Lost and found

Antenatal classes taught us a lot about breathing, pain relief and skin-to-skin. But we never imagined we could lose our baby in childbirth.

Until it almost happened.

We were three days into ‘pre-labour’ (which, quite frankly, was pretty damned painful. I nearly burst when a midwife told me I wasn’t ‘established’, and the worse was yet to come). Breaking my waters sped up the contractions, but not enough. So out rolled the syntocinon drip.

Austin didn’t like it. As soon as the hormone flowed into my arm, his heartbeat stuttered and started. Terrifying peaks and eddies, with swirling, whirling sounds shooting out of the monitor.

Four times they hooked me up to the drip. Four times we saw our baby’s distress spelt out in numbers. Heart rate: 198. Heart rate: 22. Heart rate: 201.

And then, nothing. A big round zero, and a solid beeeeep.

This had happened twice already. Each time, the midwives hauled me around (I was wired up to an epidural, so my legs were useless: floppy and leaden), and the flailing of my body had jump-started Austin’s heart back to life.

This time, it didn’t work.

Sirens sounded. A red light by the door flashed on and off. People came running – lots of people – and raced with my bed, down the corridor.

I slumped back onto the pillows. Nothing I could do now. Our baby (boy or girl? We didn’t know) might already have left us. I was going to sleep, and when I woke up, I would find out. Alive or dead.

You WILL be alright.

You WILL be alright.

You WILL be  alright.

In the operating theatre, D kissed me goodbye, crying. I signed a form. Doctors told me I need only write an X. I signed my whole name; for some reason, it felt important. It didn’t look like my signature. It looked like the demented scrawl of a dying beetle.

D left, and they covered my face with a mask. I couldn’t breathe. I shouted; they said it was just the anaesthetic, working through the gas.

But there’s nothing coming out of this mask. I’m going to suffocate while you take my baby out.

I looked up, and, through my panic, I saw the face of an orderly, leaning over me. He smiled, then winked.

Calm seeped into me. I slept.

When I opened my eyes, I felt a hand on mine. D was sitting next to me.

He kissed me again.

We have a son, he said.

And so the adventure began.

Since hearing about Edspire‘s tragedy, I have been reflecting on loss. I didn’t participate in any of the tributes to Matilda Mae, because it didn’t seem right. I don’t know Edspire and, although I felt deeply for them, I didn’t feel close enough to join with fellow bloggers, who have shown such moving support.

But the death of Matilda Mae set me thinking. About losses I’ve lived through. And terrifying experiences, like this one, which make me realise how lucky we are to have two happy, healthy children.

Please let it continue.

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