On the eve of my son’s first birthday, I should be baking a cake. I should be laying out his outfit for his big day and I should be wrapping his present and writing in his card.
I should be reflecting on all his firsts for the year and I should be scrolling through my phone in a haze of nostalgia over the past 12 months of photographs. I should be reminiscing on those newborn days, I should be revelling in the love. I should be feeling disbelief that I’m still alive after so much lack of sleep and I should be pinching myself for the immense amount of pride and love that this little soul has filled me with.
Instead I sit here, doing the only thing I know how do to, given the cards I have been dealt. The only thing I feel will ritualise his special day and honour his existence in his absence. I’m writing a story. His story. OUR story. Our birth story.
It’s long, it might be boring with detail, but it’s an attempt to document and retain the VERY blurry memories (the only memories) that I have, so that I’ll have them forever. It’s not for anyone other than myself, as I try to commemorate the life of my little boy.
WARNING: May contain graphic (to some) content.
MY BABY, GONE.
It was Remembrance Day 2016, the 11th of Nov. I was 35 weeks pregnant and it was my last day of work. I was going to call in sick for the day because I had finally had enough. I had been feeling off for a couple of weeks, like I didn’t have much left in me. The long drive to and from work in heavy traffic, the stressful days in high pressure situations, the sitting in one spot for hours on end. It was all becoming too much for my 30 something week pregnant self. This particular morning I really did feel off though. I suppose I had a feeling that something wasn’t right, but I dismissed it as being “tired and pregnant” and thought “I can’t call in sick on my last day, they’ll think I’m lazy. I will think I’m lazy”. So I went in, although late, and I pushed through the day. Until finally it was over. No more work! Siiiggggghhhhh. What a relief.
I was sitting on the couch that night with my husband, James, too exhausted to even function, but now that I finally had some spare headspace I thought to myself “I can’t remember the last time I felt the baby move. Perhaps yesterday? I don’t know. I’ve really been too busy to notice”. But as this thought entered my head, my tummy moved. A rolling motion. Like, floating … “Oh no, there he is” I thought.
The next morning, a Saturday, we woke and it was most unusual that the baby wasn’t in his typical, active mood. Our “little Viking warrior”, as James used to call him, must not of been awake yet. Again I dismissed it and hopped out of bed with a spring in my step. My very first day of maternity leave. The sun was shining, it was a glorious day and I felt untold amounts of relief and excitement.
With James at the gym and nothing really planned, I made a quick call to the midwife, just before my day got on its way. Just to check. Just in case.
I felt embarrassed to call. I didn’t want to seem like a hypochondriac, but I guess I just couldn’t shake this feeling that something was wrong.
My usually calm and high spirited midwife told me to meet her at the hospital. Nothing much else was said.
I called James who hurried home and barged through the door with terror on his face “what’s wrong, is there something wrong?”. At this point I honestly didn’t think there was and this fuss was all going to be for nothing. I continued to shower and had something quick to eat because I knew that if I didn’t this baby would let me know about it. This mama gets “hangry” and no one wants that!
Until this point I’d had all of my appointments with my midwife at home, which is where I had planned to birth. The hospital, to me, felt uncomfortable, unfamiliar and somewhat traumatic because of certain past experiences. Alas, that’s where we were headed.
James drove like a dick on his way to the hospital. When he’s nervous or anxious or amped he gets into these ridiculous, immature moods and plus he’s a shit driver anyways so it was never going to go down well. I screamed, he screamed, but I screamed louder so then there was silence. It was then that I started to feel nervous. But only a little. I really didn’t think that anything was wrong. We’d get checked out and then we’d go home. Simple.
We headed through the double doors of the birthing suite ward. We were met by a midwife who ushered us into a room. Quietly. She immediately began scanning. Looking for a heartbeat.
James and I were silent, but I was just excited to see my little man on the screen. His cute little nose, the outline of his tummy. “I wonder how much he’ll look like me” I thought. I had a smile on my face and was still, none the wiser.
