As part of Sands 40th anniversary, we have collected 40 stories by 40 parents, family members and friends affected by the death of a baby, helping them cope and feel less isolated in their grief. These stories are powerful in helping us end the taboo of talking about baby loss and raise awareness of stillbirth and neonatal deaths. Discover 40 stories for #Sands40
My Baby Girl’s Goodbye.
Katie Elizabeth Green, 25th August 2013.
The pain started on 23rd August 2013. It was a Friday morning and I was shopping in Wigan with my children’s dad Jonn and grandma. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t process it as everything had gone so well previously.
When I returned home the pain was too much for me so I called the hospital, they advised me to go up and get checked. They also advised that we call for an ambulance but instead we caught a taxi.
We arrived at the hospital a short time later and worked our way up to the maternity ward. The wait to be seen was dreadful due to the pain and the fear inside me.
Eventually they called us into a small room. I lied on the bed with Jonn to my left side and the nurse to my right side with the equipment ready to listen to Katie’s heartbeat. The nurse put the gel on my belly then went to listen but couldn’t hear anything. She was moving the monitor round but still nothing, so off she went to bring an ultrasound machine.
When she came back she had another nurse, a doctor with her and the machine that was when I knew something was wrong, I just weren’t prepared for what was to come.
The screen came on and there she was my little baby girl in black and white. Her tiny little body not moving and no heartbeat. That was the moment my heart broke in two.
She was gone, my baby girl was gone and there was nothing I could do to bring her back.
I didn’t know what to do, I jumped off the bed and collapsed at the side of Jonn, gel still on me. I couldn’t control myself. I was crying, shaking and screaming. The doctor explained what were to happen next and offered us the deepest condolences.
They left us to come to terms with what we had just found out. I sat back in the bed and both me and Jonn made the worse calls we could ever make.
First I phoned my dad, with in a short space of time he was beside me comforting me.
Second I phoned my mum who was with my brother at the time, we hadn’t spoke for six months and the only words I could find were “mum, she’s gone”. Nothing else was said we just cried on the phone.
Third I phoned my sister Catherine, she had already been through this herself so it was harder to break the news to her then anyone else.
The message got passed around to family and friends but one little person still needed to be told but that responsibility was from us.
The nurses and doctor came back in the room and started explaining the next steps. I wasn’t listening to anything they said or did, I just sat there in my own little world wondering were I went wrong.
They gave me a cup of water and a pill to take. I’m not sure whether it was to start my labour or to tell my body I was no longer pregnant or both but I took it realising this is actually happening and this is the end of a little life we hadn’t met. All I remember is hearing that I would have to wait for around two days before anything could be done.
The rest of the day till Calvin got home is a blur. How do you explain to a three year old that his little sister has died?
We sat him down on the couch between us. Jonn tried to explain as best as he could. I needed to help explain as well and the only way I could say it was “Katie is still in mummy's belly but when she is born she will be joining the angels in the sky”. He didn’t get upset but he was too young to understand or so we thought. It affected him just as much as it affected us.
On Sunday 25th August it was time to go back to the hospital to do what I didn’t what to do. All my bags were packed and my dad took us up so we weren’t alone. When we walked in there were two nurses waiting for me so they could do the checks needed before anything were to go ahead. While doing the checks I found out that on the Saturday I was in labour.
After the doctor had been the nurse put me on gas and air as my waters hadn’t gone but I was ready to push. They told me to lie on my right side while they got all the equipment ready to burst my waters.
Now was the time, my baby girl was about to be brought into this world but would never see it.
All the pain from the labour had gone, now it was just pain from heartbreak. I was crying and asking if she looked OK, Jonn told me she was beautiful. One of the nurses took her to a conjoined room to clean her up and dress her, while the other nurse helped me finish the labour procedure.
After I was all sorted they brought her out in a cold cot but explained that because she has passed away in my belly that her skin had fallen on her face and that we weren’t allowed to hold her for too long.
When the nurse passed her over to me she had tears in her eyes. Katie was so peacefully sleeping forever. The heartbreak got worse because she was not crying to be fed and she was not looking at me with her tiny eyes.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her, all I wanted was for her to take a breath and be OK but that was not to be. The nurse took her back off me so I could go and get a shower before the family came in and so she was able to sort Katie out better and take some ink prints.
After we were settled the family were allowed to come in to see and hold her for the first and last time. There was my mum, Andy, my nan, my dad, Joan, Jonn’s mum and most importantly my little boy Calvin. Everyone was so upset that is was good Calvin was there to keep the spirits up a little bit.
