Updated: May 27
Early in the morning of the 6th of the July, I took a pregnancy test. “I’m finally pregnant” I said to myself looking down at two lines. I came hurrying into the bedroom to show my husband. We were so exited. Later that morning a blood test confirmed that we were definitely expecting our first baby. We kept the news mainly to ourselves until the 12 week mark. I made up a cute sign and ordered a onesie that read “Baby Nunan due March 2021”. We put this on Facebook to spread the news. Everyone was overjoyed for us.
Two weeks later, we were at “Hello baby” to find out the gender. This was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life. I wanted so much for my first child to be a boy. We sat in a dark room and saw our baby up on the screen. Next we were told to hold hands and close our eyes. The sonographer turned on the blue lights and said “open your eyes”. I burst into tears of joy at the sight of them, my husband looking and laughing at my reaction. That afternoon at home, he asked me “have you thought of any names?” Of course I had names, this is something I longed for and already had a perfect name in mind. I took a deep breath and told my husband the name “Ethan”. There was a pause then he said “I like it too”. We had a gender reveal on our property. Everyone came to celebrate and watch as we did a burnout on the driveway. When the tyres smoked blue, everyone cheered. It was a very emotional moment for me as we were finally telling the world we were having a boy.
For the next few months, I enjoyed every part of being pregnant. I was finally able to shop for baby products and spent my time putting thought into what I liked and needed. I developed an obsession for Bonds wondersuits and purchased so many! Our families also spoilt us with baby items. We had everything we needed and more! When I was four months pregnant, we decided to get married. After a year of being engaged, I thought it would be nice to take time for us. We eloped at Point Arkwright, a cliff overlooking the beach with our best friends as witnesses. I had my dress altered to accomodate my growing belly. It was very special to have our baby with us on the day.
As time went on, I counted down the weeks with doctors appointments and more tests. Everything was looking fine. I was told baby was measuring perfect to his due date. My blood tests always came back perfect too, everything seemed to be going so well. I enjoyed feeling my baby move and kick everyday, this assured me that everything was going to be fine. I often worried something would go wrong even when there was nothing to worry about. Pregnancy was going so well that the hospital gave me clearance to continue working up until 38 weeks. I worked in childcare as full time assistant in Kindergarten. The children were my biggest fans, they were all so curious and excited about the baby. They watched my tummy grow and would ask me the most amusing questions. It was an emotional goodbye leaving, I was going to miss everyone, especially the kids. The next couple of weeks I spent on bed rest. By this stage, I was exhausted. I had broken sleep most nights being so uncomfortable. I woke up each morning to have breakfast and watch tv.
On Monday the 8th of March, I woke up yet again feeling uncomfortable. I sat on the floor of the lounge room watching tv and eating breakfast. This morning my tummy felt particularly bloated. I looked down and thought “it’s so big” then I laughed and took some photos. I sent some photos to my best friend. We talked about the baby and my upcoming induction date (11th of March) when I had finished breakfast, I realised that I hadn’t felt baby move. Some times he didn’t move until after I had eaten something so I brushed this off for the time being. Soon I began feeling a dull ache in my abdomen on my left side. I decided to have some pain killers and run a warm bath. After my bath, the pain increased and I was now feeling very sore. “Do we need to call the hospital?” My husband asked. I wasn’t sure, I paced the bedroom clutching my tummy anxiously. The pain was slowing increasing “was this labour!” I thought. Soon I was in tears so we decided to call the hospital and tell them my symptoms. “ you’re ticking off a lot of boxes that this may be labour, come in and see us so we can check you” said the midwife. I thought “this is it, he is coming today” and quickly got my things together to get in the car.
