My little boy
Had everything gone according to plan, you would have been born today. It is very, very hard to get my head around the fact that this is no longer our journey. I yearn for what could have been, what would be happening today, for the excitement and miracle of life. I realise that I haven’t really written properly about you, your birth story. And I think about it all the time, obsessing about it, flashing back to it. So I thought writing about it might help me process a bit.
I found out I was pregnant with you on the 21 December 2015 while we were on holiday in Knysna. Your dad and I had decided that we were ready to try for another baby and I fell pregnant very quickly thereafter. I saw my amazing gynae in early January (thinking I was only 6 weeks pregnant) and she confirmed that your heart was beating beautifully, that all looked good, and that I was in fact 10 weeks pregnant. I shared in this post Our Present about how amazing the timing of finding out I was pregnant was, and how I really and truly believed that you were a gift sent straight to us from Bella. I still do.
I had a really easy pregnancy physically, up to 24 weeks. I had a tough emotional time though. Pregnancy hormones, combined with grief as well as coming off the anti-depressants I had gone on after Bella died. I could have stayed on them through my pregnancy but I felt that I was doing okay and that if I could get off them I should. I cried a lot and was quite up and down. I also felt really guilty every time I did cry, scared that my emotional state would impact on you in some way.
And then it all went to SH1T! I shared in this post What a Fright what happened on that Thursday morning, the 21 April, a day that will be ingrained in my memory and will torment me forever. After the initial shock of the very heavy bleeding, knowing that your heart was still beating and that you looked okay gave me comfort. I didn’t think too much about the mass on the side of the placenta, and just believed that while I might have to be on a bit of bedrest, everything would be okay.
I had the in-depth scan at the Fetal Assessment Centre on Tuesday, 26 April and without going into the details of it, things didn’t look good at all. That experience continues to torment me. Lying there and being scanned, being able to see immediately, even with our uneducated eye, that things didn’t look good. The reaction of the lady who scanned us (who was amazing) and her delivery of all the bad news (she knew of our loss of Bella). Your dad trying to look on the bright side of the situation as he always does, asking questions that would hopefully lead to some “not such bad” news. Hearing her phone my gynae to tell her what was going on. The ringing in my ears, the blood rushing from my head, sitting over the dustbin dry retching, wanting to vomit from the shock. Having to get carried into another room to lie down, being covered with blankets to try and get me to stop shaking, drinking coke to try and get some sugar into my system. The disbelief, the WTF moments, the inability to comprehend what this would all mean, so many things we didn’t know.
And then being taken straight back to the hospital, back into bed. Deciding together with our medical team not to deliver you given the limited information we did know. To give it a few more days and then to reassess again. All the unknowns. The shock. The disbelief. So many questions that couldn’t be answered. I had to have an iron infusion that afternoon as my iron levels had got very low, but I landed up having an allergic reaction to that, and they had to stop that too. Anything that could be complicated was complicated!
I remember Wednesday being a bad day. Every morning since I had been in hospital I had bounced out of bed (because I knew it was the only time I was actually allowed to be out of bed), had a shower, got dressed and made myself look and feel presentable and fresh. That day I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t open the curtains, couldn’t shower and put on a smile. I remember turning away visitors that day, just needing to be allowed to mope without having to try and smile, to answer questions. I obsessed about questions I didn’t have answers to, different scenarios that I couldn’t control. I remember asking for them to do a Doppler so so often, so that I could hear your heartbeat, know that you were still okay, still with me, still alive.
On Thursday your brother came in to visit us. I had been Facetiming him a lot, but he had only come in to see me once which he had found very upsetting so your dad hadn’t bought him again. But on that Thursday afternoon he had absolutely insisted on being bought to visit. It was just what I needed! Better than any medicine I could ever have had. He sat on my bed and ate my hospital dinner with me, shared my treats, and just in general had such a good time! What a blessing he is in our lives.
Our next scan was on Friday. My gynae came in to see me that morning, very very early. She told me not to eat or inject with Clexane as if the scan showed that the picture had got worse her advice would be that we deliver you. We went off to the scan with much trepidation, having no idea what to expect, bracing ourselves. And this was the message I sent. “Our scan today is looking better than Tuesday. Fluid around his heart is less, blood flow is better. In general he is looking in a much better place than Tuesday. My cervix has also lengthened again although still very short. I am still bleeding lightly. We have a long journey ahead of us, but are cautiously hopeful. Every day is a bonus!” I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. There were still so many unknowns but I was just so so relieved to have received some happier news, some positive progress. And also for us to be able to make the decision not to deliver you, not to have to “force” nature in a way. We got through the weekend without too many mishaps and I was allowed to go home for a few hours on the Saturday and Sunday as a test run to see how things went. On Monday I went home with strict instructions to take it easy.
