Thursday 23 July 2020

The Hours After Louis

Oligohydramnios Tetralogy of Fallot

On the 22nd July 2020 little Louis tiptoed into the world, and 2 hours later he tiptoed back out of it again. 

I held him within me for almost 9 months, I grew him against all the odds.

I cradled him for the 2 hours that he spent here in this world, and I smile knowing that I was all he knew for his whole life. 

I was his person, I was his Mumma.

I am his Mumma.

I carried Louis for his entire life.

In the hours after Louis was born, I just stared at him. I found that I was scared, not scared of him, but I worried he was in pain, and I was scared that the way I held him, moved him or loved him could cause him pain.

In the wake of Leo, my brother and Carla leaving I told my midwife that I was pretty certain Louis was now gone. He was cool to the touch, the warm glow of life had gone away and I could see his veins starting to pool with blood that was begining to sit under his skin.

It was only then that Louis was taken from me, I hadn't moved in the time since I had been made comfortable in bed, cradling my newborn boy. I hadn't moved in 2 whole hours, my arms had been in the same position, with Louis snuggled tightly in my left arm. 

2 whole hours in the same position because I didn't want to move, I didn't want to disturb Louis or risk potentially hurting him. 

So we just sat still and together until he decided it was time for him to leave this world.

For a small baby his weight was certainly felt when they picked him up to take him and check for a pulse. While Louis was having this done I started to move, my upper body was in bits, it felt like I had just completed a exhilerating upper body work out, and my lower body too for that matter.

I couldn't wrap my head around how weak my legs now felt, and just how holding Louis in one position for so long had affected my left arm. I had been bursting for a wee for atleast the last hour, but I didn't want to move, I didn't want to miss anything. 

I didn't want Louis to close his eyes forever anywhere but in my arms. 

I can't remember if I went to the toilet while they were checking Louis's pulse, or after it was confirmed he had passed away. I have a feeling that I was still lay in bed for the initial check, weirdly though I can't remember exactly what was said when I was told he was gone... I can recall my midwife and the pediatrician being stood around the unit that would have been used to stabalise Louis if he had been born with a chance.

Only after this did I go to the toilet and feel ready to have a bath. 

Louis and I were then moved into the bereavement suite. Louis was set up in the cold cot so that I could spend that time with him, and it was at this point that I was left alone to catch some sleep and spend time with Louis.

Of course sleep didn't come, I believe the reality of what had actually happened was setting in. 

Suddenly the tears started to fall. Tears for the loss of Louis, tears for the last 8 months of fighting, tears for everything that we would never ever hear or see him do. 

Tears for a lost life. 

Oligohydramnios Tetralogy of Fallot

I would never hear what his cry sounded like, he never even tasted milk or had a feed. I would never see his beautiful face light up with a single gummy smile. I would never hear that adorable hearty tummy giggle. He would never crawl, take those first steps or start school. 

I cried for a whole life that we would never see grow up. 

A much wanted life that lit up the darkness like a candle in the night. A candle that was blown out prematurely leaving behind it emptyness and broken dreams.

Oligohydramnios Tetralogy of Fallot

I sat in bed with Louis beside me in the cuddle cot, and the next few hours passed in a blur. I didn't get him out to cuddle right away, I lay there wondering if I should... Then I knew that if I didn't cuddle him now, I was going to run out of time to hug him and hold him close.

I had an opportunity to memorise every little inch of him in the here and now, but this was time that would expire taking with it my little Louis forever.

I picked Louis up and just drank him in, I stroked his head, I spoke to him, but most of all I just held him close. 

Sleep didn't come at all that night, and when the sun rose on July 22nd... Louis's official birthday he had already been gone longer than he had lived. Louis arrived at 1:30am, in the night of the 21st but the early hours of the 22nd... He arrived somewhere in between 2 days...But was already gone by the time the sun rose.

My lovely midwife came in before she clocked out for the day, and I had another little cry. In fact there were lots of tears to be shed on this day with visits from all the amazing people who had cared for Louis and I.

I was a real mess when my consultant came to see me, but equally we laughed at how successful that stretch and sweep really was. 

I lost count of how many times I had to apply my make up that day, everytime I applied mascarra it would stream down my face through relentless tears that were induced by everyone's kindness and care for myself and Louis. 

