Sunday, August 17, 2014

Giving Birth to An Angel

What I write here is the most difficult blog post I have ever put together in my almost 6 years of blogging. The story itself is very excruciating for me to write and share, beyond drug-free labour pains, because it involves the loss of a child. An unborn child.

You read the above right.

My husband and I have unfortunately lost our much beloved and anticipated baby #2 at 30 weeks of gestation age on Friday morning. I don't know what big joke that life is throwing at us now, but it is not funny at all.

In the beginning, I was not willing to talk about this matter (at all) and deeply hesitated to share this part of my life in my blog because I wanted to keep this private affair as long as possible, even though sooner or later people will find out about this misfortune. Also, I don't intend to use the sob story involving my late baby son as a mean to drive my blog traffic. Nevertheless, I realized that I needed to pour the immense pain, devastation, sadness and grief that I am currently experiencing through writing (because it helps) and at the same time, locking all the memories of my second baby's arrival and demise for once and all. Perhaps Naomi could read this story too when she is older so she is aware of what happened to her little brother. Lastly, I sincerely hope that this piece would create awareness for other expecting parents about the importance of counting baby movements and going to the hospital right away the moment you feel something is wrong with your baby.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014

I sensed that baby #2 had not been moving much. Usually, throughout the day, my son would move around inside my tummy quite often. By afternoon, I still didn't worry much about this because the day before, baby #2 just showed me his latest milestone inside Mommy's womb: hiccuping. I was, in fact, tweeting about his first hiccups when he did that on Monday.

Moving on, I thought lying down or changing my position to left and right as I lied down on my bed would help me feel his fetal movements better but my boy was still pretty quiet. Then, after Naomi took her nap, I went to take my afternoon nap as well. When I woke up, I felt so strange because I still didn't feel my son had kicked me. I texted my husband about this.

As I waited for my husband to come home from work, I stimulated baby #2's movement by drinking cold milk, eating something light, using a torchlight directed to many spots in my tummy and pressing my tummy lightly with my fingers - hoping that my baby boy would react. Yet, I felt nothing much. In the evening, my husband asked me if baby #2 had moved so far and whether we should go to the hospital. I was not so sure because I thought maybe baby #2 was just sleeping or I was just not sensitive enough to feel his movements that day. Despite my BFF's burning advice, I failed to hit the ER right away that night.

As the clock ticked and showed past midnight, Naomi and my husband were already sleeping soundly. However, I had this very bad insomnia that literally kept me awake the whole night. I could not go to slumber-land, not due to I slept too much during the day but because I was so occupied trying to feel my baby's fetal movement and make my baby move. On top of that, I had extreme hungry pangs that I needed to feed myself with biscuits twice past midnight and at 4.30am, I had to wake my husband up to accompany me go to the kitchen downstairs and search for food.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

When my husband woke up early for work that morning, I woke up too and called the hospital to see if I could bring forward my gynae's appointment because my next antenatal appointment with her was only going to be on Saturday (16 August 2014). I told the hospital staff what happened to my baby and she said she would check with my gynae's nurse first. 10 minutes later, the nurse rang and asked me to go to the hospital to get my queue number. When my husband and I arrived to the hospital, my queue number was already 13. While I thought I could get the priority to see my gynae earlier that morning, given my case, I was told to go home and come back to the hospital at 11.30am because I had to queue just like the other patients anyway. The three of us went home.

At about 12pm, the nurse finally called my name to see the gynae. I went inside to see her alone because my husband was busy chasing Naomi who ran around inside the hospital. I shared with my gynae about my worry and she directed me to do the ultrasound scan.

The moment she scanned my tummy and showed the image of baby #2, I knew something was amiss. I didn't really notice any movement of baby #2 in the screen in front of me but my gynae didn't say anything. Instead, she asked me, "Are you alone? Where is your husband?"

In a bit, my husband came in with Naomi. He was still jolly and looked forward to see his baby boy via the USG scan as usual.