On the way to hospital I was in a lot of pain. By the time we arrived, it was excruciating. My husband helped me out of the car into a wheelchair. The pain was searing my abdomen and around into my back. I was wheeled into the maternity ward. The nurses thought I was in labour and checked me into a room. “Do you want to try sitting on the exercise ball?” they said. I sat there for a few minutes and held my tummy. “When you’re ready, come sit up on the bed and we will check baby’s heartbeat”. It was very hard to get myself up on the bed but I managed. The midwife sat down beside me and put the Doppler on my tummy. Moving it around, I waited to hear the sound of the heartbeat. There was nothing at first, I wasn’t too concerned and patiently waited for her to find it. She left the room and returned with another midwife and a machine. They checked again, this time using the ultrasound probe. I watched as they looked towards the screen in silence, they seemed to have concerned looks on their faces. “There’s no easy way to tell you this but we couldn’t find a heart beat, your baby is gone”. Shocked, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “What do you mean?” I turned to my husband who put his hand in mine and held his head down. I didn’t know how to react, I definitely wasn’t expecting this news. We were told that I had a placental abruption. They could see in the ultrasound that my placenta had detached and scattered in the womb. There was no reason for it, only that “these things happen”. “How?” I thought.
I was scheduled to be induced in just three days time, just one date before his due date. I never imagined anything going wrong after such a smooth pregnancy. I felt defeated.
The next few minutes we were talked through what would happen next. First they would break my waters then I would be given an epidural for pain and then induced for labour. When my waters were broken, I felt a huge gush. The liquid was brown, I was told this was a sign the baby had a bowel movement inside possibly due to stress. Next the midwives instructed me to roll towards the edge of the bed. “We need to get you sitting upright to administer the epidural”. I was in so much pain I wanted to scream. My husband helped pulled me up, I sat there on the edge of the bed while he held me. The anesthetist arrived to administer the epidural. I always said I would never ever ask for this but I was so much pain that I just wanted it to go away. The fear of the needle was out weighed with pain. In moments the drugs had kicked in and I was feeling so much better and relaxed. I was so grateful that I couldn’t feel pain anymore. Next I was put on a drip to be induced. Now it was a waiting game to dialate. At this stage, I was still eager to give birth and see my baby. I had heard stories in the past where mothers had brought their babies back to life with skin to skin contact. I imagined this and held on hope that we could still save him. The hours passed by and the midwives kept checking how much I had dialated. “Hmmm not much progress but we’re still hopeful” they would say. I was hopeful too and waited.
The hours seem to go very quickly, everytime I looked at the clock another hour or two had passed. Within this time my blood pressure and heart rate were being closely monitored. Soon the monitors were beeping to give out warnings that my levels were getting to high. Everytime I reached over to the table for my drink bottle my heart rate would jump up. My body temperature was also going up. The highest it reached was 39.9 degrees. The doctor came to visit to tell me that I was showing signs and symptoms of preeeclampsia. I was also not dialating quickly enough. “we cannot wait too much longer because you’re health is deteriorating” the doctor said. “What will happen?” I asked . “We will have to perform an emergency c section” he replied. I was so scared, I had never wanted a c section and held out hope that I could still birth naturally.
Another hour passed and they came to check on me. The doctor said I still it was time for surgery. “We will get things ready then you will be wheeled down to theatre”. I was also given the choice to have the surgery asleep or awake. I chose to be put to sleep. My husband was allowed to come down with me to the theatre room. We waited in there with a midwife. The surgeon who was going to be performing my c section had been called away to another emergency. We had to wait for him to return. Within this time I had no medication and was in excruciating pain again. My husband held my hand while I laid on the bed. “How much pain can the human body handle?” I wondered. I was terrified and wondered how much longer I had to wait in this pain before surgery. I thought surely I was going to pass out or have a seizure. My body felt like it was burning on fire, my husband told me my whole body was red. “Just look into my eyes and take deep breaths” he said over and over. I was scared now and worried about dying. I looked into my husbands eyes and hoped it wasn’t the last time we saw each other. I was so relieved when it was finally time for surgery. “I need to go now, I can’t do this anymore” I said to the doctor. My husband let go of my hand and I was wheeled away.
Later I awoke in the recovery room with a dozen doctors around me. I tried adjusting my eyes to find my husband. They said he would be there when I woke up. He was soon by my side and I was wheeled back to the maternity ward. I was told the operation went well but I had lost over two litres of blood. My husband told me that he was so afraid that he was going to lose both of us. I felt fortunate to still be alive.
