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Wednesday, 16. January 2008
I went for the regular midwife checkup with Anagot (at 12:45). It was
exactly 39 weeks.
(before that: Camiel took Mileva & lots of furniture & things to Nana; he
took the tent to Dobie; he came back to be with Charlie, then took him
along to pick up Alisa from school, around 1 PM. And I stopped by
sport-school to freeze my membership for next 6 months, thinking that with
the baby I will not have time / energy to go and exercise... ).
While sitting there and waiting, I had a mild panic attack, sort or
premonition - I was a bit scared, and I wrote down in my booklet that I
have to tell Anagot that maybe I was not careful enough (Efteling, falling
off the bike), and to ask her if I should be more careful.
She said that everything should be fine... She checked my blood pressure,
then checked my belly. The size was OK, and then Anagot listened to the
heartbeat. With the little machine. She could not hear it well, so she
used some more gel. Then she used the old-fashioned trumpet, because she
thought that the machine doesn't work good. She still could not hear it.
Then she thought maybe baby's back was towards my back, and then it's hard
to hear... She brought another machine, but could not hear it with that
one either. And then she got worried, and told me to go quickly to the
hospital, to check it there.
I am not feeling bad - so how can there be anything wrong with the baby?
Annagot explained that me and the baby are two separate beings...
I got worried too, but could not believe it, and I thought it was a false
I called Camiel, and had to tell him on the phone: "Don't panic, but I
have to go to the hospital, because Anagot can not hear the heartbeat of
the baby. Meet me there (2nd floor)" ... (that will become so familiar to
us over next few days...)
Camiel asked Marieke to come and stay with Alisa and Charlie, and luckily
she could do it.
- - -
I went to the hospital, with the taxi. It was stinking of the cigarette
smoke; I didn't speak to the driver; I don't know what I was thinking -- I
was still in shock, and in denial, and I was hoping that they will just
see that everything was fine.
They were waiting for me - Nadine, the midwife, and one or two others.
They looked at my belly with the echo / ultrasound machine, and thought
that it was not looking good, but didn't want to say for sure. I didn't
dare to look. I didn't dare to ask anything. I was so scared, and
They went away to bring the doctor. In the meantime, Minnon arrived too
(midwife from Gebortecentrum). Then Camiel. He was crying! I never saw him
crying so much, and in public... (that will become so familiar to us over
next few days...). Then I panicked, and then I started realising that this
is serious, that this is probably not going good...
The doctor came, looked at it too. I was looking also, but could not
understand what is it that I see. She explained: "This is the place where
the heart should be... and there is no movement".
"But what does it mean?? Can you do something about it??"
"But she is dead!".
She really had to be so cruel and so straightforward with me, because I
didn't want to accept it. Only then I could hear it, and I fell into
Camiel's arms and started sobbing uncontrollably... and him too.
Then I'm not sure what happened next.. it was a bit of a blur..
I got confronted with the death for the first time in my life -- never
before did I lose anyone who was close to me, and now -- my own child! Not
even born yet!!
Then I realised, and got very scared: Everyone will die! Camiel will die!
But I don't want to lose him!
And I don't want to lose other dear people in my life!
But - it's enevetable! There is notheing I, or anyone, can do about it...
... except being nice to them while I can!
And getting to know them, and letting them getting to know me...
And I will die! But I am not ready yet! There is so much more I want to do
in life, so much more I want to experience, and I better not wait, because
it can happen any time...
And the baby -- I wanted "it" removed as soon as possible, with an
operation! But, the doctor said that operation is risky; the best is to
wait until the delivery starts naturally...
What can be natural about carrying the dead baby inside of me?? Can we at
least induce the delivery, and can I get some painkillers, to make it
They told me to wait a bit, and let it sink in, and think about it, and
then if I still want it done quickly, they will help out as much as they
can. They explained the differences between epidural and other narcotic;
and told me that in any case, even if the contractions for the natural
delivery start at home, I still have to come to the hospital.
And what about the kids? Doctors said that we should tell them; we thought
not to, because they don't understand it all, and they don't see if the
baby inside the belly is alive or dead anyway... but the doctors said that
the kids will feel that there is something wrong, and it's better to
Still, I first wanted to tell it to my parents. They were both with Nana,
so that seemed like a good plan: to tell it to them in person, and to both
of them (and Nana) at the same time. I knew they will take it very hard.
And we also had to wait until Nana comes back home from a colleague, to
take care of Iris, because I knew that my mother will react very heavy...
