Saturday, 3 January 2009

Breast milk, blood, tears - my body is weeping

The overall excitement I felt, about being a family and of Tristan's debut, was so intense and childlike in the way it made me feel. When you are a child you can be infatuated with the romanticism of magic and all the wonderment that it brings with it - the mystical, conjuring up the flutterings in your heart and hope in your imagination and an innocence of the belief in your dreams. And that is how I felt. There was so much anticipation around the arrival of Tristan. The joy that this new baby would bring, as well as the endless curiosity...Would the baby be a boy or a girl? When would the baby arrive and the speculation our family and friends had around which name we would choose. I harboured a hope that he would take after me and be punctual and efficient, arriving on his due date, or even before. But proudly, he takes after his Tata - independent and working to his own schedule. I was induced, spot on 41 weeks. I have come to think that Tristan must have known of his destiny and the aching that it would bring and that is why he tried to spare us the pain and stay on the inside, where it was safe. 

I have, over the course of the last weeks, done extensive reading on the condition that affected Tristan, to try and understand the science behind our tragedy. The condition means that some of the vital blood vessels that are carried from the placenta through the cord were sitting within the membranes, where as the membrane should be completely free of the blood vessels. It happens from the moment of conception and is virtually undetectable through the standard testing methods. Doctors would only look for this if you presented with particular symptoms. The mortality rate is 95-100% if labour proceeds as nature intended. If detected prior, a planned c-section would circumvent this (as long as your waters do not break). It means that when your waters do break, the baby's blood supply is cut immediately and they bleed to death, even with a perfectly healthy baby, as Tristan was, in utero.

Fortunately, my waters broke in hospital, with my obstetrician right there. Unexpectedly, I started to haemmorage (well, my baby did) and was quickly taken to theatre for an emergency cesarean section. My boy had lost a lot of blood. Whilst he was revived, he suffered three cardiac arrests and was given two blood transfusions, but the haemoglobin's would not take. The medical staff tried for several hours to fight for his life, but to no avail. Once they stopped, they passed him to us, thinking it would be only a matter of an hour or so before he passed. My little boy lived for 25 hours after his birth. His heart and lungs strong, but unable to escape his fate. It is so cruel.

I want to talk to him. I want him in my arms. I want to memorise his face all over again, whilst in my arms. I want to look over at my two boys again, like that day and night, where one is in the arms of the other. That vision is forever imprinted in my mind - looking over from the hospital bed, in that delivery room, to my husband and son, entwined in each other, sitting on that chair, the low glow of the back light of the room. Watching them all night, not wanting to miss a moment. Drinking in the sight with a sad realisation of the precious nature of those hours. Wanting to only focus on the happiness of that impossible situation, trying to push away those heartbreaking, aching urges until it was the right time - not to take away from the moments of life in his little body, that was gifted to us for that brief day.

In fleeting moments, I wonder whether I was really pregnant or whether it was just a concept in my mind and even more, that he didn't really enter and exit this life in the briefest of timings. That I will wake up from this horrid nightmare and everything will be as it was. In a book a grief counsellor gave me Stillbirth and Newborn Death there is a quote from an un-named mother who expressed so succinctly the same sentiment I have been feeling these last three weeks..."Breast milk, blood, tears - it was as though my whole body was weeping." This has resonated so deeply with me.


  1. I am just so sorry to read your story and see you here in this community. It is all so horribly unfair. Tristan will be loved and remembered here always.

  2. J, I'm so sorry to hear about your baby boy. My heart does out to you and your family. The photos of Tristan are gorgeous, what a beautiful baby!