Our awakening: Phoebes Story A journal by Megan Sheppard Part three 30/05/2006 For everyone who has been following our journey – just to let you know that Phoebe died sometime on the 25th of May. So she made it all the way to 27 weeks, little trooper! I can honestly say that if one of my living children had died I would not be in this positive frame of mind, and I would definitely find it difficult not to lose the plot completely. Also if Phoebe was my first child I would be in a very different headspace. Having already had two beautiful children has given me faith in myself and the universe. Now we have the waiting game for labour to begin spontaneously. Lots of Braxton Hicks but nothing productive yet. We basically have 3-4 weeks and after that point we have to look at our options. Beyond that point there is a 25% risk of maternal blood clotting problems, and while I am happy to do everything as naturally as possible, I do want all the facts before making such a significant decision in terms of my health. She is head down so they think that all should be well for a natural vaginal birth. The real issue for us right now is the fact that they wont consider her body as 27 weeks, they will consider her gestational age at whatever day she is actually born. Now the problem with that is the fact that beyond 28 weeks (2 days time) we have to do the whole funeral thing which we are SO NOT INTO! We just wanted her body cremated so that we could take it home with us to NZ and scatter it there. Up until 28 weeks we can do that through the hospital with no problems or fuss or cost. After 28 weeks we have to buy a coffin, and pay all these other stupid costs associated with death. I am a bit pissed off that it will cost so bloody much – we totally cant afford it and I think that in a time like this we shouldnt have to take out a loan because our baby died. I feel a bit petty getting cross over something so trivial as money but I do feel like it is rubbing salt in the wound when we just want to do this our way and move on with our lives. Anyhow. Will let you know how the rest of the story goes as it unfolds… 31/05/2006 I have been looking deeply into the reasons why a funeral of sorts would be a good thing, and have now come up with so many that I have decided that even if she does go before tomorrow (not feeling likely, but anyhow!) that we will still do a proper funeral celebration for her. Funny how things come up so we need to place them in proper perspective and look outside of our own needs! I think it will be best for Isabella and Angus, but also for family and friends to acknowledge that she is/was a REAL person and not a “failed pregnancy”. I forget that for me she is very real, but for many others (probably even Greg to a certain extent) she is still an abstract concept. And particularly because all of our family members and many friends live in other countries – this must seem very distant and unreal to them. The support I have had from all the gorgeous mamas on this forum and in real life from the Natural Parenting Perth mamas has just been overwhelmingly wonderful and I appreciate it beyond words. Now I guess I had better get back to getting my work commitments done ahead of schedule and make the same window of opportunity for Phoebe to be born as I did for her to die…well, it worked last time! 04/06/2006 Right – we are definitely starting something here. I have finished my work and prepared some in advance again, and have had a reasonable show … so maybe in the next couple of days?? Seriously – be careful what you wish for, I so wanted a baby born on 06/06/06 (my 34th birthday) and Greg and I even sat down and had a discussion about the pros and cons and decided that it was not one of the better reasons to get pregnant … although we knew we were going to at some point in the future, the gap between Angus and the next wasnt ideal for us. Funny how things work out!!! Heres hoping she sneaks in tonight or tomorrow while we have a public holiday and Greg is home. 16/06/2006 Laura: With love and respect may we pass on the news that Phoebe was born at 4pm today, 16/06/06 after a short and sweet labour, to quote Megan. Megan is fine, placenta birthed fine. All our love to the family Carlia: Just updating again, Megan and Greg took little Phoebe and her placenta home tonight. They are well, and I am totally in awe of the strength of that woman. 18/06/2006 I just wanted to say thank you so much for all of your wonderful wishes, words, support and love. I will be writing my birth story at some point soon before I forget all the wee details, but at this stage I am still thrilled with how well the birth went. We ended up shutting ourselves in the bathroom to sneak her out in the big bath, and locking ourselves in the toilet with a bowl so that I could squat and birth the placenta away from the nasty midwife waiting with the syntocinon injection! NO retained placenta (which was, incidentally completely normal in size!) and NO post-partum haemorrhage…the midwife on duty seemed almost disappointed that she didn’t get the dramatic birth she was prepared for… Our wonderful home birth midwife stayed with us the whole time and advocated for us, pushed for all the paperwork to be processed as quickly as possible so that we could leave 4 hours afterwards with both Phoebe and her placenta – both still in the fridge at this point. I havent had the grief feelings come up yet, I think that more than anything I am so proud of my body for birthing Phoebe so quickly, easily and beautifully (about 45 minutes). I woke up the next morning and said “You know what Greg, Im a really great birthing woman”. He just smiled and said “I know”. With all of the fluid her head circumference was actually bigger than her body length, which is kind of crazy (head 31cm, body 30cm). She weighed in at a tiny 1.27kg. It is all still in the interesting and wonderment stage for all of us – including the kids who were most intrigued to see her. Today the funeral directors come to take her body away to cremate it, I cant help wondering if this is when my tears will flow? It is hard to feel sad when the sadness is such a small part of the whole experience – the fantastic stuff outweighs the sad stuff enormously and there is also a lot of relief both for us and for our poor little girl. Looking at her little body we just were in awe of how she managed to go so far. 24/08/2006 Phoebe was due today. I’m mostly feeling okay about this, but definitely a little sensitive … feel a bit cheated, a bit empty, and a bit removed. This date has been quite huge in my mind, so it will be nice to have it behind me – a real marker for totally moving on and fresh starts. It is difficult to explain just why this was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I think that this particular point of view was necessary in order for me to fully hear/accept the lesson. When I found out that a friend of mine had given birth to a stillborn baby just weeks before me finding out that Phoebe would die I said “Oh my god – I just couldnt deal with that, I wouldnt cope”. Plus I felt safe in the knowledge that there was no way that it ever would happen to us. I guess we just never know what is around the corner and how it will change our lives. Sometimes we just stop and take time to think about our little girl and talk about various aspects of the journey. We laugh and joke about things that happened, and figure that Phoebe shares in our laughter and love – she is very much a part of our lives. We decided to keep her ashes. At the end of the day it is all we have left of her. She keeps us on our toes still, serving as a constant reminder that we need to give life our all. I do cry when I open the tiny wooden urn and look inside. I have always felt that there was a certain beauty and honour in death, and this confirmed that for me. Death has never been something to provoke negative feelings in my life, I see it as a progression to the next level, and (much to my familys dismay!) I have been fascinated with death since I was a toddler. I have an interest in the pathology of everything, and always want to know more about how creatures work on the inside. Growing up on a farm meant that I had the opportunity to experience births, deaths, and interesting genetic anomalies up close and personal. Stillborn animals, animals with far too many legs or even two heads had us all wondering at the miracle of life. On a personal level I am not afraid of death, I think it is something that is both inevitable and pre-ordained. Yes, I did cry on the first day – in fact for the best part of the day. Day two, I was like a zombie, just numb. Day three I woke up at about 5am full of excitement and realising this for the unique blessing that it was/is. Once I accepted the truth about Phoebe I knew in my heart that it was right and she was never meant to be… along with feelings of being so incredibly honoured that she chose me/us. Now we are finding ourselves really motivated – ready to embrace life and do all of those things that we have been meaning to do…we have discussed with our gorgeous living children how we have been chosen by this special little soul who needed our love and protection for a short while, and we have all said goodbye and let this little soul go on its journey full of light. I appreciate my perfect, healthy and beautifully home birthed children in a way I never could before and this soul also allowed me to stop and be pregnant in a way that I never have with my other pregnancies