This is a very difficult post for me to write. The following was almost worse than getting the initial news that Sybella had died.
We gave permission for Sybella to have an autopsy, and were told she was going to a children's hospital for this, as the doctors were more specialised in this area than the ones at the hospital where Sybella had been born.
In the meantime, I had arranged a funeral provider, which were The White Ladies. I chose them because, being run by women, mostly mothers, I thought that their nurturing touch would help make the process a little easier. The White Ladies were brilliant. I cannot commend them enough. They cared for Sybella as if she were their own baby, from start to finish. I dealt mostly with a woman named Debra, a softly spoken, grandmother type, who took me under her wing and did everything I asked. I cant believe my good fortune in the dealings I had with the professional people who were involved in Sybella's birth and arrangements. Like I said, these people had a heavenly touch and I think Bell sent them to me to help me during this time.
Debra organised everything, but the only job I had to do was call the children's hospital and let them know that The White Ladies were picking up Sybella after the autopsy and taking her into their care.
One terrible night, I made the phone call, where I was met with an abrupt clerk who stated that they had no record of a Sybella on the system. They tried again under my maiden name, but she didnt come up.
I started to shake as I realised that I had no idea where she was.
I got off the phone, and burst into tears. Kelvin rushed in to see what was wrong. "They've lost her!" I sobbed. "They dont have her on the system!" He rang them, but even after physically checking the morgue, he was assured that Sybella was not to be found.
I didnt handle it all that well. Lets just say that things were thrown. And it took us a week to find the empty plastic coke bottle, which was one of the victims of the throwing, stuck behind the combustion heater.
I rang the hospital where Bella had been born and explained the situation. The midwife on duty was gentle and calm, and said that she would find out what had happened and get back to me.
We recieved another phone call from the doctor herself, telling me that Sybella had never gone to the children's hospital, she had stayed in the same place for her autopsy. But we had never gotten this news. No one had told us. She then told me that she was aware that the funeral directors were ready to collect Sybella, and she was ready to go. I became extremely confused then, as I had not yet told the hospital who we had nominated as the funeral service provider. Why did they think that the funeral director was picking up Sybella, when it was MY job to notify the hospital that they were coming? I then became convinced that Sybella's body had been mixed up with another stillborn baby, and Sybella had gone with another funeral company, while another baby, not Sybella, would be picked up by The White Ladies. I was assured that Sybella was the only baby in the morgue, and it was definitely her. I was told that the hospital knew about The White Ladies because there is a database that matches up the deceased with the nominated funeral parlour, and that is how the hospital got the information. This was not good enough for me, all I had were visions of another baby's ashes sitting on my mantlepiece.
So we arranged to visit the hospital to make sure it really was Sybella.
We met with the social worker, who took us down to the morgue. There is a small, comfortably furnished waiting room that we sat in while Sybella was brought out. She was lying on a metal gurney, about the size of a breadboard. She looked no different in the few days that we had left her. I was worried she'd be blue and stiff, but she was pink and flexible and just looked like a sleeping baby. She was dressed and wrapped, and I knelt down on the floor to look at her. She looked much smaller than I remembered, but apparently that is something to do with the refridgeration process. I slowly inspected her hands and feet, which assured me that it was her. I will always remember her delicate, feminine hands, and the fact that her feet were identical to Jack's. I had trouble getting her booties back on, and shook as I tried to gently to place them back on her feet. Eventually, the mortuary supervisor had to help me, and we did it together, as my tears dripped onto Sybella's cheek. I was worried that her outfit was different to the one we dressed her in after birth, but I got no explanation for that. I assume she was changed after the autopsy and her outfit was returned to the birthing suite for another stillborn baby girl. That sounds macabre, but in the public system, I guess they need to recycle the clothes and cant keep forking out for new outfits. It comforted me that the hat and the booties were the same as the ones she was dressed in on her birthday, though. I spent twenty minutes with Bell, whispering and stroking her. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was definitely her, as I could feel her gentle soul again. The social worker let me hold her, and took some photos of us together.
Once satisfied that she was definitely our baby, I left and met Jack and Kelvin outside.
I let Debra from The White Ladies know that Bell was ready to be collected and she was swiftly taken into their care. It was time to start planning the funeral of my baby daughter. I had no idea what to do.