October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month we will share the stories of some very brave mums who sadly lost their little angels! Our goal in sharing their stories is to help increase the conversation and awareness around Pregnancy & Infant Loss, so that no one should have to feel like they go through this alone.
We would also like to ask a few things of you:
- When you see an ‘Angel Mums’ post during October – take the time to stop and read it. (This means more than you can know)!
- If you have your own story – We invite you to share a post, a pic or even a thought.
- On Sunday 15 October light a candle for at least 1 hour at 7pm in your local time. This creates a continuous wave of light right around the world. Let’s remember all the little lives that never got the chance to grow old.
We aren’t raising money during October but if you would like to contribute by donating we will link a few amazing Support Organisations below.
Ruby’s Story …..
Sunday, January 29th 2012, 1:26pm – This is when our lives changed forever.
I remember every single minute of my labour and I never want to forget it. It was somewhat painful (thank you epidural for making it easier!), but it was beautiful because I knew there was a precious littlebaby that was soon to follow.
1:26pm, a beautiful little girl named Ruby May entered this world, 10 tiny toes and 10 tiny fingers, the cutest of button noses and little lips ready to give her mummy and daddy a kiss. She was so angelic, wrapped up ever so gently and lovingly.
I’ll never forget the moment she was handed to me, all I wanted to hear was her cry. Unfortunately, it never came and it never will. All that was heard were our cries as tears fell from my eyes on her plump little cheeks.
My pregnancy was uneventful, very text book so I was quite naïve to what could happen. I mean, you read about it, but you never think it will happen to you. Each appointment with my amazing obstetrician was great, heart beat nice and strong, lots of fluid, movements were great.
Ruby had a routine, mornings she was most active and at nights once I would go to bed she would move around and stretch, the best feeling in the world.
Friday the 27th of January, I had a busy day shopping with my mum and brother and had also seen my obstetrician for a regular check and everything was great. He mentioned that he wouldn’t be around over the weekend as he was heading interstate and we both made a joke that knowing my luck, she woud decide to arrive while he wasn’t there.
I had noticed tightening’s in my stomach throughout the day, but this had been happening for a while now as my due date was looming. I continued on with my day and rested at every chance I had. That evening, I was starting to feel uncomfortable so my husband and I decided to head out for a walk, it was so hot and the Braxton hicks were becoming more uncomfortable so we headed back home. I had something to eat and we settled down to watch Roger Federer defeat Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon Men’s finals. It was 12:30am when I noticed Ruby’s movements. They were out of this world, she had never moved like this, ever. It was almost as though she was trying to push herself out of my stomach. I could see her feet pushing up on the top of my abdomen. I woke hubby up, who at this point had lost interest in the tennis and fallen asleep. I showed him her movements and we had a giggle together. Looking back now, I feel like she may have been trying to tell me something.
At 2:45am on Saturday the 28th of January I was woken up by contractions, they were uncomfortable, but not painful. I went to the bathroom, had some water and lay there timing. They were coming every 15 minutes or so. I ended up falling asleep again as they subsided.
That morning at 7:30am I woke up and told my husband what I had been experiencing through the night and he wasn’t all too pleased that I hadn’t told him. I was calm and didn’t think anything major was happening so I wanted him to have a good sleep in case we had to drive to the hospital. The contractions at this point had started up again and I noticed that I had a show when I went to the bathroom. This was all new to me being my first, so I called the hospital. They asked me if I had felt the baby move. I stopped and thought for a second and then asked, can you still feel them move during contractions? I really had no idea. I explained her movements and the midwife told me to lay down for 30 minutes and call them back if I hadn’t felt any movements.
I lay down, had some cold water and waited. Nothing. No movements at all. At this point I wasn’t alarmed at all as I had heard that it was normal for movements to decrease at this point in your pregnancy. Boy was I wrong and please, to anyone who is reading this, if you feel any difference in baby’s movements, call the hospital and go in to be monitored. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s normal. Only you know your baby’s movements and you are your baby’s number one advocate.
I contacted the hospital again and told them that there were no movements. They advised me to have a shower, something to eat and to come into the hospital to be monitored. The ride to the hospital was so uncomfortable, the contractions were 7 minutes apart at this point and with every pump and turn I felt them even more.
