It is such an exciting time when someone in the family announces they’re pregnant. The expectant parents prepare for the imminent arrival of their bundle of joy and the siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, well, simply can’t wait either!
It was 2001 and my sister was pregnant with her third child. As most of you know, this is when people didn’t find out the sex of the baby and waited with bated breath to hear the midwife shout “It’s a BOY/GIRL!” – the way it should still be.
The plan was for me to babysit my niece and nephew when my sister was ready to go into hospital and that’s exactly what happened. I got the call and headed up to her house as quickly as possible. As I arrived, she was stood in the doorway with her bag in hand and a huge grin on her face. “Make sure you call me as soon as she’s had it!” I shouted to my Dad as he pulled away. I went inside, made myself a cup of tea and sat down to watch the early morning news. A good few hours had passed, maybe 3 or 4 and I was starting to get irritable. “Why has no one called me yet?!” I thought to myself angrily. I was only 17, but I knew labour could take a while. Still, I was taking care of the young ones and wondered why no one had bothered to even update me. My sister didn’t have a home phone and I think I had ran out of credit, so I made my way to the neighbours house to see if I could use their phone.
“Hello, Maternity Ward”
“Hi, my sister came in this morning and I was just wondering if you could tell me any news?”
“What’s her name please?”
“Unfortunately, I’m unable to disclose any information to you over the phone. I will have someone call you back.”
Although a little frustrated and still annoyed that no one had called me I knew I would get that response. So I waited. And waited. It seemed forever but in all reality, it was about half an hour later when my Dad pulled up outside, a long with my niece and nephews Aunt from their Dad’s side of the family. She had come to take over from me. I ran outside and got into my Dad’s car. His eyes were glistening, like he had been crying and I presumed it was out of joy. “Why did nobody call me?” I hissed. “It’s not good news, Kristi. The baby passed away.”
What, wait? Was I hearing him right? This can’t be true. All appeared fine when my sister left that morning. I’m even sure she told me that the baby was going crazy as she stood in the doorway! But no, it was all very real and when I realised, I burst into tears. “Do you want me to take you home or up to the hospital?” I did not want to be alone, I just wanted to be with my family. Especially my sister. What in god’s name must she be going through? What went wrong?
We arrived at the hospital and were ushered into my sister’s room. She was lay on the bed, in floods of tears. I went straight up to her and gave her the biggest cuddle I could, but I knew it would not take away the pain she must have been feeling. I can’t remember clearly, but I think we all just sat and cried, no words exchanged as I clutched onto my sister’s hand. The next thing I knew, the baby was being brought into the room. A girl. A gorgeous, chubby cheeked and incredibly dark haired girl. She was perfect. I couldn’t comprehend what had gone wrong.
My Mum held her for a while and then it was my turn. She put her in my arms. It was the strangest feeling. Babies are normally so light and delicate, however she felt the opposite. She felt heavy and plump. I cuddled her into my body and stared down at her perfect little face. She was the spitting image of her big sister. She had the same lips and nose. That little button nose was adorable. As I was gazing at her, her head tipped back slightly as I moved my arm and I could see into her mouth as it was slightly ajar. Her tongue had rolled back into her mouth and I felt my knees buckle. It wasn’t something I was used to or expecting to see and it threw me for six. I asked my Mum to take her from me quickly, before I fell into a heap on the floor with her in my arms. It was surreal.
The rest of that day and the days that followed were a blur. I cannot ever comprehend what my poor sister must have been going through. It is unimaginable, carrying a baby for 9 months to then not be able to bring that baby home. Since having my own child, I know it must of been a living hell.
I was unaware of stillbirth, until this happened to our family. I now know that this happens a lot, to people all over the world. As far as I am aware, we never got a definitive answer as to what went wrong, although I believe my sister was left too long (she was 2 weeks overdue). I ask you all, please take heed.
The below song is what played in the car on the drive home that day – I think it fit perfectly.
“But I am speechless, speechless
That’s how you make me feel
Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is for real
When I’m with you I am lost for words, I don’t know what to say
My head’s spinning like a carousel, so silently I pray
Helpless and hopeless, that’s how I feel inside
Nothing’s real, but all is possible if God is on my side
When I’m with you I am in the light where I cannot be found
It’s as though I am standing in the place called Hallowed Ground
Speechless, speechless, that’s how you make me feel” -Michael Jackson