The midwives asked us if we would like to see our baby. “Yes” I said, of course I wanted to see him but I was still very groggy from surgery. I wanted to wait until I woke up, everything was blurry and I felt so tired. I wanted to at least be able to see properly before I laid eyes on my baby for the first time. After three hours a midwife came to me and said that they had organised heartfelt photography to take some professional photos. “The photographer is almost here, would you like to see your baby before they get here?” “Yes” I said. I sat up in bed best I could and waited for the midwife to return. The midwife returned pushing a bassinet on a trolley. She wheeled it over to the side of my bed. We looked in and saw our baby. Shocked was my initial reaction. His mouth was gaping open and his lips were dark purple. “Why is his mouth open like that?” I asked. “It’s just because his body is relaxed, it happens” they said. My husband held me as we looked at our baby, we were so sad. I didn’t know what to do. The midwife returned when the photographer arrived. “Would you like to be in pictures with your baby?” “No” I said, I was still in shock and couldn’t even bring myself to touch him.
They took him into another room to take some pictures. I hoped they would be nice even if we weren’t in them. Later that night my mother in law arrived after a long flight. The midwives took her into another room to meet her grandson. When she emerged, she was smiling. “I just held him and told him how much he was loved and will never be forgotten”. She said. It was nice that someone had held him, I was still afraid to. That night I awoke to a nurse who told me that my blood pressure had dropped “we need to give you a blood transfusion“. I signed some paperwork and fell in and out of sleep. I don’t fully remember having the transfusions.
The next morning we were transferred into another room “The butterfly suite”. This is a room isolated on the maternity ward for bereaved families. Throughout the day we were in company of family and friends who came to visit. It was really nice to see people but all I kept thinking all day was having another visit with my baby. I waited patiently for all our visitors to leave. First the nurse wanted me to get out of bed for a shower. This was incredibly difficult. The goal was to get out of bed and stand. The entire experience was painful, I thought for sure that my wounds would tear open. The nurse assured me nothing bad was going to happen and that the pain I was experiencing was normal. She helped me shower and get back into bed. When my husband returned back to the room, I asked to see my baby. He was wheeled back in his little bassinet. This time I noticed there was a little motor underneath hooked up to it. I later discovered this was called a cuddle cot and the motor was cooling a pad beneath his body.
As we spent time with Ethan, I touched his face for the first time. He was freezing cold to the touch and his face was firm. His nose however was still soft and squishy which was nice. I untucked his little hand from his wrap and held it in mine. “I want to hold him” I said to my husband. “I will get the nurse to help” he replied. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, my husband already decided he didn’t have the strength to hold Ethan himself, I didn’t mind. When I held Ethan, I took in everything I could. His beautiful face, his dark hair and how he felt in my arms. I unwrapped his hands and held them, I felt his feet also. I sat there for a while holding him and then started to cry. “I don’t want to let him go” I said. I had finally been given my baby boy, the baby I always wanted and now I don’t get to keep him.
The next few days in hospital I saw him as much as I could. On the last night I requested that they leave Ethan in the room with us. I wanted to spend one night with us altogether as a family. His bassinet was next to my bed and my husband was sleeping on a pull out chair in the corner. Throughout the night, I got up and just looked over him. He looked as if he could have just been sleeping. It felt comforting to know he was with us. The next day we said our goodbyes before leaving the hospital. It was a very hard moment to know it would be the last time we saw him. My husband looked down into the bassinet, his whole body shaking and tears running down his face. I was heartbroken just to see him like this. “Goodbye little man, we love you” he said. A nurse arrived with a wheelchair for me as I was still too weak to walk all the way out of hospital. I nursed a pot of flowers on my lap while my husband pushed the wheelchair. I felt so numb, carrying flowers out of the hospital instead of my baby. This really felt like a bad dream.
When we got to the car, I broke down. My husband held me for a moment before helping me into the car. Driving away from hospital I felt sad and even guilty for leaving for him there. It wasn’t meant to be like this. I was so scared to go home, I didn’t want to be there without Ethan. My best friend arrived at our house and waited for us so that we didn’t go in alone. It was comforting knowing we didn’t have to go through this by ourselves. My brother called that night and offered to come over in the morning to cook breakfast, that was really nice.
