On Monday 8 August 2016 I sat with my mum waiting for a home pregnancy test to reveal my future. In a matter of a few minutes my whole life changed – I was pregnant.
I was filled with happiness and couldn’t wait to meet my little baby. From that day I started looking at baby clothes, baby items, names and everything and anything baby related. I couldn’t wait to start my new life as a mummy, but little did I know the rollercoaster of emotions that awaited me.
At nine weeks pregnant, everything was going fine until I went to the bathroom and discovered blood. I had scans and checks to make sure everything was okay. I was told I have a bicornuate uterus that was causing the bleed, because the baby was growing in one horn and the other side was mimicking it causing a rupture. I asked questions but was reassured that it was nothing to worry about and it wouldn’t affect my pregnancy.
I got home and researched my condition, and discovered that the thing that I was told I had nothing to worry about was actually a womb abnormality and it was going to affect my pregnancy and me for the rest of my life.
I had both my 12 and 20 week scans, although I really didn’t look pregnant. On both scans our baby was appearing to be healthy and growing well. I couldn’t wait to meet our little Emilia Grace after everything we’d been through. I just wanted her in my arms. Little did I know that eight weeks later I would have exactly that.
On 25 January 2017 I went into very early labour. I was so scared because it wasn’t time for her to come yet. An ambulance collected me from home and paramedics wheeled me up to the delivery room. Everything seemed to be happening so quickly, my waters broke and the doctors had to use forceps during the delivery because she was breeched.
Emilia was 12 weeks earlier than expected but she was so perfect. They placed my tiny baby in my arms, and I remember her staring up at me with her big brown eyes. I was so in love. She was everything I had ever wished for but weighed only 2lbs 5oz.
Due to Emilia being premature she got taken to the NICU. It very quickly became my second home and I spent all day next to Emilia’s incubator telling her how proud I was and who was coming up to see her today. I would always sit holding her hand or touching her skin just so she knew I was there with her and there wasn’t anything to be scared of.
The nurses would call me ‘mum’ or ‘Emilia’s mummy’ instead of my name and I can honestly say hearing those words was the best feeling ever. It made me feel so proud to be the mother of this beautiful brave little girl. I really started to feel like a mum and with the help of the nurses I began to get into a routine with Emilia.
Doing Emilia’s care routine was such a rewarding and special thing to me. Other mums might see changing a nappy or feeding expressed milk through a syringe as a bit of a chore but to me these simple things meant everything. I couldn’t pick her up or take her out in her pram so helping with her care routine was how I would bond with Emilia and I absolutely loved doing it.
It all seemed like it was going well, until we got called into the consultation room and were told that after a recent brain scan Emilia had suffered a Grade 2 bleed on the brain and Grade 4 damage to brain tissue. Nothing could be done and we were told that the damaged tissue would lead to problems in the future. I was heartbroken and felt helpless - we had been doing so well.
On the morning of 30 January I called the unit, and they told me blood had come into Emilia’s feeding tube. I didn’t understand what was going on. Her dad had to go to work so I had to go to the hospital on my own. I carried out the normal care routine like I did every day, but Emilia had to be kept under a blue light.
I left the room to call Emilia’s dad and by the time I had come back there were six nurses surrounding her and the machines were all going off and beeping, a noise I can’t seem to get out of my head.
Emilia’s heart rate was dropping rapidly. I was so scared and felt so useless. My baby was hurting and I didn’t know what to do to make her better. I wished I could take the pain away from her. I would have given her my last breathe just so she could have taken her first without the help of a ventilator.
I sat there praying, hoping and wishing. I was joined by my family shortly after. I couldn’t speak and I just sat there crying.
A consultant came into the room and told us that it was best if we were with her. I rushed to the NICU and went straight to the incubator putting my hands in and calling her name, trying to get her to respond to me. She was just there struggling, staring back at me.
They told me the news I really wasn’t prepared to hear. I was going to have to say goodbye to my little girl and there wasn’t anything that anyone could do. They placed her in my arms, and I felt like my airway was closing up. I would have done anything to switch places with her. I watched as my little girl took her last breath and fell to sleep in my arms.
We were then moved into a private bedroom where we could have some time with her. We spent around 30 hours in the room. We did little things with her that we will always cherish, like putting a lock of her hair little box to keep. We also took her foot and hands prints.
We bathed Emilia and changed into her big girl clothes, lay her in the cuddle cot and read her bedtime stories like 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'Guess how much I love you'. In the morning we spent some more time with her and had her lying in between us on the bed, like a family should. We made so many memories that we will cherish forever.
I still think about her every day and I know that she is with me in everything I do. It’s hard and everyday I’m reminded of my pain. I haven’t got over it and never will, and that’s okay but I have started to do things that have helped me a lot.
I found being surrounded by the ones I love the most has helped me and joining groups on Facebook where mums who had gone through the same or similar experiences to me has too. I also find keeping a diary so helpful so I could just vent everything instead of keeping it all bottled up.
I like to talk about my daughter and let everyone know how brave my Emilia was and how proud she made me to be a mum.
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