March 11, 2011

It has been an incredibly exciting week for me with the lovely feature of last weeks party over on Amy Atlas – I have had so many emails and encouraging words which has been truly lovely – thank you dear friends.

Today however I am going to post about something completely different – something incredibly personal  and important in my life – I understand if the post is a little long and you don’t make it all the way to the end.  I am sorry if in parts it is a little sad, but today’s post is for me – a story I have never sat down to write until now – somehow the timing just fits for me at this point in my life – not sure if that means something?   If you have time have a read or maybe come back later – induldge me a little while I share my story.

I guess none of us know what life will deal us – we never know when we will have one of those magically years where everything falls into place and we definitely do not know when life will throw us tragedy.

Eight years ago today I experienced a day that changed my life for ever – a day of sadness and grief – it was the day my first born child arrived – a day that is supposed to be filled with smiles and tears of joy but for me this was not to be the case.  I have relived her birth over and over in my head – it feels like it was yesterday but it also feels like a lifetime ago – today however I feel the need to tell her story.

I had had a rough pregnancy – lots of morning sickness and lots of unexpected bleeding – the Doctors could find no reason for it but every few weeks I would have severe bleeding – not something you want when you are pregnant – I was having regular scans and being monitored closely and had been in and out of hospital as my doctor was concerned but it was not until in the third trimester of my pregnancy that scans picked up that our little girl was not growing well.  My placenta was not doing as it should and it was starting to affect her.  We were faced with an agonizing choice of getting her out early and hoping that she would be ok as she was still so tiny or leave her inside and pump me with drugs to help with her growth.  Whichever way we went there were major risks and no guarantees for success so we did what the Doctors suggested and pushed forward with the pregnancy as this in their opinion was the safest way for her to grow stronger.
I can not tell you how agonizing that time was – I felt like a walking time bomb – in the back of my mind I suspected that my baby was dying but she was alive inside me and that was all that mattered – my instincts told me things would not end well but while ever I was still carrying her I still had a little bit of hope.

It was at this time that I also met a wonderful lady named Deb – she was a social worker from the hospital – I could not understand why the Doctors and midwives thought it was important to talk to her – I did not really understand what a social worker did – what could she possibly do to help.  I distinctively remember her saying in that first meeting “I guess you are feeling like you need to distance yourself from this little person” – she was right – while I did not want this pregnancy to end for fear of the outcome I also wanted it to be over and be able to move on to a new pregnancy – one without complications – one without fear – one like my friends have – with a happy ending.

Tuesday 11th March 2003 – the morning arrived without anything to report.  Hubby was headed to Melbourne for a business trip for the day and two of my friends had decided to come over for coffee as I was not feeling one hundred percent and they wanted to check on me.  After the girls visited my mum came by to see how I was and we popped out to visit one of our suppliers as we were building a few houses at the time and things still needed to be done.  At around 4pm Mr A called from Melbourne to check on me and see if I thought it was ok that he stayed overnight in Melbourne as he still needed to finalise a few things from his meeting.
Of course at this stage nothing had changed so I told him to stay as I had a meeting to attend that night.  Off to the meeting I went at 7.30pm and I arrived home at around 9.45pm.  It was around this time that something didn’t feel right.  I had become frightened to go to the bathroom and this time my fears came true – my heart sunk as I realised that the umbilical cord had started to fall out.  I phoned Mr A in a panic and he told me to just phone my friend Ann – Ann thankfully was one of my closest friends and she was a midwife.  She was just finishing her shift at the hospital so she came straight over.

She took one look at me and put me in the car and took me straight to the hospital.  She told me that it was the cord that I could see and I needed to prepare for the worst.  All I could think of was no this can’t be happening now – Emilio is in Melbourne.  Ann settled me into a bed, phoned the Doctor to let him know the situation and they decided that it would be best if I slept the night and we waited until the morning to give Emilio time to return and we would induce labour.

I phoned mum to let her know where I was and then spoke with Emilio again who was feeling helpless.  By this stage it was around 11pm – Ann had told me to try and get some sleep and she would be back first thing in the morning.  The room was quite, I had been given a heat pack to use on my back and then suddenly it hit me – excruciating pain – uncontrollable pain – I was in labour.