Nonetheless, as he walked closer to the seat where he usually sits to watch the gynae scan my tummy, my gynae informed him, "I have a not so good news for you. Your baby has no heartbeat." My husband sat down. I was stunned and confused. My heart skipped a beat. Or maybe two or three. I could not process what I just heard for a long time.

My husband looked at me and the screen in disbelief while the gynae continued scanning my tummy. Then, I kept asking her: "Why? What happened? How Come?" She replied, "I am so sorry but your baby is gone. Looking from his head's shape, it looks like he had gone for more than 24 hours already." I said, "Then how? Is it because I came to the hospital late? Can you bring him back to life?"  The gynae convinced me that even if I came to the hospital the day before, my boy would likely had gone for a long time anyway. Even if doctor managed to take him out of my womb alive, there's huge chance that my son would not survive after birth or live a normal life either. There was nothing we could do.

From the ultrasound scan, the gynae could not detect anything wrong with my baby boy because all this while I had a problem-free pregnancy, my son was healthy and showed no sign of issues plus his umbilical cord didn't strangle his neck or anything like that. The gynae suspected that the culprit could be insufficient oxygen supply, green amniotic water or other infection. Basically, the gynae could only precisely find out the cause of the death after she delivered the baby.

After she's done with the scan, the gynae advised my husband and me to go home and notify our parents. She told me to spend more time with my husband to talk this through and eventually set the date to come back to the hospital again to deliver the baby. The instant she spoke about delivering the baby, I knew the unthinkable was really happening. My husband immediately told the gynae that we would come back to the hospital tomorrow morning to deliver the baby. Next, my gynae briefly told us the options we had for the baby delivery but she said she would elaborate more when she met us at the labor room the next day.

My husband began crying as soon as we waited to pay the hospital's bill. In the meantime, I was still composed but mostly in denial. When I paid the bill, the cashier seemed to recognize me and greeted, "Hi! Do you still remember me? We met at the cafeteria some time ago. How are you? How is your pregnancy? Are you still having nausea and all?" 

I responded her in a stuttering manner that I had just lost the baby and tears began rolling down my eyes. That was the first time I cried about my poor son and the miserable feeling sank in.

THE WAIT

Shortly after we came home, I rang my parents in Indonesia and broke the news to them. I was crying and asked them if they could come to Malaysia soon. Too bad, the earliest ticket available for them to fly into Kuala Lumpur was Sunday night (17 August 2014), which means I will have to go through these difficult days without the presence of my parents here. The next person I informed about this was my BFF in Indonesia and my client because I still have liabilities with the company until the end of this month.

What happened later in the afternoon after we came home from the hospital is fuzzy to me right now. I can't remember whether I was crying my eyes out or mourning or sleeping but I supposed I already had panic attack about the baby delivery because I was not prepared at all to be induced or cut open in the next morning. My husband only communicated about this loss to his Mom few hours after we got home. I guess he was waiting for the right moment when he already organized his thoughts before breaking the most unexpected heart-breaking news to his parents.

Later that evening, I began packing my hospital bag and Naomi's bag as she would have to stay with her grandparents when my husband and I were away at the hospital. By this time, part of me already accepted that my baby boy was really already gone and worried more about the delivery. However, often times, I still could not believe that this loss was real. I felt like I was just dreaming a bad dream with my eyes wide opened.

My parents and mother-in-law strongly advised me to go for C-section to deliver the baby because for them, my safety was the utmost priority now and it looked rather pointless for me to go through such a long and tormenting vaginal birth to deliver a still born. My husband supported this idea as well.

I got so tired and slept early that night but woke up at around 5am because I had panic attack about the baby delivery again. In addition, I dreaded the potential of meeting my lifeless baby in person after I delivered him because I was mentally not ready for this event. No woman is ever ready for this.

