Beautiful Ivy

18.5 hours our daughter lived, but it wasn't as straight forward as "living" was it. She never truly lived.


Story by Lana, 

Where to start. 

We have 2 boys and decided to try for a 3rd baby. It happened quickly and we felt so lucky. I suffered postnatal depression following the boys so was quite apprehensive at what lay ahead but I felt stronger than I did back then so did feel positive.

However at around 16 plus weeks i started to feel very very anxious and depressed. I struggled to cope with the everyday things. I was a neonatal nurse at the time and felt I couldn't focus on work. I needed to be on the ball for work.

As this was our last planned pregnancy i decided to take time off as i really needed to look after me, my mental health and baby. At 20 weeks we discovered we were having a little girl...perfection. 2 boys and a girl, just like me and my brothers. 

All check ups were fine but due to me being on antidepressants and feeling mentally unwell I had regular clinic appointments with the consultant and scans. Scans started to show our baby was a little smaller than she should be so we got regular scans thereafter.

She was growing but just a bit smaller. 

This wasn't a major concern as I myself am 4'11" and my husband 5'7". We aren't big people. 

Due to my anxiety and a little small for dates baby I was to be induced at 39 weeks. I had went 11 days over with both boys so I was so happy with this, getting to meet our girl sooner. We went in on the Sunday and over the day given 2 lots of gel. All checks were fine, healthy happy baby.

Blood tests as BP slightly elevated and I was puffy. Results weren't concerning. Labour gradually started over night, slowly.

Come morning no further gel required. I was transferred round to the Labour ward. Excited and very nervous, scared of can I do this, it hurts.

Contractions built over the day and I felt pretty controlled and "in the zone". Then they started coming thick and fast and gas and air was my best friend.

I progressed and was ready for pushing. I felt more scared this time round than previous and I don't know why that was. Everything was going smoothly, baby was constantly being monitored and was doing OK. 

Our baby girl was delivered at 13:52 on Monday 31st July.

She was just perfect, petite and all squishy. She let out a very small noise, I wouldn't have called it a cry. I brought her up to me and tried to rub her up in the towel to get her crying.

She became more floppy and her colour started changing from red to blue. Quickly the cord was cut and she was taken by the midwife to the resuscitator. 

Something I have seen all too often in my line of work. I told my husband she was just stunned and would be OK once they gave her some inflation breaths. She just needed a bit of help to get going. I was also trying to just convince myself.

I said I'd like to call her Ivy, the name just seemed to fit, Welsh agreed.

We were tense watching them still trying to get our baby to breathe, I asked what was happening.

Then staff from Special Baby Care (my colleagues) arrived and took over the situation. I saw the Dr then tapping out the heart rate with her finger...I knew this was more.

My heart sank. It didn't feel real.

Fast forward some time of us sitting watching a resus of our baby...Ivy was transferred to SCBU. I got updated by the consultant paediatrician that they were thinking Ivy's heart was the trouble and she was going to be transferred to Glasgow NICU.

They were still trying to stabilise her at that time. I called my mum and told her to bring the boys to visit before she went to Glasgow.

It was important to us that they seen her before leaving. We were informed by the transport team doctor that there was a chance Ivy might still die as she was very very sick.

Although this was our biggest fear and it was there at the back of our minds, hearing it out loud, was gut wrenching but unreal. 

We organised ourselves to drive through to Glasgow and the ambulance passed us on our way. The journey through we didn't really talk, our thoughts, I mean how do you talk...what do you say.

In my head I was thinking surely she will just need an operation to correct her heart valve, she may be left with learning and physical difficulties following a difficult resus but if that's the card we are being dealt we will do our very best for our girl.

We arrived at Glasgow and knew they were carrying out scans to check her heart. We awaited results and to meet the neonatologist. Sat in a room gripping hands and shaking we listened.

They told us her heart was formed perfectly normal. Everything was how it should be...however the muscle on one chamber wasn't working effectively.

