Lily and Sommer

Motherhood to me has been the most amazing journey. Although I had expectations of the hard times, I had never, never realised just how rewarding it would be. 

My first pregnancy was difficult from the start, we hadn’t planned to be pregnant but I was definitely happy. It was harder for my partner to get his head around it, but by the time we had the scan at 20 weeks he was excited too. We found out that we were having a girl, and even at that stage I loved her so much. Then at 22 weeks, I knew something was wrong. I was at home and started to get some pains and all of a sudden I was uncontrollably bleeding. I called the hospital and asked them what to do. They told me to call an ambulance and still in my mind at that stage I thought that everything was going to be OK. I don’t know why I thought that, maybe I was just trying to be positive.

We drove to the hospital and in that time I soaked through 2 towels worth of blood. We got to there and I was put into a wheel chair and taken up to birth suite. I still remember the poor doctor who came in and had to tell me that because of how early I was, she couldn’t make it. I was told she would likely come in the next few days. I didn’t even cry, I was just in shock. A few hours passed and nothing more happened, so I was taken to the maternity ward where I had my own private room. They said that this is where you’ll have your baby. It could be soon or it could be few days.

After a few more hours, the pains started to get a lot more stronger and closer together. I had so many family members come and visit me, because we all knew what was going to happen. I was just trying to get through the pains. I remember lying in the shower crying. Everyone was crying. I had such a big support network there. I had my Mum and my Dad, my partner, his Mum and Dad, my cousin - who is one of my best friends - and we were all a team. Someone would get me some water and someone would shower me down, and we all needed each other because we were so emotional. We had all loved that baby and people that say ‘You didn’t get to know her, so it would have been easier to grieve’, are so wrong. I had her in me that whole time and I knew her. 

I think it was after 38 hours that I had been in hospital and the doctors did and internal. They said I was ready to push. Everyone in the room was crying because they hadn’t checked her heart beat in the last few hours so we didn’t know if she would be born alive. I pushed and it was actually really easy. She was born with the sac still all around her and it was the most beautiful thing, we could see her little arms moving inside. I have photos of her at that moment and they are some of the most special memories I have. Then my midwife cut the sac open and she was still moving around. It was so special. I put her straight onto my chest and I felt her breathing. I have photos of her with her mouth open and with it closed. I can see her breathing in those photos. I don’t have an exact time of when her breathing stopped, but I got to meet my baby alive and I had those moments with her. Those memories that I have of being with her, those few days with her body are so so precious to me.

I got home and I wrote them all down so I’d never forget them, along with all the beautiful photos, to remember forever. I still do things to this day to remember her, she’s never ever going to be forgotten. We always go down to the cemetery to see her, we go to ‘Walk to Remember’ every year and we light a candle on her birthday. I think about her on her due date, when she was supposed to be here. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it, but I’m definitely learning to live with it a lot better than when it first happened. I was so young and it was such a big trauma to deal with and work through. It was so hard.

Lily was a person, she was my baby. I want people to know that and I don’t want to hide from it. I know it makes people uncomfortable sometimes when I tell them I have two babies, but one of them has passed. They look uncomfortable, but I have two babies and I do want to talk about both of them. 

After that I remember just working, day in day out, but just wanting more, wanting to have more meaning to my whole life in general. I knew that we had to try again for a baby. I remember one day taking a pregnancy test and it came back negative, and I just cried for the whole day, wishing that it had been positive. A few weeks went by and I took a blood test and it was positive. I cried the whole way home again! Out of excitement and joy and I knew that I already loved that little tiny thing that was inside me, incredibly much.

I think having a baby at 22 weeks and having her only for a short period of time, made me have so much appreciation for the fact that I was even pregnant again. I knew this was a chance for another life. Before I had Lily, I thought you just get pregnant and have a baby. You don’t realise that not all pregnancies are like that. You don’t realise how many don’t have the happy ending. I think having that experience made me appreciate even just that positive test result. And then going through the pregnancy I was terrified of all the little things that could happen. I think from the day I found out I was pregnant, my whole world changed. I didn’t want to do certain things because I was worried about my baby. You stop worrying about yourself and put your baby first. 

