13 Minutes Too Long - by Shaye Helenius

I woke up on March 30 2021 in pain and having what I thought were contractions. It was the day before I would be 38 weeks.

I didn’t panic. I wasn’t stressed.

I went for a shower and felt the need to vomit and when I did the bleeding started. Lots of bleeding. I yelled out to my 19-year-old daughter to call James so that he could come home from work. Layla went into practical mode. She finished packing my hospital bag and got clothes out for me.

I still didn’t panic. I wasn’t stressed.

James got home just as Layla and I were sorted to go to the hospital which is only 5 minutes down the road. We arrived and immediately my obstetrician checked me out. Our baby had a strong heartbeat, but it was dipping after each contraction. They got me prepped for a caesarean.

I still didn’t panic. I wasn’t stressed.

I had prepared myself for all delivery possibilities and just wanted her here safely. I just thought that once she was out, she would be ok.

Then everything changed. Her heartrate had dipped and wasn’t coming back up. Suddenly I was raced into the delivery room. The epidural was put in in record time and Mia Rain joined us. All 8lb 5oz of her. A healthy weight but she wasn’t breathing and was very pale. James and I watched as our midwife did CPR on her little chest. The paediatrician incubated her. The anaesthetist put tiny little canula’s in her hands.

We waited. We watched on and waited. Time stood still.

James and I looked at each other and we just knew. It had been too long. You see it had taken 5 years to fall pregnant. I was now 39 and we had been through 4 rounds of IVF with 7 embryo transfers. All these numbers now meant nothing. The only number that mattered was 13. It took 13 minutes for her to start breathing. 13 minutes for everything to go wrong. 13 minutes where her little body was without oxygen. She was effectively a stillborn baby that had been miraculously resuscitated. She lived for 30 hours and then passed away in James’s arms while I kissed her little head.

It’s been 2 months and one thing that we have learnt is what love & grief really is. We love harder now. We hug for longer and we talk to each other about how we’re feeling more. We ache for Mia to be with us. We think that life is amazingly unfair. We are however grateful that we got to meet her. We got to hold her. We got to love her. She will always be with us. The grief is overwhelming sometimes. The physical pain in our heart’s hurts so much.

I hope that our story can help someone feel not so alone. Love is all around you. In your family and friends and in your heart. Our little girl was loved by so many people and will never be forgotten. You will get overwhelmed and my god you will cry. You will cry so much and sometimes at the strangest times. Silence will be deafening, and sleep ins will feel unnatural. You will constantly think of what you “should” be doing if your baby was here. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Tackle one day at a time. There will be coffins to select. Urns to choose from. Your baby’s room will remain set up with no baby in it. Just take care of one thing at a time. Most importantly – take care of you.

Written by Shaye Helenius – mother of Mia