I’ve had some people in the past ask me why I carried on with my pregnancy with Zoë-Jean when the prognosis was so dire – “she wasn’t viable for life”. The reason being I wanted to give her a fighting chance and hoping the medical professionals were wrong.
There’s a song by Mark Shultz called “What It Means To Be Loved” and it’s the first few verses and chorus that describes a similar situation to the one we had with Zoë and one of the reasons we were determined to carry on with the pregnancy knowing what the medical professionals expected the outcome to be; unfortunately the medical professionals were partially right – she didn’t live, however my pregnancy progressed longer than they expected.
It felt like every time I met with my midwife after the 20 week scan diagnosis she would say “I probably wouldn’t carry to term; as this was my first pregnancy it was a hard-hitting thing to hear –however I kept on holding on to hope; some medical professionals thought I was in denial about the situation – I wasn’t, I just couldn’t give up on my daughter, no matter what anyone else said. Those words were one of the reasons very few people knew about the possible outcome; we didn’t want or need any more negativity.
At 42 weeks gestation I needed to be induced as contrary to what the medical professionals had expected she wasn’t making her arrival and she still had a heartbeat in utero; the first induction did not take and so I had a sleepless night at the hospital waiting until they could try again to induce me in the morning.
The next morning I was again induced and also had my waters broken around 10am but nothing really happened until about 2 hours later, even then things still progressed slowly – I vaguely remember my midwife telling me to try and get some sleep, I also remember my husband needing to go back home as he forgot his phone and me thinking (or saying?) I don’t give a f*** about his phone.
Later on that evening her head was finally out and her heartbeat while low was still beating, that’s when things turned sour. She was stuck and first the obstetrician tried to turn her into a better position however it wasn’t until the midwife had a try that she was able to be turned however by that time it was too late and having her stuck for 22 minutes meant that when she was finally born – it was into the arms of Jesus.
If it wasn’t for hope and trust in God the outcome may have been exactly as the medical professionals had expected; however thanks for my love for her to fight and for God’s love for me in giving me the strength to hold on in my doubt I was at least able to have her for 42 weeks – even if it was In Utero.
Rylee’s first birthday is just days away and when I’m not thinking about the party prep, my mind is often on our Zoë girl and how she won’t reach all these milestones. Some may say I should be happy that I have my princess to experience them, yet that’s not the same thing as Rylee is Rylee and Zoë is Zoë. How they would have reached their milestones would have been different. With Zoë I would have experienced her milestones as a first-time mother; I’m finding that in a way I compare Rylee’s milestones to that of her brothers’.
Rylee is my little princess through and through, she even has a little princess wave. Zoë I have no idea what she would be like, and I miss that. Some may believe that since she was still-born she didn’t really live; however I have photos of her, prints of her hands and feet. She has a birth certificate, I may not have experienced much with Zoë other than planning her funeral but she’s still my daughter, she gave me many stretch marks and I still remember her kicks and movements, I remember the cravings and aversion to mince.
Some may believe that a 1st birthday isn’t important as the child won’t remember, but I believe that the 1st birthday is an important milestone and in this day and age when social media and digital photography plays such a large role in our society then the child can look at the memories and know that their firsts were important.
For Rylee I want her to always know that she’s not a replacement for her big sister as no-one can “replace” Zoë and that Rylee is an important part of our family in her own right. Hopefully Rylee will always feel loved and she is, especially by her big brothers – I will probably have to remind them when she’s old enough to annoy themJ.
I may be a bit bias, but I think that Rylee is the most beautiful little girl in the world and sometimes can’t believe I made someone so pretty. She is such a happy little baby and puts up with a lot from her big brothers. Maybe Zoë would have put her little brothers’ in their place but I think Rylee has them wrapped around her little finger. At the moment Rylee definitely has her brothers’ attention not just her biggest brother but also the younger of her big brothers who likes to pick her up and move her around the room even though she has been able to crawl from about 6 and a half months.
When Rylee starts school I will probably also think about what Zoë would have been doing then, I can’t seem to stop thinking about that, every milestone that Rylee reaches causes me to think about Zoë. All my children will know that Zoë is still a part of the family just the same as their Nana who died before they were even a thought.
I love the above Dr. Seuss quote as it gives meaning to every loss of life from a miscarriage or stillbirth to the death of an elderly person. Just because someone may have a miscarriage or their baby may be stillborn does not diminish the loss. I think that no singular loss of life is greater than another. The babies that are loss before they take their first breath of air still have an enormous affect on people. These losses aren’t just of a life but of what could of been.
Within three decades I have lost a little sister, my mum, my daughter as well as both Granddads – also a few little cousins, out of all of these the death that affected me the most was that of my eldest daughter
When I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn daughter, I was so excited even before I knew she was a girl I had all these dreams for her. So when we lost her it wasn’t just not being to hold her but also those dreams we had for her weren’t going to come to fruition at all. Yes, I know as our children get older our dreams for them may change anyway. Because Zoe-Jean was stillborn I never knew what her eye colour was, because I had an epidural I didn’t even get to bath her.
Just because the death of my Zoe-Jean affected me the most does not mean that those other losses were any less devastating. They were all devastating for different reasons. One of the reasons my mum’s death hurt was because I was only 14 at the time and when she took her own life I couldn’t help but blame myself at the time. My sister’s death would have been devastating to my parents as she was just a baby and hadn’t even reached her first birthday. The death of both my Granddads was devastating for different reasons.
These losses have also helped to make me the person I am today; because of how my mum died it has made me determined to hold on no matter what. The death of my daughter is what has molded how I am as a mother. Every loss of life I have suffered has made me realise how precious is every life.
Coming from a person who has suffered losses from both ends of the spectrum I think says a lot. If we regard ANY loss of life as unimportant then what does it say about us. I think that all life should be treasured. No matter what life has been loss we as people should be there to support those who have or are going through a loss
NB: Abortion is a topic that I feel is very controversial and could open a whole can of worms so have left it out on purpose as I don’t believe it is a black and white subject