This was written in april 1999 and lots of these feelings have changed, I decided to still post it in the hope that someone else may able to understand and not feel so alone in their thoughts
Graceís story I want to tell your story from the very start. On September 25th 1997 I had a miscarriage, I was devastated to say the least. This baby was due on the 26th of May. For eight months I tried to fall pregnant again. In the last month (before I knew you were conceived) I told your Dad I couldnít try again as it was tearing me apart. On the 26th may 98 Daddy took the day off work to be there for me and I am sure this is the day you were conceived. My extra special gift from God to make up for my previous heartache. On your cousin Markís birthday I was pretty sure I was pregnant and I did a home pregnancy test that day and there it was a faint blue line. You were on your way. We didnít tell family that day as I wanted to get to the doctorís to be double sure. We were living in Nannyís house at this stage.
The doctor confirmed you were there and told me not to get too excited yet. The next couple of weeks were very hard. I was forever going to the toilet to see if there was any blood. At 6 weeks I had a brown discharge and started to panic madly. Auntie Susie came down to reassure me on one of those days. On the day of spotting Dr. P sent me for an ultrasound and there you were with your little heart beating. I was to bedrest for awhile and then there was no more spotting.
I was always worried about my blood pressure in this pregnancy and at 5 weeks I told Dr P all theyíd told me after Zac was born: that I would have to see an obstretician from the start , to take aspirin from the start. He told me that if we did all this they would class me as a high-risk pregnancy therefore ruling out natural childbirth. At this time natural childbirth seemed important to me so I took his advice.(IF ONLY I hadnít if only Iíd demanded that he do these things. My precious girl you might still be here today.) I told him I was worried about my blood pressure hurting you and he told me he didnít think it was a problem.(IF ONLY) At seven weeks you drove all my worries of miscarriage out the door.
I was SO sick. I couldnít stand coffee or the smell of it. I hated strong perfume and the smell of petrol. I couldnít even look at the food catalogues because the sight of raw meat nauseated me. I would vomit all day and most of the night. The next two weeks I was in and out of hospital three times. I remember at my lowest peek wishing you would miscarry so I could be normal and look after Zac. Zac got sick on one of these trips to hospital and I was torn between the two of you. (IF ONLY I hadnít made that wish.) I was very weak and at home had to have a shower sitting on a chair as I just couldnít stand. I lost eight kilos in those weeks. Nan moved in for a few days and they got me settled on medication. I was still never hungry, so I didnít eat much.(IF ONLY I had) they assured me that you would be fine and that it was only me suffering. I talked to DR P about the effects of the medications on you, he told me they were safe and that if I did not take them you and I might both die.(IF ONLY I hadnít taken them) From my last hospital visit (9 weeks) I settled on medication until about 20 weeks when I could eat again.
At 16 weeks we rented the house we live in now. I picked out your room. Admired the childproof back yard for my two children. Loved the undercover area with a gate that I imagined putting you in the play pen to watch Zac and to lock you in when you were walking and Zac wanted to ride his bike. I loved that it was close to Zacís school so I wouldnít have to get you in and out of the car all the time. This house we rented was for two children and sometimes it echoes of the loneliness of not having you.(IF ONLY I hadnít lifted some of those boxes, I was really careful but maybe it wasnít good for you.)
Sometime in the next three weeks I started to feel little butterfly kicks. Zachary never did that he was a thumper from the start. You would do your kicks if I bent down and got really active if I was on the toilet. You seemed to have a pattern of when the six oíclock news came on you got active. Daddy and Zac couldnít feel these light kicks but I could. At 19 weeks we went for our second scan and there you were all parts perfect. We thought we wanted to know what sex you were but when we asked you had the umbilical cord between your legs so it was impossible to know. I took this as a sign that we werenít meant to know.(IF ONLY I could have known you were a girl and spent the next eleven weeks naming you and getting excited about having a girl, I really wished Iíd known. You were naughty at the scan and curled into the fetal position and the lady couldnít get a proper look at your heart. You seemed to really dislike all the prodding and poking.
Around the same time I booked into hospital and saw the midwives and saw the ostretrician the next week. Doctor M was worried about my elevated blood pressure, he ordered tests and referred me to a specialist the next week. They rang on the day of the appointment and postponed it for three weeks.(IF ONLY) On my first visit Dr W started me on medication and said heíd see us in two weeks.(IF ONLY heíd put us in hospital and monitored us.) The next week I went back to the clinic my bp was 110/70 and Dr M was very happy with us and didnít want to see us for five weeks.(IF ONLY)
Sometime around then I started to worry you werenít kicking hard or all that often. Everyone reassured meant that this meant you were a girl and they kicked less often than boys.(IFONLY Iíd taken this more seriously) Zac felt you kick a couple of times as did Daddy. Taylor wanted to feel you kick but you were so unpredictable and it happened so infrequently that she didnít get a chance. The next visit to DR W my bp was back up and some test had come back that I had a blood marker called Lupus Anticoagulant. He had made a call to a blood doctor and his advice was to put me on aspirin (IF ONLY theyíd looked furthur) he also increased my blood pressure medication and once again back in two weeks. (IF ONLY HEíD HOSPITALISED US THEN.)
You still didnít kick much but everyone continued to reassure me. I saw Dr P that afternoon and told him I was concerned about Lupus Anticoagulant as Dr W didnít seem to understand it. He had a medical student in with him and they decided aspirin was all right and it was just a marker in the blood. Dr P said he would research it for me. (IF ONLY he had of ) I think this all happened around 28 weeks so Iíll backtrack to 25-26 weeks. I felt you hadnít grown much because my belly button hadnít popped out. Dr P measured the height of the fundus and that showed that you had actually shrunk, I panicked and he reassured me that you were probably lying in a different position. He sent me for our third scan to reassure me and to check your heart. Nanny and Granddad came along with me as Daddy was having some problems at work. I was 27 1/2 weeks pregnant and your age came out as 26 weeks the ultrasound man reassured me that it was common at this stage of pregnancy that size would be inaccurate with two weeks either way.(IF ONLY Iíd been more worried about that) I feel my mothering instinct was trying to tell me some thing and I ignored it. I was so pleased Nanny and Granddad came and saw you as they hadnít seen a scan before. During the scan you turned your face for us to see and you looked just like Zac, so Nanny and I thought you were a boy.
