Hello Ellie, Goodbye Ellie
It’s been more than 2 weeks since the arrival and departure of our dear Baby Ellie, and looking back, it’s starting to feel like a dream because things are going back to how they used to be.
I know I have to jot this down in writing soon, before I forget the little details and everything becomes a faded memory.
I haven’t really updated about the pregnancy since close to a month back, but after speaking to some mamas, we decided to transfer care to NUH as my gynae suggested, due to the risk of pre-term labour from my polyhydramnios condition. Furthermore, I did my 2nd amniocentesis procedure at NUH so they already have the records of my pregnancy.
When we went for the last few ultrasound scans at NUH, the doctors from the fetal care team have been telling us that they noticed signs of swelling in Ellie’s body. Even though we still do not know what is the cause for the swelling, the doctors have prepared us that the prognosis for Ellie is not positive as the swelling has affected numerous parts of her body.
Even before the results of my 2nd genetics testing was back, we have already decided that we want to keep this baby for as long as we can and leave it all to God’s will and timing for her. We didn’t share about Ellie’s prognosis from the subsequent scans with too many people because we know that many of you have been very worried. It’s only a few short months to the end of the pregnancy and I wanted to spend as much time as I can while Ellie is still growing in my tummy, and fuel her with love, peace and positive vibes (yes, I truly believe that babies can feel every single emotion their mamas go through). Due to my polyhydromnios condition, I was told to stay home and chill for the rest of my pregnancy so I’m thankful that I got to be away from my noisy work environment. I spent the past 1 month comfortably at home, relaxing and feeding ourselves well physically, spiritually and mentally through cooking, doing daily devotions and reading books.
On 6 Oct (Friday), we went for my gynae check-up and the doctor measured my tummy size to be at week 39 when I was only 28 weeks pregnant then (no thanks to all the excess amniotic fluid I was carrying!), so I’ve got an inkling that Ellie may be due anytime soon. We got to hear Ellie’s heartbeat, but didn’t get a scan as the next scan was scheduled to be 2 weeks later. Physically, I did not feel any different and was still feeling well enough to go catch a play on Saturday. Everything was normal until I woke up on Tuesday morning with bloody show and went to hospital to get myself checked.
They sent me straight to the delivery suite and I was already 3cm dilated with frequent contractions. To be honest, even after giving birth to Laurent, I was still unsure what contractions felt like. For most part of it, they felt like an annoying tummy ache, until they get really intense at the last part of the delivery (probably when I’m around 8-9cm dilated). All of us thought that I’ll be delivering within the day but because Ellie was only 28weeks + then, the doctors did not break my water bag to hasten the labour. Furthermore, if Ellie was not properly engaged when they break my water bag, there is a chance of cord prolapse (umbilical cord being delivered before the baby) due to the amount of fluid I’m carrying, which may further endanger Ellie because it will cut off her oxygen supply.
So we spent the entire day in the delivery suite and at 1130pm, the doctor checked me and realised I’m still only 3cm dilated. Since things are not moving as quickly as we had thought, they sent me to the ward instead. Due to my risk of pre-term labour, we have already indicated our preference for C Class ward, in case baby needs NICU care when she is born (NICU facilities are the same for every baby, but the cost is tagged the ward class that mama chooses). By God’s grace, the C Class wards were full so we got to stay at a single-bedder instead, which means Wayne got to stay in the ward with me instead of having to go home or sleep at the visitor’s lounge.
Things continued to be pretty uneventful on Wednesday so we just spent the day chatting, reading and watching TV. Around 4am on 12 Oct (Thursday), I started to feel more discomfort and had another round of bloody show. We have been waiting for my water bag to break on its own but seems like it wasn’t happening. The nurses suggested that I go up to the delivery suite again in case I needed any form of pain relief while we wait.
So we packed and went up, waiting for action. I felt a lot of pressure and the contractions were getting more intense, but I didn’t need any form of pain relief then (the gas was still useless for me this time round). I was starting to get a little impatient because I have no idea how much longer it will take, but when the doctors came to do their rounds at 9+, I was told that I’m almost fully dilated (hence all the pressure I was feeling!) and I think she helped to break my water bag because baby was in position. I had the urge to push within a short 15 minutes and the nurses, the gynae and the baby doctors prepared themselves. It took longer to push Ellie out and I could still recall everyone going “jiayou, jiayou!” when I gave the last push.
Looking back at the delivery, there are still so many things to be thankful for. It was definitely not as quick and easy as Laurent’s delivery, but because of my polyhydromnios and Ellie’s condition, SO MANY things could have gone wrong that would put either, or both of us, in danger. The fact that I managed to give birth to her naturally without any danger from the delivery process, not needing pain relief nor episiotomy or stitches, I don’t think I could ask for more.
