The Funeral

The funeral director arrives at the hospital and it’s time for us to make a move. I pick my little boy up in his kilt and cuddle him to my body. We walk straight out of the maternity ward into a secret staff lift down to the bottom floor of the hospital. They let us out the back loading dock and we get into the funeral car. I hold Hamish in my arms for the 30 minute drive to the Chapel. There is nothing I want more than to just close my eyes and wake up from this nightmare.

I know we are going to make Hamish proud but it just hurts so much. We walk into his funeral together with all my family and friends standing up. Last time I walked down the aisle was our wedding 3 years prior. I feel Hamish’s presence and know he is in a good place.

The service starts with Eric Clapton ‘Tears in Heaven’ then the lovely celebrant starts the introduction. Both Greg and I get up and speak. Greg reads a beautiful letter he wrote to Hamish 2 months earlier. I stand next to him proud knowing he is such a loving Daddy.

I then read something I wrote in the hospital the day before.

Hamish you have brought so much joy and happiness into our lives in your short little life
We love you our boy and you are so precious
Your love has been felt and your mummy and daddy will always celebrate you and love you
Our little angel up in heaven we will always know we can talk to you and feel your presence with us everyday
While words can’t express how sad we feel right now we know you came into our lives for a reason
We will try and find the strength to move forward one step at a time
Missing out on all the firsts is going to be really tough though
Going home from the hospital without you
Celebrating what should have been your first Christmas
Celebrating what should of been our first family holiday
Staying up all night to feed you
Holding you when you cry
Taking you to meet all your loved ones
Taking you for walks in your beautiful pram
Watching you sleep
Singing you lullabies
Seeing you learn to walk
Teaching you how to kick a ball
and ride a bike
All of these things we will never know but know one thing we do know is our hearts will always yearn for you little one
Every year we will celebrate you
Every year we will be grateful for your short life
Every year we will not forget you Hamish Joseph Matthews
Love you always and forever

My life will never be the same, there will always be a piece of my heart that was taken by my little boy.

We are now getting to the end of the service and it’s time to say goodbye. They play Ed Sheeran ‘Small Bump’ as my family and friends come up to his wollen nest where he lays peacefully. They light a candle and put a piece of thistle down next to him. As each of them say their goodbyes they come and give Greg and I a big hug. I see the tears streaming down my friend and families faces and it is heartbreaking.

This is it. Everyone has left the chapel. We have Jack Johnson playing in the background ‘Better Together’. It’s time for us to say goodbye. I stare down at my son surrounded by shining candles knowing he is so loved and he knows it. I cry and lean over him. We blow out the candles and say goodnight. Goodnight seems better than goodbye. We carry him in his nest to the end of the chapel and lay him down. They close the curtains.

Goodnight Hamish you are so so so loved and don’t you forget it.

We then head into town and my friends have organised a little bar where we can all go and have some food and drinks. The last thing I feel like is drinking but to have my friends and family around me means the world. It is so comforting to talk to everyone about what we have been through in the last few days. It makes me realise how much love we have in our lives and how blessed we are. It makes me realise how loved Hamish was in those 9 months.

 

Day 4

Another restless night with little sleep. The midwives gave me 2 lots of sleeping pills. I take them and they put me to sleep but less than an hour later I am laying wide awake. I can’t possibly sleep. My body is fuelled with adrenaline and I can’t switch off. I have been drinking a lot of water and making sure I eat as I know if I can’t sleep and eat I will probably collapse by the time we make it to Hamish’s funeral today. It’s set for 3:30pm. The dread in my mind is building as I know we will be leaving the hospital today and going straight to the funeral. Once at the funeral the time to say goodbye will be nearing.

My little brother comes in to visit and hold his nephew. It was beautiful to see them together. I know Hamish would have loved his uncle and had many adventure together. Deb is here again and lets us know she has been with another family all night. It breaks my heart to know this is a daily occurrence in Australia. There are 6 stillborn babies in Australia each day and the rate has not reduced in 2 decades. Deb helps us with the final arrangements of the day. We decide to take Hamish for a walk outside in the sunshine. Today is just perfect, the sun is shining bright and it is so warm. I cherish the moments outside with our little boy. The sun shines bright on his face and I see that his hair is blonde. We love you Hamish our little blue eyed, blond hair angel. I weep with happy tears knowing he is where he is supposed to be. I still struggle though holding him.

The hospital pastor comes to see us in the hospital room so we can perform a blessing. I read out a little note that I wrote a month back.

 

Hey lil one

Just wanted to write you a note before you are born. You are coming into a family that will love you unconditionally and will always have your back. We will give you all the love in the world and help you become the best person you can be. Sometimes you might get frustrated with us but we will always have your best interests at heart. Your Dad and I can’t wait to shower you with kisses and hugs and so much love. You never know what life will throw at you but with a grateful and open heart you can do anything. I already know your a super generous person with a big heart. You are compassionate and will always help others where you can. The biggest day of my life is coming up when I give birth to you and I know it’s going to be a freaking amazing day! I will be calm knowing you know what to do and will come into this world with grace and ease. Birthing you will be a joy and I will soak up every moment. 