One day around 26 weeks when Daddy was having work problems I forgot to take my blood pressure medication, I felt so guilty when I remembered, but looking back now you kicked a lot that day. I also started smoking again that weekend and Iím so sorry for that. I did give up first at 21 weeks and did only smoke the two days of that weekend. If thatís what caused you to stop growing Iím sorry.(IF ONLY)
My next visit to Dr W at 28 weeks showed my bp to be still slightly elevated. He doubled my medication and said see you next week. WHY??? Didnít he hospitalise us that time? (IF ONLY) The next day after having doubled the medication I felt awful. I did some running around with Michele but continually felt dizzy and light headed. I came home to bed and didnít improve. When Daddy got home from work we rang Dr P they said he wasnít in until four p.m. and heíd ring us when he got in. I waited until 9:45pm before I paged him.(IF ONLY Iíd rung again earlier) In this time I started to feel better and you started moving again. Youíd hardly moved all day. He thought that Dr W had increased my blood pressure medicine too far and I was suffering low blood pressure. He told me to reduce my medication and see him first thing in the morning(Wed 9.12.98) I went to his surgery and my blood pressure was fine, so I came home again.(IF ONLY Iíd demanded to be put in hospital) I visited Dr M the next day and he agreed with Dr P that it was a large increase in medication. My bp was 150/90 he said it wasnít bad enough to hospitalise and that we had to try and get this pregnancy to 36 weeks then be delivered by LUCS. I told him I was scared and he told me you should be and that ďwe walk a fine line in treating blood pressure too low is bad as is too high.Ē I asked if I needed to bed rest he said no just put your feet up every now and again.(IF ONLY) I was excited that in six weeks Iíd finally get to meet you. That night we toured the labour ward of the hospital and I talked to the midwife about how they cared for premature babies. I was worried to know that once I left the hospital and you werenít feeding well enough that youíd be place in a room mainly on your own with no staff constantly watching you. This worried me a lot so I talked with Daddy, Nanny and Beas and we decided weíd do a roster or something.
Zac went to Auntie Rosís that weekend so I could rest a bit, I missed him a lot but he got to be in the Ulverstone Christmas parade and had a lovely time. Once again I felt torn between my two children.(IF ONLY Iíd enjoyed you while I could) Monday the 14th I was back to see Dr Bishop (filling in for Dr Watts) my bp was 150/80 he wanted me to start upping the tablets again slowly.(IF ONLY weíd been put in hospital then)(IF ONLY he hadnít panicked about my blood pressure it wasnít that high) So I went home and did as I was told.(IF ONLY Iíd demanded more)
Tuesday came, I sent Zac off to crŤche, lunched with Beas, Nanny, Granddad and Taylor and took Taylor for a new haircut. All day you hadnít moved much and Iíd been prodding and poking you. By bedtime I started to worry about the movements, Daddy was in the shower and I counted five movements for the day, three of them Iíd prodded a lot. I even had my Xmas T-shirt on and you always moved when you heard its music. Today you didnít. I had laryngitis when I woke up this morning, so I couldnít ring up the hospital. I knew your Daddy would just think I was overreacting and I started to cry. He came out of the shower and it did take a bit of convincing to get him to ring the hospital, he thought I was being paranoid. Eventually he phoned and they said that they were very busy, but come up if you have to. I couldnít get there fast enough. We rang Nanny and Granddad to come and watch Zac. I could tell Nanny wasnít very impressed and thought I was being silly too. I donít know I think sometimes Mothers just know things. We said good bye to your brother and told him weíd be back soon (IF ONLY) everyoneís attitude started to convince me nothing was wrong. We got to the hospital and were placed in a back room of the labour ward. The nurse came and placed us on the fetal monitor. What a joy it was to hear your strong heartbeat. The nurse even commented on ďitís always a relief to hear thatĒ. She left us in the room and on the monitor for 20 mins. Your heart rate went along at about 140 a couple of times it dropped to 120. I couldnít remember if this was normal or not. I had a feeling that it wasnít. Daddy thought it was fine. When the nurse came back, she looked at the readout , looked a little concerned and suggested we keep it on another 20 mins. You kept moving away from the monitor.(IF ONLY Iíd realised it could have been hurting you) I knew some thing wasnít right. In this next 20 mins of montitoring your heartrate fell to 74, oh Grace I have never been so scared in all my life. I was screaming( as loud as you can with laryngitis) at your Dad to ring the buzzer, but for some reason he hesitated and didnít seem to want to. I wonder now if he didnít want to know things were bad. The nurse came back and ran off to call Dr M and some other doctor of the hospital. More nurses came in and did a vaginal examination to see if I was in labour or not. Mean while your heartrate kept dropping and picking up again. Sometime around now someone talked about Air Ambulance and going to Hobart. Its all a blur and I canít really remember who said what. Once on the monitor your heart dropped to 54 beats per min. I thought I was going to lose you then and there. They kept phoning Dr M but he wouldnít come up he just kept saying transfer to RHH ASAP. The registrar or whoever he was came and saw us. He was very concerned but said the dips in your heartrate showed good shoulders and fast recovery. Sometime around then more nurses appeared and gave me a sedative, put me on oxygen and said the air ambulance would be here as soon as possible. We rang Granddad and asked him to pack a bag for me, as I had nothing but the clothes I was wearing. Neither did Daddy. I was given some steroid that if it had a chance to work would help to mature your lungs. At this stage they were telling me that we would be in Hobart for some more tests. I think we all knew youíd be delivered as soon as possible.
