I was 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant in June 2021. I’d just finished up my job as a preschool teacher in a long day care centre on a Friday afternoon and had spent the weekend cleaning and nesting – getting ready for our baby to arrive. On the Sunday night, it suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t feel any movements. I’d be so busy that I hadn’t really paid much attention to what I’d felt throughout the weekend, and I started to get worried.
We called the hospital who told us to come in for a check-up. Being so close to my due date, I threw my hospital bag in the back of the car just in case. I thought I might end up having the baby early.
Instead, when we arrived there in the middle of the night, they told us our baby had no heartbeat. It was surreal. At first, I didn’t even cry. My husband and I sat in a single hospital bed for the rest of the night, waiting for the morning to come to have the news confirmed. We kept thinking maybe everything would still be OK. Maybe they had missed something or made a mistake. But the next morning the sonographer showed us the ultrasound screen. He was gone.
I’d been feeling fine physically, but blood tests showed my liver and kidneys were failing. They tried inducing my labour for 24 hours, but my health continued to decline, and I ended up having an emergency caesarean. I had to be given a general anaesthetic due to my condition. My beautiful baby was born at 11.53am and I didn’t get to see him until I came out of recovery in the late afternoon. I remember he came in wearing a little blue beanie and the first thing I thought was ‘Oh, I’ve had a Hunter!’ We hadn’t known the sex and had names picked for both.
It was so overwhelming. It should have been such a beautiful moment, but it was just full of tears. Hunter was so perfect. Everyone kept saying he just looked like he was sleeping, like at any minute he would just wake up and roll over. We were able to spend time with Hunter in a cool cot for a few days. We dressed him in the little outfits we’d planned for him and were able to have Heartfelt come and take photos, which was amazing.
We were lucky to receive good care at the hospital, and afterwards. A social worker came each day to check up on me and see how I was going, and to check up on Matt too. And they called a week after I’d gone home to see if I wanted to be connected to any support services.
And our families and friends all sent their condolences and support. We’ve had meals cooked for us and all that kind of thing, so we haven’t had to worry about the practical things. Both of our mums have been there with us whenever we’ve needed them.
I now know not everyone receives that kind of care, but they should.
I’ve gotten a lot out of reading Red Nose’s resources and following their social media channels. As devastating as it is to read stories of other people who’ve been through this, it’s been so comforting to know I’m not the only one.
My husband and I are in lockdown in Sydney at the moment, which is really hard. We are trying to stay busy and distract ourselves, but we can’t help thinking what it would have been like to have this extra family time with a newborn, particularly whilst my husband is home from work.
We still don’t know what exactly caused Hunter’s heart to stop beating. It may have been an infection with the placenta or related to the HELLP syndrome I was diagnosed with. This uncertainty is hard to live with, but hopefully we will get some answers.
I’m proud to share Hunter’s story this Red Nose Day to help others. If I can help one person or connect with one person going through this grief and pain it will be worth it.
My family and friends are raising money in Hunter's honour. You can check out our fundraising page here.