THE BABY DELIVERY

Thursday, 14 August 2014

At about 8.50am, my husband and I arrived to MIL's house and dropped Naomi there. We arrived at the hospital at 9am something. After finding a car park and got off the car, I asked my husband if he'd like to take a photo of me pregnant with baby #2 for the last time. He shook his head and continued walking to the hospital's entrance. Once we registered my name, we headed to the labour room upstairs.

In the labour room, as we waited for my gynae to come because she was in the OT, I had panic attack for the third time for about 2 hours or so. I was still indecisive with my preferred method of still birth delivery; hence my baby delivery process could not be started. In the interim, the nurse in-charge briefed my husband and me about what was going to happen with our baby post delivery and what we should do with the remains. In principle, the Malaysian law requires hospitals to issue the baby remains (whose weight is already more than 500gr) back to the parents. The parents would then have to do a burial or cremation as per the parents' belief/religion and inform the government (JPN) about this to get the death certificate of the deceased baby. So much overwhelming information for our brains to digest and so much things to do in such short notice.

As much as I could not believe what's going on, I had to quickly organize a burial for my son soon after he was delivered. My husband and I deliberated over this issue and we agreed to do it in Christian way.

At about 10.45am, my gynae came to the labour room and I expressed to her that I was fearful with the imminent labour, way more fearful than my first giving birth experience. She then asked my husband and me to sit down; took a paper and a pen, and explained to us in depth about the differences and consequences of delivering a still born baby via C-section and natural birth.

She illuminated that while C-section would guarantee a faster and less painful labour process, it possesses higher bleeding risk for the mother afterwards. Recovering from C-section wound would take longer time for the mother too. Further, I would have to wait for at least 6 months to 1 year to be able to try conceiving a baby again to make sure that my uterus has recovered well from the cut. Should I give birth vaginally, provided if I recover well, I could begin trying to get pregnant again as soon as my confinement is over.

Considering the last factor, I followed my gynae's recommendation and went ahead with her plan: To induce my labour vaginally and if 8 hours later, there was no labour progress at all, she would go ahead with C-section. However, if there was progress with the labour after 8 hours, I could take epidural as soon as I reached 3cm dilation for vaginal delivery. Fair enough.

11am: The gynae checked if I already had any dilatation but I was 0 cm dilated. Soon, the gynae inserted a pill into my lady bits to induce labour. I was then asked to lie down for 30 minutes for the medicine to kick in. After that, I could go to toilet, eat, walk around, etc. and just wait for the signs of labour.

12pm: I told my husband that perhaps I should call the church's Reverend to arrange everything while my brain could think straight because once the painful labour started, I would not be able to do much with the arrangement. My husband asked me to make that initial call to the Reverend and I made that phone call outside the labour room. Again, stuttering and crying, I told the Reverend what happened to me and that I would like to rope in his assistance to give my little boy a proper send-off when he's born.

1pm: No sign of contraction nor bloody show as yet. I was still hopeful that God would give me a miracle - my boy would kick me hard and be born alive.

1.30pm: My husband left the hospital to buy lunch. Each time I went out of the labour room to go to the toilet or take a walk, I saw baby bed trolleys and wondered if my son would be put there later. I heard newborn cried from the other room too. In total, I heard 3 newborn cries that day. I hate to say this but those cries made my heart ached and envious.

2.30pm: I began to feel mild stomach tightening. My husband came back to the hospital with some pizzas and brought my laptop so we could watch a movie to kill the time while waiting for my contractions to come. My husband watched Gulliver's Travel but the movie sucks.

5pm: The contractions had officially started. They were not severely painful but quite painful and came at 10 minutes' intervals or so.

5.30pm: I asked my husband to go home, have his dinner first and check on Naomi at MIL's house.

6pm: My dinner was served and I managed to eat most of it while succumbing the sharp contraction pains.

