• The Still Mama Tribe

Nicholas Craig - Kristen B

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

Stillbirth, compassionate induction, genetic testing, NTD, TFMR, VBAC

 

On the 14th March, 2018 our lives were forever changed.

We excitedly went along to the 20 week ultrasound of our third baby, with our

older 2 boys tagging along so that they could see their baby brother.


All was right in the world. We were soon to become a family of 5, and we felt so very blessed and thankful.



During the ultrasound our world was tuned around in an instant, when were told our baby boy was diagnosed with severe Spina Bifida (Myelomeningocele) and subsequent Arnold-Chiari Malformation.

I will never forget the doctor sitting next to me on that bed after sending the boys out of the room and putting her hand on my knee while she told me “darling your baby has Spina Bifida”. My world came crashing down and immediately I went into a state of shock.


After fielding a million questions from me, including “how can this happen?

Could I have done something to prevent it?” she asked me if I had taken Folic Acid as this can prevent Neural Tube Defects including Spina Bifida.

I had indeed taken folic acid for a good few months before we decided to try for another baby. So I struggled to understand how this could happen to Nicholas.

Initially when the hospital asked us if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy I was quick to shut them down. “Of course not!” was the answer I gave, and I still remember it so vividly, as initially this was something that had never entered my mind, and I was shocked that they would even put that option on the table.


After endless hours of research, advice, and so much heartache we came to the decision to not continue the pregnancy and instead induce labour.

Coming to this decision was definitely not an easy one. We didn’t want Nicholas to suffer in any way and since there was also the possibility he would have never even made it to full term. My heart broke into a million pieces when I knew that this was the right decision for Nicholas, and for our family.

If we were to chose to continue the pregnancy he would need a number of surgeries after birth, and it was highly likely he would be paralysed, have brain issues, breathing, swallowing and eating issues, bowel and bladder incontinence and hydrocephalus (fluid build up on the brain that would need a shunt inserted to drain the fluid). Nicholas was also rare in the fact that he had no membrane covering the opening in his back to his spine, which is normally seen in babies

with Spina Bifida. This left us with even more concern about the damage that had already been done to his spine.


We of course also had to consider our other boys. They would likely lose their mother as she would become a full-time carer for their baby brother.

After we had made our decision, we discussed the birth with the hospital. I had already had 2 previous c-sections, so I assumed I would be delivering Nicholas by c-section also.

My first birth was an emergency c-section, after a lengthy (32 hour) labour resulted in my baby going into fetal distress and having to be delivered by c-section. He was intubated at birth because he wasn’t breathing and we came very close to losing him. It’s only now, 6 years later, after the loss of my third child that I really recognise just how easily we could have lost him.

My second birth was an attempted VBAC, but he didn’t want to budge and so we had to go through with an elective c-section at 41 weeks.

So naturally I assumed I would be delivering Nicholas by c-section also.


When I was told I would in fact deliver vaginally this was very confronting to me. I was finally getting the natural birth I had dreamt of, but I would not have a living baby at the end of it.


On the 25th March, at 21 weeks and 5 days pregnant, and just 1 day after we celebrated the 6th birthday of my eldest son, we were admitted to hospital to begin induction.

On the day of delivery I was filled with emotion, but I was somehow able to muster the strength to get through the whole thing. Women are so amazing. We are faced with the hardest obstacles, and yet we manage to somehow get through them.


My delivery was a very peaceful and beautiful one, albeit extremely emotional. After around a 9 hour labour Nicholas was born sleeping at 11.56pm. His birthday will forever be the day after his big brother’s birthday.

I was adamant I wanted to hold him straight away, and spend as much time as

possible with him. We stayed in the hospital (in the same room he was delivered) for 2 days, and there was no pressure from anyone at the hospital for us to leave (we feel very grateful for this).

We held him, kissed him, cuddled him, read books to him, played him music and

took a million photos. I am so very glad we did all these things as I really feel like this has helped me with the grieving process and enabled me to say my goodbyes in the way that I wanted.


I think the hardest part of my whole journey was by far walking out of the delivery room without him. Knowing I would never hold him or see his face again. No mother should ever be faced with that. I am so thankful that our amazing funeral director came to collect him from our room and walked out of the labour ward right next to me, holding him in his little bed. I felt at ease that she was looking after my boy.


The past 6 months has been such a rollercoaster ride of emotions. In the early days it was hard to function. But I had to get up and get out of bed, even on the days where I just wanted to curl up in a ball and stay there. I have my older boys to thank for that. They have helped me go on and give me a reason to smile.

My loss has taught me so many things. I am so very thankful for my 2 boys. I now realise just how fragile life is. I will never take this for granted again. And I have gained so much perspective on what really matters in life.

Life does go on, but we never forget our babies. My heart will always ache for my Nicholas, and the what-ifs will always come. But my love for him will always be there, no matter how many weeks, months and years go by.


 



Find and connect with Kristen on @basikorganics Her beautiful organic skincare range can be find at: basikorganics.com.au


To listen to Kristen's podcast episode: Kristen.B