 

Greg and I put water across his head blessing him with so much love.

In what seems like a big rush we meet the funeral director and have to put little Hamish in his final outfit which is a pride of Scotland kilt. I dress him carefully and wrap him up in his blanket and swaddle. I look down at his cute lips which are the same shape as mine. I look down at his hair and peaceful closed eyes. I cry out as I know it won’t be long till I have to say goodbye to my precious son.

I love you with all my heart Hamish. You will be remembered and I will always live in your honour.

Day 3

We got moved yesterday into a maternity room lastnight. While this is daunting to be moved from the birthing suite to the maternity rooms I am happy to be able to get out of the room where Hamish was delivered. Deb brought in a cold cot and set it up in our room. We got to spend the night with Hamish sleeping next to us. While we didn’t get any sleep it was lovely to have him in our room with us. I cherished each minute as it ticked past knowing that the time we would spend with him would be coming to an end shortly. I spent time just looking down at his gorgeous face, stroking his hair and chubby cheeks. Greg and I told him how much love we felt for him. We sung to him and held him close.

The morning came and we had to send him back to be held in the cold room. I got myself out of bed. By this time it has been 4 days since I have slept more that 2 hours. I have a shower and try and deal with the physical pain I am feeling after the labour and the emotional pain that is also taking over my mind and body. I wonder why Hamish choose us as his parents. I wonder why he wanted to touch our lives in this way. I wonder if there is anything else I could have done. I rethink my whole pregnancy in my head. It was picture perfect. No morning sickness, not much tiredness. I felt alive when I was pregnant. I felt so much vitality that I didn’t worry too much about my little boy. I knew each day I woke up feeling wonderful my boy did too. Unfortunately his passing would have only been up to 2 days before I went to hospital. He may have been wrapped in the cord for some time but he was fighting. If only my body had screamed out earlier to tell me what was going on.

By the afternoon my family was back to visit. I also had my friends come in and visit. They all had a turn holding Hamish. Giving him loving cuddles and wishing him all the best in his angel life. I felt so honoured how much love we had around us especially towards our little boy. Hamish was loved by so many. He has so many loving aunts and uncles, grandparents, two great grandparents. My 87 year old Pop came to meet him. This broke my heart as I knew how excited Pop was to meet his first great grandson. He recently had heart surgery which had given him a new lease on life. I knew my Pop would be such a loving influence on our little mans life.

Deb came to see us and we had to finalise the arrangements for Hamish’s funeral. We decided to have it on Wednesday (tomorrow) in the afternoon. I invited family and close friends to farewell him. My lovely sister came in to help us put together an order of service. My other beautiful sister who is just over 6 months pregnant is by my side everyday since we found out our little boy didn’t have a heartbeat. It is comforting to have my family by my side and my loving husband Greg. We plan out his special day and meet with the celebrant. Our celebrant takes notes intently for about an hour on Hamish’s last 9 months. I still pinch myself to see if this is really my reality. Planning my little ones funeral is heartbreaking. We are less than a week away from his due date and I still can’t reconcile how and why this has happened.

I love you Hamish

Day 2

After a night of lying awake on my hospital bed I am broken. The midwives got an extra hospital bed so Greg could sleep next to me. All I can think about is what I could have done differently. Why did my baby have to die? Why was his time up? I hope he knows how much Mummy and Daddy love him. I want to scream, I want to go to sleep and wake up and pretend this was all just a bad dream. I don’t really know what happens next. I am confused and heart broken.

Our social worker Deb comes into the room. She says we will go get your little boy so you can spend some time with him. She has contacted Heartfelt which is a charity that takes professional photographs of parents with their stillborn babies. I go and have a shower and try and pull myself together to meet my little Hamish again. Deb comes in and puts him in my arms. Our little boy is cold and a bit red. He looks peaceful like he is just in a deep sleep. My arms go to rock my little boy but I know there is no point. With his lifeless body in my arms I feel so much love. It hurts so much but holding him somehow makes me feel more peace during this time.

Deb is a saint. She has a calming presence and speaks so softly to us letting us know what to expect over the next few days. There are lots of decisions to be made. Do we want an autopsy? Do we want to bathe our little one? What do we want to do for his funeral and when? How much time do we want to spend with him in hospital? Who do we want to come meet him? My mind is numb I can barely comprehend what has happened in the last 24 hours. Deb lets us know that Hamish likely died because of the cord wrapped around him and it really would be up to us if we want to investigate further through an autopsy. After much thought Greg and I decide to not go ahead with one. I don’t want his little body to go through anymore trauma.