The wait for the air ambulance seemed to take forever. Granddad arrived with my bag, then left again to get us some money as we had none on us. He came back and waited. Iím a bit confused on times here I think the air ambulance was meant to get there at 1 a.m., but I think it was later than that. Anyway at some time the ambulance men came and got us and strapped us on their trolley. We then had to wait on some paperwork. I commented on how the men looked like they were off Medivac (a TV show) I didnít know they all wore navy overalls with fluro stripes on them nowadays. We waved goodbye to Granddad at the ambulance doors and were placed in the back of one of the new van type ambulances.
Iím not sure where Daddy sat but there was an ambo in the back with us. We arrived at the airport and drove straight out onto the tarmac where the plane was waiting. They asked me if I was all right to walk I said of course so but Iíve got no shoes. I donít really know where they were. Anyway it wasnít any more than two steps and I was in the plane and strapped into a bed. The plane trip took approx. 35 mins. Daddy slept and I cried willing you to still have a heartbeat when we arrived in Hobart. The air ambulance man got me tissues and assured me that we were going to the best place possible. It was during the flight that I decided if you made it, it would be by the grace of God. So Grace seemed the perfect name for you. If all this hadnít of happened I probably would have called you Sophie. There was nothing to see out of the aeroplanes windows except the black night and a couple of stars.
Eventually we arrived in Hobart where another van type ambulance was waiting for us. It took about another half an hour to get to the hospital and all the time Iím thinking please have a heartbeat when we get there PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. We arrived at the hospital and went straight to labour ward where two nurses were waiting for us. The fetal heart monitor there was very different to the one they had in Latrobe, you couldnít hear the sounds as clearly. Once they confirmed you were still alive I found it a blessing not to have to listen to your heartbeat falling all the time. You still kept moving around on them all the time making it very difficult for them to monitor you. They placed me in a hospital gown one nurse had a blue one and the other a pink one. They placed me in the pink one and I wondered if this was an omen. The ostretrician came to see us and we had our fourth and final scan. She said immediately ďthereís something wrong with this baby and has been for a long time.Ē There was hardly any amniotic fluid left and you were very small for gestational age. She told us that even if you were delivered now she doubted very much that you would survive. Your father and I just started to cry it was all too much, all to fast. The day before we thought we had a healthy baby and all weíd ever dreamed of. She said we had two options get you out now and try to save you or leave you inside me to die. They werenít really options at all were they? I sometimes wonder if I had of left you in and been given more steroids your lungs might have matured more, but Iíve been told and my head knows you wouldnít have lasted a day. So I was prepared for theatre crying all the time, wishing that this wasn't happening and that it was all a bad dream I'd wake up from. It wasn't!! I decided on a spinal anaesthetic as if you were going to die I didn'tí want your Daddy to be all alone. This might not sound like a big thing but it was as I have always sworn and declared Iíd never let anyone put a needle in my back. They inserted the cathetar, shaved me and all the while Iím crying hoping to wake from this bad, bad dream. The anaethesist came along and talked to me, he was a lovely man with a limp. He explained what he would be doing. The next thing I remember is being in the operating room perched on the end of the bed a very difficult thing to do with a catheter in. He made me hunch my back and inserted a local anaesthetic(I canít remember if this hurt or not). He waited until that took effect and then put the spinal anaesthetic in. I didnít see the size of that needle and I think itís a good thing I didnít. Before I knew it my legs lost all sensation and I was helped back down onto the bed. He waited a little bit longer then got ice to put on my tummy to see if it was working. He ran the ice up my side until I could feel it. Then he pinched me I could feel some sensation that I canít really explain but it didnít hurt. Sometime in all this Daddy was gowned and placed on a stool beside me. I really donít know what I was thinking then I think I was in shock. I think that we held hands or Daddy touched me in some way Iím not sure but then they began the operation. I canít explain the sensations of the pulling and tugging I felt. It didnít hurt but it didnít feel good either. I shut my eyes when they put the cord, rope or chain whatever it was over my shoulder to pull my skin back. I started to feel nauseous and the anaethesist had told me that this could be a side effect and to tell him if this happened. I did and he gave me something for it. I think it was nerves more than a side effect. My thoughts were just numb I donít think my brain could keep up with all that was happening. The next thing I remember is your Daddy whispering ďItís a girlĒ and then I heard your first cry. Words cannot express the elation of hearing your first cry. The words ďItís a girlĒ faded in comparison to your cry. The doctor told me you were a tiny scrap of a thing and that weíd have to call you little scrap from now on. At 4:56 a.m. on your País birthday you entered this world. No-one was saying much now and I couldnít hear your cry, I started to worry and asked what you were, they of course confirmed what Daddy had said that you were a girl. I then heard you give another cry and was relieved again. I think Daddy went over to look at you but I canít really remember. I know the anaesthetist asked if they could show me you but they must have shook their heads. I donít know whether anyone told me I couldnít or said anything but the next thing I know youíd been rushed to NeoNatal ICU. I think Daddy talked to the doctors or went with you I donít know. But I remember someone telling me you were doing well. The stitching up seemed to take forever and I was convinced someone would come and tell me youíd died. The next thing I remember is being in the recovery room with my two wonderful midwives that looked after us when we got there. I remember someone telling them that they both didnít have to be there but neither of them seemed to want to leave. Iím not sure but I think their shift had finished as well. I remember constantly shivering and they kept putting blankets on me. I donít think I was cold just in shock. The doctor who was looking after you came and saw me then. Her name was Dr Mo, she told me how surprised she was at how well you were doing. She gave me a photo of you that I clutched to me and never let go of unless I really had to and then Iíd demand it straight back. It was you really, really you my precious little daughter. The doctor told me you werenít requiring ventilation and were way beyond anyoneís expectations. I thought back to when Zachary was born and the same things were said to me then. So I thought that here was another little clever baby of mine showing the medical world they arenít always right.