Friday, 8 May 2009


The facts. A warning to pregnant ladies - detailed info of things not going right in a pg. If you are anxious (and aren't we all) you may not want to read it.

I had no trouble falling pregnant with Maya,way back in Sept 05. My body did what it was supposed to do. I stopped using contraceptives and a month later I saw two pink lines, cried, hugged and got terrified. Looking back, I realise I was terrified of all the wrong things.

At the 19 week scan, the Doctors detected a heart problem. They were unable to diagnose it, they had never seen it before, didn't know if it was a problem, or how much of a problem it would be, or if an operation would be needed at birth. I left the ultrasound feeling a little shaken and was booked in to see a pedriatic cardioligist the next week. I went armed. My friend came along with a notebook and pencil (which freaked the Dr a bit - he must have thought we were the suing type), I was going to get information and lots of it. That is, I was going to be in control of this. We had the same response from the Doctor who said he had never seen this before, and said he'd take a look in 6 weeks. In the meantime I continued my visits to the local Doctor for the other regular pregnancy checkups. About 4 weeks later she sent me back to the hospital. My fundal length was too small, I was bumped up and up until I was seen by the head of obs at one of the big three hospitals in Sydney. He looked at baby (as she was known then) for a long time. Flows looked good, placenta seemed to look good, but she was way too small, down in the bottom 2 % and I don't suppose they tell you if you are less than that.

I got booked in for 2 week appts. Each time the amniotic fluid heart rate and flows were checked. They all seemed to be working and the Dr said we would just keep monitoring. I asked if it was connected to the heart issue (as I was still seeing the cardioligist as well) and he didn't seem to think so. As my friend said, "It's like having a headache and then stubbing your toe".

I continued seeing both Doctors, Maya wasn't getting much bigger. The head of obs seemed to think it was probably a placental thing. The cardioligist continued to scratch his head and shrug his shoulders, maybe we'll know next time...... next time ....... when she's born. It seemed that all the lights would be turned on, all the answers given, when she was born. At the US I had when I was 34 weeks, even I could tell she wasn't OK. Where I was used to seeing dark pools, there were just thin lines. The amniotic fluid was real low. Everyone agreed. It was time for her to come out. I was given steroid shots on the spot (to boost her lung strength) and booked in for a c-section 2 days later as they did not think she would be well enough for a natural birth.

The surreal feeling of waiting to give birth. It's scary for any first time mum, and scarier when you know something is wrong. No - one though, had any idea, any idea at all, at just how wrong things were. I found the c-section really truamatic. I was not ready to have my baby taken out of me. I wept the whole way through, my husband holding my hand and the anesthesiologist giving me sympathetic smiles. When she was delivered, I heard a tiny cry. Is she alright? My voice cracked, too soft for the busy technicians to hear. The ob said over the sheet "Did you have an amnio?" No. No. I didn't want one. Maya was wrapped. I got to kiss her briefly. I don't know if my lips actually touched her little head. She was breathing, whisked off to high dependency with Jacob trailing and me off to recovery.

I was out of it, overjoyed, and hated it. It was surreal. Eventually Jacob returned and I made him get an orderly so they could push me to High Dependency Unit. I had absolutely no idea where I was in the hospital. I just watched the lights flah above me spinning and then righting as I turned corner after corner. When I got down there, the pediatrician told me to wait. They were trying to get a drip in and didn't want me to watch, I waited so long. I waited. She came back and told me they had had no luck . I would have to wait some more. I waited again. Waited. Finally, finally I was allowed through. I was wheeled through a room of screaming babies in cribs. Which one is mine? Which one is mine. They brought me to her side and finally, finally I got to say hello. I put my hand through the crib, I touched her beautiful head, It fit so snugly into the palm of my hand, just right in the centre. I saw her move her feet, and grasp her tiny fingers around me. She was having oxygen support. Bubbles were coming out of her mouth - a result of the fluid not being squeezed out through birth. She was tiny and so sweet, dark hair, a cute little nose, and honey coloured - our little mixed race baby. We had made so many jokes about how cool we would be. Her little hand went half way around my finger. She was small, and so thin. Her little limbs were so thin. I'm sorry baby. I'm so sorry. I have memories of my mother being there. Why was she there the first time I met my baby?

