You are More than Normal

We are in a subdued state of blur. Almost unfeeling. Somewhat settled. Somewhat unnerved. Somewhat lost again. Derailed. Back at the beginning. Also, at some small sense of peace.

We had Leo’s post mortem results appointment this morning. All of last week we’ve both been in a quiet state of denial, not wanting to actively engage with it approaching. We’ve learnt that worrying about things is just a wasted energy, it doesn’t help. So we put it in a far away box and just walked the motions until this morning.

Last night the quiet murmurs of nerves started but again, we just tried to put it at bay and ignore it. This morning they slowly got more violent. I tried to ignore the memories that the last time I felt the murmurs of nerves, and drove the very familiar drive to the hospital, was when we went back to begin induction, and when we drove there to discover that he had died.

Our appointment was at 9am. We were called at about 9:20am. We’d waited eleven weeks, so what’s another twenty minutes – but I was trying very hard to not get irritated by this delay. Waiting, all the sounds in the room just echoed. The nattering in the corner, the videos people were playing on their phones, the flicking of the magazines… The door opening. Every time the door opened my stomach dropped. Just trying to hold it all in, waiting. 

Our consultant talked us through the results. There was no detection of anything being wrong with me or with Leo. I didn’t expect there to be, but it felt like I’d passed the worst kind of test possible. For eleven weeks I’ve questioned the bite of pate at Christmas, the one runny egg, the sip of champagne, the bit of mozerella, the slightly raw steak.

The report only detected a significant result in the size of Leo’s placenta. It was significantly smaller in weight compared to Leo’s weight. She explained that if both he and the placenta was small, then this would indicate IUGR but this wasn’t the case. She also explained that many babies have small placentas and survive without issues. There was no way of detecting a low weight placenta from scans, there’s no known reason for it, or how it’s linked to Leo’s death.

We are still left with unanswered questions that can never be answered. If they reviewed the abnormalities on his Tuesday scan, on the Friday, what would it have shown? Deep down I think I know it’s linked, but there’s no evidence to show that it is. He showed no decline in placenta function or blood clots to suggest an issue with the blood flow.

The procedures they followed on the Tuesday scan are in accordance to hospital policy. The classifying of IVF pregnancies as high risk is a local policy, championed by our consultant despite, I gather, some resistance. We wouldn’t have even had the 36 week scan had we not been classified as high risk. He would have just died, with no prior clue to anything happening – even if this wasn’t linked.

One of the biggest upsets from the report, is finding out that the post mortem took place on Wednesday 20th January, the day after we left the hospital. From what we can remember, we were under impression that it could take up to a week, and we’d be informed when he’d be released for the funeral home. So we waited, patiently. I phoned the hospital on the following Tuesday, to get an update, the 26th. I was, somewhat casually told, that he was ready. It seems he had been ready for six days. Six whole days. One hundred and forty four hours. Alone. In a mortuary. Left. Naked. Luckily, the funeral home showed a different side and collected him the next day. A week later than he could have been bought into their care. If only.

When I found out he was ready back in January, it broke me. I felt like I had abandoned him. Forgotten him. And now I know, he’d been left there for six whole days. And no one had contacted us. How long would they have left it? Did we misunderstand what was going to happen? I’m sorry we left you Leo, we didn’t know. We so desperately wanted to bring you to the funeral home.

We have our bereavement midwife appointment next week and have some more questions and feedback. Our consultant wants us to seek a second opinion from another doctor at the hospital, who is a specialist in Fetal Medicine. And we are seeking advice from a stillbirth specialist. I’m comforted to know that as part of the Every Baby Counts initiative, our trust is introducing routine growth scans at 36 weeks. It wouldn’t have saved Leo, as we had this anyway, but hopefully it’ll save some other precious babies.

I’m sure more questions and tears will come. Right now I feel as though we are fine but are walking around with a haze infront of us. It’s odd. Reminiscint of how it all was back then. But less vulnerable. This is the last unknown of Leo. We are the other side of it. It marks a milestone, an end, a beginning, a middle.

