After we learned that Otis’ heart had stopped beating, we returned to the hospital nearer home to be induced. Up to that point I was numb, I was in shock, it hadn’t hit me that my little boy had died inside me – though I don’t think it ever will. Here’s my account of my harsh realisation that he was indeed, gone.
(Please note, this blog post is written as though I wrote it while it was happening. I think it’ll give a better insight that way regarding my thoughts & feelings at the time).
My dad and Chris have just left for the night, ready for me to be induced tomorrow. Water has always been my calm. If ever I need to relax or need time to think, I’ll have a bath or shower. The day has been stressful, so I’ll jump in the shower to try and wind down. I need to sleep – tomorrow is going to be a long, hard day. I doubt I’ll be getting much sleep once he arrives, I mean, newborns rarely sleep, lets be honest!
I’m in the shower, just about to wash my hair and my water-loving little boy isn’t moving. For the first time since he first started kicking and wriggling in my tummy, I’m not feeling him move in the shower. He loves water. Why isn’t he moving? I poked and prodded, trying to get him to move for me. I feel one tear escape my eyes and roll down my cheek. Come on, Otis. Just one little kick and I’ll leave you alone. Stop being silly now. He still isn’t moving. Why isn’t he moving? I can’t usually have a shower in peace. This is the one time I want him to kick me and he won’t. He must just be a stubborn monkey, like his big sister Cora. I prod my tummy again, trying to make him mad so he kicks my finger away like he was doing yesterday. He loves playing that game with me. He’s so cheeky. Another tear rolls down my cheek … Maybe I should call the midwife in? Am I overreacting? Something doesn’t feel right. Otis isn’t moving – there must be something wrong with him. Why isn’t he moving? Come on, Otis. Come on. Move! Kick me. Just one little wriggle. Let me know you’re okay. Please, little boy. Just one kick and I’ll stop poking and prodding you, I promise. He still isn’t moving. I’m begging him. Otis, please.
I fall to my knees. I feel heaviness on my chest, like someone is pushing on it. I struggle breathing; it feels like I’m being suffocated. Then from somewhere deep, deep inside I muster up the strength to scream. I shout. NO! NO! NO! The tears are starting to properly flow now. The water from the shower is pouring over my face, tears that are pouring are stinging my eyes, my sopping wet hair is falling in front of my face. I try to reach up to grab the cord to call for a midwife. I feel like I’m going to die. I genuinely think this is it. This has to be the end. It hurts so bad. This pain in my chest; it’s unbearable. I try to grab the cord but I can’t see properly. I can’t make anything out around me in that bathroom.
NO! Otis, NO! Please, God. No. Not my little boy. Please, please, don’t take him with you. I NEED him. I NEED him more than you! Please, leave him here. Take me instead if you have to, just leave my little boy. PLEASE.
I fall from my knees on to my side. I curl into a ball and grab my tummy. I squeeze around my bump so, SO hard. Otis, please move. Don’t let it be true. Don’t let the doctor be right. You haven’t gone. Have you? Otis?
I’m cuddling this perfect little boy in my tummy. This can’t be it, Otis. You were made out of love. You blessed our lives with your little life because you’re going to do great things. You’re going to grow up with your big sisters. You cannot leave us, Otis. You can’t. Please. Don’t go.
It’s too late, isn’t it? He’s really gone. They weren’t lying to me this morning, were they? You’re really gone, aren’t you, Otis? You’re dead, aren’t you?
I can’t find the strength to scream. I need to scream but it just won’t come out. I try, so hard. The need to scream is overwhelming but all that escapes my mouth is a harsh whisper. NO. No. No. Please, no. This can’t be the end of you, Otis.
I crawl out of the shower and sit, still completely naked, up against the wall of the bathroom. I don’t feel capable to stand. I don’t feel strong enough to support my own weight right now. I need to just sit here. I need to sit here and wait for this to be over.
But it’s never going to end, is it? This is going to define me for the rest of my fucking life. People are going to look at me. People are going to know what’s happened and they’re going to look at me differently. I’ve changed. In the last few minutes of realising I’m now the mother to a child who will be born in to Heaven, I’ve changed. I will never be the same again. I know that already.
It feels like hours have passed and I’m still sat on this bathroom floor. I need to move. I get up and try to steady myself against the wall. My knees are shaking beneath me. I know I’m not going to physically be able to stay standing for long. I somehow find the strength to drag myself to the bed and collapse in a heap on to it.
I can’t stop crying. Where are these tears even coming from, now? Surely I have no more left to cry.
Okay, so my eyes are open. It’s light outside. What time is it? 6am. Not that bad of a sleep, considering. I must have cried myself to sleep last night.
The midwife has just been in to say goodbye; her shift is ending in a couple of hours and she doesn’t want to keep oining me, so says goodbye, wishes me luck and leaves me to it. I’m thankful. I need to sit in silence and enjoy the last few hours of having my little boy where he belongs – safe and warm inside my tummy. With me.
Chris and dad have arrived. They’re both sat in the living area of the suite, I’m starting to feel a few niggling contractions, but nothing painful. I don’t think this is it, just yet. The midwife has just knocked on the door. I’ll be back.
Okay, so it’s just after 11am and I’ve been induced. They give me gel just inside my cervix. They’re hoping it’ll soften and open my cervix gently over the next 24 hours. It already seems to be working though. Seriously, I’m contracting every 3 minutes already! They’re getting more painful with each one. Can’t say I’m excited about the rest of this labour, to be honest. For more reasons than the obvious agony I’m going to be dealing with.
Dad has just nipped home for a shower and some food. Chris is sat watching TV in the living area, helping himself to my biscuits with his brew. Shower time. Maybe that will help the pain a little. Worth a try I suppose.
Bad idea. He still isn’t moving.
It seems this bathroom floor has become my new ‘spot’ … This floor has seen me at my most honest. It’s ‘easier’ to put on a brave face in front of dad and Chris. I can’t keep crying – I need to stay strong for them. It isn’t fair for them to see me constantly breaking down.
This floor, on the other hand, this floor doesn’t give a shit. This floor can see whatever side of me I want it to see. This floor can see me being weak. This floor can see my soul. This floor can see the rawness of this reality. This floor can see every single tear. This floor can see me vulnerable. This floor can see my core. This floor can see the honesty of this situation.
Please don’t let this be it. I’m your mummy. I’m supposed to look after you. It’s my duty to protect you. It’s my job as your mummy to get you here safe and sound and I haven’t even managed to do that. I have failed you, Otis. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. Please, forgive me.
Please, God. PLEASE take me, instead. Take the air out of my own lungs and give it to my little boy! Take the blood out of my veins and put it in to his. Take the sight from my eyes and hand it to him. Take the taste out of my mouth and put it in his. PLEASE. I am BEGGING you! If you really exist, WHY are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this to us?! Why are you doing this to HIM!? WHAT has my poor, innocent, perfect little boy ever done? What harm has he caused to the world that he so deserves to DIE? If you really exist, take me. Take ME. Fucking take me!!!! Leave him alone. Just leave him. PLEASE.
I wonder how many people have led on this bathroom floor, crying in to their hands, begging for God to take them instead of their child? I wonder how many wounds of different women scar the walls of this bathroom? I wonder how many wounds of different men scar the floor of this bathroom? I wonder how many women have done the same as I do now – lying at their most vulnerable on this bathroom floor, completely naked, sopping wet through, cradling their pregnant tummy, hoping and praying to a God they aren’t sure they even believe in, to work miracles and breathe life back in to their child?
This isn’t fair. I can’t do this. Please, Otis. Wake up.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; we miss you, we love you, we will do both eternally.