And it was like that -- they both completely fell apart, but I could not
take part in their pain, because it was too much for me then.. I had to
comfort them, so I had to be stronger then they are...
When we told it to Alisa (and Charlie, but he didn't understand anything)
that baby is not alive any more, she said "Is she dead?" (in Dutch, of
course), and then she started crying, and said "I wanted (us) to have two
girls in the house...".
I was completely confused with pain and sadness and unbelief: How could I
not protect her?? What did I do wrong? How come that I didn't notice??
What should have I done to save her? Why didn't she want to come to us?
I called Annagot to find out if it is safe to wait with the delivery - she
said it is. But I still wanted to get over with as soon as possible,
because I thought that waiting for the delivery to start naturally is
going to drive me crazy, specially when there is nothing to look forward
to, only pain, and no good news at the end of all the efforts. So we
called the hospital and made an appointment for tomorrow, 17th, at 9:30
And then we went to sleep. However troubled, the sleep helped us, because
we were exhausted with all the events and thoughts and feelings.
I think it was a mistake to not keep Marieke or Merlijn to stay with us,
or Mileva, because we were alone with the children, when it all started
Around 11 PM, I woke up, feeling pain in my lower belly. I expected to
feel contractions in my back, so I didn't think this is *it*... but when
there was another one after 10 minutes, and then again, I thought I'd wake
up Camiel... He called the hospital -- and they told him that I should try
to sleep, and call again in the morning! By then, it was getting more
painful, I was clutching the side of the bed and counting to 10 through
the wave of each contraction, *very loud*. I has my hand between my legs
and trying to hold the baby inside, because it was trying to come out, but
I was afraid to let it come out, because I was not sure it was the time to
Camiel called Merlijn, to come and stay with the kids; then he called the
hospital again, and I was shouting that he should ask for the ambulance...
I guess they would not send it, because he went to bring the car in front
of the door. Merlijn arrived in the meantime; but I could not go to the
hospital - I asked Camiel to just help me do it here, at home -- but he
didn't want (I guess he was scared, too) -- he wanted to bring me there...
He was also asking where the things are that I prepared for the hospital,
and in the pauses of contractions I was explaining where the box is, and
Thursday, 17.1. - midnight
Just after midnight - the water broke!! Oh, that was a sign.. it was
really serious! Still, Camiel insisted that I go into the car..
OK, I tried: I walked from the bed towards the door, but in the hallway I
got another contraction, I had to go on my hands and knees, and then the
final contraction came, I had to push, I was screaming "It's coming
out!" -- and the baby's head was out!! (What happened with the bottom of
my pajamas?? and my nickers?).
Camiel pulled a bit, I pushed one more time, and the rest of the baby was
out. It was lying on the floor... it was very pale... and then, only then,
I knew for sure it was dead. I didn't believe it until then, not
completely; I was hoping that they are all wrong; I was doubting that they
can see inside of me, and I was still having hope that I'll see her alive
once she is out of me... But she was not alive.
While Camiel went to get a towel, I saw her with the corner of my eye (it
was dark; I didn't have my glasses; and I didn't really want, nor dare, to
look...) -- she was pale, and like a doll, and so still, and quiet...
(other babies were red, and loud..).
We didn't know what to do about the umbilical cord - so we just left it
connected; Camiel wrapped the baby in the towels and passed it on to me
through my legs. I was immediately feeling better -- the contractions were
gone, there was no pain, and there was no strange body inside of me -- and
I was holding my baby in my arms! (even if it was dead - it was heavy, and
firm, and large, and even a bit warm, even through the towels..). I walked
to the car, with the wet trousers dangling around my legs, in wet socks,
without shoes. I laid on my side in the back of the car, holding the baby
wrapped in towel in my arms.
After 10 minutes of driving (I don't know how Camiel had strenght to drive
us safely to the hospital!) we arrived, parked on the street, and walked -
agin, wet and barefoot - to the main entrance. We had to wait until they
let us in; it was around 1 PM; there was no-one to help; we had to take
the wheelchair by ourselves (where did Camiel find an Euro to put in the
slot?!), and he drowe us to the second floor. They were surprised to see
us -- why?! We were announced several times!! And they found a room for
us, then nurses (Irma and ...?) and doctor Smith arrived, and they helped
me undress, took the baby away, and helped me "deliver" the placenta and
This took a long time, because, altho I thought I was much better, I was
still in shock, and confused, and exhausted -- my legs and my pelvis were
shaking uncontrollably (*), so I could not relax and do what they asked
from me; also, it was difficult to push the placenta out, because I felt
already empty, like there is nothing to push on. Still, the long time
meant 10 minutes, instead of one minute; I was not bleeding much, and
everything was, in fact, OK.
