October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. More specifically, October 15th is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAILRD).
Stats Canada is behind the times with keeping up to date records of infant loss, but to give you an idea of how common it is, here are some numbers from 2005.
Out of a total of 447,485 recorded pregnancies:
- 8,494 were fetal loss
- 6,285 of those being recorded miscarriages
- 2,209 being Stillborn
Out of that 447,485:
- 1,863 babies aged 0 days – 1 year passed away
- 1,158 of those babies were between 0-28 days
- 705 were 29 days – 1 year old
Haylee Emma Marie was born on January 23rd, 2005 and falls in the category of babies who passed away between 0-28 days. She is a part of Stats Canada’s 2005 Stat board.
She is my firstborn daughter.
I was a young mom. 19 to be exact. Although shocking, it was hard not to be excited about welcoming a new person into the world. Especially when I was told that new person would be a she! The months leading up to her arrival were tough, I was incredibly ill for the first two thirds of the pregnancy and my energy level stayed at a steady 0 throughout. My due dates fluctuated from early February to early January, finally resting on January 17th.
Her nursery was done in a Winnie the Pooh theme with hand me downs from my family. My due date slowly came….and then it went. The thought of my stomach bursting out the front crossed my mind a time or two. Call me naïve, but my self absorbed 19yr old self didn’t realize a person could grow so much while nesting a tiny human. When the doctor saw that I was making no progress and baby was content where she was, I was scheduled in to be induced.
January 22 @ 7am I arrived at the hospital, bound and determined to have this baby. I was admitted and in a room by 7:30am with ‘the drip’ hooked up to my right hand. It was go time! Or so we thought. All damn day I walked the halls of the maternity ward, going up and down the stairs, swaying and swinging my hips, willing that baby to come on out. She was stubborn as hell though. Progress was made when they broke my water and eventually the contractions started in the early evening. The drip was replaced with Morphine and that’s when all my friends came out to party. Don’t ask me their names because they were of the imaginary variety (don’t judge) but I hear it was quite entertaining. Although the contractions were killing me I stayed at a steady 2cm for hours. HOURS. Early morning came and it was Sunday the 23rd. My regular OB-GYN was away as his own wife was due any day so a replacement was sent in to help my family doctor.
The pain began to be unbearable even with the morphine & my body was exhausted from trying to “relax” and ride the contractions out. I had dilated to 5cm but wasn’t going any further anytime sooner. Eventually an epidural was asked for and granted. I was so exhausted by that point that I was barely able to sign my name on the consent form for the epidural. I remember the OB-GYN coming in at one point, patting my hand and saying “You’re a tough girl, you can stick this out”. Sure thing buddy. You can piss off now & feel grateful that I can’t feel my legs or you’d be getting a swift one where it hurts. Shortly after my family doctor came in & it was decided that they would prep an OR for a C-section. As it was early Sunday afternoon & calls were made to get everyone in. I was scheduled for surgery at 3pm. Prep was being made and the nurse came in one last time to check my cervix. Lo & behold in the time between making all the calls and prepping me for surgery, I had dilated to 10cm. I was so grateful that there was finally progress and I would be meeting my baby soon.
Haylee Emma Marie joined us at 2:23pm on January 23rd, 2005 weighing a healthy 8lbs 4oz. She was perfect in every way imaginable. Her eyes were like looking in deep pools of water, so dark and moody yet still so blue. Her little lips so perfectly shaped. She had this mop of dark brown hair, & her skin was so pink and warm and smooth. She was everything I dreamt she would be and so, so much more. All the morning sickness, the lack of the energy and the exhaustion was worth the feeling of holding that tiny bundle in my arms.
The days after bringing her home are the story of any new parent to a newborn, little sleep, delirious happiness & exhaustion and incredulity over the fact that she was mine to keep. Nursing her was difficult at first, but she quickly caught on and although not a big eater she always seemed satisfied. She was a very quiet baby and didn’t cry very often. It wasn’t something that crossed my mind as concerning, but rather filed away in “Questions to ask the doctor”. All in all she was a very content baby.
The morning of February 2nd started like every other. Her soft cries woke me up and the ache in my chest indicated it was time to feed. I picked her up out of her cradle and noticed that she had spit up a bit on sheets. It wasn’t discolored and looked like spit up after being nursed so I didn’t think much of it. After being fed, I brought her downstairs and gave her a warm bath to start her day off. I turned on the TV to see what the Cooking Channel had to offer us that day. She fell asleep shortly after as did I. Mid morning cat naps were definitely our thing by that point. When I woke up she was awake and looking at me with her beautiful deep blue eyes, I picked up her and then she vomited. It wasn’t the same as her morning spit up, it had a brown tinge to it & looking back I now know that it was the beginning of blood coming up. I wiped it up, not knowing what to do. We had a check up at 1pm that day with the doctor, so I wasn’t sure if I should wait to ask him ordo something about it sooner. It was around 10am at this point. Within minutes she looked up at me with big eyes and vomited again.