My gynae phoned me on Tuesday afternoon to check up on how I was doing and to discuss a few things. I put the phone down to her and 30 minutes lately I started to have light cramping. Nothing hectic, and not hugely consistent, but definitely there. I was hoping that it was just some irritability of my uterus due to the continual bleeding and that if I lay flat for a while it would go away. For the next hour or so, it continued, and I couldn’t carry on denying what might be happening. I got hold of the gynae on call who told me to go back into the labour ward just so that they could check up what was happening. I was in complete denial. James tried to get me to pack a bag and I absolutely refused, saying that I would be coming back that evening and didn’t need anything.
They were waiting for me when I arrived. They listened to your heartbeat, which was strong and could see that I was having light contractions. I was told that I would be staying in hospital overnight and James went to check me into hospital and went home to get some stuff for me (with long “I told you so” looks as he departed!). The contractions continued and they eventually gave me some medication to try and stop the contractions. This worked after a while and I managed to fall asleep for a bit. Then between 2.30am and 5am I landed up passing the clot that had been causing the issues. It was initially terrifying and then I felt rather relieved. My gynae came in to see me just after 6am and we discussed things, talking along the lines of this hopefully being uterus irritability, and that things would calm down a bit now. The contractions started again, but very lightly and we decided to just monitor them for now.
At 8am she came back in with a concerned expression. She had been thinking about me and wanted to do an internal to ensure she wasn’t missing something. I will never forget the look on her face. She didn’t even need to say anything for me to know it was bad. I was 3cm dilated and your little foot was pushing through my cervix. We had no choice but to deliver you. It was suddenly mayhem. Me calling your dad to get him to the hospital and him being stuck in traffic after dropping Murray at school. Forms being pushed in my face to sign to get ready for surgery. Getting dressed into the gown. Answering 100 questions. Our paed coming in to check on us and getting everything ready for your arrival. And all the time my contractions suddenly going into overdrive, almost on top of each other, the pain getting worse. And I was shaking uncontrollably. Adrenaline and shock coursing through me.
They got me up to surgery really quickly (fortunately your dad arrived just in time), contractions worse and worse all the time. Them getting you out as quickly as possible. In the 25 minutes it had taken them to get me into surgery, I had gone from 3cm to 10cm dilated and both your little feet were already out my cervix. I had also had a placental abruption in this time hence the rapid contractions. Thank goodness I was already in hospital when this all started to happen and not still at home.
I had the screen up in front of me so I couldn’t see what was happening. I was still shaking really badly so they had to strap my arms down. Your dad was at my head. When you were pulled out it was deathly quiet, nobody speaking and no noise from you. I couldn’t see to where our paed was working on you, but I also remember not trying to because I was too scared about what I would see. Your dad stayed at my head too, watching out of the corner of his eyes. It was very quiet, very solemn. And then our gynae said “Did you hear that? It sounds like a cat meowing. That’s him trying to cry”. And then I heard it, this faint little cry, and then a bigger cry. And it was like the entire theatre started to breathe again. Our paed working away furiously all the time, doing his best to save you. Your dad went over to take a look at you, to meet you. Our very very tiny baby boy, our little Thomas Martin Blanckenberg. All 700g of you. Born at 9.06am.
You were taken up to NICU so they could continue working on you. I was moved into recovery and your dad went up to NICU to be with you. We were given updates on how you were doing. You were stable and doing fine considering but the next 24-48 hours were going to be key. I was hopeful to be able to meet you that afternoon. After all the trauma and everything that had happened, we started to feel a little bit optimistic about how things might turn out. And then just after 12pm you had a huge bleed and there was nothing that could be done. You went to join your sister in heaven. Our perfectly formed, tiny little boy, gone too soon.
I got to cuddle you, to see you, to hold you and take in your perfect form. But it will never seem like long enough, like enough. I look at the pictures that we have of you and I miss you baby boy, so very very much. I yearn for what could have been. What should have been.
I love you