8pm: My gynae came over to check on my labour progress. She said the induction was successful because I was 1 cm dilated already and no C-section required. She mentioned that my 1 cm progress was normal and expected to me to progress to another 1 cm in the next 8 hours and another 1 cm again in another 8 hours. This said, just to get to the 3cm opening, I would need to go through 3 x 8 hours of contraction pains and she predicted I could only get my epidural at around 10am the next morning. Only after I reached 3cm, the dilation would move very fast to be fully dilated. Sounds like never ending sufferings, right? Anyway, at this stage, she offered me to get pethidine shot in the buttock to drowse me should the contractions pain got unbearable before I reached 3cm dilation.

8.30pm: I was moved to the ward instead from the labour room so my husband could rest better as we waited for my labour progressed, which could take forever.

9pm: A nurse from the labour room came to check on me and advised me to call the labour room anytime I got the feeling to pass motion.

11pm: My husband asked me if I wanted to get the pethidine shot so I could sleep. I was very sleepy but restless because I kept feeling the contraction pains. I was still adamant not to take any painkiller and asked my husband to sleep first. The nurse from the labour room came again to check on my contractions and told me again if I got the urge to push, I would need to inform the labour room staff. Still no bloody show and thought that I was not even 2cm dilated at this point.

12am: I was very tired and sleepy but barely able to sleep because of the non-stop waves of contractions. I held on to the nurse bell for the past few minutes every time the contractions hit me but I had yet to press the red button. When one very painful contraction struck me, I pressed the red button and urgently requested the pethidine. I thought I really needed to rest for the night as my fight with the labour was not even half way yet. Tomorrow would be another day of big long battle for me.

Friday, 15 August 2014

12.10am: The pethidine shot was jabbed to my buttock and an anti-vomit shot was also given.

12.30am: I got pretty sleepy and every time I closed my eyes, I felt so good. However, the contractions pains were not reduced even a bit. In fact, they got stronger and lasted longer. My husband saw me moaning in pain. He asked me why I was not sleeping yet and how come the medicine didn't lessen the pain but seemed to make my pains worse.

1am: The contraction pains had gone to a whole different level and magnitude. I had the strong urge to pee and push. I pressed the red button again, screamed to the ward nurse who came over and told her that I had the feeling to poop. The nurse answered, "Oh, you want to pass motion?" and she opened the stupid toilet door. I was wrathful and screamed "NO! CALL THE LABOUR ROOM AND GET THE DOCTOR!". She frantically left my room and ran to the labour room.

1.10am: Few nurses wheeled me to the labour room and as much as I could remember, on my way to the labour room I was screaming in pain, like a crazy woman, begging for help.

1.30am: The nurse checked on my lady bits and mumbled to her colleague saying that my baby had reached my perineum. The VERY PAINFUL contractions came by almost every minute. They mostly felt like strong urge to pee and push but I was always told to breathe in and out. I was not allowed to push as the doctor was not there yet. I got really mad every time the nurse told me not to push yet and breathe instead. I shouted, "YOU! WHY YOU CANNOT HELP TAKE THE BABY OUT OF ME?" I think one nurse/midwife got pretty offended and replied, "I can take the baby out lah. But you wait for the doctor first."  Few minutes later, the gynae finally came and I began pushing. I felt gush of warm water coming out in between my legs. Although, I was in so much pain and could not wait for everything to be over, I was still hoping my baby boy would be breathing, crying and all when he came out.

1.40am: After few agonizing and hard pushes, my baby boy was born. Sadly, my baby boy was truly born asleep. My gynae and few nurses quickly examined his cause of death right after he was taken out from my womb. My son's umbilical cord formed a true knot (the gynae had to untie it manually later on) and twisted in one of his legs This very rare cord accident cut off my son's oxygen supply from the placenta. As a result, my water had turned green too. I was then cleaned up and no episiotomy was needed this time around.

1.50am: I was asked to lie in the labour room's bed for another 1 hour before being sent to the ward again. The nurse brought my baby boy outside to clean him.

