Throughout my pregnancy, I often felt a niggling fear that something was wrong with our baby… I worked on this during our hypnobirthing fear release however my fear didn’t disappear, it simply became a little bit more prominent. People were often commenting about how ‘small’ my bump was and it was when my sister mentioned it over skype that I decided to talk to my midwife about it. My midwife measured me at our next appointment when I was 35 weeks. My small measurements teamed with my ‘motherly intuition’ led to a scan which showed the baby was indeed smaller than should be. Understandably – this set off a whole lot of worry and panic about the health and well-being of our baby. I was to be having a follow up scan in 2 weeks time and I knew I simply could not live in this state of fear during this period. Not only would I go crazy with worry, but I knew this would not provide my baby with a healthy environment to thrive. After an inspiring and uplifting conversation with Claire, I set about making a visualisation board filled with pictures of happy and healthy babies. I also typed out and put positive affirmations, as well as the visualisation board, around our house. Every time I saw these images and words – I allowed myself to really breathe in and feel my baby growing inside of me. I didn’t just look at them, I stopped and felt each word and picture. Each time I did so, I felt an inner feeling of peace and happiness. I knew deep within me my baby was growing and healthy, I really felt it – and I knew my baby did too. These 2 weeks before the next scan flew by, there was not an ounce of worry within me – I simply was excited at the chance to see the next scan of our baby and hear of its growth.
Sure enough – the next growth scan showed a growing baby and no concerns.
The next day we went along to the hospital for the Doppler test which had been booked earlier, merely as a precaution.
It was at this appointment that Shaun and I were given the devastating news that the doctors suspected our baby had a serious brain defect. This defect was called an encephalocele – they believed our baby’s skull hadn’t formed properly and the brain tissue had come spilling out. This diagnosis was confirmed the next day and we were given a huge amount of information. We were warned that our baby could have a chromosome defect which would mean at worst it would not survive the birth and at best it would live 3 weeks to 1 year. We were warned that our baby could have brain defects ranging from mild to severe and we were told to expect our baby to undergo brain surgery as soon as it was born. On this day, my world shattered. I was inconsolable and desperate to go back to a few days prior when everything was okay and we were waiting with great anticipation for the birth of our first baby.
We received all of this news on the Thursday/Friday. Our baby celebration was due to be held that weekend on Sunday. After some consideration, we decided to go ahead with our baby celebration because if we gave up on our baby, if we lost hope and faith in its health and well-being … what hope did our unborn baby have? What chance in life did it have if its mother and father had lost hope even before it was born? We loved this baby unconditionally. Regardless of how this baby arrived to us – it was ours, and we knew we would love it and care for it just as we would with any child. It was our baby, we were a part of it and it was a part of us now. Nothing would stop us believing in and loving this baby.
The Saturday before the baby celebration was surprisingly one full of much peace. We had a few visitors and there a calm, loving and peaceful energy in our house. Late that evening, after experiencing some spotting which I was unsure about, we went into hospital to get it checked out. Being told I was in labour was the most terrifying moment of my life. My baby?? I was 37 weeks and I didn’t know what kind of health our baby would be in arriving to us in. Due to its brain defect, I was taken into theatre for a caesarean. Shaun was incredible. There are no other words for how strong and calm he was. Me … I was terrified and I remember repeating an affirmation in my head throughout the surgery to try to steady my breathing and my mind.
Our baby came into the world crying! What a relief to hear that little cry. Shaun followed him to a small room where he was checked out, the doctors were happy with his condition so decided to postpone his brain surgery for a few days. The next few days for me are a bit hazy but what stands out for me is the feeling Shaun and I had about our baby. We knew he was okay! We never spoke about his brain or his health, we simply talked about how well he was doing. Instead of our friends and family consoling us, it is us who were consoling them. We were prepared for him to go in for his brain surgery, but in our hearts – we just knew he would be okay. I can’t explain this deep sense of peace that we had. We just felt it and couldn’t explain it to anyone.
On Tuesday morning I was sitting by our baby’s incubator in NICU, waiting for the doctors to take him away to theatre. It was at this moment that our lives would change forever. We were given the news. Our baby was completely healthy. Let me just repeat that so you can take it in… our baby was completely healthy. His MRI showed his brain was perfect. All tubes and monitors were to come off him and we were able to hold our baby boy. He was completely perfectly healthy. The doctor cried, Shaun cried. I sat with a feeling of ‘knowing.’ I always had known he was going to be okay. I didn’t know he didn’t need the brain surgery – but I always knew he would be okay.
At that moment I reflected. It was a miracle. And indeed the doctors were calling him a miracle baby. They were baffled. I reflected on our journey over the past weeks. I understood at that moment that the positive work we did around his health and indeed his very being, had had the utmost effect on our unborn baby. We believed with all our hearts and minds that he was growing and healthy and happy. We never lost hope in this and even when were given the most devastating of news – we never lost hope or faith in our baby.
The day I went into labour was a day of peace in amidst a storm of hurt and grief. I believe this energy we created gave our baby the space to come into the world and show us he was perfectly fine. I truly believe he just wanted to give his mum and dad back that same feeling of peace which we had so strongly created for him.
Throughout my pregnancy, I never felt our baby move much. Other mothers would talk about their babies kicking them and waking them up at night, I would long for that kicking to know our baby was okay. Speaking to Claire about it – she mentioned we must have a peaceful baby. That was early in my pregnancy and from that day on that is exactly what I envisioned. I envisioned how peaceful our baby was. Xavier is 15 weeks old now and should you ask me to describe him in 1 word, I would with no hesitation or doubt tell you how peaceful he is. His nature and his very being is one of peace. As well as this, he has been sleeping through the night since he was about 6 weeks old – he is a dream baby! And indeed- he has made all of our dreams come true.
We are filled with gratitude for everything we learnt with Claire on our hypnobirthing course. Undoubtedly the work we did as a result of working with her helped to create an environment which allowed our baby to thrive in every way possible and against all odds. The visualisation board, the affirmations, the relaxation techniques, the recordings that we listened to every night. We were avid in our practice and we were filled with such great strength, confidence and belief. In my body to carry and birth this baby naturally. In our baby and its growth and well-being. And in each other and the roles we would play as parents – loving and supporting each other. We were strong, confident and positive and we never lost belief. It is because of this that our baby flourished. There are simply no words to express our thanks. We are grateful beyond words.
Olivia and Shaun