The Baby Loss Hub - Neonatal death - Asher's mum
Hi! We're the Walkers.
Immi, Brandon and sweet baby boy Asher.
We lost Asher 10 months ago and have his little rainbow brother on the way.
I had a wonderful heathy pregnancy with Asher, our family and friends were excited,the nursery was done, car capsule in and we were all waiting for him to arrive.
We had originally planned a water birth in a public family birthing centre. This plan changed to induction post dates at 40+6 Weeks because we had a routine check up at the main hospital. Asher was looking great! But was estimated 4.1kgs and we were told he was on the 90th percentile and "big babies can get stuck" . I asked what this meant and then we were simply advised we can "choose from induction or to keep going to 42" I eagerly said "I've got my bags in the car" haha...I was excited to get this baby here safe sooner rather than later.
Excitement turned into anxiety, I had my 4th stretch and sweep and was told to come back in three more days time to be induced instead, we were sent home. I'm a tiny lady, first time mummy and I was nervous about his size but was being reassured ever step of the way that this was okay...
( I can not stress enough that a low risk pregnancy does not necessarily mean a low risk delivery.)
(That scans aren't an accurate indicator of babies actual size)
The day was finally here, waters broken, induced and in labour. Excited and pushing! I had this.. standing in the bathroom, hubby smiled "there's so much hair" and we were moments away from meeting baby... then things took a turn for the worst due to Shoulder Dystocia, Asher died from his birth trauma and all that unfolded during his time stuck in my pelvis with face earth-side and the rest still inside me.
The room filled with staff but it was too late. The shattering of my tailbone came next as Asher was pulled out. The tears streaming down my husband face and me genuinely in shock, thinking I was about to die too, every maternal instinct in me signalling this wasn't supposed to happen, watching the tiny chest compressions that would follow broke me.
Asher would go on to survive for just 7 days in the NICU after Shoulder dystocia ended his life during delivery.
The birth trauma was a lot to handle, following what started off as a wonderful labour, turned into a parents worst nightmare. Thankfully Asher was revived.
Then began our Nicu journey.
The first three days were the hardest. He was having seizures and placed on a cooling mat to protect his brain that was deprived of oxygen and we couldn't cuddle or comfort our baby boy in this time because monitors would start alarming. There are no words for what it's like as a parent to not be able to help or not be enough on you own to comfort your sweet little baby.
Thankfully we finally had our first cuddles, skin to skin and all the fear melted away. Tears of joy came and everything felt right some how. Yes the days were hard but they were beautiful in a way. He was still here, was always being cared for and was never ever alone for one single second of his precious life.
I was determined to put my grief and fear aside for the remaining days and be present to soak in all of his sweetness with hubby.
So family and friends met him. Asher was dedicated. We snuggled him for hours a day. The amazing staff always dressed him up, gave him massages, let us do art with him and practise swaddling. I knew he wouldn't get to come home and experience any of this so it meant the world to our family to have those simple moments, at least once. oh and we changed his nappy!!! he had the cutest chunky bum ever!
On Ashers last day we painted his feet and created Ashers rainbow prints! which now is an activity available to all NICU babies at the hospital we were in.
This meant the world to me because being a child at heart myself and Childhood educator, I had always dreamed of having moments to play, paint and create with my own children some day. To still experience this when all our other hopes for him and dreams seemed out of reach was genuinely the best experience ever. His nurses organised a beautiful scrap book of all his "firsts" too. It had Asher's hand and foot prints alongside family photos that were collected in there and accompanied by sweet stickers, dates and writing, as if the entries were from Asher's perspective. It brings me joy reading through it seeing "I had my first cuddle today" and similar moments noted with pure joy. It really preserved the light, beautiful times we got to share & we'll cherish this book for a lifetime. They also helped sneakily make a card with Asher for his daddy with foot prints making a big loveheart inside. I gave this to my husband on his birthday, only 5 days after Asher's passing. It was so nice being able to gift his daddy something from his baby boy and surprise him.