Baby Loss Remember My Baby

A short time later Kevin from Remember My Baby arrived, a wonderful charity made up of professional photographers who come to the hospital and take photographs for you. Photographs that provide memories and capture a moment in time that although it shouldn't be... is fleeting and soon will be out of reach.

I can't put into words how thankful I am to Kevin and Remember My Baby for coming out to me and taking these photographs. With Covid 19 running 2020, I didn't know if this would even be possible. As it happened I was the first person since the pandemic that actually was able to benefit from the amazing opportunity that the charity offers. 

Kevin took detailed and beautiful snaps for me to treasure and remember my beautiful boy. Some of these photographs I have shared today, other's are being kept back for myself. 

Baby Loss Remember My Baby

Baby Loss Remember My Baby

David the Chaplain was kind enough to come and see Louis and I, and perform a blessing for my little fighter. By this time my parents had arrived with Leo, I was so glad to see my biggest boy, and I was blown away by just how amazing he was with everything that was happening around him.

In a strange way something that was so out of the norm, was normal. It was the most surreal day, it was beyond emotional, it was all so raw, but even with that complete vulnerability completely exposed, I was content just being near Louis and Leo. 

Baby Loss Remember My Baby

Although tears were never far away, it wasn't all sadness and falling apart. Sometimes there were big smiles, sometimes there were even full on giggles. There was no way to predict what you would feel next, because there is no right or wrong way to deal with your emotions when the worst does happen. 

The blessing was beautiful and I had another cry throughout the words that David bestowed on my Louis. We had a naming ceremony and it was all so lovely, all so heartbreaking. 

Baby Loss Remember My Baby
We were already well into the afternoon and I knew that I was going to have to invite Louis's Dad to meet him. Given everything that has happened on that front, this was always going to be a difficult situation. 

The original plan was that the midwife in charge of my care for the day was going to take Louis into the second bereavement room, so that I could stay seperate to the meeting. In a twist of events that didn't happen, and I think in the grand scheme of things that this was fate stepping in. 

It was horrible watching my ex fiance fall apart over our baby boy, and in another twist to the story, somehow I found myself feeling compassion for him, even pangs of guilt that he had missed Louis's arrival into the world, the only hours that he lived and of course the days events that had all proceeded without him.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was all because of his own personal choices, there had been no compassion or even remorse for me when he left me at 28 weeks pregnant.When he left me to face all of this on my own, and navigate each and every feeling I felt when he turned his back.

There was not even a glance over his shoulder as he rode off into the sunset for his new life.

Suddenly it was all as real for him as it had been for me throughout the entire pregnancy. Suddenly he had an idea of how I had felt for the last 8 and a bit months. 

Suddenly he was catapaulted into reality, my reality. 

I offered to take photographs for him, but he didn't want them. In the end we left and gave him time with Louis on his own. 

The reality was that neither of us should have felt alone at any point in this, I should have had his full support and he should have been by my side for the labour and the birth. He should have been there to drive me to the hospital, hold me tight and tell me it was all going to be ok. He should have had the opportunity to meet Louis alive.

Sadly I was alone, sadly he stopped being the person I go to for help. Sadly he made a hard sitution even harder by leaving me for somebody else in the midst of an already heartbreaking time. 

I had one final snuggle with Louis, I kissed him on the forehead and then I left the room to go home. 

Leaving that room on July 22nd is perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done. Harder than being pregnant with Louis and pondering the eventual ending to the story, harder than the labour and birth, harder than Louis taking his last breaths.

Leaving your baby when you should be bringing him home to start his life is not a normal thing to do. 

It goes against every instinct in your body. 

Leaving my ex fiance and Louis together as I walked out of that hospital room completely broke my heart. I was so angry and sad that he made any of this a possibility, he should have stood by me, supported me and loved me. He made it so I had to do this alone, when neither of us should have had to do this alone.

I do have to ponder the question of whether it was harder than being left all on my own at 28 weeks pregnant, scared, without fight and at that point with lost hope... I think the answer to that is that they were pretty much on par with each other. 

Two impossible moments in time.

I really did believe that when I left the bereavement room that day, that would be it. I thought I had said my final goodbye to Louis... But as soon as I walked out of the door, I knew I would be back the next morning.

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