Before we give birth we are so often told of all the beauty surrounding the moment. As first time mums we often go in with such a romantic idea of the prospect and rarely get the facts from women who have gone before us.
In the coming weeks, we'll be featuring a series of birth stories from a remarkable group of resilient and mighty women. Kicking off the series is our own Amylee, who is sharing the incredible story of Jack - the little boy who inspired us to create Snuggly Jacks and support other mothers. It's been over nine years since Amylee's experience, and we're thrilled to share her journey of strength and perseverance with you. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories about pregnancy, labor, and childbirth.
Trigger Warning : The story below results in baby loss. Telling this story has been one of the hardest things Amylee has ever done, and If you have a moment after you have read below, please feel free to comment or send Amy your personal words at firstname.lastname@example.org
JACKS BIRTH STORY:
My birthing story is not one that you would find in a fairy-tale. It is real, raw and heart-breaking. Writing this has taken me days, because at every moment that I recount launches me back to that time. For many this reality doesn't exist, and I thank god that most women do not ever have to understand, but it is my reality, and sharing Jack's story with you in some ways is healing and joyful. Please know that this little man was bigger than life. Looking back, I know Jack's purpose was bigger than anything here on Earth, but it's taken me a long time to be ok with that. I hope the below inspires you to love harder than you have ever loved before, and to truly be grateful for every moment you get with your little ones.
You could say this pregnancy story itself was uneventful.
You could say this pregnancy story itself was uneventful. Yes, I had my head in the toilet bowl from day one to what felt like day 5632 (9 months and 8 days to be exact) I never felt like I was “glowing” or that I had an extra beat to my step, but my pregnancy had no major hurdles or concerns.
My sisters and I so excited to meet Jack
On the day I went into labour it was early morning. I woke to the sharpest of pains and just knew after much anticipation our baby was on the way. I was quick to wake my husband and inform him of the progress.
"Call the midwife" he said. After a quick call I was informed to hold tight and wait at home until my contractions were coming two in every ten minutes. I lived thirty minutes from the hospital so had previously planned with my parents to go stay with them during the stages of labour. They conveniently lived just down the road from the hospital I had decided to birth at, the same hospital I was born at. The next 36 hours was a whirlwind of contractions, exhaustion, excitement, bouncing, walking, and calls to the hospital to be continually told to wait until my contractions where consistently two in every ten minutes.
My contractions never reached two in ten minutes. We timed them for hours with their erratic movements. Eventually my sister called and lied to my midwife so that I could come to the hospital. She could see that I was exhausted, and in her view I needed to be checked to ensure everything was ok.
The hospital I was birthing at only had a midwife program
When I arrived at the hospital it was 7pm on the 1st of January 2014. The midwife on call arrived a short time after me and she assessed that after 36 hours of labour I was a massive 3cm dilated! She told me to get comfortable and that she would check on me in a few hours. After what felt like a lifetime (an hour or two) the midwife decided to reassess me. I was now 7cm dilated and things were moving faster. It was also at this point that it was noticed that every time I had a contraction my babies heart rate would dramatically drop. The hospital I was birthing at only had a midwife program so the hospital and doctor 30min away was contacted to be informed of the situation. It was mentioned that my babies heart rate recovered after each contraction and therefore deemed safe for me to stay in my current location. This did not last long. The midwife was soon back on the phone to inform the doctor that the babies heartrate was no longer recovering after each contraction and it had become seriously low. It was decided that an ambulance would be called and so began my transfer to the larger hospital.
The feeling of exhaustion had overtaken me. I had now been labouring for almost 40 hours. Fear also consumed me. There were lots of whispers and conversations were being had outside of the room. Would my baby be, ok? This was the question I continued to ask myself as I fell in and out of sleep. If I am honest the time between being told I was to be transferred and arriving at the next hospital is now a complete blur.
On my arrival I remember the look in the doctor’s eyes. The murmurs between the nurses and midwives. Comments about how I could not birth naturally, and that the baby needed out and quickly. Forms were being shoved in my face. “Sign this” they said. “You need an emergency c-section and you will have to be sedated”. I remember feeling lost, confused, alone and fearful. My husband and sister had not been able to transfer with me. At this point I was alone. My surround was a whirlwind of people moving in and out. Within seconds I was having compression socks put on and a mask being put over my face. The last thing a remember is a nurse whispering to me through the noise of the crowd “just breath”.