(Here is my first IF ONLY for along time, there is nothing about that night that I would wish to do differently. My IF ONLY now is that I wished I hadnít been so confident that you wouldnít die, if I hadnít raised my hopes I would have spent more time with you.) When she left the midwife told me that Dr Harris hadnít been lying you really could have died. I remember thinking there is no way my baby would die. Daddy was off visiting you and came back and asked me what we were going to call you I jokingly told him Lachlan Brian as weíd decided on this for a boy but hadnít really agreed on any girlís names. I stuck to my vow that youíd made it so you were named Grace Brianna. Brianna was after Pa who was one of the nicest people you could meet and as you were born on his birthday it seemed perfect. Eventually I was moved back into labour ward in the same room weíd first been in, I was still clutching my photo of you. A new nurse came on duty I think her name was Linda. She was lovely, she got Daddy some breakfast, gave me a sponge bath and told me to get some sleep. Even though I hadnít slept for over 24hrs sleep was the last thing I wanted to do. I was so excited that my baby girl was actually here and doing so well. I talked to Daddy about the people he had rang he said Nanny didnít want to tell Zachary that you were here. I was so furious I felt she had given up on you without even giving you a chance. Daddy did tell Zachary you had arrived and he was very excited to be a big brother. Uncle Nicky came early that morning and Daddy took him to see you. He said that Nanny had told him not to tell the children too. This infuriated me even furthur, even if you were going to die (although I was convinced you wouldnít) they knew you were on your way so what did she think she was going to tell them? Uncle Nicky told me how beautiful you were and that you didnít look as small as 838gms sounded. He left, we tried to rest some more, and I was told I would be kept on labour ward for the rest of the day to have my blood pressure monitored. Auntie Terese, Jessie and Liam came to see me. She told me she liked your name and she saw your photo. Liam seemed really scared of me, I suppose I did look strange in a dark room with tubes off me everywhere. So they didnít stay long. My nurse Linda asked me did I want to see a mental health nurse as she had read in my file that Iíd suffered from post natal depression, I agreed. They then wanted to shift me from labour ward but Linda held her ground until they found me a single room. On the way to my room I was allowed for the first time to see you. They somehow got my bed in next to you and my eyes saw your beauty for the first time. The photo I had of you did not do you justice. You were so beautiful and looked a lot like Zac did as a baby. Uncle Nicky was right you didnít look all that small either. I placed my hand under your plastic cover and stroked you for the first time. What love I felt! You were continually sticking your tongue out, trying to get out the tube they had placed there. Both of your arms were on splint type things as youíd tried to get these out to. I remember thinking for a minute you looked like Jesus on the cross. You were moving around a lot and the nurse told me youíd already wet the bed because you wriggled off your nappy. He (nurse) told me I couldnít stay long as one of the other babies was playing up. (How I hate him for that now) You were lying on a sheet that had dalmations and firetrucks on it. I told Daddy how impressed Zac would be as these are two of his most favourite things. Some flowers arrived for me then and I looked at the card and it said something like our loving thoughts are with you. Where were the congratulations?? I was really mad about that, as obviously your Nanny who rang these people wasnít holding much hope for you. You never opened your eyes for me then, I really wished you had, I would have loved to see the windows to your soul. My time with you was over, I had to leave you now, it wasnít long enough. (IF ONLY Iíd demanded more time) I was worried that I still had laryngitis and they hadnít given me the opportunity to wash my hands before I touched you (IF ONLY Iíd insisted) I worry this might have contributed to your death. I moved to my room and hung onto your photo for dear life. Here they told me to sleep again but I just couldnít. Uncle Nicky came back in his lunch hour and told us that Nanny, Granddad, Beas and Zachary were on their way to meet you. I was very excited for Zac to see you, I sent Daddy off to buy a pink teddy for Zac to give you, but all he could find was a cute little brown one. Iím not sure if Daddy visited you that afternoon. There was some tension over where everyone was going to stay. I donít know why families do this. I felt we all should be rejoicing that you were here. Some time late in the afternoon they arrived and Zac and Beas had bought you a pink teddy, I was so pleased for some reason it was important that you had a pink one. I was disappointed that they had no congratulations baby girl cards, banners or balloons. Zachary received lots of these on the day he was born and again I felt they thought you werenít going to live. That hurt a lot. The joy of you being born was no less then when Zachary was born. I would love to have baby girl cards to look at as well as sympathy cards. Nanny told me she was happy I had gone to the hospital the night before. We even discussed that we wished that they had tied my tubes in the operation. I was so happy that I had my boy and girl that I couldnít have wished for anything else. Daddy took Zac down to see you with his teddy he had for you. I canít remember what he said about you but I remember trying to explain to him why you werenít here with me and why he couldnít hold you. Iím not sure in what order the rest came to see you but I know they all did. They all commented on how active you were. I worry now that you were active because you were in pain. They stayed awhile with me then went to the Caravan Park they were staying at. Daddy stayed with me and we tried again to rest. News about you continued to be good and I was certain you were going to be just like Zac small but fine. A new nurse came on duty and told me she would take me down to see you again soon. I had a message that Nan was coming to see you at 8p.m. By now I was exhausted and secretly wished they would wait till tommorrow to come and see you. Iím really glad they didnít. Iím so pleased Nan had a chance to see you, sheíd even spent the day knitting little pink bonnets for you and had bought you a birthstone guardian angel pin. We pinned that on the teddy Zac gave you. Nan commented on how active you were. She was very pleased that youíd been born on País birthday and had even been to the cemetery to tell him about you. Auntie Susie, Barry and Jayne came to Hobart as well. Protocol wouldnít allow them to see you so we didnít push it. We all thought we had forever Gracie. How I wished they had seen you, you were so beautiful and deserved to be seen by everyone. Jayne told me how wonderful it was that you had been born on País birthday, that we wouldnít have to have tears any more just partyís to celebrate your birthday. Secretly thatís what I thought too. I thought it was an omen for you to be born then, to help Nan with her grief. Once they had left the nurse said she