Short­est lives re­spected

Mom host­ing Sun­day can­dle­light vigil for preg­nancy and in­fant loss

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - FRONT PAGE - CHERYL CLOCK STAN­DARD STAFF

The ul­tra­sound gel was still smeared over her preg­nant belly when she sat up and screamed.

The wail she let out was in­stinc­tive. A vol­cano of spon­ta­neous an­guish that erupted from her heart in one pro­longed, screamed word: “No!”

Her mother, in a wait­ing room on the other side of the door, heard. And she knew.

Bai­ley Paddy, 21, had come to the hospi­tal be­cause she had not felt her baby move in a day. She was over­due by a week and a half. And she was very wor­ried.

One nurse lis­ten­ing for a heart­beat quickly be­came a flurry of med­i­cal peo­ple sur­round­ing her. She was sent for an ul­tra­sound. A nurse held her hand.

“Is he mov­ing?” she asked the woman hold­ing a wand on her belly.

Dead and baby do not be­long in the same sen­tence.”

Bai­ley Paddy

Bai­ley was taken to a pri­vate room in the labour and de­liv­ery ward. A doc­tor ex­am­ined her. She al­ready knew her baby was dead, but searched his face or hope any­way. There was none.

She was asked to de­cide if she wanted to go home and let na­ture take its course or stay at the hospi­tal and be in­duced. Ei­ther way, she would en­dure the pain of labour for a baby that she would never hold in her arms alive.

Chris Hume, the baby’s fa­ther, drove from Oakville an­tic­i­pat­ing a nor­mal de­liv­ery. When he ar­rived at the hospi­tal, he was told his baby had died.

They cried to­gether. “What are we go­ing to do?” he asked.

“I have to de­liver him,” said Bai­ley.

Then she told the nurses mat­ter-of-factly: “Do it now. I want it done and over with.”

She would be in­duced.

Her am­ni­otic sack was punc­tured. An IV drip of Pe­tocin was started to help the uterus con­tact and be­gin labour.

And as she lay in the hospi­tal bed, a heart-break­ing numb­ness took hold.

Bai­ley wants peo­ple to hear her story. She wants other moth­ers to hear her words and be em­pow­ered to talk about their ba­bies de­spite a so­ci­ety squea­mish at the very men­tion of mis­car­riages, still­born ba­bies and in­fant loss.

On Sun­day, she will rec­og­nize the in­ter­na­tional Preg­nancy and In­fant Loss Aware­ness Day by or­ga­niz­ing a can­dle­light vigil at City Hall in St. Catharines at 7 p.m..

The me­mo­rial is part of a se­ries of sim­i­lar events held around the world to ac­knowl­edge and re­mem­ber the deaths of ba­bies in preg­nancy or as in­fants.

In Canada, one in five preg­nan­cies end in loss, said Michelle La Fon­taine, pro­gram man­ager of the Preg­nancy and In­fant Loss (PAIL) Net­work at Sun­ny­brook Health Sci­ences Cen­tre.

Around the world, at 7 p.m., a wave of light will be cre­ated as can­dles shine for one hour. The re­sult will be a con­tin­u­ous chain of light around the globe.

While PAIL was founded some 20 years ago, it be­came a pro­vin­cial pro­gram to pro­vide sup­port to fam­i­lies who ex­pe­ri­ence a loss and ed­u­cate health-care providers with fund­ing in 2016 from the Min­istry of Health and LongTerm Care. A year later, it joined the Women and Ba­bies pro­gram at Sun­ny­brook.

One of its most crit­i­cal goals is to ed­u­cate the med­i­cal world about in­fant loss.

Stud­ies have shown that par­ents heal faster if they don’t have the ad­di­tional trauma of un­in­tended yet hurt­ful words and ac­tions by a med­i­cal com­mu­nity that sim­ply doesn’t un­der­stand their unique needs, she said.

“They might say things that don’t val­i­date the loss or hon­our the life of the baby,” she said.