They gave me a room to myself, thank God, if I had to be put in a ward full of mothers with new babies they at least had the decency to give me a room to myself. In the middle of that night they woke us up to ask us to come down. Our little girl wasn't doing well. She'd been moved into the NICU and they were having trouble getting her to breath, they were pumping oxygen in. They asked if wanted to baptise her, we called my friend, myparents(who were near by) and Jakes mum (who wasn't), she arrived an hour later (4am) in a state of panic and complete disorientation. The image of her, 5 ft nothing, alone, charging through the NICU, forgetting to wash her hands, going to the wrong crib. It makes me cry. She was so ...... confused. Confused and alone. She needed her husband and he was dead.

We said a prayer, a blessing over Maya together. Trusting her to God. I still had no idea how serious this was, despite the drama. No mother believes their child will die. And they had managed to get a tube to her lungs to pump oxygen in. We went back upstairs to the maternity ward. To the crying babies and their mums and our strangely silent single room. A rough sleep, and I woke with that terrible heavy feeling from the operation lifted slightly. I was anxious to get back down. A nurse came an unhooked me from the drip with pain relief at the press of a button. She got me into the shower. It was so good to be in the warm shower. I wanted to stay in there forever. In my head I was saying "I'm sorry baby I'm coming" and then I would sit just a bit longer. Jake's friend arrived an wheeled me down. I bumped into the ob who'd been seeing me as I went in. He looked at Glenn pushing the chair and then at me, slightly confused (Glenn's white too). Glenn said "not the husband" and he smirked and rambled a bunch of shit at me, of which I head not a single word. Get out of my way. Get the fuck out of my way.

There she was. I leraned the routine of hand washing and sanitising rub. I can still smell it, it belongs with the eerie beeps of hospital machines. She was so sweet. She was moving her arms and legs a bit and looked - to me - a lot better. When I touched her head she responded and I was surprised. Surprised that she knew me. Of course she did. She'd listened to me talk jack and cry, sing, shout and laugh for 9 months. The doctors told me that she did a poo as she came out. Articulate! we agreed. Yeah there are some shit times baby. But there are some really really good ones and this one is the best of all.

The next five days are a time outside of time. A blur of breat pumps, midnight calls, friends and family looking at me with confusion and sadness, laughs. I have to give it to our friends. Between them, they made sure we never ate a hospital meal, not even breakfast. I know that I managed to walk down the stairs (from level 5 to level 3 - couldn't find the lift) less than 24 hours after my c-section. For those of you who've had one, you would know that only a mother seperated from her child would be able to do that. I also know that I took only 2 panadol from when they took the drip out, to the day after Maya's funeral, and I only took those cause the nurse made me. The pain, all of it - physical, emotional, spiritual - would come later. Those days are a blur, so distinct and yet somehow so unclear. Some piercing memories, especially the days - these clear blue autumn days. One of the best times in Sydney. I longed to take Maya out into the sun and on the grass. It got stormier during the week, in every way.

There was never any good news. Processions of confused specialists (now also looking at every organ in her body, not just the heart) x-rays, ultrasounds, drugs, oxygen. She was on a machine that made her breath 600 time a minute. Blood tests every 3 hours. Poor Maya, beautiful Maya. I wonder sometimes. If I knew she was going to die I would have held her the whole time and not let them touch her with all that. I would have just held her in my arms, and in Jacobs arms. In both our arms at the same time. And lived that precious precious time the best way. So close. No-one inteferring. But of course we didn't know. We were so sure she would live.

I guess we should of known - at least the day they told us her kidneys were no longer functioning. Those of our friends with any sort of medical knowledge knew the chances were pretty slim at that point. She was packing her bags for the next world.