didnít have the time to take me to see you now and I said that was fine (IF ONLY Iíd said it wasnít but I thought we had forever) She started to express coloustrum for you, at last I felt I was really doing something for you my baby. She was called away and after you died I noticed the syringe of coloustrum was still on my bedside table I hadnít even been given the chance to give that to you. They medicated me ready for sleep and Daddy left. I tried to read but my heart was just bursting with love pride and joy for you. I eventually fell asleep and I think it was around midnight when the night nurse came to check my blood pressure. She asked if I wanted her to phone and see how you were doing of course I did.! She came back and told me you were great and had been weaned onto air. That was just incredible for a baby of your size. I went back to sleep happily knowing that you were doing well. The nurse returned around 6 a.m., she had already phoned the NNICU and told me you were still going fine. I ate my breakfast and waited for someone to shower me so I could be ready to go straight to you when Daddy arrived. All the while your photo was still with me. A lovely cleaning lady came and did my room while I was waiting, she asked your name and I told her, she said it was a lovely name and she knew of a delightful little girl called Grace, she went on to say at 18 months this girl had died from meningitis. It flashed across my mind that I hoped it wasnít an omen. Did I deep down know then that you werenít going to make it? I was still waiting for a shower when Daddy arrived. I sent him down to check on you as the doctors did their rounds at 9 a.m. But they wouldnít let him in. Iím not sure if they told him then that you were a little worse or not. I think they did I was still waiting for them to remove the drain and catheter so I could shower so Daddy and I wrote out your birth notice and birth certificate. I donít know where that birth notice is but I hope to find it. Eventually I was released from my tubes drips and drains and could get in the shower. I was very stiff and sore and I cried about taking the dressing off. Your Daddy was a wonderful help. I remember trying to find a moisturiser for my face and because Nanny hadnít packed well all I could find was in an old little tube that lived in the bottom of the make up case. I put it on but it must have been off because it stunk. I remember telling your Daddy that you wouldnít be very impressed with a smelly mummy. I got into a wheelchair and off we finally went to see you. I think it was about 11 a.m. then. When we got to the nursery the nurse told us you were being a bit naughty and struggling so theyíd increased your oxygen. I started crying immediately and I donít think I stopped that day. Did I know deep down that we were going to lose you? I often wonder about that. The nurse said she was waiting for Dr B the head of neonatal care to come and review you. She thought that you would need to be ventilated. She said it wasnít something they liked to see happen but it did happen. She thought that you were tiring. She pointed to 2 or 3 of the other babies in the nursery and said the same thing had happened to them. Some how this still didnít reassure me. I was to scared to touch you that morning, I remember the nurse doing something to you and all I could keep doing was tucking the plastic back in around you that she had disturbed. I saw your pink dummy tucked in the corner of your underlay, I remembered Nan and Daddy telling me with pride how youíd tried to suck on it the night before. (IF ONLY Iíd touched you more then, told you how much I love you). Dr B arrived and read your charts he didnít seem overly concerned about your drop in stats. He ordered blood gases to be done at noon and to reassess you then. He then told Daddy and me that he would be very surprised if you didnít make it youíd done so well. He even said that you had a better chance because you were a girl, they lost more boys than girls. I was slightly reassured and went back to my room to await the test results. Before I left I asked the nurse was she happy with his diagnosis as I could tell she wasnít. I canít remember how she answered but I got the opinion that you didnít go against the boss. Nanny, Granddad, Beas and Zachary were waiting in my room I was still crying, as I was really worried that you were in pain. Granddad tried to keep the positive thinking going and I gave them the birth notice and a shopping list and off they went after Zac came back from seeing you. I was still crying when some old ladies from some church or other came with booties we could pick for you I let Zac choose and hoped theyíd go away. After they had left Daddy told me that while he and Zac were there before they were preparing to put you on the ventilator. I was SO MAD that he hadnít told me this straight away. What right did he have to keep this from me? As I started to voice my opinion there was a knock on the door it was the Reverend from the Moonah Baptist Church that had been asked to see us. Daddy talked with him and prayed with him in the hall. He came back in and I started to yell again when there was another knock on the door, this time it was the mental health nurse. She asked me how I was going? Did I have the premmie Mum syndrome? I really was just agreeing with her to get rid of her. So I said I was trying not to get to close to you in case something happened. Grace, forgive me for that, it wasnít true, I was already in love with you, and I just wanted rid of her. After that comment Dr B burst into the room and I canít remember what he said exactly, I think he told us that theyíd put the ventilator tube down and blood had come up. I asked if we could go to you, but he said come in 15 minutes. It wasnít long after he left that my nurse came in and said they want you down there now. I thought you were already dead. She pushed me in the wheelchair, the lifts seemed to take forever to get to us and all I was thinking was donít let her die before I get there. PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! We rushed into ICU and there you were sideways in your crib with lots of people working on you. Dr B came and told us you were having a pulmonary haemorrhage and that heíd never seen a baby survive one. They pushed my chair into where I could touch your leg. There seemed to be so many people around barking instructions and working on you. I saw your pink dummy on the floor and insisted that Daddy pick it up for me. It seemed very important that I have it. Doctors introduced themselves to us and talked, I canít really recall what they said to us, as I donít think I was really listening. At one stage Dr B said they had stopped the bleeding but when they rose your blood pressure you started bleeding again. Around this stage I wanted to punch everyone away from you. I didnít want you in pain. I sat still because I had to let them do everything possible to try and save you. So I sat in my wheel chair and prayed like I never have before that God would do whatever was right for you. I so much wanted to keep you but I couldnít be selfish if that meant that you had to suffer. They told me that they had given you medication and that you werenít in any pain, I hope this is true sweetheart. Around this time I asked for you to be baptised and for them to ring Nanny and Grandad. The next few minutes are really a blur, I remember Uncle Nicky came down the passage and looked at me I just shook my head as the nursing staff rushed him out. It seemed to take forever for Nanny and Grandad and the minister to arrive. I think by then it was decided that there was nothing more they could for you and they asked if I wanted to hold you. Of course I wanted to, I wanted to from the minute you were born. Nanny and Grandad and the minister seemed to arrive at the same time. You were baptised in my arms, with Daddy, Nanny and Grandad touching my shoulders. I remember stroking your little face and saying ďWhat have you ever done to anyone Gracie?