The heartfelt photographer arrives and takes some beautiful family photos for us. It feels so wrong to be holding Hamish and not being able to see his little eyes open, listen to him cry out and cuddle what would have been his warm body. We have a chance to give little Hamish a bath which at first I thought would be a bit strange but it was lovely. I will never forget being able to hold and wash my little man. There are no words for what your mind goes through after having a stillborn. What is normal? Is spending time with Hamish good for us? My new normal is mourning over my little one and holding him tight.

The love have for you Hamish is infinite.

 

Hamish

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Our gorgeous little boy with so much potential.

 
It was only 7 days ago I woke up feeling a little bit funny. Something was just not quite right. I couldn’t feel my baby moving in my stomach. I was 1 day off 39 weeks pregnant and eagerly anticipating the arrival of our little man. I spent the morning eating and drinking trying to get him to move. Rolling side to side and hoping that he would give me an almighty kick. I looked up blogs and saw that your baby moves less in the last few weeks of pregnancy but I just couldn’t shake off that weird feeling something wasn’t right.

It’s 4pm and we are sitting in the birthing suite of the hospital. Jacinta the lovely midwife comes into the room to check on the baby. Then those 5 words that will forever change my life, ‘I can’t find a heartbeat’. Within 20 minutes there is a radiographer called in to do a full ultrasound. After 30 seconds which seemed like an eternity she looks at me and my husband Greg and says ‘I’m sorry guys’. I wail and cry out and just fall into a deep pit of despair. How can this be true? How can my little boy be gone? We had an ultrasound only 4 days earlier and his heart was beating strong? Why us? Why me? How could this even happen?

Another 30 minutes go by and there is a social worker standing next to us, then my doctor and they look at me and say the best thing for you darling is to have the baby naturally. WTF?? Are you F**king kidding me?? I am supposed to give birth to my baby naturally? I can’t even fathom this. They leave us for a while to talk through what is about to happen. My doctor assures me that this is the best thing for my body and future pregnancies. I am completely shattered, heartbroken and I need to make a decision about what we plan to do. They said I could go home for a night or two to think it over. I was already in the hospital, the thought of getting up and going home after being told this news was unthinkable.

Induction begins at 9pm. The midwife comes in and starts the process. It is uncomfortable for a few hours then when I get the second dose of drugs at midnight and the pain becomes more intense. Then finally at about 2am they give me some morphine so I can get about 2 hours sleep. The pains are constant as I am dilating. By 9am the next day they decide another dose is needed. At around 2pm my doctor comes in and breaks my waters. It doesn’t hurt too much but what follows in less than 5 minutes is full on active labour contractions. I am up running around, moving about in anyway I can to deal with the pain. I am feeling every bit of every contraction through my being. I feel out of control but I am trying to breathe and keep it together. My doula and husband are holding my hand, rubbing my back and helping me through each one.

For what feels like an eternity I go through contractions and then the anesthesiologist arrives. He asks if I want to be told the risks of a epidural. My answer ‘Just give me the epidural, I know the risks, I didn’t plan on having one, calm birth is now out the window, just put the needle in’. He looks at me intently as I go into another painful contraction. I sit up on the bed while I am having contractions 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. I take a few deep breathes and roll my shoulders over. It doesn’t matter what pain I am in I am not going to move a mm, cm or an inch while that needle goes into my spine. 3 minutes later the epidural is administered and it is almost an instant relief.

The next hour is a lot more peaceful. I sit and talk with my lovely Doula and loving husband. I laugh, cry and just try and come to terms with what is about to happen. I can feel the baby getting close to coming out. I know it won’t be long before I am pushing my little angel out. The midwife comes in and checks and she says its time to start pushing. By this time its 4pm and I didn’t know how long the next stage of labour would take. In my head I thought maybe in around 30 minutes I would be meeting my little one.

2 full hours of pushing later and so much pain later I am welcoming my little buddy into the world. The last hour of labour the epidural wore off. It was exactly as it was meant to be. The physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional and mental trauma I was going through. I roared the loudest I have ever in my life and screamed my little one out. He was placed on my chest straight away. I couldn’t help but be overcome by so much love and joy but at the same time there was a deep pit in my gut of sadness. Our little Hamish is absolutely beautiful. He was perfect. The doctor, social worker and midwife look at my husband and I and say it looks like it was the cord. It was wrapped several times tight around his little body and neck. It must of stretched out over time and slowly cut off his nutrients. Other than that our little man was the most healthiest little thing. I looked down at his eyes closed shut just hoping that he would flutter them open. I looked down at my little angel and wept for his life. I am one proud mum and while I don’t know now why little Hamish decided to leave us so soon. I am trying my best to honour him, feel his presence and know he is still here with us in spirit always.

I love you always Hamish Joseph Matthews and I am proud to be your mum. xxx