To lose a baby, whether through a miscarriage or otherwise, can be devastating. It has been written that a miscarriage during pregnancy can be as unique as your fingerprints, which as you know, we are all born with, and that thought blows my mind. I genuinely believe that our life is mapped out for us, and for whatever reason, fate plays a huge part in our existence.
During my third pregnancy, things didn’t feel ‘right’, I can’t explain why. As the months progressed, and I grew larger and larger, both hubby and I began to discuss the ‘what ifs’, which is something that during my first two pregnancies, had never before entered our thoughts, even though some genetic problems had come to light with hubby’s family. We began to ask ourselves, could we cope with one of life’s curve balls, could we provide what was needed should there be difficulties.
I ‘ballooned’ in weight, carrying lots of fluid, my hair and skin suffered and I was tired all the time. During a six-month scan, it was discovered that baby was very small for his age (putting him back in size by a couple of months, although we didn’t know it was a boy at the time). At this point, it was obvious that something was wrong, I felt numb and to be honest, not really sure how I was supposed to feel. I know this may sound callous, or uncaring, but I was certain I would not be able to cope with a special needs baby. Oh, I’m sure there are plenty of you out there, that will be screaming at me, telling me that no matter what happened, I would have coped.
Although, born on time, Mark was quite small, just over 6lb, wrinkled and blue. He was rushed straight off to the special care baby unit (SCBU), whilst the staff spent ages cleaning me and all the fluid that flooded the room. I was transferred into a room with two other mums who had their babies in their cots, next to their beds. I felt bereft, filled with grief, like I’d already lost him. Thinking back on this now, I’m amazed at how totally insensitive this treatment was.
Mark was kept in the special care baby unit, where the staff were wonderful. We would visit every day, whilst we waited for the consultant to come see us with his diagnosis. During this wait, I was frightened to care about him, refusing to cuddle him. I would talk about having Mark adopted, I was afraid to let myself love him. After a couple of weeks, hubby was visiting the hospital, when the consultant called him into his room for a chat. He advised us to make the most of the time we had, as soon as I was given this news, it was like any future decision I was asked to make, was taken out of my hands, all I wanted then, was to hug and love him.
It seems an abnormal chromosome was to blame, a random occurrence that could happen to anyone. Mark had little abnormalities that were plain to see, along with a damaged heart. We took him home to look after him, but after a week we were struggling to cope, although we had home help arranged for us, Marks breathing was becoming extremely laboured, making feeding so difficult for him, that I had to manually move his chin up and down to help him take in some milk, he just didn’t have the strength to suck, having a small amount of feed could take an hour, it became a full-time job just feeding, changing and bathing him. He began to deteriorate quite quickly, his heart was causing him great discomfort, making him cry out in pain, and so it was arranged for him to be taken back into the SCBU and given daily injections of morphine to ease his pain, but his poor thighs were like pin cushions.
After nine weeks, his body finally succumbed as he slipped into unconsciousness. It took the next couple of days for all of his organs to shut down, and all we could do was hold him close. The relief of that final day was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, not for me, but for him.
It was a difficult time for us, as adults to come to terms with what had happened, let alone for our two- and four-year-old. How do you explain to them how poorly their brother was and why he was taken away, these were questions that we couldn’t answer ourselves, let alone describe to them.
I truly believe Mark was put on this earth for a purpose, what that reason is I don’t know, but what I am certain of, is that he has been there for me on several occasions. There were times when we were having difficulties, and I didn’t know where to turn, and he came to me and whispered that everything would be OK. I went with a friend to see a physic, at this time Mark would have been ten, to those of you who are sceptical, let me state that no fee was involved, no details were asked for. When the session first begun, she explained that one of her ‘group’ in the church had told her that I would be visiting, she described Mark, expressed how he loved to play in the house with his two siblings, recalling his favourite dress that his sister wore and the ice lollies that I would make them. I was blown away by the accuracy. Up until that point I still thought of him as a nine-week-old baby, but then I realised that he was my ten-year-old son, who I so wanted to hug and kiss. Amongst other personal things, that only I would know, she explained that he would be around whenever I needed him, and to look into a mirror and think of him, which I often do and still feel the hairs rise on the back of my neck and goosebumps down my body.
Had Mark not agreed to come to us, then our youngest daughter, Rebecca, wouldn’t be here now. So, as I said, everything happens for a reason, although we may never know the reasons why. You, the reader may or may not agree with my story, my feelings or my motives, but we all deal with what life throws at us in our own way. I honestly believe there is no right or wrong way to deal with the hand we are dealt – but in our case, our lives have been enriched and we have gained so much from the privilege of knowing him.