On June 21st 2010 I was 40 weeks and 9 days pregnant with our little girl Katie, we were booked in to be induced later on in the week and just completed a normal CTG the day before. I’d had a wonderful easy pregnancy with no complications and after being 6 days overdue with Emily I wasn’t worried at all. This time I had done a lot of reading and felt far more prepared for what was to come.
Around lunchtime I started to feel the signs of early labour, we did a food shop and carried on like normal. At around 5pm I started to cook a lamb roast, the contractions were still very irregular and again I wasn’t sure if I was just imagining things. I told Dave that I wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not and that I hadn’t felt her move round much lately. We rang the hospital and they told us to come in and check. This wasn’t the first time I’d gone into check because I couldn’t feel her, it happened with Emily too and they both took several hours to pass a CTG several times, I had lazy babies.
As we drove to the hospital we discussed how weird it was that we would be meeting our little girl so soon. I noted that usually she started moving as soon as we got in the car but she still wasn’t, Dave asked me if I was worried and truthfully I told him I wasn’t. As we arrived at the hospital, as we were walking up the corridor at about 6pm he asked me again if I was worried, I told him not to be silly, everything was fine. We were put into a monitoring room and a midwife came to attach the monitor, she struggled to find her heartbeat, I laughed and said she was always cheeky to find but still the midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat. At this point I started feeling uneasy, I looked across at my husband and could see the fear in his face, “It’s ok” I told him, “she’s probably just really low down.”
The midwife went to get the doctor on call, who again was not my doctor. He arrived with an ultrasound machine, we kept asking what was going on and if everything was ok, our questions were re-directed and I remember this awful long silence while the ultrasound was set up. We’d had plenty of ultrasounds, we knew what to look for, he was right over her chest, nothing, there was no movement. Another long silence, “Is she ok?” We both knew the answer, we didn’t have to ask. “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”
My husbands eyes welled with tears, I felt numb. I couldn’t stop apologizing to him, I was a stay at home mum, this was my job, I was supposed to have kept her alive and I failed her, I failed him. The loss of Katie hadn’t hit me, I was in shock. “What happens now?” I asked. He explained that there were a few options, wait and see what happens, c-section, get transferred to a hospital an hour or so away that was specialized in this sort of thing. He told us to go home and do what we needed to and decide what we wanted to do.
We popped in at my grandmothers who was just down the road, she asked us if there was any way they had just got it wrong, we told her that she has definitely died, an almost crushing moment where it hit me and I realized just what had happened. I tried to stay strong, I tried so hard not to let the pain show so that it would be easier for everyone else to deal with, I probably should have just let it all out but I couldn’t.
When we came back we were put into one of the private rooms and told to wait for a midwife who was coming in soon to talk to us. We sat that for what felt like an eternity, the door closed, breathing through what were now definite contractions listening to the newborns in the ward crying. It was then that we met Simone, one of the kindest people I have ever met, she came in and discussed our options, initially I wanted a c-section so I didn’t have to deal with what was going to happen but thankfully Simone talked me out of it. She told me she could make some calls and see if I could stay where I was, the only hospital I was comfortable with and that she would deal with us personally.
Simone was helpful and considerate, she took us into the labour ward and brought in a mattress for Dave. I had told her that I wanted an epidural so she organized to have the best anesthetist come in for us. He was fantastic and with a mix of the epidural and pethidine I was thankfully unable to feel any contractions which allowed me to lay there and process what was happening. The night was a blur of numbness, I drifted in and out of sleep in between top ups whenever I started to feel contractions again. I remember laying there watching poor Dave sleep, he had refused to sleep while I was awake because he didn’t want me to be alone even though he was exhausted, I left him to sleep, he really needed it.
Around 1.45am on June 22nd I felt that familiar feeling that I needed to push, I had remained quite calm throughout the whole proccess but I remember somebody telling me that it was ok and we were nearly there. I snapped back, nearly where? I wasn’t getting to take home my baby girl after this, I was nearly at what felt like the end of my life and someone was encouraging me? It felt like the first time I actually felt anything other than numbness and it actually made me feel better. Ten minutes of pushing through what I could only describe as the easiest most lovely birth ever, Katie Samara Jancovich was born, with cord wrapped tightly around her neck. I closed my eyes and cried, I was afraid of what I would see, I kept them shut and I could hear Simone telling us she was beautiful. I finally opened my eyes and I saw Dave drop to his knees by the side of the crib she had been placed in and cry, he looked so hurt and in so much pain that I had to look away again.
At our request Simone took Katie to weigh her, clean her and dress her for us. Despite all attempts to convince us to hold her we had decided that we didn’t want to hold her, we didn’t want to feel her all cold or limp, we wanted our memory of her to be just as she appeared, fast asleep. People often tell us that it helped them to hold their baby but for us, this was easier, we weren’t ready for that. I rested overnight and went home as soon as they would let me in the morning.
Two days later we went back in to spend time with her, take some photos and say our goodbyes. We had imprints of her hands and feet made, a lock of her hair taken and then organised to have her cremated. Although the memories are still painful and we will never be ok with the death of our beautiful girl, we are learning to cope with the pain easier and come to terms with what happened. Over two years later and still not a day goes by that we don’t think about her, she will always be in our hearts and we will never forget our little sleeping angel.