The look in the midwife’s eyes said too much but her voice tried to reassure me. “Just trying to find her heartbeat, bub has moved a bit," she said.
It was chaos in the hospital theatre room at 5am as doctors, theatre nurses and anaesthetists frantically set up for an emergency caesarean with a general anaesthetic.
My physical pain was unbearable, it was a contraction that wouldn't stop. My world was about to tumble down, how far we did not know.
My husband waited outside the theatre door wondering, waiting and not knowing or even considering that there was a darkness just minutes away. Next to him, my mother - a midwife - knew but could not speak. Down the hall, our healthy baby boy was cradled in his poppa's arms, waiting for his twin sister... waiting.
Imogene-Kate had entered our lives 38 weeks earlier. She was a tiny heartbeat on the ultrasound screen next to her twin brother, Tobias. Oh my gosh, our dream had come true; TWINS!
Already blessed with three gorgeous children under the age of four, we were beyond excited to be finishing our family with two cute bundles of fun. We had a drama-free twin pregnancy with everything looking on track for a natural delivery. Life as we knew it could not be better.
But then there was darkness. Whispered words. Silence. Confusion. Bewilderment. Bittersweet heartache. An empty crib and empty arms.
Broken hearts. Forced smiles. Deep breaths… our sweet Imogene-Kate entered silently into our world. A suspected complete placenta abruption on the theatre table had been too much for her.
We had two babies. One was deliciously warm and snug, while the other felt cold.
There were two babies lying next to me, but only one fed.
I can recall the feel of Imogene’s sweet, newborn head against my lips as I smothered her with kisses - enough kisses to last a lifetime, I hope.
Time felt like it stood still, and yet the clock continued to tick. Life outside my bed whirled around us.
How do you wrap-up a lifetime of love, a lifetime of memories, a lifetime of everything in only a few short hours? How do you say goodbye to your precious baby when you have only just met? Why was this happening? What did we do wrong?
I was still hooked-up to machines and the pain relief drugs brought a feeling of numbness to both my body and mind.
My husband, Mark dressed Imogene and Tobias in the matching jumpsuits we had excitedly packed into our hospital bag just the day before.
Our two babies laid side by side for the only twin photos we were ever able to have.
Our friends and family were in the room to share this heartbreaking, yet beautiful moment with us. They took photos that have become priceless.
And then came our other children. We didn't know what to say. How do you tell a four-year-old that his longed-for sister is dead? How do you explain stillbirth to a child when it doesn’t even make sense yourself?
Our three children arrived to welcome their babies. The same babies they had kissed each night on my tummy. The babies they had been talking about for the whole 38 weeks of my pregnancy.
They clamoured up onto the bed and they knew. They could tell. Children are more intuitive than we give them credit for.
Then there was more photos, more talking, and lots of tears flowing. We had a family photo taken to capture our family in that moment - the only moment we have.
And then we were alone to have time with our Imogene-Kate before she was gone forever. That time was never long enough.
Writing this now it feels like yesterday, and yet it was nearly seven years ago.
Our tears covered her sweet face as we tried to capture every part of her for our memories. Memories are all we have left… memories for what we were blessed to be given and heartache for all that we will miss.
Nothing can ever feel as dark as that day. Nothing.
But light shines. Like a tiny peephole through the darkness, light began to show again. Fleeting at first, but there.
It's Imogene’s beautiful light. She shines through her twin brother Tobias, in his eyes and in his smile. It's so bittersweet to watch him achieve milestones alone, knowing every time that there should be two.
Imogene shines through in her other siblings too; in their cheekiness and in their hearts.
We keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking everything one tiny step at a time. This is the only way.
And still light shines. It starts to get brighter some days. We laugh. We ache. We smile. We hurt. We share. We share our pain, we share our memories.
We have been fortunate to have the love and support of so many close family and dear friends, that our darkness didn’t feel so lonely.
We make a conscious choice to make sure Imogene’s life has purpose. We promise ourselves that our sunshine children (children born before loss) and subsequent rainbow children (children born after loss) have a life surrounded by positive light.
We choose to project memories of their sister and know that our love and connection with Imogene can never be taken away from us. She will always be a positive influence in our children's lives.
Life after death doesn’t stay dark. We choose to live for Imogene - for her sweetness and light to touch as many people as possible.
Some days, no darkness falls. We connect with our Bear of Hope, which is a precious bear that was given to us in hospital that means so much to us now.
It's a much needed bear that has connected us with a support community of bereaved families like ours.
Imogene lead us down many paths we never thought we would walk. She lead us to many friends who we may never have had the honour of making. Our sweet angel knows where we need to go.
Seven years on and light shines for us every day. Darkness is there, but it's only fleeting now.
We have been blessed since Imogene with two beautiful baby boys, but our family puzzle will always have that missing piece. Some days that missing piece feels bigger than other days, but for the most part, our puzzle at a glance is complete.
Our gorgeous angel girl Imogene-Kate 27th October 2008. Forever in our hearts.