“Laura, I can’t find a heartbeat so I’m just going to get another nurse, I’ll be back in a second…”
I thought “well that’s cool, he’s probably just being naughty. You’ll find it. Go get who ever you need”.
Herself and another woman came into the room and more scanning was done. This time, the second lady said the same thing “Laura, I’m having trouble finding a heartbeat. Just wait here whilst I grab someone else”.
“Ok no problems at all” I said.
Still, none the wiser.
When the fourth (or fifth, I can’t remember) woman came into the room, the doctor, the specialist, the head of the department, I thought “well if anyone is going to find his little heartbeat, it’s this lady. We’re in good hands here”.
I was feeling hopeful. I looked to James and his face was blank. And in that moment, it hit me. What if things weren’t ok?
Until this point I had been dismissing all of the red flags and denying all of the signs and in a split second I knew that it was all about to come crashing down around me. I quickly looked away. Trying one last time to deny what I knew was about to happen.
“Laura, I can’t find a heartbeat. I’m SO so sorry, but your baby has passed away”.
Before she could finish whispering the words, my heart was breaking into a million tiny pieces. My head was in my hands and my life was flashing before my eyes. No amount of whaling or tears could ever come close to expressing just how I felt in that moment. All my hope was gone.
I turned to James, we embraced each other tightly. And in that moment I wished with ALL my heart and soul that I didn’t exist. I didn’t want to die, like I had wanted to at other times before, I just wished I’d never been born. I cursed myself for bringing James into my world. This poor man that didn’t deserve this type of pain. That he wouldn’t have felt this type of pain if it wasn’t for me. A pain so unfathomable, a pain that destroys every inch of your body. A pain that literally makes your chest ache and your stomach cramp and your lungs unable to breathe. And yet, I remember thinking in that moment “of course”. I almost expected this to happen to me. A lot of shitty things had happened to me over the course of my life and in that moment I guess, I sadly, wasn’t surprised.
My whole life had lead me to a moment like this. A moment this big. I just really thought, that after everything that’s happened that this time, it was going to be a good one. My happy ending. Finally. I ALMOST made it through. I ALMOST got there. To that place, somewhere over the rainbow, where the skies are blue. That place I’d longed for my whole life.
But in an instant, that dream was gone. He was gone. My baby, gone.
“Before she could finish whispering the words, my heart was breaking into a million tiny pieces. My head was in my hands and my life was flashing before my eyes… “
The next day we returned to the hospital to start the induction process and get started on some testing.
I had to have an amniocentesis to test the amniotic fluid in case this gave us some answers as to why this had happened. The needle was humungous and it went straight through my abdominal cavity and into my uterus. It was incredibly painful but I just did not care. I almost welcomed the pain because at least it made me feel something. They gave me some pills to swallow and I was told that this would start the induction process. They told us that the next day I was to come in when I felt “ready”. What I wanted was to get on the next plane outta here and never come back. Never to be seen again. I mean, here I was, in a dark hospital room, with this dead weight I’m carrying around, with my husband who has no colour in his face and no words to muster and I had to actually wrap my head around the fact that in 24 hours time I’d be giving birth to my dead baby. Surely a caesarean was an option? Why couldn’t that be an option?!
So, I had the drugs and then we left.
Monday morning the 14th of Nov 2016. I woke up with a lump in my throat so big, I couldn’t breathe. I can’t really remember much from that morning. Only that, I made the bed, crying. I packed the hospital bag, crying. I had a shower by myself, the last time I would spend alone with my ba
by boy, crying. Uncontrollably crying.
I asked James if he wanted to take a photo with me, with my bump, as it would be the last one. His eyes welled up and fear enveloped his being. It was too much for him. He said “no”.
I stood in the mirror, scared, confronted, broken. I didn’t want to take the photo either, but I didn’t want to regret anything. I stood there, in disbelief. I held
my tummy. It was heavy, really heavy. I took some photos of my reflection and I cried and cried and cried until I decided it was time. I was “ready”. It was time to go.
