*** Possible trigger warning - If you are very sensitive to infant loss please do not read***
I am all for raising awareness about topics I think are important, particularly ones that are considered to be taboo and that people do not know how to talk about. October as you may or may not know is a month where all babies born sleeping, those carried but never met, those held but not taken home and those taken home but who could not stay. It is a month dedicated to raising awareness about pregnancy and infant loss. I thankfully have not had such a tragedy but I know quite a few who have and I really wanted to show some solidarity and try to get their stories heard.
The first guest post is from a woman I used to work with. When I worked with her I actually had no idea what was in her past and have only found out from Facebook in recent years. However, her story has touched me deeply and I always remember what she has been through. I asked if she would tell her story for me and she was extremely happy to do so. I am honoured to publish this on my blog and I thank her from the bottom of her heart for allowing me to do so.
Sam's Story - My life changed in the most heartbreaking way when I had my 18 week scan in 2002. While they were doing the scan, the sonographer went very quiet and called in a doctor, immediately I panicked. After they mumbled to each other, they sat me down and told me that my beautiful baby was very sick and there was a high chance that he wouldn’t survive, the odds were 70/30.
Even though the chance of him being born and surviving was very slim, I was adamant that I was going to see this pregnancy through. They told me that his liver and his bowel was forming on the outside of his stomach; it’s called an omphalocele. They went through the worst case scenario, and explained that if I wanted they could terminate my pregnancy, as his quality of life if he survived would be poor. There was no way I was terminating this pregnancy.
The next few months consisted of meetings with baby surgeons, having very regular ultrasounds and amniocentesis. It was a blur; my son was very active in my belly and constantly moved, so how could he be sick?
In October 2002 I chose a date for my c section, the 11th. I was very excited to finally get to meet and hold my little man, but emotionally I was a mess. My mum was taking care of my daughter who was 7 years old at the time. The father of my child was useless, he was of no support at all and I was dealing with this on my own. After my son was born, I named him “Isiah Rupert Chiappin”. He was taken straight from the delivery room to the PICU, so I only saw him for 5 seconds and didn’t get to hold him. They wheeled me to recovery and I wasn’t allowed to go to see him until I could wiggle my toes, I tried so hard and they finally gave in and wheeled me to intensive care so I could finally see him.
He had all these wires, tubes and monitors attached to him and I couldn’t hold him. All I could do was sit and look at him and gently stroke his arm; sometimes it’s the little things. They operated on him that day and put his liver and bowel back inside his teeny belly, but he struggled, so they operated again and took them back out and they sat on top of his belly in a little mesh bag. They kept him in a coma so he couldn’t feel pain. For the next 3 days I spent all my time in PICU with my mum, my daughter and my family.
I was called in to a meeting with the doctor on the 13th October 2002 and they told me that his organs were failing and the only way to fix him would be to have a multiple organ transplant, but he was not well enough to make the flight to China to have this done. The doctor looked at me and told me that I needed to make a decision to turn off his life support. What a thing to have to do to your child, I was numb. On the evening of the 13th I had him christened, the hospital priest came over. My mum, my niece, my cousin and her husband and my daughter was there. It was a very special time and I felt like I was doing what I needed to ease my heartache.
The next day at 2:30pm, I turned off his life support, as I watched the nurse remove all the tubes and wires, I realised that I would be able to hold him for the first time ever. I held him and looked at him, kissed him and cuddled him until he slowly and gently passed away. I bathed him and dressed him so they could take him to the morgue, my family was there and that was a huge support. After about 2 hours they had to take him away, there was no way I could stay at the hospital any longer so I was also discharged. I left him there and I knew I was coming back the next day. Mum and I went back to the morgue at the hospital the next day and we just spent time with him, I felt like I had closure. We then went to make the funeral arrangements.
Going to your child’s funeral is something that I hope no one has to go through, it ripped my heart open and there was nothing that could take the pain away. I felt like I was there in body but my spirit was somewhere else.
Today (11th October) my son would have turned 14, I can’t believe it. The pain never goes away but in time it eases. I miss him every day with every ounce of my being.
I think Sam is incredible and extremely brave for doing this but she wanted to raise awareness and help other people that might be in the same situation. I told her that I really would have no idea how to approach someone that has lost a baby and asked if she had any advice. Sam said that being there and listening to that person's feelings was the most important thing that you can do. The worst thing was saying you know how they feel, because unless it has happened to you, there is no way you can ever know the pain. I think this is very good advice and it is something to remember if you are ever in the terrible situation of someone you love losing a baby. Thanks very much to Sam and I hope that this anniversary of Isiah's birth reminds you of how loved your little boy was and still is today.