We love you Leo. We have another piece of your story now. Thank you for helping us get some answers. Thank you for being perfect. You would have always been perfect, no matter what. You are more than just ‘normal’ like your report says. You are extraordinary. Thank you for letting us love you. We really do love you. We miss you so much. 

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11 thoughts on “You are More than Normal

  1. The post-mortem appointment is heart wrenching. You’re left with questions. Any answers you receive aren’t enough. There’s supposed to be some closure I guess, but there also probably never will be. And I’m so sorry you had to found out he was there, alone for six days. It’s a devastating image. Thinking of you all today. xoxo

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, as always, it’s really appreciated. It just feels different, not worse or better, just different. I guess it’s just numbness. Onwards to the next thing in this journey now.. Xx

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  2. Sending love, there will always be questions, even if you had all the answers, you would still have questions. But I understand how unsettling that must be. So sorry that they didn’t contact you WHEN he was ready. That’s really unacceptable xxx

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  3. I’m sorry…the autopsy report is not easy. There is no way to really prepare for it. I felt numb and angry and gutted all at the same time…we drove directly to the liquor store after ours. Our little one had a small placenta too, but no sign of IUGR. In her case, the placenta also caused undetected cord issues, and that is what took her from us without any warning.

    For us, there was no immediate closure from the results, but I will say that, for us anyway, knowing some details of what happened did eventually help. I hope it is the same for you guys. Lots of love…

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, I was expecting some form of emotional shift but I wasn’t really expecting indifference. I think I’m still holding out for second opinions to truly trust in what they’ve told us. And we didn’t get much information about the actual meaning of the small placenta. Did they discuss with you why it could happen at all? I couldn’t find much online about it being a ‘thing’ so I’m planning on really probing the specialist on it, to fully understand it. I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced similar. I’m not sure if Leo had cord issues but he did show an increase in blood flow just before he died, but they were able to assess that obviously as post mortem.. We will never know I guess. Closures a hard one, isn’t it? I don’t think I understand what it is or if I want it. Nothing will explain it enough. Anyway, I’m rambling now… Thank you again and much love – I really hope you are doing well currently xx

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  4. Unfortunately, the specialist just told us that placentas don’t always form optimally for no particular reason. In Haven’s case anyway, the placenta kept trying to branch out, so to speak, so there was evidence of that on a tiny/microscopic level. It was pale at the edges, indicating insufficient oxygen. Their theory was that her placenta caused the hyper-spiralling of her cord and ultimately caused her passing. I think it is probably a lesser studied area – I scoured the Internet for answers for months and found little (though I was searching more for the cord stuff). You may have more luck! And there is nothing wrong with getting a second and third opinion; not every specialist has seen this kind of thing, I’d wager.

    I felt indifferent too at certain points; I think it was just my way of coping at that time. I think your feelings about it all will sort themselves out at the time you’re able to process them; it’s different for everyone. And closure… I think that is really just the wrong word for it, to be honest. There is none with child loss. I think a more accurate word is peace; we’ve found a new normal, a new way to be. We still have moments where everything hits full force, but they become fewer in time. We have our ways that we honour Haven, and we talk about her freely and (now) without awkwardness. Our friends are pretty supportive as well. But it takes time; all of this process is so important in getting there.

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    1. Thank you so so much for sharing – it really is so appreciated. And for speaking from a different point in the journey. I know nothing is linear but it’s so comforting to hear from people ‘in the future’ so to speak. It gives hope that a future actually exists, which I have found hard to accept really. Time is a funny one after such a loss. I think you are right with the word peace. It’s much more fitting. Xx

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      1. Oh yes, grief is nowhere near linear. I still have days where I am completely undone. It could be a song or the weather or anything that brings me back. I actually remember being a few weeks and months out, thinking moms from “the future” seemed to be in such a different place. You’ll find your new normal in time, but where you are is important too. There is certainly a future! I felt like everything looked black, like a giant, empty question mark, especially that first year.

        I think you are doing a wonderful job of being a mama to Leo, honouring him, sharing his story. 🙂

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