Waking up in a room all alone, feeling hazy and confused I was greeted by a nurse sitting on a chair to my left. The look on her face was sombre as she told me that my baby was with the doctor, and they needed to assess me before I could be taken to my baby boy. This was the first time I had heard him referred to as a boy. If I am honest, I always felt like he was a boy but wanted to keep it a surprise. My husband and I had discussed names, He wanted Bruna if it was a girl ( Trust me that was never going to happen) but I were so certain he was a boy that I had not thought much past the name Jack. (Who knows what I would have done if he was a girl).
Stabilizing Jack was not an easy feet and it took the best of two hours to do so
I remember being wheeled into the room where Jack was. This is the first time I had seen my husband again. He was dressed in blue surgery clothes and was standing over the crib of our newborn son. Jack looked so small laying there with tubes coming from every direction. As I sat looking at my baby the doctor explained to me that Jack had been born not breathing and that because it had taken them 7 minutes to resuscitate him a lot of damage had been caused. They assumed he had brain damage but that he needed to be transported to a major children’s hospital 2 hours away and they were attempting to stabilize him before he took the trip. I was informed that I would need to stay at the current hospital until I was stable myself.
The first time I met Jack
Stabilizing Jack was not an easy feet and it took the best of two hours to do so. He was wheeled into me. So frail, so helpless. I felt angry that I could not go. I would stay here while my husband informed me, he would follow Jacks ambulance. It was not long after they had all left that the nurse came rushing into my room. “We are preparing a transfer for you”. I could see in her face that something was not going as planned. “Jack is struggling with the transfer, and we think it best you get there as soon as possible”. With that I was soon put into an ambulance to take the two-hour drive alone with my own grief and concerns.
Arriving at the major hospital I was once again greeted by a nurse. This time with a smile on her face. “You have a little fighter” she said. Jack had made the trip and was now being assessed by specialists. I could see him shortly. It was not long after that I was informed Jack had a major brain injury and that it looked like the first layer of his brain was completely dead. We were told that he was on life support and at best he would be permanently disabled and that I should prepare for the worst.
The next three days were a constant parade of specialist meetings, tests, ups and downs of Jacks progress and my emotions. Days of sitting by his side unable to hold him, "only a gentle touch" I was told, tore me slowly apart. Watching him as he was giving it all he could to fight for survival. It was the third morning that I was greeted by the nurse. “Jack has had a very hard night; He is fighting to be here but is losing the battle”. I never imagined being in this position. Having to make choices that no mother should ever have to make. We were told that Jack could not breath on his own and that his heart was only beating because of the machines he was connected to. I knew with all my heart the last thing I wanted was for my baby to be in pain. I believe he was only still with us because somehow he sensed I needed him and it was time for us to say goodbye. Grief overtook me as I told the nurse that today we would turn off his life support. If he was ready to go then we would make ourselves ready to let him go.
For the next few hours all the important members in our family filed in to say their goodbyes, each given their own moments whispering sweet nothings to such a brave little man. Then finally it was our turn. As the nurse slowly started disconnecting one tube after the other, we stood watching. Then came the moment..... He was handed to me with one final tube covering his tiny little face. A soft red blanket lightly draped over him. This was the first and last time I got to hold my son. So fragile, so small and yet my whole world. “Hold him” I said to my husband as I passed him over. “It’s time to say goodbye.” As my husband whispered his goodbyes the nurse removed Jacks final tube, and within moments the last breath left his tiny little body.
A group similar to NILMDTS gave us portraits in Jacks Honor.
I remember the feeling of leaving that hospital the next day with only a small box of his belongings. My heart torn in two. The feeling of complete numbness.
This tiny human had given us everything and the world had taken it away in one fowl swoop. It is only now 9 years later after years of endless grief, anger, confusion, and love that I have the courage to share my full story with you. I am at peace knowing Jack will always be with me and now in a small snuggly way with each and everyone of you.
Xx Amylee (Jacks Mum)