Five beautiful precious days was the time she was given. And what a life. Another call to come down, this one for real. I raced down, my mother standing between me and the crib saying "I need to kiss you" (still so angry at that). They put up a screen, pulled out a couch for us to sit on together, switched off all the monitors. No beeps, no charts, no lines going up and down, She still had all the lines and tubes in of course. Quite a collection by that point and the machine beating her lungs 600 times a minute. I don't know how long it was, a few minutes at the most. We held her, kissed her, told her how deeply we loved her, we loved her so much. We loved her so so much. We love her so much.

I could tell the moment she died, despite 600 breaths going in, the breaths out were slow, I could tell from a small spit bubble coming out of her dry mouth. Poor girl. Poor tiny girl. What a hard life, but so much love in it. It hurts so much to remember. So loved. So hard. I wonder if she was aware of me, if she knew it was me at that time. We held her, we loved her. And she died right there. In our arms. In both our arms.


Mrs. Spit said...

She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt how much she was loved. And she knows it still.

Abiding as you remember.

loribeth said...

Starting my morning at work here with a cry. Your love for your daughter absolutely radiates through this post. I am so sorry she is not here with you.

Lori said...

I am so moved by this, B.

Abiding with you...thank you for sharing the beauty of Maya with us.

{{{{{B and Jake}}}}}


mrsmuelly said...

Yes, she knew. She knew her mom and dad were there and loved her...and still do. Thank you for sharing Maya's story.

Michele said...

Oh B, I'm sitting at my desk, last day of work, tears just streaming down my face. It does hurt. And I am so sorry. I know those words are empty, that they dont help anything, but I am truly sorry. One heartbroken mom to another.

Maya curling her fingers around you... I can see that in my head. When I first read the words, I immediately thought, It's because she knew her mom was there. She was happy because you were with her.

I'm sorry people treaded into your space when you needed time with you and Jacob and Maya. We had some of those times, not too many thankfully, but it was hard. Very hard to not scream.

Maya knew then how much she was loved. She knows know how much you continue to love her, how you continue to keep her alive in your hearts and your memories, through your posts and through all of us who now carry her in our hearts, too.

Thinking of you so much, especially today.

Virginia said...

Oh yes, she knew. You are the first thing your baby girl knew, and the last. She always knew.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for the loss of your precious daughter Maya. {{HUGS}}

Kristen said...

Thank you for sharing Maya's story. She will always be remembered and forever missed.

I am so sorry for your loss. Sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way.

S said...

thank you for sharing Maya's story. In many ways, it is beautiful that you had the time together, 5 brief yet totally precious days, and then when it was finally time to say goodbye, perhaps you felt that she was too fragile and beautiful to be on earth. I cant imagine how stressful the monitoring and the appts would have been. I'm glad you persisted and kept yourself informed, I am the same way too.

Of the whole post, this particularly touched a nerve. "The surreal feeling of waiting to give birth. It's scary for any first time mum, and scarier when you know something is wrong." I had a perfect 19week scan. I had no idea than in less than 2 weeks, my world was going to fall apart. I found out Janaki had died on Saturday 28 July. I had suspicions because I couldn't pick her up on my home doppler a couple of days before. I had a vaginal birth, she was breech. I couldn't stand the idea of having a d&e, which wasn't even offered to me from memory, because I would rather see my beautiful dead baby girl whole, rather than in pieces. There is nothing worse than giving birth to your dead child. There is no joy in the birth, there is only the trauma and the horrific shock and reality sinking into your head. Even with all the morphine and pain relief a "normal live birth" wouldn't receive, I was in terrible agony. The labour lasted all night. Sunday morning, my waters broke. There was a brief moment of clarity and relief, sweet relief, when she was born, that final push and I knew she was out. And the terrible words from our ob-gyn "there's nothing physically wrong with her. she's a perfect little girl".

I died that day. With my baby. She was so tiny, so fully formed, so perfect. We had a few hours with her, but it was nothing. I was the one doing the gripping, there was no life in her cold, damp little body. In death, she had brown skin and she was born with blue eyes. She too would have been a stunner had she lived.

And now, mother's day. mocking us, because our children aren't with us, but dead. in heaven, or somewhere.

One day this will come full circle. I have to believe it. I have believe that I will see Janaki again and have the chance to say goodbye... and perhaps parent her.

