The 8th October 2015 was a life defining day. I received the best albeit scariest news of my life – My partner Paul and I were expecting! I can honestly say, I have never felt such a wide range of emotions simultaneously before! As much as I tried not to, my imagination instantly run away with itself fantasizing what our baby would look like, what their room would look like and what his/her name would be.
Yet, I would be lying if I said it was all sunshine and rainbows. My pregnancy was plagued with complications from the get go. For the last 4 years, I have been living with an array of thyroid based diseased – all of which, of course, are dangerous in both states of sterility and pregnancy. So, much to my dismay, once a week, every week, I would travel to Basildon hospital for a check up. As well as this, I started experiencing heavy bleeding quite early into my pregnancy. When I went for an emergency scan, I don’t think anything could prepare us for what we were about to discover!
I found out that I was expecting twins, however one of the sacks did not develop properly and had clung to my placenta which was the reason behind my mystery bleeding. While I was sad that one of my babies did not make it, I was overjoyed that one was OK. I was advised to rest and hopefully, the sack would pass and everything would be fine. But the bleeding persisted. Alot. So, I would find myself at the thyroid clinic every Tuesday and the A&E every weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the bones of my baby and part of me loved being pregnant but as ashamed as I am to say it, I could not wait for it to be over. There lies the sad irony.
By my birthday in January, I could really feel my moral lifting. I can honestly say, that was the happiest time of my life. We were expecting to feel our little bundle of joy kick any day and any little twinge would give me anxious butterflies of excitement. What added to my excitement was that my brother and sister-in-law were also pregnant with the first boy in the family! After nieces/granddaughters, you can imagine the double excitement at the prospect of 2 little boys! We would share our pregnancy woes and excitement at how close our little boys would be.
On 16th January at 4:00 am, 1 day after being discharged from yet another stint in hospital, I unknowingly went into premature labour. I was once again rushed to hospital and after several invasive checks, all was deemed to be OK. But as the hours passed, the pain grew a whole lot worse. I was given morphine on tap as well as pure IV paracetamol and nothing seemed to curb the pain. Despite the intense pain I was feeling, I felt nothing but relief when I heard my baby’s heartbeat. I was reassured that my baby was OK.
By 6pm, the doctors were convinced my appendix was the problem so the decision was made to go for surgery. I had mixed feelings about the prospect of having surgery on my stomach while I was 5 months pregnant but the pain was so extreme, I did not have the energy to reconsider it. One of my many regrets.
On the 17th January at 12:15am, my beautiful baby boy Rubén Ortiz-Illidge was born peacefully sleeping at 20 weeks 4 days gestation. I can honestly say I have never felt such love and pain all at the same time. Rubén’s birth ignited in me something that I never knew existed before him and I take small comfort in knowing that he was so loved every minute of his life. Not a day goes by that I do not think about or miss my son and Rubén’s life may have been short, but his impact on the lives of his family and world will last a lifetime.
The days and weeks following Rubén’s death were the most difficult times of my life. We were ‘lucky’ that we were able to spend time with our boy so everyday for 3 weeks we would travel to the hospital to see him. These moments are my most treasured memories – I would use this time to study my son, analysing every aspect of him. But it was when I was without him that was the hardest part. I could not eat or sleep until I had seen him and after giving him back, I would fall into a deep depression. It felt so wrong that somehow, coming home this time was different – I went into hospital with a healthy baby boy and I came out of hospital with some leaflets and a heavy heart. At the beginning of this amazingly stressful process, I had 2 babies and now I have none.
On 5th February 2016, 3 weeks after Rubén’s death, we said our final goodbyes to our boy. The days leading up to this day were particularly difficult; my whole existence revolved around waking up and going to see my son. Once he was moved to the funeral parlour from the hospital, I would be the first one in and the last one out. So the thought of not being able to hold him or see him was unbearable.
Paul and I have adjusted to the knowledge that life as we knew it will never be the same. Loosing a baby is like being sentenced on death row. No hope and no release. The true love of our lives has gone and it’s not fair, it’s not just, it’s not right but it just is. This has not been an easy truth to accept and the journey to this truth has been a long and difficult one. But I believe it saved my life. And in saving my life, it will allow me to continue honouring my son’s legacy. I will never accept it – it is not acceptable and I will never understand it – it’s not understandable. Maybe, like me, you will find some comfort in our story – comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone in your loss and there are others out there that are experiencing the same hell as you. If you have lost a child and you feel there is any help I can offer you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You are not alone.