“You have one chance to get it right. What you do and say to a fam­ily will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Case in point: a baby that dies in the first trimester is some­times re­ferred to as a prod­uct of con­cep­tion and is “put into a basin and taken away,” while the mother is ad­vised to “give your­self a month and try again.”

Par­ents should in­stead be of­fered an op­por­tu­nity to see, to hold, to take pho­tographs. “To mark that a life ex­isted and val­i­date their grief,” she said.

“Fam­i­lies feel iso­lated in grief.”

Peo­ple should say the baby’s name. “Treat the baby with the same care as if it had been born alive,” she said.

Fam­i­lies need to be guided. To be of­fered sug­ges­tions gen­tly, with care. “Often fam­i­lies have never ever imag­ined it could hap­pen to them.”

When La Fon­taine’s twins, Elora and Joseph, died at 20 weeks in 2005 — the day be­fore her 30th birth­day — she had a car­ing nurse who asked if she wanted to see and hold her ba­bies.

At first she did not.

But the nurse un­der­stood, waited and had the fore­sight to ask again. It was ex­actly what La Fon­taine needed. “That’s all you have,” she said.

A year and a half ago, about to de­liver a baby, Bai­ley felt sep­a­rated from her­self and de­tached from the or­deal as if she was a voyeur watch­ing another woman en­dure un­be­liev­able phys­i­cal and emo­tional suf­fer­ing.

She laboured for six hours. Her mother, Sandi Paddy, held her from be­hind push­ing against her back. Her other mother, Car­rie McKen­zie, and Chris held her legs. She’d had an epidu­ral but it was wear­ing off. And the baby was not com­ing.

“I just wanted it out,” said Bai­ley. “I wanted to get it over with.”

“At that point, you feel like such a fail­ure as a per­son.

“You’re sup­posed to be able

to pro­tect him. I couldn’t pro­tect him and he was in me. That should have been the place he was the safest.”

Ex­hausted. De­feated. Be­yond drained. The de­ci­sion was made to take her into the op­er­at­ing room for a C-sec­tion.

Baby Lo­gan Alan Paddy-Hume was born at 7:33 a.m., a day af­ter Bai­ley had been ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal. It was her 20th birth­day.

He was a big boy. Nine pounds and 15 ounces. A long 21 inches. He had hair and the bright­est red lips she’d ever seen. The new­born cap pro­vided by the hospi­tal would have to be cut to make it fit over his head.

She heard a nurse tell Chris: “He’s beau­ti­ful and he looks just like you.”

What seemed like an eter­nity passed as she re­mained on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble. “I re­mem­ber lay­ing there just want­ing to hear him cry,” she said.

“And wait­ing for them to say, ‘Oh, we got it wrong. You have this beau­ti­ful baby boy’.

“When it didn’t hap­pen I just shut down.

“I just wanted to sleep and for­get about ev­ery­thing.”

Bai­ley didn’t want to look at her son.

“I didn’t want to see,” she says. “It made it too real.”

The cou­ple moved back into their pri­vate room and a com­mu­nity of friends and fam­ily had gath­ered nearby to of­fer hugs and tears and hold baby Lo­gan. A pho­tog­ra­pher from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep ar­rived and took pic­tures of Lo­gan. Close­ups of his hands and feet. In the arms of peo­ple who loved him. Swad­dled in a cro­cheted blan­ket from his great-grand­mother, he was dressed in the di­nosaur py­jama set that Sandi and Car­rie had bought for him.

At some point, a blue for­get-me-not card was placed on her door, a gen­tle re­minder to hospi­tal staff that in­side was a fam­ily in grief.

Even­tu­ally, Bai­ley felt she needed to hold him, too.

She cra­dled him in her arms. He felt heavy. Smelled won­der­ful. She looked at his face; he had her nose and chin.

She held him the whole af­ter­noon. On oc­ca­sion, peo­ple came into her room and had their own snug­gle with him. The pho­tog­ra­pher took many pho­tos. The nurses made ink hand and foot­prints on small white cards. They crafted a bracelet with tiny white beads that spelled his name and snipped bits of his hair and sealed it in a tiny zipped bag. They helped her cre­ate mem­o­ries.