In the meantime, I carry her constantly on my shoulders, in my arms and in my heart, but no one else sees.

Thank you for sharing Maya's story. Although there are many differences, there are also so many similarities.

Lots of hugs,


S said...

p.s. they gave me a private room too...but I was stuck in the birth suite after Janaki died for 2 days. :(

missing our baby girls...


Coming2Terms said...

such a painful, poignant story. your maya will always be with you...and we will remember and celebrate with you her all-too-brief life.

annacyclopedia said...

Remembering Maya with you, and feeling stilled with the beauty of how much love she knew in her life. I am so sorry that she is not in your arms today.

Anonymous said...

I'm so, so dreadfully sorry for your loss. No-one should have to suffer what you have undergone.

I have vivid memories of the terror that is the NICU - although our outcome was a happy one - and much of what you've written here struck a chord with me.

Cibele said...

She felt your love, she knew her momma was there. My heart breaks for you. I am so so sorry. Hugs

Niki said...

Oh sweetie, Maya knew you and she knew she was loved. I have to believe that her spirit is out there and can still feel your love just as I can hear it radiating through your words. I think that Maya is one lucky little girl to have such an amazing and strong mommy. I'm standing by your side and remembering with you. ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

She knew, she knew all along.
Thank you for sharing.
Much love to you friend.

Michele said...

Been thinking about you since Saturday and just wanted to let you know you guys are all on my mind and in my heart.

Lori said...

Came over to also thank you for the perfect present you left for my blogoversary. I love it, your kind words.

Aunt Becky said...

She knows how much you love her. I'm so sorry, B. I'm here from LFCA and I'm just so sorry you went through all of this.

Sending hugs to you and Jake and kisses to heaven for Sweet Baby Maya.

Katie said...

Oh, there are no words. Tears, and so many of them, but I wish there was more that I could do, that anyone could do.

What a beautifully written testament to those five days. What a gorgeous reflection of your love for your daughter.

My tears, my heart, my prayers are with you and your family.

Martha said...

Beautiful Maya, so loved and missed by her Mum.
I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter and all that you all have been denied.

Here from LFCA.

tonya said...

A baby always knows her parents, she absolutely knew you.

I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Your tribute is absolutely beautiful.

M said...

sitting, remembering with you.

maya is remembered and loved by us all who know her through your love.

S said...

Remembering Maya with you on Saturday. I will light a candle for her and another angel baby Riley that day.

Thanks for the comments on my blog mate.

Sending you a truckload of hugs.


mamatranquila said...

Thank you for blogging. I know the feeling of holding a daughter in your arms for the last time. It is something we should never have to do. After my daughter was born and died I went to my own version of your bath house and let the oil and the heat soak to my blood and bones. I eventually healed enough to bear another baby, a fat sweet one who snuggles me day and night. I miss my first little one constantly, she is always with me...somehow we learn to carry them in a way that allows us to function and to honor them at the same time. My thoughts are with you.

mamatranquila said...

Thank you for blogging. I know the feeling of holding a daughter in your arms for the last time. It is something we should never have to do. After my daughter was born and died I went to my own version of your bath house and let the oil and the heat soak to my blood and bones. I eventually healed enough to bear another baby, a fat sweet one who snuggles me day and night. I miss my first little one constantly, she is always with me...somehow we learn to carry them in a way that allows us to function and to honor them at the same time. My thoughts are with you.

luna said...

oh B, this just breaks my heart. so very beautiful, your moving story of maya's brief time here on earth. thank you for sharing it.

maya was much beloved, and yes, absolutely she knew how well loved as she passed from this realm to the next. rest in peace, dear baby girl.

tireegal68 said...

I just found your blog at LCFA - what a beautiful story of a loving and loved daughter. You are a wonderful mama. I am so sorry you did not get more time with her. My heart goes out to you. HUGS:)

Catherine W said...

I'm so sorry that you lost your precious little girl.

I feel certain that she knew you were there. She knew how much you loved her, how much you cherished her.


Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Oh my goodness. This is so impossibly hard. I am so sorry you endured so much pain. I too believe Maya knew you were there. And you that you love her.