“We all have a ‘why’….
…. and this is my ‘why’ and why Oscar’s Wish Foundation is my life, raising awareness is my passion and supporting others will be our legacy…..
…… please note that this is very personal and has taken every ounce of energy to write, please read respectively with an open and understanding heart. Thank you……..
Contains- heartbreak, love and loss
Since losing Oscar in November 2014, I could not count on ten hands (I don’t mean fingers) the number of people who have asked if I had to still deliver him even though he had died in my tummy…
(It is so important that people feel that they can ask, I am more than happy, if not, honoured to answer)
The answer is Yes. Yes I did.
Oscar was a fully formed, viable human being…..With a gorgeous little face and a long, formed body, I could see how delicately perfect he was. I was just 26 weeks pregnant when his heart stopped beating.
He was as long as an A4 piece of paper and fitted perfectly into my arms, like he was made just for me. He was bigger than I was lead to believe and going through labour, labour pains and birthing him was what my body and soul remembers the most.
He wasn’t just going to be absorbed back in to my body, or expel himself from my womb like myths or imaginations believe…. . His heart had stopped beating and he needed to come into the world. When labour started I was at home, alone. I was rushed to the hospital and I had to push my little boy out just like I would have if he was going to be born alive.
It was completely terrifying. The journey to the hospital in the car was the scariest experience I have ever experienced…. Knowing that something wasn’t right, but knowing it was my responsibility to protect my child. My unborn, 14 week early child.
Childbirth is difficult enough in itself without the added terror of giving birth to your sleeping baby. We have more than likely all watched one born every minute or heard friends birth stories….. But rushing through my mind and body was an over protective, powerful rush that I had no understanding of.
“I’m just 6 months pregnant, I’ve been on bed rest since 20 weeks and not allowed to get up for a wee… I’ve hardly moved, hardly dared to move a muscle”. My waters had broken at 18 weeks pregnant (unknowingly- and wasn’t picked up by the hospital until my 20 week scan) so everything about pregnancy I had learnt through the years was going in a total opposite direction.
Lying in the hospital bed (keeping my eyes sewn shut for fear that if I opened them I might believe that this was the reality) I panted and drew breath like it was my last. Hours before I had been told that my babies heart had stopped beating….. What?
Yes, my baby had died. Tears too scared to flow out of my eyes, my brother rubbed my back, my mum groomed my hair and my sister said anything that was reassuring. “Brighton looks so beautiful from your window, all the stars are out”.
My pregnant sister in law was sat outside the room, her heart breaking at every scream that she heard. My best friend was being strong and although her tears were welling in her eyes she knew that I couldn’t believe what the doctors had said. I wouldn’t believe them until my baby was on my chest or in my arms.
The hours passed. The clock ticked. My heart broke with every passing second.
Knowing that every single agonising but truly special contraction was the journey that was leading me to my first hello with my little boy. This overwhelming knowledge was too hard to comprehend and I wished those moments could last a lifetime. I didn’t want the contractions to end because the reality was that that was it…..Knowing that once we had all met him we were going to be counting down the hours until our last good bye.
It was simply soul destroying.. Words cannot physically explain the pain…. That day my soul was destroyed.
I still insisted to myself that he was going to be born alive, “I don’t believe them, they have made a horrible mistake, I don’t believe them” I tried to console myself with tears the size of golf balls falling out of my eyes….
My mind was all over the place and although I remember every second, I wanted to know every stage. I refused pain relief because I wanted to know everything that I physically could. This surprised me as I cry at a paper cut! My body and mind was focused and knowing that my time with him was limited I couldn’t risk not knowing him at every stage…. I remember my brain zoning out and one minute I was excited thinking of names and middles names (forgetting that he was going to be born sleeping) and then the next minute I was terrified and living my worst nightmare- one that I could never have imagined.
It all felt like an out of control roller coaster that I couldn’t stop, change or get off of. There were so many conflicting emotions running through my mind literally at once. My mind and my body wasn’t coping. Slowly I was breaking and pressure was too much.
I was really starting to struggle with the pain- both physical and emotional. “Come on Gemma, you have to do this” talking to myself helped to calm me a little….
I remember repeatedly shouting to my family that I simply couldn’t do it. “I can’t do it, I just can’t. Please stop. Please make this all stop!”
I couldn’t bare to open my eyes to the reality. I felt a developmental regression and my eyes stayed shut, like they were super glued…. just like when children are scared and they freeze to the spot and close their eyes tight. That was exactly what was happening to me. I just wanted my mummy. I knew that if I opened my eyes I was closer to seeing my baby sleeping.
At times I saw my life flash images behind my eye lids. Pushing him in his Pram at the park, taking long walks around the local pond and visiting family and friends with my little pickle. Then those images disappeared and it was black. Dark and cold.
