Eve in the garden at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin.
This was taken the night before I found out Olivia's heart had stopped beating. I felt a little unwell. I had cramps up my side and across my lower back, like in early labour. I also had a temperature - which was put down to the fact that I had been given a steroid injection to help develop the baby's lungs in case she needed to be delivered. I also had a headache that paracetamol couldn't lift and yet I have such lovely memories of this evening. I sat in the beautiful gardens in the Rotunda with my husband, mam and Eve. Eve ran around the grass barefoot and we sat in the sun. This was the last time I felt Olivia move in my tummy. I'm comforted by the fact that she could hear our voices and we were all together at the time of her passing.
My last bump picture before I delivered. The bump is very tiny for 32 and a half weeks. The labour developed very quickly. This was taken moments before I called the midwife to tell her I was contracting. Within a few hours Olivia arrived. I will treasure this photo since it's the last one of her in my belly.
Labour & Birth
Giving birth was amazing, regardless of the outcome. I was in labour after induction with Eve but my labour didn't progress and it ended in a C-section. I have only gorgeous memories of Eve's birth - I spent the night epiduraled up the hilts, crocheting her a hat. I wasn't afraid and the entire experience was serene. My labour on Olivia involved pain, both labour and from a broken heart, and yet it was magical. There was no time for an epidural, there was leg cramping between pushes and it was still amazing. I feel proud that I delivered her myself and despite knowing her fate I desperately wanted to meet and hold her. I was initially told that by labour would take days as they needed to induce me slowly because I'd had a c-section previously. I wasn't offered a repeat section because of the risk of rupture. The idea terrified me beyond belief but it felt so right when it actually happened. I don't know how, but in the midst of this devastating event, positivity has reigned. My labour, delivery and the days I could go and hold her made it as amazing as giving birth to Eve.
This is coinín. Eve has the larger version, she adores it. We were planning to buy the mini version for the arrival of our second baby before I reached 40 weeks. Instead we picked up two, the first stayed with Olivia after she was born and the second stayed with me for those few days. When the time came to say goodbye, we swapped. That way she would have something of mine and I of hers.
Olivia's service -We used the phrase 'Codail a Síogín, go ciúin is go sámh' for Olivia. Its Irish for Sleep Peacefully, little fairy.
My husband had trouble finding premature clothes at short notice. This came from Mothercare and is made for babies who weigh 3 pounds. It's absolutely tiny (the bear is the size of my thumb). There is a velcro closing, designed for babies in incubators. I never would have imagined I would be buying baby clothes that small.
After I delivered Olivia the lovely midwife gave us this beautiful memory box from Féileacáin (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Association of Ireland). It reads Always loved Never Forgotten. The box had a camera, a crocheted blanket, 2 tiny bears, a small memory box and a kit for taking hand and foot prints. It's such a gorgeous idea and it provided us with so much comfort.
We have found ourselves using the phrase 'thank heavens for small mercies' a lot over the past few days - The sun shining the day of Olivia's ceremony, the bird that chirped happily on the windowsill throughout the service, the fact that our angel wasn't born living into the world only to suffer and accept the same fate anyway.
The staff at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, were amazing. I want to thank them for their efforts in making this traumatic time as manageable as possible. They are phenomenal, each a every one of them. I look forward to being back in their care again under happier circumstances. I would also like to send my love to Sinead and Grainne, two lovely girls I met in hospital. Both are awaiting the safe arrival of their babies. I had many a good chat and giggle with them in the first few days and they were there after the worst happened. I look forward to hearing their good news soon and want to thank them for lending me an ear.
This is the lovely piece of music we chose to have played at Olivia's ceremony. We used to play it into the bump and feel her wriggle. It's also called Transformation (by The Cinamatic Orhcestra), which is very fitting I think. It's such an uplifting piece. It was perfect.
I also want thank you all so much for your support. You have no idea the comfort I get in reading your comments and messages here and on Facebook and Twitter. I can't believe almost 11,000 people saw that post. It feels good that so many of you know about my Olivia. For those of you who have been through this and are still living and smiling - you are an inspiration.