It's just over three months since Emme's Birth day. So I figured it might be time to write her birth story.
Our Emme was stillborn (born sleeping) on 23rd December 2014. At 36 weeks and 4 days. She was perfectly formed in every way with ruby red lips and lots of dark hair. This is the story of her arrival, you can choose to continue reading or not xx
It was Sunday afternoon, 21st of December, we had gone to church that morning, I sat in the morning service with the usual Braxton hicks, they seemed to be more frequent lately. As the week progressed so did the frequency of the Braxton hicks, I supposed that, like her two elder siblings Emme would be born early. I am yet to reach a due date.
As we sat around, comfy on the couch playing minion games on the iPad, Braxton hicks still frequent but not anything to be concerned about, I began to think about how little I had felt Emme. Our little baby is a gymnast. Forever doing loops and kicks and making her presence known when the kids or daddy are near enough for her to hear.
"I distinctly remember her moving yesterday, at Christmas spectacular" I thought... "But I can't for the life of me remember her moving today? She must be tired from all these Braxton hicks"
It's 5pm I go grab some apple juice and lay down on my left side... I do the typical thing and Google "kicks in an hour" horrible stories pop up as usual. But I also find the info I was after.
5 kicks an hour. "Sure! Easy."
I drink my cold juice.
Standing in front of the hot stove.
An hour later nothing.
Wake up Emme.
6pm and I'm starting to get concerned she's not waking up with all her usual annoyances or sugar highs. By 7pm we have tucked the kids into bed and called around a babysitter.
Let's get a reassurance monitoring done and then we will be right to go to bed. I threw some clothes into my half packed suitcase and a couple of outfits on the small chance that the Braxton hicks would keep me in hospital and Emme would be born.
David drove us to the hospital, feeling a little like we are gonna waste the midwives time, but always easier to hear that heartbeat and then head home than to worry.
We walked in and I said
"I don't think I've felt my baby move today"
The lovely midwife immediately showed me to a bed, (bless her socks for not rolling her eyes at the over reacting pregnant lady in front of her)
On went the monitor.
She moved it.
She moved it.
She moved it.
I have been here enough to know that the second that monitor goes on, the sound starts. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.
But it didn't. My heart sunk. Not good. So so not good. We burst into tears. We prayed for a miracle.
Midwife leaves to go get an ultrasound machine. And page a dr.
Both turn up.
There's our girl, head engaged, perfect position for her upcoming birth. And there's her little heart chambers. 126.96.36.199. All perfectly formed. All not moving.
"Get her out now!!" I exclaimed... If there was any movement in her heart. No matter how small. We would have the doctors assured.
We get moved to a different machine. A colour one, a stronger one.
There she is again. Perfect. 188.8.131.52. All there. All not moving. The ultrasound machine is quiet. The colour shows there is no blood flow in the umbilical cord, nor any in the heart.
We head back to the first room, it's too hard to see cause of the tears. We make them check again. They have got to have missed it. Any movement at all. Nope.
The Doctor informs us of what could have happened, so graciously explains how these things can happen.
We are not allowed to go home. They provide us with a room away from the birthing unit. In the women's ward. David is given blankets so he can stay too. We cuddle on the single hospital bed. Even that is not close enough for tonight. All our family and knows and a couple of extremely close friends.
Our Emme has no heartbeat.
Emme Grace. Sunday night we finally decide on her middle name. Grace.
Monday morning comes. Family starts landing in Sydney and running to our side. Bears of Hope drop by a care package and the social worker comes by with some options. Pastoral care from church comes and sits with us, food turns up for us, flowers and cards. My eyes are barely recognisable and barely able to open they are so swollen.
Our kids are brought in. They need to see that mummy is ok and not sick and while still pregnant they need to hear about Emme's heart.
"Everyone needs a heart beat, it's what makes us alive. Our Emme, her heart isn't beating... We don't know why this happens... we are very sad. She will be born and you will get to meet her."
Our kids are 6 and 4. So keeping it simple but open is best. They had a few questions and said a few things. They both understood.
Our 4 year old, in true 4 year old fashion just says "she's dead. She was alive. Now she's dead." Yup. Thanks for that buddy. Bless his cotton socks.
We gave them hugs and kisses and yet again played minions on the iPads. Milla (6) needed more reassurance that mummy was ok, even though we were in hospital.
Monday night I was given my first medication to induce labour.
Sleep did not happen. We both saw the pink sunrise out the hospital window Tuesday morning. I was still having the usual Braxton hicks. Tuesday morning I had my second medication.
More family landed, and more visitors came. We got moved to the birthing unit, always better to go into labour there than in the women's unit and then do the mad dash.
We set up in the birthing room. A big double bed. The room was lovely. Such a sense of peace. We knew the outcome. We had more tears than can ever be counted. But deep down inside we felt carried by prayers and by the peace of the Holy Spirit. Our comforter, on a level that we have never known before.