We took pictures so we always had the memories of us holding her and what she looked like. After the pictures the nurse came back with a priest so he could bless her death and give us support. As he was leaving he couldn’t hold his emotions in any longer and let the tears fall down his face. Someone who doesn’t know any of us was unable to control his feelings towards a little life lost so soon.
After the family had left and after we had more time alone with Katie it was time to take her to the hospital mortuary. The nurse sorted Katie out by wrapping her in a blanket and putting her inside of my jacket. We had to put another blanket over so no other patients or visitors could see her or ask questions.
As we walked through the hospital I could see people staring but the nurse just kept saying “ignore them and don’t let them see”. The walk was so long as we were over the other side of the hospital but I had the chance to cuddle her for longer before I let her go.
When we got to the mortuary the undertaker took her from us so he could put her in a cold mosses basket. As we were waiting the nurse told us we could visit anytime we wanted till it was time for the post-mortem. When she was ready we were sent to a room on our own so we could spend more time with her.
I think we were there for around 45 minutes to an hour just looking at her tiny little body, talking to her and crying for her. Just before we went back to the maternity ward we had to fill forms out for the post-mortem. That’s when we were told she would be moved to Manchester for this to be carried out.
I wasn’t happy that they would be moving my baby girl further away from me. I wanted her to be as close as possible but I understood that this needed to be done. We marked down that they could do a post-mortem on every part of her body except her brain. I couldn’t let some stranger damaged my baby girls head and face, not if I got the chance to see her again.
When her results came back we had to go to Manchester for them. I was sat there tears in my eyes as the doctor read the results of the tests. After a certain amount of days blaming myself for what had happened, I finally found out that she had Down’s Syndrome. Her organs were too big for her body and we’re crushing against each other. We were told even if she did make it she wouldn’t of been with us for long.
We received an envelope with all the post-mortem results and the coroner’s report. We added it to a box we received from the hospital for stillbirths and miscarriages.
We spoke to different funeral directors and chose to have her in the closest one to us. They let us pick a baby pick coffin and on the plaque we had “Katie Elizabeth Green, 25th August 2013, Born Asleep”. It was the most beautiful thing ever for her.
The funeral date was Friday 6th September. I even went into work to let people in work know of the time and date. When I went in everyone was upset when they saw me.
The day had arrived. Family came to our house and waited with us for the funeral car. Everyone was wearing black and pink as requested by me. It felt like an eternity till the car arrived. Because she was so small and had a tiny coffin we didn’t need the hearse.
When we walked out of the house everyone in the street was outside lined up with our family. I kept myself together as this was just the beginning. We got in the car with Katie on our knee and our families got in their cars to follow us to the church.
When we pulled up outside the church everyone had tears going down their faces, all in black and pink. It was too overwhelming for me and before we even went in I couldn’t control my tears.
Jonn carried her inside the church and everyone followed silently and peacefully. She was placed at the front in the centre like at most funerals the only difference was that it didn’t look right because her coffin was so small in a big church.
The service began but all I could hear were people crying. It was only a short service but it was beautiful, the priest did an amazing job but then it was my turn. I had a poem for her which I still have.
I read it all with tears in my eyes, looking out to everyone sat down listening, crying, sobbing. I looked at the tiny coffin in front of me but didn’t break a single word. When the service was over it was time to head to the cemetery to finally lay her body to rest.
When we arrived at the grave the priest was there waiting to start the last part of the service. Everyone gathered round and as he was reading they lowered the coffin into the smallest hole. Sand was passed around so people could lay it on the coffin and roses were placed in as well they were red or pink rose from everyone present.
Once the service had finished and the priest was gone no one moved we just stood there, people were talking to each other. Then the hugs and goodbyes started and people started to leave. I stood there looking at her coffin with tears running down my face.
Others started to realise that it was time for me to leave. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to leave her on her own but I had to, I had to go home and look after Calvin.
It is one of the worst moments I have ever had to live through but finally after just under five years I am able to write it down and share it with people I love and care about. Let them understand what I have had to go through and help them understand how hard it is was for me to move on.
Thanks to my counsellor and my family and friends I am able to look back and realise that what happened for the better and that I wasn’t to blame myself for this happening to me. She was ill she fought for as long as possible but couldn’t fight anymore and it was her time to go.
I want you to know I am a strong person. I may have my bad days but I have come out at the better side.
Thank you for taking the time to read part of my life. It really means a lot.