Three days after our wedding, I took a pregnancy test. I didn’t exactly believe I was pregnant- we had been trying unsuccessfully for a year, including a very early miscarriage in November. So when those two lines appeared, as clear as they could be, I cried with happiness. I could not believe my luck, I had both my babies with me on my wedding day!
I got symptoms straight away- morning sickness, tiredness, cravings for spicy foods, weight gain, nightmares.. You name it. We told our immediate family and everyone was just so excited. Our family was complete.
As time went on, I worried. I worried about too much weight gain, how much I was eating, that something wasn’t right, cramping.. I wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy it. I had an early ultrasound that showed no heartbeat, but at five weeks apparently it was normal. Except I wasn’t five weeks, I was six – I knew the date of conception so I was sure. Even so, I carried on as normal, and waited until eight weeks. The ultrasound showed a heartbeat, and I was relieved. Again, my dates were pushed back, but only by a couple of days so nothing to worry about. Then, at eleven weeks, I had more cramping and spotting. So off we went again to emergency, for an eight hour wait and an ultrasound by a doctor who admitted she could see nothing because she had no experience with an ultrasound machine. So an appointment for two days later was made, and we went home. I had lost hope, plus I had started vomiting up everything I ate or drank. Eleven weeks seemed too late for morning sickness to suddenly get so bad. The Tuesday came and we had our ultrasound. There it was, a living baby. Relief again. I kept vomiting for a week, everything I ate and most of what I drank. Then, just as suddenly, it stopped.
Before our twelve week scan I mentally prepared myself for the worst, the pregnancy had just felt so different from my last. It was either a girl this time, or something was not quite right. When we went in, the familiar sigh of relief when a moving baby with a strong heartbeat popped up on the screen. Again, dates pushed back by a couple of days, but all looked well. We came home, announced on Facebook, and began getting excited now. I was past the safe point!
Two days before I turned fourteen weeks, I went home from work because of light spotting and cramps. After the experiences we’d had at the hospital, we decided it would be less stressful if I just spent the weekend laying on the couch resting. On the Sunday, we went and bought our fancy new double pram.
That week, I felt fantastic. I had my energy back, my belly was looking pregnant and not just fat, I was eating normally again, I was really enjoying myself. The next week, my husband went away for work and I spent the time cleaning the house out – nesting – no cupboard was left unscrubbed. My mother in law came over from Adelaide to take us to the Wiggles and come with us to the private 3D gender scan at sixteen weeks.
The night before the gender scan, I lay in bed thinking horrible thoughts. Tomorrow was not going to be good. I didn’t want to go, I wanted to call my brother and tell him not to come. I knew I the words I was going to hear. I didn’t sleep well, and soon it was morning. I told my husband and his mum I was nervous, and it was strange because I was never nervous about any of Jacob’s scans. In the car on the way there I said “can I go in first and make sure everything is ok, then everyone else come in?”
Maybe baby wouldn’t cooperate and we wouldn’t find out the gender, maybe that was the bad feeling I had. Or maybe it was just the normal nerves of pregnancy. Either way, my heart was racing.
I lay down on the bed, my mum, brother and his girlfriend, my husband, son and mother in law all in the room too. My mother in law started to film everyone on her phone, and when the ultrasound tech held up her hand for her to stop, my heart sank. She asked me how many weeks I was meant to be, sixteen, where was I meant to be having baby.. I looked at the screen and the stillness of my baby was heartbreaking. There it was, just floating.
“I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”
My mother in law and I broke in to loud sobs, it took a moment for everyone else in the room to realise. My husband brought my son to me and he cuddled me, everyone came to hug me and say they were sorry. My baby.
I called the hospital and made an appointment for the next day to discuss options. I felt disgusting. My baby had died and was just floating in there, my body had let me think I was pregnant and lied to me. How ridiculous, I can’t even tell if my baby is alive or dead. I couldn’t even keep it alive, my one job.
The next day we went to the hospital, where the most lovely midwife in the world took us into a little room and explained what was to happen. She told me that I would have to be induced to birth the baby. I was in shock, how was I meant to go into a birthing suite with mothers giving birth to beautiful healthy babies, and walk out with nothing? She said we could take baby home to bury it, or they could deal with the remains. There was no procedure for babies born under twenty weeks, so basically it would be thrown away. I wanted them to knock me out, take it out and get rid of it. I was so angry.
