Rockabye Angel

Told by: Wendy

My husband and I started trying to conceive in March last year. It took us five months to conceive Joel. I tested on the first day my period was due and it came back negative. I waited five days and tried again on the 13th August and it came back positive. I showed the positive test to my husband who was half asleep, and obviously he couldn’t go back to sleep, and immediately started thinking of names. It took me a while to get used to it as I have anxiety and depression and take a while to adjust to change. I told my mother about two weeks later because I was concerned about stomach cramps and was worried I was going to have a miscarriage. We first saw Joel on the 4th October 2010 at 13 weeks and 1 day, and he was dancing. He already had my button nose. The next day I had my 13 week scan and Joel was playing peekaboo and trying to hide from the ultrasound wand. The next seven weeks of my pregnancy went fine, with only one concern when I was getting sharp pains in my side. It was just ligaments growing. I started feeling Joel move at about 18 weeks. At 19 weeks and 5 days we went in for our 20 week scan and found out that Joel was a boy. We had 3D photos taken and the exam went on a lot longer because the sonographer was getting really good pictures. The rest of the afternoon was deciding what his name would be. We managed to keep Joel’s name a secret for the next 20 weeks, even though my husband did let it slip a number of times. My pregnancy continued to go well, until 31 weeks and 5 days, when I went into premature labour. They managed to stop the labour. However, I had to stay in hospital for the next 4 days as I developed anaemia due them diluting my blood with too much fluid through a drip. This was the first time I had stayed in hospital since I was a baby when I had an open heart operation to repair two holes in my heart. I often wonder if they hadn’t stopped the labour if Joel would have been here today. I guess I’ll never know. I was very tired for a few days after I returned home from hospital where everything seemed an effort. From then on I had Braxton Hicks quite regularly, but they were never consistent enough and didn’t come with any pain. At 37 weeks and 3 days, I twisted my ankle and fell over while out walking the dog. I didn’t fall on my stomach, however, just to make sure I rang the hospital and they said to come in. I spent another night in hospital in which they monitored me and everything was fine. On the 30th March, 2011 at 38 weeks and 3 days I went for my regular obstetrician appointment. Joel’s heartbeat was strong and he was moving. This would be the last time that I would see Joel moving and hear his heartbeat. In the afternoon I noticed that my stomach felt tight, as if having a permanent contraction, and that Joel wasn’t moving. I tried everything to get Joel to move, I rested, read Harry Potter to him (I had been reading this to him since I found out I was pregnant), played Johnny Cash (Joel liked the beat and when monitored to this music Joel’s heartbeat would do double time of the beat), had an icy pole, lollies, had a shower and had dinner. Nothing seemed to work. I also rang my mother who said his movements were probably slowing down towards the end of the pregnancy. After dinner my husband called the hospital, and they said it didn’t sound right and to come straight in. That night my husband was meant to be going to a sleep clinic to have a CPAP mask fitted and I was going to stay at my parent’s house, so I already had an overnight bag packed. At the hospital, the midwife, the one who had also been there when I had gone into premature labour, tried to put the monitor on to find Joel’s heartbeat, but couldn’t find it, but didn’t want to push too hard in case the placenta had come away from the uterus. My obstetrician came rushing in with her portable ultrasound and was unable to find a heartbeat. Joel Carl Phillip Murnane was delivered by C-section at 10:50pm on the 30th March 2011. He weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and measure 51 cm long. I cannot find fault with the hospital or my obstetrician. They gave us as much time with Joel at the hospital as we wanted, and then, because I had had an operation, I was moved into another ward, so I didn’t have to be in the maternity ward. My obstetrician visited every day of my stay, which was a week. The midwife came in and visited every time she had a shift. The nurses in the other ward were very good to me and listened to me whenever I needed to talk. Only one nurse upset me when she told me to get over it, and that it happens and move on. She was told off by one of the midwives and I never saw her again. Joel was taken to the Royal Women’s Hospital for a partial autopsy two days after he was born. Joel’s funeral was on the 7th April, and was attended by 30 people. Joel had come home the night before and we had taken many photos of him with us. We dressed him in a yellow outfit, as we had decided that yellow was Joel’s colour as it was a bright and happy colour. We had a viewing and people chose whether or not to see him. The service went well and we had 3 songs, ‘One Sweet Day’ by Mariah Carey, ‘Greensleeves’ (from a music CD that I used to play every night when I went to sleep) and ‘With Hope’ by Steven Curtis Chapman. Joel was then cremated and his ashes now sit in a teddy bear’s picnic urn on our kitchen table, and even came with us when we went on holidays recently. In memory of Joel we have planted two yellow roses; one at our house (we rent) called ‘Rockabye Baby’, which is in a yellow pot, which has already flowered. We took it away on holidays so we didn’t miss out on it coming out. There is also one planted at my parents called ‘Yellow Angel’ and we are going to have a plaque put next to it. We also have a plaque on the wall of my church. Nothing was found wrong with Joel; he was perfect in every way with not a blemish on him which was strange as both my husband and I have got freckles and moles. My obstetrician had extensive blood tests taken of both Joel and I and it was found that I had a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. The most likely cause of Joel’s death was that a blood clot either formed in his umbilical cord or placenta which blocked his oxygen. The umbilical cord was also very narrow, which is a symptom of this condition. I am now taking 100mg of aspirin daily to prevent this from happening again. It was found that my father had the condition as well, though he didn’t find out until after he was tested following a visit to a genetics counsellor. My medication was also checked to make sure it was safe for pregnancy and it is the safest medication for pregnancy. I am also now on a safe anxiety drug as well. My husband and I have been trying to conceive since the start of June, two months after Joel was born, but have yet to conceive, due to my anxiety and stress, which I am struggling to control. After losing Joel, I have realised that I want more than anything to be a mother of a living child.

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