I was holding my breath as I waited for Wayne to give me a sign whether Ellie was breathing when she was born. She was breathing and moving. She had a full head of hair, button nose and full lips like daddy and weighed a hefty 2.29kg at 29 weeks.
But her eyes were closed, she did not cry and we could see that she was indeed swollen from the fluid accumulation in her body. We later learned that the presentation is termed as fetal hydrops (accumulation of fluid in two or more fetal compartments).
Her heartbeat was slowing down and we knew that we had to cherish every single moment we could spend with her before she slipped away.
For close to 2 hours, we took turns to hold her in our arms, talking to her, praying with her and just telling her how loved she is.
It was such a bitter-sweet moment, but I could clearly remember how peaceful she looked. Just like a little sleeping angel.
The doctor came by every half an hour to check on Ellie’s heartbeat and on her 3rd visit, she told us what we have been bracing ourselves for. Our little angel had gone to be with the Lord. Wayne continued to hold her in his arms quietly, until he looked up and told me that he could feel her body heat going away. That was when reality sank in – that our baby Ellie has indeed left us.
The nurses tending to us were really sweet. They didn’t talk much or tried to comfort us through words, but they always gave us understanding smiles and reassuring touches as they go about with the usual protocol. They dressed Ellie in a beautiful white dress from Angel Gowns Singapore before sending us up to the ward, where we got to spend some time with her until we were ready to process all the necessary paperworks.
Angie was in the vicinity and came by our ward to visit, with a sweet little gift for baby Ellie. We were talking about a blog engagement just the night before and I updated Angie that I was at NUH waiting to deliver. Having been through some difficult experiences herself, Angie not only brought comfort through her words and company, she also offered us practical help and advices.
Over the course of the day, our immediate family members came by to visit, some of our Pastors came to visit too, as well as to help us settle the logistics for Ellie’s memorial service.
It’s amazing how God places people in our midst when we need them, without us even realising. We thought we would prefer to be alone at a time like this, but the company we had actually brought us through the day with so much comfort, smiles and laughter.
Thankfully, my recovery had been rather smooth so I could go home the very next morning. The doctors, nurses and staff from the wellness centre had been very sweet and personal throughout our stay and they totally blew away my scepticism towards giving birth at a public hospital as a subsidised patient (well, I’ve heard about some not-so-nice experiences before that).
On Saturday night, after putting Laurent to bed, Wayne and I sat down to do some crafts for Ellie’s memorial service. I did an artwork with a verse that carried the meaning of her name (God is my Light) and Wayne folded a dozen of paper cranes for her.
We had a cozy memorial service for Ellie on Sunday evening with our families, pastors and friends from church. We had wanted it to be within our immediate family members but some of our relatives heard about it and came down as well, even Wayne’s grandmother was there! We were very surprised by the turnout because most elderly would be very superstitious about this, but so many of them are willing to be present at Ellie’s memorial service, reminding us how loved she is. We also hoped that it was an opportunity for God’s words to be planted in their hearts.
Wayne got to carry his baby angel one last time as he carried Ellie’s little white casket into the memorial service hall. We sang songs, listened to God’s words and everyone came to place a stalk of rose on Ellie’s casket before leaving.
While tears were aplenty during the service, our hearts felt much lighter at the end of it.
We shared about the news on IG and FB that night and we have been receiving so much love, support and comfort from everyone, we were truly overwhelmed by the grace surrounding us.
We were still a little emotional when we were home for the first week, but we cried in each other’s embrace when we needed to and talked openly about our emotions, about the experience, about how we want to move forward and give meaning to our journey with Ellie.
By this week, we’re pretty much back to normal – our old normal. The normal that we are used to, comfortable with and familiar of.
I started writing this post 2 weeks back but my emotions were still too raw for me to complete the post then (I had a table full of tissue papers and I couldn’t even tell if my sentences were cohesive). This morning, I took a deep breath and prayed for a peaceful heart before looking through my draft for this post. My eyes welled up a few times, missing my little baby angel. But more than that, I felt peace, gratitude and comfort as I find myself looking at all the little details God paid attention to throughout this journey to make it easier for us to bear. We know that God will not allow trials beyond what we can cope, and He truly showed us that during this very personal journey with Him.
Most importantly, we are comforted by the assurance that Ellie is now in heaven with the Lord, perfect, joyful and painless, till we see her again.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. – 1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 (MSG)