I sucked up all of my emotions. I placed them in the part of my soul where no one dares to go and I stood up straight, wiped away my tears and from that moment decided that I needed to be strong. For James. For myself. I needed to suck it up and get on with it. I was about to embark on a journey so mountainous that I needed ALL the strength I could muster. There was no more time for tears.
We arrived at the hospital at around 12pm and were taken to a room down the end of the hall. It had a picture of a blue butterfly near the entrance, it was the quietest room on the ward. One for bereavement.
We sat down and almost immediately a midwife, Barb, entered the room and began to tell us what we could expect. Nothing she was saying made any sense to me, I could hear what she was saying, but I wasn’t listening. She started mentioning things like photographs, a teddy bear and wanted us to organise which outfit we would put him in when he was born. I just, I didn’t even know how to birth a baby and I was about to do just that and yet she wanted us to decide on clothing? And thought some bloody teddy bear would comfort me? I thought to myself, you know what Barb (I did warm to her in the end), a stupid fucking teddy bear is NOT going to fix this but if it makes you feel better, go and get the stupid bear!
I mean, my mind was a complete mess. I was frightened like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t know what to expect from labour, I hadn’t done any birthing classes. I didn’t know if I should take any drugs to ease the pain, I didn’t know what a contraction would feel like, I didn’t understand the induction process, I didn’t know if I could use the bath. I didn’t know any of the nurses or midwives, I couldn’t remember anyone’s names, I had to adjust to being in a hospital bed when I had planned on birthing at home. I was worried about James, he hadn’t eaten anything all day. I was anxious that my whole family was just sitting in the waiting room … waiting. I wanted someone to tell me how long it would take. What it would feel like. Would anyone help me, or guide me? Who could I talk to if I didn’t feel comfortable? Could I hold my baby once he was born? Can I hold him for as long as I wanted? What will happen after that? Where does he go when we go home? The amount of thoughts that plagued me in those moments were too much to bear. Again, I just shut them out. Sent them to that place in my soul where not even I dare to go, swallowed the lump in my throat and stayed as focused as I could.
Next a social worker came into the room.
She was lovely, but it annoyed me that she spoke so softly. I know she was only doing it to be gentle but I was in warrior mode, I had a fucking job to do, “speak up, say what you need to say and leave me be” I thought. It was her job to ask us how we felt about social work and explain to us our “options”. She gave us a list of names for funeral homes, she gave us information on Centrelink benefits and she asked us to think about what we would do with the body after he was born. Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve been walking around for three days with my dead baby inside me and I’m about to give birth for the first fucking time and have absolutely NO idea what I’m doing and I’m absolutely petrified in every way for every reason and I’m being asked whether or not I want to bury or cremate my child.
Before things started happening, whilst we were waiting on the doctor, Barb, the midwife, asked me if my Dad could come into the room. I really didn’t want to see anyone, I was already getting so bloody sick of all these people coming and going, all these interruptions, but I didn’t really feel like I had much of a say (I definitely did, but for some reason I didn’t have the confidence to speak up about what I did and didn’t want. Truth is, I didn’t know).
He came into the room, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Like he always does. Like I do. My Dad and I haven’t had the smoothest of relationships (that’s a bloody understatement) but none of that mattered in this moment.
He was with his partner, Linda, and they desperately wanted to tell me something. They had spent the morning at a spiritual church, praying for me, asking for guidance. A clairvoyant, a stranger, that happened to be there came up to him after the service and asked him about a baby. She told him that my pop, his Dad, was going to be there with me, in the hospital room, every step of the way. My dad said “he’s here darlin’. Pop is here with you”. She (the clairvoyant) told my dad to tell me that my little baby would be back one day. She didn’t know why, but there was something wrong and he couldn’t stay. He wanted to so badly, but he had to let go for some reason.
Well, I couldn’t hold onto any more strength. If only for that moment, I had to let it all go.