2.00am: My husband came to the labour room and sat next to me. He was sobbing. Moving on, a nurse came over and told us that our son was already cleaned and if we'd like to meet him before he's sent to the freezer. She said we should tell her about this ASAP because they couldn't keep my son in the labour room's area for too long. I was exhausted from the labour and pretty high from the pethidine's effect. As much as I wanted to think straight about everything or even mourn, I could not. My husband and I cried while discussing whether we should see our son or not. Seemingly, making the decision to see our own deceased baby was not that simple and easy because we were emotionally not ready. So many upsetting events happened in fast pace in less than 3 x 24 hours.

2.10am: My husband told the nurse that we wanted to see the baby. The nurse brought our son over to the labour room. My husband saw him first. I told the nurse to just show me his face. We had a good look of him for few minutes but we didn't hold him in our arms, let alone kiss him (which I will eternally regret). The nurse asked if my husband would like to take a picture of him but my husband declined. My son looked just like his sister when she was a newborn but he inherited Daddy's nose. He's so handsome and had a head full of hair. My husband said, our boy was pretty hairy that he had hair on his legs too. My husband was still crying and voiced to me that instead of cremating the baby's remains as he originally planned, we would bury him later that day. I agreed.

2.30am: I was wheeled back to my ward so I could rest.

4.00am: I woke up from my brief night sleep because I noticed my husband who sat next to me had not been sleeping at all since I delivered our son few hours ago. He had been crying for hours for his son, alone. We both then settled our son's name: DYLAN. I thought I wanted to give our son a different name and keep Dylan for future use because I like that name so much. But then again, baby #2 is Dylan. Our sleeping angel is the one and only Dylan for us.

THE FAREWELL

My husband and I woke up at around 8am to a rainy morning. When I opened my eyes, I still could not swallow the entire ordeals that I had gone through in the past couple of days. After my husband went to the toilet to freshen up, the first thing he did was to pick his phone up and make further arrangements of our son's burial with the undertaker and Reverend.

On Friday morning, the Reverend and his wife came over to the hospital to visit me. He did a short counselling to both my husband and me as well as briefing us about Dylan's burial ceremony that would take place once I got discharged from the hospital.

By 10am, I was brought to see my gynae for ultrasound scan and declared good to go home. Just before we checked out the hospital and packed our belongings in my ward, my husband decided to get baby Dylan's body from the undertaker and bring him to the room. My husband opened the carton box where the hospital kept our baby's cold body. My husband had a thorough look at his son once more and took a picture of him. I still refused to see him again because I was afraid I could not contain my sadness any longer. Dylan's image from the last night stuck in my head and I could not forget every bit of his face.

We left the hospital at 11am and went straight to the cemetery. Naomi was with my parents-in-law and they drove to the cemetery in a different car. On our way to the cemetery, I remember I told myself that this world is just one crazy world to live in. I could not believe that my husband and I were driving to the cemetery right after we left the hospital from delivering a baby. Instead of bringing Dylan home, we were sending him to a cemetery. Soon, we had to see our son sleeping in a tiny coffin instead of in his warm and cozy baby cot. Crushed is not even the correct word to describe our feelings.

At about 11.30am, we all arrived to the burial ground and the Reverend led the burial processing. The sun had risen and it was not raining any more. Dylan's burial ceremony was very solemn, straightforward, short and heart wrenching. My husband and I got to see Dylan again for one last time before he went to his final rest. And that marked our very last good-bye to our little angel.

Our loss, heaven's gain.

"Sleep well and sweet dream, Dylan, my irreplaceable son. 
You're the most handsome little chap Mommy had ever seen.
Mom and Dad can't take care of you now but we will when we see you again. 
Meanwhile, be a good boy up there. 
You are more than safe in God's arms.
No day is spent without missing you.
Much love, hugs, cuddles and kisses from Mom and Dad."

P/S: To friends and family who happened to read this post. While I am very much grateful for your concern on Baby Dylan's passing, I would really appreciate if you could refrain from personally asking further clarification or more detailed story from us during this difficult time. We are not over with grieving yet and it still pains every single cell of us, every time we have to recall and recite the above story to those who don't know. Thank you for your understanding.