It was now 10am as we got to the Epworth Freemason’s hospital. We were taken into room number 4 in the labour ward. It was a huge room with so many windows, so bright and welcoming. I lay there as they listened for a heartbeat with the Doppler at first. You could hear something faint, but that was just the placenta or my pulse. The midwife said she would call in the head midwife to have a listen while we waited for my obstetrician to arrive. She too came in and the same outcome. At this point, my husband and I were oblivious to what was happening, we still had no idea that our baby girl was gone.
My obstetrician was in an emergency c section so they had another doctor come in to do the ultrasound. I will never forget this man, not for his caring nature, but for lack there of. He put the ultrasound probe on my belly and instantly our baby girl came up on the screen. He sat there looking at the screen for a few minutes touching buttons etc, I knew all too well what I could see and it crushed me. I was about to say, please just tell me when he said the following, so cold and straight to the point, his words will haunt me forever. “See this spot right here, this is where there should be a heartbeat, but there isn’t”. Got up off the seat, tapped me on the shoulder and said your doctor will be in soon to see you and walked out. My husband and I held each other ever so tightly. I cried uncontrollably while he held it together trying to comprehend what we were just told. The midwives were brilliant and gave us some space to be alone, coming in to check on us every now and then.
My obstetrician came in and the look on his face was pure sadness. He hugged me and said I’m so very sorry and I broke down all over again. Sobbing and trying to ask him what could have happened. He had no answers. He told me that I would have to deliver our baby girl and this to me sounded so strange, I asked if I could have a c section and he encouraged me to give birth naturally and I’m glad I did.
As mentioned earlier, my obstetrician had to head to an event on the Saturday and would return on Sunday morning. At this point due to the shock, my contractions had completely stopped so we made the decision to have me induced the very next morning and I would stay in hospital that evening. I didn’t want to go home to the bedroom filled with a bassinet and change table, all of her clothes and blankets all waiting for her arrival.
My husband and I sat there wondering how we were going to tell our family. One by one we contacted them, we couldn’t speak to our own family as we just broke down so I spoke to my in-laws and explained everything and hubby spoke to my parents. They were devastated and dropped everything they were doing to be by our sides.
The midwives were so wonderful and caring, they allowed our family to come at all hours of the night and it was what we needed. I needed my sister, my sister and her fiancé were a good distraction. I tried to sleep, but my contractions started up again at 3am. I didn’t tell the midwives, instead I held onto my husbands hand and just cried squeezing his hand with each contraction.
My obstetrician came in at 7am, broke my waters and hooked me up to the drip. The contractions came hard and fierce. He had the anaesthetist come in straight away and said, you are already in so much pain, I don’t want you to have to go through anymore. I had the epidural and lay there while my whole family sat in silence just watching me. I couldn’t cry, I kept strong for them. I felt the urge to push and asked everyone to leave the room, I only wanted it to be my hubby and I. After an hour and a half of pushing, baby Ruby May entered the world forever sleeping, ever so silently she crept into this world and left an enormous hole in our hearts.
The midwife wrapped her up ever so lovingly and asked who wanted to hold her first, I said my husband could as I had held her for 9 months. When I held her for the first time, I couldn’t believe what had just happened and why it had happened. Time stood still and no one else in the room mattered, she was here in my arms and it was all about Ruby and taking in every inch of her perfection. An hour passed and we had our family come in and meet their granddaughter and niece.
That evening, I wanted to get out of the hospital for a walk as all I could hear was crying babies and women giving birth. I asked the midwives and they said it was fine however, not to go too far. As I was about to leave the room I started to shake uncontrollably. I couldn’t get warm and I wasn’t feeling well. My husband called the midwife and she checked my obs. My blood pressure was through the roof and my temperature was also very high. They were worried that I may have caught an infection or had pre eclampsia after the pregnancy, I had no idea this was even possibly. I was put into bed and 4 IV fluid bags were hooked up and a catheter, I couldn’t move. They also were worried that I would have a fit from the blood pressure and fever being so high that they put the rails up on the sides of the bed and I was monitored every hour for 10 hours straight. Finally at 7am I was ok to get up and walk around as I had responded to the antibiotics.
Once I was well enough they transferred me to the maternity ward. We had our family come and visit us daily, I was there for 6 days.
