OUR ANGEL BABY

The story of Henry's life and death aren't easy things to write about...don't get me wrong, as his Mummy I am always very proud and happy to talk of him often and at any time, when I'm given the chance... However putting those words down in writing and being able to express my absolute loss at his absence and longing to hold him, combined with describing his angelic beauty are very difficult tasks to achieve, I will however do my best.

Henry was a very much wanted child for both myself and my partner, although for me, ever since I was a little girl I have only had one strong aspiration... that was to have children of my own and be a Mummy in all senses of the word...
My partner and I are both women.. Now, whether or not you agree with our lifestyle has no bearing on my validity as a person... it is however who we are and has bearing on Henry's life story..Mandy, my partner and I (Shayne) decided after some years of our committed relationship that we would dearly love a baby.. Obviously this is not as easy as it is for heterosexual couples (well most of them...) we were left with the decision of how our little one was to come about..After nearly 4 years of "homework" and research we were left with three options. A) To access the sperm clinics in NSW which is one of the only states in Australia to allow same sex couples access to Artificial insemination procedures; B) to spend a night on the town, and hope to fall pregnant... this was NOT an option and to this day I consider it a VERY irresponsible means of conceiving a family!! And finally C) to find a healthy, suitable, anonymous donor close to where we live. The third option was the one we chose, because as I said option B wasn't for us..& Option A was very expensive...  We decided to put the "word" out to our friends and family as tactfully and discreetly as possible. After a time we began to give up... I was very disillusioned and I truly believed that we were never going to acheive our dream. Suddenly one Sunday the phone rang and a woman on the end of the phone called to say that she was a friend of a friend and that she knew of a young man who was willing to help us have a child... To cut a long story short, we asked that he go through all genetic and infectious disease testing as well as give us some answers to some non identifying questions that we were sure would help our future children have some understanding of their paternal heritage. He agreed and a few months later we began the process. We expected to take time ... but suddenly after only one attempt... I WAS PREGNANT!!!!!! We were elated... our donor was told the news via the advocate and we thanked him... (My god how do you ever thank someone for SUCH a gift?...)I was told by my Dr that I was due around the beginning of September 1995.

My family were very distressed to hear of my news...this was a very difficult situation to deal with... although they were very caring towards my partner... my family (as most families' of gay children do) had an awful time accepting my relationship with Mandy and were horrified at the thought of us bringing a child into the world.. The day after telling them, I became very ill and then spent the next 5 months on and off in hospital with severe "all day/all night" morning sickness and dehydration. I did however do everything in my power to care for my precious unborn babe... I began to love him from the very moment he was conceived and although I was so ill, I cherished my pregnancy with him and would go through it all again just to have some more time with him. As suddenly as the sickness started.... it stopped! I was just passed 21 weeks and was now able, for the first time in my pregnancy to really lap up my impending motherhood!! 3 weeks of joy and happiness passed... we purchased a new home and bought every cute one of these and every precious one of that for our beautiful sweet cherub... our ultrasound at 18 weeks was uneventful, although exhilarating, and we felt on top of the world. Our families were finally beginning to feel a little excitement at the thought of a grandchild... the first on both sides.

At the 23 and a half-week mark I suddenly came down with the most incredibly painful headache. This was like no pain I have ever felt before or since... Mandy rang our OB/GYN and he told us to come straight in to his rooms.
We were admitted to hospital that night and I was told I had developed severe early onset
pre eclampsia. This condition basically has no cure except for the delivery of the baby and can cause seizures, renal failure and death. I was held in hospital for nearly a week and my blood pressure continued to rise and there was a very high level of protein in my urine. I was slowly dying and we were told that there was no choice but to deliver our precious little boy way way way too soon. My very unempathetic OB/GYN decided that we should have the baby then and there that night at a small private hospital with no facilities to care for a very premature infant.. He said that our child had no chance and that there was no point "taking extraordinary measures" to keep him alive... Fortunately for us... a wonderful midwife came into our room, at the risk of her career, and told us to insist upon being transferred to a large hospital with a level 3 NICU. And that although the chances were small, some babies did survive at 24 weeks.

Once transferred I was taken to the high dependency ward and told to not get out of bed as I was at high risk of seizure. Shortly later I was wheeled into theatre... and at 9:50pm on the 12th of May 1995, our angel was born. From the moment he was born Henry David amazed the Drs. He cried a strong cry as soon as he was delivered and actually began to breath on his own... his apgar scores were 3 and then 7, which are quite common scores for a full term infant,,, all this from a little boy weighing only 410gms and 25cms long.


"Im 5 minutes old and crying... 410gms and 25 cms long..".