My Dad has a knack of bringing out my emotions. I can’t help but be vulnerable around him. It’s like his super power. Annoys the shit out of me when I’m trying to be stoic and stubborn, but nonetheless, I needed him there and I needed to hear what he had to say that day. What he said, what that clairvoyant said, completely shifted my energy. I don’t know how things would’ve panned out if I hadn’t of heard those words. I hate to think how disconnected I would’ve felt to my son. The thing is, I truly believed that my pop was there, I could always feel his presence, he always gave me signs, so when I heard that he was there, I knew it was so and I felt so much stronger because of it.
After they left the room, I wiped away my tears and thought, ok, let’s get on with this. What do I need to do.
Next the doctor came in to administer more induction drugs. I think it was about 1pm. I don’t feel like things were really explained to me very well. Or least, I didn’t really understand how things would unfold from that point. But I feel as though there was this assumption that I knew what I was doing. That I knew what was going on. You know, I didn’t even have a birth plan. I didn’t plan on doing one either. I planned to birth at home, naturally. I planned on winging it. I planned on letting my body guide me. Letting my baby guide me. Letting things unfold how the universe intended. How could I plan for that, I thought.
As it turns out the universe intended it to be like this. For me to lay there on a hospital bed, with a hospital gown on, like I’m a patient, with splayed legs whilst a doctor I’d never met before shoved a pill into my cervix. I felt completely violated.
After that the doctor left the room and Barb, the midwife was coming and going what felt like every 5 mins. It was probably only every 20 or 30 but I lost all concept of time and perception. She walked back into the room this time though and instantly, the energy shifted as I was greeted with my new friend. You know the teddy I mentioned earlier? Yeah, well, his name was Oscar, the teddy bear. His tag read “This bear of hope comes to you from one mother to another to offer you and your family support and to let you know that you are not alone. I understand the heartbreak you are faced with going home with empty arms and have donated this bear to you in honour of my own baby. I hope that in time you will find comfort and healing for your broken heart”.
And just like that, the cloud lifted and the fear, was gone.
Until this moment, I had no hope. I had no idea that this (stillbirth) happened. I thought I was the only one. I thought that I’d feel isolated from the world for the rest of my life, but this small gesture of hope, made a huge impact on me and I somehow managed to gather my thoughts and gather my emotions once more. I figuratively placed on my armour and I was ready for battle.
I think from this point I was told to just, “get comfy”.
I sat up in the hospital bed and just … waited.
I started feeling pain and discomfort, like moderate period pain. It didn’t come and go, it was just constant. Just there. A dull ache. I had no idea at the time (and I was too embarrassed to ask) that this was all part of it. This was the infant stages of labour. No one asked me how I was feeling (at this point) and I didn’t say anything because in comparison to the brutal and agonising endometriosis I used to suffer from, a little period pain seemed like a breeze. Definitely nothing to complain about. At first I didn’t want any pain relief. I definitely didn’t want an epidural and I just generally didn’t want to feel out of it. But when the pain got to a measly four out of 10, I thought, “ahh fuck it. A little help won’t hurt”.
So I moved from the bed into the warm bath and instantly felt better. I was hooked up to a drip and some sort of pain relief that was administered each time I pushed the button. As the dull ache worsened, I pressed the button for the first time and requested that the bath get hotter. Still, the pain was constant, not coming and going like I had imagined contractions to be like.
During this time, hours passed and many people came and went. It was a revolving door of different midwives (changing shifts etc), nurses & family members. I remember feeling extremely agitated, incredibly uncomfortable, fidgety and highly strung. I felt so incredibly disconnected from my body, not able to read the signs or any symptoms and as the pain worsened and the drugs took their toll, I became more and more drowsy and felt sick to my stomach.
