So, as I said, I was concerned that I hadn't felt Sybella move for a whole day. Since she didnt kick much anyway, I put it down to her just having a rest. When I started having crampy pains, I thought I was going into labour, and that she was quietening down beforehand, as many babies do. So, for me, the worst case scenario was that she would be born prematurely.
As I fitted the cot and washed the sheets, a fleeting thought entered my mind. "Why am I doing this? She wont get to wear these clothes or sleep in this cot." I kind of shocked myself with such a macabre thought. I quickly shooed it away and got ready for my appointment. In hindsight, it was mother's instinct sending me a message, I am sure. Sybella had died on the Tuesday or Wednesday, and I had this thought on the Thursday.
At the doctor, whilst she tried to find the heartbeat, I wasnt too worried, as sometimes in the past it had been difficult because of her positioning. My doctor didnt seem worried either, but asked me if I wanted a scan, which I agreed to. Just so I could be sure all was well.
I drove to the radiology place, alone. I told Mum, who was minding Jack that I would be back at 5.00pm. I was early, so sat in the car playing on my iPhone, and was very excited that I finally passed a particularly difficult level of "Icy Escort"...a riveting game.
I sat in the waiting room and watched an interesting family that had five children and were there for a scan of their sixth. Good Lord, I thought. Do they know how babies are made? This family seemed frazzled and I thanked my lucky stars that I only had two to contend with. The idea of six pregnancies sent me into a spin! Let alone six children. Now I think of them, and about how lucky they are to have had five full term pregnancies and five healthy children, with a sixth on the way. After my experience, I feel like having a baby a year, because of how precious it is to be able to create a life. I wont, of course, practicality reigns over me, but I do fantasise.
I walked into the room, chatting away to the sonographer, who had a student with her, learning about obstetric ultrasounds.
She put the wand on my abdomen. Now, when one goes for a scan for reassurance, the first thing they show you is the heartbeat, so that you can breathe easy. This lady did not do that. She searched in silence for a while. Then she said she was going to start down below and work her way up. My stomach dropped. Someone knocked on the door. She called out, very forcefully "NO!!" That's when I knew. But really, I already knew, but chose not to affirm it. She did the heart monitor thing, and all I saw was a flat line. And she put her hand on my arm and said the words I will never forget as long as I live "I have some very serious concerns."
I just nodded.
Then started crying, hyperventilating and gagging at the same time. "I cant do this. No no no no. I cant do this" is apparantly what I was saying. I was told later. I didnt remember. I had a desperate need to get off the bed. But I couldnt. The sonographer went and got the doctor on duty, who was very matter of fact. He told me he could see a small puff of air in the heart valves or something, so I hung on to some hope. Maybe I could be delivered tonight and they could save her. If only she could hang on a little bit longer. At this stage, I didnt know what "serious concerns" meant. Did she have two heads? Or what? I still thought she might be alive.
Somehow I found myself in a tea room. I just sat there, for an hour or more.I remember the pitying look of the people in the waiting room, as I , this heavily pregnant woman, was ushered into a tea room, crying hysterically. I asked the sonographer "so...she's not alive?" The sonographer shook her head with tears in her eyes. My phone kept ringing but I stared at it, not being able to register the noise. The clinic called Kelvin, who was on his way. My GP rang, but I dont remember speaking to her. I also called Mum to tell her, but couldnt speak through tears. Kelvin arrived and I kept apologising to him. "I'm so sorry I couldnt keep her alive" I sobbed. He just held me. Cried. Told me it wasnt my fault. I was a model pregnant woman. How could it be my fault? "It was my job to keep her safe. I failed" was my response. And I believed it , too.
Kelvin drove us to the hospital where we were met my a midwife. Now, I have the utmost respect for midwives. But unfortunately, the one I got that night was a bit airy fairy. She had a tiny little voice, and talked about angel babies and fluffy things, such as babies on clouds and how I should take tonight to relish having my baby still in my belly. All I could think of was getting her out. I felt..."crowded" if that makes any sense. And to anyone who knows me, they know that I am a pragmatist, the furthest thing from airy fairy. Everything is practical, ordered and non-dramatic. So this midwife, although she meant well, was not the person I needed that night.
The doctor arrived and requested a confirmation ultrasound, which affirmed that Sybella was not alive. We then discussed birth options. The thought of a vaginal delivery was the cruelest idea imaginable. They werent going to make me go through all that pain without the reward of a live baby at the end, were they? The fluffy midwife told me it wouldnt be a proper labour, just a dull ache, like period pains. She mustnt have had much experience, because giving birth to a 34 week old baby is exactly the same as giving birth to a full term baby. The labour is intense, especially as it is induced. There is nothing "dull" about the pain, it is real!
I was still advocating for a caesarean. I needed to keep the experience clinical, unemotional. That was shock, though. It's self protection in the face of raw, devastating grief.
Eventually, the turning point in making my decision was subsequent babies. The doctor gently explained that I would have two c-sections under my belt with only one live baby to show for it. I had difficulties with fertility after my last c-section and they didnt want that to happen again. That did it for me. I decided on a natural birth, and was organised to come back the following day for induction.