call my dad since I was around 16, (when I was 16 I decided that my dad was acting a little “old” so I told him that if he was going to act old, I would call him Poppy, he of course changed his ways to be a lot younger, but the name Poppy had stuck and it had been the only name that I had used for a long, long time). It had never occurred to me just after Liam was born and died that putting Edward as his second name may not have been the best idea, as having your only grandchild who was dead named after you might make you feel bad, we had just always had that name in our heads and that was the one that we went for, but now 8.5 weeks after Liam had died I now wondered whether I had hurt my dad or caused him to be even more distressed, so as my eyes welled up with tears I said to him ‘I am sorry Poppy that your only grandchild to bear your name is dead, we didn’t think about it when we named him, we just knew what we wanted to name him and didn’t think about the impact that it would have on you, are you ok with it?’ and Poppy told me that he was proud that Liam had his name, that yes he was sad, but it wasn’t because Liam had his name, he was sad because Liam wasn’t here, but he was extremely proud that he shared his name with Liam.
- Posted in: The First Weeks