“One last time, I pushed. With everything I had. With everything I’d ever had. This was it. All the struggles I’d ever been through, all the adversity I’d ever faced, all the lonely nights I spent crying myself to sleep, all the times I felt neglected, worthless, abandoned and alone…”
There I was, half naked in the bath, having contractions, not knowing they were contractions, whilst mine and James’ family tagged teamed sitting by the bath trying to talk to me. Looking back, all I wanted was to be alone with James, maybe Barb and this pain. I didn’t want drugs. I didn’t want to make small talk with my family whilst having contractions, I didn’t want distractions, I didn’t want to feel out of it and I didn’t want to feel disconnected to the experience. I wish I had the confidence to speak up. I wish I could’ve somehow been prepared. I wish that I had my original midwife with me, guiding me and supporting me through this process. I wish James had some support, so I wasn’t constantly worried about him and how he was doing. Had he even eaten yet?
I soon got jack of pressing that button and after only about four times of doing so, thought, enough was enough. The pain at this stage was about a six out of 10 and the heat from the bath had stopped being useful and I was getting sicker by the second. I was going to vomit.
At this point I moved from the bath to the bed and tried to get comfy, but I couldn’t. And then it came up. The vomit. Seriously, could this be any worse. I was fucking exhausted!
So exhausted that I gave in and asked for an epidural. They told me this would mean I could rest and my god that was appealing.
Of course it took for-ev-errrrrr for the anaesthesiologist to arrive and by this point my pain was reaching a solid eight. As I hunched over the bed, waiting for her to administer the anaesthesia, the pain was getting worse and worse. The worst part was, I had to keep completely still. In the most painful stage of my labour yet, I had to be completely still!
After a few hairy moments (of me feeling tingling where I wasn’t supposed to), the thing was in and I could finally lay down.
With the epidural working, I instantly felt better. I started feeling numb from the pain and hungry. I was really hungry. After eating a packet of chips I was feeling pretty chirpy. Although, that didn’t last for long. My temperature rose all of a sudden and again, I threw up.
Feeling a little better but SO bloody tired, I decided that I would lay down and try to get some rest. All I wanted to do was close my eyes. I’m totally guessing but it must of been about 8pm at this point.
Against the advice of the midwife on duty (I forget her name, but she was lovely), I rolled onto my left side and closed my eyes. As she suspected, not long after, the numbness of the epidural started to localise in one area of my body. Strangely, my right side. On the left, I could feel EVERYTHING! 20 out of 10 on the pain scale. Faaaarrrrrrkkkk!!! This was it, I was close. Surely!
Irritated by the lack of communication and frustrated by my lack of understanding during the course of the day, I finally spoke up. “How do I know when it’s time. When will I know I’m ready to push?”. “Oh we’ll check you love and monitor you until we know it’s time”.
“Well lady”, I thought. “This pain is getting pretty fucking unbearable so you might wanna come and take a look soon”.
The pain got worse and worse. “More epidural. Please! More! Hurry!”. It was like a scene from a movie. No joke. I was THAT woman. Everything was happening in slow motion and all I could think about was the tremendous and overwhelming pain stabbing me directly in the left ovary. Like nothing I had ever felt before.
At this very moment, of intense pain, as they were upping the dose of epidural to the highest amounts they could (which is obviously a hell of a lot more than normal given that the baby wasn’t at risk), my mum opens the door and pops her head in to tell me that everyone had gone home (which I had requested some time ago. I really felt I couldn’t relax, the entire day I just couldn’t relax knowing that they were all out there just waiting, for me, for the baby. It was too much pressure and I just couldn’t deal).
“Thanks mum, but GET. THE FUCK. OOOUUUT.”
Moments after I screamed at my Mum to G.T.F out and with my moaning and groaning at an all time high, I guess the midwives thought it was time to check on me.
“OH. OK. We have a head”.
And just like that, it was time. He was coming.
“Laura, it’s time to push now ok. Can you do that for me. Let’s go. ONE…”
With all the strength I had left in me, I pushed as hard as I could. Feeling every bit of pain just directly in my left side.
“Puuuuuussshhhhh. That’s it. Good girl”.
James standing by my side.
“And another big one. You’re doing really well Laura. He’s almost here. Ready. And again. Puuuuuuuusssshhh.”