(*) not unlike in the whole-body orgasm...
They cleaned and wrapped the baby, and gave it back to me. I could finally
see her -- she was beautiful!! So real!! So big! I had to touch her.. she
was still a little bit warm, from my own warmth, but she was cooling
quickly, and she was so pale, so pale... Her eyes were closed, and she
looked like she is asleep, but I knew she's not, and I wept, and sobbed,
and Cmaiel also, and we held each other over the body of our dead baby. I
was so so so sorry... it was not meant to be like this!!!
When I held her, I felt contractions of my womb, just like I felt when
holding my other babies...
They asked us if we have chosen a name for her. We looked at each other -
yes, the last one we agreed on was "Olivia". I didn't even know that she
had to have a name, if she was not alive... but they explained that, and
many other things, that I could not expect, understand or accept at that
time, but that I comprehended only later -- she was part of our life. She
was, and she always will be. She is our third child. She was real, she is
real, and she will stay with us, even if only in our memory, till the end
of our lives. So, giving her a name, seeing her, touching her, dressing
her, giving her some space, and a physical place; keeping memories of her,
as many s possible -- that will all help to preserve her in our lives in
the future, but it will also help us to heal ourselves from our sadness.
However, it was too early to take all of that in. We were so tired (it was
already 2 AM by then), and still not really aware what was happening, and
just wanted everything to be over, and not to think of it... So we decided
to go home, as soon as possible, and leave "her" in the hospital.
We could have brought "her" home, but the idea was so strange -- how can
we deal with her there?? Why would we want her?
Also, I wanted the children to come and say goodbye to the baby in the
hospital - I didn't want them to think that the house is a place where
something like death can happen, I wanted them to think of their home as
a safe, protected space; I wanted them to associate hospital with loss and
They asked us if we had clothes for Olivia. No - we didn't even bring any
clothes for me, since we were in a hurry we forgot to bring what I have
prepared, but I didn't even prepare any clothes for her: again, since they
told us that she was dead I didn't consider her a person any more, so I
didn't think that she will need clothes -- but those feelings and opinions
were going to change in the next days...
Since I didn't bring any clean, dry clothes with me, I had to put Camiel's
jacket on - like trousers: I put my legs into sleeves, and rapped it
around my waste with the blanket that we brought. Camiel took me
downstairs and into the car in the wheelchair, together with Irma.
I don't remember the way back home in the car. At home, we saw that
Merlijen has cleaned-up the hallway, changed our bed, and was asleep in
Mileva's bed, and the kids were also asleep (they slept through
everything! My screaming during the delivery, us leaving, us coming
back...). It was around 4 AM when we got home. (I called Nana to tell her
that it is all over, to tell Bogdan and Mileva not to worry about me any
We cried ourselves to sleep. It was good to have each other, for the
comfort, and support. I realised that I can only open up with Camiel, that
with other people I can not cry so freely, or that I have to be strong for
them and support them -- but that with Camiel I can let go. I could also
tell all kind of outrages things to him, because he was with me through
everything, he experienced it too, and we could just share these horrible
moments, just as we shared to good moments before. I was also surprised,
and pleased, that Camiel could let go and express his emotions and cry so
much -- I thought that is very good for them, because on the other moments
he was very strong and decisive and supportive, but it must have been hard
for him all the same.
Thursday, 17.1. morning
We had to go to the hospital to say good-bye to Olivia. We arranged it for
11 in the morning: first only us and kids; then Nana and my parents; then
Simone and Oma-Willy; then Merieke & Merlijn.
This time we brought the clothes: blue pakje that both Alisa and Charlie
used to wear, with 3 birds on it; pink socks she got from Oma Willie and
Simone for Charlie's birthday; and a blue-stripy cap that I just bought
for her in the Hema two days before...
Nurse who brought Olivia in asked if we will dress her ourselves, or
should he do it. I could not... but Camiel said that he wanted to. He was
crying while he was doing it... it must have been difficult, and she was
so cold, too...
I don't remember how I felt when I saw her again. We have photos. There
were a lot of people, and they all were very sad; it was a first time for
them to see Olivia, and (we thought) it will be the last time too. Simone
and Nana gave her a little doll to bring with her (to the grave); my
mother took it very badly (again), and we had to take care of her, on the
top of everything; Alisa wanted to hold Olivia; *I* wanted to hold Olivia,
and I was still surprised with this wish of mine...