Asher peacefully stopped breathing on morning 7 after I said "I just cant do this" when faced with knowing we had to turn off life support. His tube randomly got a leak and we felt it was his way of letting us know it was okay, that he was ready to go now. After a cuddle with mumma, his nanna and daddy he left being present in daddys arms and made the journey to heaven .
The hardest part, by far was having to leave the hospital after the coroners came, people were telling us the whole time this isn't okay, to get lawyers and my heart was so concerned and scared of what would come next. Then suddenly before I knew it our room was being packed, I was in a wheel chair and everything was a daze. Everything that happened was just flooding my mind. I was frozen, Hubby rolled me out the Nicu, down the hallway towards the hospitals main entrance & I realised we had a trolley following us with flowers, gifts and all our stuff... But no baby.
I was crying so painfully with each meter put between us, I just didn't want to leave him. A mummy should never have to leave her child, cold and alone and it felt so wrong. Then sunlight ...Hubby helped me in the car and I just sobbed. The empty car capsule got me. Pregnant women and families smiling entering the place where my son had died. It was all too much.
Then we had to go face the world, confused and broken.
Its been hard still months on but we are surviving and trying to honour him by enjoying all the things and places he never got to.
Asher may be gone now but our love for him will always remain
So whats helped us in this season of grief?
As a family we truly believe making space for sentimental moments and memory making can have a huge positive impact.
So we started with his funeral. I thought 'I don't get to plan birthdays or Christmas's so let's go to town'! We planned it so that his life could be celebrated. We wore colour and had it outside in the fresh air, with 7 butterflies representing each day he had here and this was an open service so all the people, nurses and strangers from the community touched by his story who followed his NICU journey and prayed for us all could come along. Thanks to everyone's generosity, strangers and people we love, we were very blessed to celebrate this way and have time to mourn. Not rushing back to work was a true gift for us as a hurting family and helped so much.
We also planned his wake VERY differently. It was at AQWA. We felt the aquarium would be perfect, full of childlike wonder, fun and right by the ocean where he always grooved inside my belly when we swam often and even did our pregnancy announcement. This was only for close family and friends. AQUA also let us & guests have exclusive access to explore the place ourselves after hours. it was beautiful. We feel Asher would have loved it.
We had an idea as a gift for guests at the wake too called "ashers rainbows", these are wooden plaques that family and friends can place around australia and the world on their travels. When we miss him or on special dates we go and find them. keeping adventure and a childlike sense of wonder alive! it's like a big treasure hunt for us all & our future children can also enjoy it too one day!
Sands, therapy, church & connecting with other parents of angels
These all helped us so much in this seasons, getting support and surrounding ourselves with understanding people who an help us navigate the unimaginable has honestly been the best. We found community and social media to be a great avenue for expressive outlets and support too!
some Helpful pages in the early days were:
FB: ABTA GROUP
FB: Miscarriage, stilbirth and infantloss support & also the shoulder dystocia support group.
other resources/ books
and still she laughs - Kate Merrick
the bible- the book of psalms
We are truly grateful for all the kindness from others and supportive resources we've had access to along this journey. Meditation and time camping, hiking and in nature is a good grounding refresher too.
creating space for Asher in our home and lives.
We had tattoos done in honour of our son, his heart beat. We often have a candle lit next to a beautiful sign off Esty. this will be lit at ever family event and anniversary too to honour him, purchased from https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/985704051/this-candle-burns-sign-frosted-acrylic?ref=yr_purchases.
we've had art created too and I even had some breastmilk sent off and jewellery made that i wear daily from @mothers love jewellery on Instagram.
We are grateful for our beautiful son and that his light still shines in some way, lighting a safer path for others.
I recognise what our family has endured is sadly avoidable and it breaks our hearts each day that Asher isn't here when he should be, that the his journey wasn't safer and that we never had a chance to understand how much our family's lives could be effected off the back of the little information and options we had.
So now we advocate for informed care for others, for better training and safer care, Including raising awareness around informed consent for low risk women with perfectly heathy babies at risk of having SD occurring during labour. No one should have to go through something like this. Families and Care providers included. So if sharing Asher's journey helps just one person somehow, someday then it'll all be worth putting out there.
much love, The Walkers x