I had razor sharp focus. Physically I could feel the pain but mentally I was so focussed that I completely blocked it out. It’s as if, I couldn’t feel a thing. And in any case, I didn’t care that it hurt, I was just so determined to birth my baby.
“That’s it, that’s it. Ok, alright just one last push Laura. This is it, you can do it”.
I pushed. One last time, I pushed. With everything I had. With everything I’d ever had. This was it. All the struggles I’d ever been through, all the adversity I’d ever faced, all the lonely nights I spent crying myself to sleep, all the times I felt neglected, worthless, abandoned and alone. All the uncertainty in my life, all the abuse that I’d suffered, all the challenges I’d ever faced, all the sickness I endured, all the despair, all the hurt, all the disappointment, everything. It had all lead me to this very moment and with one last massive PUSH… It ALL came out and I finally, let it all go.
It was over. It was all over.
The midwife, trembling, with tears running down her face placed my baby boy into my arms.
My back arched, my neck stretched and my head tilted backwards, I howled. I howled and howled and howled like a mother wolf howling at the full moon. Which just happened to be full this night. The closest it had been to the earth’s surface in 68 years. A super-moon.
I howled. Letting it all go. Everything. I howled until I had nothing left, until I finally had the courage to look down.
And there he was.
Linik “Link” Allan Grzelak. Born under the super-moon on Monday the 14th Nov 2016 at 9:40pm. Weighing 2.35kgs and measuring 35cm long.
An eery but gentle silence enveloped the room.
He took my breathe completely away. No more howling, no more tears. Just complete, utter awe.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I’d done it. I couldn’t believe he was here. I couldn’t believe how BEAUTIFUL he was. I couldn’t believe he was dead.
I couldn’t stop saying “oh my gosh”. Just “oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh, my gosh… He’s so… CUTE. He’s SO cute”. I looked to James for the first time and he had no colour in his face and fear in his eyes.
“Babe, look at him. Look at our baby. He’s so cute. Look how cute he is. Isn’t he so… cute”. He didn’t know what to say.
I said to the midwife, “he’s so cute, isn’t he”. Still crying and unable to speak, she nodded.
I still couldn’t believe it. Any of it.
The midwife placed his hands high on my chest and reminded me to touch and feel and look at all of him. I was afraid though.
My brain kept jumping from love to fear. Love, to fear. So in love with my gorgeous angel, his perfect little nose and beautiful little lips. His chubby cheeks, his cute little bottom and perfect little feet. But then in a split second I’d freak out looking at his lifeless body, his fragile skull, broken skin, the blood coming from his nose and his ruptured eye lid. One second, a perfect baby boy, with colour in his face and perfect features. The next, a tiny dead body, limp in my arms, too fragile to move and scary to look at.
I was in shock. Complete and utter shock.
He’s here and he’s so perfect, so why can’t he be alive? WHY?
Looking at him, it was so so hard to understand why. Why he had to go. What was wrong. What caused this. But something happened to me in those moments that I truly can’t describe. It’s as if Link looked into my soul and spoke to me. I mean truly spoke to me. Like I could hear the words in my head. Coming from somewhere we cannot see, but that I could feel. His spirit actually spoke to me and I could hear him loud and clear. He told me that he was ok. That he did this for a reason. That he did this. That it’s ok. That everything turned out exactly the way it was supposed to. And that he wanted me to be ok. That he wanted me to be ok with this. That he wanted me to trust him.
And just like that, I did.
A wave of peace and unending love washed over me like a spiritual cleansing. Like a rebirth. Like I was reborn.
For the first time in my life, I felt peace, real peace. I felt love. I felt warmth. I felt certain. I felt whole.
Birthing my placenta was a bitch. My cervix closed up and it would not come out. After about 45 mins of trying (but not really trying because I was too busy being engrossed with love for my little man) I was told that I’d have to go to theatre. For some reason this was totally ok by me. I was happy to do what I was told. I’d completely surrendered to the experience and with the guidance from Link, felt that everything really was the way it should be, and this was just part of it.