Henry was rushed straight down to the NICU and settled... another amazing thing is that he wasn't ventilated straight away.. He was actually able to breathe unassisted, but as is common with very small premmies, he had apnea and would "forget" to breathe when he was asleep. Consequently he was put on a vent. Henry's first 15 hours seemed so promising... he was doing so well.. Then suddenly he started going downhill and coincidentally (or maybe not) this happened after a tube was incorrectly placed in his vein for some time and when it was repaired he began to go downhill very fast. Maybe as I said this was merely a coincidence however we are still unsure as to why we were unaware of this happening until months later when I requested his medical notes.


So very beautiful... next to my Mummy's hand... she was giving me a "hand cuddle"

On Sunday the 14th of May (Mother's Day), at about 3am, the Drs came in and told us that there was not much chance of Henry surviving the morning. We decided to have him blessed... not because we are overly religious people but because as the parents of a very tiny premmie there was so little we could do for him personally and this was something we felt would add to our cherished memories of his little life. We asked that we be told when the time was near.... Mandy had spent so much time near Henry's isollette; I was still gravely ill and was only able to go to see him 3 times while he was alive. Each time over the 32 hours he was alive, that I visited him, his O2 level would rise when I began to speak... we are sure that this was because he knew his Mummy was there... (Oh angel baby... I hope that is true...)


Mere, Mummy and Henry... Mummy is still so sick... and she's very bloated with fluid (symptom of PE)

Suddenly at 5:50am a Dr came in and said that Henry had died.. BUT WAIT!!! We had wanted to be with him when he died!! Why weren't we called..? My baby died in an isolette alone away from the people that loved him more than life itself... I was literally 100 mtrs away... they should have bought him to me so that I could cuddle him as he left this life... THEY DIDN'T!
It was mothers Day.... and my heart was broken... my sweet precious little man was gone and I couldn't just kiss him and make him all better. We asked that they bring him to us as soon as possible... When they bought him into our room I couldn't believe how utterly beautiful he was. The most beautiful child I had ever seen. His skin smelled so wonderful, he was warm and I held him so close... hoping that if I just held him enough he would become one with me again... or that he would wake up and look at me and stay forever... but he didn't.


The 15th of May... the day after I became an ANGEL.. with a sore little nose due to the tape they used on the vent...Mere's favourite photo of me.

We spent time with our angel over the next 4 days... the staff in the High Dependency ward were absolutely fantastic... he was always treated with the respect he deserved... always bought him to us either swaddled in a blanket and dressed in cute tiny clothes or in the warm arms of a nurse... we took lots of photos and tried to cherish every piece of him as if to permanently imprint his features in our memory... Finally the time came to say goodbye... a time I cannot even put into words and so I won't even try.... All I will say though is that just because my child was prem and had died.. I still had that overwhelmingly protective feeling for him... and the feeling I had as I handed him over for the last time was one of utter fear... I was giving my baby to strangers... would they really be gentle with him... would they rock him gently and kiss him before they dressed him for his funeral?....
 



An ANGEL baby...15th May...

His funeral was so beautiful, we had children's songs and nursery rhymes... and my Dad carried Henry's coffin into the service. A million people came... so many of which I was so angry at because they had been so judgmental and unnaccepting of him when he was conceived... it just seemed so hypocritical.


My little feet....this is the actual size!

The next 2 years up until the magical arrival of Henry's little brother were like hell on earth.. I developed severe anxiety attacks and was so very broken in every way... my heart and soul were shattered... Mandy my wonderful partner put up with absolute hell both alongside me and directed by me as my anger at the loss of my son was often thrown at her... she is and was my rock... and I will never truly be able to thank her for her strength. Her own grief was so often put on hold... people tend to forget about the other parent in situations like this... often just asking after the Mummy.


My sweet hands...actual size..

We do have a happy ending to this story and his name is Harrison! :) You can see pictures of him and read his story on Harry's pages.. He is the absolute light of our lives... and will always know of the very special brother that came before him and now watches him forever from the stars... the best guardian angel in the universe!! Henry David will always be a member of our family. I will never let him be forgotten or dismissed just because he is no longer here... or because time is moving on... I will always be the Mummy of TWO beautiful boys... and Mandy and I will always love our cherished angel baby...
 



The most beautiful ANGEL baby in the stars... Mummy's favourite photo of me.


"TO THE MOON AND DOWN AGAIN
AND AROUND THE STARS
AND BACK AGAIN....
"FLY FREE SWEET LITTLE MAN...
SEE YOU IN OUR DREAMS....





Click above to read Mere's story...(in Mandy's words)

Click here to see Henry's 5th Birthday page :)


 

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