Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Next 4 Months

The Hospital kept a close eye on me over the next few months with more scans than is usual.  They told me that there was no reason why I wouldn't have a normal birth.  They explained that in these situations, Mother Nature is often quite kind and that the labour can be quite quick.  They also assured me that I wouldn't be put in a ward with new mums with healthy babies and that they had a special room away from the normal wards which we would be in.  I felt happy that we'd be ok at Leighton.  The Midwife who'd seen us originally saw us again to help us to understand some of the things that were going to happen.  We had questions - what should we expect when the baby was born, what would happen to him once he was born and what would happen to him once we lost him? A conversation that no expectant parents ever imagines they're going to have.  It was very emotional but I felt reassured that we would all be well cared for. 

The baby continued to kick, move and let me know he was there.  Everything about the pregnancy itself was normal and physically, I felt fine.  We chose not to find out the sex of the baby.  Somehow, I felt that knowing whether it was a boy or a girl would make it even harder.  In my mind, it would have a name and I think maybe I would have bonded with it more.  I didn't really talk to my bump much either, it was all my way of coping with what was to come.  I felt the more I'd bonded with the baby before it was born, the harder it would be after.  In hindsight, I know it couldn't ever have been any harder than it was.

Sometimes it was difficult to carry on as normal, knowing what was ahead but I knew we'd made the right decision and we just had to get through it.  Our 2 year old daughter carried us more than she'll ever know.  She was a huge distraction and we just had to keep going for her.  We carried on with our normal, everyday things.  Sometimes I would have liked to have been able to shut myself away so that I could avoid the inevitible questions and interest that pregnant women always seem to attract!  I was doing lots of things with Phoebe though at that time as she hadn't started pre-school, so unfortunately further questioning was inevitble!  With the nicest intentions, people would ask about the sex of the baby, did we know what we were having, I bet you can't wait, when was I due?  I remember the first time someone asked me after I'd found out, I just broke down in tears.  I felt bad for them really as they must have felt terrible.  Almost everytime I went to the Supermarket, the person on the checkout would ask me when I was due and so on.  On one occasion, a lady asked me if I knew the sex and I said no.  "Well, as long as it's healthy, that's all that matters", which of course is true.  I just smiled and said yes.  I'd be lying if I said it wasn't tough at times because it was but as time passed, it became easier for me to tell people - I'd done it that many times.  One particular day though, I remember meeting a lady, not someone I knew particularly well but I saw her regularly at one of the classes I took Phoebe to.  I must have been at least 8 months pregnant.  She asked me about the baby and so I relayed the circumstances to her.  "Oh dear" she said "could you not have had a termination?"  I was dumbfounded.  It was so matter of fact.  I told her it wasn't ever an option for us.  She seemed surprised.  I can remember that conversation like it was yesterday, I have never really got over her matter of fact view.  This was my baby she was talking about.

Some "normal" things were harder than others.  Two weeks after we found out that our baby was going to die, my Sister-in-Law gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  Naturally, I was really happy for them but I didn't feel able to go to the hospital to see her and when I met her and held her for the first time, I silently sobbed to myself.  I was holding this beautiful, perfect baby, knowing that when I held my own baby in a few short months, it was going to be taken from me.  Another time, I remember going to the funeral of an elderly lady, Mary - an old family friend.  I was stupid to think that I could handle it, but I felt I needed to go having known her as long as I had done.  I didn't even get as far as the start of the service.  When I sat down and looked at the order of service, I became too upset.  I knew that in just 2 months, I would have to plan my own child's funeral.  I had to leave.

During the course of the next few months, we had a visit from the Cleft Lip team.  They came to our home to show us pictures of how our baby might look - so we knew what to expect really.  Although visibly, the cleft lip and palate was the worst thing, it was actually the easiest thing to put right.  Babies are born everyday with cleft lips and palates and surgery is so good today that you can hardly, if at all, tell that a baby has ever had one.

As the birth got closer, we talked with the Doctors about how long we could expect to have with our baby once he was born.  I'm not sure Leighton itself has ever had a baby born there with Patau Syndrome before but the Consultant we saw had seen 2 in his 15 years as a Doctor.  He said that it was difficult to say, it could be hours, it could be days, but nothing more than days.  Our main concern above everything was that the baby wouldn't suffer.  Apart from any pain relief that the Doctors deemed necessary for our baby, we decided that we didn't want any intervention.  We knew that our baby wasn't going to live. All we wanted was for his short time on earth to be peaceful and to be spent being cuddled by the people who loved him.

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