Over the next week our friends and family continued to come and keep us company. We were still in a state of shock, like being in a dream I was waiting to wake up from. Our friends organised an online fundraiser to help with funeral costs. We had an incredible about of money donated to us. Everyone wanted to help in some way. Soon it was time to visit the funeral home. I was shaking walking through the doors, wondering how on earth are we doing this. We were talked through ideas for a service and given a catalogue to look through of urns. We had already decided Ethan would be cremated so that we could bring him home. We booked a small service in the chapel and took the urn catalogue home. Over the next few days I looked for an urn. My husband told me he wanted a wooden box with Ethans hand and footprints engraved on it. I looked tirelessly through the catalogue for a box. Nothing was small enough for baby ashes. I began to stress over finding the perfect urn. “Don’t worry if you don’t find anything, just pick something we can bring him home in for now” my husband suggested. I ended up finding something I liked online, a baby blue urn. I thought it looked really nice. I was in contact with the celebrant who would be performing the service. She sent through suggestions for a speech, baby poems and music. My husband and I sat in bed together listening to the music which she suggested. After we decided on the music, I sat up late to type up my own speech. I wanted it to be perfect.
On the day of the funeral, I got into the car to leave and felt extremely anxious and sad. It was like the news had finally hit me that we had lost our baby. I felt more sad then about it than I had when they first told us in hospital. My husband held my hand as we drove to the funeral home. When we arrived, everyone was already there waiting. We each got a hug from family and friends before walking into the chapel. Inside, we saw a small white coffin on a table. “Was Ethan really inside?” I thought as I looked at it. I wasn’t sure if he really was or if this was just for show. I wanted to look inside and see my baby one more time, but I decided not to. The service was beautiful but also heartbreaking. I tried my best to keep myself together while sitting through it. I am so grateful we had everyone there for us, that we didn’t have to go through it alone.
Afterwards, everyone came back to our house for morning tea. My husbands family prepared the food while sat around talking. Over the next couple of weeks I stayed on bed rest while my husband helped me do things I couldn’t. My mum also came around to help with cleaning. When I felt strong enough to walk, we started walking everyday. One day I noticed a pain on my leg. I thought this was a strain from exercise and would soon go away. One afternoon, I was sitting on the lounge when I noticed my leg was really sore. It was unusual as I hadn’t been doing any exercise that day. By the evening, I got so sore, I was limping so we decided to go to the emergency room. They found a clot in my leg and prescribed blood thinning medication. For the next two weeks, my husband administered small injections of clexane into my stomach. They were small but stung a lot. I was later put on tablets to keep thinning my blood.
After six weeks on the medication, an ultrasound confirmed that I had no more clots in my leg “thank goodness”. It was soon leading up to my first Mother’s Day. I wanted to get a tattoo for the occasion. My husband also wanted one too so we booked in together. I got Ethans name and footprints tattooed on my arm, along with his date of birth and a feather. The feather came from the blanket I chose for Ethan in hospital. He was wrapped in this blanket the entire time, the feather will forever remind me of him. My husband got a tattoo of a pocket watch displaying Ethans name, date and time of birth. He wasn’t sure if he wanted Ethans hand or footprints so decided to leave that to another date. My tattoo is still growing on me. It is very strange looking at your skin and seeing something that will be there forever. I feel like it was something I had to do. I needed to have something that would keep Ethan close to me everyday. His footprints will now walk with me through life on my arm.
It’s been eight weeks since we lost Ethan and not a day goes by where I don’t think of him. It’s been extremely hard trying to navigate through the grief I have felt. It is like riding a roller coaster of emotions. It is exhausting, constantly stuck in my own mind trying to process everything I am feeling. Sometimes, everything comes crashing over me like a tidal wave and I feel like I am drowning in sorrow. I can’t breathe or think clearly and my life feels hopeless. Those moments scare me a lot because I don’t ever feel like I am going to get better or that life will ever be better. Each day, I try and work out how I will keep busy and spend my time. Most days I have no motivation to do anything. All my interests are gone. I miss my life from before, full of excitement and hope. I can still see my old life, on a timeline where everything was falling into place perfectly, I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life. I felt at peace with the world then because I knew my biggest dream was coming true and I was going to have a baby. Now I am living my worst nightmare, so dark that I never even imagined it would happen to me. I think the only real thing that is going to help me get through this is time. They say time is a great healer and I believe that too. There is no solution and nothing that will fix the situation. I know that’s why only time will.
