A letter to baby Tilly
Our daughter Tilly was born in December still but beautiful at 20+1 weeks. I wrote this letter to her in the days following her birth.
Dear darling daughter,
When I found out you were healthy and that we would be giving Maya a sister, I felt like the luckiest human on earth. There was nothing else I could have hoped or wished for in the entire universe than to have another daughter. At eight weeks we had our first USS, your heartbeat was so strong. I cried a tiny tear of happiness and was so grateful. Later that week, I had some cramping. I got home from a 12-hour shift, hopped in the bath after kissing Maya goodnight and had a huge gush of blood.
At that moment, I was sure I was losing you - as I had lost babies before. When I got to the hospital, and the doctor discharged me without a scan, I thought no way. I have to know. The following day we saw our GP, and she gave me a referral for USS. Luckily there was a clinic open on Saturday. The male sonographer was young and warm. He placed the probe on my belly, turned the screen towards me and said, there is your babies heartbeat. I cried out. I sobbed uncontrollably. I was so grateful you were still here. Soon after I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma - a bleed that was measuring approx 40ml, I would have nights where I would wake in floods of blood and dread that you were gone. There were more visits to the ED in this time than I can count. Yet you always appeared on that ultrasound screen with your tiny heart fluttering away, strong as ever.
There were a few times when I had such severe cramping and what felt like contractions that I was sure I was losing you. Despite all the pain and discomfort you always prevailed. Wiggling away inside, heartbeat strong. Your journey continued like this for 12 long weeks. Under the care of the EPAS clinic, the hematoma would reduce and reaccumulate. The bleeding was subsiding a few days at a time at best. Doctors said, "you will either have this baby, or you won't." Maya was becoming aware of my growing tummy, a few times she even said: "mama has a baby" while patting me. Unfortunately, we never sat your sister down and truly told her about you. We never told her she would be a big sister and that she would have a little sister and what that would mean. Your father and I were scared; your prognosis was always so guarded.
When you were almost 19 weeks old, I had more gushing and a sensation of leaking. My heart sank. It was definitely amniotic. A few days later at our morphology scan, our worst fears were confirmed. You had little to no amniotic fluid left, less than 2ml. We met with doctors who diagnosed PPROM resulting in oligohydramnios. This meant your tiny little lungs would be unable to develop, resulting in pulmonary hypoplasia. You also wouldn't have room around you to kick your legs and move your arms, your tiny face crushed and disfigured by the very thing holding you inside me, my uterus.
The last time I felt you move inside me was Friday, three days after the morphology scan. I cried and held my tummy, holding you, feeling you. From then on the bleeding and fluid loss severely intensified. I was soaking through multiple pads a day, and with every sensation, I felt like you were slipping further away from me. On Thursday the 19th we saw the doctor again, he scanned my belly & there you were. Heart beating strong as ever. However, you were grossly distorted inside of me. Your little head and spine curled up in an awkward little ball. We had already spoken with doctors and midwives previously about what would be the likely outcome of you remaining inside. You could come at any moment, or either one of us could develop a terrible infection. There was no telling which would come first. You would never be able to take a breath on your own; you would never cry. You would never say 'mama', or sing me a song as your big sister does.
You, my darling angel baby, my beautiful, strong girl, were called to the stars: you, my daughter. Your strong little heart will never beat outside of me. For 140 days my little one you grew. On the 19th December 2019 at 2:30 pm, the induction of labour began. It was two small tablets misoprostol (400mg) placed inside my vagina very 3 hours. The second dose at 5:30 pm. Third dose 8:30. Around 9 pm, the cramps were starting to become uncomfortable. I was given Pandadene forte and temazepam in the hope I could sleep a little. The contractions intensified. I needed gas (nitrous oxide) at that point, and I was bleeding quite heavily. Claire, our midwife, was worried and had to call a 'rapid response'. Within seconds there were four nurses and six doctors in the room. My blood pressure was checked, and they hung fluids. They assessed the amount of bleeding and checked my old cesarean scar. They were worried about uterine or placental abruption. Luckily my condition improved, and I was cleared for the 4th dose of medication at 11:30 pm.
By then, the contractions were truly painful, and I needed subcutaneous morphine. We listened to music your dad had played on his guitar and recorded. His voice was soft and gentle. His song calm and comforting. The 5th and final dose was given to me at 2:30 am. The contractions were coming in very short, strong bursts and I needed another and last dose of morphine. The final hour of labouring was by far the hardest. From 3am it was a blur of exhaustion and agony. When I was having a contraction, all I could do was breathe on the gas, moan and reposition. When the contraction ceased, I rested, almost unconscious.
At around 3:45 am, Claire suggested I position myself in a kneeling position leaning over the back of the bed. I was having waves of nausea, and I could feel you coming. At 4 am, your little legs popped out, and within a few minutes, you were here. I couldn't see you at first because of my position. Claire asked your father to cut the umbilical cord; however, he couldn't. I looked down, saw you for the first time. You were so tiny. So perfect so precious. I cut the cord, and your dad scooped you up, sat with you and sobbed. It broke my heart to see him hurt so much. To mourn the loss of a daughter, he will never see grow up and grow old. For all the 'imagine what ifs'.
I couldn't move much at that point because I had to birth the placenta. The umbilical cord was so fragile; I had to make sure not to pull it accidentally. It was about the diameter of my pinky finger. I pushed as hard as I could, and soon the placenta came away. It was small, about the size of both my palms. Then I could finally meet you properly. You were perfect. Absolutely tiny. Your hands and feet were so well defined all ten fingers and toes ideal. You had long legs and arms, with tiny muscles all so clear and defined. Your ears were so mini and perfect also. I think what stood out the most was your flawless nose and mouth. So proportioned.
Your skin is so fragile, paper-thin, translucent. You have a few tiny bruises and marks from being so petite and arriving so early. Despite your size, you have incredible eyebrows, like your sister. Your eyes are so big, however closed, not yet open, forever asleep. You were born so peacefully, with a sense of calm about you. Your arms gently folded on your chest. I dont know how I will ever be able to begin to heal from losing you. From having to leave you in the hospital and one day soon bury you. Today is the 21st, a Saturday. Maya is coming to meet you today. I bet she will be so excited to meet her little sister. Matilda (Tilly) Ivy Taylor Born 20.12.2019 at 4:10 am 22cm tall and weighing 260g.
Love always and forever,
Your mama xoxo