Losing our perfect little Laylah
Breaking the miscarriage taboo
You don't realise how common miscarriages are until you have one yourself.
I found out I was having a baby when I was only three weeks into my pregnancy. It was a huge surprise because I was on the pill.
My boyfriend of about six weeks took it very well and even moved down to Oamaru with me because my morning sickness was so horrible that I couldn't work, so we couldn't afford to stay living in Nelson.
From very early on in my pregnancy I had spotting. I'd had about three anti-D injections because my partner and I had different blood types.
Because I was only 19 and this was my first pregnancy I wasn't worried about the spotting or the cramps. I knew that miscarriages happened but I thought it was unlikely to happen once you passed the 12 week mark.
The 12 weeks milestone came and went. I was still spotting and having anti-D injections every three weeks.
About a week before Christmas the spotting became heavier, more like a pretty decent period.
My midwife said that wasn't a good sign so off I went to hospital in Dunedin at midnight for an emergency ultrasound scan.
On the way down to Dunedin the bleeding stopped and the ultrasound showed the baby was still safe and sound. We went back home to Oamaru.
The bleeding continued getting worse to the point where I was supposed to stay in bed and rest because I'd lost so much blood.
One night the bleeding got really bad. My midwife sent me back down to Dunedin and they admitted me just to keep an eye on what was happening.
Bearing in mind that the whole time my baby seemed to be happy as - the heart beat and growth were awesome. She even decided to give me a couple of kicks just to let me know she was still there.
Being in hospital was horrible. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I was going to go home in a couple of days, the next I was staying until I was at least 25 weeks (I was 16 weeks at the time) so that I could have the baby and she would go to the neonatal intensive care unit.
After being in hospital for about four days I woke up at 1am feeling sore and crampy. I got checked by the nurse who told me that my cervix had dilated. The nurse told me not to worry and that the doctor would come to see me in the morning but that it would be a good idea to get some family to come down and sit with me.
By this time it was about 5am so I called home and organised for them to be at the hospital by 9am.
A couple of sleeping pills later and the doctor came in and told me I was going to be moved into a maternity room and they were going to put me into full labour. He explained to me (very kindly, I might add) that there was a hole in my placenta and that I was in danger of getting an infection so my body was getting rid of the problem.
The whole time he told me this I put on a brave face and asked all the right questions. He left me with with the head midwife and my brave face broke. I balled my eyes out, saying 'it's not fair' and 'why me?'.
After calming down and cleaning up, I summoned my brave face again and prepared to give my mum and dad, sisters and partner the news that the first grandchild, niece and daughter was going to be born today and that she wouldn't survive it. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
My partner and I listened to our baby's heartbeat one last time. The midwife said that they wouldn't be monitoring the baby during my labour. I guess they didn't want me to go nuts when her heart stopped.
Nine hours of full labour later and Laylah Erica-Lee was born at 17cm, 145 grams. She was perfect. She had ears, fingers toes and nostrils. She was beautiful.
The next couple of days were a whirlwind. I got to go home the next morning, thankfully. Maternity wards suck when you don't have your baby.
It wasn't until all the cards and flowers arrived that I realised how many people I knew who had also had a miscarriage in some shape or form.
I will quite freely talk to anyone that wants to know about Laylah and people look at me like I'm weird when i do. I figure that women who have their baby to hold and cuddle get to talk about their pregnancy so why can't I?
Just because I have nothing to show for it doesn't mean that I (or anyone who's had a miscarriage, for that matter) am any less or more deserving of the joy of talking about having a part of you growing inside you.
I know that my wee girl had a purpose. She brought my partner and I closer together, we're now engaged and although we aren't trying for another baby yet, kids are definitely in our future together.
Eighteen months later, it still hurts. I still have an aversion to girl babies and pregnant tummies.
I love cuddling wee boys though and I still get extremely clucky.
My family is awesome and will get me a nice card for Mothers' day.
The only advice I can give is to not pretend that your miscarriage didn't happen.
Our next baby will know that he or she has a big sister in heaven and that she is still with us in our hearts.
It wasn't until my follow-up appointment that my midwife told me I was very lucky.
They found out after doing all their tests, I already had the early stages of an infection and that if I had of kept Laylah inside me for another couple days later I could possibly have died too.
As far as I'm concerned, Laylah gave her life to save mine. Who could ask for a better daughter?
Here's a wee quote that helped me a lot in the early stages of my grief:
"An angel in the Book of Life wrote down my baby's birth
And whispered as she closed the book: "Too beautiful for this Earth"
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