She closed her eyes & that is was when she stopped breathing.
I grabbed the phone and called for help, my dad was nearby and I knew he could get to me faster than an ambulance. I started what little I knew of infant CPR on her and within minutes my dad was at the door and we were speeding to the hospital. Running into the ER I had no idea what to do or say. An older nurse approached me which questioning eyes and all I could say was “She’s not breathing”. Within seconds a Code was called over the intercom and there was a flurry of nurses and doctors rushing into the ER from every direction to the room Haylee was brought too.
I was brought into a separate room and a doctor and nurse came in and peppered me with questions.
“How old is she?”
“How long ago did she stop breathing?”
“What happened leading up to this?”
She spit up. It was dark brown. We were sleeping before. No, this hasn’t happened before today. Labour was long, but the delivery was fine. No complications, she was healthy, scored high on the APGAR test.
Then another doctor, a smaller asian woman to which I still don’t know her name to this day, came in and crouched next to my chair. Her exact words to me were: “You need to be strong for Haylee, she needs you to be strong for her”. She said that they would bring me into the room and that I needed to sit beside her and I needed to tell her this, that mom is here and that she is such a strong girl. I needed to hold her hand and just tell how strong she was. She explained that there were going to be a lot of tubes & machines attached to her, her veins were so little that they had a hard time finding one they could get in to. They were able to get in through her foot, but her hand was bleeding because her blood was so thin, it wasn’t wanting to clot.
I wanted to die when I saw her. My tiny, tiny little baby connected to so many machines. She was only 20″ long and the table she was laid on so big in comparison. There were so many people in the room, everyone rushing, everyone monitoring, muttering things I didn’t know. I was so focused on her and holding her tiny little hand whose fingers had curled around my own just the day before. Someone was on the phone with a specialist from the NICU at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon and they were being guided on what to do. They already had an ambulance on the way to pick her up, but at an hour and fifteen minutes away, it felt like it would be a lifetime before they got to her.
I just sat on my stool, rubbing her hand telling her how incredible strong she was and how much momma loved her. Telling her about all the great things we would do once she pulled through. Willing my love for her to make her better.
After awhile they asked me to step out of the room so they could prep her for the ride to Saskatoon and I sat with my mom and my aunt, praying that everything would be ok.
The news came shortly thereafter that there was nothing more that could be done. They could not stop the bleeding, she was unresponsive to everything they were trying and they were so sorry but Haylee did not make it. I was belligerent and angry, asking “Why did you stop! You can’t stop! You didn’t try hard enough!” I was assured that they had done everything in their power that they could, that even if they were able to get her to the NICU there was a high chance that she had suffered extensive brain damaged due to the lack of oxygen from not breathing. That was when I broke down.
Do you want to hold her?
She came back to me tube and machine free, wrapped in a blanket and still warm to touch. It was hard not to think that she was just sleeping. I held her like that for hours not wanting to let go, not wanting to believe that she was truly gone. I must have cried my weight in tears that day.
Before Haylee, I didn’t know they made caskets small enough to hold babies.
Beautiful tiny, white satin covered caskets with the tiniest beaded detail.
Her funeral service was held on February 5th, 2005 at 1pm at Notre Dame de Lourdes Roman Catholic Church and it was filled to the brim with friends and family. Friends and family who had yet to meet her, but knew how special she was and what a blessing she was in her short time with us. My high school basketball coach, old neighbors, my closest girlfriends, childhood friends whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years. My heart was full despite being broken. In place of a eulogy, a slideshow was put together of all the photo’s we had taken of her up until her passing. It was set to George Canyon’s “My Name” and Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”. She was laid to rest in the infant section of our local cemetary amongst all the other tiny graves that I didn’t know existed before that day.
Picking up the pieces to my life was incredibly hard to do afterwards. My body was reacting as though I still had a baby to sustain, yet my heart and spirit were shattered all around me. I was so angry at the world, and God especially. I needed someone to blame and he was an easy target. It took me a long time to get over my anger and turn to God instead of away from him. Bad things happen to good people and sometimes that good person is you.
The coroners report states that she passed away from Septic Shock. How was it contracted? That falls in the category of unanswered questions.
I waited with baited breath until Carter was 11 days old, having convinced myself if he made it past the first 10 days he would be fine. With Tucker, I only started worrying on the 7th or 8th day. When Ellie came along she was 12 days old before I realized I hadn’t worried at all about her health.
Losing Haylee was heart wrenching, but as with all things time is slowly healing the wound. She would have turned 12 this coming January. 12! I can hardly believe it myself some days. January 23rd has gone from a day of wallowing in self pity to a day of appreciation and love for the baby I would never see grow. Instead I get to watch Carter grow, and Tucker grow and Ellie grow.
And for that I could not be more grateful.