It is the week leading up to my son’s impromptu death and birth. A week of different emotions. I feel like I have slept through most of September. This year has not be an easy year leading up to his birthday. I thought I had grief pretty much wrapped around my finger. Turns out I was wrong. It had me wrapped around his finger. It came as a surprise that I could experience this pain again so deeply. I thought that I was in a good place emotionally. Until of course, I had that mini breakdown in the summer when everything around me unravelled like yarn. All I could do was ravel it back slowly step-by-step. Patience under these circumstances was a paramount.
The air is thick with grief as I walk down memory lane filled with hushed emotions. Every day I remember something of the days leading up to his birth. And the days after his birth. I started off the week in high spirits. Excited for his impending birth, with just a couple of weeks to go. Nearing the end of the marathon. I was looking forward to his birth. It was an exciting time. I was finishing off the bed. Finished sanding it, and was getting ready to paint it. Was sorting through Sebastian’s clothes to see what stuff I would need, if I had enough of everything. Washed Sebastian’s second hand stroller. And was learning a few basic Slovak words so that when I would go into hospital I would have some understanding of what the doctors were saying to me.
On 24th September I went to the doctor for a routine check-up and they had told me my son had a good strong heartbeat. I believed them. Though I felt uncomfortable and wanted desperately for him to be born as soon as possible as I became increasingly aware that something could go wrong. I asked if they could move the birth forward. No. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible. Let us wait a week.
25th September I finished the blanket for my son with my mum’s help. It was a beautiful bright coloured blanket. I remember going to the ATM that day to check how much cash I had. I couldn’t remember my pincode. It just suddenly wasn’t there anymore. We went to the second hand store to look for some more lose fitting clothes. The lady in the store asked me when the baby was coming. Any day now. Not long to go. If my memory serves me correctly I think I felt my son’s last noticeable kick on that day in the evening. It was not the kind of kick that he normally did. It was a different kind of kick. A bit like life sucking out of him. I don’t know it was a strange feeling. At the time I thought it felt like a somersault. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I just assumed he was being active.
26th September I woke up with contractions. At lunch time I realised I couldn’t feel my son move. At 4 I went into hospital. The doctors said I shouldn’t worry. The baby is normally always alright. Only in this case it wasn’t. My sister’s question ringing at the back of my mind what if Sebastian died? At 5.12 hope left through the back door. I sunk to the floor and screamed. I cried. I wept. I couldn’t pick myself up anymore.
27th September I was told I could die. I was very ill. I was happy to die. I had made my peace with God. But everyone came together from all over the world to pray for me. United in prayer for me. My aunt comes with more comfortable clothing to wear. I had barely eaten anything. I wasn’t hungry. Time doesn’t exist. It just creeps forward slowly.
28th September my sister comes to visit me in hospital. I plaster a smile on my face. She says my bump looks funny. She doesn’t understand the magnitude yet of what I am going through. But seems to understand on her 8 year old level. We go to the hospital cafe and have a drink and pie. Well for those that can eat. Still no baby. No pain relief. Just grief staring me in the face. The doctor says the baby must come out by the 29th. My life increasingly in danger.
29th September the doctors move me to the labour room. Induce labour once more. Break my waters. Put IV in my arm for antibiotics and to speed up the labour. Labour begins in full swing. At 12.30-ish we shift to the delivery room. I waddle like a crippled duck. In pain. Unaware of anything except that soon my son will be born. Aware of people staring at me about to give birth to a dead baby. I try to block them from my mind. I do not hear anything. With a lot of pushes my son was born at 1.05pm in the afternoon. Not a sound came out of his mouth. It was just pure silence. A silence that will remain with me forever. Sebastian was 51cm, 2575grams, perfect apparently. Mum said he had a lot of hair on his head. That’s all she saw before they told her to look away.
They carried my boy away in a metal bowl. In a metal bowl! Can you imagine that? What kind of dignity is that for a baby? I vaguely saw them put him in a bowl. But I didn’t see him. I didn’t hold him. I didn’t get to hold my baby boy. I didn’t get to say goodbye to him. That was robbed from me. They took away my right to see him. How I dearly wanted to hold my son and tell him how much I loved him and how sorry I was that I couldn’t save him. They took my son away without even letting me touch, feel or see him. I was robbed of my mother’s rights. As they walked away I collapsed into a heap and fell asleep. I was exhausted. Emotionally wrung out. Physicallyeexhausted. He was gone. I was still here. My Sebby gone. My precious son Sebastian gone. He didn’t even have a chance to live. He didn’t get that chance. I didn’t get the chance to be his mum.
I had to leave that hospital a few days later – empty handed. With no baby. Nothing left. I desperately wanted to see him. I left the hospital with nothing. With an emptiness, a hole in my life. A part of me died that day. The day he died. A part of me has never come back to life after my son died. I didn’t want to live. But I lived. I praised God. I thanked God for my circumstances and I trusted God. I trusted God that he knew what he was doing. But Sebastian was gone. I lost a part of me that day. It was buried with my son.
And now? Almost 4 years later to the day that he died. I have no living children. I am not a mum. I never got to experience what it would be like to be a mum to a living child. I get forms that I have to fill out. Do you have any children? Well, yes of course I have children. But they are all dead. What do I put on the form? When I am confronted with that harsh reality? Do I put that I am a mum to a dead child or do I tick the box no children? I never know what to do. I feel like I’d be dishonouring my child if I tick the box to no children, but to tick the box with children is also wrong because that is the box for living children not dead children.
My child is dead. I am alive. Am I still a mum even though he is no longer here? Am I a mum to my son? What am I? A mum or not a mum?