Ē I asked Dr Bury ďWhat did I do wrong?Ē He said there was nothing, I didnít believe it then and I donít believe it now. After your baptism they asked me if I was all right for them to take the tubes and drips off you. It wasnít alright but what choice did I have? They kept asking and asking if it was all right. Weeks after your death I was told that we were asked permission to turn off your life support. If this happened I donít recall it at all. I am sorry precious girl if I gave up on you before you were ready to give up on the world. (IF ONLY) So at approx. 1.30p.m. you peacefully died in my arms. Oh why my baby girl WHY? If Iíd known we could delay life support I would have given Daddy a chance to hold you. (IF ONLY) I remember Daddy holding on for dear life on some cotton balls they gave him to place over your drip sites. You died, you died, you died was all that was running through my mind. A special nurse named Marilyn came down and asked if it was okay to take you from me to bathe and dress you. I said yes but it wasnít okay, it wasnít all right that you were dead. I wish I had been given the chance to bath you. But I was in shock and I just handed you over. My next thought was Iíve got to have a smoke. Beas and Daddy pushed me outside and we all had a smoke and I remember I kept repeating over and over ďShe died, oh my God she diedĒ with tears falling down my face. People walked past and I couldnít believe the whole world hadnít fallen apart as mine certainly had. Daddy and I held each other and I think I said to him this isnít going to destroy us, weíre not going to let it. I think we had to walk past Zac at some stage he was in the foyer with Uncle Nicky looking after him. I also forgot to tell you that at some stage before you died Auntie Beas came to be with you. What do we tell Zachary? I wasnít ready to face him yet so Grandad took him shopping for awhile. Somehow I got back to my room where Nanny and Uncle Nicky were waiting. Sometime you were brought up to me. You were dressed in an awful pink smock and had a bonnet on. For some reason I hated it on you. Iíd decided I wanted to go back to the Latrobe hospital. This is one of the biggest IF ONLYíS I have, looking back now I think I just wanted out of the place where you had died. I wanted you to follow me but the funeral directors couldnít do it until the next day. When I asked if you could come too some doctor asked me if I had a casket, I thought Iíd misheard him and asked did he mean capsule? Some time I asked whether you needed a post mortem and some doctor came rushing up and said they knew the reason you had died so that was that. (Another IF ONLY)
I have to backtrack again now and say when we first got back to the room the minister came and gave me your baptism certificate and a copy of ďFootprintsĒ. He didnít say much but who knew what to say at a time like this. Whilst you were in the room I think most people cuddled you. Auntie Terese turned up and then began the awful task of ringing a funeral director. This was left up to me! A funeral director? Hadnít I just given birth 33 hours ago??? I went to the foyer to use Nickís mobile phone the man on the other end was nice but I canít really tell you what he said. I know he asked me why we named you Grace. I said I didnít know but of course I did, it just seemed to add insult to injury to the reason why we named you Grace. I then asked Marilyn if she could take you away for awhile so that we could speak to Zachary.
Zacharyís first comment was why didnít we give you some of his medicine? (IF ONLY it was that simple) His next comment was why didnít we take you out in the fresh air? In his eyes fresh air would have fixed you. We asked if he wanted to see you, and he said yes. I must backtrack again here I remember one of the stupid questions I asked the funeral director I asked him if he thought that Zachary should see you as I didnít want to scar him for life. Of course he was already scared for life, heíd lost his little sister that he was so looking forward to. The nurse brought you up to our room and placed you in Zacís arms, it was the most beautiful and heartwrenching sight of my life. Blood came out of your nose and Zac couldnít really understand it (later when he had a blood nose he thought he was going to die). He didnít hold you for very long but I am so pleased that he did.
The rest of the afternoon is just a blur, I remember holding you and the words to a song kept running through my head - ďHow do I live without youĒ ďhow do I get through one night without you cause if I had to live without you, what kind of life would that be? Oh I need you and my arms need you to hold. Youíre my world my heart my soul, if you ever leave baby you would take away everything good in my life. So tell me how do I live without you?Ē Iím still struggling to find how to live with out you. One of my clearest memories of you is holding you in front of me and looking at your beautiful mouth and the gums that would never grow teeth. Did I hold you often that afternoon? I canít remember. There seemed to be a lot of waiting around, for some reason I was eager to get back to Latrobe. How I wished I hadnít left you there that night. I wish Iíd stayed and held you all night long. I am so sorry for leaving you there all alone. (IF ONLY I hadnít) I left you at the hospital all by your self, how could I do that? Itís one of my strongest regrets.
We left the hospital around 7p.m. I think. It really wasnít a comfortable car ride. Uncle Nicky had to stop every hour so I could walk around to prevent clots from forming. At the first stop we got a pillow to sit on my tummy and that helped a lot. Zachary went home with Nanny in her car and Daddy and Beas were with me. Where were you? All alone, all alone is what my mind keeps telling me. Everyone was notified of your death I donít really remember who did it or when. We reached Latrobe hospital and went to the maternity floor where we were told they would be expecting us. They said oh no we are putting you on the next floor, we thought it would be better for you away from the babies. No-one said weíre sorry for your loss they just couldnít get away from us fast enough. Something your death has taught me is that people who lose babies are treated as if they have the plague. The nurses on the next floor were nicer and they brought us a tray of drinks and biccies. Nicky and Beas left and Daddy and I went out for a smoke. Nan Auntie Judy and Auntie Susie found us there. It must have been after 11 oíclock by then. We had asked Nan earlier in the day whether it was all right if we buried you with Pa. At first she said it was a lovely idea, but then it started to get complex with council rules and so on. At first I was devastated by this, but now Iím really happy it happened that way.
