In memory of our angel, Gisele Maria Reeves, born sleeping at 40 weeks and 2 days.
Gisele was our first baby and my first pregnancy. She was the first grandchild on both sides of our families. As you can imagine, everyone was extremely excited to meet her, anticipating her arrival.
Following a perfect pregnancy and the happiest time in our lives, at 39 weeks and 6 days, just one day before my due date, we went into hospital for monitoring as I didn’t feel kicks that night while eating dinner, when I usually did. My husband and I didn’t feel concerned, following a smooth pregnancy and so close to the end, surely our baby was just asleep, preparing to enter the world and join us earthside.
I can’t quite begin to describe the moment we were told Gisele’s heart was no longer beating and that there was nothing we could do to bring her back – our whole world came crashing down. As I sat on the hospital bed all I could think is that this wasn’t real, that I was dreaming and having a terrible nightmare. I became completely numb while shaking uncontrollably.
How could this have possibly happened.
The moments that followed were like living a sick, twisted dream. Being told that the next step was to give birth – something I was already fearing outside these circumstances following an attempted induction two weeks prior. I wanted to be taken into theatre and put to sleep – I wanted someone to just take it all away.
We were told that there were many reasons not to have a c-section and to try for a natural birth instead – it would help with closure and likely result in a quicker recovery with no surgery scar.
Two days later, after a surprisingly seamless induction, I gave birth to Gisele at 12:58am on Sunday 9th April 2023. Gisele was the most perfect and beautiful baby, tall (53cm) with delicate features. As soon as my husband and I laid eyes on her, we fell completely an utterly in love with her. We were in awe that we were able to create something so precious.
We spent three days with our baby girl in hospital. This was the best and most difficult time of our lives – getting to know her and gaining the confidence to hold, kiss and cuddle her, while grappling with the fact that we would have to say goodbye.
We were desperate for answers – why did this happen?
We decided to proceed with a full autopsy, however, we were told that this often (1 in 3) results in no conclusive findings.
Two months post birth we received the final autopsy report and to my disappointment and sadness, nothing was found – it was a ‘negative autopsy’. What the report confirmed is that Gisele was a perfect baby, full grown and formed with no genetic conditions or health issues. With no answers it feels like there’s no justice and all we’re left with is emptiness.
We laid our baby girl to rest with her great grandmother, Nonna Maria. We chose Gisele’s middle name after her, long before she was born. My Nonna Maria passed away in October 2022 – she never got to meet Gisele, but she knew we were pregnant, and she was so excited. Nonna Maria was a wonderful woman, she suffered greatly in life yet only ever carried happiness and optimism – what a great role model for our daughter, Gisele.
Now, three months on, I dream of my baby girl, wondering what it would be like to have her here. I envision her smile, the tight grip of her hand around my finger and her beating heart against mine as I hold her tight.
To our angel, born sleeping, sadly your wings grew before we got to meet you. We will carry you in our hearts forever, you will never be forgotten, always remembered, loved, and celebrated.
Thank you to Lauren, Gisele’s mother, for sharing her story.