Car­rie called the fu­neral home. On Bai­ley’s re­quest, Sandi and Car­rie went home to take apart and pack up the crib, play pen and high chair. They wrapped ev­ery­thing in plas­tic and car­ried it out to the garage.

They left Lo­gan’s clothes hang­ing in a bed­room closet and in the draw­ers of a dresser where Bai­ley had lov­ingly or­ga­nized them by size. At the hospi­tal, Bai­ley felt com­forted by hold­ing her son.

“I am an un­con­ven­tional mother,” she said.

“My child phys­i­cally isn’t here. So to have that phys­i­cal con­tact, it made me a mom.”

About 8 o’clock that night she let him go.

A big burly man from the fu­neral home came to her room.

“How will you get him out of the hospi­tal?” she asked him.

“I’m go­ing to carry him out of here as if he’s my own son,” he replied.

Once home, she faced a world that didn’t un­der­stand or was un­aware of her pain. A pho­tog­ra­pher whom Bai­ley met at a baby show called ask­ing when she’d like a photo ses­sion. Sam­ples of baby prod­ucts ar­rived in the mail.

“I was just try­ing to make it through to the next minute with­out break­ing down,” she said.

Grief ar­rived in waves. At times, it con­sumed her but when it eased off she was able to be­gin to heal. She would im­merse her­self in touch­ing his clothes and al­lowed her­self to em­brace the happy mem­o­ries of preg­nancy, of her fam­ily, and of be­ing a mom that flowed into her con­science.

Later on, she was able to do­nate some baby items like di­a­pers and for­mula and keep the things that spoke to her most. She brought the crib, high­chair and playpen back into the house to store. In the fall, she re­turned to Ni­a­gara Col­lege to fin­ish her com­mu­nity and jus­tice ser­vices diploma.

Her mom, Sandi, is proud of her daugh­ter.

“She’s my su­per­hero,” she said. “She has grown up like you wouldn’t be­lieve.

“She’s picked her­self right back up. She has a pur­pose. She was so look­ing for­ward to be­ing a mom. She is ma­ture and strong.”

Her home is filled with Lo­gan. Pho­tos on the wall. A mem­ory box on a hall­way shelf. A scrap­book her mother made for her at Christ­mas.

“To the rest of the world he doesn’t ex­ist,” she said. “By hav­ing his stuff around me tells me he does ex­ist.

“It’s not a bad mem­ory.” She hopes Sun­day’s vigil and her story will give other par­ents who have ex­pe­ri­enced the death of a baby per­mis­sion to talk about their chil­dren. To not be si­lenced by the dis­com­fort of so­ci­ety.

“Still­birth is a bad word. Dead and baby do not be­long in the same sen­tence,” she said.

“I don’t want peo­ple who have been through this to feel they can’t share their ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I want peo­ple to own their ti­tle of mom and dad.

“You don’t all of a sud­den lose the ti­tle be­cause your baby passes away.”

PHO­TOS BY CHERYL CLOCK/STAN­DARD STAFF

Bai­ley Paddy, 21, wants to share the story of her ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing a still­born baby. She wants to make it more ac­cept­able for par­ents who have had a baby die to speak about their chil­dren. On Sun­day she is hold­ing a can­dle­light vigil in St. Catharines. Her home is filled with re­minders of her baby boy Lo­gan, in­clud­ing this framed pho­to­graph taken by a pho­tog­ra­pher from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

Bai­ley Paddy holds a mem­ory box filled with re­minders of her baby boy, Lo­gan.

CHERYL CLOCK/STAN­DARD STAFF

Bai­ley Paddy holds a sign cre­ated by a friend who wanted to ac­knowl­edge her loss and cel­e­brate a life.

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Af­ter Lo­gan’s birth, a pho­tog­ra­pher from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came to the hospi­tal and took pic­tures of Lo­gan with his fam­ily. Af­ter time, mom Bai­ley Paddy re­al­ized she needed this mo­ment — and these pho­tographs — to rec­og­nize the re­al­ity that she was still very much his mother.

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