Xavier Rocket Imrie is our first-born son. He was conceived only five months after we made the decision to try for a baby. The pregnancy was a really exciting time. I had minimal sickness and was sailing through, fully expecting to bring our baby home after 9 months. Devastatingly, our pregnancy took a violent U-turn at 6 ½ months.
It was a Thursday evening when I noticed reduced movement in my belly. (Xavier had always been very active in the womb). I was a little worried but I went to bed and told myself that perhaps he was running out of room to move as he was growing so big. (I’ve since found out this is a total myth). Friday morning rolled around and still no movement. I was more worried by this point, but again I told myself ‘the myth’.
Just to be sure, I went to the GP, who was concerned and sent me to the hospital. My husband met me there and we were sent in for a doppler check. The midwives were unable to pick up any sound, so it was time for a scan. My husband and I were shaking at this point but still hopeful. I have a very clear memory of the midwife standing at the end of the bed, holding my feet. She looked at me sadly and said, “Oh sweetheart”. I remember thinking that she was looking at me as if our baby had died. But I refused to believe it.
After a very brief scan from the sonographer, he looked at us and uttered the words, “I’m sorry. I’m not able to find a foetal heartbeat”. I remember thinking - What do you mean you can't FIND it? Check again!!! But I knew there was no point. I knew Xavier was gone.
And this is when our world came crashing down.
We left the hospital and went home for what seemed like the longest night of our lives. I am not even able to put into words what it is like, living with the knowledge that your baby is lifeless inside of you.
The next morning, we went back to hospital and I was induced. I gave birth to Xavier at 2:18pm on Saturday 31st January 2015. He weighed 1.14kg and was 40cm long. He was absolutely perfect. He just looked as though he was sleeping, and I remember holding him in my arms, willing him to wake up.
My husband and I spent time holding Xavier, taking photos and introducing him to our parents and one of my girlfriend’s, who all came to the hospital to be with us. We were offered the opportunity to bathe him but I just couldn’t do it. (Something I regret today).
After our visitors left, my husband and I said goodnight to Xavier and he was taken away. I stayed overnight in hospital. I was given a private room, but it was still a horror I wouldn’t wish on anyone, to spend the night on a maternity ward with the sound of crying babies in the background, whilst my baby was ‘sleeping’ in the morgue.
Over the course of the following week, we returned to the hospital a few times to hold Xavier and talk to him about the funeral we were planning. These times spent with him were devastatingly beautiful. A combination of total nightmare and immense love.
We held a small funeral for Xavier on a Monday and he was buried in the children’s garden of the cemetery, in a spot we picked between two other baby boys. The funeral was incredibly special and I felt such mama pride that we’d given Xavier the send-off that reflected his beautiful little life. My pride, however was mixed with total heartbreak as I watched my baby boy lowered into the ground.
Holding our lifeless baby in my arms and burying him, shifted something deep inside me that will never shift back.
The months that followed were a blur. I was in a total fog and unable to function. My husband and I took some time off work in an attempt to ‘recover’ and try to rebuild our lives. It has been a long, slow process but we are lucky to be surrounded with love and support which has helped us navigate our new lives without our baby boy.
A big part of my healing has been writing and reading. I read children’s picture books to Xavier when I visit him at the cemetery. It brings me great comfort to be able to continue my relationship with him in a spiritual sense through the lightness and beauty of children’s stories.
Over time I have bought Xavier many books and built up a collection of special titles. But in all my book shopping, I was unable to find one that was written specifically to a child like mine. So I decided to write 'You Could Have Been…' to my little boy, and to all the babies and children whose lives end far too soon. I have always loved Morrie Schwartz’s quote, “Death ends a life, not a relationship”. It is my hope that this book is a special way for bereaved parents, including those who suffer early pregnancy loss, to continue a relationship with their child that they are unable to hold in their arms.
On a personal level, I hope the book will also be a good way to introduce Xavier to our little rainbow baby, Kai, who was born on 14th March 2017. They already have a very special connection as Kai was born at 2:18pm (the exact same birth time as Xavier). So, I hope the book will help their bond to continue.
Having Kai has also been a huge part of my healing. He doesn’t replace Xavier and he can’t remove our pain. But he brings an immense amount of joy. And now, three years down the track, I can say that whilst I live with a constant sadness in the corner of my heart, I am still happy.
I feel very honoured to be running a giveaway with Ann-Maree for the month of January. We will be giving away a beautiful package consisting of a 'You Could Have Been... and a Remembering Me Book. Head to my instagram page for more information.