David, mum and I watched movies and hung out together, we ate with everyone who came to see us. Mum stayed with us the whole time from the moment she landed.
4pm. Dad and my brother land. The last of my family to land. They drive to the hospital. Braxton Hicks are more constant, but still not notable.
6pm and every one of the family comes. The kids the adults. Everyone. It's crowded and comforting. There are tears and hugs. What a wonderful family we have. They dropped everything and arrived.
7pm and we all gather for a family photo. POP. Cringe. CLICK- the camera goes off. I officially have a photo of the moment my water breaks.
Within 2 minutes I have sent everyone out of the room, it's time to go now. I tell the midwife my water has broken, but she is still unsure as it didn't gush. She suggests I take a hot bath to relax and let the contractions do their thing.
I assure her this baby will be born now. I have very intense contractions very frequent and request the epidural. In these situations all medication is available at all points as it doesn't effect the baby. These contractions are crazy. So she goes to get the epi.
Within 10 minutes they are set and ready to give me the epi, it goes in, but takes 20 minutes to kicks in...
I tell them she is coming. And sure enough. 7:32. Before the epidural could take effect Emme Grace Andrew made her grand appearance into the world.
"Are you ready?" They ask, paused.
Yes! I wave my arms out to receive my daughter.
Perfectly formed in every way.
She had a complete knot in her cord, and her cord was looped around her neck. We had our answer, the blood flow was cut off by the complete knot. Our gymnast. Really was too active for her own good.
Her birth from first real contraction to finish was 35minutes. An absolute miracle and no recovery needed for me. It went so smoothly, I can actually look back and not hate that moment.
She got weighed, and measured (3 standard NJ lengths Uncle Stew), and we got the privilege of bathing her and dressing her.
We sang her happy birthday.
As we hadn't bought anything for Emme, we sent Mum Andrew and Aunty Courtney on a mission that day to buy her a toy and a dress. Not realising that everyone was at the shops seeing as it was 2 days before Christmas!! Her dress suited her perfectly. It was peach with little bunnies. Everything sweet and innocent, just like our girl.
An organisation called Heartfelt, beautiful volunteer professional photographers, came in and took photos of Emme for us. We called our family, who had just got home, to come back. Everyone had cuddles, and from a mums perspective, I am beyond grateful at how they embraced her, and they spoke their love to her. Even tho her spirit was not with us any more, they still adored her and I got to be that proud new parent showing off their perfect child.
Milla and Phoenix came in. They came over with wide eyes to see their little sister in their mums arms. They looked at her tiny fingers and toes, they held her and kissed her little head. They noted her red lips, her dark hair, and tiny nose, they had a giggle at her nappy too big to fit. They stayed with us till 1am, not wanting to leave.
All our family trickled home, and a few close friends remained. They stayed with us at 2am in the morning, helping to do her hands and feet prints. They sat. They listened. So grateful for them.
David and I barely slept, and for the first time ever, we co slept with our baby. When the sun rose again, it was Christmas Eve. The sunlight streamed in our room, and Emme looked beautiful and peaceful.
Overnight the vernix she was born with had soaked in and she looked even more the perfect peach.
Throughout the day we alternated between company and tears and sometimes both.
Everyone who came to see us, and see Emme embraced her and loved on her. By 2pm we were spent. No more visitors. Just us. Just cuddles. Just whispered hopes and dreams, just starring and remembering taking in everything we could.
We didn't want to say goodbye. Although we had been saying it all the time. We could tell she needed to go, her body needed to go get cold. As the day progressed, the sweet peaceful bright peach that we saw in the sunrise had faded with the sun set.
So many kisses and tears drenched her skin. We dressed her for one last time. Wrapped her in a gifted blanket, peachy pink and white. Kissed her forehead for the millionth but never enough time. And at 12am, Christmas Morning. We watched our girl go for the last time. I ran after her and laid one last kiss on her cool forehead. And then David and I held each other and cried yet again.
When you feel like no more tears could possibly form. You are wrong. They keep coming.
We discharged ourselves and headed home. Our kids needed us to be home for Christmas morning. We wanted to surprise them.
They woke up Christmas morning to every single family member in their house, tons of gifts and mummy and daddy home.
A week later on the 30th of December 2014 we held a private burial and then birthday party memorial service for our Emme Grace. There were peach balloons, a birthday cake, face painting and a bouncy castle.
A bit different for a memorial service. But although we have tears. Lots of tears. We also have so much love for our Emme, and we wanted everyone to remember, and remember the feeling of a great day when they cast their minds back to that day.
Our kids, when they remember Emme. They my not remember her face without the photos, they will remember the love that they felt, and the fun they had weaved throughout the season.
Emme's birth story may have ended. But the love and thoughts we have of her are never ending. She is an important part of our family forever.