Photo Courtesy: Laura Sheehan
FRANCE (WTXF) - A mother shared heartbreaking photos of the moment she held her stillborn baby for the first and only time.
Laura Sheehan writes about the heartache on her blog, The Whole Mummy. Baby Beau was born sleeping on June 19, 2014.
"I held you in my arms, I kissed your soft, pink lips, I nuzzled your cheeks, your nose, your tiny perfect ears. I breathed in every inch of you. So hard, to let you go," she wrote.
Laura's first born son, who is nicknamed Hurricane, was going to be a big brother and he was beyond thrilled. According to Laura, her second pregnancy was as normal as it can be and the family was anxiously awaiting to meet their new bundle of joy.
"There he was, my big, roly poly baby, a white outline in a sea of black, rocking and rolling on the big screen. The sonographer gleefully guided me, explaining, identifying every perfect toe, leg, nose, ears, eyes, fingers, legs, tummy, bottom, everything that as parents, in those magical scan moments, absorb, there they are, your baby, your child. A pause, a hesitation, yet still positive, she asked if we could wait just a little longer for the senior sonographer to check and confirm the scan," she said.
Laura was nervous to say the least. After being scanned again, the senior sonographer explained that they had noticed the baby possibly had a minor condition known as kidney reflux, which is a surprisingly common condition where by one of the valves in the kidney doesn't close properly and urine refluxes back into the kidney. They said there was nothing to be concerned about. According to Laura, it meant that the baby may need to be put on a course of antibiotics or worst case scenario have a small corrective surgery.
"Exhale, it was all going to be ok. Reassured and armed with a multitude of information, we hadn’t intended to find out the sex but and with many apologies from the sonographer, an invasive examination of the kidneys made it difficult not to see, and we were delighted and overjoyed to learn we were having a boy, another son and a little brother for the Hurricane,'" she wrote on her blog.
As the big day inched closer, Laura moved to the South of France from Australia to be with her husband, Brett, who had a rugby contract.
Everything changed one day after the family came home from the beach. Call it a mother's intuition but Laura knew something wasn't right. As she was relaxing on the couch with a cup of tea, she noticed that the baby wasn't making any strong movements. She instantly began to worry.
"Going to bed that night my body ached with the creeping, crawling angst of fear, of worry, of bitter yearning, “please just let me know you are ok”. That numbing, gnawing feeling and knowing that something just isn’t right. I think every woman at some point in their pregnancy has moments of need, a need from your little one to give you a reassuring nudge from within and that time, that consuming waiting, tingles and pulls, weighs down upon you, heavy, solid, suffocating. You can’t breathe, you can’t think, every sense armed and poised, waiting. I close my eyes, restlessly I fall asleep, sure that I will feel something, anything, you’re over-thinking, he’s a quiet little soul, you’ve felt this way before, you’ve checked him, not once, but three times before and every time he’s been fine," she said.
When she woke up the next morning she said the baby still didn't feel right. She explained him as feeling limp and lifeless. That Monday she went to see an obstetrician at the local hospital.
"Quickly, hurriedly, we made our way to l’hopital de Narbonne. Once there we were confronted by a wall of language barrier, and a complicated system we didn’t understand, different to what we knew back home. Tensions rising, using limited, broken French we fumbled and mumbled as best we could, sent in every different direction, following flustered pointed gestures, trying desperately to read, to understand, foreign words and signage," she wrote on her blog.
As she was preparing for another sonogram she realized that this was Brett's first time seeing their baby.
"Slowly becoming clearer, there he was, our boy, our beautiful baby boy, the outline of his head, his face, his arms, his legs, his hands and feet, his big round belly, my eyes scanning quickly resting on his chest, the white light, the blinking flash of light, gone, no flicker, just still. Everything slowed around me, looking at my husband I could still see hopeful joy on his face, still just happy to finally see his boy, intrigued, our Hurricane wriggling and wrestling in his arms, I feel a hand, soft, somber, delicate, take mine, looking, the doctors eyes, sad, meet mine and tapping on his chest I hear him say the words ‘non le coeur‘ …no heartbeat," she wrote.
Laura and her husband were in utter disbelief. It's a moment she will never forget.
"I will never forget that ‘No’ from his lips, the sound it made, the heartbroken gasp before he spoke, it split me, struck me to depths, I’ll never be able to reach or remove it from. I can still see the doctor slowly moving around us, making arrangements and we, held together as one, our small family, together, cried, hearts splintering, together in each other’s pain," she wrote.
They began to call their family and friends back home to tell them the painful news. The night before delivery Laura was given two small white pills to induce labor. Their dreams of having a healthy newborn were dashed.
"It was all such a physical concept to me by this stage, emotionally I had nothing left to give, not anger, nor sadness, no angst or apprehension, I had become programmed and technical, knowing I had to be strong, not just for the pain but knowing I couldn’t let myself concave completely, not yet, I had to get through tomorrow, I had to support the physical as I knew the emotional would break every inch of me once I took this final step in our journey, connected physically, together," Laura explained.
The next morning, she was given two more pills and Laura has her first contraction. She was then transferred to the delivery room hand-in-hand with her husband.
"As the contractions became heavier, deeper, pulsating intensely through my body the anaesthetist (sic) arrived. In a situation such as ours all I expected was warmth, but here, in the height pain and emotion was the only time I encountered someone cold. In a very detached, manner of fact way, she told me ‘c’est la vie‘ quite brutally, ‘that’s life’," Laura wrote.
She was given an epidural but it didn't work.
"Reflecting on it all now, in many ways, I’m glad it hadn’t worked, the pain in some primal, baser way helped me to connect to the whole experience. I was present to the pain, I could attach myself to it and attach the pain of my grief, the pain of my loss, my wretched bitterness and desperation, was attached, transformed and carried on the physical agony. The brief moments of calm between contractions I wallowed in it, exhausted, what only is a minute can stretch and feel like hours of long sleep. Here I rested with Beau, here we were together in," she said.white noise, together, lovingly holding each other’s hand, taking each gentle step forward together, as one.
As she pushed she screamed in pain, grief and anger asking why her son.
"Over the haze I can hear my husbands cracking, broken voice filter in ‘he’s here, he’s here’. Placed in my arms is the small, fragile and achingly lifeless body of my son. Beautifully and with love the midwives, these foreign speaking Angels had wrapped him and maternally placed a beanie on his head. I want to say I was there. I long to say I was present in it all but the truth, the sad lonely truth of it all is that I wasn’t, I had disconnected myself from it all. Whether as a protective mechanism or a primal, intimate knowledge, I couldn’t absorb the moment. I held him, I breathed him in, I kissed his head, his cheeks his lips, I felt the weight of him against my chest and his cradled curve in my arms, but I knew he was gone, that perfect soul I had been connected to, he had left me, I had lost him and he was gone." she wrote on her blog.
"For our Beau, born sleeping 19/06/2014, our child, our son, our perfect, beautiful baby boy, I love you, the pain I felt in losing you will never compare to love I feel and the love I carry for you. This was your story, it is not finished, every day you write a new chapter with me and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you, think of you, sometimes with smile, sometimes with a tear. I love you but as I cannot hold your hand as we walk this life together, I will, forever carry your beautiful soul in my heart."