We went home and talked. We cried. We cried loud sobs that were just pure agony and sadness. We cried together, agreeing not to look at each other and just let it out. We talked about it, and giving birth seemed to be the most dignified way to end our baby's story. I made my peace with it, and actually looked forward to the pain of the contractions. I was it's mother, it was what I was meant to do. My brother came over and we talked about what to do with the tiny body, he said we couldn’t just throw it in the bin. We should cremate it. I went back for another ultrasound at 4pm, and there it was, so still and so perfect. The man said it was probably a boy. Our son.
After the gender scan, I still held out some hope that she was wrong, she didn’t try hard enough, check again! But there was no mistaking it now, there he was, he was gone. He had died at around fourteen weeks – the time I left work early and rested. That’s why I felt so good, my body had been working double time to fight to keep the little man alive. I had been nesting because I was going to have a baby soon.
We went to my brother’s house because our house seemed so empty, so quiet. I was booked for induction at 9am the next morning. I didn’t want to go to bed because it meant when I woke up it would be the day. I suddenly didn’t want them to take him, he was my baby, he was meant to be with me. I didn’t want to let him go, I was meant to protect him.
I went to bed and, surprisingly, fell straight to sleep. I woke up at 4.30am with stomach pain. I got up to check if I was bleeding, creeping down the hallway trying not to wake anybody up. I went to the toilet, and a bloody fluid started coming out. I quietly opened the linen cupboard and got the darkest towel I could find, grabbed a roll of toilet paper, went into the bathroom, and closed the door. I held on to the sink through the pain, then remembered what a girl had recently told me about the feeling of needing to push. I felt it, but only slightly. I got a wad of toilet paper and started to push. There he was. His cord was still attached so I knew I couldn’t lift him up yet. I waddled down the hallway – all the time thinking I hope my brother doesn’t wake up and see this! – and woke up my husband.
“I’ve had him, I’ve had him” I waddled back to the bathroom. My husband came in and I explained that the placenta hadn’t come out, and call the ambulance just in case. He woke up my brother who called the ambulance, and then another contraction and the placenta came out and it was done. We lifted him up and had a look. He was so cute, so complete, so tiny. His little hand was on his head, and we could see that it was definitely a boy. Our tiny Cameron. I had him all by myself, just the two of us, just as I was meant to. My final act as his mother.
There were no complications, the hospital was happy to check him and let us leave, and by 9.13am we were in the car to go home. It was over. There was baby Cameron on my lap, wrapped in a beautiful little blanket that a charity makes for miscarried babies, so perfect and sleeping. I went home and made him a little hat to keep his head warm, and his tiny mouth opened when I put it on. I couldn’t believe how much he already looked like his brother, it didn’t seem possible.
We went for lunch, and went to my brother’s house. We wanted to make his birthday a happy day, and worry about sadness later. It was so surreal, no one in the world knew what had just happened to us.
My heart aches for my son. For the hopes, the plans, the emptiness inside of my belly. I know that he was never meant for this world, in the traditional sense, because my body had been fighting to keep him alive and I was amazed that the little warrior had made it this far. He made it far enough for his life to have such immense meaning.
I was angry at my body for lying to me, for being his coffin, for not doing more to keep him alive. Now I am in awe of my body, I am amazing. My body made sure I had time to go to that ultrasound, to deal with my grief, to make the right choice, to be alone and ready and give him the birth he deserved. It could have happened any time in the two weeks before, in any other way, and I would have been terrified. Instead, I was at peace, and it was beautiful.
He was brought to me to teach me to love myself, my body, my life. He has strengthened relationships of all of the people around me. There were so many key players – my husband, my brother and his girlfriend, my family and inlaws, my online mothers group and the one amazing woman who had been through the same thing and shared her story with me and will never know how much strength she gave me, the midwife who was the most caring person I have ever met, my friend that made me a care package with all of my favourite things, the people who sent flowers, texts, facebook messages/comments, the Pregnancy Loss Australia charity, the church that made him a blanket to keep him warm, the lady who came to pick up his body to be cremated and hugged me, and most of all- me. I am changed forever. Cameron will affect lives in ways that most people can’t manage in a lifetime.
I love my baby boy. I will miss him every single day. The tears will fall, my chest will tighten, my mind will wander. There will be hard days. But if I could do it all again, I would go through all of the pain just to find this peace.
Sleep well, little man. Mummy loves you.