19 comments:

  1. Don't know what to say, so sorry to hear, hugs.

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  2. So sorry to hear this. My deepest condolences. Please take care! *sobs*

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  3. Christine, I cried reading your blog.. But then what is my sadness compared to what you are feeling..My deepest condolences to you.. Take good care of yourself please..
    - Sabita-

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  4. Reading about your loss made me cry along with you, especially when baby Dylan shares the same name as my son. Deepest condolences. Hugs.

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  5. My deepest condolences to you. I hope the grieving period will be short and there will be a better tomorrow.

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  6. Thank you all, for your concerns and kind words during this difficult time. Much appreciated indeed.

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  7. So sorry to hear about this. Been following your blog for a while and you are one amazing woman. Condolences to you and your family. Stay strong and may God bless you all always!

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  8. Condolences to you and family. It is heart wrenching that this happened. Pls be strong. Baby Dylan is now by God's side.

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  9. Dear Christine, I have been following your blog for a while. My deepest condolences to you and your family. You are a strong woman to have gone through the ordeal. May God bless you and your family always.

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  10. My heart aches for you. No parent should ever have to go through this, and I will never understand why God chooses to take away lives in this manner. You're very strong, to be able to even write about all this in such excruciating detail. Thank you for sharing your story. Dylan will be remembered by all of us who have read this post. Big big hugs.

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    1. I agree. I still cannot comprehend why God takes away such young lives like this either... No one knows His plans for us. I am just hoping for a rainbow after all this storm. Thank you for your kind words.

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  11. Thank you all very much for your condolence messages, supports and comforts. Much appreciated.

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  12. Hi christine ,
    Im nobody to you. Just a silent reader. I just found your page while searching about cloth diapers. Girl, i cannot stop my tears. Your dylan will always here, in your reader's heart. Now i know the feeling of losing when it happened to my sister 8 years ago.You are so brave to tell us the whole story . Im a moslem but i will pray for your little angel and pray the best for you, your husband and naomi. -eila

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    1. Hi Eila, thank you for your sympathy and prayers for Baby Dylan. We love him but obviously God loves him more.

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  13. I wept with you Christine as I read your entry...I've lost 3 babies and the feelings of shock, denial, self-reproach, doubts, anger and searing pain just hit you in waves...Nothing people say or do will be able to take away the grief we feel and it'll remain a part of our lives forever. I pray Dylan will be able to feel how much Daddy and Mommy loves him, and on that blessed day, he'll run with arms wide open into your embrace as you reunite in Heaven. Big hugs...

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    1. Thanks, Angie. You're such a strong woman and mother.. Yes, I guess nothing would be able to take away the pain we feel from losing our baby like this. Like you said, once our child, always our child. Wherever they are.

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  14. Dear Christine,

    I read through everything feeling that all too familiar pang of heartache and tears were coming down because I feel the same. Exactly the same.

    I lost my baby son three months ago at 26 weeks gestational age and like you i felt lack of movement almost the entire week before his death. I just didn't know what movements were yet. It was at that grey area between guessing kicks and feeling defined kicks. Also, he was my first born.

    I wrote a note on fb to document my entire account too. https://www.facebook.com/notes/jolene-lai/heartbroken/10152910187229822?pnref=story

    Big hug to you mummy.

    I'm also looking forward to try again as soon as recommended.

    I too miss the feeling of being pregnant and I too want to will myself to open my eyes from this nightmare but it is such a painful reality.

    I too can't believe I am in this Baby Loss Club for life. FOR LIFE.

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    1. Dear Jolene,

      Thanks for commenting here. I've recently reached out to you in your instagram acc if you remember. Yes, we are trying for another baby now.. It's been 6 months plus but so far no good news yet. Never thought it'd be that hard since we conceived Naomi after 4 mo of trying and we're succesful being pregnant with Dylan after just 1 mo trying... Good luck and take care!

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