All the scans were great, then at about the 25 week mark, I was just getting ready to go to my Mum’s when I started having quite serious pains and I was really concerned. I phoned 13 HEALTH and was on hold for ages, I couldn’t get through to them. I had a midwife appointment in the morning so thought I’d wait until then. I got to the "appointment” and - because of my baby brain - I actually didn’t have a midwife appointment at all. I had this hunch inside that something was wrong and I should go to the hospital. I don’t know why I knew that, but after everything that happened I knew that I had to go. I was seen in the antenatal clinic, then was sent up to birth suite - they said initially it was probably just a pulled ligament. They then did the internal and found I was slightly dilated and having contractions. So - again - tears... lots of tears, I was so scared that the same thing would happen again as last time with Lily. And just so many questions that I wanted answers to: how long is this going to go on for, when am I going to meet my baby, is she going to be OK… just so many questions. We went for a tour of the NICU and I just wanted to know when the labour was going to happen. I assumed in my mind that if you start dilating, then you go into labour within a week or so.

I was so lucky that it held off for a week, and then it held off for two weeks, and every week I had these little goals and little milestones to get to. It was such a rollercoaster. I spent almost the whole time in hospital after that. It was almost 2 months, with only 7 broken days at home during that time. It was really hard to be there and not be in my own bed. But it was so reassuring to now that if anything happened I was right there, near where I had to be. My baby listened to everyone who came in to see us - everyone said ‘We just need you to stay in there a bit longer, you just need a bit more cooking in there.’ And I think she listened. As crazy as that sounds, I really think she did.

Then at about 30 weeks my waters broke. I thought she would be coming for sure, only a matter of days now. But she still stuck in there until we developed an infection and then that risk just outweighed the risks of being born too early. I was induced at 33 weeks and 4 days, and it was a really quick birth. It was really hard. With the indution, I felt like my contractions just weren’t stopping. Even though the labour was short, the contractions kept peaking and came one after the other, with only a little rest between them. It was so hard and I remember feeling like my whole body was just trying to push my baby out. I said to my midwife ‘I feel like I need to push’ and she said ‘Oh, no, not yet, it will just be your body getting ready’. She actually went out to have a cup of tea and that was when I yelled at Mum ‘I need to get my pants off!’ and literally she jumped out of me! She was so excited, it was one push and she jumped right out. My midwife had to catch her from falling off the bed. It was such a relief. That feeling of holding her was just incredible. When they put her onto my chest, I looked at her face. I had never seen her face properly on the scans and when I finally got to see her face, it was everything I had dreamt of. I didn’t think that my baby could be so perfect, but she was. 

She was probably only with me for 20 minutes and most of that time she was on the resus machine across the room. I had another quick hold, but it wasn’t for very long. She was then taken with my partner up to NICU. I was really lucky to have the photos of the birth. I was still down in the birth suite, and I got to see these amazing photos and it was just so good, because although I couldn’t see her in person, I still got to see her. 

She was in NUCU for around 3 days and then into special care for just under 4 weeks, which was amazing. Being at home and having your baby at the hospital was even harder than when I was in hospital waiting for her to be born. I had her with me the whole pregnancy and then suddenly, I don’t have her and I have to go home without her. Those days were so hard. We had assumed that she would be in special care until her due date, but in the end we got to take her home 3 weeks earlier than expected. It was so special to finally have her home.

I think that having Sommer has really helped me to heal too. I wouldn’t have Sommer - without a doubt - if Lily had survived. I am so grateful, I treasure every moment. Even the migraines, the hard nights, it makes it so much easier knowing that I have her. I know that being a Mother is what I am supposed to do, I feel amazing - it sounds a bit cocky, but I feel that this is what I’m supposed to do, I’m so good at this and so happy. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have needed everything that I have gone through to get to where I am now, I am so grateful of everything I have.