We went back to our room where we were told a Doctor and a midwife will see you soon. I started to ask questions about my milk coming in, but the nurse could only say she wasnít a midwife and didnít really know. She medicated me for sleep and some how I slept off and on all night. I remember waking up and whimpering, yearning for you. I tried to reach out and touch your Daddy but with my sore tummy he was too far away. Every bit of me hurt, but the ache inside for you was unbearable. Why didnít God take me? Didnít he know Iíd give my life so that you could have yours? We awoke the next morning to find the head of the ward there, her name was Sharon and she most certainly was a blessing to us that day. No doctor or midwife had been to see me yet and I thought Dr M would be there soon to see me, during his morning rounds. Sharon told me theyíd try and get me home that day. I asked her to ring Dr P as heíd been such a big part of this pregnancy too and I wanted him to know about you.
At 11a.m. the funeral director was coming to meet us. I phoned Grandad to ask him to come and be with us then. He was in tears on the phone saying that he shouldnít cry he should be strong for me. I told him he had every right to cry, heíd just lost a granddaughter. Sometime someone came and took my temperature and it was high, so I had to stay in hospital another night. They told me you were on your way up from Hobart and would arrive around lunchtime. The funeral director arrived his name was Kent and so began the awful task of planning a last farewell to you. This didnít seem fair hadnít I only given birth to you 54 hours how before? Birth and death should come hand in hand. Kent advised us to delay the funeral for as long as possible I didnít like the idea at the time but Iím so pleased he made us do it. He basically talked a bit and we arranged your birth and death notices. We told him we wanted your service at the Baptist church. This is where I went to thank God for you during my pregnancy. We also requested Steve Lennon to do the service as weíd always enjoyed his sermons. They all then left except for Beas and Tony.
Around now Sharon came and told me you were here. I was relieved and anxious at the same time. It took me quite awhile to see you (Iím sorry for that princess but if I saw you I had to admit you were dead). We finally went into a little room off the nurseís station and Sharon brought you to us. Sheíd changed your clothes and you had the most beautiful pink knitted dress on, there was a bonnet as well and once again I took the bonnet off. Bonnets just didnít suit you. You really didnít look very good that day, the bruising had started to appear and you were cold, so very, very cold. I should have been prepared for how cold you were. Beas and Uncle Tony came to see you, they left and Daddy and I just sat there sobbing. Checking all your perfect fingers and toes. I remember opening your nappy just to prove to myself that you were a girl. Someone took photos of Daddy you and me. I remember sitting with you in the sunshine trying to warm you up. We had decided that we wanted a viewing so that everyone could see you, but we changed our minds after the shock of seeing you bruised and battered. It got too much for me so I left you with Daddy and went out for a smoke. I hope you two had some precious time together then. When I came back Bettye Cox was with Daddy and you. I think she stayed awhile. I asked Sharon to call Kent, so I could give you to him. (here is another IF ONLY). I donít know why I thought I had to give you to him then; I should have kept you there until I left the hospital. It was very important to me that I be the one to give you to him. I handed you to him or did I put you in the carry basket he had for you? I donít remember. I went back to my room and the day was full of visitors, some knew what to say and others didnít. I still hadnít seen a Doctor or a midwife. Sharon came and asked how I was and I told her frustrated because no-one had been to see me and I wasnít even admitted. I kept asking where was Dr M and they kept saying he knows that you are here. Sharon must have got straight on the phone because it wasnít much later that I was admitted and a midwife came to see me. Still no Dr M and the midwife said she would give him a call. She came back later and said sheíd spoken with him and he said that if I was still in hospital Monday heíd see me then. I got the impression that she wasnít impressed by this either. Zac came and visited that night and what a sight for sore eyes he was. My world was falling apart but I still had my little boy. A man had asked Zac in the lift was he going to see his new brother or sister? Zac matter of factly told him ďOur baby diedĒ. I feel very sorry for the man, but very proud of my boy who has many lessons for us all on how to handle grief. After he left a doctor came to put in a drip for IV antibiotics. He couldnít get it in and I just cried and cried. This had happened to me a lot when I was in hospital with you for morning sickness, now without you there seemed no point to it all. No reason to go through the pain. I think I flustered him a bit and he finally gave up.
Soon after the SANDS lady came to visit and I remember thinking how normal she looked. I felt and still do that I will never be normal again. She talked a lot but I canít really remember what she was saying. Dr P also visited us that night, not in an official capacity but as a friend, this meant a lot especially compared with Dr M reaction. He told us that one of the doctorís working on you was his brother, this helped in some way to know they werenít all complete strangers.
We slept fitfully that night and were up early wanting to see the paper, to read your birth and death notices. The paper wasnít delivered until 9 a.m. but we were up at a.m. We were crabby with ourselves that we hadnít thought to get Daddy a car at the hospital. Eventually the paper arrived and there it was in black and white, our daughter had been born and now she was dead. Beas turned up and Rev Bill Magor arrived to talk to us about your funeral. He most certainly was a gift from God to us. He was so compassionate and understanding. He apologised that Steve couldnít do your funeral as he was on holidays and had never done one before. Your funeral wouldnít have been a great way to start doing them I think. I thank God every day that he sent Bill to us in those days of our greatest need. He prayed with us and set up a time the next day to meet (Sunday). After he left in strolled Dr M, his first comment was ďItís a bit of bad luckĒ. My baby died and he thought it was just a bit of bad luck!!! Now days it seems more like bad management of my pregnancy then bad luck and one day I will tell him that. He went on about another pregnancy blah, blah, blah. I was still speechless after his first comment, then enraged that he could discuss a next time! My Gracie Iíd only just lost you how could I consider a next time. The only other thing I listened to him say was that I could go home. I couldnít get out of there quick enough.
