My boy, Ollie…
On 14 December 2014 my beautiful little boy arrived. He was 38.4 weeks, so a little bit early but it was really no surprise. I always knew he’d arrive early; he was such an active little bundle, always kicking and punching. I say ‘he’, but the first we knew was when he was born; we wanted it to be a surprise. I now wish we had found out sooner.
Ollie only lived for 9 hours and 40 mins. After a very normal healthy pregnancy, and a quick natural labour, Ollie was born covered in meconium. He was taken from me the second he arrived, so the doctors could tend to him. At that point we weren’t too worried. We’d heard about meconium and understood it wasn’t uncommon. From what I understand meconium can usually be cleared from a baby’s lungs within a few days and the baby is completely healthy. So my husband and I excitedly discussed names; our plans for Christmas; the joy of seeing our daughter’s face when she met her baby brother.
Our joy didn’t last long, as it became apparent that Ollie was very ill. He suffered severe lung damage due to the meconium and a lung infection. The first time I got to hold him was when he died in my arms. We were absolutely devastated. It is an indescribable pain and mentally it's just so difficult to comprehend.
Within such a short period of time we’d gone from me giving birth to our precious little boy and planning our future as a family of four, to being told there was nothing that could be done and he was going to die.
We stayed in hospital the night after he died in a guest room off the neonatal ward. Ollie stayed with us all night in his moses basket. Out of pure exhaustion I was able to sleep for an hour or two at a time. Each time I woke it hit me; ‘our baby is dead’. I held Ollie throughout the night and as the hours passed he became colder and heavier, like a china doll.
Leaving hospital without our baby was the hardest part. I couldn’t bear to go, but there was nothing else to do, nothing could be done. We left the hospital in a daze carrying our memory box with a lock of hair, and hand and footprints of our baby. No-one should ever have to experience that.
Even writing this it is still hard to believe. We should be sitting here with our little boy instead of writing about his death or visiting his headstone. I think about him every day. The pain is still there, but it is a bit easier to cope with now than it was.
When I look back I realise how horrendous the early days were. I spent most of my time in the house; I didn’t want to meet people, to explain where my baby was. I have a wonderful family and caring friends and did appreciate them visiting, but it’s hard for them to truly understand what it’s like. Generally I found it helped me to talk about what happened, but often I would feel isolated.
At the hospital, our consultant told us about SANDS Lothians. As soon as I was home I emailed them. I was desperate to speak to someone who had the slightest idea of what we were going through. I needed to understand what they went through and what to expect. It was the only thing I could think of doing to help me feel in ‘control’ of what was going on.
I was open to trying most things, anything to help deal with the pain. I attended a couple of the group sessions; personally it wasn’t for me, but I think it was too early and too raw. I think I’ll find them more beneficial in the future. I’ve met with a couple of befrienders, it helped to hear their stories and understand that it’s not just us. What I found helpful was the one to one counselling. I’d never had counselling before, and to be honest I wasn't sure I was going to get much out of it. But what I found was having the opportunity to talk to someone who wasn’t personally involved was helpful. She was a sounding board, someone I could tell openly how I was feeling and tell what steps I’d taken since the last session. I realised it gave me a focus.
Looking back I’ve come a long way. I’ve read others talk about a new ‘normal’ and that’s where I am now. It's been a very difficult year, but we've got through it. I realise that although being positive is important to help me move forward, I need time just to be sad. Ollie is with me all the time, just sadly not in the way I had hoped for and expected.
I’m so sorry if you have lost your baby too. No-one can truly understand how you are feeling, but I’ve definitely found it helps me to keep in touch with people at SANDS where sadly we have a common bond. I hope you find the support you need and that SANDS can help you too.