I buzzed the little bell on my bed like a crazy woman – something is wrong the pain is so bad I can’t stand it – I still don’t think I realised what was going on – I still thought I had time.  Thank heavens Ann was still outside my room – she grabbed my arm and whispered “you are in labour and you are going to give birth now”.  I never expected it to happen so fast.  As I sit and write this I still can’t believe it happened so fast – only an hour before I was at home about to go to bed and now late on Tuesday evening I am here about to give birth to our baby without my husband to hold my hand.

At 11.10 pm our little angel arrived – the silence in the room was deafening – this is not the way it is meant to be – Ann and one other midwife – everyone was silent.  Ann looked at me as we both had tears streaming down our face and I asked – is it a boy or a girl?  We had never found out during the pregnancy but I always new it would be a girl – I remember vividly the moment Ann said “It’s a girl” – I sobbed.  I was surprised then to hear the other midwife ask the question “Would you like to hold her”.  To this day I am still a little surprised by this question but at the same time I have also learnt that everyone is different in their time of grief – all I could think of was “Of course, she is my child, I want her in my arms now”.  Before I gave birth to her I wondered if I would be scared to see her but at that moment there was nothing else that mattered  – she was beautiful and she had been through an ordeal.

It is hard to describe the feeling in that room in the moments after – such sadness but such bittersweet joy that I was finally able to meet my little girl.  It was about 10 minutes after she was born that Emilio phoned once more.  Ann had to let him know what had happened – I cannot imagine the helplessness he must have felt being so far away from us and not being able to get back.

My mum arrived soon after, not realising also that our little baby was here already – it was such a sad time in our family as my poor mum had left dad at home very sick so for her to arrive to such sad news must have been so difficult.

I am sure that it was about this time that things went a little hazy for me – I remember my Doctor arriving and that there was an attempt to remove my placenta followed by which a fast decision was made that I needed to get to surgery as my placenta was not wanting to detach – ironic really after all it had put us through.

The next few hours are rather blurry for me as I am sure I went into survival mode until Emilio arrived back.  I know that Ann was there, my mum was there, my Doctor visited and another very kind doctor who I had met on a previous visit dropped in to say hello and offer his words of support.

It was around mid morning that Emilio finally arrived and everyone just let the three of us be together.  I had not named her as we had not made a final decision on what her name should be prior to her arrival – I needed Emilio to be with me for this important decision.  We decided to call her Laura – it seemed perfect for her.  It was not the name we had planned for our first born but it was perfect for her – delicate and pretty – just like she was.

Our lovely social worker Deb arrived soon after and thankfully she was armed with a camera – not something I had even considered as I left home the night before.  The photos that Deb took are amongst my most prized possessions and I will forever be grateful to her for capturing this time for us.

She captured our wonderful priest giving her a blessing. Photos of her tiny feet and hands.  Photos of us as a family.

We spent the day at the hospital with her – scared to leave for fear of what would happen next – who would look after her after we went home.  Would we be able to see her again.

I remember that moment – the moment we left the hospital – by ourselves – without our little girl.  Disbelief.  Lost.  Empty.
But so proud to have a beautiful little girl.
Laura gave so much to our family – she helped me to understand the meaning of unconditional love – she has taught me that things don’t always go to plan, she taught me that you can get through the tough times, she taught that hope is a wonderful thing and she gave a gift to our family that nobody else could – the gift of reconnection.

Of course Laura’s story does not end here however today, on her 8th birthday I needed to write about her arrival, so I will finish up – grateful to have her in my life and proud of who she is to Emilio, myself and her three sisters.

Happy Birthday my sweet baby girl – we love you so so much and you are always by our side.

If you are still here I thank you for taking the time to read today’s post – raising the awareness of stillbirth is something I am so very passionate about as statistic are still frighteningly high.  If you would like more information about this please visit the Stillbirth Foundation Australia’s website here.


43 thoughts on “Life’s Mysteries – Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Girl

  1. I have tears in my eyes after reading this.

    My mom suffered what you did: her first born, my elder sister (Monica), was delivered prematurely at 7 months, already dead. She had had a very rough pregnancy, and the placenta had not been feeding Monica for a while. It was impossible back then (1974/75)to prevent this.

    I came into this world unexpectedly very shortly afterwards, and in order to have me delivered safely my mom had to be on bedrest from week 20 until I arrived, at 36 weeks, and to be pumped with drugs. Somehow I have always felt that Monica’s struggle helped me live and be here today (because otherwise they wouldn’t have discovered what was wrong with my mom) and that I owe her that.