We packed up and went to Nannyís and there was your beautiful brother who was very happy to see us again. We had decided to stay at Nannyís for awhile so that we could be looked after. Nanny did the most amazing job of looking after us and there wasnít a time in those few days when we didnít feel loved. It was wonderful to be back with your brother. I had a sleep that after noon and he came in and woke me up and cuddled me while I cried about you.
On Sunday morning Kent came to start plans for your funeral. Iíd decided I wanted balloons at your graveside to release and send our love to you. We picked your coffin a plain white one seemed to say it all. He kept telling us we didnít have to make decisions yet but I wanted to. We decided on Tuesday morning for your funeral and arranged for the notice to be in the paper. He also told us that the cemetery had a special place for babies this was a great relief for me, that you wouldnít have to be all alone. Iím so pleased we buried you there, now we have our own special place to visit you.
I have to backtrack again on Sat night Daddy and I had to go home to get some things we needed. It wasnít as hard as I thought it would be. I went into your room that was all ready and waiting for you. I had decorated it with teddy bears and I really wish I had brought you home and showed it to you. It seems so unfair that the only places youíd seen were hospitals or the funeral directors. (This is another big IF ONLY for me) I think it was easier being there because I knew we didnít have to stay. Two weeks later when we did come home the house seemed to scream of the emptiness without you.
Back to Sunday, Kent left and later in the afternoon Bill arrived. He fully involved us in every aspect of your funeral. This was very hard at the time but I am so pleased he made us do it now. Daddy and I both wrote letters to you and I combined them into one to be read at your funeral. I also wrote a prayer of release to be read when the balloons were let go of. I had decided on that I didnít want an afterwards do after your funeral. This didnít seem to me what your short life was all about. People that havenít seen each other for years catching up just because you died. Your death meant so much more to me than that. I started to get the impression your Grandparents wanted one. I tried to ask them but they said it was my decision. My decision seemed to be all that any one said anymore. Why couldnít someone else make a decision? I left it in their hands but told them if they did have it I wouldn't guarantee that I'd be there. I arranged with Kent that day that I wanted to be the one to place you in your coffin. This was important for me that I could do everything for you while I still had a chance.
I never saw you on Sat or Sun. I really wish I had of instead of leaving you alone. Now I want to see you and I regret the lost chances of spending time with you. That night Daddy and I visited the place where the babies were buried. It is a lovely spot under the gum trees. We wept and wept as we walked along the rows of graves. They were tears of sorrow for all the parents who had been where we were now. Some had lost more than one baby and our hearts broke for them. On Monday at 11a.m. we came to you. You were waiting for us in a special room in a bunny rug in your basket. Grace that day you looked so beautiful. We took lots of photos of you and I talked to you all about your cousins who had done drawings for you. In one of these photos Iím laughing and I often wonder what people must think, but Grace it was the most beautiful time with you. I placed you on the quilt sat all the teddy bears youíd been given by Zac, Nanny, Beas and a purple one from Luke that he wanted you to have. Daddy and I held you and kissed you. I spent a long time stroking your face trying to burn the image of you into my brain. Grandad came into the room then and I think he was pleased that he did. He folded the quilt so that we could fit it in your coffin. I removed all the padding they had in there. I wanted you on the quilt Iíd made for you with love in every stitch. I then had my last cuddle of you, the first and last one of just you with no blankets. It was so hard to stop holding you to me and to actually place you in your coffin. I let you go physically but I will never let you go from my heart and soul. We placed all the drawings teddies and our letters to you in the coffin and it sure was a tight fit. We laughed about how we squashed everything in around you. Then with one last kiss I left you.
I donít feel like going into great detail about your funeral maybe later in my journal I will. I will say that you were in the car when it picked us up and Iím so pleased you were. Bill gave you a wonderful service and we all cried and cried. I think no-one in the church had a dry eye. Aunty Gaye tried to sing Amazing Grace for you; she was so choked with emotion that she sobbed her way through it. I wouldnít have wanted her to do it any other way. Daddy carried your coffin in and out of the church. Zachary was beautiful during the service he sat on Daddyís knee and kept kissing us both. We left for the cemetery; you still in the car with us. I carried your coffin to your graveside and very reluctantly handed you over to Kent. People commented on how brave your Daddy and I were for carrying you. We werenít brave!! You were as much our baby dead as you were alive. We couldnít let strangers carry you. I think for me it was a symbol of me giving you back to God. The balloons were given out, 36 pink and white balloons and it still wasnít enough for everyone to have one. I missed most of Billís words there because every time Zac looked like he was going to let his balloon go your Daddy whimpered in my ear. I am really mad at him for this why was it my responsibility to make sure Zac didnít let go. Iím sorry precious girl that I couldnít give you all my attention as you were lowered into the ground by Uncle Tony and Uncle Greg. I feel your father took that gift from me. When the balloons were released they were an amazing sight they all went together in a group to you with our eternal love. Daddy and I ended up back at the church after for a little while until I just had to get away. We spent the rest of the afternoon lying on top of our bed at Nannyís holding each other.
Our little girl was gone from this world forever.
I donít think I told you during your story how proud I was when I was pregnant with you. I loved your little bump and everyone told me how wonderful I looked. I felt wonderful too. I hope princess that you realise how many hearts you touched in your short life.
IT IS BETTER TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST YOU GRACIE
THEN NEVER TO HAVE LOVED YOU AT ALL.
Written by Mummy April 1999
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Graphic's by Patch of Heaven