TRIGGER WARNING: Please note, the contents of this blog contains discussions surrounding infant loss.
Blog was written by Amelia Webb
On the 16th of July 2021 we lost our little Tommy. He was in my tummy for 17 weeks and born sleeping. Losing a child before 20 weeks in Australia is classified as a miscarriage, conversely losing a child after 20 weeks gestation is classified as a stillborn. In my opinion Tommy was born, I went through labour and I gave birth to him and therefore he was born on the 16th of July 2021.
You hear of women miscarrying all the time because unfortunately it’s so common. Currently, 1 in 4 women will miscarry before 12 weeks. Never did I think I would miscarry at the stage I was with Tommy. It never really crossed my mind and I thought because I was well past the 12-week mark I was out of the danger zone, but wow was I wrong and naive.
Waking up that morning to a huge bleed was so scary! I had experienced consistent but mild spotting throughout my pregnancy in the weeks before, but I was told that this can happen in some pregnancies so I wasn’t concerned at all. However, going to bed the night before with really bad cramping, something didn’t feel right. On the way to the hospital from Lorne to Geelong I was having the worst cramping ever and because I had experienced labour before with my first son Aston, I knew what contractions felt like and I was having contractions.
All I kept thinking was, this isn’t happening. This is NOT HAPPENING. We finally made it to the hospital and I was told he was all okay, he had a very strong heartbeat, he was moving around like crazy, both my partner Nick and I had a wave of relief. Everything was going to be okay. He was all okay. The hours passed and I saw several doctors, a number of nurses and they all weren’t concerned.
My placenta was bleeding but they didn’t know why and didn’t think it was anything to worry about and I just had to pass the remaining blood that was left. At about 7:30pm that night they finally said they wanted to keep me overnight for monitoring and that they had found a bed for me. Waking that next morning was our worst nightmare, the contractions returned, and I felt this gush of water.
I stood up and my waters had broken. About 4 nurses all rushed in, gave me some morphine for the pain and said they were taking me down to the birthing suite. Nick was not there at this time as he was back in Lorne given he wasn’t allowed to stay. I called him and told him I needed him to come now and that they were taking me down to the birthing suite.
I was completely overcome with fear, yet I was greeted by this beautiful and kind midwife Issy! In such a traumatic experience she really made things so calm, loving and beautiful. The contractions were getting so bad, I was screaming with pain and Issy suggested another shot of morphine but a stronger dose. Once this went in, the pain completely stopped. I didn’t have any pain relief during my first labour with Aston, so this was incredible and I thought we had stopped the labour. I was so sure it had stopped and everything was okay but I was so wrong.
Nick had made it to the hospital just in time. 5 minutes later I had to get up, I felt like I was going to be sick and as soon as I got up I felt like I was going to pass out. The morphine had made me feel really awful at this point and the next thing I remember was Tommy being born on the bathroom floor.
To hold your baby in your arms when they are not meant to be in your arms and still in your tummy is the most confronting, horrible experience I have ever gone through. It wasn’t right. Dealing with the shock of what had just happened, and you are asked what their name is, what funeral home you are going to use, how are you going to lay him to rest, what tests do you want to be done, all while lying in bed, bleeding in pain, holding your baby that isn’t breathing. It just wasn’t right.
After the initial shock had started to wear off, we got to spend the most beautiful time with Tommy. They wrapped him in this beautiful little light blue hand-knitted beanie and outfit and I really got to see his face. He was so perfect in every single way. He had the cutest little button nose, his lips so plump and perfect and although his eyes were shut and I didn’t get to see them I do think they were as blue as his brothers.
We spent the night with Tommy and we took some photos on our iPhone of him. Initially, I didn’t want to take any but I am so glad we did because I look at them all the time and wish that I had taken more. They are memories we will have of him forever and I just love them.
In the hospital, they take beautiful little footprints and handprints of your bubba for you to take home and create this beautiful little box of all his things. Although it’s not much, it’s all we have of him. The footprints and fingerprints were done on this beautiful paper and they used gold paint. I have this sitting next to my bed in a frame with his little beanie. We held him for hours, we didn’t put him down until we finally fell asleep that night. I woke several times to turn over and check on him, to hold him again but then I fell back asleep.
After we made all our final decisions on what we wanted to do, we had to say goodbye. We had to leave him, laying in his cuddle cot in a hospital and couldn’t take him home with us. I don’t know how we walked out of there to be honest, but we did, and I guess we just had to.
The weeks that followed were horrible, my body had given birth so it was reacting like I had a baby. My boobs were so sore, I had heavy bleeding for weeks and weeks, the hormones, the emotions and on top of that the grief of losing him just completely consumed me. I didn’t get off the couch for about 2 weeks and I sat in the same spot experiencing the worst pain.
In those initial first weeks, I felt like I wanted to share our loss with the world. I am extremely lucky to have a social media platform and had shared our exciting news that we were expecting Tommy so I felt like I had to share that we had lost him. As soon as I shared our loss with the world, this is when I found support from so many incredible women who had experienced the same.
They shared their loss with me and it made me feel less alone with the pain, grief and feelings I was having. When you lose a baby, it’s hard to talk to some people that haven’t experienced the same loss as you as they just don’t understand and you never want them to. It’s a loss you never want anyone to experience, but unfortunately so many do.I had so many women share with me that they dealt with their loss in silence as they didn’t think they could share because of the stage they lost their baby which just absolutely breaks my heart. A loss is a loss at any stage and you shouldn’t have to suffer this awful loss in silence.
I can’t explain how helpful this was for me in those first couple of weeks and still to this day, the conversations I’ve had are incredibly helpful in my healing and I really hope by me opening up this conversation and experience it can help others feel less alone and can perhaps understand what you actually go through physically and mentally.
The tears are still present every day. I miss him every day and wish for this to not be our reality but it is. Time does help with my healing, but it will never take away the pain it just makes it easier to deal with. The loss of our little boy Tommy has changed my family in so many ways and we will never be the same again, but we have learned so much and appreciate everything so much more now.
Tommy, you were the most beautiful little boy I ever did see and I am the luckiest Mumma in the whole entire world to be your Mumma!
If you or anyone you know has been affected by infant loss and the details spoken about above, please do seek support through the options below. A full list of support services can also be found HERE
1300 072 637
Pregnancy Birth and Baby
1800 882 436
Bears of Hope
1300 11 HOPE
Red Nose Grief and Loss
1300 308 307