I elected to have high dose epidural for the surgery instead going under anaesthesia, so that I could remain awake and be able to see Link as soon as I returned to our room. That was hard. I felt like it took hours (it might of, I’m not sure. I had no concept of time) and I felt alone. Again, feeling uncomfortable and somewhat violated as a man at the end of my bed shoved his hand up my vagina and pulled out my placenta. Not the most pleasant thing to experience just after what I’d gone through. All I wanted was to be back with my baby. All I wanted, was Link.
Coming back from theatre I was faaaaarrrking exhausted. The way that I felt, it was hard to believe that I was still alive to be honest.
The lights were dimmed, it was really late and James was there, with Link and the midwife still on duty.
I had to have some blood tests and be given antibiotics through my drip.
With Link in his cold crib next to my bed and James sleeping on a fold out chair on the other side, we each held his little hands and fell asleep.
THE DAZE AFTER
To be honest I can’t remember much about the next two days.
Between social workers, doctors, midwives, countless blood tests, family visits and the beautiful Heartfelt photography session, there was so much going on and it all became a blur.
All I truly remember is the time we spent with Link, staring for hours on end at our perfect little boy. Fixing his beanie and touching his lips. Making sure he looked comfortable and kissing his little fingers. Looking at his feet and taking photos of his beautiful face.
We were fed so much information but nothing that gave us any indication as to why Link had died. We wanted answers yet we decided not to have him autopsied. We could not stand the thought of his fragile little body been cut open. For what? Closure? We weren’t going to get that anyway. Of course there was more chance of us finding out what really happened which may help us for future pregnancies, but we were both confident with our decision.
I think by the Wednesday we felt like we were ready to go home. But they still needed more blood tests from me and they insisted I stay to be monitored more closely and to finish the course of antibiotics they had me on. We were told that it might be possible for us to go home that night but as the day went by, the thought of leaving Link to go home to an empty house at night was too much to bear.
So we stayed one more night.
On Thursday morning we were given the all clear. If we chose, we could leave that day.
We could’ve stayed with Link, with him in his cold crib for as long as we wanted to. But after just two days, the colour in his face had faded and the structure in his skull had softened. We could see him literally deteriorate into his crib and we knew it was time to let go.
We arranged for my mother in law to pick us up at around 11:30am.
We showered, packed our bags and readied ourselves to say goodbye.
With no more packing to do and nothing else to distract us, we took a deep breathe, sat up on the edge of the bed and pulled the crib close by. James broke down first and as I held his head in my arms, so did I. The only thing worse than me feeling the loss of my baby, was watching an immense amount of grief completely destroy my husband.
We decided that as a way to say goodbye, a way to send him off, a way to let go, we would each choose a song. A song that made us feel sad. A song that made us feel his absence. A song that would help us grieve and a song that would help us let go.
As we caved into each other’s arms listening to the Chris Cornell cover of ‘Nothing Compares to You’ and Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’, we held each other, bawling, as we both felt a part of us die.
We buzzed the midwife, she entered the room and in an instant, he was wheeled away. Forever.
“Looking at him, it was so, so hard to understand why. Why he had to go. What was wrong. What caused this. But something happened to me in those moments that I truly can’t describe…”
THE DAZE SINCE
Within three hours of returning home James went back to work and I was left feeling abandoned, isolated and alone. I could’ve forced him to stay, but he was adamant and I was too tired to fight it. I could’ve agreed to have someone stay with me, but I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to be distracted. I wanted to feel my grief. Deeply. And the only person I could really do that with was James, so being alone was the only other option. I don’t blame him, he was just dealing with it the best way he knew how.
Over the coming days we were inundated with flowers, messages of love, phone calls and support. It was overwhelming in both a good way and bad.
I felt so much pressure to please everyone around me. People offering to help, people offering to visit, offering anything, but all I wanted was SPACE!!! Just silence, James and space.
