The Day My Baby Died To Save Me

The bleakness of winter holds no strength against the force of life that Spring brings with it.

He came into my life like sunshine, stretching itself out from behind the clouds to light the day.  There is the hope that comes from being in the arms of a new, beloved companion and security in the knowledge that life is evolving, moving on, giving me new beginnings.

The discovery that there is new life growing inside me is at once both surprising and joyous. My unborn baby blew into my life like a summer wind: refreshing yet completely unexpected. There is never a question of how much this is wanted, only a question of how best to prepare ourselves for the arrival. We are soon going to be a new family. I feel amazed: somehow it feels like I have been bestowed a great honour…

And so….exciting. It’s no secret that I had wanted another baby one day…obviously the circumstances are different now, life has changed so fast in such a short amount of time, but the joy of bringing new life into the world is still the same to my mother heart.

And then the bleeding starts….such a small amount that I keep denying it is anything significant. I put my boys to bed and sit down on the couch and it hits me. The pain. There is a massive stabbing pain on my right side which sends shooting pains into my pelvis and down my leg. My leg is feeling a strange tingling sensation, like pins and needles with numbness. I don’t worry. This is my third pregnancy, and I know that bodies can do unpredictable things as they adjust to the growing life inside them. During the night, I am wide awake with pain in the back kidney area on both sides. Aha, I realise, I have not been drinking enough and my body is dehydrated and worn out because of that. By morning, I am doubled over in pain. I know that getting into my doctor at short notice is akin to stumbling across rare whale ambergris on a crowded beach in the middle of summer. I soon add fever to my list of maladies and soon suspect a kidney infection. I organise my boys to be cared for and get examined at the emergency department of the hospital. After taking routine blood tests, it soon becomes clear that something is very wrong.

The pregnancy is confirmed, but my body is showing signs of a huge infection, yet my kidney function comes back normal. The pain on my right side increases…I can barely move from the pain. I am referred for an ultrasound, in the hopes that it may confirm what is now a tentative diagnosis of appendicitis. No appendix is visible on the ultrasound, which I am informed is quite common, and when my uterus is examined, no baby is found either. The Gynaecological team announce that the baby must have already been miscarried, but I know for sure that the limited amount of blood I have passed does not equal the loss of the baby inside me. There is only one reasonable cause, in my mind. If my baby is not in my womb, then it must be somewhere else within me.

Ectopic pregnancy is mentioned, but glossed over. I am told I am not in enough pain, therefore it is not evident. My blood functions worsen; it is decided that my appendix must be removed immediately and I am prepped for surgery. There is no time to inform the ones I love what is happening. I am wheeled away and informed that because the diagnosis cannot be confirmed completely before the surgery, I should sign the consent form giving permission for further exploratory surgery, should it be needed. I am feeling horrid and ghastly by now, and I know that whatever is happening inside me, above all of my own needs, my whole body is fighting for the life of my unborn child.

There is a flurry of activity around me, a fast moving world that I cannot become a part of. The awakening. The movement begins to affect my body: a blanket placed over me here and another lure inserted into my vein there. Slow Down, I implore with my mind, my voice hidden somewhere under a haze of oxygen masks and deep sleep. As if in reply, I feel a soft but firm hand on the side of my face. My sense of touch feels heightened, while the rest of my senses are failing me, making everything feel far away, removed from impacting upon me. Rebecca. The owner of the hand speaks now, and I force myself to focus on the kindly nurse in front of me. I already know the truth, yet this is still all new information to take in. I hear and comprehend without understanding. It is lost in a haze of words that transport me deeper out into a sea of disbelief.

I am overboard and I swim to carve out clarity amongst the waves that are crashing over me. It was ectopic. Appendix was fine. Fallopian tube ruptured. Internal bleeding. A lot of blood. Life threatening. All Removed. Mrs Kindly Nurse turns away, busy focussing on the drip transfusing into the back of my hand. Now I have understanding, but ache for more clarity. I try to speak but nothing comes out. A jolt of urgency acts like a lawn mower choke upon my throat and I cough out, “My baby…my baby is gone.” It is more of a statement than a question and a sympathetic nod and hand on mine greets me as confirmation.

Then comes the grieving….the going home; the physical pain of major surgery; the pretend dance of normalcy for my boys; the dark nights alone after my love goes back home and sadly slowly slips away from my life; the wondering, anguished and desperate questioning of whether any of it meant anything at all…..I had fought against dying and survived, yet my baby had not.

Love is not a victory march; it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

-Leonard Cohen

A precious life….Borne of love so deep, so sweet, so pure. You sprang forth from the love he gave to me. You found your home inside of me, and grew embedded in a place both secret and unique. My womb cried out with a longing to embrace and nurture you, but was left wanting, abandoned and afraid for you. I fought so hard to protect you and save you. My body grew battle weary from the fight; broken open from the war. And still, you fought so hard to stay. I slept a deep and dreamless sleep and woke to find you gone. Lifted from my incised and bleeding body.

I will never look upon your face; I shall never feel your heart beating in time with mine as I hold you against my chest and breathe in the essence that is you. Your essence. This world will never know it, but it will always live in me, an undying ember that warms the blood that pumps through my maternal heart while simultaneously igniting an eternal flame far from me; one that I shall never get the privilege to be illuminated by.

Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, heart of my heart. You died to save my life. I could not save you. You could only save me.

Now I live on while you remain here in this eternal moment. I live for us both.

With Much Love,

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