My husband and I had Ruby for 3 days before the funeral home came to take her to the mortuary and to have an autopsy done. At first we didn’t want to have the autopsy, however were advised that it was best to get it done to see if there were any genetic issues as nothing was visible when she was born. There was no cord around her neck or anything that would indicate what happened.
They would bring Ruby into our room in the bassinet however; it would be completely covered with a blanket. I know this was done so it wouldn’t upset the other parents, but it crushed me each time they would bring her in. I wished she could stay in our room with us permanently, but this was not possible. We cuddled her ever so tightly and told her that we love her thousands of times over and over. We took photos of her and wrapped her up and just cried. On the 3rd day, the funeral directors took her away. I felt so broken, I wanted to go home and grieve, but I didn’t want to see everything that was awaiting her arrival. I didn’t want to leave because I felt her presence there. On the 6th day I was cleared to leave as my bloods came back normal.
On the way home, every stop and shop reminded me of my pregnancy and I cried each time. I had a call from the funeral home to organise a time to have the funeral director come and discuss the funeral arrangements. I couldn’t believe I was planning a funeral for my daughter, not a baptism or birthday, a funeral. I was devastated, but when the funeral director arrived, she put my mind at ease and organised everything we asked. She was an angel in disguise and I am ever so grateful to Tobin Brothers for their wonderful service.
The day before the funeral, my husband and I spent a good 3 hours with Ruby holding her and rocking her. We organised her tiny little white coffin, we put a photo of us in there a letter, a chain with a crystal heart and a chain with a heart that split in two. It said always and forever. Ruby wears the one that says forever and I wear the always half. We wanted everything to be perfect as this would be the only time we could do something for her.
The day of the funeral arrived and I was calm and collected. At the viewing, which was only open to our close family, I was dazed. I can’t even remember who was there. I do remember watching my dad cry, he never shows emotion and this broke me. This event in their life led them to when they lost their first born daughter to SIDS in 1983 at 3.5 months old. I will never forget my dad’s words, “This is not how the life cycle should be, I was meant to go before she did”.
Ruby is buried in a children’s garden, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. There is a little pond and beautiful cherry blossom trees that bloom in spring with dainty little pink and white flowers. It doesn’t feel like a cemetery at all. I was there every single day for 6 months straight, I sat there for hours just reliving every moment. Feeling emotions of guilt, blame, anger and sadness. At the same time, I felt a sense of calm when I was there, she was with me and I felt her presence.
It took 3 months for us to receive Ruby’s autopsy results. We just wanted to know what happened to our baby girl and why it happened. Unfortunately, we were that 1 in 1000 that received no cause for her death. It was very difficult to accept what had happened and to move on from it and to this day, there is no closure. If she was healthy, why isn’t she here with us today? I will ask myself this everyday till I meet her again.
We have since been blessed with three beautiful rainbows, Bentley who is 4.5 years old, Evan who is 2.5 years old and our youngest little baby, Maisie Belle who is 11 months old. They fill our hearts with more joy than they could ever comprehend. Although our hearts will always have this missing piece, we will live to keep her memory alive and we will honour her in every way we can. We visit her resting place regularly and have told our children all about her. When they see a butterfly, they jump up with excitement because it’s their sister Ruby. I know she is always around, I feel her presence and it gives me peace knowing that I will meet her again someday only this time it will be forever and I will never let go.
In 2015, my husband and I organised a fundraiser in Ruby’s memory to raise funds for a cuddle cot for the Epworth Freemason’s hospital. We successfully raised over $5,000 and a cuddle cot was donated to the hospital in Ruby’s memory. For those of you who have not heard of the cuddle cot, it’s a cooling device placed in the bassinet to keep it cold so that the baby can stay with you in the room for as long as you like. This gives parents the time to cuddle their baby, say their goodbyes without feeling rushed and to grieve in their own time.
Thank you for reading, sending you all so many blessing and love.
Sadly there are 6 babies born sleeping every day in Australia & this rate has not reduced in two decades.
Below are donation links to a few of the amazing organisations that support families through this very sad time.
Sands provide valuable support for miscarriage, stillbirth & newborn deaths.
Bears of Hope: http://www.bearsofhope.org.au/a/101.html
Bears of Hope provide pregnancy & infant loss support, Cuddle Cots & Bears of Hope.
Heartfelt provide the invaluable gift of photographic memories.