... but, still, when it was time to go, we said good-bye again, and
decided to leave her in the hospital: our place was at home, and that was
not to be her home anyway.
They made the hand- and foot- print in the hospital; they printed the
photos of the night before for us, and they made us CDs with those, and
today's photos; they gave us brochures about coping with the loss of a
child (so - it happens that often that they have a special booklet
printed!! And even a version in English!! I would have never thought...
How ignorant, and how arrogant of me... to think that death is so
separated from life.. and to think it's so far away from me, that it could
not happen to me or anyone close to me...)(which reminds me of a [book] I
We had to arrange all kinds of formalities -- for example, if we wanted to
investigate what the cause of death was. We did want, but only to a
certain extent: they took blood samples from Olivia and me; they took a
piece of her thigh, for the DNA analysis; they will make X-ray; and
examine the placenta and umbilical cord. But we didn't let them make the
autopsy, because we didn't want them to cut her open. The only reasons for
trying to find out what happened were: so that I can stop blaming myself;
and so that we know if we have to be careful next time, if we want to have
At home, we had to meet with someone from the undertakes company "De
Jong". We had to choose if we want to burry Olivia or to cremate her --
what a horrible thing to think about, altogether!! But we had to decide,
and fast, because there were appointments to be made, all kinds of
arrangements... Still, we had a day to think about it, and will meet up
with them the day after.
We also had to choose all kinds of other things: if it will be a grave -
where? In which cemetery? On her own, or with other children? (or - a
family grave?? I was thinking about that too -- should she be the one to
start our family grave?? And that made me think even more about my own
death, and what do I want to happen to me when I die... macabre... ). For
the cremation, we also had to choose one of the two possible places, and
then, also, what do we want to do with the ashes. And in any case, there
was supposed to be a ceremony -- so, who to invite, and how; how many
people -- only close family, so 10-ish, or all the friends; what music
will we play; who will talk; will we have something else happening during,
or after the ceremony; etc. Do we want the cards, done by De Jong -- no,
we already thought we'll let Nana help with that, or no cards at all.
We were really not ready to think about all this!!
I will describe in a separate story [how and why did we choose for the
But, the important bit was when they told us that, whatever we choose, it
will have to be after two or more days. To wait several more days!! And
then I've heard myself say: "But then I will have to go and visit Olivia
in the hospital every day -- I can not let her be there all alone!"
I knew this was completely irrational! I knew that she was not there
alone, because she was not there at all - she was not anywhere, she was
dead! Still, this was such a powerful feeling, that I had to do something
about it! And Camiel also changed his mind... so when the lady asked "but
did you agree with them in the hospital that you can come and see Olivia
every day?", we thought -- we can actually have her here!!
So, that afternoon Camiel called the hospital, and called "De Jong", and
arranged that he will pick up Olivia at 8 PM, and someone from "De Jong"
will come and bring the cooling machine at 20:30 -- and that's how Olivia
still moved in, into our home. The same day as she was born... with the
short stay in the hospital... because we could not leave her there, to be
so far away from us. We had to have her with us. This was her place, this
was her home too. We had everything ready for her. But, instead of having
her in our bed, or in her bed, we had to put her on the "kommode" (a place
for changing diapers), that we used for Charlie years ago, and still left
standing, knowing that there will be another baby coming sometimes.. It
has a lamp above, it is next to our bed, so we could see her all the
time... (she had to be kept cool, so she was all frozen when she arrived,
and then placed on the cooling element, a big metal peace that was cooled
down to -20 with a strong and noisy freezer).
That night, I could hold her again... It felt so strange -- at the same
time, it was just like holding a real baby, because she was just as big,
just as heavy, and she looked like she is asleep...
When I hold her, I feel contractions of my womb, just like I felt when
holding my other babies...
But she was so cold, and so stiff... but I wanted to warm her up, and to
make her breathe, to make her move, to make her alive again!! Why could
she not be alive?? Why was she not really with us?? Oh, how we cried, both
of us, Camiel and me...
(Nana and Iris came back with us from the hospital, and stayed. Mileva
too; but Bogdan had to go back to Nana's place, he had to be alone for a
while; he was taking it very very hard, and altho he was expressing his
sadness more then I expected, it was still difficult for him to show all
of his emotions.. and all that stress was not good for his diabetes,