…..Minutes turned into painful hours and the knowledge that he had been growing and living in my womb, doing somersaults and kicking my bladder hours before seemed like a figment of my imagination. I had heard his heartbeat just days before.. 5 days before. It was strong and like a melancholy. How can this be happening?
My brother went and found a midwife as there wasn’t one present and the pain increased by 1,000… “Have some gas and air” she said. “No!” I remember saying powerfully as I breathed through another contraction. Initially, I turned it down….And continued to refuse it. I was constantly sick during this time and nothing was going to make me feel better. I didn’t want it too.
I just wanted my baby to be breathing.
Admittedly, I know a massive part of me was punishing myself. I felt like I was dying. Like I had little time left. I felt like I deserved to be in agony because I could not protect him. I was letting him down and I was failing my son. Questions and thoughts whirred around in a lush mash, what if I hadn’t been working so hard recently- would he have been ok?” And “maybe if I hadn’t been a vegetarian, would my womb and amniotic sac have been stronger?”
Maybe I just didn’t grow him “right.” Or give him everything he needed? Labouring without pain relief punished me and lead me to believe that I deserved to feel every last agonising second of every last contraction.
I broke down intermittently as moments of reality filled the hospital room… My family comforted me and told me in a soothing way that none of this was my fault and none of it was the baby’s fault. “Come on Gemma, please just have the Morphine, or at least the gas and air?”
Being honest now, I was hurting. The pain was excruciating but I wasn’t giving in. All of my choices up until now had been taken away from me and this was the last thing I had any say in. “Come on Gemma, please.. You don’t need to go through this pain?”
Yes. Yes I do. Not just now but for every single day of my life. No morphine or gas and Air is going to bring him back. No begging me to “help myself” is going to ever stop the pain. If I was having a “normal” (whatever that is?) labour I would rationally believe that I didn’t have to punish myself and didn’t have to be uncomfortable. But this was NOT a normal labour……
I looked at my mum and my brother who were being so brave. They were fuelled with love for my unborn child but honestly…. They were hurting to see me in pain. I quickly closed my eyes as I knew at this point they were struggling too. That hurt. I was causing an unimaginable pain to my family. Unintentionally and innocently I couldn’t stop this.
I squeezed my brothers hand the hardest I ever have as if to tell him “it’s okay, I can do this and I will because you are all here with me”.
Another flash entered my mind as the fear of not knowing what my baby would look like washed over me. “What if I can’t hold him?” “What if I don’t make it?” I could feel the cannula digging in my hand, I wanted to rip it out and run. Run away from everything around me and protect my son. I had 2 at this point, 1 in each hand. I was finally examined as my brother urged a midwife off of the ward as I felt a “pop”.
“My baby is coming, it’s there!” I shouted. My eyes were still glued shut and I remember hearing my mums reassuring voice. “Yes, I can see babies legs”. Sure enough (and being breech) he was making his way into he world. It was a moment of feelings flooding my mind. I wanted to bottle these moments forever but it seemed to be getting quicker. “Stop, stop!” I’m not ready to meet him? I still have 14 weeks of getting to know him:her? Time sped up, the room became frantic and two midwives rushed in ready to “inspect” me. Within seconds the end of the bed was dropped, the pain increased even more and I pushed like I was pushing a broken down train through a storm.
Stop, I kept thinking, please stop. Why is this happening to us? To my baby?
It was 12.40am, and I was shaking violently, my bed rattled against the wall as my body went into complete meltdown. Adrenaline and the total shock took over. Shit. Game over.
I wasn’t ready for what happened next…. “It’s a boy!” Was the faint echo I could hear. Everything seemed to slow right now but go so fast at the same time. I was crying so much that I could not see. The only way to describe what happened next was like I was drowning. I was under water and was looking up. All I could see was blurred, trying to breathe and shout “Please, please!” With no sound coming out. The pressure of being pushed down into the water further but not being able to swim back up.
Fighting my self to stop shaking and holding on to anything I could, the bed rail, my brother…. It was like a slow moment flash of my life in front of me. I could barely focus but saw the outline of my mum cradling something, smiling with such pride but couldn’t make out what it was? “Gemma, he is a boy, you’ve had a baby boy!” I was exhausted, elated and petrified. This part is a blur because of the adrenaline but I remember seeing my mum hiding in the curtain while I shaked without control of anything just desperately wanting to touch him, hold him. My baby.
I would give the world to turn back to this day. It was the single most painful experience of my life and I don’t ever expect anything to come close to it. But I would do it again in a heart beat, without hesitation, just to give
This my ‘why’ and the reason Oscar’s Wish Foundation means everything to me….www.oscarswishfoundation.co.uk
Oscar’s Wish Foundation (OWF) offers comfort, advice and support to parents and families who have lost a precious baby due to stillbirth and neonatal death.