    When I was pregnant with my babies they told us at the 20 week scan that my boy (I have twins) had an “unusual white area”in his cerebellum. I spent the next 15 weeks in agony, thinking that something might be seriously wrong with him, debated between wanting them to stay in my belly longer to grow better, and wanting them to be delivered to make sure everything was ok.

    We were lucky and both Luka and Zoe are now two very healthy 2 1/2 year olds, but everyday I thank for that, because I am fully aware that it could have been another way.

    Happy birthday Laura. Hugs to you.

  2. Dear Mrs A in the Cove, wishing Laura a heavenly birthday, what a beautiful, heartwrenching and well written post, my heart goes out to you and hope you have had a gentle day. What a wonderful thing you are doing in promoting the Stillbirth Foundation, they are an invaluable resource and a fantastic organisation. We lost our third child Harry he was a chubby, beautiful blonde baby- He would of been three in April. Am attending the Heartfelt opening here in Melbourne on Wednesday – volunteer photographers who take compassionate photos of babies and children in hospital, where I will be catching up with lots of friends whom I have met since Harry died who also went to the Stillbirth foundation lunch where the Premier spoke. I didn’t realise that she too had suffered baby loss.
    Thank you for sharing Laura’s story and it does really make us all realise what the important things in life are. I love what you said in regards to what Laura has taught us..I can associate with that so much. Thank you and again a beautiful post.


  3. Oh Leanne, I don’t know what to say. I have tears rolling down my face and I can’t begin to imagain the sadness you would have gone through and I’m sure, still feel. You have writen this tribute to little Laura so beautifully.
    It is scary to think of all the stillbirths that still occur, even in this age of ‘modern medicine’.
    Thank you for sharing Laura’s story with us today and you’re right, you don’t know what life will throw at you and we just have to be so grateful for everyday and everyone we love that is around us. Happy Birthday Laura. Big hugs to you all on this day, Jxx

  4. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. All I can say is thank you so much for sharing your story about your beautiful little Laura.


  5. Oh Leanne, I’m still wiping the tears!!
    I knew you had lived through this, & knew you were apart of the stillbirth foundation, but had never heard {or read} your story before, until today! For starters I applaude your raw honesty & the way you have so beautifully shared your story. You are an amazing woman Leanne!! The kind words you offered me during my pregnancy loss last year still warm my heart! You are very inspirational! You sharing this story…..will help so many others who have {or will} experience a similar loss. Keep smiling Sweet Leanne & thank you for sharing Laura’s story with us 🙂 xo

  6. What a beautiful and touching post, Leanne. I have known about your sweet little Laura for a while now, but to actually read the story of her birth is something very special. Thankyou for sharing this with us, it must be a difficult day for you and your loved ones. Thinking of you.

    Katena xxx

  7. Sitting here, so far away, but my tears are real, for your heartbreaking story, your courage to share this with us. I thank you for this.
    I think you have written this with such love, I could feel it through the screen.
    Really Leanne, my mama heart is touched by your big mama heart, big hugs, Maureen.x

  8. Leanne …. the tears are streaming down my face and I wonder how you made it through that time! Sometimes we have strength when we do not think we can move forward. We really do need to stop sometimes and look around at the things we have and appreciate the little things, and especially our little people.
    Happy Birthday to Laura. I am sure that your wonderful family and her gorgeous sisters are with Laura always!

  9. My heart aches for you and all that you have been through. Not only are you a beautiful and talented soul, but you have such strength as well. As Laura is a precious gift in your life, and the life of your family…you are also allowing her and your journey to be a gift in the lives of other people as well…a reminder to be grateful, or perhaps hope in another’s heartache. Thank you for sharing you xx

  10. Oh Leanne, you brave brave sweetheart. My thoughts are with you as you celebrate little Laura’s birthday. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. A-M xx

  11. Tears here too. I’m so sorry for your loss. Such a sad story to tell. You are brave and strong. And how lucky Laura was to have you as her mum. Thinking of you.

