So, Littlegirl was born and she was a darling.
The nurse had wrapped her up and the doctor was stitching Irishmam up, so I had some quiet time with my daughter.
I stood in the corner with her and whispered to her as best I could how much I loved her and told her all the things I had thought we were going to do together. The usual daddy of a little girl stuff like ponies and ballet and hugs and dollies.
She was so light and looked so perfect all swaddled up in her pink blanket. It was so wrong that she was dead. What happened to you my little baby? Where are you?
I can’t remember clearly what happened next. I do know that my brother arrived and sat in the lobby of the hospital for the entire day, just being there if we needed anything and greeting visitors.
We ended up back in the hospital room. The nurses had put a picture of a rose or something on the door so that all the staff would know that this was the Shit Luck territory.
Littlegirl was checked by doctors etc. I guess and then brought in to us. We spent hours just looking at her and hugging and talking to her.
We were given some information from ISANDS (the Irish Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) that contained a means of taking hand and footprints and cuttings of hair. (In the background, ISANDS had been great help to Irishmam’s sister who had been in contact with them shortly after learning that the baby was dead. ISANDS went on to be a great support for us and helped us to realise that we weren’t alone or unique in the world. More about that later.)
Family started to trickle in, all devastated and probably not knowing what to do when handed our poor little girl to hold. But they did it and they kissed her and it was a welcome for her and an acknowledgement that she was loved by all these people who had been waiting to meet her.
There was a counsellor knocking around but unfortunately she was the only person we encountered that we didn’t warm to. She seemed to just stand there waiting for us to say something, while we were looking at her thinking ‘well, you’re the bloody expert’ what are we supposed to do here?
Anyway, the rest of the staff were brilliant. All the nurses dropped in over the course of the next few days and they always greeted Littlegirl and commented on how lovely she was. When practicality and reality crept in after a day or so and we had to start putting our little darling in a mortuary to keep her cool, the nurses would drop in to my wife and tell her that they had been down to check on Littlegirl and she was fine. These acts of kindness made a huge difference.
By the end of that first day we were absolutely shattered and exhausted. I felt a strong urge to get away from the hospital so I asked my brother to meet me back at the house. My wife’s parents stayed with her in the hospital. Did I do the wrong thing by leaving for the night? I don’t know. I just needed to sit down for a few minutes at a remove from the situation and have a break, and a bottle of wine! Again, well done to my brother for spending the night with me, it must have been tough.