Five months, one week and three days more.
Five months, one week and three days more would’ve made all the difference in the world.
Although, really, that’s a lie.
Nothing could have made a difference. It was done before we even knew, done while you were still our dream and prayer.
Between days 24-28 of conception the skull forms. Bone that shapes the head and most importantly protects the brain. So much happens in the miracle of your life before I even know you exist.
And then we find out. We stop dreaming of your existence and rather dream of all that your life will entail. If you’ll look like me or your father, if you are boy or girl. How you will completely change our family as we grow from three to four, how scary that is; but also how perfect it will be as already we feel the gap that’s yours to fill.
My body remembers what to do this time and I can’t fit my clothes at 9 weeks. I’m sick a lot more this time round; you don’t like watermelon and especially not your Grammy’s apricot chicken. I’m exhausted. But one nice thing is your brother is starting to show compassion, he cries when I’m sick and hates to see me hurting. He loves to read his big brother book, and one day he will be a great one.
— at the hospital —
We’re here now. You’re on your way. The doctor said I can have as much pain relief as possible and no one will ask anything about it. No amount of relief will take away the pain of what is really happening though.
The clock keeps ticking.
I just asked them to take your crib out of the room. It’s empty now and it will not be filled by us. It didn’t need to be here.
Your father commented to me, “don’t worry bruz, one day we will come into one of these delivery rooms and leave with a baby.”
I wish that was you precious child. I love you already. I’ve been feeling your life and movements for maybe two weeks now without doubt. It’s why I struggled to understand it.
Our first ultrasound was at 11 weeks, I saw you for about ten seconds. The lady said you were a strong little wriggler who she hopes will behave. Your heart was beating strong and it looked like you waved. Then she turned you away.
All her comments were good. Then they stopped. It was silent.
When she finished she turned the screen off. I’m not sure exactly what she said but none of it made sense. She tried to tell us there was something wrong with you. She used words we didn’t understand. After she had said how good everything was. We were so confused.
We went back to our GP. He was really nervous and obviously hadn’t had this conversation with anyone before. He said the word acrania- but that got lost in my tears, worry and shock. And I forgot until the next week when we saw a different doctor. He wasn’t much help though. When he said you had acrania, we asked what that was and this “specialist” we’d been waiting a week to see replied with “I don’t know.” It hurt that no one could tell us about you. No one could help us understand.
We had another ultrasound with a much better lady this time, she showed us you. Your heart, arms, legs, tummy, your precious face. We saw clearly the bones for your jaw and nose.
But then we could see your brain. Nothing was there protecting it. Your father had believed in a miracle, that God can do all things. But nothing was different from the week before.
I’d chosen not to believe in a miracle. I couldn’t hope and then be disappointed.
A week later we flew to see a specialist in Brisbane. Something happened to me that week baby. I loved you more, but somehow found a way to love Jesus more too. Even if you were going to open your eyes and see his face first rather than mine.
I had thought…. what makes me different to anyone else, why couldn’t it be me that got a miracle? Why couldn’t it be you that defied all medical odds. When we saw you again, you’d grown so much in two weeks, got so much bigger. The specialist knew so much about you, he could tell us all about the timing of when your skull forms, how this affects your brain. He explained to us the miracle of your life, simply that you exist.
I am special enough for a miracle; to know you. To know a God who loves me through this. My God who totally understands miscarriage and losing a child. God watched Jesus die. Your life is a miracle little one, a miracle that will forever change our life.
Tick. Tock. Tick. I’m going to labour. Pain. Birth you. But you’ll already be with Jesus. We’re looking forward to seeing you though. Finding out if you’re a boy or girl. The midwife says you might be the size of our hand. Beautiful and precious, you will fit perfectly in the hands of Jesus.
I thought I just felt you kick. I know that isn’t real though. Four months with you is not enough my baby. But far better than none at all.
It hurts more now.
The same clock continues to tick. tick. tick.
There was a pregnant screamer across the hall. Those ladies that scream every contraction and then every push. Her screaming I’m sure is silent joy now. It’s now her screaming newborn.
I can’t wish or pray that you’d taken longer to arrive. I’m your life support, a failing one. Even if you grew as big as you should first, coming out wouldn’t save you. Your life can only exists within me.
When I gave birth to your big brother my waters broke while I was watching Friends with your Uncle Jeremy. Tonight I was watching Friends when I felt a pop- it was my waters breaking. Your father and I laughed about it, saying that was the trick- I just had to watch Friends.
It was quick- you’ve arrived. The nurse was amazed I did it all with nothing but two Panadol hours ago, see I didn’t want to miss anything my body was telling me. So many doctors had come and gone telling me drugs were created for a reason, that I was wrong to want to feel what was happening. Almost like strength was accepting the medicine.
You didn’t cry like all the other babies today, not even a first breath. I saw you and the first thing I said to your daddy was that you had a cute little nose. I’m not going to lie, we didn’t know what you’d look like, but my precious daughter, you are beautiful. You had a nose, lips, two ears and even finger and toe nails! Ten little fingers and ten little toes. Perfect. And you looked so at peace. You came out with your left hand over your heart. Our precious Emmanuelle Walters.
God is with you and God is with us. Five months, one week and three days too early; yet how blessed are you my girl that when you first opened your eyes it was Jesus you saw. You’re whole and healthy and perfect now.
When you hope and pray for a baby; a life, character and little personality that you will love with more love then you ever knew possible, you imagine how they will interact with their siblings, how different they may be to each other. You imagine what colour their hair might be, what their voice will sound like. Never do you imagine that the words “there is something wrong” will be used when speaking about your baby. Never do you imagine that any part of your babies formation, that is known by God, would be incomplete. When I imagined you, my precious girl, never did I imagine the last month would have been the way it was. But in living the unimaginable, I experienced a miracle, the miracle of your life. But more than that, I fell in love and met you.
— the very next day —
We had special time with you last night, holding you and talking to you. Both myself and your daddy prayed thanking God for the gift of you. Your life and body was amazing. You fitted in the palm of our hands, but we could see everything, your ears and you had big eyes, toe nails and lips. You were complete. Our Emmanuelle Walters.
Now it’s today and you’re not here. We got on the elevator from the maternity ward this morning and the people looked confused that we didn’t have a baby with us. Your papa drove us home, he is happy you’re a girl.
I don’t know how to end this, it’s hard to complete. You’re life isn’t finished because it never really begun.
I hope you’ve found our Baby Zazu up there, hug them from daddy, big brother and me.
I love you my girl, my Emmanuelle, with my whole heart.
* I wrote this in real time. It helped me more than I could ever imagine. Not for attention, but in the hope that other parents in similar situations might find it and relate. Knowing that your baby is still a human being, a life no matter how short. God is still good, He is always good. When we got our diagnosis, I did what all people do now and I googled- if you found me, please email or send me a comment (which is private till I approve it) and I would love to talk to you and journey with you if you are looking for someone who understands a little bit more than others.