Editor's note: This post is an excerpt from the book Still a Mum: A story of modern grief and life after loss.
Photo Credit: Meagan Donaldson
At 23 weeks of pregnancy, after ten weeks of uncertainty—including extra scans, tests, an amniocentesis and an MRI—we received the news that our baby had a rare condition. We met with a range of specialists and were told the prognosis for our baby was poor. Taking on board the information presented to us, we made the extremely difficult and heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to our very loved and very wanted, beautiful baby girl.
As this was our first baby, we had no other birth experience to compare to. We just knew that we had a different kind of birth story. One that unfortunately wouldn’t end with the cries of a newborn baby, words of congratulations, or excited visits from friends.
On the day I was induced, I had to call the hospital at 7:00 a.m. to confirm that I was coming in. I was absolutely hysterical making that phone call and could barely get the words out when the phone was answered. I didn’t know how I was meant to feel or how I would possibly manage to give birth to our baby girl.
The process of the medical induction began at 11:00 a.m. For the next twelve hours my body went into shock, and I experienced severe cramps, vomiting and extreme shaking. At twenty-three weeks of pregnancy my body wasn't ready to go into labour. I was given heat packs and wrapped in warm blankets. I had been given something to assist with the nausea and a dose of morphine for temporary relief.
Twelve hours after the process began, my waters hadn’t broken and I was only one centimeter dilated. I was devastated that I had been in so much pain and so sick, but nothing was progressing. I had been told by the midwife that often with this type of medication things can begin to progress extremely quickly once labour begins.
Then only an hour later, the cramps I had been experiencing changed. I started having what I knew were contractions. We pressed the button for the midwife and informed her that I was pretty sure I was in labour. I was told the doctor would come back to see me soon and when she did it was confirmed that I was in fact in labour and ten centimeters dilated.
In the midst of a contraction I asked the midwife for confirmation that if I felt the need to push I could. She said that I should.
Just before 1:40 a.m., Violet Grace Donaldson began her entrance into the world, breech and entirely en caul.
Although I have no doubt I cried when she was handed to me, I don’t remember feeling any sadness. All I remember was being completely overwhelmed with love. I had never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved her in that moment.
The feeling of having my beautiful baby placed in my arms was everything I could have ever hoped for. Although I knew she wasn’t alive, in that moment, it didn’t matter. She was my baby and to me she was absolutely perfect. I know it is extremely difficult for anyone who hasn’t lived through the experience to imagine but when I held Violet in my arms it gave me an incredible sense of peace and filled my heart with so much love. I felt so calm looking at her perfect features and face. I couldn’t believe that we had created her. She was the cutest baby I had ever seen in my life.
Violet has impacted my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. Everyone says that becoming a mum changes you and they couldn’t be more right. I feel so lucky and forever thankful that Violet chose me to be her mum. Although she couldn’t physically stay, she is with me always.
Thank you Meagan Donaldson / @violets_gift for sharing your story. Shared with permission.
Pregnancy and infant loss can leave grieving parents feeling isolated and unsure how to navigate the heartbreaking circumstance of living without their precious baby. Unexpecting delicately helps grieving parents navigate the complexities and heartache of life after loss.
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