Pregnancy & Birth

'I had to say goodbye to my baby girl.'

To recognise International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, one mum shares the stillbirth of her angel daughter.

By Kaitlyn Paul
"There's no fetal heart."
These are the words that will forever be on repeat inside my head.
We had a routine scan on the Thursday morning. I'd woken at 4am realising I hadn't felt much movement. I shook it off thinking, "Don't be silly. Go back to sleep. You've got an appointment in a few hours and all will be OK."
I couldn't sleep. I went downstairs for a cold drink thinking maybe that would wake my daughter up. At the time I thought that maybe I felt a little flutter, but looking back it was just in my head.
I called my mum to collect our two-year-old son as I said I had a funny feeling, but not really knowing what that feeling was.
Two years earlier our little boy had been born at 33 weeks due to being small. We had been having weekly scans with him to keep an eye on his growth and it was just a matter of time before he would be born. I had three lots of steroid injections with him, and was told on Christmas Eve that it was time to pull him out. He was born on the 27 December weighing 1.74kg.
He was a beautiful and healthy little boy.
So what I was expecting to hear at the routine scan was that it was time to take her out. However, all of our previous ultrasound scans had shown no signs of any growth issues like we had with our son. Our daughter was healthy and looking good for a normal delivery.
That morning we drove to see our sonogropher. We'd gotten to know her well after two pregnancies and felt like family walking into the waiting room each time.
The drive there was quiet. Neither of us said a word. We walked into the room after waiting some time and I told our sonographer that I hadn't felt much movement. She said she would take a look.
The minute the screen turned on in front of us we knew something was different. And then there it was. She pulled away and put her hand on mine and said, "I'm sorry, there's no fetal heart."
Ben grabbed my hand and we both had tears streaming down our faces. I wanted to scream but I just clenched-up as our sonogropher had a look to see if she could find a cause.
She said that she was sorry. All I could say to her was that it was OK.
As I look back on that moment I wonder what was OK? Really, what was OK about it? Nothing. Nothing was OK. My whole world just came crashing down in a second and all I could say was, "It's OK."
We then had to see our doctor, who gave us the options on what we needed to do next; I still had to deliver our baby somehow.
We decided her birth would be just like her brother's birth; a c-section. I couldn't bring myself to experience a natural birth when the end wouldn't be what it should be, and I knew having a c-section would mean it would be over quicker.
We booked in the c-section for first thing the next morning. I remember walking out of the doctor's office covering my belly with my cardigan. I was hiding my baby. I wanted her out. I wanted it all over with, but we had to go home and somehow I had to try and get some sleep. Instead I laid awake asking, 'Why us? What did we do to deserve this? How did we become a statistic?'
Morning came. It was Friday 13th February.
We walked into the hospital and my husband checked us in while another pregnant woman was checking in too.
I sat down in the waiting room with tears rolling down my face. A nurse came over with a box of tissues - she knew why I was there. I was the one who'd lost her baby.
Soon enough it was time to go to theatre. The nursing staff took good care of me whilst Ben put on his scrubs. I remember how cold it was.
With soft music playing in the background and Ben by my side, he watched the moment his little girl came into the world.
As she was coming out Ben said to me that she had lots of hair and indeed she did.
This was normally when you'd hear a little cry and I was praying so hard that she'd let out a little cry but nothing. Just silence.
The beautiful nurse wrapped-up our baby girl in the blanket that I'd bought for her.
In that moment I realised that every little bit of my baby was real. She was real. A beautiful baby girl who I had so many hopes and wishes for; the baby girl I'd been growing inside of me for the last seven months. She had arrived and was absolutely perfect, but she couldn't stay on Earth with us.
Baby Addison Grace.
This time was supposed to be different. I had prayed to have my baby in my hospital room with me instead of down in the special care nursery like her brother.
Well, I got to have her in my room, but it wasn't how the dream went. We got back to our room with my baby girl in her crib and it was a very surreal moment.
We got some alone time and then our nurse came in to help us take photos, prints of her little hands and feet and we even got a lock of her beautiful, dark, curly hair.
The nurse told us how beautiful she was and how perfect she was. We cannot thank the nursing staff enough for being so wonderfully caring. We'll forever think of them and be thankful for helping us through this storm as they became part of our healing.
That first night I cried and cried. I knew we'd probably have to say goodbye to our daughter the next day. My incredibly strong husband held me and wiped away my tears. We decided together that it was time. My mum, dad and our little boy came to say their goodbyes too.
We then had a few more days in hospital which felt like we were living in a little bubble. It was a very safe bubble where the rest of the world just didn't exist.
When it came time to leave the hospital we walked out without our baby, just like we had done with our son. But last time we knew he'd come home once he was big and strong. This time, we were going home to plan a funeral.
Addison's funeral service was beautiful. We had family and friends travel to come say their goodbyes. I realised not only did we lose our baby girl but we lost a sister, granddaughter, niece, great granddaughter, great niece and a little friend. They too were grieving and to them I say thank you. Thank you for being there, for giving our girl the beautiful send-off she deserved.
It's now six months on and there are still days that hurt just as much as the day we lost her.
May Addison forever be our little angel up in the sky watching over us. She will be forever part of our family, her birthday will be celebrated just the way it should be every year and she will be forever loved.
For whatever reason this happened to us, but we have hope. Without hope we have nothing, right? Hope for research, hope to reduce the statistics and finally hope for our future.
*Written by Kaitlyn Paul
Every year 2,190 babies are stillborn in Australia. Six Australian families experience the devastation of stillbirth every day.
On 15 October it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. On this day the Stillbirth Foundation Australia is launching #IAMTHATSTATISTIC to raise awareness of stillbirth and to unite families who have experienced stillbirth.
For more information visit IamThatStatistic.org.au or the Stillbirth Foundation Australia.*

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