Our only chance was to try ECHMO. We agreed we wanted to try all we could.

We hoped this would give the heart a rest as the blood bypassed the heart and machines done its work. We waited for them to came and tell us once it had all been done and she was settled. We were in the family room on the unit provided by SiMBA and Lola Commons fund. We must've dozed (I seriously don't know how). 

When I woke I realised they still hadn't been to get us and time was getting on so I paced. The door went and it was the doctor wanting to talk. 

Back to the room. Shaking like mad, I'm actually shaking writing this as I remember it all bit by bit. Sometimes it still feels like it happened to someone else.

We were told that they had been working hard throughout the night, it proved to be difficult as she had bled, a lot. Which was one of the risks we were told of.

They had got her table enough at that point, but without them saying as such I think I knew what they were trying to say.

I asked if we could come and see her now. They said they'd send a nurse round for us as they wanted to check all was OK. I expected to wait 5 mins but it was over an hour!

I never thought to leave the room and go round to the unit myself (maybe I was scared, I don't know) you just don't always think in that situation. We went to see her and nothing prepared us for what we seen. I felt I had failed her.

At that point she was still connected to machines keeping her alive. Her chest stopped moving and alarm going off, we were frightened.

They started cardiac compression again and asked if we wanted to leave. I said I just wanted to hold my baby girl...this was too much.

So all stopped there and then.

A chair was pulled over, I sat down, and there and then I held my daughter for the first time. My heart broke. I couldn't hold her close as she was still connected to many tubes and was bleeding.

We didn't know what to do next...who does. Nothing prepares you. We both had a cuddle with Ivy.

Then went and made the phone calls to our parents. Telling the boys was so hard. Liam was 5 and didn't get it. My parents brought them through to Glasgow, the first thing Liam asked was "has our baby died?" And asked if we were able to take a different baby home.

If only it was that simple son.

18.5 hours our daughter lived, but it wasn't as straight forward as "living" was it. She never truly lived. 

We didn't get to hold her how we dreamt of, snuggle her and nuzzle her hair. Instead we bathed and dressed her, trying not to take too long as our family were there. We all held her.

But the blood would trickle down her nose if we tried to hold her a little more upright. Our 5 year old had a tissue and would wipe his sister's nose, it was meant to be snotters we were wiping.

We had a blessing in one of the rooms. We didn't want it to be long and the chaplain said he'd sing one song which we agreed on, he then sang 2 and talked a bit more than we would have liked.

It was hot in that room with too many people. We done hand-prints with our kids and Ivy. Our visitors then left and we didn't feel ready to leave Ivy as yet. When do you ever feel ready?

But I needed time just us, me, Welsh and our girl. We went through our memory box completing memories to keep.

As time went on we said good night to Ivy and said to the nurse we probably would see her again as it would be too difficult. However we woke in the morning and the first thing I said was I need to see her again.

We seen her one last time and then left to go back home to the borders. We left our baby in Glasgow. I felt empty and broken.

Every day I wanted to sleep to block it out, but then when I woke, the pain was there, as raw and as fresh as ever as the realisation of our situation hit again and again.

I didn't have energy to parent yet I didn't want to let my boys go. I needed them to know how much I love them but I wasn't able to cope with the sibling rivalry.

For a very long time when I spoke of Ivy and what happened it didn't seem real, I felt like I put up a guard and spoke as a nurse rather than her mummy.

Speaking matter of factly made it easier. I knew I'd break. There has been many down days and some happy days.

It takes time to accept that it's OK to laugh again.

Ivy will never be forgotten. We talk of her a lot. There are also some hard days still and i presume these will happen for ever more.

Sadly we never found out the reason that Ivy was born sick. We tried again and had an early miscarriage at 6 weeks. We decided we needed more time and remain undecided to the future of another baby.

Just now we are happy being and building our family up.


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