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My letter to maternity ward after the death of my son

Stillbirth

Lukas Tabisz Swain - born May 20th 2012, died May 19th 2012

I wrote this piece back in 2012 and tucked it away for my eyes only, writing is very healing for me. As I continue on this new journey of mine I find myself breaking away from old blueprints, sharing more of myself & my family to help others.

It’s been 4 months since we lost our son Lukas. Ted and I arrived at the hospital on May 19th at 40 weeks pregnant. My contractions had started but I was very concerned as I had not felt him move all day. When we arrived we were partnered with our nurse Michelle (I can’t tell you how many times I still think of her today). We were told in the triage room that the baby had no heartbeat and I then would have to give birth to a dead baby boy. Obviously I was in shock and disbelief that my 9 months of waiting for this little guy was ripped away from me that day. It was a very surreal experience but I have to say that the staff, my Dr., and our nurses were so professional and compassionate through our ordeal. We were always made to feel very comfortable and any of our wishes were granted. Michelle was with me every step of the way, she shared some of her personal stories with me, shared how proud she was of my strength and was just there when I was awake through the night as Ted and my Mother slept waiting for me to reach 10cm on the epidural. When I became fully dilated and was ready it was time for a shift change at the hospital. We met our other nurse whose name escapes me but she was wonderful as well. Michelle did not leave though, she stayed. She stayed with me and helped deliver my son. She measured him, weighed him, and swaddled him just like he was a live baby. She stayed until it was all over and I finally got to hold that little baby boy that Ted and I created- our son.

I have been reading many stories of stillbirth and some experiences have not been as compassionate as mine. This is because of the people you have working at your Hospital. It is always the people that make the difference and in our case was so true. This was the worst experience of my life and it was handled with such care and sensitivity that I can now look back on it fondly. The memories I have of my son are in your Hospital with your people. It meant so much that you cared for Lukas like a live baby. The pamphlets you left us were very helpful and assisted me in making the decision to see my son. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, thought if I didn’t see him that I could just put this horrible tragedy behind me. In one of the pamphlets there was a recommendation from another Mother who had lost her child and she said that it was the best decision she made to see and hold her baby that it helped her grieve and I so agree…. To this day I am so glad I held him, unwrapped him, kissed him, and spent time with him. The pictures and mementos of his birth day were so nice and I treasure them. I wish we had taken more photo’s I have none of his naked body just him bundled up. I would cherish a picture of Lukas today as we created him. He was perfect, 10 fingers, 10 toes and a cute little nose. I would recommend that you take photos of the baby’s bodies too and get a better camera or printer as our pictures are quite purple. He had no hair only fuzz so I have no keepsake for that. I was so afraid to take his hat off, to see him all of him (I wish I had seen all of him). I never looked at Lukas when I gave birth to him as I thought he may be deformed in some way and again wasn’t sure I wanted to have any memories of this experience. I would love to have bathed him and dressed him in his going home outfit. Looking back I wish I had more time with him and was told I could care for him like a live baby. Stories I’ve read have some parents with the baby kept in their room for hours or even days. We were told to take as much time as we needed with him but I didn’t know what to do. I recommend offering the parents the choice to bathe and dress their baby. To see the baby as they came into this world and not just bundled up with their cute little faces peaking out.

We also had help from the Hospital with recommendations for a funeral home. We went the next day and made the arrangements for Lukas. They were lovely as well and said that we could see him again, that he was there. My Mother advised against it as she said he may look different, worse that it was best not to. I wanted to see him again and I wanted him to be dressed in his coming home outfit with the dog “stuffy“ his sister picked out for him before he was to be cremated. The funeral home encouraged that so the following day we brought the bag of his things and the director left to prepare Lukas for us to see him again. She led us into the chapel and there he was in a tiny white coffin looking way better than he did in the hospital. His colour was dark in the hospital and his little mouth was open. In his coffin, he looked like a live baby. His colour was more true and his lips were closed. We asked if they did anything to him because he looked so good but all they did was put cream on his face. Ted and I sat together in the chapel, holding and rocking our baby boy for the last time. We said our final good byes, to a son we would never hear cry or be able to comfort with love.

We are so thankful for the time we had with Lukas. The care, support and kindness from your Hospital and the funeral home assisted Ted and I with our beautiful memories of our son. Encourage your patience who have lost a child in your care to create as many memories as they can, take lots of pictures, spend as much time as possible with their baby and hang on to any keepsakes. It is probably the last thing they want to do but when time has passed and the healing process begins it is so helpful to have them. I will treasure mine always.

Forever grateful,

Jody Swain 

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