My goal is to have another baby so we can finally be a family. I wish time would go really fast. I want my body healthy and ready for another pregnancy. I wish I could just sleep the entire year away until that moment. I have no interest in doing anything else. I don’t want to continue living through my grief because it is so hard. I have gone through every emotion possible to experience. First I was shocked, I was in disbelief. Next came sadness, darker than I have ever known. I have never been so sad in my entire life. Then I felt guilty, that I didn’t do enough to save my baby. I felt that I should have known something was wrong or was going to happen. The what if’s what have gone through my mind were so hard to try and process. “What if we had booked an earlier induction date?” Was the main thought I had constantly. If I had known then I could have booked just a day before and he might have had a chance. He was moving and kicking that day before, assuring me he was alright. I knew I couldn’t change the outcome of this or go back in time so it wasn’t worth dwelling on for very long. I felt very angry. It was unfair that it happened so suddenly and we weren’t given any warning. There were no signs leading up to this. Nothing came up in any of my routine tests, they were always perfect. I felt cheated that I had such a healthy baby and pregnancy and that he still taken from me. I felt angry that other people are blessed with babies that were either not planned or wanted. I will never understand any of this and why it happened. It’s really tested my faith in God. I have always believed that there is someone there watching over us. But how could he let this happen I’m not sure. There is no good reason for it and I refuse to try and think of one. I have to still believe in God because I want to imagine Ethan has gone to heaven and is being looked after up there, maybe by God, angels or passed relatives. I also would like to believe even though Ethan never opened his eyes, that he can see us and know who his Mummy and Daddy are.
I hope he can see how much he is missed and loved. I hope he can feel it from up there. I can’t hold him anymore or talk to him in person so I hope somehow he knows how much I love him. My arms are empty, and all I have is memories. I see his little face everyday, I never stop thinking of him, I am Ethans mother and he will always be my little baby. I am so sad it’s always going to be like this. I grieve for everything I will miss out on and what we will miss out on as a family. All his firsts that we will never get to see or experience with him. There’s a lifetime of memories that will never be made. As parents, we will always live with a huge piece missing from our lives. Even when we do have more children, he will always be missing from the picture. I will be sad that his siblings never got to meet or know him. He will be missing from every memory we make in the future. I will always be thinking “what if”.
It’s been eight weeks since we lost him. We are still lost and wondering what to do now. It is hard being home without him, it doesn’t matter where we go, it’s hard. It’s extremely hard going into public and seeing or hearing a newborn baby. It shakes me up to the core, it’s my biggest emotional trigger. I never got to see Ethan open his eyes, he never cried or even moved. I will never have the pleasure of being out in public pushing his pram or putting him in the car. I look at those other mothers and think if only they knew how lucky they were. No one knows what this is like unless they have been through it themselves. I never ever imagined I would experience this loss, there’s no way I could have ever prepared myself emotionally for it. It’s something that I have to learn to live with now. I know that that the pain will never go away and I will never stop missing him. I have to try and live my life balanced with happiness and grief. I wish I could just switch off the grief but I know that I can’t. Even when I smile, no one can see it but I still feel terrible pain. Some people have already told me they think I am strong and coping well. “No I’m not” I’m not coping and I’m not strong, you just see things that way because I have no other choice. I can only cry so much before I dry up and feel numb. Somehow after a good cry I manage to pull myself together and get on with the day. It’s like that only lasts for so long before I am ready to cry again. It goes around in circles sometimes and that’s how I manage to survive. And that’s really how I feel now, I’m not living anymore, my heart and soul broke when my baby died, now I am just surviving. I am conscious of life but so numb. The world continues on like nothing bad has happened. People keep living their lives as normal, focusing and worrying about things that seem so insignificant to me now. Nothing feels like it matters anymore because what really mattered to me is gone. It’s only now that I have realised how much I used to worry about that doesn’t really matter at all. I have grown to admire the simple things life has to offer. I am also grateful for what I do have already. My family and friends who have shown us unconditional love throughout all of this.