  12. There is such beauty & bravery in your post Leanne. You were both surrounded by very special people who made your sad, sad journey a little easier – bless them & bless your lovely family of 6.
    Millie x

  13. Leanne, your story is so so sad, yet written so beautifully. Thank you for sharing it with us, but thank you especially for sharing these pictures. It’s nice to feel like I know Laura now too, as well as all your beautiful girls. Happy Birthday Laura. xxx

  14. I love reading your blog and looking at the amazing dessert tables you create. Today i read your post and was moved to tears, it struck a chord as I discovered today that i am pregnant expecting my first child. It seems strange to write this as i know i will not share this information with family or friends for a few months. The months ahead will be scary as i know i have complications that make me high risk. I know that my mother had an experience very similar to yours before i was born and i know that it still haunts her 32 years after the event. Thank you for your bravery in sharing such a deeply personal experience.

  15. Leanne, I admire your strength, honesty and openness in sharing such a private part of your life. I too had tears and much emotion whilst reading about your darling Laura. The children we no longer have in our lives will never be forgotten and if by sharing our own stories although painful can help someone else then the pain is worth it. Amazing foundations such as the Stillbirth Australian Foundation and The Teddy Love Club offer such wonderful support. An angel in the book of life wrote down our baby’s birth, and whispered as she closed the book, “too beautiful for this earth” – Sweet Dreams our Angels….

  16. I know that your post will help many others who have experienced the same thing. I lost my first at only 9.5 weeks and I know how sad I was and I couln’t imagine what you have experienced. You are blessed with more beautiful girls and the fact that you talk about Laura and share her brief life is testament to how much you loved her. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Leanne, I feel very privileged indeed to know more of Laura’s story. I don’t really know what to say except thank you for sharing your story. You and Emilio are such beautiful parents to your four golden girls. May God bless you always. Meredy xo.
    p.s. I’m sending you a big virtual hug:)

  18. I missed this post on Friday and have just read it now. You have left me with tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story, it can’t have been easy to write.

  19. I am so sorry for your loss. I stumbled here from some wedding idea blog looking for ideas and instead I find I this story. I feel oddly blessed to have read it. I’m glad you shared it and I pray for continued blessings to you and your family. You have a special saint in Heaven interceding for you…and THAT is a gift indeed.

  20. Leanne, much love to you and thank you for sharing your special story so beautifully with us. Happy Birthday to dear Laura and love to your other 3 lovely girls too. We lost a little family member last night (of the furry sort) who has been with us for 14 years – before our babies, before our marriage, before we even met. I’m utterly heart broken and your story gave me a great deal of solice and gratitude. I know nothing of your pain and grief, but I send thanks and love to you all.

  21. I’ve been without internet for a while so missed this post on Friday but now having the time to carch up i’m completly lost for words… couldnt express how I felt reading this post all i could do was cry…I cant begin to imagine how you must have felt writing it, let alone having gone through what you did…all i can say is Thank you… Thank you for sharing this part of your life with so many people, thank you for always raising awareness on a topic which so many people rather ignore.
    You are truely an amazing woman Leanne & one i honestly admire…Its so funny how I’ve known you for such a short time but feel like i know so much about you… Thank you for being you. xoxo

    Warm Hugs

  22. Sorry I missed her birthday, and this post until now. As I sit here crying, I want to thankyou so very much that nothing is in vain, that you have a platform to raise awareness of still birth and I just know your story will give hope to so many:) Shattered for you loss, but feel blessed of the privilege to share in your story. Love and light, Jane

  23. Thank you for sharing precious ~Laura’s~ story. I came via a mention on twitter and started adoring your wonderful products. The still birth tag popped out at me.
    I lost my own daughter ~Charlotte~ born still almost 7 yrs ago.
    I love the work of the stillbirth foundation and the ~Stella~ bears.
    Awareness and research is so important to save other families from this tragedy.
    I was involved with a few TLC & Bears of Hope for a while.

  24. I don’t know what to say. It must have been absolutely heart-breaking for you. I’m very touched by your story because your Laura shares a birthday with my middle daughter Carys only Carys was born two years later in New Zealand.

  25. What a beautiful story Leanne I just finished reading it.
    I don’t have any children of my own yet but I can only imagine how this experience has changed your life.
    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience with us


  26. Hello Leanne,
    I finally read and finished your post about Laura’s story and I’m so touched. I have no words for your story, it really brought tears to my eyes… Like you I’m a mom of 2 year old boy but I can only try to imagine what it must feel like to lose a child because of stillbirth. There’s so much I want to say, but I just can’t find the right words. Just that I want to say thank you. For this wonderful post, for sharing your personal story and introducing us to your little angel Laura.
    Warm hugs to you, Inge x

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