We decided in the end that we would have Link cremated. This was to take place on Monday morning, one week after he was born. On the morning that he was cremated, at 9:30am, we went to Gan Gan Lookout in Nelson Bay. A mural photograph taken from Gan Gan Lookout covered the wall of our birthing suit, so we felt this was a perfect way to commemorate this moment.
As we walked up the foot path, headed to the lookout, an electric blue butterfly stopped me in my tracks. Completely taken by his beauty (I’d never ever seen one before), my breath literally taken away, I felt Link. I really felt him. I knew that things like butterflies and feathers were a sign from spirit (feathers is how my pop has always communicated with me) so I knew that it was him. It was exactly the same one that had been hanging up just outside our hospital door. After gasping in disbelief we started up the footpath to reach our destination and step by step, this big blue butterfly led us up the path, flying from tree to tree until eventually we reached the lookout and he flew away.
I later paid homage to this occasion and this sign by getting a tattoo of a blue butterfly on my foot and also Link’s name on my wrist with a laurel wreath as is the meaning of my name Laura – ‘crowned with laurel’.
As the weeks went by, I had no choice but to venture out. I joined an incredible gym, which later became an integral part of my healing. I announced the news on Facebook which helped me deal, head on, with the shame and embarrassment that I naturally felt and I spent as much time as I could at the beach or at home in the sunshine with my dogs.
With the trust I had/have in Link and the strength that he gave me, I was somehow able to embrace the positive energy that flowed, in harmony, through me. Never before had I felt so aligned. Never before had I felt so spiritually and intuitively connected. Never before I had I lived in such a state of flow. I felt like I was living on a cloud and that no task was ever going to be too big to handle with Link firmly by my side. I felt guided by something so much bigger than myself. I felt electric at times, a sense of high. I felt free.
Eventually, the tests results were in and we returned to the hospital, looking for answers. We had accepted that we may not get any, but were hoping for at least…something.
What they found was that I had a common gene mutation. The MTHFR gene mutation. We were told this affects the absorption of folate and that it could possibly lead to blood clotting.
We were told, that through the MRI, they found that approximately three weeks before he died, Link likely suffered from a stroke. We were later told that had he survived this stroke, he would have been born with cerebral palsy.
Things suddenly made sense. What the clairvoyant said about Link choosing to go, about something being wrong. That feeling that I got from him that reaffirmed this when he was born. It’s as if he knew what had happened and what it would mean if he had of been born alive. It’s as if he decided, as much as he wanted to stay, that he wanted a better life for us, for him, and he chose to instead let go.
There are not really any words to describe exactly how I feel. How I felt in the moments we found out he was gone. How I felt in those moments he was born. How I feel now, the night before his birthday. All I really can say, is that his existence, his life inside my tummy and his death, has changed the world, my world, forever.
This special little soul, who I feel so deeply connected to, wholeheartedly changed my life. He has changed my life for the better in every single way imaginable.
He has changed me as a person. He has made me a better person. A better friend, a better sister, a better daughter, a better wife.
He has greatly impacted the impact I have on this life. His message of courage, strength, resilience, hope and unwavering trust in the process, has spread through me, using me as the vessel, reaching many others.
He was the inspiration behind my business, he continues to be the driving force behind everything beautiful that I create and he continues to guide me and remind me of the lessons I have learnt along the way. He continues to encourage me and continues to support James and I, bringing us closer together when we lose our way.
He has paved the way for his future siblings, and given me tools that I may never have had if he hadn’t of died. That I truly believe will make me a better mother than I could of ever been on my own, without his lessons, love and guidance.
He healed me in a way I honestly never thought possible. I never thought that I’d reach these heights. This pinnacle of life, this level of love.
I always wanted to reach the other side of the rainbow. And although it wasn’t how I imagined it to be, thanks to his unmistakable magic and his incredibly powerful healing heart, I did.
The Delivery would like to wholeheartedly thank Laura for allowing us to re-publish her story which was originally penned on her personal blog, Link & Luna. Laura, your strength, grace and courage is an inspiration to us all. We wish you and your family all the best as you welcome Link’s little brother into the world soon.