Saturday, June 19, 2010

Animal Grief

I worried about where Kelvin and I were going to stay that night. I was told I needed to stay at least overnight at the hospital, and had a compulsive fear that they would make us stay in the maternity ward with the other new mothers and their babies.
Well, we did stay in the maternity ward, but there is a special room for couples in our situation. The room was right at the top of the maternity ward, but far enough away from the post natal patients that we'd never run into them. The room had a double bed, ensuite, fridge and full access television. It was like a hotel room.
Kelvin mentioned later that night that if the circumstances were different, it would be my perfect holiday...lying in bed, having drugs brought to me and being checked over and coddled by nurses. It was actually a very funny and apt statement. I agreed with him and we laughed.
In the room, I was given medication to stop my milk coming in. Vanessa came to help us settle in. Before she left, I thanked her through my tears. I told her how much I appreciated her demeanour. She took my hand, looked into my eyes and said with genuine respect and sincerity "I cannot say that it is my pleasure. But Stephanie, you are very welcome." It was the best thing she could have said to me.
We had a shower to wash the day off and climbed into bed for a cuddle and a chat. I was so happy Kelvin could stay. I couldnt have endured that night alone. We talked about Sybella and her birth for hours. I would have kept talking, but Kelvin was sleepy. Despite having a sleeping tablet, I wasnt tired at all. I savoured the post natal pain from the birth and didnt want it to go. It was a connection to Sybella and every time I moved or walked, the pain reminded me of what we had accomplished. When the pain began to dissipate, I felt the distance between her birth and present time increasing, and her birth felt further and further away.
At 3.00 am I woke in tears. I started crying, harder and harder, until the noise was an animal-like howl. Reality had set in. No matter what, I couldnt stop crying with such ferociousness. The grief was animalistic, that is the only description. I felt like my heart had broken into a million pieces and could never be repaired. I screamed, yelled, moaned and howled for the next hour. Kelvin worried about who would hear me. I could only say one thing over and over and over: "I want my babyyyyyyy. I want my babyyyyyy."
When it got to the point where I was fighting for breath, the sobs died down to breathless hiccups, and I fell asleep, exhausted by my outburst. I awoke the next morning, puffy and red-eyed, despondent and non-communicative.
Apparently, in my foggy haze the day before, I had signed a form to participate in a Stillbirth Study. Specialised doctors would use the results from the 2000 tests performed on me and Sybella to try and find information on what causes stillbirth. The statistics for stillbirth have not changed since the 1950's and the study hoped to shed light on this. The doctors would analyse my blood, Sybella's blood, the cord, the placenta, an autopsy would be performed and the doctors would take samples of the organs to test for various conditons. One doctor came and interviewed us about the pregnancy, asking questions about whether I smoked, drank or took drugs (no, no, no). She asked about the movements, scan results and my wellbeing in the pregnancy. Whether we had moved house (yes), and whether I worked. We still arent sure of the results of any of these tests, but watch this space.
My very best friend, Merrill had received my message the night before and rang that morning. I couldnt talk on the phone, I just sobbed. She came straight away with flowers and just held me. It was so good that she was there. My mother and my aunt Barb, my favourite person arrived. Barb always knows what to say and do. This was no exception. She held my hand and softly explained that Sybella wanted to be in our family, but couldnt this time around. She spoke softly and gently and with compassion. She described me as heartbroken. While mum and Barb were there, Deb (Toni Collette) came to check on us. I apologised for calling her Toni in the throes of labour, and she just laughed, said it happened all the time.
When Jack arrived with Kelvin's parents, my eyes filled with tears. Here was my beautiful boy. How on Earth would I explain this to him? He ran in, happy to see me, sat with me and hugged me. He immediately put his hand on my belly and told me he wanted to pat the baby. He patted and kissed my stomach while I searched for words. "Jack, the baby is not in there. The baby died." He did not understand one iota. I tried again. "Jack, where is the baby?" "In your tummy!" he answered. Kelvin took him for a walk and I am unsure what he said to him, but when Jack came back, he could tell me that Sybella, his sister had died and gone to Heaven in a rocket! Ah, yes, what style I thought. She didnt float up gently, she went up fast, with a bang! Awesome girl!
We stayed another night in the hospital. I left the room probably two times in 48 hours. I hibernated in that room, until I was ready to leave the hospital without my baby.


  1. I remember one morning that first week waking up hyperventilating and sobbing - it was awful. It's hard when the shock starts to wear off and the awfulness of it all sets in. Hugs.

    But I did smile at her going to Heaven in a rocket - I'd imagine only a Dad describes it like that.

    Maddie x

  2. Oh, Maddie, I feel so in tune with you. Your blog describes so many of my own emotions. Hugs xx

  3. Oh Steph. I have no words but am sending you so much love and strength. M xo